I wanted to actually handle a VersaCarry holster and talk to someone from the company prior to saying anything about it. The results were what I expected. I haven’t addressed the durability issues other people have mentioned because I was not in a position to evaluate it.
The magazine carrier actually is workable, though. I may pick up one up for more testing, although I rarely carry a spare magazine.
My thoughts about the VersaCarry are in my PDN article Personal Protection Products and the Big Picture.
The Rangemaster 2015 Tactical Conference is over and I am processing the things I observed and learned from it. The Conference has a long history, dating back to the early days of IDPA in 1998, when it was a sanctioned IDPA indoor Championship. Over the years, it has evolved into the foremost tactical training conference for private citizens in the United States. It is held annually, early in the year, in the Memphis area. The venue for the 2015 Conference was the Memphis Police Training Academy, a truly fine and modern facility.
This year, three dozen of the top personal protection trainers in the country, many of whom are referred to as “T-Rexes,” came together to present or conduct training blocks of two to six hours over a period of three days. The agenda has grown so large that it’s not possible to take in all the training that is available, since sometimes five blocks are going on simultaneously. Some of the training is classroom lecture, some is hands-on with sterile weapons, and some is livefire. There is also a shooting match, for those who choose to participate.
There were a wide variety of topics, ranging from psychology and communications to contact based skills to firearms manipulation. I was able to attend nine sessions.
- Yes, I Shoot Like a Girl, Would You Like a Lesson?
- Surviving Lethal Encounters
- The Law of Self-Defense
- Practical Small Knife Principles
- Performance Under Fire
- Rehabilitating the Experienced Shooter
- The Training/Reality Mismatch
- Kneeling Positions and Combining Them with the Use of Cover
- Women’s Holsters and Accessories
In addition, I was able to make two classroom presentations.
- Tactical Communications for Couples, with my co-presenter Linda Hoopes, President of the Resilience Alliance.
- Negative Outcomes of Firearms Ownership
Upon my return, several people have asked me what my most significant takeaways were. As usual, I learned a great deal, so it’s difficult to say what were the most significant, but here are a few that stand out in my mind, in no particular order.
- A conversation with a mentor of mine, John Farnam, elicited from both of us the experience that when approached for help in a parking lot, it’s almost always a scam or criminal ambush. Fellow trainer Melody Lauer pointed out that there are a few legitimate exceptions, but John and I both feel they are the exception rather than the rule. This indicates that a default response should be formed to immediately and firmly decline the invitation to be a victim and then rapidly vacate the area. Exceptions to that rule should be based on specific articulable reasons and conscious decision-making, rather than by default.
- The T-Rexes are constantly working along the path to excellence. That path includes attitude, skills development, tactics, and a host of other areas. Recognizing that there is an element of chance in every encounter, we work hard on stacking the deck in our favor. ‘Doing the work’ means training regularly and practicing on a daily basis. ‘Good enough’ is never good enough for us. That’s probably why we’re regarded as T-Rexes.
- There is an enormous amount of erroneous, misapplied, or misinterpreted information floating around in the broad firearms and personal protection community. This is especially true in relation to prioritization, legal issues, and skills development.
- The community has a lot to learn about integrating women into it. There was a record turnout of female attendees and women trainers at the Conference this year, my co-presenter being one. Conversations with them, as well as the presentations, were highly enlightening. Many male paradigms either don’t apply at all or don’t work particularly well when used by women. My own presentation was an eye-opener to me in that regard. The Women’s Holsters and Accessories presentation, which was presented by a woman, gave several good examples. A pet peeve expressed by several T-Rexes is men who have women shoot excessively powerful firearms and then laugh when they fail. Our universal attitude is along the lines of the desire to give such jerks a knee lift in the crotch followed by a crack in the jaw and then laugh when they fall down writhing in pain.
I have several pages of notes but those jump out at me. Undoubtedly, more will occur to me as I reflect on the event. I will have more thoughts on specific topics in the near future. There is a photo gallery of the Conference training blocks available on the Rangemaster website.
