The Wisdom of Tactical Pants

Just because it’s conventional wisdom doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wise. As an example, for many, it’s conventional wisdom that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human mouth. Think about it. How many times have you heard someone make that statement with the self assurance of a no it all? Hell, you hear it enough and you might even start to believe it. But think about it. Look what a dog does with its mouth. It licks its own ass, licks the ass of other dogs, eats shit, throws up and then eats it, etc. Hell, dogs chew on anything smelly and rotten that they can get a hold of. Based on simple observation, the notion that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than the average human mouth is ridiculous. The next time you let your dog lick you all over your face and mouth, think about where that dog’s mouth has been probably just moments before.

You get the drift.

Perusing around the various gun forums and sites I’ll occasionally see a discussion regarding the wisdom of wearing tactical pants. Basically, tactical pants are glorified cargo pants. One popular tactical pant is 5.11 TacLite Pro.


See, glorified cargo pants. They have lots of pockets for lots of different stuff. The so called conventional wisdom regarding these kinds of pants is that by wearing them you mark yourself as most likely being a concealed carrier thus drawing unnecessary to yourself. Some even call them “shoot me first” pants.

Others say that only idiots who want to look like an “operator” would wear them. Not much more than wearing a costume. Either way, drawing unwanted attention to yourself. I see that argument put out their a lot.

I think both arguments are nonsensical. First off, like I said, they’re nothing more than glorified cargo pants. Secondly, cargo pants are so ubiquitous that no one even registers them. Really, the next time you’re out and about, make note of how many people you see wearing cargo pants or cargo shorts. You see people of all stripes wearing them. They wear them because they are convenient and they are comfortable.

I personally know quite a number of IT types and many of them wear cargo pants. Specifically a lot of them wear 5.11s. Many of them are completely gun clueless. Why do they wear them? Because IT types tend to carry a lot of crap with them. The pockets are damned useful for that.

I’ve been wearing cargo pants for years. I remember my first pair way back in my school days circa 1977 or thereabouts. Later years I switched back and forth between cargo pants and trusty Levi 501s. For the past several years I’ve almost exclusively worn 5.11s. The reason is that I know exactly what size fits me–32×34–and it makes it easy to buy them. I also hate carrying my wallet in my back pocket because it makes my back sore when I sit. Instead I carry my wallet in one of the cargo pockets. Plus having my wallet in a cargo pocket makes it much less susceptible to being picked vs riding in a rear pocket. That becomes especially important if you do much international traveling. The last time I traveled to Europe we went to Ukraine. Traipsing around Kiev as an American; riding on the subways, buses, etc, trust me, you want your wallet in a front pocket. Wearing jeans and having your wallet stuffed in a front pocket is just plain stupid.

I also have a carabiner keychain full of a crap-ton of keys. The best place to carry them is to latch it onto the little d-ring on the front.

Also, there’s a handy pocket up front for my cell phone. However, with the advent of larger phones that pocket is no longer useful for that. Note to 5.11: Please make that front left-side pocket larger to accommodate today’s larger cell phones.

And then the other cargo pocket is where I store my little EDC pouch full of my crap; rudimentary boo boo kit, mini Leatherman, fingernail clippers, etc. These pants are especially useful when I’m wandering around with my camera and want to have another lens handy.

So, there are plenty of reasons to wear cargo/tactical pants that have nothing to do with looking operator cool or advertising yourself as a gun carrier. And to reiterate, these kinds of pants are so common that the average person isn’t even going to register.





Ruger Single Six

Over Christmas, my dad decided to give me his old Ruger Single Six. I was completely taken aback when he did because I’ve always loved that gun. Even though I’ve probably only shot it a small handful of times. The reason I’ve always loved this gun is because it’s one of few things that I absolutely associate with my dad. Over the years I’ve never known my dad without that gun. He’s always had it in whatever vehicle he was driving; most often a pickup truck of some sort or another.


Ruger Single Six

As you can tell it’s a bit rugged looking. After all, dad had this gun for fifty plus years. It was always in its holster under the seat or on his belt. This thing was used and used heavily at that. Over the years dad spent a lot of time on horseback doing the cowboy thing, riding the mountains looking after cattle. This gun was always with him. Whenever we went camping, driving out in the woods, hunting, whatever it was, this gun was always with him. If he shot a deer with his rifle, he’d use the Ruger Single six to finish the job if need be.

