Quick observation of NRAAM 2017

The theme to NRAAM this year was definitely “Suppress All the Things!”

When Ruger is showing off an integrated suppressor barrel, and half of the stuff Brownell’s has displayed has cans on them, you know that the industry is banking on the Hearing Protection Act passing.

I hope they’re right.

For those going to NRAAM next week.

You’re probably already aware of the bridge collapse on I-85.

Apparently, the southeast side felt left out, and I-20 decided it would be fun to randomly buckle upwards.

Atlanta traffic is “fun” when there isn’t major road issues.  Prepare for insanity.

Why I Don’t Carry a Dedicated Defense Knife

I think we’ve all seen or heard people advise folks that you should always carry a defensive knife that’s razor sharp and never use it as your EDC knife for opening boxes, etc.  I just don’t buy it.

First off, there’s a simple issue of carrying one more thing.  I already carry my gun, keys, phone, and multi-tool on my belt.  Add to that all the crap I carry in my pockets, and I really don’t have much space for another knife.  Of course, this is personal preference, and I’m currently carrying 5 knives between the lock blades, multi-tools, etc that I normally carry.

The major argument for a dedicated defensive knife is that you need to keep it as sharp as possible.  First off, this suggests that it’s ok to let your EDC knife become dull.  It’s easy enough to keep your EDC knife sharp.  Most of the time, all it really needs is an occasional session with a leather strop to stay damn sharp.

There’s also the fact a knife just doesn’t need to be that sharp to cut you.  Sure, a razor sharp knife is easier to cut flesh, but humans have been chopping each other up for millennia.  It was fairly common for soldiers to use whatever rock they found to vaguely sharpen their weapons back in the sword and shield days.  And that was with iron and steel, much less bronze or chipped stone.

Heck, I’ve seen folks argue that it’s actually better to use a duller knife as a weapon.  If you’ve ever been cut with a really sharp knife, you may remember never feeling the cut.  The idea is that a duller knife with tear at the skin more and make your attacker really feel it.  I know some folks that advocate the use of a serrated knife for this reason over a straight edge.

My last big thing is that you should know your knife.  One thing that’s hammered into your head in any martial art is that your weapon should be an extension of you.  It would make sense that the knife that you use every day for common tasks would become that way.  This isn’t necessarily true with a dedicated defensive knife.  Especially if the blade profile is significantly different for that EDC.  Something like a karambit requires serious training to become proficient in for that reason.

Am I saying that you shouldn’t carry a dedicated defensive blade and you’re stupid if you do?  No.  What I am saying is that, if you do, you might want to re-evaluate why you’re carrying it.  Maybe you’ll decide that you really don’t need to.  If you do decide to continue to do so, find someplace to get training.

Repairs and thoughts on an AlienGear holster

For the past couple years, my go to IWB holster has been an AlienGear CloakTuck 2.0 holster.  It’s a rather affordable hybrid holster that has a plastic shell attached to more flexible backing.  The most common material used for this kind of backing is leather (and that is what the original AlienGear holster uses), but AlienGear decided that it could make a more comfortable holster by using multiple materials.

The 2.0’s backing actually uses 3 different materials.  The gun rests against a thin leather layer, which lays on top of a sheet of plastic for rigidity, and then a layer of neoprene against your body.  These three layers are sewn together, with nuts embedded in the backing to mount the shell and belt clips.

This backing worked fairly well, until the plastic broke.  By the nature of the holster, there are two flex points on the holster, and the plastic appears to have cracked on those lines.  You can clearly see the crease on the left side at the logo in the picture below.  There is a similar crease on the right side.

As I found out the hard way, the leather and neoprene layers are strong enough that the holster still functioned.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for some close inspection of the holster after noticing a considerable amount of flopping while attached to pants I wasn’t currently wearing, I’m not sure when I would have noticed.  The cracks did not affect the retention of the pistol, but I was concerned about the long term strength of the holster after those two cracks appeared.

