Category Archives: Blog posts

Revisiting Handguns: Self Defense, great articles.

A buddy of mine posted this excellent article from the Lucky Gunner Blog.   I wanted to share it and interject a few of my own thoughts.

Lucky Gunner Article

All of the points in this article are great.  And getting views from a panel of professional experienced shooters helps to keep us off the single train of thought wagon.   One thing they didn’t address was the caliber myths.   It seams like every self defense discussion always seems to devolve to a caliber war.  Comes down to the fanboys of 1 particular caliber or other vs each other.   Don’t get hung up on Caliber!  What it really should be is Train, Train, Train.  Accurate hits on target with small caliber rounds are still far superior to not having anything in the first place and good hits with small calibers are better than poor hits or misses with the big boys. (yes, that tiny bit of difference between a 38, 9mm, .40 or .45 is a tiny percentage of the overall picture.

Think of pistol caliber like race cars. You have 3 race cars. one goes 181 MPH, one goes 185 MPH and one goes 189 MPH. But your not a NASCAR professional race-car driver with years of real racing experience. You can get behind the wheel of any of these 3 cars and get decent track times.  However, It’s unlikely you can push the faster cars enough to beat a real race driver driving the slower car. The minor differences between rounds can’t compensate for the user.   The terminal performance of pistol rounds is so similar (And so far inferior to shotgun or rifle round performance) as to be negligible.  You have to hit your target, hit it fast and accurately in the correct place to have the best chance at stopping an attacker.

First 5 Rounds, 10 yards

First 5 Rounds, 10 yards

I spent my formative years (17 to 23) on the 1911 platform putting more than 10,000 rounds of .45 downrange (And I was also guilty of the idea that the bigger bullet was better attitude), I was in the Army when we transitioned to the M9 from the 1911 and hated it for years strictly out of a fanboy .45 attitude.   Thankfully I’ve matured a bit over the years.   But now that I’ve put thousands of 9mm rounds down range also on varous platforms.  I have changed my mind.  Even my Springfield SubCompact -XD 9mm outperforms the 1911’s I’ve shot in my life and my full size 9mm duty pistol (An old Ruger P85 Mark II) is spectacularly accurate and fast as lightning.

There is a reason most professionals have swung over to the 9mm side from the larger calibers for self defense and training.  Generally less recoil, (Although this is more dependent on the weight/design of the pistol).  Less recoil means faster follow up shots, more accurate follow up shots (Less post shot deflection means less site realignment) and probably most importantly is training.  Training is the single most important factor in preparing yourself to use a sidearm in self defense.  More training equates to better real world performance.  So if you can buy 1/3 to 1/4 more rounds of 9mm than .40, you can shoot 30% more and train 30% more.  You have many gains over the tiny ballistic difference between calibers.

Tactical life also did a great article with a panel of 14 professional, experienced shooters/trainers giving their opinions. It was quite eye opening to see what direction the majority of them rolled

Tactical Life Article

So really, it comes down to training and finding the gun/caliber combination that allows you to be as quick and accurate as possible.  Don’t jump on the big boys based on that small ballistic difference.  You can’t miss fast enough with a .357, or 44 mag, or .45 to make up for the small ballistic difference.   Therefore the more you train, the more experience you get and the more proficient you become. Don’t focus on caliber, Stopping power itself is generally a myth with handguns. (Major cavitation effects just don’t occur through clothing at the velocities/bullet weights of handgun rounds).

I have a matrix that at least in my own opinion holds pretty true.  The two most important factors in defensive shooting are Accuracy (Bullets on target) and Speed (both deploying the sidearm as efficiently and effectively as possible and the speed of follow up shots until the aggressor is stopped).  To throw caliber in looks like this.  50% is Accuracy, 48% is speed (Can’ miss fast enough to stop someone so it falls below accuracy), and 2% is ballistics of the caliber round (With tiny differentials on the barrel length etc that can cause small changes in performance of the caliber rounds being used).

Get out there and practice, practice a lot, practice realistically, get training from many different sources to broaden your understanding which will help you train the best for you. (Everyone is different) and be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared.   Wish everyone good luck and a safe life, but if something happens, I wish you quick hands and spot on accuracy.

Stay safe everyone.  Situational awareness is key, avoiding a situation is a lot safer than dealing with the situation.


Value, what is it?



Rather than a gear review this week, I’d like to put up something a little thought provoking instead.  Something we hear every day is, “it’s a good value” but what does that really mean?  I’d like to put my perspective on it.

Value (as taken from Webster’s dictionary), is:

  1. Relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.
  2. Monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: This piece of land has greatly increased in value.
  3. the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.
  4. Equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.: to give value for value received.
  5. Estimated or assigned worth; valuation: a painting with a current value of $500,000.

How does that translate into gear?  Is the most expensive piece of gear more valuable than all others?  Is value simply the amount of currency paid for an item?  This oversimplified idea just doesn’t fly in the real world.