Dad has never been into shooting just to shoot because it’s fun. That’s more my style. I’ve always loved to shoot. Dad is more of a utilitarian when it comes to firearms. Guns are a tool, nothing more, nothing less. Even so, when it came to shooting this pistol, I saw dad do some pretty damned good shooting. The last time I watched him shoot it was about 20 years ago. I was visiting him and my step mother out on a ranch near the confluence of the Snake River and the Salmon River on the breaks of the Hells Canyon. I’m not sure how we got started, but my dad pulled out this pistol and was casually shooting walnuts out of a huge walnut tree in the front yard of the house. Not the low hanging fruit mind you, but walnuts high up in the massive tree. Don’t know about you, but in my way of thinking that’s some impressive shooting for someone who spent little time shooting just for the hell of it.

When dad handed the gun over to me we got to talking and he told me about the last time that he shot it. It was 10 years or so prior and he was out on Jackson Creek near Council, Idaho riding for strays with one of his cow dogs. Twiggy was the dog’s name. Dad got on his horse and headed up the hill and Twiggy ran ahead, bouncing through the bunch grass and around the trees, disappearing over the hill. As he followed along, he heard Twiggy yelping, obviously in some serious distress. Dad stood up in his stirrups to get a better look, and running hard towards him was Twiggy yelping and baying. Dad said she was running as fast as he’d ever seen a dog run. Right on her ass was a coyote, teeth bared, nipping at Twiggy’s tail and ready to kick some serious cow dog ass.  The coyote was so bent on kicking Twiggy’s ass that it didn’t even notice the old man and his horse. Twiggy ran by, dad drew the Single Six with a cylinder full of .22 magnums, and shot the coyote while sitting in the saddle; pistol in one hand, reins in the other. Cowboy 1. Coyote dead. Twiggy forever grateful.


Ruger Single Six needs a little work.

Wouldn’t you have loved to see that? I know I would have.

As you can see, the Ruger Single Six needs some work. Yeah, it shoots well, but it looks like what it is; a gun that’s spent fifty years living in a holster and used as it was intended to be. I don’t want to refurbish it, just give it a good, thorough deep cleaning. I like the idea that it has marks and blemishes put there by whatever way the old man was using it over the years. Dad says he bought it second hand back in the year that I was born, 1962. He says it was in new condition and he seems to think it was manufactured around ’61, but based on the serial number and a cursory look on Ruger’s website, it appears to have been manufactured in 1954. Ruger initially began to manufacture the Single Six in 1953. I plan to call Ruger and get a for sure on that. It works perfectly. The old man used the hell out of it, but kept it oiled. Lots of holster wear as you can imagine. It has two cylinders; one for standard .22 long, long rifle, short. The other cylinder is chambered for .22 magnum. Looking at the cylinders, the .22 magnum saw the most gun time. The .22 magnum is an awesome round.

This gun predates the safety mechanism that allows one to safely carry six, so you want to carry this gun with five in the pipes and the chamber under the hammer empty. Ruger offers to convert it over to the safe to carry six mode for free, but it requires sending it to them. I don’t intend to do that.

I’m looking forward to taking my son out and shooting it. He looks at it and says, “Cool cowboy gun, papa.”

Yep, sure is. I’m no cowboy, but when the day comes that I give this gun to my son, it will still be a “cowboy gun” because, well, a cowboy carried the thing for over fifty years.

Thanks, dad.

40 S&W Replaced By 9MM

The title of this post is probably more dramatic than it needs to be. If I raise some hackles, let me be clear.

I don’t care.

Ok, maybe I do a little bit.

Anyway. Currently, my EDC is a S&W M&P40C. I’ve been extremely happy with it. It shoots well, feels great in my hand. Really, if you haven’t picked up an M&P you should just to see what the ergonomics feel like. Glocks are awesome, but, for my hands, the M&P feels much better.

But this isn’t a discussion vis a vis M&P vs Glock vs anything else. It’s about why I’m seriously thinking of switching from .40 cal to 9mm. In fact, I’m going to switch.

Over the last few years much has been said by others regarding why various law enforcement agencies are switching back to the 9mm from the .40. Here’s a good example of that.

