Latest Posts

CNLiveClip

On Colion Noir “CN Live” at NRA-TV

I had the pleasure of chatting with Colion Noir of NRA-TV’s “CN Live” last night about being a relatively new shooter and some of the challenges for women who carry – including purse carry. If you haven’t checked out some of Colion’s work, do so. He’s one of the more thoughtful commentators in the firearms space today.

Colion Noir  CN Live

 

Magazine at range

Are you SHOOTING your self-defense ammo?

I’m guilty. I admit it. I don’t regularly shoot my self-defense ammo.

I have done EXACTLY what a recent article on  TheFirearmsBlog titled “CCW Truths Clash with Self-Defense Ammo Solutions,” said most CCW holders do.

When I go to the range, I set aside my carry magazine loaded with Federal Ammunition 9mm HST Hollow Point self-defense ammo and shoot the magazines that I’ve loaded with American Eagle 9mm FMJ rounds. Then, at the end of my range time I dutifully load the “carry” magazine back in my trusty Sig P320 and off I go.

The problem with rechambering

I am unintentionally impacting my safety with this practice. In some cases, your carry magazine could be years old without the ammo ever having been used, and, get this, with the same exact round getting chambered every time.

“It’s common knowledge within the firearms canon that chambering and re-chambering a cartridge can potentially lead to either the bullet seating further into the case, or even light primer strikes (AR15s). Maybe not on the second time, or the third, or the fourth, but it can eventually lead to a failure to fire, or even a catastrophic malfunction.”

I get it. self-defense rounds are expensive, often almost 2x what the same caliber and grain of full metal jacket (FMJ) or ball rounds cost.

So I called Federal Ammunition to see what they had to say.

Federal confirmed that what can happen over time with chambering and rechambering the same round is “bullet setback” where the crimp that holds the bullet in the casing can break. It’s a problem they said happens often with law enforcement but that they are now seeing with concealed carry as well.

So what should you do?

Federal recommends that every time you unchamber your round from your carry gun, that you first inspect the round. If it looks fine (you don’t see “bullet setback”) then unload the magazine, and load the round you’ve just unchambered to the bottom of the magazine.

This ensures for at least a few cycles (depending on how many rounds your magazine holds) you will be chambering a fresh round.

Federal also recommends that you completely change out the ammo in your magazine every 6 months to a year, even if you don’t see bullet setback. Just use it for practice and reload with fresh ammo.

I’ve adopted a new practice where at least once a month at the range I shoot my carry magazine loaded with HST. For me it’s good just for practice, and then I’m sure my ammo is fresh.

So stay safe out there, and use fresh ammo!

HomeSecurityVideoSnip

Concealed Carry & Home Defense Training Review

Ever since I started shooting, and especially since I started carrying a handgun, I’ve been like a sponge absorbing information from wherever and whatever sources I could find.

I’ve found that much of the information out there is either highly tactical, or really specific to things like competitive shooting, or overly simplistic and repetitive. Which is why I am so glad I found the USCCA’s Concealed Carry & Home Defense Training.

USCCA to the rescue

USCCA  pulled together a set of videos and PDF downloads and printables specifically for the average person who is concerned about personal and home defense. The package includes videos on Situational Awareness and Home Defense, Concealed Carry Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, and a number of printables, including a state-by-state concealed carry law summary. The entire package is discounted now for only $27 (regularly $74) – the price of a box of good quality ammo.

USCCA Home Security Video
From the USCCA Home Security & Home Defense Video

The set includes the following videos and downloads:

  • Video – Top Ten Concealed Carry Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Video – Home Security & Home Defense
  • Video – Situational Awareness
  • PDF Download – Best of Concealed Carry Magazine
  • PDF Download – Inside School Shootings- What We’ve Learned
  • PDF Download – Concealed Carry Map (carry laws of each state)
  • eBook  – 107+ Handgun Accuracy Secrets
In particular, since I’ve been really focused on improving my situational awareness, the Situational Awareness video was great, as it showed some real-life examples of how you can be prepared to protect yourself and your family if the need ever arises. Again what I like about it is they didn’t take a hard-core tactical approach, but instead took a practical, everyday life kind of approach to situational awareness.
I also really liked the Home Security and Defense video because it gave me some new  information  and easily actionable tips on how to create a home security checklist, some simple steps on how to improve home security, and a good detailed discussion of home defense firearms such as rifles, shotguns and even handguns, including an interesting discussion about some myths around using a shotgun for home defense.

