Thursday, December 5, 2013

Concealed Carry Is More Than Just Totin' A Gun...

Sunday, October 27th, after an enjoyable day in the classroom with Illinois Gun Pro's knowledgeable and thankfully convivial and entertaining instructor Mike Bius, my fellow classmates and I headed to Article II Gun Range for our shooting qualifications, the final word in the 16 hour course work for an Illinois Concealed Carry License.

And I passed.

The people in my class of 30 ran the gamut of men and women, young and old, those new to concealed carry and those who have spent their whole lives with guns, and each and every one had the same concern... protecting themselves, family and innocents should the worst scenario you can envision come knocking at your door.  Its been a long, enjoyable and, in many ways, an eye opening journey to reach this particular end and I look forward to continuing my education on the concealed carry lifestyle... it's not an end, really, but a new beginning.

I am fascinated by the mindset, the tactics and the gear that goes along with concealed carry, the little things and the big.  The more I learn, the more I know I must learn - and I believe that most of those involved with the lifestyle, those that I've talked with, feel the same way.

For the uniformed, there is so much more than just totin' a gun where prying eyes won't see it.  From rules of engagement such as Jeopardy / Opportunity / Ability - to the First Law of Concealed Carry - A life long commitment to De-escalation, deterrence and avoidance. These may be just words to you, but to me and most of my brethren, its a way of life, or more importantly, a way to stay alive.

Beyond continuing education and practice, many things change, like buying a different wardrobe than you might usually wear or routine physical actions such as how you hug someone, which arm you use to reach a can of corn on the top shelf of the grocery, how you swing your arms when you walk or how you hold them when you are standing in a line - just a brief start a very long list.

I'm looking forward to attending a tactical school in the coming year.  Forty hours of intense training, learning not only about the gun itself and how to use it, but the tactics used to defend yourself in a myriad of circumstances.  You learn what to expect in these situations, how to protect yourself and others, threat management, movement, cover, mindset, legal issues, aftermath management.  These courses teach practical defense of the home, place of business or how to defend yourself when you are just out for a walk with your spouse.  They teach defensive handgun under extreme stress, drawing from concealment, shooting from cover, and overall emphasis on fast, accurate shot placement.

I am still on the bottom of the learning curve, but I practice regularly, dry fire and live.  I read everything I can get my hands on.  From magazines like US Concealed Carry and Combat Handgun to anything by Massad Ayoob, each one shining a light into a world that most of the public at large have no idea about, a world many choose to ignore, a world where many more have decided that with no way out, they will not be a victim.

To those who abhor the thought of people walking around armed, all I can tell you is this.  Learn.  Educate yourself on the subject.  Not from a fact and statistical view, where arguments are born, but from the view of those who carry concealed.  It's so easy for both sides of the Second Amendment issue to get into name calling and stereotypes, I myself have poked fun at those on the Left, but the reality is, if someone asks me an honest question about guns, concealed carry, or just... why?  I'm happy to give them an honest and sincere answer and I find most gun owners, like the regular, everyday people in this video, are happy to do the same.

Fear and emotion are a powerful duo and when used as the reason for change, they can be like an F-5 tornado, destroying everything in its path, laying waste to good and bad, with indifference, and that's a sad way to run a world.

Soon, I will carry concealed... And I hope you know the last thing I ever want to do in this life, is to find myself in a situation where I have to defend myself with my gun... but I will if I have to.

Godspeed and stay safe and Carry responsibly,


Friday, October 11, 2013

You Being "Offended" Doesn't Mean I Have To Stop What I'm Doing!

Jennifer Link, in a Parade Magazine opinion piece titled -  "Is Gun Play Ok?" - ruminates about her boys and the fact they like to play with toy guns.  As I was perusing the column I couldn't help but feel she was somehow apologetic, as if this form of adolescent entertainment was somehow wrong - while explaining why boys need this kind of play, how it affects their development and yet, submissively lowering her eyes when faced with those that are "uncomfortable" or "upset" seeing children play with toy guns.

In the article she gives "common sense limits" for children playing with toy guns.  One of these reads...

“My boys also know that the play must stop immediately if someone expresses discomfort with the play, or if an adult or authority figure asks them to stop.”


When I was little, my Brother and I were taught to stand our ground if we felt we were in the right and to apologize if we were in the wrong.  Believe it or not, we were specifically told to “Stick to your guns!”

Compassion for others is a good thing, something children should learn at an early age, but acquiescing to others unfounded, ignorant and fearful beliefs only validates that persons outlook, giving them a false sense of self importance and begets the belief that if you are "offended"  you have the right to demand that people conform to your sensibilities.

This is patently untrue.

We are not responsible for what offends others sensibilities. People in this country have somehow
come to believe that if they are “offended” then others must stop what they are doing. This is wrong headed and should not be tolerated. If you're “offended” that my child is playing with a toy gun, or throwing a baseball or playing tic tac toe, then go someplace else.

It's a good read and she is right in many ways, it's just a pet peeve of mine... the whole "I'm OFFENDED!" thing.

Oh yeah, and as an addition… can we all commit to stop using the phrase “common sense,” as though saying it out loud makes it so?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Carrying a 51 Hudson on your hip...

Finally in Illinois the process has begun for legal concealed carry.  

Here in the Great State of Confusion, we are required to complete a curriculum which includes a shooting test and of 16 hours of classwork - more classwork than any State in the Union.  I'm scheduled, along with my Son to complete the course work on October 27th, then fingerprinting and finally the wait for the Illinois State Police to put applications online - though this won't start until January of 2014.  Although they're telling us the permits should be approved in 90 days, I'll believe it when I see it.  Now, approximately 16 months from the time the Supreme Court ruled in December 2012 that Illinois carry laws were in violation of the Second Amendment, those that choose to carry concealed may do so outside the confines of our homes.

In anticipation of this, I've been breaking in my IWB (Inside the Waist Band) Crossbreed holster when I'm at home.  I've never carried before and after a very short while I'm already seeing a small problem.  The gun I've chosen, the one pictured up above, weighs in at 44 oz loaded with 45 acp ammo (8+1) - or roughly 2.75 lbs.  I'm telling you, it feels like a 51 Hudson is perched on your hip!

Being - as my Brother-In-Law would say - one of the bigger kids on the block - 6'3" and 300 lbs - means I don't have much in the way of hips.  I am of the pear shaped variety of chubby and wearing my gun on my hip is like tying a string around the fat end of a light bulb... it just keeps slipping off.  I walk around the house hoisting my pants every five steps or they and the gun will be dragging on the ground... and lets face it, no one needs to see that!