…modern 9mm bullet technology has leveled the playing field. When many of the police departments were jumping to .40 S&W, bullet technology was still in its infancy which helped to fuel the switch-over to .40. PD’s felt bigger was better in the absence of quality bullet designs. Today we have an assortment of modern high-performance 9mm loads that offer better penetration and expansion than loads on the market back in the 1990’s. A modern 9mm easily rivals the best .40 S&W or .45 ACP round in terms of ballistic performance and in real-world shootings. Even the FBI, who lead the charge in developing the .40 S&W, now authorizes their agents to carry 9mm service pistols.

Yes, this is all true, but there, but there are other reasons for me. One of them is that generally speaking, 9mm is cheaper than .40. Another is that my wife’s gun, a Glock 26, is 9mm. I like the idea of having parity in the ammunition that our guns require. No fumbling around for this ammo and that ammo, etc when we go shooting. That becomes even more important if you’re fumbling around for this and that ammo for your gun when you really need it. Grabbing a box of ammo and going sounds a lot better then grabbing one box of one and then another box of different.

Recoil. The recoil isn’t unmanageable with a .40, but a 9mm is a lot more enjoyable to shoot. You probably wouldn’t notice until you shoot a 9mm after shooting your .40. But it is noticeable.

Capacity. For example, my M&P40C is 10+1. The M&P9C is 12+1.  The trade off in ballistics is well worth the increase in round capacity. And with modern technologies, the trade off isn’t much if any.

And because the cost of 9mm is less than .40. that means that one can buy more ammo, thus shoot more, thus get better at placing shots. And, in the end, shot placement matters much more than what you’re shooting.

Trunk Gun Part 2

Some time ago I wrote a piece on the concept of utilizing a trunk gun; things to think about when making that decision, etc. I focused mainly on the notion of having a trunk gun and some misconceptions when making that decision. What I didn’t do was get into exactly what gun might be best to use as a trunk gun.

Rather than just flat out give my two cents on what would best be a trunk gun, I’ll start out with what I decided to do and why; kind of go through the process I used.

One of the things I thought about in making the decision to utilize a trunk gun was the fact that a gun kept mainly in your car or truck will inherently have a higher risk of theft than a gun kept in your safe at home. Because of that I’m thinking that I wouldn’t want to use an expensive gun. A $4000 rifle as a trunk gun would probably not be a good idea. So, I’m thinking keep it cheap; say $600 or less.

Also, I wanted it to be a reliable and proven platform.

Another thing I thought about were circumstances in which I could realistically expect to actually need a trunk gun. For those who live in a rural area where there is lots of game and livestock, the most likely scenario in which you’d use a trunk gun would be to put down an animal; probably a deer, cow, horse, whatever that gets hit by a car.

For those who live in urban areas, the likelihood of having to put down an animal is pretty slim. You might have your own reasons and you’ll have to think about it. For me, I live in an urban area; about 1.5 million people. I don’t worry too much about civil unrest though. I know that there are those that do, but that’s not me. I don’t anticipate being caught up in an active shooter situation and having to grab my gun and go to war either. Maybe you do, but I don’t. I go into that more in my previous post. You make up your own mind on that.

The main reason I go with a trunk gun is to be able to get home if I need to. I live in an area in which a major earthquake will hit. The likelihood of having to walk home in that scenario is very real. If I or my wife have to walk home post major earthquake, I want to have that gun. Period.

One of the guns I thought of is my SKS. I have a Chinese made SKS that is a great little gun. The 7.62 x 39 is a good round. It’s  fairly ubiquitous so it’s relatively easy to find. The SKS is cheap, durable and reasonably accurate as long as you’re not shooting beyond a couple hundred meters. Also, it’s a small gun able to fit in the trunk. The downside for me, however, was capacity. It’s a ten round magazine. Sure, you can do some aftermarket work and set one up to use a 30 round aftermarket mag. But, in my experience, the reliability of aftermarket mags for an SKS can be a little bit iffy. Just my experience. So, the SKS got put on the back burner.

