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By Isaac G.

What can to wrong, will go wrong. Sure, I would like to believe that the one time I need to deploy my carry gun, it will function flawlessly, my draw will be perfect, and there will be no equipment malfunctions. But the truth of the matter is, life has a sick sense of humor. Obviously we cannot predict when and how Murphy’s Law will strike, but being prepared for the worst can certainly go a long ways toward saving our lives and the lives of our loved ones . . .

Granted, if you find yourself in a situation where you must use your gun to protect yourself, something has already gone wrong. Why not do everything you can to control the other variables?

Of those who carry religiously, how many of us are practicing malfunction drills every time we go to the range? If your EDC piece suddenly chooses to send you a curveball in the middle of a self-defense situation, will you freeze up, or will you be able to clear the malfunction and be back on target in a matter of seconds?

The answer to these questions could be the difference between life and death. Using snap caps to create malfunctions (such as double-feeds and stovepipes), and practicing clearing them while moving and/or taking cover is one of the best ways to prepare yourself mentally and physically for these scenarios.

As we all know well enough, carrying a gun alone can be bulky and uncomfortable, let alone bringing along extra ammo, a flashlight, knife, backup piece, and so on. I realize that many DGUs are ended with one or two rounds, but what if the bottom all of a sudden drops out of your magazine? Or if it is dark and in drawing your weapon you accidently thumb the mag release and can’t find your only mag? I can think of numerous scenarios where having an extra mag and the other items listed above could be a lifesaver.

Sure, going to the range in your 5.11s and tucked in t-shirt looks professional, and it definitely makes quick-drawing your piece a lot simpler. But will you be wearing that when you are out for dinner with the family? Or walking around the mall? I am just as guilty of this as the next guy.

If your range doesn’t allow drawing from concealment, or quick-draw, find one that does. Or, at worst, practice with snap caps in your home. Don’t work just on drawing, either. Practice reloading with a spare mag or moon clip that you should have stashed on your body somewhere (see above paragraph). Also drill yourself on drawing from your car, a chair, or while on the ground.

Always be thinking about what you would do if this or that went wrong. If you find yourself sitting in a restaurant booth and realize you wouldn’t know what to do if the SHTF, set up the scenario in your garage at home, and practice it. What will you do if your “110% reliable Glock/XD/1911 and so on and so forth…” decides it is taking the day off when you need it most?

Of course there are endless scenarios and drills that I could put here, but the bottom line, and the point I hope to get across is this: Never mentally limit your preparedness for a self defense situation. The fight is won or lost, weeks, months, even years before it happens.

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  1. I remember when I first saw this video about a year ago, and how much fun was had making fun of this guy’s exaggerated, stylized threat check ballet.

    • Is that what it’s called? Weird looking. Why would he be checking for as threat at a shooting range? Why does he move so slow?

      • Well, as for checking for a threat at a shooting range, I suppose that’d fall under “train like you fight.” If you train yourself to check for additional threats at the range, you won’t forget to do it when it matters. In theory, at least.

        As far as the slow speed, and checking three times (with arms extended, at close-hold, and then again after holstering), that’s what makes it silly ballet. Threat checking is not in-and-of-itself a bad thing. But the slow speed makes it look more like a tai chi exercise than a useful tactical process.

        • I see, I guess. Thanks.
          If you really want to train like you fight, leave the range entirely since you probably won’t get mugged there and start training at the mall or your favorite drinking establishment. You could dress like a Japanese actor from the middle ages and do your slow moves. Everybody would think it was Kabuki theater.
          Then when the guys with the white jackets arrive, you can shoot them and get your practice.

  2. TO: All
    RE: Heh

    Look…..if you’re not a professional LEO, who practices to draw and fire in less than a second….you’re an amateur.

    When the situation arises where you need to go WEAPONS FREE, you should first take cover while you bring your weapon into full battery.

    THEN you can come out and do what needs to be done.


    [Be Prepared….but don’t try to be Dirty Harry….. At least NOT until you’ve got your weapon prepared to fire at the push on the trigger.]

    • “Look…..if you’re not a professional LEO, who practices to draw and fire in less than a second….you’re an amateur.”

      I would venture a guess that less than 1% of “professional LEOs” are capable of performing a 1 second draw, ESPECIALLY from a duty or concealment rig.

      Just sayin’

    • If you’re pushing your trigger you are about to get a big surprise, and the situation has indeed spun out of control. I always take the time to double-check, making sure my trigger’s ready to pull or squeeze. Why make the perp’s job easier?

        • To: All
          Re: Matt

          To Matt when discussing the threat check assessment ballet if you are not professional LEO then just do the ballet and hope for the best and expect the worse.

          If your ballet is not correct then roll up your sleeves first and rack away, insert new magazine and blast.


          P.S. – this is why I don’t go to the public range anymore, the threat assessment ballet. I would rather get yelled at by the old guys at the gun club.

        • TO: Joke & Dagger
          RE: The ‘Ballet’

          Indeed. As the Marines say….