Remembering that AlienGear has a lifetime warranty, I contacted them about my options.  They quickly informed me that they would replace the backing with another 2.0 backing for free, or, for $12, they would send me a 3.0 backing.  Given that I had already experienced this issue with the 2.0 holster, and they no longer make that holster, I decided to go with the newer design.  They informed me that they should be able to shipped the backing in two or three days.  I actually received notification that the backing had been shipped later that day.

Fast forward a couple days, and the new backing plus extra hardware arrived in the mail.  As you can see, they’ve made a few modifications with the new version.

Forgive the cat hair. That stuff gets everywhere.

They have replaced the leather layer with a rubber material.  They also chose to go with removable propeller nuts to mount the belt clips.  The rubber may be more durable, but I’m not sure.  I do like the change in the mounting hardware, as random posts sticking up and not being used annoys me.

Oh, they also changed the backing where the neoprene covers the permanently fixed hardware.  My 2.0 backing did show some rust where it was exposed to my sweat.  I know that some folks have complained about this.

rust on the old 2.0 backing

The new backing did come with all new hardware, but all the old hardware can be used on the new backing.  The only difference is the requirement of the included propeller nuts that I mentioned earlier.

Good as new!

So… here are my thoughts so far.

It is, as advertised, a very comfortable holster out of the box.  The neoprene helps in two ways.  First is the obvious sweat shield that it provides.  The second is the fact that neoprene grips your shirt/body.  I’ve had issues with leather IWB holsters causing my pants to fall down because they’re slick on the body side.

Retention is good.  With the screws, you can adjust the retention to your liking.  The screws can back out over time, but a dab of blue Locktite will solve that.  I prefer this over rivets that I’ve seen in other holsters of this type.

I’ve worn the holster with the 3.0 backing for a couple days, and I can tell that it is stiffer than the previous version.  Still comfortable, but I can tell that that steel insert is there.  As for its durability compared to the 2.0 backing?  We’ll see.

In Defense of “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast”

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of criticism over “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”  I think part of it is that a lot of folks have seen, heard, or possibly even said that line without actually knowing what it meant.

While I’m not an IDPA grandmaster, ever even been in an IPSC match, or some high speed low drag firearms instructor, I am a martial arts instructor.  As such, I’ve used the term, and I’ve heard many other instructor state similar.

The real message behind the that mantra is to focus on technique.  When we try to go as fast as we possibly can, our technique tends to go out the window.  I’ve seen folks jump straight into trying kicks or hand techniques at full speed, and their technique was generously described as “flailing.”  Lots of movement that doesn’t do anything but waste energy and throws them off balance, no force actually landing on target, and, while their limbs my be going at high speed, the entire action is slow.

The solution to this is to slow down and focus on what you’re actually doing.  If you’re doing something in the middle of your action that doesn’t directly help that action, why?  There might be a good reason (like keeping your hands up), at which point, keep doing that.  If there’s not, maybe you shouldn’t.  Slowing down allows you and your instructor to make sure you’re not only moving efficiently, but that the maximum amount of the energy you’re expending ends up on target.  Once a student’s technique is good, then we move to actually speeding things up.

There’s two ways to “be faster.”  One is obviously to have your muscles respond faster.  While you can definitely train to increase muscle speed and decrease reaction time, that’s only part of the equation.  Sadly, it’s also the part that will go south as we grow older.

The other reason is to improve technique.  The fastest way between two points is a straight line.  The closest your technique is to that straight line, the faster it is.  You will also get to point B faster if you don’t make a stop for gas or food at point C, D, and E first.  Sometimes it’s necessary to hit those points (example: it’s pretty much impossible to go straight from the gun in your holster to a proper firing position), but it doesn’t mean you have to dwell at those middle points.  That’s where the “smooth” part comes in.  The smoother you can flow from “holstered” to “drawn by your side” to “forward and ready to fire,” the less time you will take overall.

