The OODA Loop and Situational Awareness

The OODA Loop and Situational Awareness

by Home Defense Gun staffer Mike

Osituational awarenessne of the most common themes taught in defensive firearms classes is situational awareness. First designed by Col Jeff Cooperin the 1970s, the situational awareness chart represents the degrees of awareness that a person experiences in relation to their surroundings.

Cooper’s chart is based on a color code from white to red.

Condition White signifies being completely oblivious to your surroundings. This is referred to as “daydreaming” or beisituational awarenessng “distracted”. This condition is probably responsible for more visits to the emergency room or the morgue than any other; not only in a life or death situation such as a gun fight, but with regard to car accidents and industrial accidents.

Condition Yellow is a slightly more elevated state of awareness. In Condition Yellow, the subject is aware of what is going on around him, but has not identified a potential threat. This is a relaxed state of general awareness.

Condition Orange is the next level up and basically means that a potential threat has been recognized. This could be a late night walk to an ATM and coming toward you is someone with his hands in his pockets. He may just be another user of the ATM fumbling for his wallet or a potential robber. What is important is seeing the potential in his actions and formulating a plan, being ready to escalate if necessary or dial back down to Yellow if he proves to be harmless.

Condition Red is the final step before taking action. If the man walking to the ATM produces a knife and demands your money, you will have to put your plan into place. This is not always the fight, itself. Sometimes your plan might entail identifying avenues of escape at this point.

What goes hand in hand with Cooper’s color code is the OODA Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. OODA is a decision-making cycle that was conceptualized by Air Force Colonel John Boyd in the Korean War.

Boyd’s concept states that the success in any conflict is all about making correct decisions quicker than your opponent can. The strength of following the OODA Loop is based on the fact that we constantly perform transitions through OODA Loops on a daily basis.

The OODA Loop can be broken down into four stages:

  • Observation
  • Orientationsituational awareness
  • Decision
  • Action

All of these stages are interrelated and can overlap. In the real world situations and even environments change course constantly. From the observation phase, data is collected and then analyzed in the orientation phase. The user then makes their decision based on available choices and in turn acts on them.

The only way to shorten your OODA Loop is through training, this is known as conditioned reflex or muscle memory. This is whymalfunction drills are important in firearms training. If you can work them into your practice sessions, you will know how to act when they occur at the “moment of truth”. By performing drills like these throughout your firearms training sessions, you will begin to perform them as second nature, which will essentially shorten their phase in the OODA Loop.

When it comes to fighting for your life, it is essential to practice and hone the simplest and most natural “techniques” or movements through constant repetition until they become instinctive as opposed to reactive. Then when those techniques are performed in a real world scenario, they will most certainly be extremely effective. Think of the old adage in this case: “Action is faster than reaction.”

Simply put, the untrained will have slower phases of the OODA Loop. This can often be seen at shooting matches when seasoned shooters perform the “tap-rack-bang” drill while the novices may simply stare at a non-working firearm.

Beyond physical training with a firearm, mental preparation can shorten each section of the OODA Loop while transitioning through the color chart of situational awareness. Going back to our ATM scenario, as you transition between orange and red, you are in the decision stage of the OODA Loop. You can sharpen this by playing out similar scenarios in your head well in advance. Granted, you may not fathom every possible outcome, but the simple act of conceptualizing how you will respond to an attacker will shorten your actual decision making process when the time comes.

Do you use Cooper’s color codes or the OODA loop in your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

OODA Loop Photo Credit: Patrick Edwin Moran

5 Things you should know!

There’s no greater responsibility than providing safety and security for your home and family.  For many people, owning a handgun is the surest way to remain in control of their personal safety.  However, owning a handgun isn’t enough.  How prepared are you to use your gun if needed?  Additionally: if a single product could dramatically improve your chances of surviving a life-threatening scenario – wouldn’t you want to have it?

The best way to survive an armed encounter is to avoid it altogether.  The second best way is to deter the threat without firing a shot.  However, the world is a dangerous place, and we must prepare responsibly for every eventuality and equip accordingly.  If the first rule of being prepared is to have a gun, then the second rule is to ensure that you have every opportunity to prevail.


The Range Can't Fully Prepare You

Range time is an important activity for any defensive shooter.  Stance, sight alignment, breath control and trigger control are critical components of accurate shooting.  Spend time at the range, and lots of it.  But be aware that the time you spend does not fully prepare your for real-world defensive shootings.

In a lethal force scenario, everything changes.  You’re not at the range anymore.  The controlled environment no longer exists.  You are defending your life or the life of another.  Your heart is pounding, your target may be cloaked in darkness, you are fixated on your target and your iron sights are an afterthought.  All of this happens in a matter of seconds and within only a few feet.

With a laser sight on your handgun, you have access to a targeting and threat de-escalation tool that can help you overcome challenges such as darkness, close range, time, movement, and the threat itself.  Survival is all about giving yourself the tools to make quick, yet informed, decisions when your body and brain experiences changes outside of your control.  And should you fire your weapon, your shots will reach their intended target.


Trauma Causes Physiological Changes

If you are attacked, or you draw your handgun to prevent violence, powerful changes surge through your mind and body.  A powerful “fight or flight” response kicks in which you cannot control.  Your heart rate skyrockets, muscles tense, and vision narrows.  These natural changes prepare you for physical battle or a swift move to cover, yet they limit your ability to shoot accurately.

The most dramatic change you’ll experience is the loss of fine motor skills.  Your physiological reactions prepare your body to use the powerful muscles of the arms, legs and torso to fight or escape.  None of these natural reactions are designed to help you operate a handgun effectively.  You’ll struggle to hold the gun steady, struggle to pull the trigger smoothly, and struggle to line up sights accurately in the same ways you practiced at the range.

