Critical Tasks – “Ambi-Importance”

If you’ve spent any amount of time reading the latest gun magazines (…paid advertisements), online blogs, or attended any tactical training in the last decade or so, you’ve no doubt heard the terms: off-hand, weak hand, support hand, or non-dominant hand. Generally when we consider them in a fighting environment, we primarily relate them to firearms first, and maybe combatives second. For the latter, the term “weak side” might be more prevalent. Regardless, they all generally mean the same thing: it’s that hand that you don’t primarily write or shoot with. For me, I’m a righty who’s right eye dominant, so my “weak side” or hand is my left side.

In the frame work of firearms and combatives, being ambidextrous is often considered a gold standard to achieve. Ideally, we would train to the standard that anything we could do from our strong side we could do equally as well from our weak side. Shooting unsupported, reloading, weapon manipulations, and various strikes, holds, and submissions would all be equally as easy and natural to do from both sides of the body. But the reality is very few of us can actually do that. I sure can’t. It would take an immense amount of training and repetition to actually achieve this, and frankly, the there may be a significant amount of opportunity cost to actually achieve true ambidexterity.

So if we recognize that we might not ever achieve true ambidexterity, but we still train certain combative tasks to some certain degree of success, then what else do we need to know about using our weak sides? Well… quite a bit actually. Today let’s take a look at a few tasks, outside of the combatives realm, that might require us to use our off hand for whatever reason – and that you may have not yet considered.


Medical Treatment 

There’s a million and one reasons that you might have to render self aid or buddy aid without the use of your primary hand. Perhaps you’ve been injured or you’re using your primary hand to apply pressure or hold gauze. Maybe you’re just using your stronger side to hold the patient down who is panicking and flailing around. Whatever the reason, you need to have the ability to conduct at least basic trauma interventions with only your off hand. At the very minimum, I would suggest you be comfortable using your off hand for applying tourniquets, wound packing, applying direct pressure, manually clearing an airway, and maybe even applying self-adhesive chest seals.

cat

With that in mind, I’d strongly recommend the CAT Gen 7 Tourniquet from North American Rescue. Consider that a direct endorsement. They’re a bit bulkier than the SOFTT-W, but it’s much easier to apply with one hand. The CAT tends to stick to clothing or skin better for whatever reason, whereas the SOFTT-W likes to spin around the limb a little more. Both are TCCC “certified” but my preference goes to the CAT. Take that to the bank.


Driving 

When was the last time you practiced driving your vehicle while using only your off hand/arm? I’ll be honest, I hadn’t even considered this until just recently I had to drive my truck for a very brief period of time with only my left hand.

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If you take a look above, the first picture is a pretty typical representation of a column mounter shifter, where as the second picture is representative of my F-150’s interior – a center mounted “sport” shifter.

The column shifter is much easier to use when having to drive with only one hand, because it doesn’t force you to cross your entire body to get the vehicle into drive. And under more serious circumstances, the ability to move or stop quickly might be life and death if you’re already one hand down.


Comms

Have you ever been holding your kid (or pint of beer) in your primary hand and had to answer your phone with your other hand? If you don’t take the split second to think about it, you’ll probably frustrate yourself by either entering the wrong password or pressing the wrong buttons.

Under more severe circumstances, you might lock your phone with you really need to be getting that 9-1-1 call made. Sure, there’s an emergency call button, but make sure you know how to access that with both hands as well.

If you’re running a PTT radio or similar communications set up, make sure you can release channels, scan, and select channels/groups using only your weak hand, wherever that comms is attached to your body. Uh oh… can’t reach it? Guess you’re going to have to make some adjustments.


So as you can see, in different contexts, off hand skills apply to more than just shooting or punching. Hell, they could really apply to just about anything. Make sure that that as you go through your day you’re giving the use of your weak side some consideration – your life might depend on it.

Until Victory.

-Z

Rags and Rattle Cans – How to Camo Up

Well, I finally took the plunge. I’d thought about it for months, maybe years here and there, but just never had the actual courage to do it: I finally painted some of my own guns.