You will see just about any traditional martial artist work on techniques slowly as they work things out.  It’s common for Muay Thai practitioners to do so.  BJJ folks definitely work on techniques slowly while training.  I’ve seen boxers take a minute on a heavy bag to make sure their jab or their cross had exactly the right form.  If you ever have a chance to play with a Tai Chi master that knows the practical application, they’re almost magical because they’ve spent years focusing single mindedly on technique and balance.

I even believe that this is what Wyatt Earp was talking about when he said that the key to winning a gun fight was to “take your time in a hurry.”  Yes, speed is very much an important factor, but if that’s all you’re focusing on, you’ll end up being slower over all and have a larger chance of missing in the first place.  The trick is to run the ragged edge of going as fast as you can while maintaining good form.

Quick update

Just in case anyone was wondering, I was in Academy the other day and the ARs were back on display.  Looks like I was right, and they hid them under the counter after the nightclub shooting in Miami until the craziness blew over.

Real life example of why registry is bad

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know the usual arguments about registry.  A friend of mine just brought up a scenario that I had never thought of.

He has an older friend that is unfortunately in the hospital with one of those issues that a lot of folks don’t come home from (hope that’s not the case here, but…).  Life has apparently treated his buddy pretty well, and he’s been able to afford some machine guns.  This is where it gets sticky.  Some folks have apparently attempted to rob his buddy’s house a couple times.  My friend is the only one that the guy and his family trusts/knows that has the ability to properly lock up the guns away from the now vacant house.

From the admittedly small amount we know about the NFA registry, this may not be exactly legal.  When getting your NFA tax stamp, you can either register by your lonesome, or set up a trust.  If you get the stamp directly tied to you, you’re the only one that can possess the item.  No loaning it out, etc.  If you set up a trust, anyone that is named on the trust can possess it.  Unfortunately, I don’t know which this gentleman did, but, if it was a trust, my friend was not named and there’s a decent chance that the guy will die before the ATF gets back to him about adding a name to the trust.  Not to mention that the third robbery attempt may succeed.

If there wasn’t a registry, it would be a simple case of “oh, I can hold onto that for you.  With the registry?  Things get a lot trickier.

(By the way, no.  This isn’t me.  It really is a friend of mine.  I won’t tell you his name.  On the other hand, if you have a tip other than “find a lawyer,” I’ll be happy to pass it along.)

Fun with Headlines–“I can’t even” edition

Play the game yourself.

1) Go to a major news outlet’s website.
2) CTRL+F “Trump” or “Ban”
3) Click on the link
4) Read the headline, the story, and the comments
5) Go find the source material: Documents or video.

That’s it. Who knew I had discovered “Fake News” long before Fake News was a thing?

The Army goes Sig

A non-gun geek friend of mine actually brought this to my attention.  Apparently, the Army has finished it’s trials for a replacement of the M9.  They’ve decided to go with the Sig Sauer p320.

As a Beretta fanboy, I’m sad to see the M9 replaced, but the Sig is a damn good gun.  The M9 was a great gun in the 80’s, but there have been improvements since then.  Specifically in ergonomics an modularity.  The M9 fits great in my hand, but I have freakishly large hands.  Of course, I find the M9 a much nicer looking gun, but that doesn’t really matter to the military.

The Sig has been on my list of guns that, if I could justify another full sized 9mm, I would buy.  Heck, I might anyways.

Good reason to carry a spare

So… when putting my carry gun in the safe last night, I discovered that the magazine wasn’t in the gun!

Apparently, when I ran out to the store to pick up stuff for dinner last night, I had managed to hit the mag release.  Went back out to the car, and it was sitting there on the driver’s seat.

And yes, I was wearing a good quality holster in good shape.  I’ve tried recreating this event and can’t, but it’s obviously happened.

Which meant I was walking around carrying a single shot pistol.  Of course, I had a spare mag in my pocket, but…