Most people involved in shootings report never seeing their sights.  It’s no mystery why.  How do you focus on the threat AND your sights at the same time?  With reliable state-of-the-art technology like Crimson Trace laser sights, you simply move your sights onto the target by projecting a laser dot.  This allows you to assess the threat, overcome the loss of fine motor skills, and place accurate shots during critical situations.  Also, by placing a laser on your target, you communicate a crystal clear message: you can both walk away.


U.S. law enforcement officers are some of the best-trained shooters in the world, but hit ratios from shootings in the field are staggeringly low.  National Institute of Justice data shows that officers using traditional sighting and training methods hit their mark only about 25% of the time when lethal force engagements ensue.

Why so low?  Consider that 80% of shootings occur in low-light situations, most involve movement of officer or subject, and with the stress of a life or death situation, and it’s easy to see why so many rounds miss their targets.  The challenges faced by law enforcement officers and the challenges faced by responsible citizens defending themselves aren’t that different – with one glaring exception: the officers are trained professionals.

Crimson Trace laser sights are used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies and military units worldwide.  The numbers don’t lie.  Agencies using Crimson Trace lasers have achieved hit ratios of over 90% in officer-involved shootings.  That’s a phenomenal 300%+ improvement.  The bottom line is this: laser sights are an invaluable tool that improves your ability to see, evaluate, aim, and successfully hit.


Technology exists to help shooters of all skill levels improve their confidence, speed and accuracy.  However, with so many options now available, it can be very difficult to distinguish between serious equipment and toy-like gadgets.  Laser sights were once large and impractical, had terrible mounting options, offered clumsy activation options, or were cheap and flimsy.  Crimson Trace changed all that.  No personal protection handgun is complete without a laser sight.  Thousands of Crimson Trace customers know this to be true.

Nearly 20 years ago, Crimson Trace pioneered Instinctive Activation®, the single largest breakthrough in making laser sights the most effective handgun targeting tool for self-defense handguns in the world.  Instinctive Activation simply means that when the handgun is held in a natural firing grip, the laser springs to life instantly.  This feature allows the shooter to be on target, as soon as they draw their weapon.  No button switching, no fumbling for levers, and no valuable time lost.  It’s why we say, When You’re Holding It, You’re Aiming It™.

Instinctive Activation is offered by Crimson Trace product lines including: Lasergrips® and Laserguard®.  Lasergrips replace factory grips in moments, or are mounted seamlessly to the frames of modern polymer-framed pistols.  Laserguard models are designed for smaller concealed carry guns without factory grips by attaching to the trigger guard.  Crimson Trace offers nearly 150 laser sight models, many with Instinctive Activation.


Responsible armed citizens are one of the reasons for America’s decreasing violent crime rate.  It is estimated that as many as one million crimes are prevented each year because of armed citizens.  Most of these crimes are prevented without a shot being fired.  The mere presence of a firearm was enough to encourage the criminal to change their mind.  Unfortunately, not all attackers give up without a fight.

Maybe they’re unaware that their prey have guns.  Maybe they figure their mark won’t actually shoot.  Most likely of all, they presume their victim is incompetent and unlikely to hit anything.  Remember one thing about the aftermath of a shooting:Whether justifiable or not, your life will change forever.  Your guns will be seized, the police will write you up in their reports, you may be sued in civil court and possibly prosecuted in criminal court.  You will probably be arrested.

Should you find yourself in an armed self-defense situation, unquestionably the BEST outcome is for the criminal to flee in fear of their own life – without shots being fired.  How can you increase the odds that the attacker will give up before you shoot?  Use a laser sight.  Uncooperative criminals have been shown to comply better with a red (or green) laser dot painted confidently across their chest.  Will it stop an attack every time?  No.  Is it designed to be a non-lethal tool?  No.  Will it place the odds in your favor?  Yes.  It’s precisely the reason why we say that laser sights Help Bad Guys Make Informed Decisions™.

10 Tips for Choosing a Concealed Carry Handgun

10 Tips for Choosing a Concealed Carry Handgun

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10 Tips for Choosing a Concealed Carry Handgun

1. Find a Friendly, Knowledgeable Gun Shop

When you go to purchase your first concealed carry handgun, you may find yourself feeling nervous and out of your element at the gun shop. If this sounds familiar, I promise, we’ve all been there and done that. Know that this is where the value of a truly concerned and dedicated professional can shine through, and that would be the gun shop sales person from whom you decide to buy your first gun.

The salesman’s role is to explain to you, in terms you can comprehend and with no condescension, the varieties of handguns available and how they operate. An ethical gun salesperson or firearms instructor wants to see you on a regular basis and keep you as a customer. An ethical professional will also never push you into buying a particular product and should work to keep you, as a first-time buyer, resist being seduced into believing that cute, sleek, shiny, or complicated makes for a better defensive weapon. Rather, a good salesperson will help you make a truly informed choice, and they stay updated on quality products on the market.

2. Try Before You Buy

If you liked these tips, check out the full book, Armed: The Essential Guide to Concealed Carry.

I suggest that, when shopping for a defensive handgun, you find a range facility that will let you rent different handguns, as well as offering basic handgun, personal protection, and concealed carry classes taught by qualified, certified instructors. In such a customer-friendly environment, you can best determine which type of handgun will best suit your particular needs.

As you begin to shop, you first need to educate yourself by gathering information about the different handgun types, makes, and models available. Then, compile a list of your objectives based on your own personal attributes and needs, so that you can make an informed and personally appropriate selection. No one handgun is perfect for everyone or every situation.

3. Know the Attributes of Good Carry Gun

Think light and thin, which equates to carrying comfortably. Also, think about how you dress. Will the gun be easy to conceal with your normal, every-day wardrobe? You may want to try before you buy. A customer-friendly gun shop will permit you to hold a handgun you are considering and maybe even try it out in a holster on your hip to see if it is the right type for you to carry.