Downloads and printables added bonus
A number of the downloads are great to have, including the Best of Concealed Carry Magazine that has several articles on what happens the aftermath of a self-defense incident (let’s just say my next post is going to be about insurance options, as this article really got me thinking about this issue), and various ammo, handgun and holster deep dives,

The ebook on Handgun Accuracy Secrets was authored by Massad Ayoob, Larry Correia, Kathy Jackson and a number of other leading instructors in the industry and is really focused on the fundamentals of marksmanship – grip, stance, sight picture, etc. It’s good foundational information to have, especially if you’ve not had a lot of handgun training.

While you can certainly find a lot of this kind of information if you spend a lot of time searching Google and YouTube, having this all pulled together in one package for $27 is worth it in my opinion. USCCA always produces quality content – they provide good, targeted information for everyday people concerned about self-protection.

Click here for the USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Training package, now discounted to $27.

*The USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Training Course is a product I purchased and used. Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission (at no additional cost to you) that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

Woman Shooting Gun

How to shoot with both eyes open

One of the more challenging things about learning to shoot for me was learning to shoot with both eyes open. This is a skill that you can learn, and one that is important if you carry a firearm for self-protection. Just like training to shoot one handed, learning to shoot with both eyes open will serve you well in the event you ever need to use your firearm while under duress.

Learning to shoot with both eyes open takes some time, patience and practice. Here is the approach I used:

  1. Bring your attention to an object 15-20 feet away from you – your “target” or sight picture.
  2. Hold a pen or pencil out at arms length, then focus on the tip. This is the “stand in” for your front sight.
  3. Start first by focusing on the pen tip with one eye, then the other – notice how your sight picture changes based on your dominant or non-dominant eye.
  4. Now open both eyes, still focusing on that pen tip. Note your sight picture.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

You’ll find that after some time, you’re able to quickly acquire the sight picture. Every time you go to the range, take your time and practice shooting with both eyes open. You may need to first focus with one eye, then open both eyes, focus and take the shot. In my experience, my accuracy improved greatly with my “both eyes open” shots than my one-eye open shots, and I found that the more I shot with both eyes open the easier it became.

More from the experts

One of the best people in this field is former Navy Seal Chris Sajnog. He has lots of great videos and books to help you improve your shooting skills. His video below, Eye Dominance and How to Shoot with Both Eyes Open, shows exactly what you should expect to see as you learn to shoot this way:

If you are training primarily for self-defense, learning to shoot with both eyes open is just one more skill you should learn. Do you shoot with both eyes open? Why or why not? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

walking-the-dog-293311_1920

3 tips to improve your situational awareness

As I noted in my earlier post Do you have the mindset for concealed carry?, I’m really focusing on improving my situational awareness – or in laymen’s terms, simply paying attention to what’s going on around you.

This is a constant challenge for me as I’m not hardwired to think this way but I’ve realized, especially as I’ve been carrying a handgun, t
hat I need to improve my situational awareness.

Woman Walking Dog

Here are  3 tips to improve situational awareness that I’m starting to incorporate in my daily life.

  1. Head Up. This is probably the most important tool in the situational awareness arsenal. Keep your head up. That means not walking and texting or looking at my phone, or fiddling in my purse. It means head up and looking at what’s around me. Not only is this key in improving situational awareness, but it also makes me look like a less tempting target, because my shoulders are back and I exude more confidence.
  2. Note people and exits. When you enter a building or a room, such as a shop or a restaurant, note immediately the location of key people (cashier, manager, patrons, etc) and exits. If there were an emergency you’d want to know how to get out quickly.
  3. Use all your senses. This isn’t just about visual awareness, your hearing is just as important. I’m always surprised when I see women jogging alone with their earbuds in. You will never hear someone approaching you from behind, or a car approaching the intersection. My family and I were in a shopping mall recently when an angry protest broke out on the second floor. We only realized it because we heard the chants and shouting. Rather than walk toward the sound as many others did we promptly headed toward the closest exit and to our car.

Perhaps the most important tip is to practice. Every day. I have to remind myself when in “transition” times such as walking from my office to the car, or leaving the house, to keep my head up and observe my environment. I would love to know your tips for improving situational awareness too – please comment below.

concealedcarrywomanmag

Concealed Carry Woman magazine launches January

I had the pleasure of meeting with Beth Alcazar, editor and senior staff writer at US Concealed Carry Association, to discuss the new Concealed Carry Woman magazine USCCA is launching in January.

USCCA is well known for it’s popular Concealed Carry magazine – this new venture focuses on issues of particular interest to women who concealed carry.


You can get Concealed Carry magazine either though joining the USCCA (and there are a LOT of benefits including their amazing Self-Defense Shield insurance coverage) or by subscribing directly to Concealed Carry Magazine ($37/yr digital or $47/yr digital + print).

* Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission (at no additional cost to you) that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

woman_carrying_a_glock_43_in_a_vedder_holsters_iwb_rig

Do you have the mindset for concealed carry?

I had a situation happen to me recently that led me to question whether or not I had the proper mindset for concealed carry.

I was driving down a busy city street and as I approached an intersection, I accidentally cut too close in front of a white panel van.  I waved “sorry” to the guy behind me, who was clearly upset and yelling at me through his windshield.

Then, sitting there at the stoplight, I hear a loud pounding on my drivers-side window, and it’s the guy from the van who is standing next to my window screaming at me. And as I’m sitting there, with my concealed carry handgun right next to me tucked between the seat and the console, I just keep telling the guy “I’m sorry,” in the hopes he’ll just get over it.

Well unfortunately, he didn’t. He ended up following me, and all the while I’m thinking, “Is this really happening? Is this guy really following me?” When it became clear to me he was, I decided that rather than head home (which is where I was originally heading), I headed back to my office building, which has a security guard stationed at the entrance [in hindsight, I should have headed straight to the nearest police department while dialing 9-1-1, but hindsight’s great that way].

Once I got to the office, jumped out of my car and headed inside to the security desk, the guy finally sped out of there – all the while cursing me, and finally screaming out his window, “I’ll find you.”

The second guessing

Almost as soon as the incident was over, I began to second-guess my actions. First was my initial and continuing disbelief that this was really happening. That some nutjob was first getting out of his van at an intersection to scream at me through the drivers side window, and then that the nutjob actually continued to follow me.

Second was my panicked choice to drive to my place of work once I realized that he was, in fact, following me, where he could certainly find my car and possibly wait for me at some later date with who knows what intentions.

Third was my decision to not be more aggressive with him when he first approached my window, letting him “see” my handgun and forcefully telling him to “back off.”

Situational awareness is the key

The first issue, that disbelief that this was actually happening, is actually very common.

In the aftermath of public shooting incidents, survivors will often say they thought the noise they heard was fireworks or backfiring, rather than recognizing immediately that the noise was gunfire. There’s an initial disbelief that their worst nightmare could actually be happening. This to me is key to the mindset question – it’s being in the “yellow” state of situational awareness and moving rapidly to red as required.

As for my choice of driving to where I work, I think it’s related to the state of disbelief and panic I was feeling because of my lack of proper situational awareness.

I admit I was only thinking partially clearly in that moment. At least I didn’t drive to my home, I drove to somewhere where I knew there would be people, but I could have picked a less identifiable option than the place I work if I had been more calm and had been able to focus and reason.

As for the third, I still believe I did the right thing by trying to de-escalate the situation rather than escalate it by exposing my handgun. The guy was clearly enraged, and who knows if he, too was carrying and if that would have just set him off? Also, I did not at that moment fear for my life, even though I was scared.

One of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety is never let your muzzle cross anything you do not want to destroy. I felt I was in the “safety” of my locked car at a very public (and crowded) intersection. Right or wrong, it was what I believed in the moment.

In the end, I was able to learn a lesson about myself and my need to focus on improving my situational awareness and mindset. It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another to practice and live it. I’m working on the latter.

Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

Some additional reading:

concealed-revealed-9mm-2

Concealed/Revealed: Flowy top and jeans with IWB Holster

In this series, we show different styles of women’s clothing with different holsters for concealed carry. One of the biggest challenges faced by women who concealed carry is how to effectively carry our handguns while not giving up the clothes we want to wear. Here we’ll present different approaches and options that work with our actual, everyday clothes.

For your consideration today, jeans with a flowy top and an in-the-waistband holster:

Jeans with a flowy top
Jeans with a flowy top

 

IWB Holster in jeans
Revealed in-the-waistband holster

 

IWB Holster
IWB Holster from the Well Armed Woman

 

I don’t normally carry my Sig Sauer P320 9mm on body as I find it difficult to conceal with most of my clothing choices. However, when I have the opportunity to wear a loose and flowy top like the Eileen Fisher silk tank and open front cardigan like I have here, it’s great to have the option to carry my larger handgun on-body. Jeans are NYDJ skinny leg jeans. Heels are old and no longer available. Similar here.