It’s easy to ignore the potential negative outcomes of having a firearm for personal protection. The topic is easily overlooked or put on the back burner. I think that’s a mistake. This is the first of a series of articles I’m writing for The Tactical Wire about it.
Claude Werner begins his exploration of the ‘software’ component of defensive firearms with this piece on negative outcomes. This begins a multi-part series that disposes of trite sayings from instructors and gunshop commandos, pushes aside the common trends, and brings serious thought to preparation, planning, and what we should avoid. Fighting is a “game” of minds.
So far, I have 175 rounds through the SCCY CPX-2 that they sent me for T&E. It had a Failure to Chamber on the fourth round I fired but no malfunctions since then.
I shot it at an IDPA match today and was able to do reasonably well (5th overall) against full size service pistols. One of the stages was a true El Presidente (10 yards with targets 2 yards apart). I finished 2nd on that one with an overall time of 11.73 (10.73 with 2 down).
The front sight now has 3M Reflective Tape on it and I was able to remove the horribly distracting white dots from the rear sight. The three dot system does nothing for me, especially the way most manufacturers implement it. One of my friends commented that the front sight is visible from behind the shooting line, i.e., in the peanut gallery.
The trigger takes some getting used to because of the length of pull and reset. Shooters used to riding the reset/catching the link will probably not care for it. Flip and press works well though. I am not wild about it being flat all the way across and may do something about that.
Although the gun has noticeable muzzle flip, as might be expected from a 15 ounce 9mm, it isn’t painful to shoot the way I found the PF-9. It’s definitely more pleasant than shooting an LCP.
I did several tactical reloads and did not get pinched at all.
Yesterday, I shot the old FBI Double Action Course with it and was able to make 96%. This is properly shot on a Q target but I used an IDPA -1/-0 scoring zone. The pistol’s accuracy seems to drop off quite a bit past 15 yards. That’s something I will have to verify further.
Most of my shooting with it has been with locally remanufactured ball ammo. However, I shot one stage today with Winchester 147gr SXT and had no problems.
So far, so good.
I’m not so sure about the empirical reality of the Farnham [sic] idea: “The person most likely to shoot you is YOU. Why? Because you’re always there.” It just seems incorrect to say, so I am wondering what the broader idea he is conveying is supposed to be.
Since John’s statement generated some incredulity, I will elaborate on it. His comment referred to the often atrocious gunhandling he sees, not people committing suicide. Improper and dangerous gunhandling regularly results in gunowners turning themselves into casualties, although not necessarily fatalities.
The reason I included John’s quote began with a statement he made in the first DTI class I took. The statement was “Eighty percent of police officers who are shot shoot themselves.” Once again, he was not referring to suicide but rather negligent shootings where the officer injured himself or herself. Whether that is still true, I don’t know. I do know that holster manufacturers are sued numerous times each year, unsuccessfully, by police officers who shoot themselves in the process of drawing or holstering. However, given the multiplicity of reports I have about private citizens who accidentally shoot themselves, I wouldn’t be surprised. It happens a lot more often than we like to think. The two casualties I have had on ranges I have been running were self-inflicted non-fatal wounds. One was a highly trained and experienced police officer who had a momentary lapse of concentration and technique.
Here are a few recent examples:
This is an excerpt from a detailed incident report by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners.
Officer A was off-duty and inside his residence. Officer A was seated alone in the living room of the residence cleaning and putting tactical lights on his personally owned handguns. Officer A indicated that he had completed cleaning his .40 caliber Springfield Arms semi-automatic pistol and during this process he had inadvertently seated a partially loaded magazine and released the pistol slide that chambered a round. Officer A mistakenly believed the weapon was not loaded, so he pulled the trigger and caused the weapon to discharge.
Officer A received a through and through bullet wound to his left hand just below the little finger. The bullet traveled through Officer A’s hand, then through the back of a couch [the interior decorator in me thinks it was a sofa and not a couch], and the living room wall adjacent to the couch, entering the garage and striking the metal back of a clothes dryer before falling to the garage floor.