So I've decided to make the ATI my home defense pistol, kept in my safe, loaded, cocked and locked, always at the ready.  What will take its place?  Right now I believe I'm going to buy a Colt Pocketlite .380 for my pocket pistol - 12.5 oz empty and 16.5 loaded - while I debate between a Colt Defender (left) or a Glock 36, both in .45. The Glock tips the scales loaded at 26.98 oz, the Colt loaded at 30 oz. - either one a considerable drop from the 44 oz ATI - while both have an ammo capacity of 6 + 1.

Right now I'm leaning towards the Colt for the simple reason that its of the 1911 variety.  Although the Pocketlite 380 is not a 1911, you can see by the picture (right) it is a scaled down version, meaning every gun I grip in a lethal force situation - ATI, Colt Defender, Colt Pocketlite - would basically be the same - an added plus when training and then using that training in the face of a dire altercation.

The Colt Defender would fit right into the Crossbreed holster I now own, so there wouldn't be a need to spend more money on more equipment.  If I choose to acquire a shoulder holster, it would fit both the Colt and the ATI, again, meaning less money spent on equipment.

Of course, all it really means is that I have an excuse to buy more guns... you gotta' love it!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

If It All Goes Bad - Be Smart, Don't Talk

This is not a knock on Police Officers.

I have the utmost respect for those that look in the mirror every morning and commit to putting their life on the line for a stranger.  It's heroic, to say the very least.  My own Father was an MP in the army and a volunteer fireman.  I have neighbors who are Police Officers and they are a credit to their brethren.  But I believe the information below is important.

There was an Officer involved shooting in my home town on September 27th - no one was hit (thank God.) The local Police Department, like most Law Enforcement Agencies, subscribes to the theory of "two sleep cycles before interviewing their Officers."  Why?  Because Law Enforcement knows that someone who has been involved in such a traumatic experience will have trouble relaying the simplest of information in a coherent form, which includes putting together the chronological order of events that just occurred.  They know the mind needs time to work through the ordeal, time to catch up.  They know you need time for the adrenaline to leave your system, time to calm down and think things through.  Time to shake off the effects of a lethal force encounter, the auditory shutdown, the tunnel vision.  They know you  need time to get over the damage done by a such a harrowing incident.  Time. Time. Time.

On the other hand, if you are involved in a lethal force shooting, you can expect to be interrogated on
the site of the shooting, pressed hard, asked the same questions over and over under the guise of "It's better to get the info while its still fresh in your mind."   Which is not true!  If it were, they would be interviewing their own LEO in the same time frame of a lethal force shooting!
You do have the right to refuse to give any answer other than your name, address and such.  Tell the officer interviewing you that you want to help, but at this time you are not answering anymore questions until you have talked with your lawyer.  Advise your spouse to say the same.

It would be nice if we, the citizen, were afforded the same respect as an LEO.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mentally Ill, Gangs, Drugs And Other True Reasons For Violent Crime In America

The Liberals and Gun Control zealots always start the argument with the belief that GUNS are the problem.  How about we do this... take guns out of the equation and start the thought process there.  Now what do you have?  Undiagnosed mentally unstable individuals.  Unemployment.  Drugs.  The decline of the family structure.  All of societies ills are the root of this countries violent tendencies.

"Criminal gangs commit as much as 80 percent of the crime in many communities, according to law enforcement officials throughout the nation. Typical gang-related crimes include alien smuggling, armed robbery, assault, auto theft, drug trafficking, extortion, fraud, home invasions, identity theft, murder, and weapons trafficking."

In February 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released crime statistics that suggested as much as 80% of all crime - including violent crime - was committed by gangs!  By the way, just as an f.y.i. no where did they blame crime on guns.

So how did this tidbit of information slip through the cracks in the National debate on gun control?  Wouldn't a better question be "How do we cut down on gang activity?"  The Left needs to show that they truly care about the taking of life by trying to fix the problem, not masking the problem with the fear-mongering of guns. This is not the way to the truth.  Guns are not the reason for the violent ills in our society.

Yet the chant continues... "Take away the guns and we will be safe."

Just unbelievable.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pragmatism, Passion And A Little Greek Guy


"The law is reason free from passion." Aristotle

I'm tired and I'm frustrated.

Who are these people who pontificate on what they deem to be "common sense?"  These self-important mooks who espouse the need for responsible gun laws - as if saying the word "responsible" makes the word "ban" the only reasonable and sure way to stop violence by gun.  And if you don't agree with them?  Then you are attacked as faulty or flawed.  These arrogant, pompous, pretentious and condescending buffoons who believe that if you aren't on their side, then you must be a heartless, soulless bastard who loves your guns more than the lives of the innocents lost to mass shootings by the insane.

Why do they believe this?  

Many conclude that if you experienced their heart breaking pain, their deep and fiery anger, their rage at the injustice of it all and cried - like they do - the tears of the emotionally spent, then you couldn't possibly come to any other conclusion. 

But they would be wrong.

Many of them believe if you look into the faces of the grieving, felt the horror of family, friends and the like minded countrymen of those murdered so brutally, watched the video of madmen with guns who mow down defenseless souls with impunity, there can be only one conclusion, only one solution.  There can only be one answer!

But they would be wrong.

If you dare not agree with them, you are viewed as a mouth breathing, slow witted oaf who holds on to your guns tighter than Chinese Finger Locks on a fat mans thumbs - and to think any other way makes you a pariah.  

But, again, they would be wrong.

Pragmatism vs Emotion

Aristotle said "Law is reason free from passion."  It is my opinion that those who make the laws, should also remain free from passion... or emotion.

I find most gun owners I talk with are pragmatists.  There isn't a whole lot a gray area involved with many answers.  Two plus two always equals four.  It doesn't change due to someones religion or race.  It doesn't maybe have another answer because someone is mentally ill.  It doesn't become 4.23 because an innocent child died or the perpetrator was unemployed.  It doesn't become a negative number due to of a lack of education or parenting or the illegal use of drugs.  It is what it is.

But it doesn't mean we don't care - we just tend to look at the problem with a simple and straightforward view.  For me, the view is something like this...

The Second Amendment is not up for debate.  It is a Right, just like the First Amendment supports the right to free speech.  We have the right to keep and bear arms.  So, its time to move it along, because there is nothing to see here.