Now, for many of you who do this all the time, painting your own weapons with spray paint is probably no big deal. Rattle canned guns are Instagram famous, and “operators” around the world have been doing it since ‘Nam… and earlier. But for me, the proposition of spray painting several thousand dollars worth of equipment with $8.00 worth of Home Depot spray paint was a little daunting. But I finally gave in to practicality. Black rifles stick out, appropriately camouflaged weapons don’t.

I researched high and low, watched hours worth of various “how to” videos on YouTube and probably started to develop chronic high blood pressure trying to figure out the best way to spray paint my blaster. So I thought I’d take a quick minute and share with you what worked for me. Fortunately for both of us, it’s not rocket science.


To start off, you’ll need some quality paint. Although any spray paint will wear pretty quickly on a firearm, that’s fine – you can always reapply it later. It’s not really a protective finish so much as a cosmetic thing, but a quality paint will adhere a little better and stick around a little longer than the off brand special. I used Krylon and Rust-Oleum paints from their “camouflage” line. It’s a flat matte that doesn’t reflect light, important qualities for a camo paint job.

You’ll also need a quality painter’s tape and some 550 cord. The tape you’ll use to mask off whatever you don’t want painted like optics lenses and the magazine well, so make sure you get a tape that adheres well and creates a good seal. The 550 cord is good for hanging the actual weapon up to paint it. The use of the cord isn’t necessary, but it helps keep the weapon from contacting anything else during the process and smudging the paint.

Nice, but not necessary – a cheap, “portable closet”. The kind that’s just PVC piping and cloth surrounded by a few zippers. It works really well as a paint station to contain everything if you paint in doors.

paint1


  1. Start by degreasing your rifle. I just wiped down the exterior of the rifle with an old rag and some mineral spirits. You could also use gun scrubber or break cleaner I suppose, but mineral spirits work and it’s cheap.
  2. Tape off areas that you don’t want covered in tape. I removed all optics, lights, sights, and any foregrips from the rifles and painted them separately. I did this to get maximum paint coverage on the guns in the even I change optics or something, I’m not left with a bare black spot on the rail. I also mask off the muzzle device since I frequently use a suppressor, and a tape up the trigger as well – it keeps the trigger group cleaner and less gritty if you don’t blow paint up into it through the lower receiver’s trigger cut.
  3. Spray – get creative. Use a pattern that makes sense for where you are – if you live in the Arctic Circle, it probably doesn’t make sense to use a woodland pattern, and if you live in a temperate climate, you probably don’t need a dusty, desert looking patter. As a general rule, if you plan on using a base coat, I’d start with the lighter color first. That way if the darker colors wear down over top, you can always reapply darker pain that wont mix over the lighter paint underneath. I started with a tan base coat on one rifle, and alternating brown and OD green coats on the other rifle. paint3
  4. Drink beers while you wait for the base coat to dry.
  5. Using native foliage or in my case, an old laundry bag from boot camp, lay a creative “micro” pattern over your primary colors. I used opposite colors on opposite base coats: browns on greens, greens on browns, etc.  Hold the foliage or netting approx. 4″ off the rifle and spray to create a disruptive, “three dimensional” pattern. The netting gives a sort of snake-skin texture… sexy. paint2
  6. Enjoy your rifle and finish your beers. Just don’t go fire it after consuming beers. You know… guns and alcohol don’t mix.

Is a minor note, if you plan on painting some plastic, it might help to “rough up” the surface before you prepare it. The same techniques can be used to made your plain jane black Safariland holster look dope! paint4

That’s it, enjoy! Give it a shot. Maybe practice on a piece of old cardboard first (I’ll admit I did), and find a pattern you like. I found that the lighter base resulted in a more “intermediate” color scheme and the alternating green and brown base created a darker, more “woodland” look. I dig it.

Until Victory.

-TZ

AR Stocks – Finding the Right Fit

In the late 50’s to mid 60’s when the AR-15 was being developed and the M-16 and M-16A1 were in their infancy, very little was available for the weapon other than maybe a waffle pattern stamped magazine and a paracord sling. If you were American SOF in the 70’s, maybe you had access to a GAU/XM-177 carbines with their two position collapsible stock and Singlepoint Occluded Gun Sights… maybe.