Value is what you get for what you pay for to accomplish the task you set for it!  For example:  Is an $80,000 Italian sports car more valuable than a $40,000 minivan + $40,000 in cash, or $50,000 pickup truck + $30,000 in cash?  Some would say yes, some would say no and some would say they are equal.  (From a monetary point yes they are equal, but from a value point on the individuals perspective they are not equal).    Perspective plays a big role in this.  To someone who only cares about speed, the sports car is more valuable for the price, however to someone who has to drive a family of 5 around the Minivan + Cash would be more valuable, and to someone who has to haul a trailer or loads of wood, the pickup +Cash is more valuable.

Now how does this play into gear?  The same principal applies.  If you have several similar pieces of gear available, say one is $10, one is $20 and one is $40, which one is the best value?   Some would jump on the $40 because it’s the most expensive so it has to be the best which is rarely the case.  There are many parameters that affect “Value”.  Quality or “How long will it last”? is probably the most important.    If Item 1 will last about 1 year before it’s falling apart and needs to be replaced, it would take 8 of them to last 8 years.  And if the $40 item will last 8 years without replacement, then the more expensive item is easily the better value.   But as in every aspect of equipment, we hit a point of diminishing returns.   In this example we see that point.  The $20 item will last 7 years.  Is the doubling in price worth it for the extra year on the more expensive piece of gear?  In this example I would say no it isn’t.

When it comes to gear, we see a point of quality that I like to call the 90% line (or the value line).  Once we find gear that is better than 90% of the other similar gear, we start to get so close in quality, that the tiny percentage gains in quality no longer match the rapidly rising price.  (What’s called diminishing returns).    Cheap gear won’t last and you’ll be replacing it constantly.  Middle of the line gear is ok, but you’ll still replace it more often than necessary and probably at a faster rate than the numbers justify.  But once you start working with gear in the 90th percentile, you start to gain very little as the price increases much faster than the quality can improve to match it.   The two lines (Quality and price) are not parallel.  They trend closer to each other as you move along the scale.

If you are planning on putting a piece of mission critical gear through hell and back in an area where you need to trust your life to it, you can easily justify the extra cost to gain the small return of quality difference (Think soldiers in combat for example), but for the average guy or gal, value is much easier to find in that 90th percent arena.  That doesn’t mean you buy cheap gear, far from it, cheap gear below the curve will be replaced too often to be of value.  NEVER buy cheap gear.  It will frustrate you, it will fail you and it will cost you more in the long run with replacements.

The best bet is to find your own “Sweet spot” for value that you are comfortable with for the task the gear will be used for.  I don’t mind getting 2 for 1 if the quality is at the 90% mark or higher.  In a back pack for example, I can buy 1 pack that will last me 20 years or I can buy 1 pack that will last me 15 years for ½ the price.  Even if I replace the pack at 12 years with something newer and more efficient with more modern engineering, I’ve gotten a far better value.    Value isn’t “Cheaper” far from it, value is more efficient for the cost.

As with everything else, value is what you get out of it, don’t short change yourself when you need it, but don’t throw money away either.  I hope this explanation helps you to find your own best value in gear.

Gear Bags Part II, The FAK (First Aid Kit)

First of all, do you have a FAK in your car?  Do you have one at home?  Do you have one with you when you’re out and about?  FAK’s are one of those critical pieces of gear that should be around us whenever we need it.  From the simple Band-Aid to ease a young child’s mind (More so than to protect the minor scratch usually) to the pressure dressing for a major laceration, or eyewash to clean the eyes of chemicals, a FAK really is a piece of GO TO gear.   As with any gear or bag system, there are dozens, hundreds or even thousands of options available.  No one “Bag” or “Case” works for everyone in all situations.   And the contents of your FAK’s will be just as personally different as your situations and locations.

I’m not going to discuss much on the contents outside of a few items that I like to keep in our kits.  Everyone should decide for themselves what items they need.   There are plenty of resources available online to give you good ideas for what contents you may want in your own kits.  One of my personal favorites is a forum I’m lucky enough to be a moderator on.  There are some wonderful threads with list of kit for different situations.  Give them a look, you won’t be disappointed with the amazing level of information on the forum.    But back to FAK’s,  you could have a giant kit with everything under the sun, but it’s going to be heavy and “Left at home” or “Left in the car” when you need it the most.  Personally, I work from a system of kits and I’ll display them below.  I am really just hoping to give some ideas that might make it easier or more functional to keep “Right Sized” kits available when you need them.

My personal preference as you’ll see by the pictures are soft side tackle boxes.  They have a few advantages to the standard soft pouch kits.   They do tend to be slightly larger than a pouch to contain the same equipment so if weight/size is a major issue (Normally just on the personal FAK’s) then pouches tend to work better.    (See my personal kit below).

I call my FAK kit’s an FAK System.  Because they are not necessarily individual items and sometimes they are interchangeable and overlap.    It’s broken down into 4 major components.

  1. Personal Kits (Carried by each individual when out and about).
  2. Vehicle kits (Carried in each vehicle)
  3. Basecamp or “Home” kit.  (Readily accessible mobile kit at home).
  4. Stock yard.  (In my case a filing cabinet with the extra items)

I’ll start at the Stock Yard and work back.   The stock yard is where I keep the bulk of replacement items, stuff to refill the other kits with.  This can also be considered a Non-Mobile home kit.   This can suffice as a home kit, but as you see the format of my system, I think you’ll appreciate the need for both base and mobile home kits.