When we see the news of a mass shooting, it makes us sick to our stomach, the same as you.  It breaks our hearts, the same as you.  It enrages us, the same as you.  We cry, trust me we cry, the same as you... and we are ashamed for our great country, the same as you... and then we look at the facts and attempt to come up with an answer.

This is what we see; A mentally ill man entered a school with a gun, where, by law, no guns are allowed - and then shot as many people as possible - which is also against the law - before killing himself - which is also against the law.  And we think...

How did a mentally ill guy get a gun?  How did he get into the school so easily?  Why wasn't someone there to stop him after he started shooting?  And we think...

We need to identify and help those who are mentally ill, so the odds go down on this happening again.  If those who allowed the shooter  access to a gun knew he was in trouble mentally, they should be held responsible - sending a message to gun owners reminding us of our responsibilities, not just to ourselves but to those around us.  Schools need more security - only those with a reason to be there should be allowed in.  Schools should allow those trained in the use of their guns to be volunteer security (including Teachers) so our children are as safe as we can realistically make them and the cost to the school districts is zero.

We need to look at the facts and realize that Gun Free Zones are nothing more than shooting galleries.  We also need to understand that even if we made it legal to carry guns everywhere, the crazy people and the bad guys would still have guns, still attempt mass shootings and may still accomplish their objective.  But by allowing concealed carry in schools, you have the chance to  minimize the damage should the worst happen - and give those innocents who are about to die, the opportunity to live.

We need to be aware that our Government can not keep us safe from all those who wish to do us harm - not from outside our borders, nor within.  Government can try, but the reality is it can't - and we shouldn't expect or assume it can..

And for those who still believe a safe society is a defenseless society, I ask you this...

If we registered all the guns and the government came and took them all away, do you believe the bad guys and the psychopaths wouldn't be able to get their hands on guns?  Your answer says more about you than you might think.

A pragmatist knows that Evil finds a way - but he also knows you don't give Evil free reign.  Good people with guns shouldn't scare you.  Bad people with guns should make you quake in your boots.

Just my opinion.


Monday, September 23, 2013

The Question We Should Be Asking About Violence

We all agree the violence needs to stop. Left, Right, it doesn't matter, the violence needs to stop. How do we accomplish that? 

First, identify the problem. I don't think many sane people would disagree that the mental instability of so many of the shooters is problem one. Now, this is where we need to start - identify and help those that have these kinds of problems.

One of the reasons gun owners become angry each time a mass shooting takes place is due to the gun grabbers in office - There are never any facts, just raw emotion and tears. Gun owners, by our refusal to be stripped of our guns, are then made to look compassion-less in relation to gun control advocates. We are portrayed as a group bereft of kindness or empathy -which, of course, is wrong. Period. Enough of that.

Second. Taking guns away from law abiding citizens is off the table. That argument is over! We are not the problem! Why should people in Montana stand idly by while the Right confiscates their guns due to a madman in Washington D.C.?  Surely, common sense should win out.  And how can gun owners show respect for those who would propose such insanity?  It doesn't help the Liberals argument for banning guns when, at the same time, they are standing tall on top of the First Amendment to speak their mind to the crush of ubiquitous television cameras.  Don't the Liberals realize the First Amendment's only true protection is the Second Amendment?
So, lets start here... Take gun banning off the table. Leave it alone. It ain't going to happen. That dog will not hunt!

Now... what do you have left? What is the plan?  If guns aren't the problem (and they aren't) what is?  This is the context in which the question needs to be asked and answered. Starting with Mental Health (mass shootings) Unemployment, Education, Drugs (legalize them) Parenting and last but not least - Prosecuting criminals who use guns in the commission of a crime. (In 2012, Chicago was dead last prosecuting violators of federal gun laws - 90th out of 90 federal jurisdictions - but people want more gun laws?) These are some of the symptoms of gun violence. This is the way forward. This is the future. 

Move past the Second Amendment. It's a right that cannot be taken away - which is one of the reasons this is such a great country!  The Second Amendment protects us from tyranny abroad, from within, from mob rule (read it as majority rule) and more. Its not going away.

Time to attack the truths of gun violence and move on. 
Shoulder to shoulder.  Together.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

ATI 45 FX GI Range Report (1000 rounds)

1000 rounds.

Well, that didn't take too long!

Before buying the ATI FX45 GI Commander length pistol (April 2013 - pictured above) I spent a lot of time researching it online (and other lower priced 1911's) - from product reviews to forum threads and everything in between and in the end I chose the ATI over the Rock Island due to one fact - The Rock Island at my LGS didn't have the extended beavertail and the ATI did.  Truth be told, I think I've made a pretty good purchase.

Price?  $579.00 (tax & white dots painted on the sights, included)

So far it has eaten everything I've thrown at it, including Tulammo and Wolf - dirty filthy ammo.  The bulk of its food supply has been PMC Bronze 230gr FMJ, due to the fact its the only ammo that has consistently been available through these tough times.  Price on the PMC has never been higher than $28.00 and the lowest I've paid is $24.00 and it's clean and fires every time.

The fit and finish of the gun was a nice surprise!  The slide to frame tolerances are amazingly tight, as tight as other much higher priced 1911's I've seen.  No rattles. The finish appears to be Parkerized and so far has remained in very nice shape, but let me qualify that by saying I don't carry yet (Illinois) so it isn't in and out of a holster and the forums I've read say the finish doesn't last as long as others.  That being said, dings and rubs don't bother me - they add to the character of the gun.

These are the only changes I've made on the gun in the five months I've owned it -
  • Changed out the stock mahogany crosshatched grips for a set of Hogue wraparound rubber grips with finger grooves.  I found the crosshatching on the wooden grips far too rough for comfort and I couldn't be happier with the Hogue grips.  As a point of information, I'm 6'-3" and have large hands.
  • The thumb safety was one thing I didn't like.  The edges were very sharp and rough (the only blemish as far as finish goes) and in the end I used a file and five minutes of my time to smooth things out.  Like I said, dings and rubs don't bother me.
  • At 200 rounds I swapped out the stock slide lock with a Wilson extended slide lock.  Just a personal preference.  The replacement didn't need any smithing and dropped right in without a problem and has run fine ever since.
  • The stock sights remain on the gun, though I did have the gunsmith add white dots.  Much better for an old man's eyes.  When money falls from the sky I will be taking it to a gunsmith for some night sights.
  • At 750 or so rounds, I changed out the stock recoil spring (I believe it is a 14-16 lb spring) for a Wolff 18 lb spring.  This was cheap and online opinion was that the recoil spring was a weak point in the gun.  Many commenters changed the spring at this point (750 rounds) so as a precaution, so did I.  Let me be clear, I did not have a problem with the factory recoil spring.
  • I just polished the feed ramp in anticipation of trying some defensive hollow point ammo.  It took about 6 minutes with a cheap rotary tool and buffing wheel that I bought at Harbor Freight.  I used the "green" compound.  It turned out great and I now have the proverbial mirror finish on my feed ramp.
When I brought the gun home I did break it down and lightly oil it before taking it to the range.  The first 200 rounds went in and out without a hitch.  The gun is nicely balanced (for me) and the heft - about 2.5 lbs loaded - makes for very manageable recoil that allows me to quickly reacquire the target.