Officer A was treated and released from the hospital the day of the shooting.
The BOPC found that Officer A’s use of force was negligent, requiring Administrative Disapproval.
Unfortunately, some incidents prove fatal. Gunshot wounds to the upper leg can sever the femoral artery, resulting in rapid death. RIP Sgt. Davis, who was an experienced officer with 8 years of service, including on SWAT.
This video of Tex Grebner shooting himself contains explicit language. I give him credit for taking responsibility and showing how easily this can happen.
There is an image I see used on Internet websites that makes me cringe whenever I look at it.
That’s a good way to shoot yourself in the support hand. The number of beginners I see doing this at IDPA matches is legion. I warn them immediately to stop doing that. If your holster doesn’t allow you to draw from it with one hand, then you need to stop using it immediately and get a new holster.
If IDPA and USPSA Production Class do nothing else other than to train people to draw their gun without putting their support hand on the holster, that’s a great contribution to the shooting community. For those who say IDPA isn’t training, I would counter that it’s excellent training in safe gunhandling. There’s nothing like getting disqualified for a safety violation to make the point that someone’s gunhandling needs work.
So the point of John’s Master Lesson is twofold:
- Proper gunhandling has to be at the forefront of our minds anytime we handle a firearm. Firearms are mechanical devices; they do no more and no less than we make them do. Consequently, they are relentlessly unforgiving of carelessness and/or stupidity.
- Pointing your weapon at yourself can have serious consequences. Some holsters force us to point our weapons at ourselves. But placing your hand in front of the muzzle when the pistol is out of the holster is a prescription for an unhappy outcome. One of my personal peeves is the devices that shotguns shooters put on their shoes to rest the muzzle on. I have some really nasty pictures of feet with holes from shotguns in them. Those people are unlikely to ever walk right again. Similarly, taking a high performance anti-personnel bullet in the hand at point blank range is unlikely to enhance your ability to play the piano.
Yet another uninformed and ignorant discussion about clothing, guns, and ‘dressing around the gun’ came to my attention today. Here was one of the comments.
People are so unaware of what is around them, they never notice printing. The only time I really worry about it is when I am entering a non permissive environment. I make sure to readjust and cover with my under shirt and top shirt, instead of just my top shirt.
Nobody has ever noticed when I’ve carried, as far as I know. Nobody has ever said anything, anyway.
When the story about the Arkansas Realtor® who was recently murdered surfaced, I did some texting with a friend about Louis Vuitton handbags and knockoffs. She packs her heater in her purse every day. Although it’s long, I am going to put her commentary here in its entirety because the level of detail is important to observe and understand. My original question was “When I see women carrying Louis Vuitton handbags, are they actually paying $1-3K for them or are those knockoffs?” Here was her response:
Wow… that’s a good question. If you put a[n] authentic bag beside a replica, you can easily tell. Here are a few other ways to tell…Authentic bags follow a pattern and are continuous. There’s never a bottom seam. So, on 1 side of the bag, the LV is upside down because it is cut from a single canvas. The pattern across the bag and on the ends will touch a seam, but the pattern should mirror itself and be even across the sides or end.
The hardware on the bags are always brass. The thread used on the handle is always a mustard yellow and the top stitching shows 5 stitches across. The inside of the handle has burgundy piping, and over time the handle will turn dark brown because it is made from vachetta cowhide leather. The LV monogram will never be broken in a pattern and the V sits a little higher than the L in the monogram. The date stamp is underneath the pocket on the inside of the bag and is always evenly spaced.
The tag on the bag has the LV logo as well as Louis Vuitton Made in Paris. The mustard yellow stitching will create a V shape and almost touches the top of the LV logo. The size of the bag is also on a leather tab…25, 35, etc. That’s the width of the bottom of the bag.
Oh, and the inside of the bag is a solid chocolate leather.