Base Camp Kit ready to go

The second kit is the Base-camp or Mobile Home kit.  This is a medium to large sized soft side tackle box.  The reason I have this as a mobile kit is for stuff that happens close to home or even inside the home.  Rather than keep running back and forth to the cabinet to get first aid stuff during an emergency, I can grab the kit and bring it to the area of my home, or outside in the yard or nearby.  We live in a small community and know all of our neighbors and our vantage point on the upper edge of a hill gives us a great view of our surrounding neighborhood and all the kids that run around (And wreck their bikes on the street) or the neighbor down the way who is always working on his cars out front etc.  So having the kit be mobile just makes sense.   Now I use the soft side tackle boxes for this type of kit for a couple of reasons.  (You can get this guy on Amazon).

Base Camp Kit Contents

Base Camp Kit Contents

  1. Portability:  They are lighter than hard cases and easier to carry with a shoulder strap or handle.  You aren’t going to need first aid yourself from running down the street carrying one like you would with a hard case (I know this from experience, put a nice cut in my hand carrying an old hard case tackle box first aid kit running to my neighbor’s yard when he cut his leg). Just easier to carry.
  2. Both soft storage and hard storage:  The plastic inserts meant to hold lures are perfect for separating and organizing smaller first aid supplies and also protecting them.  One of the problems we run into with soft pouch style FAK’s is the crushing that happens to some of the kit inside, (Break open a tube of first aid cream and watch it soak into all your gauze and band aids for example).  The tubes and single use antiseptic wipes and other items are protected inside the plastic cases.   Other items like tape, bindings, rubber gloves etc can be stored in the soft pouches on the bag.
  3. Lots of size options.  You can find a bag that is JUST the right size for the kit you want in whatever location you need the kit.

The 3rd kit is the Car kit or transfer kit.  This is a kit that primarily stays in the vehicle, but also comes out and goes to the campsite or the soccer game or anyplace else you want the supplies available, but don’t want to drag the bigger kit around.  We also keep 1 weeks’ worth of any maintenance medications and some extras like several pain killer/fever reducers in this kit.  When we go on vacation or have a surprise overnight at a relative’s house or in case we get stranded somewhere.  We always have what we need without having to go back home and

Car Kit

Car Kit

pack medications.   I’m also a big fan of keeping a separate trauma kit in the vehicle (I do not have one currently) for helping out in case of accidents that are normally above and beyond the items in most FAk’s.   I also keep a towel and some heavy duty maxi pads (Great for pressure dressings) and some scarfs (For bindings) in a separate emergency kit in the vehicle along with a radio, some tools and other useful items.  Just good stuff to have in case it’s needed.  Here is a similar model to this Walmart special that I use.

Personal field Kit

Personal field Kit

Car Kit with Contents

Car Kit with Contents

The last kit I will discuss is the personal kit.  This one is going to be one of the most varied items between individuals.  In fact I have 2 different personal kits that I use depending on where I am and what I’m doing.  The first is my “Field” kit.  This is the kit that I have attached to my shoulder strap knife harness and it goes over my shoulder whenever I’m in the field.  This guy looks promising as well.

Day to day FAK

Day to day FAK

This kit is small and I hardly even notice it, (About double the size of the old Pressure dressing kits we used to use in the army).    I don’t normally throw this over my shoulder when I’m going to work or traveling or any other time I’m not headed out into the field.    My other personal kit is a little different.  I am an IT Manager for an electric cooperative.  I carry a small tablet computer everywhere I go for remote access.  (Yes, you can call it a murse, don’t bother me at all LOL).   This bag has some pockets that I include many first aid items in.  That way I always have some basic first aid kit with me pretty much anywhere I go.   We also have first aid kits at work, but again they are not portable (Wall mount units) so running back and forth to them to grab gear could be a pain.

I hope this post was interesting and maybe you could pick up some ideas that might help you keep the gear you need accessible.

Stay safe my friends.



Just wanted to take a minute to send a special thank you out to all my brothers and sisters serving this great nation.  Your job is tough and dangerous, but your special people for doing it.   Thank you.

Also wanted to say a special thank you to all my family and friends around the world.   I don’t necissarily subscribe to to the traditions of thanksgiving, but I certainly take some time out of this wonderful day of to be thankfull for what I have, the wonderful people I’m surounded with, the friends I have all over the country and around the world.

I am also thankful to the special family of people I have over at The Survival Podcast Forum.   A better group of friends and compatriots would be hard to find.  Check them out at The Survival Podcast Forum, Hang out, read some useful information and learn a thing or two, then join the forum.  Everyone has unique experiences and knowledge and everyone has something to contribute.  The bigger this family gets, the better off we all can be.

Also, check out the other bloggers on my blogroll to the right.  These people all come from the TSP Forum and have amazing blogs, well worth your time to check out.

Thanks for checking out my blog everyone.  I’ll be back to reviews come this weekend.