Armed Citizen Corner: Thinking About Weapon Retention


In a recent article in Ammo-Land, Bob Irwin tells of a woman who staved off a carjacking, kidnapping, assault and possible rape and murder by being armed. The problem is the story could have just as easily had a tragic ending because of WEAPON RETENTION. When the woman pulled the gun on the attacker, she did not mind her distance and the perp grabbed the gun and a struggle ensued. Luckily, it ended well for the woman and the attacker fled after an errant shot was fired off.

I have found over the years that a surprising segment of firearm trainers don’t like to go too deep into the subject of weapon retention simply because they think it is some kind of lib-tard ploy to try to dissuade citizens from carrying a handgun because of the chance that “the bad guy can take your gun away from you and kill you with it…”

When in reality WEAPON RETENTION it is one of the MOST IMPORTANT skill-sets a citizen should drill on!

Most people when they hear “Retention” think immediately of Retention Holsters.

Personally, I think for CONCEALED CARRY retention holsters are not the greatest ideal.

My reasoning for this is simple. If you carry correctly and keep your gun CONCEALED, ie hidden from “plain view”, the only person that knows the gun is there is YOU, so why increase the odds of not being able to quickly present your weapon when you need to under stress it if you don’t have to? I mean the last thing you need is to be all amped up and in that split second you need your gun not be able to draw it quickly because of a holster. I understand speed in weapon presentation from any rig boils down to training, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I say!

OPEN CARRY however is a different animal altogether and in this writers humble opinion, DEMANDS a retention holster. As the old battle hardened General once said: “When you lose the element of surprise in a fight, you have lost just about everything.” Ask any uniformed street cop and they will tell you that walking around with a gun on your hip has more negatives than positives attached to it. Why? You are announcing to the whole world you are armed and consequently, painted a target on your back.

But retention holsters are not why I wanted to write this piece.

What we really need to be talking about is FIRING POSITIONS or how we present the gun once it is out of the holster, because as the story above about the carjacking shows, irregardless if you carry Open or Concealed, once you present the gun and the perp knows you are armed and intend to shoot them is when the real contest begins or ends!

With that said, let me emphasize a point I have found to be true: When you draw your weapon, the sooner you fire it, the better. In other words, don’t treat a firearm as some magic talisman you wave around in front of you to make bad things go away! The more time you take in a combative (or close quarters) situation to shoot, the more opportunity the perp has to grab your gun and either foul the shot or disarm you.

Combative Handgun training is about realizing that most self-defense shootings are going to be at close range, irregardless of how much you try to be in Condition “Yellow” and not allow strangers into your “Reactionary Gap” or whatever you want to call it.

There are basically two ways you can practice retention firing positions: One and Two Handed.

I suggest you drill on both with a very strong emphasis on shooting one-handed due to the need to have one hand free for GUARDING or FENDING (Guarding against getting knocked out cold and Fending off the asshole trying to kill you to gain distance. Note: These Positions have nothing to do with your footwork, ie Weaver, Isosceles, Modified Isosceles, etc. This is all about what you are doing with your upper body.)

Also, I know there are those that train with the “Half-Compressed”, “1/4 Compressed”, etc. I don’t fool around with all that. In the field, you know what length you are going to need to compress the weapon so the bad guy cannot grab it, no need in making a training dogma out of it!

2-handTwo-Handed Full Extension

This is the standard firing position most people are taught and it works great when the perp is not right up on you and you have time to take a good solid firing position.


Two-Handed Compressed

OK, so you were able to draw your weapon with a two-handed grip with the asshole right on top of you. Congrats, Now start working the trigger. Rinse and repeat. Something tells me you are gonna need to use at least one of those hands soon though!


One-Handed Full Extension

If we looked a dash-cam and CCTV footage, we would see this firing position used a large amount of the time both by LEO’s and Civilians. Practice this firing position a lot folks. You will not always have the luxury of getting that support hand into the mix for whatever reason.