4. Insist on Reliability

While the above criteria are important, we mustn’t sacrifice reliability and durability in a carry gun. Remember, if you are going to carry your handgun everyday and practice with it, it must hold up!

5. Find a Good Fit

In choosing your carry handgun, you must judge as to whether each option provides a good fit for your hands. Does it point naturally? Is your trigger finger comfortably able to reach the trigger without your having to distort your proper grip? Unless the gun is a point-and-shoot gun, are the sights usable? Can you see the front sight clearly with your corrective lenses on?


Two different Kimber custom shop .45 ACP handguns are shown here, but which one is right for you? The smaller model might be easier to conceal, but it will have more recoil than its bigger brother. If you’re particularly recoil sensitive, opt for the bigger one and experiment with different holsters to discover which one conceals it best.

6. Strive for Manageable Recoil

Is the gun comfortable to shoot? Is the recoil manageable? Seriously, if you can’t answer “Yes” to those questions, you will not shoot it, and you won’t get in the necessary practice time. So, choose wisely. It is better to shoot a 9mm pistol accurately than a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP erratically.

7. Get a Good Trigger

You want a trigger that is neither too heavy of a pull nor too light. Bottom line—does it feel right for you? Can you operate it without getting finger cramps? Conversely, can you feel it when you press it? Too light of a trigger can spell accidental discharge. Can you repeatedly dry fire the gun without making figure eights with the front sight?

8. Seek Reasonable Accuracy

In your hands, the gun needs to be reasonably accurate when you shoot it at 10 yards and closer. Is the gun forgiving of the arc of movement created by your hand tremor? Are you able to place accurate follow-up shots? Bad guys have a nasty habit of not going down after just one shot, so good second-shot recovery is essential.

9. Demand Ease of Operation

Your defensive handgun should be simple and safe to operate. Do you have the hand strength to pull the slide all the way back on a semi-auto pistol to cycle a round into the chamber or to clear the gun? Can you easily operate the slide stop/release lever to lock the slide back? Can your thumb reach and operate the magazine catch to drop the magazine? If you have a revolver, can your thumb easily reach and operate the cylinder release latch? Under stress, whatever fine motor skills you do have tend to fly away.

Ease of operation includes choosing a gun that’s simple to field strip for routine cleaning and maintenance. Choose one that’s difficult, and the end result will be that you won’t maintain it, and then it won’t work when you need it. Keep in mind, too, that, as we age, many of us develop arthritis, which makes it difficult to disassemble and reassemble mechanical devices with many stubborn little parts. For those of us with weaker hands, it is important to choose a gun that does not require Herculean hand strength to disassemble and reassemble.

10. Affordability — Don’t Overpay!

Your gun should be affordable to purchase and use. If you’re on a fixed income, you don’t want to have to sell your firstborn grandchild to stay protected! Also, if practice ammunition is too expensive, then you may become reluctant to practice. Choose a handgun in a substantial caliber for which there’s plenty of cheap, quality target ammunition and a good supply of affordable, defensive hollowpoint ammunition—9mm would fit the bill.

Things to Think about When Living with Guns in Apartments

Things to Think about When Living with Guns in Apartments

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yguns in apartments

Guns in Apartments

Like many individual’s, I dream of owning a home and customizing it to exactly what I need or want. I would love to change my front window in the middle of the wall into a lovely little reading nook complete with bench, book shelving and storage space. I would love to have a room dedicated to hunting, fishing and the gear that goes with it. Or add a mirror in the hallway that has a recessed lockable cubby hole behind it; perfect for storing a couple of long guns that would be out of sight and safely tucked away.

Reality is that I live in an apartment complex where such alterations are not allowed. As an apartment dweller I realize that more than just the occupants of the apartment have keys and access to my home. Although entry into an apartment is supposed to be for maintenance purposes only I like to err on the side of caution and keep knowledge of my firearms on a need to know basis. I like to keep them locked up just in case the locks were not changed or someone got a hold of a master key. I have seen lots of turnover in staff at different apartment complexes. Being cautious doesn’t hurt anyone, but being slack could invite unwanted guests and unwanted trouble.

Like many owners of firearms there is a gun safe to lock up our firearms and other valuables. It isn’t exactly what I want in a safe but it is one that is sensible for the current living situation. It is placed where it is out of sight, unless maintenance needs to fix something in its vicinity. One lesson that has been learned while living in an apartment complex is that the size of a collection is fairly limited. There isn’t enough space for more than one safe, and creating more space is a challenge. However, keeping firearms out of sight is a priority. Apartment complexes do not afford the privacy that home ownership would. Your neighbors don’t just come and go, they move in and they move out all within a relatively short period of time.guns in apartments

The area that we live in is not accustomed to hunters. It does have a lot of nosy neighbors. Although we didn’t have any problems in the first complex we lived in, we did learn from a few faux pas that we made. One is that when carrying our gear from the car to the apartment after a day at the range, it is best to use items that do not scream “we own firearms”. Large gun cases tend to set those uncomfortable with guns on edge. This can cause them to tell their children not to be around you, or look at your apartment as a potential future target. Those who are anti-gunners will lecture you and may even complain about how they do not feel safe around you, never mind that you are a law abiding citizen. When living in an apartment, being discrete about having a gun collection is just good common sense.

Suitcases and book bags are a gun owner’s friend. As a college student it was very common for me to be seen with a rolling book bag. As a mother I find it to be helpful when packing everything to the car, or from the car in one trip. As a gun owner I find it to be a handy way to transporting my firearms without making my fellow apartment dwellers nervous. Or shouting that breaking in while the apartment is vacant could net you something very valuable. When buying more than just a box of ammunition, having a rolling suitcase or bag to transport it in has been splendid.

