Saturday, November 7, 2015

Is It Worth It?

By Luke Cleghorn
Is It Worth It?
This is a question all of us who work in EMS and Fire/Rescue have asked ourselves at one point if we are honest. Is a career in emergency response truly worth it? What about the nightmares? The memories that appear whenever I close my eyes? Will I ever be able to sleep without fear of what I will dream about? A night of needed sleep can change into a montage of all the things I wish I could forget but know I will never be able to: The anguished look on the face of a mother as she puts the lifeless body of her baby girl into my arms, fully expecting I will be able to make everything better. The sense of failure when we are unable to get the child back after working the code for a full hour. The chilling scream of that mother when the ER Doc tells her that she will never be able to hold her baby again; never see her graduate high school or walk down the aisle: a life cut short almost before it began. What about the elderly patient that died the other morning, her husband of over 60 years holding her hand and silently weeping as her heart ceased beating, or what about the young man that believed life was not worth living and sprayed his brains on the garage wall, and the look on the face his mother who found him? Is it worth it? Is it worth it to never be able to drive down the road without memories of mangled bodies and vehicles intruding on me? Is it worth it to wake in the middle of the night and rush to an accident to find a truck travelling over 100 MPH has struck a tree and killed the occupants? Is it worth it to never be able to forget the smell of the talc powder from the airbags, mixed with the metallic tang of blood and the overpowering smell of alcohol coming from the pools of congealing blood? Is it worth it to be called away from a Thanksgiving dinner? Twice? To see the faces of family members as you perform CPR on their mother, wife and sister who laid down for a nap after a good meal and never woke up? Is it worth it to be filled with anger and hate at the midwife whose lies and incompetence caused a family to lose their child, and almost lose their mother? Is it worth it to never forget the blank stare on the face of a 5 year-old who just saw his father crushed to death? Is it worth it to be spit and urinated on and have my family and friends cursed by the ungrateful patient who fails to realize that it is my sworn and sacred duty to help them in their hour of greatest need? Is it worth it to decide I have to resign a side job because the manager demanded I leave an injured customer lying on the ground? Is it worth it to feel devastated whenever a brother or sister Firefighter, EMT or Paramedic Is killed? Is it worth it to always wonder if my patient would have lived had I simply noticed a symptom a minute earlier, or if I had started an intervention a few seconds earlier? Worst of all, is it worth it to no longer feel sadness at the death and sorrow I see, but just feel numb?
When this is all I look at, I must come to the conclusion that this career is not worth what it has done to me.
But what about the good side? Does it balance out the sorrow and evil I am confronted with? What about The kind note from a patient I had forgotten about, the look of relief and joy on the face of a husband and father when I tell him his wife and newborn baby will be alright? What about the great conversations and wise life advice received from an elderly patient on a simple inter-facility transport? Is it worth it when you unexpectedly meet a former patient and don’t recognize them because the traumatic injuries from the first and only time you saw them have healed… But they recognize you and give you a huge hug and excitedly tell everyone around how you helped bring them back from the brink of death? Is it worth it when you find you have won the respect of those you work with? Is it worth it when you know that those you work with would die for you without a second thought, and that you would do the same for them? Is it worth it when I realize that I have life-experience and confidence far beyond my years? As Mark Bezos said, “Not every day gives us the opportunity to save a life, but every day gives us the chance to change someone’s life.” Is it worth it if I must pay the ultimate price in the line of duty? As the Gospel of John tells us, “Greater love has no man than this: that a man lays down his life for his friends.” We cannot heal this world; that is a work reserved for God Almighty. As the book of Revelation tells us, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”. It is only after we accept these truths and realize that we cannot rid the world of evil, merely help to mitigate the impact it has, that we can become more effective providers, and realize that
It is worth it!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Basic Life Support Individual First Aid Kit

The Basic Life Support Individual First Aid Kit
Author: Luke Cleghorn

For a while now, I have been meaning to do an article about the medical gear I carry, but the time in which to write always seems to escape me, but no more! As noted by the title, I am going to review my personal BLS IFAK that I carry with me pretty much all the time here at school. In the future, I hope to review my whole STOMP medic backpack, but that is too time-consuming for now.
My IFAK attached to my backpack