That logically led me to the venerable AK-47. Civilian version of course. To tell you the truth, there’s very little downside to an AK-47 as a get home/trunk gun. It, too, uses the 7.62 x 39 round. It’s probably the most proven platform on the planet and it’s more than accurate enough to do the job. For me, however, as much as I really entertained the notion of an AK-47 in the trunk, I was thinking of my wife in this scenario which I will go into deeper later on. Either way, as good as the AK-47 is, I decided to move on.

I did think about a Mossberg 500 variant; something like the Persuader. Great gun, cheap, durable. Chambered for a .12 gauge. I think the argument for that gun is a strong one, but, in the end I opted to not go for it. Mostly because of issues regarding capacity and range. Try lugging around a hundred rounds of .12 gauge ammo and you’ll understand.

Another thought, believe it or not, is some kind of .22 rifle. Something like the Rugar 10/22. In fact if my main mode of transportation was a motorcycle, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown would be high on the list. Plus, a handful of .22 LR in your pocket will give you lots of go-to ammo. But, in an urban area, the range thing became a factor.

What I finally opted to go with–in large part because I already own a couple–is an AR-15 variant chambered in 5.56. Specifically a S&W M&P15 Sport. It’s an amazing gun for the money. No, you won’t be rocking a 3-gun match with it, but for purposes of a good trunk gun for my situation, it fits the bill. The AR-15 platform is dead simple and both me and my wife are very familiar with it. 5.56 is easy to find and relatively cheap. Four or five 30 round mags of 5.56 is a lot of get home ammo. Slam one in your gun and throw the other three in your get home bag and you’re good to go.

In all honesty it was a tossup between an AR variant and an AK-47 but the things that pulled me towards the AR was: My wife is more familiar with the AR platform, which is ironic in that she was born in the former Soviet Union. The AR; especially an Mforgery type, is going to be lighter than an AK. Though 7.62 x 39 ammo is pretty common, 5.56 or .223 is more common. Every police force is going to have it. Parts for an AR variant are going to be more common. Depending on the severity of SHTF, ammo and parts are going to be easier to find for an AR variant than the AK.

A couple things that I did to the M&P15 was replace the hand guard with a Magpul hand guard and slap on a Sayeret sling which I highly recommend. I didn’t put any optics on it keeping with in the whole idea of simple and inexpensive. However, I have pondered the idea of installing a Vortex Strikefire II on it. Sure, it’s no Aimpoint, but it gets universally good reviews. Especially for the low cost.

There you have it. This is what works for me.

I’m always game to hear what other’s thoughts are on this. Feel free to comment or email.


Brownback Signs Bill That Allows Permit-Free Concealed Carry of Guns In Kansas

This is a good thing.

Kansans soon can carry concealed weapons without permits or training under a bill signed by Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday.

The new law, which kicks in July 1, makes Kansas the sixth state to allow “constitutional carry.” It will allow Kansans 21 and older to carry concealed firearms regardless of whether they have obtained a permit.

Asked why he did not think training should be required if it is valuable, Brownback said carrying a gun is a constitutional right.

Brownback gets it. I would’ve countered the stupid question with something like, “Do we require training to exercise any other right mentioned in the Bill of Rights, say, like the First Amendment?”

Changing Hearts And Minds

I have my go bag with me just about everywhere I go. My wife refers to it as The Man Purse. When I first started working at a huge multinational corporation, people used to kind of look at me askance when seeing me trudge to my desk with my go bag on my back. Having a pack on one’s back is not unusual at the huge multinational corporation for which I work, but most of them are cheap little things with the company logo on them or little Northface, or whatever brand name bags. Typically they’re filled with an iPad, phone, laptop, or something like that. Some of them carry their lunch in them. When they see mine with all of its molle webbing and decidedly more robust construction, it stuck out a little bit.

As time went on, people go so used my go bag that they stopped even noticing. Some on my team might say something like, “What the hell do you have in that thing?” To which my answer would be, “Just about anything you might need.”

I don’t think that they really believed me. One day someone blew out one of their flip-flops (yeah, where I work, flip flops are good to go) and as they stared at their silly little flip flop, they mused aloud that they wish that they had something with which to fix it temporarily to get through the day while eyeing the stapler on their desk. I looked at them and said, “Duct tape might be helpful, huh?”

“Hell, yeah. But who has any duct tape?”

I reached inside of my go bag and handed them some duct tape. Problem solved.