Fast forward to 2018 and we’re living in the golden age of the AR, at least as far as parts development and availability go. (Gun rights… ehh… it’s good but could get better.) It can be hard to find the right takedown pins for your rifle, let alone something as important as a stock. The “old school” fixed stocks of yesteryear have largely fallen out of style, and now are more an uncommon sight. Even the old mil-spec collapsible stock from GI carbines aren’t nearly as common as they were ten… even five years ago! That’s not to say that either is useless but there have been evolutions of the design that generally improve on one or several of the following:

  • Ergonomics – fit of the weapon to the shooter. Adjustable length of pull helps accommodate shooters of various sizes, and allows for minor adjustments when wearing armor, heavy clothing, etc.
  • Durability – the ability of the stock to withstand damage and hard use. Specifically here the plastics/polymers used in stock construction as well as latch design have all improved.
  • Usability – enhancements that increase the stocks performance at doing it’s job: stabilizing the rifle and providing a third point of contact and reference point. This includes: battery compartments, enhanced cheek weld, or even the shape/construction of the buttpad itself.

So after we’ve decided what stock fits our needs best based on our “mission priorities” (tacti-cool alert), we need to know how to best actually use them. Well… you put it on the end of your rifle that faces you and put it in the pocket of your shoulder before firing.

Just kidding. It’s that simple in execution but sometimes even that simple task when done incorrectly or inefficiently puts a performance impingement on our shooting ability. That is to say: if you don’t know how to properly fit or use a collapsible stock, you might not be shooting to the best of your ability.

As a general rule of thumb, I find it best to actually have the stock extended as much as possible without making my support arm over extended or uncomfortable in the typical standing, kneeling, and prone positions. By having the stock longer relative to the end of the receiver, it allows for better head position and doesn’t force your face down and neck forward to get a good sight picture. This lowers fatigue and gives better field of view when using red dot optics. Additionally, this more upright position allows for more natural body mechanics that allow you to actually “drive” the gun faster between targets and into presentation than a compressed stock weld. The additional length also adds for stability when using a two point sling, both when actually firing the weapon as well as slinging it over the back.

stock1

As you can see from the above photo, my normal stock length is nearly the same as an A2 stock. The middle carbine is set up just one position in from maximum length to give me proper eye relief behind the Steiner P4Xi for use without any body armor. That’s how I’d most likely employ and shoot the gun. The Daniel Defense M4A1 is set two positions in from maximum extension, because it’s usually fired with at least soft armor on to replicate my patrol rifle (it’s my training gun – nearly identical in every regard to my Mk18 SBR).

stock2

I also like to add a witness mark with a silver Sharpie to the buffer tube so I know exactly where I usually run my stock under whatever “normal conditions” that weapon is designed to perform in. For example, I know that if I’m wearing hard armor, I go one click in from the mark, or if I don’t have any armor I’ll extend one position out. But I can always come “home” to my witness mark when I’m all done.


It’s sort of related, and it bears mentioning: the old “nose to charging handle”  (NTC) that still shows up in the shooting community was a development when teaching iron sight marksmanship to the military. The NTC position created a consistent index point for the shooter so that they would maintain a proper and consistent eye position relative to the rear sight aperture when using peep irons. This isn’t really a factor when using modern, near parallax free optics. This is the head position/stock weld now that compromises speed, vision, and honestly: creates neck pain after awhile. This position was part of what made a fully collapsed stock common place for the past decade or two.

For me, I like to run my stock out as long as I can, depending on what I’m wearing and the need for consistent cheek weld in relation to eye relief. If you need to get as compact as possible, it’s doable, but just recognize it might not be the best for magnified optics and may hinder your rifle’s stability. It might also just be uncomfortable in the long run. But you do you, and remember: situation dictates your equipment needs.

Side note: I like B5 Bravo stocks on anything that requires cheek weld (magnified optics) and Bravo Company Gunfighter Mod 0 stocks on non-magnified optics. I find that the slimmer profile of the Mod 0 allows my head to be more upright behind the red dot and allows for a closer stock weld in the shoulder pocket. 

Until Victory.