A great option that combines storage, functionality and camouflage is furniture made to havehidden compartments. There are a couple of furniture manufacturers out there that create bookcases and coffee or end tables as well as headboards. Not only does the furniture work for these multi-purposes, but it also looks great in your apartment. There are also decorative items that are functional as well as having cubby holes, such as clocks and paintings.

For those that are looking for functional furniture but want to save money, or want to be the only ones that know where the hidden compartment is DIY projects are an option as well. Most public libraries have a section on cabinetry and table building, with a few extra pieces and some creativity it is possible to create a drawer that is shorter or a hollow space where it wouldn’t be expected. One thing to keep in mind when purchasing or making items with cubby holes is if there are children in the home. Children love to explore and they are very uncanny in how fast it takes them to get into something or get somewhere that you wouldn’t expect them to.


Body Armor

Body Armor Law

Before purchasing any body armor, it is important for you to consider if it is legal for you to purchase and wear the body armor in your locality (although it is widely legal to wear and purchase body armor).

There are some restrictions that have been set forth by the United States government, as well as state level government that restrict the purchase of body armor to certain individuals. It is important for you to take the time to determine if the body armor can legally be purchased in your area. You will be ultimately accountable for ensuring that you are legally allowed to own and wear body armor in your locality.

The only way to be sure that you are allowed to purchase and wear armor is to speak with your local authority.

Connecticut State Laws

The state of Connecticut prohibits residents from buying or selling body armor that does not involve direct face to face contact. Connecticut will allow officers, the military, or police departments to buy body armor over the internet, but there are certain stipulations that must be met before the purchase will be deemed legal. If you live in Connecticut, you should find out what conditions must be met for you to make a legal purchase of the body armor.

If you have been convicted of a felony anywhere in the United States, you are likely to be prohibited from buying, owning, or wearing body armor of any kind. If a felon is caught with body armor, he or she could be subject to stiff penalties.

Background Checks?

When purchasing body armor, a background or criminal history is not run on the individual buying the body armor. That means that you need to be sure that you are legally allowed to purchase the body armor before making the final purchase. If you are caught with body armor and have a felonious criminal record, you will be held responsible for owning the body armor and will have to accept any and all consequences.

You can call your local police station to find out what the laws regarding the purchase of body armor in your locality are. This is an important step for you to take, and will ensure that you are following all of the necessary laws.

It is generally the case that law-abiding citizens are legally allowed to purchase and wear the body armor, but we thoroughly recommend that all customers seek advice from their local authority first.

Concealable Body Armor Gets More Comfortable

Concealable Body Armor Gets More Comfortable

Body armor and uniform manufacturers are developing new systems to make wearing concealable armor more comfortable.

by Bryn Bailer


Elbeco’s V1 External Vest Carrier lets officers wear their vests externally while maintaining a professional appearance.
Elbeco's V1 External Vest Carrier lets officers wear their vests externally while maintaining a professional appearance.

For decades, body armor companies have been working to make concealable ballistic vests that are lighter, cooler, more comfortable, and more likely to be worn by officers on patrol.

In the late 1990s, the industry (and many police departments) turned toward a new synthetic polymer called Zylon, which was lighter, more flexible, and stronger than Kevlar. Or so departments thought.

Following two 2003 shooting incidents involving Zylon vests that resulted in the death of an officer in California and the serious wounding of an officer in Pennsylvania, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) decertified the “wonder fabric” for use in law enforcement ballistic vests. The NIJ’s research discovered that Zylon fibers rapidly degraded, especially under hot and humid conditions.

In response, the NIJ reexamined body armor certification standards and issued its sixth certification in 2009. The NIJ Threat Level 6 (or NIJ-6, as it is commonly called) standard resulted in the creation of vests that were sturdier, but also heavier, bulkier, and less flexible.

Since the NIJ-6 standard was issued, both law enforcement uniform and body armor manufacturers have been looking for new methods of making ballistic-resistant soft body armor that meets the dictates of the standard, but is also thinner, lighter, and more thermally bearable. They seem to be focusing on two areas: modifying the carrier and modifying the way ballistic panels are fastened to the wearer.

“The Holy Grail is the combination of ballistic protection and the decreased weight that is synonymous with officer comfort,” says Michael Haynes, director of channel development for Point Blank Enterprises/PACA, which develops, manufactures, and distributes body armor for the U.S. military and domestic and international law enforcement agencies.

In 2011, according to FBI statistics, more than 54,000 U.S. police officers were assaulted in the line of duty. Of the more than 160 who died, about 53 percent were not wearing body armor, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Many experts believe if armor can be made more comfortable for officers to wear, then fewer officers will be killed by felonious assault in the future.

The following is a look at a few law enforcement apparel and armor companies, and how they’re changing the way you wear concealable armor.

Blauer Manufacturing

Massachusetts-based uniform manufacturer Blauer has developed an external concealable body armor carrier, called Armorskin. The ArmorSkin vest covers an officer’s conventional ballistics carrier, which is secured to the body as usual with its straps for a snug, custom fit. Unlike some other external carriers which are closed via hook-and-loop systems, Blauer’s product uses two hidden zippers to close the false uniform shirt and complete the tailored look.

The carrier’s exterior comes in a variety of fabrics, including polyester, wool blend, rayon blend, and cotton-blend ripstop, which are matched to Blauer’s ripstop shirting and pant fabric. It also includes two-way pockets with hidden document storage, epaulets, and a center mic tab. The carrier is color matched to the company’s lightweight, moisture-wicking ArmorSkin Base Shirts, which come in short- and long-sleeved models, and the same variety of fabrics. Sizes range from XS to 6XL.

“The number one reason why police officers refuse to wear armor is discomfort,” says Blauer’s Senior Vice President Stephen Blauer. “External wear of armor is the most comfortable way to wear it, as it can be removed easily [when the officer is in a safe area], allowing the officer to dry off and giving him or her a break from the heat and weight of it.”