The gun comes with just one factory magazine (8+1) and although I've read that people have had problems with the factory mag refusing to feed the last round, I haven't had such a problem.  I did have problems with two MetalForm mags I purchased, consisting of jams and FTF's and the slide not locking back when the mag went empty.  They were cheap - around $11.00 apiece - and in the end I just tossed them.  I now use Chip McCormick and Kimber mags without incident and all my mags are flush fit (I like the way they look.)

The gun does occasionally send an errant casing (once or twice a mag) clunking into my head, but to be honest, it doesn't bother me much - the bulk eject to the right.  When I get around to it, I will probably try filing the ejector and see if that helps or take it in to the gunsmith for an extractor adjustment - with the inconsistent flight path of the empty casings, the extractor tension might be the problem?

I've broke down the gun and cleaned and oiled it every 200 rounds or so.  The only problem I see so far is some minor peening or battering on the barrel link.  To be honest, I don't know if this is normal at 1000 rounds or not, but I will be changing out the link with something from Wilson Combat as a precaution.  The guide rod doesn't show any wear.

Hope that helps anyone who may be thinking about buying an ATI FX45 GI.  1000 rounds and still going strong.  And most importantly?

It goes "click bang" every single time.  And isn't that the most important thing?


This gun is still running like a dream!  The only trouble since this original post, is more magazine problems.  The factory supplied MecGar came apart at the feed point, creating a double feed and a hell of a jam at the range.  I tossed it.  From here on out, it's Chip McCormick mags ONLY.  I've just never had a problem with them.

After I started carrying in March, I began to notice that the thumb safety kept coming off safe whenever I pulled my sidearm from my Crossbreed Super Tuck IWB holster.  I ordered a new tube spring from Wilson Combat.  It slipped right in and immediately I felt a very solid "snick" whenever I flicked the safety on or off.

Other than that, I'm in the vicinity of 1500 rounds and this low priced gun continues to be the reliable every day carry pistol that I was aiming for!

Stay Safe and Carry Responsibly

My new book -Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal - is now available at Lulu.comAmazon and Barnes and Noble.  If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this would make a nice Christmas present to learn about the lifestyle and those who live it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We Must Stop The Lies

In the aftermath of another heinous mass shooting - this time at the Washington D.C. Naval Yard - and a renewed attack on gun control from the usual suspects such as Dianne Feinstein, the time has come for a pro-active approach from those who support the Second Amendment - and this should include private citizens along with those on The Hill.  It is time to say... ENOUGH!

When the left stands up and indignantly (and rightfully) bemoans the deaths of innocents, we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with them, strong and united in the belief that we indeed, must stop this madness.  We agree that it's a National disgrace to allow the killings of so many without passing significant legislation that would help bring about an end to these shameful happenings. We too cry, we too pray, we too hurt and despair for those affected by the senselessness of it all - and not only are we just as ashamed for our country as those on the left, we should be appalled and indignant that anyone should believe differently.

But instead of again going on the defensive, instead of again falling back on the same statistics of the F.B.I and the Justice Department, instead of again beating our heads against the wall, I believe it's high time we go on the offensive - and the war cry against the blight of mass shootings is this...

Gun Free Zones Are Killing Zones! 


We should not allow the lie of Gun Free Zones to continue permeating the minds of those that believe the incessant nattering of left wing politicians.  Gun control advocates must be called out for standing on the bodies of innocents to progress their agenda - an agenda that includes the eventual banning of all guns.  We must attack the knee-jerk mindset that a safe society is a defenseless society.  Nowhere in history, at any time, in any country, in any society has this proven true - and it isn't true now.

There is only one answer and this must be pushed forward with the strength of our conviction.  The legal, law abiding citizens of this country should be allowed to bear arms anywhere.  Period.  Any American should be able to defend his own life, the lives of his loved ones and those of innocent by-standers from the perils of madmen and criminals alike - and the Second Amendment makes it so.

After the Sandy Hook shootings, an article by John Fund, a political journalist and conservative columnist for National Review Online, quotes economist John Lott as saying “With just one single exception - the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011 - every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”

This is not opinion.  This is not a spinning of the numbers.  This is not a statistical anomaly. This is the hard and clear truth.  

The Mentally Ill 

In the same article, Fund quotes a Mother Jones article that maintains that of 62 mass shootings Mother Jones studied, at least 38 of the shooters were either mentally unstable or had shown previous signs of mental instability.  Again, we cannot let this issue pass without a complete vetting of the problem and our ability, as a nation, to deal with it.  Those who attempt to dissuade us from this argument must be exposed for who they are - gun grabbing zealots who will use any tribulation to advance their propaganda of fear and capitulation.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says "The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10
percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers."  And  "The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children."

And yet this government does not have a comprehensive plan to identify and help those individuals who show signs of mental instability, even though NAMI states; "The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports."

If the left is going to scream "GUN!"  Just as Peter screamed "WOLF!Then they must be called on it. They must be challenged, hard.  They must be put on the defensive.  The must be forced to show facts that back up what they propose.  And in the end, they will show everyone involved, they have none.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lawyers, Guns, Money, Wives and Husbands

I've spent a good deal of time and money (as most of you have) buying and reading books that deal with the concealed carry lifestyle.  Titles such as "In The Gravest Extreme," "StressFire" and "Concealed Carry," all by Massad Ayoob and "Armed Response" by David Kenik among assorted others.

These books educate us on everything from equipment (guns, ammo and holsters) to tactics, to the physical effects that can be expected in a life threatening situation and, maybe most importantly, the aftermath of the most desperate of moments you may ever experience - the taking of another life in defense of your own life or in the defense of others.

