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I recently wrote a post putting the importance of firearms reliability into its proper perspective, below more pressing concerns (e.g., situational awareness and “getting off the X”). I’d like to generalize that point for people new to guns: don’t get to thinking that your life defends on having the right or “best” equipment. The benefits of the owning the ideal self-defense firearm and related gear –  a concept subject to endless debate – are minuscule when compared to the benefits of . . .

maintaining a proper mindset.

A great many gun gurus have written a great many words about the mental attitude required to defeat someone trying to hurt or kill you. Basically, it all boils down to this: whatever it takes. You have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to survive – using whatever weapon you have, or no weapon at all (if you don’t have one or it doesn’t work). The will to win is it. The thing. The most important factor for defeating a potentially deadly attacker.

Let’s say someone is trying to kill you and you didn’t take Reid Henrichs’ advice and put “backup” iron sights on your red dot-equipped AR-15. I know it sounds incredible, but your Aimpoint T-1 fails. What now? Consider running towards to the bad guy. The closer you get, the less accuracy you need. If you’re close enough, use your rifle as a club. Got a knife? Chair nearby? Think creatively! As James Bond taught us, never underestimate the power of an arched eyebrow. Do something.

You can never know what the “right” thing to do is in any given dangerous situation. The number of variables are staggering: who’s trying to kill you, why, using what, when and where? How many attackers? Are they easily discouraged or hell bent on killing you? Is there cover or concealment available? One thing’s for sure: it’s not going to go down like it does in training, where there’s plenty of heads-up and no real downside to screwing-up.

Given all these unknown indeed unknowable factors, you can never predict exactly what weapon and related gear you’ll need for any given self-defense scenario. For example, the makers of weapons-mounted lasers rightly point out that their way cool gizmo is the best aiming system for “unconventional” shooting positions (e.g., when you’re knocked flat on your ass). Yes but – looking for a laser dot when you’re moving and shooting is lot harder than getting a “flash sight picture” or simple point shooting.

By the same token, a weapons-mounted flashlight may be a bad idea for you’re identifying potential bad guys in your house. If you shine it directly at a friendly, well, you’ve just muzzled a friendly. When you’re stressed. And your finger might be on the trigger. (Not that it should be, but it might.) What could possibly go wrong?

The simple answer: resist CWE (Cool Weapon Envy) and have a gun that’s easy to use. Don’t get me wrong: bells and whistles are OK – as long as you train how to use them. If you have a snout-mounted flashlight on your home defense handgun or rifle, for example, train yourself to bounce the light off nearby walls, and use the light in short bursts as you move.

The less complicated or “specialized” your firearms and firearms-related equipment, the easier it is to be proficient with it. The more complicated or “specialized” your ballistic self-defense set-up, the more you need to train. Even then, be ready to abandon your training and simply fight like hell. At the end of the day, it’s not the equipment that will save you. It’s you.

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  1. I do like that Reids videos are not ever more slickly produced infomercials for buying more gear. The fact that he looks like the Geico caveman is pretty cool too.

    • He is fun to watch. he’ll stress how much you need a good rifle but remind you that all the dodads are optional and training and a good rifle are where the money should go. No doubt he’s a born warrior and a seriously true American.

  2. Excellent, often given and often ignored advice. I spent a lot of time researching the “best” gun, caliber, bullet and holster. Much time wasted. When I bought my pick for best I then took a 3day defensive pistol course, then will actual knowledge bought a different gun, holster and mag carrier. I did keep carrying Federal HST s though, 1 outta 5 guesses was correct.

    • I learned this from running. Here’s a quote I don’t know where from but it stuck. It applies to many things in life, just not drag racing.

      “And too there were questions: What did he eat? Did he believe
      in isometrics? Isotonics? Ice and heat? How about aerobics,
      est, ESP, STP? What did he have to say about yoga, yogurt,
      Yogi Berra? What was his pulse rate, his blood pressure, his
      time for the 100-yard dash? What was the secret, they wanted
      to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The
      Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to
      believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy
      mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes
      heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the
      very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training
      shoes. The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials. How could they
      be expected to understand that?”