-TZ

New Year, New Guns – Ruger Edition

Welcome to 2018! America is a weird, weird place today. Gun rights are simultaneously being chipped away at at the State level and expanded Federally, “cisgender” is a word now, everybody has PTSD, feelings matter, our political process has become nothing more than a meme war on social media,  and everybody… everybody is getting “triggered”.

Fortunately for you and me, we still have the 2nd Amendment (for now), and can get triggered the good ol’ fashioned way: behind a gun! And the last few months of 2017 and start of 2018 have been marked by a few pretty cool new guns to look forward to. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest/most interesting new blasters for the new year from a company that’s been EN FUEGO this year: Ruger. Honestly, they’ve been on such a hot streak, that I’m just going to hit you with a quick snapshot of a few new releases – in no particular order.


Security 9

security9

(photo: Recoil Web)

The Ruger Security 9 takes its concept and namesake as an affordable defensive handgun from the Ruger Security Six of days gone by. The Security 9 is a hammer fired, box fed autoloading pistol that represents the essentials of a defensive handgun – pretty much everything you might need and absolutely nothing you don’t. It’s pretty barebones, but I think it will represent a good value for those looking for a more affordable 9mm option.

The PC Carbine

pccarbineNow this… this gun I’m actually really excited for. Pistol caliber carbines (PCCs) have been all the rage the past year or so, and Ruger has finally jumped into the market with one of the coolest options in the game. It’s fed by either Ruger or Glock magazines, and comes with magazine wells for both. It’s also a takedown design which makes it incredibly handy. The stock can be adjusted for LOP by adding/removing spacers and the barrel is threaded 1/2×28 for your variety of muzzle devices or suppressors hosts. Add to that a set of ghost ring sights, 10/22 trigger components, and a more traditional, rifle-like form, and you’ve got a seriously cool little blaster. The PC Carbine is on my list for 2018. Why? I have no idea. It’s just… so cool.

Ruger has also released a number of other cool designs that are more like product line extensions for the new year. The GP-100 get’s a 7-shot cylinder in a few different models, the American Rifle gets a ranch variant in 7.62×39 (also on my short list), and they introduce the “Ruger Precision Rimfire”, which is a little bolt action .22lr in a chassis similar to their precision rifle with an American rimfire action. The coolest part? It has an adjustable bolt throw that can be set to mimic the throw of a full sized centerfire bolt gun – very cool for precision rifle training.


I’ve always liked Ruger guns. They’re American, usually affordable, have a rock solid reputation for rugged reliability (if not being a little brutish), and lately they’ve had a pretty cool line up of new products. I think they’re doing it right in this down market – introducing innovate new products that the shooting market actually wants. Hell, I didn’t even know I wanted a few of these until I saw them. They’re at least being much better with product releases than a different company *cough, crossed cannons, cough*. But that’s for another day.

What’s on your list for this year?

Until Victory.

-TZ

Tuesday Tac Tip

It’s Tuesday, and the start of a new weekly series for us called “Tuesday Tac-Tip”, where we deliver a quick tip for success in the tactical environment. Nothing too crazy, maybe a drill, adjustment, theory, or quick insight to help give you that extra little benefit that you might find useful someday. Maybe you’ve heard it before, or maybe it’ll make you think “how didn’t I think of that?”. Either way, it’s going to be simple and to the point – after all, it is just the tip. 


For today’s quick tip, we’re going to take a quick look at weapon light maintenance. If you shoot with a weapon mounted light (which you should), there’s a good chance you’ve noticed at the end of your training that you need to clean the light’s lens after. This is made even worse by shooting with a light that extends in front of the muzzle, like a Glock 19 and Surefire X300U.

x300uglock

(photo credit: On Duty Gear)

To prevent this, use a little bit of Chapstick or other lip balm and wipe it on the lens before shooting. Just keep a little tube of it in your shooting bag, and you can use it for light maintenance, lip care, and minor skin wounds that happen on the range all the time. When you’re done shooting, just wipe it off with a clean, cloth rag and the majority of your cleaning is done! And don’t try using straight Vasoline or your sex lube for this – it isn’t really think enough to hold up to the heat and makes a nasty mess.

Just make sure to use a cloth rag for wiping the lens. Don’t use paper towel or similar products, as the wood content in them can leave micro scratches in the lens and cause damage over time.