One-Handed Compressed

Again if we were to look at video or take a poll, this would be a position a large amount of people used when attacked. Note: The non-weapon hand can be used either to GUARD or FEND, depending on the situation. Typically in a tight close-quarters scenario, it is more important to not get KNOCKED OUT than it is to fend off the attacker to gain distance, but again, each situation is unique and you cannot make a training dogma out of it. Bottom line: Work the trigger until the asshole is down and is no longer a threat.

Safety Note: I would be remiss if I did not mention to take care in your training not to “muzzle” or shoot your own arm when you are training in one-handed compressed drills. It happens more times than you know folks and it occurs because people are not paying attention to where everything is before they start working the trigger.

Kelly Mccann’s Combative Pistol and Southnarcs ECQ Handgun are excellent resources for those of you that want more on this subject.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!



Border Security Update: African Migrants Flooding Border Towns


Mexico helping unvetted African migrants to U.S. border, many from Al-Shabaab jihadi hotbed

(click on above link to be re-directed to source page)

To show you how serious an issue this is, I am over 400 miles from the Mexican border in Texas and in the nearest town to my residence I am already seeing Somali’s and “other” Africans walking the streets. Two days ago at a gas station two thuggish looking Somali’s in badly broken English tried to solicit a cigarette and ride from my better half to which she told them loudly and firmly (drawing the attention of two other patrons at the pumps) “I Cannot Help You Please Leave Me Alone” while having her hand on the grip of Her G26 in her purse. They mumbled under their breath and walked away. After she told me the story that evening, I was beeming like a proud papa!! She had done exactly as we had trained. I was Very Proud of her!

This immigration “Issue” has stopped being some ambiguous news story we read about every week folks. It has hit the streets where WE LIVE in full force and has become a legitimate security issue for the Civilian Operator.

I urge all of you to review and practice what I call your “Stranger” speech now. Most all of you have had some experience with this I am sure, but the main points I always drill on is to be LOUD and FIRM. You don’t have to be rude, but then again don’t be a push over either. NEVER apologize for not being able to help them! Speak LOUD enough to attract attention also. Predators don’t like attention.

Confrontations on the street with vagrants, immigrants and/or thugs are becoming a frequent event for a lot of armed civilians  across the country right now. Just recently, John Farnam posted a story and a Follow-Up from one of his students about a similar encounter at a Drive-thru window. It is a great review on both the verbal skills necessary when dealing with a possible threat and dealing with a threat while inside a vehicle.

More to Come on this.


Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!



Civilian Operator 101: Staying Armed!

You know that signature line I sign off with every time: Stay ALERT, Stay ARMED and Stay Dangerous is not just another catchy tag line, right? It is actual sound advice I am giving you guys!

A recent shooting in Barney Obama’s Homocide Capital Home Town,  Chi-Raq (Chicago) re-emphasizes this point.

71 year old Frederico La-Guardia was accosted, shot and robbed by two black thugs in the middle of the day while watering his own yard. Mr. La’Guardia was taken to the hospital with a single gunshot wound to his stomach. He underwent surgery and is listed in Fair Condition at a local hospital.

There is a $1,000 Reward for Information leading to the arrest of these two pieces of human garbage seen in the above video. I would like to say “Dead or Alive” but unfortunately I cannot.

Here is the complete news story.


OK guys, I think an incident like this basically speaks for itself in WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY, but being this was a 71 year old elderly man watering his own front yard in the crime infested murder capital of Chi-Raq, I am not going to get too excited.

Few things to Bounce Around in your Brain.

  1. Always Stay Armed, Regardless of WHERE you are at. This includes doing chores around your OWN HOME! The old adage “Stay Armed 24/7 or Guess Right 24/7” Holds True.
  2. Of course Staying Armed is of little use if you are not paying attention to what is going on around you. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS regardless of where you are at – even in your own front yard, must remain a top priority. When those two little POS rode by on their bikes slowly “casing” the old man out, an alarm bell should have went off immediately. And then when they re-appeared a few minutes late, a friggin’ Air Siren Alarm should have went off!
  3. When those kids began approaching the old man, before they broke 10 feet and got “bad breath distance” close, Your Primary Weapon is your Voice. Southnarc did an excellent DVD called PUC (Personal Unarmed Combat) eight year ago. I highly recommend that DVD or Download. It goes over some excellent tips in street confrontations like this one, including the “Criminal Assault Paradigm” which is a fifty cent word for recognizing criminal’s do not fight fair.