For additional comfort, the company also offers an ArmorSkin Suspension System, a suspender-like contraption that attaches to four points on an officer’s duty belt, to rebalance the belt and equipment between shoulders and hips. It is worn under the uniform-style carrier.


Blauer’s ArmorSkin external vest carrier looks like a uniform shirt. The idea is to allow officers to wear fewer layers.
Blauer's ArmorSkin external vest carrier looks like a uniform shirt. The idea is to allow officers to wear fewer layers.


Uniform manufacturer Elbeco calls the “V” Series of its Professional Performance System the evolution of the daily uniform.

In 2011, the Pennsylvania-based company introduced its V1 External Vest Carrier to the law-enforcement market. At the time, most concealable ballistic vests were worn underneath an officer’s uniform, which was usually made of non-breathable material itself. Underneath the vest, he or she wore a T-shirt, which soaked up the heat and sweat generated by many layers of clothing.

What made the V1 different was that it was engineered to work outside of an officer’s uniform shirt and was available for both men and women in a wide range of sizes/body types.

“That’s the biggest trend right now: to wear the armor externally,” says J.D. Devine, director of sales and marketing for Elbeco.

The uniform-style carrier itself doesn’t offer ballistic, stab, or slash protection. Conventional, soft body armor panels are inserted into the external carrier’s inner pouches, and the external carrier includes functional front pockets, a badge tab, epaulettes, a mic line loop, and flexible, underarm micromesh vents. It secures with a side Velcro closure for a custom fit.

To reduce bulk, Elbeco also created the UV1, a thin, moisture-wicking knit-fabric undershirt designed to look like a uniform shirt when worn under a vest carrier. Parts of the shirt visible to the public—pointed collars, shoulders, long or short sleeves, and buttoned shirt cuffs—are made of color-matched polyester fabric to give a professional (and yes, uniform) appearance when worn with the external carrier. They come in sizes from small to 6XL.

“Until a couple years ago, the external carriers were mostly tactical, SWAT looking, and public safety administrators didn’t want to use them because they preferred the traditional look of the daily duty uniform,” Devine says. “The compromise we have found works for administration and patrol officers who don’t want to compromise the image they have always projected.”

Working in tandem with the “V” series carriers is Elbeco’s VSS1 Suspension system, a suspenders-like harness that attaches to an officer’s duty belt so the entire weight of the belt and equipment doesn’t rest on his or her hips and lower back. The suspension system itself is also worn under the external vest.


KDH Defense Armor’s Transformer system eliminates the carrier by using a harness to attach the panels.
KDH Defense Armor's Transformer system eliminates the carrier by using a harness to attach the panels.

KDH Defense Armor

KDH Defense Armor claims that its Transformer Armor System, which uses a harness system to directly support armor panels and hold them against the body, is revolutionary.

“With the Transformer, you wear the armor—the armor doesn’t wear you,” says Paul Larkin, the company’s national director of sales.

“A standard armor carrier holds the armor within, and does all the work,” Larkin notes. “If the shoulder straps (elastic/neoprene) stretch out over time, then the ballistics tend to drop down on the officer’s body and can expose their front or back to a potential ballistic event.”

The Transformer harness, on the other hand, attaches directly to the ballistic panels themselves, and is made of ripstop nylon that will not stretch out over time. The harness literally holds the armor in the correct position on an officer’s body.

“It’s extremely light, and not as bulky. It doesn’t even look like you have a vest on,” says Officer Mark Guillen, a veteran of the Eden (N.C.) Police Department, who has been testing the Transformer system for five months in his area’s hot, humid climate.

“A vest, when you sit down, rides up into your throat. This keeps all your plates together and tight. And if you’re outside chasing someone, or directing traffic, or running a K-9 track, instead of wearing a sweaty vest all day, you can just grab another sleeve [and change into a dry one.] It takes about a minute.”

The system comes with five standard protective sleeves per vest, so an officer can change them out at will much easier than removing a conventional ballistic vest to replace a wet, under-carrier T-shirt. Other manufacturers’ vests come with one carrier for the armor, and if an officer needs an additional carrier, he or she will need to purchase them at an average price of up to $150, according to Larkin.

The KDH suspension system can also fit into other types of carriers, including a uniform shirt sleeve, an overt vest sleeve, and a tactical MOLLE sleeve. Officers can simply then button their uniform shirt over it.

“The Transformer Armor System, which has the most ultra-concealable carrier option on the market, is the wave of the future for the law enforcement, federal and military community,” Larkin says.


Point Blank Enterprises’ newest body armor models are designed for greater comfort and for a variety of different applications, including tactical.
Point Blank Enterprises' newest body armor models are designed for greater comfort and for a variety of different applications, including tactical.

Point Blank Enterprises

Florida-based Point Blank develops and manufactures concealable and tactical body armor for the U.S. military; federal agencies; and city, county, and state law-enforcement and corrections agencies. Its military-style, tactical armor is designed to be “modular” and “scalable”—so that other specialized protective pieces such as throat collars or cummerbund systems—can be attached onto the basic frame.

“Those are the buzz words now,” Point Blank’s Haynes says. “You have fewer officers being tasked with a wider variety of jobs as our police forces are shrinking…. They need to be able to go from a patrol-uniform profile one minute, to then potentially responding to an active-shooter situation, which would necessitate the quick addition of rifle plates, or perhaps a full maximum-coverage tactical vest. We try to maximize building off their base ballistic platform.”

What sets concealable ballistic vests manufactured by Point Blank subsidiaries Point Blank Body Armor and PACA Body Armor apart from its competitors is a Self-Suspending Ballistic System, or SSBS. The system is comprised of shoulder harness straps connected to the front and back of ballistic carrier panels. The suspending system prevents the ballistic panels from shifting or dropping, maintaining the original shape and coverage of the carrier itself. PACA’s Blue Steel and Point Blank’s Vision carriers, manufactured in both male and female models, also include an inner lining that offers electroshock weapon protection.