These books, written by professionals who teach what they preach, have specific thoughts on what to do in the catastrophic event of a self defense shooting.  What they keep coming back to is this...

The Police are not your friends. They aren't your enemy either, but they have a job to do and it includes extracting statements from you at a time when your ability to form even the most mundane thoughts will be hampered not only by the sheer weight of the situation, but by the shock and physical stress the most harrowing of experiences has placed upon your body and mind, ie; Adrenaline dump, tunnel vision, fear etc.

It is recommended that we give only the basic information (He threatened to kill me and in fear of my life I shot him in self defense.  Name, address... that's it) and then tell the attending officers that you will not be answering anymore questions until you've had a chance to confer with a lawyer - And stick to it.

Massad Ayoob, one of the preeminent voices on the legal use of lethal force, trains law enforcement around the world, has been a police officer for 30+ years, an expert witness in countless justifiable homicide cases, trains attorneys in the handling of self defense shootings and teaches tactics at his Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) - knows of what he speaks.

Ayoob explains that the responding officers will press hard for a statement, explaining to you that its always best to get this information when its "fresh" in your mind.  The problem is, it isn't the best time.  Ayoob tells us that after a life threatening event, something as simple as the chronological order of events is hard to assimilate into the answer your attempting to give - and when asked the same question several times, there will be several different answers as you begin to calm down and are able to think things through.

This of course will be used by the District Attorney if the case goes to trial.  There won't be any mention of your mental state at the time of questioning, just how your answers were different each and every time you were asked.  Even the smallest mistake in wording of an answer could mean the difference between walking away and spending a considerable amount of time behind bars.

And this doesn't include financial ruin due to civil suits that will be brought against you.

I'm no lawyer and I'm not giving advice here, but I am stating my own opinions.  Take them for what they're worth.  But one gaping hole in everyone of these books, as far as I'm concerned, is... What should your spouse say to the police, if you were involved in a shooting and they were present?

I recently had a conversation about this with my wife.  I wanted her to understand that if that horrible event were to spill into our lives (in hindsight it could be a car accident or any other situation where arrests may be made or civil suits could be filed), it was important that she keep all information to a minimum.  If a call to 9-1-1 was made, all she should say is something on the order of;  "This is  ****, someone broke into our home, threatened to kills us and my husband had to shoot him in self defense."  That's it.  Nothing more.  Why?  Because the 9-1-1 tape can be used against you in a court of law.  If your husband or wife called 9-1-1, in hysterics, and then said "Some s.o.b. just broke into our house, but we're okay, my husband killed that bastard dead," well, you can see for yourself, you might cringe hearing that ringing out in court.

I've asked my wife to tell the police the exact same thing that I will.  I'm not going to answer any questions until I've had an opportunity to talk to a lawyer.  And that's that.  Even with the best of intentions, your husband or wife might dash your defense hopes with a mistaken sentence.

Imagine someone breaks into your home.  You tell your spouse to call 9-1-1, you retrieve your defense weapon and move to the nearest point of home defense that you have practiced over and over before hand.  You holler out that the police have been called, you have a gun and if the intruder does not leave the premises immediately, you will consider it an act of aggression and will shoot if necessary.  The intruder, hopped up on who knows what yells back "I'm going to fucking kill you!" And charges around the corner of the kitchen holding a .38 caliber revolver.  You respond by emptying the magazine, killing the intruder.

Your spouse, under questioning from the police, says that they heard you say "I'm going to fucking kill you!"  In the heat of the moment, in fear of their life and yours, blood pounding audibly in their ears, stress taking over their body, tunnel vision shutting down their auditory senses, this is what they think they heard.  Now, no matter what you claim, the D.A will be able to cast doubt upon what really happened.  You'll tell your side to the jury and the D.A. is going to hammer home to the jury that your own spouse admits that you yelled "I'm going to fucking kill you!'"  And its all over.  Hello prison.

Married couples can't be forced to testify against one another.  But if something is said in a statement, it can be used against the other. Something said on a 9-1-1 call can be used against you.  I think this is a conversation every married couple should have.  You aren't trying to beat the system, but you are trying to protect yourselves in one of the most emotionally debilitating situations that can occur.  Be smart.  Keep your mouths shut.

Probably the only time you can say that to your husband or wife and not get smacked.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Treasonous Traitors And The Sweaty Padre Syndrome

Robert A. Heinlein wrote: "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life".

I think we can all agree that Concealed Carry is a very serious business, not to be employed without investing time in the education of the perils of concealed carry, how to conceal carry, where to conceal carry, the tactics involved and the aftermath of the situation most of us would just as soon avoid in the first place - and a million other considerations.  It is time consuming, expensive, and for me (and I suspect most CC proponents) a sobering responsibility that weighs heavily on the mind.

So, knowing this is how advocates of Concealed Carry feel, why do those Treasonous Traitors (Second Amendment Haters) still contend that allowing trained, law-abiding individuals their God given right to keep and bear arms will bring about middle-of-the-muddy-street old west shootouts, gunfights at Baby's First Birthday Party, drunken target practice in the neighbors backyard with a heavily perspiring Priest duct taped to a tree and a half-eaten apple upon his head... and Armageddon, all at once?

First law of Concealed Carry... Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and De-escalation.

The above quote says it all.  This is the mantra of any person who chooses to carry a concealed gun and should be for everyone who doesn't.  If you carry and don't follow this First Law, you may end up spending the rest of your life in prison... and if that doesn't sober you up to the responsibility of carrying a loaded gun, nothing will.  If you don't carry a gun and you follow this First Law, you will live a safer, longer life, guaranteed.  Not a bad proposition, for everyone, if you ask me.

To the Treasonous Traitors the quote "An armed society is a polite society," means that everyone will be nice to each other because an individual is afraid the other person may have a gun.  The Treasonous Traitors believe they would be living in fear on a daily basis (thus the whole "I'm irrationally afraid of guns, so no-one may have one" thought process), when in truth, the quote has nothing to do with the individual who doesn't carry, while having everything to do with the individual who does.

If you carry, you must be nice.  You don't put yourself in a situation where you may have to unholster your gun.  You don't go to bars.  You don't go to sketchy neighborhoods.  You don't react to idiot drivers.  If you're walking down the street and several guys are walking at you, maybe they look suspicious, you cross the street.  If you're having dinner with your wife and someone makes a lurid comment about her, you don't respond... you don't escalate, you have management handle the situation or you leave... but you don't engage.  If a drunk decides that he would like to take you on, you back down, you find an exit, you leave.