For really tough carbon build up that you need to scrub off: use a pencil eraser. A good ol’ fashioned #2 Ticonderoga pencil will serve you wonders on the range. It can clean your light, help you take waterproof notes, or improve your qualification score since it’s about 9mm in diameter.


Holidays PSA: Keep in touch with each other over the holidays. Get ahold of your peers and check in. NCOs and leadership – this is your time to practice troop welfare. I know there’s veterans out there reading this, and you owe it to yourselves and buddies to be around for each other these next few weeks.

Until Victory.

-TZ

A Simple Rule to EDC

It’s fine… you don’t need to put your gun on. You’re just going down the block to grab a gallon of milk and a pack of diapers for the baby. You’ll be gone 15, maybe 20 minutes tops. Get in, grab your stuff, and get home.

There’s a million and one excuses that any of us could think of to not carry our EDC equipment, but really, there aren’t any that make sense anymore. It’s 2017 – nearing 2018, and the times have changed. At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, we have to look at the facts and recent trends in violence: a quick trip to the grocery store can devolve into trying to survive a complex, terror-inspired killing spree. It would seem reasonable then that a person would at least give some consideration to keeping at least some resources on hand to deal with both daily tasks and surviving mayhem.

But how to we balance our actual needs for every day carry versus our daily restraints? That is to say: how do we know if we are carrying enough or too little, and how much will our local society tolerate? 

Is a small flashlight and J-frame Smith & Wesson enough when we’re out on a run, or can we get away with a small knife? Can I carry a rifle openly here or will it be acceptable to have a long gun nearby, or will I look like the next UT tower shooter? On any given day, we have to balance our “mission requirements” with a sensible and reasonable amount of gear to carry.

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The S&W J-Frame is a classic carry gun, but is it enough for 2017? That’s up for you to decide. (photo: VZ grips)

If I were to give you one bit of advice when trying to decide on what to carry, how much, and when, it would be this simple statement: carry what you’re comfortable getting into a deadly altercation with. 

That simple principle applies to both defensive tools (most obviously firearms) and anything else you may need in the aftermath of said event, such as medical equipment, a cell phone, or even cash/documents.

For me, personally, I’d rarely be caught with less than at least a flashlight, small fixed blade knife, my phone and wallet, and the ability to create improvised medical supplies or equipment (often called “ditch medicine”). But more often than not, I’m carrying at least a compact handgun, Glock 19 or larger, a spare magazine, a small fixed blade, a handheld flashlight, and some sort of tourniquet.

1911edc

This Colt Series 70 Level II and its “associates” are an example of a frequent EDC rig that I carry. Despite the size, I can usually conceal is under a tee-shirt and shorts (with the right holster!).

It’s not that I fear anything specifically, but rather if I carry a gun with the idea in mind that I may have to ever use it to defend myself or others, then I figure I should at least carry an appropriate amount of gun and associated equipment with me to win the fight – not just survive it. Smaller, slimmer guns like the Shield or Glock 42/43 are great guns in many regards, but I very rarely carry them. I don’t shoot them as well as larger guns, and I personally have more confidence in my own abilities when using larger handguns. The capacity isn’t the limiting factor for me, but rather the controllability of smaller guns.

However, that’s not to say that one can’t carry a smaller gun or shouldn’t. Body type/concealability and training are two of the biggest factors when assembling an EDC rig. If you can’t carry a bigger gun, then carry whatever you can.

Similarly, my favorite piece of EDC medical kid is the CAT Gen 7 if I can actually carry it, but it’s a bit large and bulky, and frankly it just doesn’t fold down flat enough to hid under a tee shirt. So I’ll usually carry a SOFTT-W because it can pack flatter, or even a RATS tourniquet. I get that they’re not TCCC board approved, but I live in a mostly urban area, and EMS will probably be available reasonably quickly – if I can at least slow the bleeding enough to give them a chance.

Carrying life-saving equipment every day is a serious task. It demands a degree of commitment and a sort of “professionalism” if one is going to be truly well equipped for the modern threat environment. Carrying anything and being ready for everything will always be a matter of measured compromise, but if you feel comfortable with what you have with you, you’re probably on the right path.