          In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived. — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting

          And those who lived will be drinking beer, toasting each others good luck.


          [If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly. — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting]

          P.S. What was I saying about ‘cover’ while bringing ones firearm to full battery in a WEAPONS FREE environment?

      • Actually, if you understood physics….you’d realize that your trigger finger actually PUSHES on the trigger.

        To pull on it you’d have to have something behind the trigger instead of ahead of it…..

        Maybe YOU use a string tied around the trigger that you pull from behind the weapon. I prefer the more conventional—albeit less understood—approach.

        I get better results that way.

        • P.S. Consider a longbow. Do you pull or push on the bowstring?

          Of course, this is all semantics and pole vaulting over mouse turds…..

          …with little or nothing to do with combat use of firearms.

        • Not true. The piece of string that is making contact with the trigger is pushing the trigger. Just like your finger. If you really understood physics you would get the correct definition of push and pull.

    • That’s the second time you’ve accused me of jealousy, but again, you’re mistaken. I’m not a jealous person by nature, but if I was to be jealous of anyone in this world, it’d be, in no particular order, Len Wiseman, Benjamin Millepied, Jason Sudeikis, and whoever Emma Watson is seeing at the moment. You, my friend, would not appear on the list.

  3. I know the saying is that slow is smooth and smooth is fast, but it seems to me like that drill would need to be done at least 2x as fast to really counter a threat effectively. Maybe he was moving slowly to aid the demonstration, but it seemed slow as hell to me.

    A good point about the spare mag as well, I carry one not because I think I need 17 rounds but as a precaution in case of a malfunction. Also carry a Buck Spitfire in case things completely go to sh!t on me…

  4. My take on it is this: there is such a thing as training overkill.

    We can’t possibly train to solve every problem which could affect a firearm.I witnessed a fellow range patrons Glock 19 shed its field strip spring. Had that happened in a DGU his gun would be hors du combat after 1 shot.I had a CorBon 10mm round refuse to fire after 7 trigger pulls,and I’ve had three squib loads happen with different factory ammo brands.Any of them could have happened during a DGU,and it would have left me screwed.

    Without a “tactical crystal ball” the only practical option left for us is to build our shooting skills as best we can,and take it on faith our hardware and software will do what needs to be done.When AF SP Andy Brown laid out a scumbag at 71 yards,he did it with an issue M9 that he’d never fired once beforehand.Murphy ,it would seem,is not omnipotent.

    • Why would you try seven trigger pulls on a single round? None of my guns have second strike capability, so it would be tap-rack-bang after the first click for me, but even if I did have it available I don’t know if I’d bother with it. Ammo is pricey these days, but it’s not that pricey.

  5. Isn’t Murphy’s law really the reason that anyone carries in the first place? You only have need of your gun in the event that something is already going wrong.

  6. Too often self-defense advice focuses on the gun. Instead of thinking about the use of force I recommend that you learn the “4Ds”:

    Deny: Learn your environment and watch for trouble. If you see him before he sees you or before he can do anything to you then you have denied him the opportunity to get to you.

    Disrupt: Always know your escape routes so if you feel you are in danger you can make him change his plans — get inside his OODA loop — and you can get to a solid defensive position and call 911 before he can get to you.

    Disuade: If he still persists in coming after you make a show of force, i.e., make sure he can see that you are armed and ready.

    Defeat: If you have done all you can do and he is a bad ass then you will be in superior defensive position and he will be the target.

    For any number of reasons you may enter the process at any point. If it happens to be at the fourth stage I wish you luck. If you follow this paradigm it will greatly reduce the chances of this happening.

    Remember the first rule of a gun fight — don’t get into gun fight because you are guarenteed to win 100% of the gunfights that you don’t have.

  7. Try adding snap-caps to your range mags randomly (FTF), and for added fun, clip/file off the rims on a few (FTE).

    As a general rule, i try NOT to practice what to do when i already know what the problem is and when its going to happen. Just a thought.

    • I regularly do the first, but I never thought of the second. Maybe I’ll pick up another pack and get to work with the Dremel.

    • Actually Kent, I’ve seen a revolver lock up 3 times in the nearly 50 years I’ve been shooting. 2 were ammo related. A squib load that lodged a bullet in the barrel. A squib load that lodged a bullet between the forcing cone and the cylinder. The 3rd was a mechanical breakage that disabled a revolver and needed a gun smith to undo.

      Like you, I’m a revolver fan. In that same nearly 50 years I’ve seen semi’s crap out and fail to function more times than I can remember. Ammo failures, mag failures and mechanicle breakages occur regurly with them.

      I’ve lately come to the conclusion that if you carry a handgun for self protection, you need to carry 2. A New York reload should keep that bastard Murphy at bay.

  8. I had an epiphany the day I watched my brother’s Colt Series 70 magazines’ (both of them!) Floor plates fall on the ground along with their springs snd followers and bullets. Hate to have that happen during a gun fight.


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