Why?  Because if it all goes to hell in a hand basket and you have no choice but to unholster your gun and fire in defense of yours (or others) lives, the scenario in which the shooting took place will be under the microscope by a District Attorney looking to win another case.

Imagine you're sitting at a nice restaurant, you and your wife, having a peaceful meal.  A drunk at a table close by starts up, louder and louder.  Before the manager can get a handle on the situation, the drunk looks at your wife and says something you wouldn't repeat at an Old Sailors Convention.  Taking offense, you say something (not very nice) back to the drunk.  He then stands up and barges his way between tables straight at you, cussing and slurring a string of expletives that would make a Marine D.I. blush.  You jump up, ready for him.  Your wife is telling you to sit down (as most wives would), patrons have stopped eating and are watching with wide eyes (dinner and a show!)  The guy, who's 5" shorter than you, throws a roundhouse right, you step inside, cover with your left and hit him with a right elbow to the cheek and he goes down like a base jumper with a depth perception problem - landing with a splat.  Two of his buddies get up and come to his aid as you sit back down.  They cuss you and threaten you as they help him back to his table.  Suddenly one of the friends brings out a switchblade and says he's going to kill you. 

All hell has broken loose.  Officially.

He is 30' away and the restaurant is in an uproar as you again spring to your feet, drawing your 1911 and flicking off the safety, taking a step to the left to clear your background.  The drunk becomes enraged at the sight of the gun and comes at you, you fire three times.

The knife drops from his dead hand.  One of the other drunks is also shot, but still breathing.  People are screaming and running for the exit which sits not 10 feet behind you. 

It is pure, unadulterated mayhem.

In this situation, you will be arrested and have a very likely chance of being convicted of Murder, spending the rest of your foreseeable future behind bars with people who have nicknames like "Bad Bubba" and "Vaseline Victor". 

Several things have happened here that the prosecuting attorney will convey to the jury.  He will ask you if you called over the manager when the man said something to your wife.  "Um... No." 

Did you attempt to leave at this point?  "Um... No." 

What did you say back to the man after he insulted your wife.  "Um... &#^$% you, you *@#*&!"

The man who you knocked to the ground was 5' 10" and weighed 175 lbs.  How tall are you and how much do you weigh?  "6'3" and 300 lbs."

After you knocked him down, did you and your wife then attempt to leave the restaurant?  "Um... No."

When the victim you shot and killed, pulled out his knife, did you then attempt to leave?  "Um... No."

It goes on and on.  But in the end, even though he began the altercation, you escalated the situation at every step of the way.  You never tried to extract yourself from the premises (Avoidance).  You never tried to calm the situation or call over the manager (DE-escalation).  You were bigger and heavier than the assailant (Disparity of Force).  You were far enough away from the switchblade man that you could have retreated (Avoidance vs Opportunity / Jeopardy).  But you didn't, you escalated the situation. You made it look like you couldn't wait to pull your gun.  Couldn't wait to use deadly force.  And for that, you will spend the rest of your life in a cell.  For that, your wife will be involved in civil suits that will bleed her dry.  For that, its all over but the crying.

But lets say the drunk says something to your wife and you calmly put down your napkin, raise a hand to the waiter and ask him to send over the manager.  The drunk continues his verbal onslaught, but without the escalation of a retort from you, he stays in his seat.  The manager comes over, sees the situation for what it is, calls over his people and they ask the drunk to leave. 

Or, you and your wife, calmly stand up, walk to the cash register, state your problem, pay and leave.

Which way is the better way to handle the problem?  No man wants to walk away from someone degrading his wife, but as someone who is carrying concealed, its your safest play.  Avoidance, DE-escalation and deterrence. 

Its not fun, but when you commit to carrying a gun, its what needs to be done.

This is why an "Armed society is a polite society.  Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."  Or, the rest of his life!  Those who carry, must be polite.  Those who carry, must be forgiving.  Those who carry, must avoid those situations that can turn bad.

To the Treasonous Traitors... we are not the enemy, nor will we be a victim.

But we will be polite.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ampa! Protek me!

When Gianna, my oldest granddaughter, was a pudgy, stumbling, giggling, smiling beautiful two-and-a-half year old, she had an epiphany about me and what I was willing to do for her.  At a bar-b-Que at my house, my brother was playing with her, laughing, tickling and such, when he gave her the scary face and the playfully menacing scowl and then a low growl.  My mother yelled in mock fear, "Run Gianna!"

Gianna turned her chubby little body away from my brother as quick as she could and ran (like a "drunken sailor" as my daughter would say) just as fast as her stubby feet would go - but with her head still turned towards the beast on his hands and knees behind her, she ran right into my own knees where I scooped her up like a Knight in Shining Armor and held her tight in my arms, her face buried in my neck as I turned her away from the threat.  And then I whispered to her...

"Ampa will always protect you."

From then on, whenever she was in trouble or being chased while playing or, well, whenever she was in dire straights (as far as dire goes for a toddler) I would suddenly hear her running down the hall, feet pounding the hardwood floors like a cartoon elephant, screaming, "Ampa! Protek me!"  And then she would appear, her little legs pumping and her arms flailing, squealing happily as she would jump onto my lap and stranglehold my neck with glee.

"Protek me Ampa!  Protek me!"  And I would... with my life, then, now and always.

Fast forward a few years...
Sandy Hook has taken place and the world mourns the loss of so many innocents at the bloody hands of a madman.  My nephew, Nick, a first-year teacher, is sitting on the couch at my brother's house.  I was curious as to what changes/precautions the school administrators had taken in the wake of such a heinous act against children.  My nephew's response?


I was bowled over!  As he explained, though there was much informal discussion among the teachers themselves, there wasn't one meeting with administrators on the horror that had taken place at Sandy Hook or an exchange of ideas on what precautions could - or should - be taken, or what may be done in the future to help themselves to protect the children.

Nothing was done?  How could that be?  How does a society as a whole, shrug its shoulders, cross its fingers, say a prayer, hang a "No Guns" sign on the door and look the other way?  That makes absolutely no sense at all.