 

Killing a King – How Sig ALMOST Took Down Glock

Welcome back, crazies. Hunting season in the midwest has nearly drawn to a close, so we’re back at it and going to hit it hard! Thanks for sticking around, and a big shout out to those of you who’ve been keeping up on Instagram and Facebook. We’ve been gone for awhile so let’s just jump right back in. Today we’re going to take a look at the Sig P320’s successes and failures, and how it nearly put it Sig at the head of the modern pistol market.

sig-sauer-logo

 

The Sig Sauer P320 is a remarkably good pistol. It’s well machined, has that familiar “Sig” feel in the hand, and has excellent performance. The P320 pretty much typifies everything that you’d probably want in a modern, polymer, striker-fired pistol: great trigger, usable sights, simplified takedown, and actual modularity. Not the BS, “change a backstrap” modularity, but true, Transformers like modularity. The P320 is perhaps the best example of a shape-shifting pistol that can actual go from a subcompact backup gun, to a full fledged duty gun with the switch of a frame… and slide assembly that costs nearly as much as a new gun.

That all being said, what really defined the P320 was it’s modularity. Unlike nearly any other commercially viable handgun to date, the P320 could actually do something that everyone wanted for some reason: switch back and forth between various frame sizes. The modularity of the design was ultimately, in my opinion, what lead the P320 to winning the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract (heavy on the MODULAR), and its performance and design ultimately contributed to its adoption by agencies like Dallas PD, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and reportedly DHS ICE.

sigMHS

But why are these contracts and agency adoptions so important? Because Sig knows the rules that Gaston Glock knew so many years ago: the American market buys what it’s military and police carry. In the book, “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun”, Paul M. Barrett outlines how Glock’s shrewd marketing nearly formed a duty weapon monopoly in the holster’s of America’s police departments. But the bottom line was this: despite all of the hookers and blow Gaston could offer to America’s police admins at tactical conferences, price was king. Glock knew that departments are run on budgets, and the cheaper the gun, the more likely they are to be purchased en masse. Sig made their weapons extremely available. The individual officer pricing (IOP) available from numerous dealers was extremely competitive and most guns came already equipped with SIGLITE night sights and at least three magazines. As trivial as that might seem, it was a step above Glock’s Blue Label pricing, and the night sights really put the nail in the deal. Sig seemed to be cruising to success with more P320s entering duty holsters around the country, seemingly with each passing day. And if Sig could get their guns in the holsters of American police officers, they would stand a damn good chance at dominating the public market as well. For whatever reason, Americans like to buy and carry guns that the police and military carry – they’re tested, proven, and often marketed as “duty grade”, or “mil-spec”, and who doesn’t want the best? Sig knew that if they could own the duty market first, their guns would practically drop right into the holsters of the shooting public. See what I did there?

All was well and good until the famous “Drop Gate” of 2017. The P320 was found to have a repeatable safety issue: it would discharge if dropped on the rear of it’s slide an the correct angle. Although Sig stood by their product and claimed that it passed every industry standard test (which it did) it was, and still is, unacceptable for a defensive weapon to discharge without a pull of the trigger. Although Sig quickly issued a recall… I mean, “Voluntary Upgrade” program, the damage was done. News of police departments suspending use of the P320 and officers suing Sig Sauer really, really killed Sig’s buzz. For the most part, Sig has seemingly resolved the issue, but not without likely causing themselves a major issue. Although the military P320, the M17, didn’t suffer from the same flaw due to a design difference, the market has seemed to loose a fair amount of confidence in the P320. Regardless if the gun is now safe with it’s new disconnector and trigger, it doesn’t matter any more. The legacy of the failed drop tests might always haunt the P320.

So, will the P320 replace the Glock as “America’s Gun”? Honestly, it probably could have. Sig was undercutting prices of most competitors and won the MHS bid, which was huge. The gun had performance in the bag over the competition and was actually modular. But the severe shake in consumer confidence will probably keep the Glock soldiering on in duty holsters for the foreseeable future. Maybe Sig has the fabled “Glock-killer”, or maybe someone else does. Only time will tell.

Until Victory.

-TZ