Holster is the Well Armed Woman IWB holster ($50). There are several things I like about this holster. First, it’s molded Kydex with great retention. Second, the hook is set higher on the holster, which allows the handgun to sit lower on the waistband, providing a low-profile. Third, the hook is adjustable so you can readily adjust the position or cant of the handgun grip. What I don’t like about it is the Kydex can be a bit irritating on bare skin if worn for a long time, and I’m not one who typically layers her clothing, so my bad.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

Grip Tip to Improve Shooting Accuracy

Grip tip to improve shooting accuracy

Just a quick tip today on your grip to improve your shooting accuracy. I learned this trick from one of the amazing instructors at The Site Firearms Training Center in Mount Carroll, IL and even though it seems small, it’s really improved my accuracy.

Would love to hear your tips on how to improve accuracy in the comments below!

ConcealedRevealedPurseHolster

Tips for Concealed Carry in a Purse

There may be times when your choice for concealed carry of your handgun is either carry in a purse or don’t carry at all. For example, where I work firearms are not allowed. It’s much easier for me on a day-to-day basis to carry in my purse and transfer the handgun to a portable gun safe in my car before heading into the office, than struggling with un-holstering and then re-holstering an on-body carry option in my car.

Purse Carry Considerations

However, if you choose to purse carry, there are a number of additional considerations you should be fully aware of and prepared for.

    1. You have to treat your purse or bag like a newborn baby. That means you can’t do the usual of dropping your purse on the floor or over the back of a chair while at a restaurant or coffee shop (I KNOW you do that, don’t try to deny it!). You can’t leave your bag in the basket of the shopping cart when at the store. You can’t shove it on the floor by your desk when you’re at work. You have to keep your purse on you AT ALL TIMES if you are carrying a handgun. If you think of your bag like a newborn baby, which must be with you and secure at all times, it’s a good mindset to have if you’re carrying in a purse.
    2. You have to have a proper holster and dedicated spot in your purse for your handgun. DO NOT under any circumstances just tuck your handgun into your well-worn pocket holster and toss in the bottom of that pit that’s your hobo bag. That’s a negligent discharge waiting to happen. If you have a good-quality, dedicated concealed carry purse, there is usually a zipper or other compartment that a holster attaches to (usually with Velcro). If you choose one of the purse holster options you can use with your regular purse, it ideally should be in a separate compartment of your bag with NOTHING ELSE IN IT.  The bits and bobs that float around all of our purses can get caught up in trigger guards that are not properly secured and cause a discharge. Your gun needs to have a secure holster with proper trigger guard protection and the gun needs to be in a separate location in your bag without anything else around it.
    3. Reconsider purse carry if you have or are around small children. There are numerous recent stories about women who were carrying in their purses and small children (some as young as 2 years old) were able to access a gun with tragic and deadly consequences. This goes with tip #1 above, but think of situations like in a car, where your purse is either next to you on the seat or behind you – NOT ON YOUR PERSON. Or when you’re at a friends’ house and you set down your bag on the floor and a curious toddler decides to check it out while you’re engaged in conversation. There are just too many opportunities for children to gain access when a gun is off-body that it deserves serious reconsideration.
    4. Be prepared that your purse (and gun) could be stolen in an attack. This, along with the sometimes careless inattention we give to our purses (see #1 above), is one of the biggest risks to purse carry. If you aren’t carrying your purse cross-body (most recommended) and you get mugged or attacked, not only could you lose your wallet and keys but you could lose your gun as well, and/or the gun could be used against you.
    5. Train, train train and then train some more. Most ranges will not allow you to draw from a purse, so that means regular, consistent dry-fire practice at home with your chosen purse holster and handgun. You need to practice your draw from both your dominant side and your non-dominant side (assuming you’re like most of us and sometimes switch the shoulder you carry your purse on). Be forewarned that drawing from a purse of other off-body holster is ALWAYS going to be much slower than a good on-body carry option.  A recent article on LuckyGunner.com actually put the purse draw to the test on the range and in most cases it took more than twice as long to purse draw.
Purse Carry Resources

Here’s a good video from DressedToCarry.com that demonstrates how to draw from one of the more typical side-zipper concealed carry purses.

One of my current purse holster options is the CrossBreed Purse Defender. As I noted in a recent post, I have a few issues with this option but given what else is currently available in the marketplace it’s the best that I’ve found available right now, especially since it uses a molded Kydex holstering system to allow for good trigger coverage.

One of my favorite dedicated concealed carry purse options on the market today is the Been and Badge Olivia Tote. It’s made in the US of very high quality leather, and I like the holstering option with the quick-release Velco pocket rather than the more common side zipper holster seen with most dedicated concealed carry purses (because it’s easy to muzzle someone in those). But as with any holster option, you have to go with what works best for you and your handgun.

I hope this has given you some things to think about if you choose to carry in a your purse. As with any issue around the great responsibility you’ve taken on if you conceal carry a handgun, be smart and be safe.