The fact that Obama's reaction to the hell at Sandy Hook was an attempt to push a "gun control" agenda with legislation that was strictly fueled not only by raw emotion, but the soul-wrenching nightmare every parent has - of being unable to save their little ones who, wide-eyed and crying, scream for Mommy or Daddy to come save them from the monster in the room - and you have to wonder if Obama ever had the best interests of the children in his heart.  Not a single piece of legislation that he wanted to pass would have saved one life in that school that day.  Not - a - single - one.  Why?  Because as we know, deep down where our fear hides, twisting our guts, criminals and madmen don't follow laws.  They are a parent's worst nightmare.  They are the dread a parent feels when their child escapes their eyes, even for a moment.  They are the bogeymen who spring from the closet to take our children from us... forever.

What can be done to protect the innocents at our schools? 

Bring in Good Men and Women willing to lay down their lives in the defense of those children. And where do you find those good people?  Trust me... they are legion.  They are Grandfathers and Grandmothers, Mothers and Fathers, Uncles and Aunts, Friends and Neighbors, Retired and Still Working.  They run the gamut of careers... Law enforcement and military, truck drivers and teachers, farmers and CEOs.  These men and women would be honored to give their time, expertise, training, hearts and yes when the chips were down and no other way out, even their lives, to keep our children safe, sound and happy in their schools.

My father was a member of a volunteer fire department, back in the 60's and 70's.  Everyone was trained for the job and each fireman would call in when they were available for a fire call.  Simple.  And every one of those volunteers were ready to lay down their lives for people they didn't even know.  That's what a hero is.  That's what a hero does.

I am sure within every school district you'll find more gun owners than you can shake a stick at who would be willing, at their own expense, to take courses such as ALicE (Active Shooter Civilian Response).  These courses are specifically designed for Active Shooter situations using the acronym ALiCE - (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate).

These people would be vetted by Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement, train as a unit (like those at a volunteer firehouse) and take voluntary shifts at the local school whenever they could, not costing the schools a dime. They would be there during the day when classes are in, evenings for special functions and weekends too.  The guns concealed to the children, but at the ready should a psychopath with a demon's voice rasping crazily in his head attempted to do harm to those who intend no harm to anyone.

And now I ask... Why is this so repugnant to those who stand against guns?  Think about your Dad and Mom, your Grandparents, your Aunts, and Uncles.  Don't you believe that given a gun and the training to meet the situation head-on, they would be a good man or woman to have walking the halls of your school?  They are the parents of your friends, the family of people you know. They would protect yours and mine with their very life's blood.

They would die to save your child's life...

And what more could you possibly want?  How can you be more afraid of the Good Guy with a gun and training to use that gun, than the Bad Guy with a gun and a twisted, sick, demented mind?

And now, on my vacation a few weeks ago, I dropped off my granddaughters at their elementary school on a beautiful spring day.  As I pulled up, there was a line of bright yellow buses filled to the brim with kids, excited for the day ahead, children and parents walking hand in hand in the sunshine, teachers, and administrators - like mother hens - making sure everyone was making their way into the school before the doors were closed and locked.

I pulled in front of the buses and told my granddaughters to exit the same side - towards the school.  Gianna said quickly, as is her way, "LoveyoumissyouMMWAAA!" And blew a kiss to me while Micaela gave me a peck on the cheek and jumped out with her backpack bouncing on her shoulders, following her sister through the door.  I watched in my side mirror and over my shoulder as they waved goodbye and made their way into the school under the watchful eye of the adults.  And I thought...

Who will protect them today, should the Devil come to dance?


If you enjoyed this article, you might like my new book -Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal - It is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this might be the book for you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

41 Rules For A Gunfight

Some are for real, some are tongue in cheek, some are just plain ol' black humor.  All of these were gleaned from lists on the web.  Enjoy!

  1. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
  2. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
  3. Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and De-escalation.
  4. Do not attend a gun fight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with at least a “4″.
  5. You can’t miss fast enough to win.
  6. Forget about knives, bats and fists. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. Bring four times the ammunition you think you could ever need.
  7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap - life is expensive. If you shoot inside, buckshot is your friend. A new wall is cheap - funerals are expensive
  8. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.
  9. If your shooting stance is good, you're probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.
  10. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
  11. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running. Yell "Fire!" Why "Fire"? Cops will come with the Fire Department, sirens often scare off the bad guys, or at least cause them to lose concentration and will.... and who is going to summon help if you yell "Intruder," "Glock" or "Winchester?"
  12. Practice reloading one-handed and off-hand shooting. That's how you live if hit in your "good" side.
  13. Practice shooting in the dark, with someone shouting at you, when out of breath, etc.
  14. Regardless of whether justified of not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.
  15. The only thing you EVER say afterwards is, "He said he was going to kill me. I believed him. I'm sorry, Officer, but I'm very upset now. I can't say anything more. Please speak with my attorney." 
  16. Guns have only two enemies: rust and politicians.
  17. It’s always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
  18. Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you.
  19. Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arms length.
  20. Never say “I’ve got a gun.” If you need to use deadly force, the first sound they hear should be the safety clicking off.
  21. The average response time of a 911 call is 23 minutes, the response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.
  22. The most important rule in a gunfight is: Always win – cheat if necessary.
  23. Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets…You may get killed with your own gun, but he’ll have to beat you to death with it, cause it’ll be empty.
  24. If you’re in a gun fight:
    If you’re not shooting, you should be loading.
    If you’re not loading, you should be moving.
    If you’re not shooting, moving or loading, you’re probably dead.
  25. In a life and death situation, do something…It may be wrong, but do something!
  26. If you carry a gun, people call you paranoid. Nonsense! If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?
  27. You can say ‘stop’ or ‘alto’ or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much a universal language.
  28. You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family
  29. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)
  30. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a long gun and a friend with a long gun.
  31. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. “All skill is in vain when an Angel blows the powder from the flintlock of your musket.”
  32. Have a plan.
  33. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won't work. "No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy." Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
  34. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
  35. Don’t drop your guard.
  36. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. 
  37. Watch their hands. Hands kill. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them.)
  38. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
  39. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get. 
  40. Think, move, shoot.
  41. The will to survive is not as important as the will to prevail…The answer to criminal aggression is violent retaliation.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like my new book -Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal - It is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this would make a nice Christmas present to learn about the lifestyle and those who live it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why a 1911?

1911: "Fear no man, no matter his size, for I am the equalizer." Author Unknown

My carry gun will be the one pictured on top of the New Gunner Journal.  An ATI FX45 GI 1911.  What exactly does that mean?  It means I will carry a gun that has been around for 102 years and still goes "click BANG" when you want it to.  Every time.