For More Information:

Armor Express


Blauer Manufacturing


KDH Defense Systems

Kejo Ltd.

Point Blank Enterprises, Inc./PACA


Survival Armor

U.S. Armor Corp.

Bryn Bailer is a freelance writer based in Tucson, Ariz.

Self-Defense Lawyers

Self-Defense Lawyers

We carry to be prepared, and hope to never have a day come where we need to use our firearms. This is a great mindset, but the reality is that some of us will indeed use our firearms in a self defense situation. We’re prepared for this, but are we prepared for what happens next?

Do you have a self-defense lawyer set up?


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Many that carry each day do not think about the aftermath of a self defense shooting. The hectic nature immediately following a shooting is enough to rattle the strongest people you know. It can also go on for months, if not years. The last thing on your mind in this situation should be “Oh crap, I need a lawyer that’s versed in firearm laws and self defense laws that can represent me”.

Don’t end up being this person. Find a lawyer beforeyou may need one.

Choosing a lawyer versed in these categories can be a process, but it is a good idea to start the search now. Start calling a few local law offices or search the internet to see who is in your area. If you call a firm that doesn’t excel in this category, chances are they can lead you in the right direction.

Alternatively, and an even better option, is to ask people in the industry. Talk to a local firearms instructor to see if they can refer you to a lawyer in the area. If that doesn’t work out, ask around at a local gun shop to see if anyone can point you in the right direction. You can even call the NRA to get a list of lawyers in your area that have experience with self-defense cases.

Make the calls, and sit down with the lawyers to discuss what they’ve done in the past and what they have to offer you. After all, they may be getting you out of jail one day. Just like choosing a doctor, you want to be confident in your choice.

Ask them how many self-defense cases they’ve been apart of. See what their track record is. Find out of this is a person that you feel confident and secure with. If it’s 2am and you have a dead intruder in your kitchen, will you feel like you’re in safe hands when you call this lawyer right after a self-defense shooting?

It’s ok to take your time when choosing a lawyer to possibly represent you in the future, but start the process now. Even if you don’t carry yet and have a pending concealed carry application,start this process of finding a lawyer while you wait for your permit.

You prepare with everything else in your life; don’t forget this important step.

Gun Shop Etiquette

Gun Shop Etiquette

For most of you, a trip to the gun shop is like a child’s trip to Disney; You don’t ever want to leave. With these trips come unwritten rules of how to conduct yourself while browsing the fine selection of firearms and accessories. Remember that each employee at the shop speaks with many people a day, a lot of whom are new to firearms. Knowing and abiding by these unwritten rules will ensure a smooth, safe and respectful transaction.

Source: abcnews

1. Look at one firearm at a time

I have been in a gun shop multiple times and witnessed a customer doing the following: “Let me look at that one, that one right there, this one over here, oh and definitely that one!” While it may be beneficial to compare them side by side, it is recommended to have just one on the counter at any given time.

2. Never cover anyone with the muzzle

As per the 4 Rules of Gun Safety, the gun is always loaded. Being in a gun shop does not make this rule any less irrelevant. When handling any firearm ANYWHERE, never let the muzzle cover anything you aren’t willing to destroy.

3. Don’t dry fire or ‘slam’ the slide without asking

I know you want to play with your potential purchase, believe me I understand! 9 times out of 10, if you want to dry fire or release the slide with the slide release, the employee will say ‘go ahead’. It’s always a good idea to ask first though, because after all, it’s their property until they sell it to you. You may also be unaware that dry-firing the firearm in your hand is actually bad for that particular firearm. Please, ask first.

4. If you’re trading in a gun, bring it in it’s case

Instead of walking up to the counter with a firearm in your hands, put it in it’s case and let the employee take it out and safety check it. This seems like common sense to me, but I’ve seen it done the other way numerous times. We’re dealing with firearms here, not jeans you’re looking to return at Wally World.

5. Always, without exception, safety check a firearm as soon as you pick it up

I don’t care if the employee just showed you it’s clear. As soon as you pick up a firearm ANYWHERE, the first thing you should be doing is a safety check. This policy does not change in a gun shop.

6. Know about the firearms you’re interested in purchasing

Do some research online before you go to the gun shop. You probably have an idea of what you’re looking to get, so check them out before you go see them. Even the best employee may not know all the answers to every single product they carry. It’s a good idea to be informed ahead of time to make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at.

7. Have your permit with you

If you’re in a state that requires you to have a permit to own a firearm, HAVE IT WITH YOU. Chances are, the gun shop can’t even let you touch a firearm without seeing your permit. Do everyone a favor and bring it with you and present it at the counter.

8. Haggling is generally ok, but don’t go overboard

If you find a firearm on for $500 and your dealer is selling it for $589, asking for a few bucks off isn’t a bad idea. Asking them to price match however, might not be your best option. Remember that the online purchase may have other fees such as shipping, and they generally don’t have as much overhead as your dealer. He needs to keep his doors open, so haggle respectively.

9. Don’t talk about anything illegal

I’m not even going to explain this. Just…don’t do it.

10. Be respectful and courteous

Gun Shop employees see a lot of people everyday, and many are new to firearms and don’t follow the rules. I hear of ‘angry’ employees all the time, and my feeling is that they come across this way sometimes because they have people all day long doing everything on this list. Give them a break by knowing the proper Gun Shop Etiquette.

Nice-Price 1911 Shoootout!

1911 Shootout

We ordered in seven basic, full-size, affordable 1911s and put them through a head-to-head shootout to find out which ones are the best buys. Here’s how they rate.