Sometime after that, someone was whining about how the first aid box was out of something for their hangover induced headache. I reached inside my go bag and instantly improved their day.

One day, someone was aghast that in the break room a can opener for their canned crap lunch had gone missing. Yeah, I made their day.

Soon after that, people started referring to my go bag as the “magic bag” because it seemingly has an endless supply of tricks. A few weeks ago, we were undergoing a massive restructuring of desk assignments. I can’t tell you how many people were coming to me asking if I had something in my magic bag that could be used for one thing or another. Usually it just meant that I handed them my multi-tool and that was that (please bring it back when you’re finished). Now, for many people where I work, I’m the go to guy if you need something with which to do something but you just don’t have the means to do it. Hell, last Halloween, one of the departments was trying to construct some elaborate thing for some kind of Halloween inspired project. A complete stranger came up to me at my desk and said that it had been suggested that she come talk to me about it and that I may be able to help. After explaining what she was trying to do I plundered my go bag and produced the perfect fix; two zip ties and about ten feet of paracord which I cut to length with my Cold Steel Tanto GI knife. Yeah, I could have used my pocket carry, but my GI Tanto is just so much cooler.

I’ve had people ask me very seriously just what exactly I have in my go bag and inquire about my philosophy with regards to a go bag. I happily obliged them.

Today, looking around the office I noticed something. I counted three people on my team with go bags under their desks. I’m talking full blown, covered in molle webbing, honest to God, tacticool, go bags. One of them was a 5.11 just like mine. After work, I reached under my desk, shouldered my man purse and one of my team mates caught up to walk out with me. He had his tacticool go bag on his shoulder. “I got this at Walmart a couple days ago,” he said.

“Awesome,” I said. “What do you have in it?”

“I got lots of stuff in it, but that’s what I wanted to talk with you about …”

Changing hearts and minds. Changing hearts and minds …

Self Defense Against What You Know

Self defense is hugely complex yet simple at the same time. At its most fundamental it is pretty much as Dictionary dot com describes it:

the act of defending one’s person when physically attacked, as by  countering blows or overcoming an assailant

Yes, pretty simple, but there is much more than that. Much, much more.

Krav Maga is a self defense system in which we train to defend ourselves in much the same manner as described above. All of the drills and training are basically to defend one’s person when physically attacked. A lot of any relevant self defense training will incorporate drills that will induce stress to approximate the real deal as much as possible. That includes sparring. It’s one thing to defend against a choke, bear hug, or punch when training and another thing to do it under the kind of stress induced when you really get punched or are exhausted. The stress drills matter. You have to know what it’s like to be exhausted and defending yourself against an attacker in order to, well, be exhausted and defend yourself against an attacker. You have to know what it’s like to be punched in the face to really understand what it’s like to fight back after being punched. Where I train at, Krav Maga Reborn, there is a lot of emphases on “training from a disadvantage” which means they do a lot of stress drills. Yeah, you’ve got various counters down in response to various attacks, but lets see how you do in a circle of hell, surrounded by various assailants coming at you with a punch, kick, stick, knife, or gun.

Knives are difficult to approximate in a training scenario. The rubber knives are pretty good up to a point, but you have to experience the discomfort that a knife brings to really train. What to do? Train with real knives? I’d advise against that. The next best thing is something called a Shocknife. It’s basically a stun gun in the shape of a knife. It produces an electrical charge along the “cutting edge” and it’s very helpful in demonstrating where your knife defense is lacking. It hurts. Trust me. It puts a whole new spin on training for defending against knife attacks.

Along much of the same lines as knives are guns. When running drills and practicing gun defense tactics the fake training guns work pretty well up to a point; they approximate the size and weight of a gun. You can train with disarm techniques and do stress drills, but it’s a far cry from the real deal. Again, training with a real loaded firearm would be ill advised. That’s a nice way of saying blitheringly stupid. There are training devices called ram pistols which work great, again, up to a point. These closely resemble real firearms and will let you know how effective your gun defense is. They hurt, but won’t kill you.