Chambered in 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), this gun has been the choice of the U.S. Military and for countries world wide since its inception in 1911.  John Moses Browning's design of simple elegance has remained, except for very small "adjustments" in 1924, the very same design that was first delivered in 1911.  How reliable is it?  It wasn't until the mid-80's, seventy plus years after its introduction, that U.S. Armed Forces switched to another pistol (Beretta 92F and then the M9) as its standard issue weapon.  But to this day, Marine Corps Special Operations, F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Team and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta (Delta Force) still use the 1911 as their gun of choice.

1911: "For when you come to grips with the fact that the game of life is single elimination." Author Unknown

So why did I choose the 1911?  First let me say, at the time, I had no idea what kind of gun I would carry.  This changed when my Son took me shooting at our local indoor range. As I was reloading my little Walther P22Q, my head down in concentration, an unexpected and tremendous "BOOM" went off in front of me.  My head raked upwards, there was a solid "thump" in my chest and with my eyes wide as dinner plates I furtively looked to see who had set off the grenade.  But the only view I had was of my Sons Glock 30.  He turned and smiled at me, nearly laughing at the look on my stunned face and asked if I wanted to shoot.

Oh Hell Yeah!

My first impression was that the gun was much lighter than I expected (polymer based) and the grip - with 10 rounds - was uncomfortably fat, even for my large hands.  I fell in love though, with the feel of the 45 caliber round as it "pushed" its way out of the gun and knew immediately that this caliber would be the one that I carried.  Now it was time to figure out which gun I might buy to assuage my urges.

"Rifles are for fighting your way back to your 1911." Author Unknown  
My Son and I discussed what I might be looking for and I told him I thought I would prefer the heft and weight of a steel framed 45, as I didn't care for the light feel of the Glock and I thought a heavier gun would allow me to be a little quicker re-acquiring my target after firing.  He nodded and without hesitation he told me to check out the 1911's.  Of course he had to tell me what it was, some of the history and why I might like it, including the fact it was a single stack mag (8+1) with thinner grips.

I already knew I wanted a gun with single action - I like "click bang" - and not the double action of some guns including revolvers (I tried my Sons .357 Magnum and didn't like the feel, balance or trigger, though it was a lot of fun to shoot.)  My own Walther P22Q was double action / single action and I knew just from shooting the Walther that I liked the feel and break of the single action trigger.

As soon as I picked up a 1911 at my LGS (Article ll in Lombard, Illinois), held it in my hands, felt its heft and amazing balance, I knew this was the gun for me.  Now it was time to figure out which one to buy.

I couldn't afford the higher end guns like Kimber, Colt or Smith and Wesson, so I did my homework and found many great reviews of 1911's made in the Philippines (Shooters Arms Manufacturing and Armscor) and sold under the brand names of ATI and Rock Island Armory.  A mid to high range 1911 will set you back $850 to $1400, with an Ed Brown selling above $2500, but these lesser known sellers were in the $400 to $500 range.  Right up my alley.

I decided on my ATI FX 45 GI (Commander length barrel of 4.25") not only for its looks and balance and feel, but also for its fit and finish.  Those reviews that I read at places like the 1911 Forum were correct - this was a very nice gun, for any amount of money.  The slide to frame fit is as tight as 1911's I've seen in the $1200 range.

"As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for I carry the baddest pistol John Moses Browning could design. "

After talking with the salesman, making my purchase and waiting 72 hours for pickup (supposed "cool down" time in the State of Illinois) I brought it home.  As with the Walther P22Q, I worked with the gun every day.  Handling it, getting a good feel for it and generally making it my best and most trusted friend.  I learned to break it down, clean and reassemble (so easy, thanks Mr. Browning!) and read everything I could get my hands on about the 1911.  The history of the gun is amazing.

There was a bad day some-where's in there when I realized that the correct way to carry a 1911 was in "condition one", with the gun locked, cocked and ready to rock!  This freaked me out, the old fear through ignorance feeling welling up in me.  Carry a gun with one in the pipe and the gun cocked?  Jesus!  Wasn't that just asking for an accident?

In a word, No.  As it turns out, the 1911, carried in "Condition One" is one of the safest guns you can handle, no matter how counter intuitive that sounds.  Why?  Unlike most pistols, the 1911 has three safeties.  That's right, three.

 The first safety is the "grip" safety.  Seen at left in this photo, this 1911 is in Condition One, the hammer is cocked and the thumb safety (in front of the hammer) is on (in the up position).  The Grip Safety is under the hammer and is the bottom part of the "Beaver Tail" - the backwards c-shaped extension under the hammer and lays along the back strap.

You must grip the gun with that part of your palm under your thumb pressing in on the grip safety for it to be deactivated - As seen in the second photo.

The second safety is the aforementioned Thumb Safety.  The small, flat, horizontal piece of metal in front of the hammer. Flipped up, safety on, flipped down, safety off.

So, in effect, the gun cannot fire if the grip safety is deactivated but the thumb safety is on.  The gun cannot fire if the thumb safety is off, but the grip safety is not "squeezed."  So what is your third safety?  Your trigger finger.

In the end, with a round in the chamber, the gun cocked and in your holster, to fire you first must grip the gun, deactivating the safety, you then must flip down the thumb safety and then last but certainly most important, you must put your finger on the trigger and pull.  It cannot fire any other way.

1911: Upholding the promise to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic, for an entire century.

There are all kinds of factors that must go into deciding which gun you will use as your carry gun, but reliability should be number one.  My ATI 1911 has more than 500 rounds through it and it has NEVER failed to feed (FTF) or failed to eject (FTE).  I have used most cheap ammo, including Tulammo, a steel cased 45 acp made in Russia that is dirty and smokey.  The ATI eats it all up.

Many people don't like a single action pistol because they feel when under stress, a negligent discharge is possible with the light trigger pull of 4.5 to 6 lbs on the 1911.  Most double action triggers are somewhere between 6 and 12 lbs of pull. This is a choice you will have to make for yourself.  For what its worth, I'm comfortable with the light trigger, but may have a gunsmith take it up to 7-8 lbs, as a precaution.  But if I don't get it done, it won't bother me.

Watch Hickok45's Range Report on the ATI FX 45

The best part of owning a 1911 is that its like owning a hot rod.  Hi Perf parts are available, usually relatively cheap and are easy to change.  I have put an extended slide stop on mine and will be going with a heavier recoil spring, although to this point the factory spec spring has been fine.

1911: "Even 100 years later, it's still the best defensive pistol the world has ever known."