I have been involved in the shooting sports for longer than I care to admit. In that time I have come to two ironclad conclusions about American shooters: No. 1. They love 1911 pistols. No. 2. They crave a good deal.

Now, this may come as a shock to some of our younger readers, but when I bought my first 1911 I had a choice of buying a Colt or…buying a Colt. At that time Colt was the only manufacturer (other than some foreign military arsenals) making 1911 pistols.

Today, dozens of firms, both in the U.S. and overseas, produce 1911 pistols at a steady pace to meet the ever-increasing demand for this iconic design.

Anyone who has ever perused a gun magazine or surfed the Web can tell you that these companies offer 1911s ranging from plain to exotic in finish and from “GI” to “race gun” in design and function. While the price of a basic 1911 is something most of us can afford, the tariff on a top-of-the-line custom-built pistol can easily run $3,000 to $5,000.

While many of us would like to buy a built-to-order 1911, there are those of us who can’t. And unless you intend to engage in serious handgun competition, maybe you really don’t need a tricked-out 1911. Maybe a plain-Jane pistol will address your needs adequately. But which one should you consider? To answer that question Shooting Times put a selection of “affordable” 1911 pistols through a shootout to see if they could do what was needed to be done.

For our purposes we decided that the definition of “affordable” would be a 1911 with an MSRP under $900. We sent out requests to all the major makers and a few that might not be all that well known to you, and we soon had received basic 1911s from Magnum ResearchAmerican Tactical ImportsRugerParaAuto-OrdnanceSpringfield, and Taurus. Keep in mind that this was during the summer of 2013 when guns were extremely hard to come by. In fact, several companies just didn’t have any available to include in our shootout.

All of the pistols are very similar—they are, after all, 1911s. But they also vary in materials, construction, grips, sights, controls, etc.

Let’s get the similarities out of the way first. All the pistols are full-size 1911s with steel frames and slides, no lightweight alloy guns. All feature the traditional 1911 single-action trigger, single-column magazine, and fixed sights. And, yes, all are chambered for the .45 ACP.

Now for their differences.

Of our seven test pistols, three (Ruger, Para, and Auto-Ordnance) were stainless steel. The remaining four had carbon-steel slides and frames.

Only one pistol (Springfield) featured an original 1911-style short trigger; the rest had the more popular long trigger. Among these, several (Auto-Ordnance, Ruger, Magnum Research, Para, and Taurus) had skeletonized or ventilated triggers.

GI-style thumb and grip safeties were featured on two pistols (Springfield and ATI), and the others had extended thumb and beavertail grip safeties. Only one (Taurus) had an ambidextrous safety, and none had extended magazine releases. Two (Springfield and ATI) used GI-style hammers; the Taurus had a Commander-style rowel hammer; and the rest had elongated, skeletonized hammers.

Two pistols (Springfield and Taurus) had key-activated, internal security locks. Dual grasping grooves on the slides and checkered frontstraps were features of two guns (Taurus and Auto-Ordnance).

While fixed rear sights were fitted to all the pistols, they ran the gamut from GI-style (ATI) through the more practical high square notch (Para and Springfield) to contoured, low-mount combat sights (Magnum Research, Ruger, Auto-Ordnance, and Taurus).

One pistol (ATI) had a round blade, GI-style front sight, and one (Para) had a green fiber-optic unit up front. The remainder had square blade front sights, either plain black or with white dots.
Full-length recoil spring guide rods were featured on three pistols (Magnum Research, Taurus, and Auto-Ordnance), while the others used the original short guide rod.

Five of the pistols (Springfield, Ruger, Magnum Research, Para, and Auto-Ordnance) had beveled magazine wells.

All except one (Springfield) came with eight-round magazines. The Springfield magazine holds seven rounds.

The Shootout
To help me run this pack of 1911s though their paces, I obtained the assistance of my good friends Dick Cole, Butch Simpson, and Dick Jones—action pistol shooters all. After much rumination and discussion, we decided that each of us would run each pistol through two drills.

The first was a field course consisting of 11 USPSA cardboard targets and two steel plates, which would be shot at distances ranging from 5 to 25 yards and would require movement and multiple reloads. Each shooter would run each pistol through this stage twice.

The second stage would consist of a rack of seven 8-inch steel plates. The shooter would begin with a fully loaded eight-round magazine plus one round in the chamber and engage the plates from a distance of 8 yards. This drill would be run three times with each pistol with no reloads permitted.

Each cardboard target had to be engaged with two shots, and the steel plates had to be knocked down to score. Scoring would consist of the shooter’s time plus these penalties: +0 seconds for A and B zone hits, +1 second for C zone hits, +2 seconds for D zone hits, +5 seconds for a miss or no-shoot hit.

Each shooter would then rate each pistol from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) in six categories: reliability, accuracy, ergonomics, recoil control, trigger, and sights. The points would then be added together for a final score.

Several days before I met my friends for the shootout, I fired each of the 1911s with three different brands of ammunition. As can be seen by the results in the accuracy chart, they all produced groups that were more than adequate—and some that were downright impressive. However, during this initial stage of testing, I experienced several failures to feed or go into battery with the JHP ammo.

Afterwards each pistol was disassembled, cleaned, and lubed, which would be the only maintenance they would receive. If any of them choked during the shootout, we would attempt to clear the problem at the range and keep shooting.

The four of us met on a hot, humid July morning at Dick Jones’s Lewis Creek Shooting School in High Point, North Carolina.

Shooting the field course exposed a few shortcomings in several of the guns, primarily failures to feed (mostly with JHP ammo) and premature slide lock-backs.

As these were all new, out-of-the-box pistols, I did not see this as being indicative of any real problems, and by the time we shot the field course the second time, there was a marked improvement in overall functioning.

To further test reliability, in addition to the magazines the pistols came with, all pistols were fired with a selection of high-quality 1911 magazines from Wilson CombatBrownellsTripp Research, and Ed Brown.