Remember, our primary goal is to DIFFUSE the situation VERBALLY before it ever goes hands on if possible.. Of course in this situation, as soon as the kid pulls out the gun, verbal goes out the window and you are gonna have to go to guns and shoot those bastards to the ground.


Stay Alert, Stay ARMED and Stay Dangerous!

Verbal Commands and Discretionary Shooting: A Good Pair


Before I begin, let me first say that there has been much said on the topic of the importance of Verbal Commands during a Self-Defense scenario by trainers and authors far more talented than myself. For those of you that like a visual (and audio) aid, try Southnarcs PUC DVD. For those of you that  like to read, check out Mr. Aaron Cowan’s excellent treatise on the topic at BreachBangClear.

Since Aaron’s article I linked above covers virtually every angle of the verbal command subject, what I want to cover is how we can integrate these two CORE principles of Firearms Self-Defense Training: Issuing Verbal Commands AND Practicing Discretionary Shooting into our drills.

As the article stressed, to stay REALISTIC and RESPONSIBLE, we should strive to NOT make every drill a SHOOT drill. Out there, on the street, there are far more guns pointed at people and verbal commands given than there are people shot; our training should reflect that. One of the ways we can do this is to make ourselves THINK before we pull the trigger. Contrary to popular belief, ANY Firearm self-defense training that endorses making “Draw and Shoot” a Conditioned Response is both unrealistic and reckless. As any CO should be aware, anytime there is a self-defense shooting by a legally armed citizen, be it deemed a justified shooting or not, very often that citizens firearm training records, due to our uber-litigious society, will be pulled and scrutinized by the DA’s office. Prudence dictates therefore your training be up to snuff when it comes to responsible training.

The question then becomes to make this PRACTICAL, how do I transplant this into my Drills?

The best way to practice verbal commands is without a doubt Force on Force, since as Mr. Cowan stated, we are practicing to shoot PEOPLE not PAPER. But, if FOF is not an option for you and you wanted to work on it at the range, I came up with  a “2 birds with 1 stone” type drill where you can work on both your discretionary shooting and verbalized commands.

This method uses 2D paper targets, so you can either buy some Discretionary Targets from LE Targets or make your own with some butcher paper and colored Sharpies (I mean all you are gonna do is SHOOT IT, right?) If you want to work on multiple targets, you will need to number each target so as to avoid confusion. You will also need a friend with a LOUD voice to be your caller. I like to stagger my distances, for pistol start at 5 yds, Rifle, 15 yds. Move your targets up in 5 yard increments each round until you reach your desired max distance.

  • Start by going thru your script for verbalized commands, be sure to go thru ENTIRE script, not just part of it.
  • At some point during this script, *as random as possible* the Caller calls out either a number, color or shape on target.
  • The shooter then engages said number, color or shape (Keep in mind there may be more than 1 shot required: this enforces not always shooting the same number of rounds)
  • If using Multiple targets, to lessen confusion, the Caller will call out which Target (1,2 or 3) and then just a color or shape. For Example: “One, Triangle” “Two, Blue”, etc.
  • Caller must also integrate ” No Shoots” by issuing No Command at all; as I said, make it random and mix it up.

There is a ton of ways you can vary this drill to include reloads, malfunctions, use of cover, etc. But typically, the best thing to do is just concentrate on a solid, LOUD and CLEAR Verbal Command Script and then making a clean and smooth discretionary shot.

I know this drill does not activate the “visual” stimulus of a weapon or threat gesture, like some 3D targets can, but it does do one very important thing: IT GETS OUR BRAIN WORKING! As Cowan’s article reiterated, always having a “Conditioned Reflex” of “draw and fire” is not REALISTIC nor PRUDENT. 

Also remember if you are giving verbal commands to a person, you have to be equally prepared for the person to FOLLOW those commands as you are to SHOOT them; thus, the importance of the caller not giving you any targets  (NO SHOOT) as randomly as possible. This is also the time to work out in your mind how you are going to handle the perp following your commands. As is obvious, these types of scenarios have so many “X” variables it is silly to try and “plan” what exactly you are going to do, but just like your verbal script, having a “Rough” draft at least gets you mentally prepared for the eventuality.