But that’s only part of the story regarding training gun defense and gun takeaways. There are a lot of different kinds of guns (I’m talking handguns. Long guns are a whole different realm). You can do that awesome gun defense and takeaway when defending against one kind of gun, but apply that same technique against a different kind of gun and you would be in a bigger world of hurt than you’re already in if someone is posturing with a gun. The characteristics of something like a Glock 26 are different enough from, say, a small frame Smith & Wesson revolver that if you’re not familiar with what you’re dealing with your chances of a successful takeaway go from very poor to just about hopeless. Or, worse yet, even if you’ve trained and drilled yourself half to death on some kind of gun takeaway, the effectiveness of any gun defense is going to be severely limited if you have no familiarity with firearms.

This is something that became apparent for me today as I participated in a gun familiarity seminar this morning at the place where I train Krav Maga.  For me, it was nothing new. It was geared towards those who have NO experience with guns. Going in, I was thinking it was going to be pretty cool in the sense that it would introduce a lot of novices to firearms.

kmrgun1 Going over the basics was a good thing and it was well presented. But then it occurred to me that someone like me, who is pretty experienced in firearms, would have a definite advantage over someone with zero experience with firearms. For example, one of the things that Krav Maga drills in gun takeaways is the “tap and rack” maneuver if you’re lucky enough to be successful with a takeaway. For those who have zero experience with firearms, they’ll have no clue what the hell “tap and rack” is. Okay, you’ve got the gun, now what do you do with it? If you have zero experience with firearms, you may very well be as big of a danger to yourself and others as the bad guy was.

A lot of these kinds of things were touched on this morning during this excellent presentation.

kmrgun3Look, if someone approaches you with a gun fully intent on shooting you, there’s not a whole lot you’re going to be able to do about it. But, in most instances, bad guys are going to use a gun to posture; a point of leverage to get something from you. If you’re smart, you’ll give them what they want. If someone throws a gun in my face and demands my wallet, I’m giving them my wallet. Nothing you own is worth dying for. However, if you’ve given the bad guy everything you have and you’ve begged, pleaded, and done everything you can to get the bad guy to leave and they now demand that you come with them to some other location, the chances of that gun actually being used against you has greatly increased. If the point has been reached where you’ve decided that it’s worth the risk, and you go for a gun defense/takeaway, the more familiar you are with firearms and how they work, the better position you are going to be in to be successful. Self defense will always work best against what you know.

After A Year Of Concealed Carry, Illinois Still Not Bathing In Blood

Go figure. A year has passed since Illinois removed itself from preventing the basic human right of self protection and, like everywhere else, a bloodbath didn’t ensue.

Over the coming years, Illinois can expect a noticeable drop in violent crime. It happens everywhere else in which citizens are allowed to carry a concealed firearm, there’s no reason to doubt it won’t happen here. But that doesn’t keep misguided fools from trying to stand in the way:

But Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office has not changed its overall stance against the concealed carry law and its implementation, which as the Chicago Tribune reported recently, requires applicants to be vetted by a controversial state licensing board.

Dart’s office objected to more than 2,000 applicants, about half of whom had arrests for domestic abuse or orders of protection, and 18 murder suspects arrested but not convicted, Breit said.

If I were unfortunate enough to live in Cook County, I’d be concerned with having a Sheriff who seemingly lacks the ability to display basic common sense. Sure, he may have prevented some bad guys from acquiring a concealed carry permit, but he sure as hell didn’t prevent them from carrying a gun. Without citizens able to carry a weapon, the bad guys would still be carrying yet the law abiding citizens would be in a position to less likely defend themselves from said bad guys.

Good Guy With a Gun Ignored by the Media

Here  is an account of a defensive use of a firearm that was conveniently ignored by the media:

All the other shootings at this complex during recent years, at least the ones where I was present, were pretty well covered by the local media, but the media was conspicuously absent yesterday.  Could it be because the shooting was a completely justified, self-defense shooting?  Could it be because the person who got shot (the suspect) was a crazy guy who was stoned out of his mind?  Could it be because the shooter (the victim) used an evil semi-auto rifle to defend his home and family?  Could it be because the shooter (victim) was a black man and the guy who got shot (suspect) was white?  Could it be because the shooter (victim) was a black man and all the cops were white, yet we did not arrest him?  Even in anti-gun Commiefornia?

How about all of the above? If the agenda is not forwarded, we’re better off ignoring it. Well, we aren’t, but they are.