Guys, if you think a woman like that, and there are many, doesn’t notice everything that is the slightest bit out of place with your clothing, you are ignorant and uninformed about how conscious most women are about clothing and style. Now, I have no doubt that People of Walmart don’t notice your T-shirt is pulled down over your full size service pistol. OTOH, the moment you walk into any White Collar business environment, you may as well assume you’re busted. That woman might not say anything to you because she MAY want your business, at least initially. However, don’t labor for one second under the illusion that she doesn’t notice something out of place, even if she’s not quite sure what it means. It’s as obvious to her as a Hi-Point at an IPSC match would be to us. It’s funny how many people who carry weapons tend to assume that the only type of “worst case scenario” is running into some meth head who is trained in mixed martial arts and is carrying a brace of Glock 22s with another brace of Glock 27s on his ankles for backup.
With the escalating number of signs prohibiting weapons, whether they have the force of law or not, and the amount of public hoopla about active shooters, getting made while carrying is going to become more of an issue in the future. Sooner, more likely than later, businesses are going to start calling the police if they suspect someone is packing a gun in violation of their company’s posted policy. Even if the sign doesn’t have force of law, having several police officers come up to you out of the Blue and escort you off the property will be unpleasant. It also has the potential for an Officer Involved Shooting with you as the shootee.
One of the major problems in the training community is that almost every trainer with a Mil or LE background has not spent one single day actually working in the White Collar or Retail Business environments. Unfortunately, what this means is that although they can teach you how to run a pistol well, they are utterly unqualified to even speak about Concealed Carry, as it pertains to most people, much less teach it. Even Jeff Cooper admitted that when he wore a suit, he carried a J frame revolver, not a 1911. Of course, Jeff actually owned suits and knew how to tie a tie.
If we really want to extend the opportunity to ‘always carry’ to an expanding percentage of the American populace, we’re going to have to come up with a better concept than ‘dress around the gun.’ Every time I hear that phrase, it makes me cringe. Whenever the vast majority of people who don’t buy their clothes at WalMart hear it, they think “that’s not me,” as my psychologist friend William Aprill clued me in to several years ago.
A few people drink from the fountain of knowledge but most only gargle.
Gun Digest recently published an online article about holster retention systems. The article begins by referencing Safariland’s retention holster rating system as being the standard. Unfortunately, the author, Corey Graff, should have done a little research and contacted Safariland about their retention rating system before writing about it.
That system, devised by Bill Rogers, the inventor of the modern security holster, has nothing to do with the number of mechanisms that the holster has. Corey’s interpretation is a common misconception in the industry. Safariland’s system is based on a series of hands-on performance tests in which the holster is physically attacked and tested. The holster must pass, in sequential order, each test to achieve a given level of rating. A holster can have several mechanisms on it and still not achieve any rating at all if it doesn’t pass the hands-on (literally) tests.
In point of fact, the Blackhawk Serpa holster pictured in the article will not pass even a Level I rating test, regardless of the number of mechanisms it might possess. The reason is that the holster must remain attached to the belt while attacker is pulling on it with a given amount of force. Because of its relatively small mounting area where the screws attach to the belt plate, the entire Serpa holster will pull off the belt when subjected to a Level I test. Unless, of course, the holster itself breaks, which has also been known to happen, when subjected to a hands-on test.
I won’t go into the plethora other unsatisfactory aspects of the Serpa holster.
Unreinforced leather holsters, such as the Blackhawk leather slide holster pictured, will not pass a Level I test either. They lack rigidity in the strap holding the pistol in place and the pistol will simply pull out of the holster when subjected to a significant amount of force. This is why true security holsters must be made from a rigid synthetic material.
It’s interesting that the author used Blackhawk holsters as illustrations despite the fact that they don’t pass the Safariland rating system. What is up with that, I don’t know, but it’s certainly poor research and understanding of the topic. Since this article is an excerpt from a book about Concealed Carry Holsters, I certainly hope the rest of the book is better researched and based on factual information rather than common misconceptions.