So there it is, two skills practiced for the time of one range visit. Always look for better way to improve both your time and ammo efficiency, as both ammo and your TRAINING time is valuable!

Stay Alert, Stay Armed, Keep Training and Stay Dangerous!



“FIGHT” not “GUN” is the Key Word in “GUNFIGHT”


“If you can’t stop the average dude from raping you in the shower, the last thing you need is a Carbine Class.” (Southnarc)

In Civilian self-defense training courses you often have certain trainers that require a “pre-requisite or “pre-req”” of certain courses before you take a certain class. For example, before you take an ADVANCED Handgun Course, you might be required to take BASIC Handgun, etc. This is to ensure you have the rudimentary basics down before moving on to a more advanced skill set. This also, more importantly, ensures both the safety of the student and the instructor, but also creates a FOUNDATIONAL “BUILDING BLOCK” concept of learning. It is a solid concept and has been used in Academia worldwide since time in memorial.

Unfortunately, for the most part, it is not being followed in modern civilian self-defense training today. What is being followed is men and women who are NOT establishing a COMBATIVE base of skills to build upon; or in layman’s terms, they have ABSOLUTELY ZERO skills when it comes to defending themselves empty-handed. But instead of trying to rectify that, they are skipping it and moving directly into FIREARMS related skills thinking one supersedes the other. This is a gross misunderstanding of Combative Martial Concepts and is not CONDUCIVE to the student establishing a real-world effective martial skill set. Nor is it helpful in helping to create and maintain the Combative Mentality needed to survive in the increasingly violent world in which we live.

The key word (and FIRST word) in ANY type of FIGHT, whether it be GUNFIGHT, SWORDFIGHT or FISTFIGHT is (wait for it….) FIGHT! What good are you if you know how to shoot nice tight little groups in a piece of paper but don’t have the cardio conditioning to fight off an attacker when he jams up your gun or fouls your draw? What good are you after 45 seconds into a clinch you get gassed and a thug takes your knife or gun away and kills you with it?

This nieve and unrealistic ideal that has floated around nationwide in concealed carry classes (and quite possibly Open carry in Texas very soon) and various other civilian self-defense classes that having a G19 in an appendix holster and a Benchmade clipped in your pocket is the answer to your self-defense woes is a LIE!

Having a CCL is a start but is only the FIRST BABY STEP and is in no way the END of the journey! Go Deeper! Get out of your Comfort Zone! Find some type of empty hand training that suits you. I like Combatives and Krav Maga, others may like BJJ or Muay Thai…whatever…just ensure the fighting style is about FIGHTING and not about COMPETITION. (This goes for firearm training as well!!)

knife hand

Understanding the Combative Continuum

Combative skills are built, layer upon layer starting with empty hand and then progressing from there; stick, knife, firearm. If they are not built layer upon layer, you are not building your skills on a solid foundation, and sooner or later, you will come against a situation (ie PERSON) that will find that weak spot and exploit it and most likely in the process, injure or kill you. The CC is not just about getting ready for a fight, it is getting ready to fight in the most efficient way possible. Coach Bear Bryant said it this way: “The WILL to WIN compares little with the WILL to PREPARE to WIN.” By approaching any fighting system from the perspective of PREPARATION and  EFFICIENCY, you are streamlining your training and helping ensure that in that day of trouble, your brain has to recall ONLY what it needs to KILL THE THREAT and SURVIVE. If any of these steps are skipped (ie to take that Advanced Carbine or Pistol Class for example) you will have built your foundational martial skills on sand and NOT on solid concrete, and sooner or later, your “house” will sink!

Since I started with a catchy quote, I will end with one too:

“The scars on your knuckles should ultimately teach you how to have callouses on your trigger finger…”  (Author)

Let that one sink in and then go out and find a down-n-dirty Combatives class and pretty soon, after some bruises and sweat, it will all click.

Stay Alert, Stay Frosty and Stay Dangerous!