  3. Probably my favorite advice that I’ve seen on this site yet.

    Gadgets are fun, but usually they’re just gadgets. Seems like a lot of people buying gun parts are getting sold some kind of snake oil or another.

  4. Consider running towards to the bad guy.

    According to one of his criminal associates, Jimmy Hoffa said, “You always run away from a man with a knife and toward a man with a gun.”

    Which works on paper and sometimes in real life, especially if the charging defender can startle or intimidate the attacker.

    However, it’s worth noting that while being closer does improve the defender’s aim, it also improves the attacker’s.

    • By extension, running towards the other shooter is the best way to even the odds when you are at a disadvantage and have nothing to lose.

      Just remember whether your objective is getting home or if you absolutely have to kill the attacker.

  5. Keep philsophizing all that guff. When go time happens its all forgotten anyway. Most times its just luck who survives an actual gunfight.

  6. Having run the gambit of new fangled striker fired plastic toys, I have come to the conclusion that there is one and only one gun designer I trust enough to protect my life. So it’s either 1911 or P35 BHP for me. I’m a firm believer in KISS.

    • Doesn’t a 1911 have like 112 parts? What’s simple about that? NOTE: I have a striker-fired plastic toy in my pocket, and have never fired an honest-to-goodness 1911 – so I’m not challenging, I’m trying to learn from your experience. I don’t see any advantage to carrying a heavy 1911 over a lightweight 9mm with the same number of rounds. You apparently do – so what is it?

  7. Just a point of information – with the bright weapons mounted lights we have available now, you can easily illuminate the average residential room plenty well enough to identify friend or foe by bouncing the light off the floor in low ready position. No need to muzzle anyone.

  8. Really, it’s you *and* you’re equipment. Equipment failure, when time is of the essence, can allow Murphy’s Law to get deadly. One back up plan is simply to run like your a$$ is one fire. I usually carry just one gun off duty. If it fails I’ll either transition to a knife, fisticuffs, or run like a Frenchmen.

  9. Don’t Fall In Love With Your Gun And Gear

    That’s not just good advice for new POTG, I see lots of long time POTG make that mistake.

    Make sure your chosen gun runs your chosen defensive ammo reliably. If it regularly jams in less than 100 rounds, no matter how much you love that gun, you more than likely have a problem you need to address. Change ammo or fix/change gun. Yeah, that’s expensive, but so is a malf during a fight for your life.

    NOTE: This is NOT the same as it successfully running practice ball at the range for 500 or even 50000 rounds without fail.

  10. Second point, backup iron sights are useless unless they are sighted in. Third point, backup iron sights are next to useless unless you practice with them. Fourth point, do you know how your equipment works in adverse conditions?

    Reid doesn’t touch on this but backup irons also help people (like me) with astigmatism when shooting red dots for accuracy from 50-200 yard ranges. Using full co-witness and setting up the red dot to “dot the i” on my front sight makes the dot on my Aimpoint tighten into the 2 moa perfect circle it is supposed to be.

  11. I’d rather muzzle a friendly then fail to identify one and shoot him.

    Also…the ability to make and use equipment is what makes us human. Its how we have achieved everything that we have. The strongest and smartest man in the world is defenseless against a seventeen year old crack whore with a highpoint pistol unless he has equipment.

    Of course if he was really that smart, he would never be unarmed.

    The point should be to not make STUPID equipment decisions, some species of equipment are what will save your life, while others are just dead weight.

  12. The person who is alert, aware of their surroundings, and has both the will to live and recognition of his/her limitations… will probably see trouble coming and be able to avoid it. We don’t hear much about these folks. All the gear, etc. comes into play when this fails, for whatever reason. And even then, the awareness and attitude probably make the most difference in the outcome.

  13. Saw the image of the bearded, long haired dude holding the rifle and said to myself “I’m all set”. I guess I’m getting old.


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