On the last run of the field course, Dick Jones experienced the first problem of the day when the rear sight of the Auto-Ordnance Thompson 1911 fell off. When we attempted to reinstall it, we discovered that the setscrew was cross threaded and could not be loosened or tightened. It had apparently been tightened just enough at the factory to hold the sight in place, but firing several hundreds of rounds jarred it loose. Because of that the Auto-Ordnance pistol was retired, and none of us were able to shoot it during the plate rack stage.

Even though we attempted to alternate the pistols, thanks to temperatures hovering in the mid-90s and the fact that there was no shade, they all got quite hot during the plate rack stage, making them uncomfortable to handle.

It was during this stage that I experienced our next firearm failure when the ejector on the ATI FX45 sheared off, preventing me from completing the third rack of plates and one other shooter from using it at all.

Including the earlier accuracy testing, by the end of the day, we had run approximately 2,400 rounds of ammo through the seven test guns. Then we got down to grading the guns.

The Scores
After much thought, cogitation, arguing, challenges, and threats, we came to the following results. Note: 120 points would be a perfect score. Check out the results below, and join the debate by leaving us a comment about your favorite budget 1911.

 Nice-Price 1911 Shootout

Let me explain how we arrived at these scores. The Para showed itself to be an all-around fine-handling, reliable pistol, but what clinched its first-place position was the fiber-optic front sight. It allowed fast target acquisition, accurate shot placement, and smooth transitioning between targets.

The Ruger and Magnum Research guns came in second and third places, but if they had been fitted with fiber-optic front sights, they very well could have tied for first place.

Despite it being a mil-spec pistol with GI-style grips and controls, the Springfield’s performance impressed us. Just put an extended thumb and beavertail grip safety on it, and it would be a real winner.

Overall the Auto-Ordnance fared well, and there were several positive comments about its overall quality. Its frame checkering was much appreciated by all. If it hadn’t lost its rear sight, it very well might have finished in first or second place.

The Taurus was an impressive pistol with frame checkering, ambidextrous controls, good grips, and decent sights. But it had a heavy trigger. I mean a really heavy trigger that caused accuracy to suffer and forced us all to shoot slowly. If it had had a lighter trigger, I’m sure it would have finished near the top.

ATI’s FX45 was a pure mil-spec pistol whose sights, controls, and grips were “basic,” and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, they did have an adverse effect on handling and accuracy. But it was the only one of the seven test guns that suffered what could be considered a “catastrophic” failure that prevented it from functioning at all. For this reason it was relegated to last place.

Well, there you have it. As the old saying goes, “The numbers don’t lie.”

How to find The Best Concealed Carry Instructor


posted by  on Concealed Carry


Finding the right instructor is very important when you’re looking to take a concealed carry class. While it will depend on your state, you are almost likely to be required to take training (and if you’re not,read up on why you might want to take some anyways), and the quality of that training matters when it comes to you being able to protect yourself when you’re carrying and a threat arises.

Just as you want the right gun, holster, ammunition and clothing, you want to find someone who will teach you to be the best you can be and bring out both the skills you already have and the questions you need to ask to become better.

Finding a good, licensed instructor can turn your concealed carry course from a boring, learn-little experience into something you’ll remember and something that makes you excited about learning more.

The first thing you should look at is how safe your instructor is. What sort of safety precautions has he taken? He should have a first aid kit at the ready, he should be ready with ear plugs if you are live-firing, he should have safety goggles for you, and he should stress the importance of safety when handling a firearm. In fact, if safety training is the first thing on your curriculum, you’re probably in good shape. This is pretty basic stuff for a good firearms instructor, so if the person you’re considering doesn’t seem like they value this highly, you should find another instructor.

References are very helpful when you are looking for an instructor. Get it right out of the mouths of people who have trained with him before. Is he any good? Did they learn everything? Do they feel like he made them a better handler of their firearm? Check online, ask your friends who have taken courses in your area, and ask around the local gun groups/shooting ranges.

How much experience does this person actually have with guns, shooting and teaching? How often does this person actually shoot? Have they trained for a long time? Find out how familiar they are with firearms and training, because while some people may think they can instruct, there are a lot of poor instructors out there who think that just because they can shoot a gun they can train. Just make sure your instructor actually shoots and enjoys it. While not necessary, it can help if the instructor has military or law enforcement training and experience.

What is the course structure? Different teachers will have different styles when it comes to the course structure and material. Some want to be the ‘big man’ in the class and will make you feel stupid for asking questions. Stay away from these guys with big egos. You’ll learn nothing because you’ll be afraid to screw up or ask questions, because they’ll belittle you in front of everyone. Get someone who genuinely cares and wants to help people learn.

Does your instructor know a lot? Seriously – how knowledgeable is he or she about state laws? Does he or she stay up to date on the latest firearm news and technological advancements? It helps to have someone who has a vast knowledge base because lots of different questions can come up when you’re training.

What kind of class sizes does the instructor typically deal with? Your ability to learn may increase if you get more one on one time, and that means that a smaller class size is usually better for you getting the best training.

How much are you going to be paying for this training? There isn’t usually too much variable in how much a CCW class costs. If you find a $50 difference, that’s usually quite a lot, so you should check into that. The thing is, if someone is charging way too much, make sure you’re talking about value, not just monetary cost. If it’s more expensive, but way better training, you might consider it. On the flip side, if an instructor only wants $10 for training compared to $100 down the road, ask yourself how good the training is and why it’s so inexpensive.

Don’t go for the ‘too good to be true’ or ‘salesmen’ instructors. There are so many people out there looking to take your money and scam you. We like to think that in the firearms community we’re all good to each other and have a sort of unique bond. However, people will always be trying to make a buck and this is not exception. Just look out for people who seem scammy or shifty.