First, I will go over the pouch itself. This is the Condor Rip-Away EMT pouch. I really like Condor products, and the rip-away EMT pouch is, in my opinion, the best style of IFAK simply because is so easily removed from the attachment point. This product is also a trifold style, providing more room than the traditional bi-fold IFAK.There is also a strip of hook and loop material to attach various patches to. The quality of Condor products has always impressed me, and this is no different. Made of 1000 denier Cordura with a heavy-duty zipper, this pouch has held up to consistent use and abuse. In my opinion, for what you pay, Condor offers an exceptional product.                                                                                

Due to the wide array of medical emergencies, you will have to decide for yourself exactly what equipment your training and budget will determine. This particular kit is set up to treat traumatic injuries.  Due to this fact, there are a few pieces of equipment that I have attached to the outer MOLLE system for rapid access. On my bag, I keep a Combat Application Tourniquet, Trauma shears, a pupil light, and tape.

IFAK unfolded

As a tourniquet is intended primarily for use with severed veins and arteries, one needs some way of stopping severe bleeding that does not require the use of a tourniquet. There are two main products used to achieve this. Plain gauze, and hemostatic agents, which use a chemical reaction to speed the coagulation of blood. Plain gauze works well for normal bleeding, but if it is severe enough, or in a location not condusive to the use of a tourniquet, hemostatic agents are a true life-saver. There are many of these products out there, including QuickClot, Chito-Guaze, and Celox products. From studies done by the US Military, Celox seems to be the forerunner in effectiveness, but the others are still viable options. In my bag I carry two QuickClot bandages, as well as a package of granules that achieve the same goal: the stopping of life-threatening bleeding. 
Various sizes of gauze and QuickClot products

Almost as important as bleeding control is the ability to maintain a clear airway and continue respiration. For this purpose, I carry two Rusch nasopharyngeal airways with lubricant for insertion into the nare. These have the advantage that they can be used on a conscious patient, unlike the various oral, Supraglottic and endotracheal airways, while being small and easy to use. The downside of these is that their use is contraindicated in patients with sever head trauma, as it is theoretically possible for this airway to cause further injury to the brain if they are inserted incorrectly and there are severe skull fractures. Also, you must ust the proper head tilt/chin lift technique to keep the tongue from blocking the airway when using these.

I keep three pair of nitrile gloves for personal protection, as well as two strips of duct tape, which can serve dozens of purposes in an emergency.

The middle section of this kit also carries equipment meant to stop bleeding through different means.
The contents of the middle section

The contents of this section include an Israeli pressure bandage, two rolls of gauze, a triangular bandage which can also be used to sling an injured limb, a role of Coban adhesive wrap, two bandage scissors, and curved and straight hemostats (medical clamps) which can be used to clamp off an artery or vein under extreme circumstances where a tourniquet is not place-able, and all other methods have failed.

The last section hold an array of useful non-emergency products including butterfly wound closures, antiseptic wipes, bandaids, superglue (works really well for closing some wounds) and some basic medications.

This kit is still a work in progress, and is by no means comprehensive. I still plan on adding decompression needles and occlusive bandages for open chest wounds, and a few other things. It is important to note that, no matter how good your intentions, never treat someone beyond what common sense and your training dictate.

Stay safe and watch your six!
Luke C.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

10 Survival Essentials

10 Survival Essentials

Note: As I did not author this article, I do not necessarily agree with the author's opinions on the best knife, gun, etc. The point of posting this is simply to get the idea into your head to consider the need for these articles.  - Luke C
Lost, primitive hiking and camping, natural disasters, crash-landed, broke-down car far from civilization—any time there is potential for you to have to spend any time in the elements unexpectedly, you need some essential items to survive through the night. Here are my top 10 survival essentials.

1. Fire starter

Keep a fire starter kit with you at all times.
Keep a fire starter kit with you at all times.
You first must consider shelter and warmth. You can die from exposure long before you will die of dehydration or starvation. If you don’t venture out without anything but one item, it must be a way to start a fire. At the very least, stick a disposable lighter or waterproof matches in your pocket. Personally, I like to carry a back-up fire starter with me. I like the Zippo emergency fire starter kit because it’s pretty foolproof. A magnesium fire starter works, too. Emergency tinder should be in your fire starting kit, as well. I use drier lint, but you can buy an emergency tinder kit from Coghlans that will light when wet and no match is necessary.

2. Water filter

LifeStraw filters up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water.
Though the typical answer to the question, “How long can you live without water?” is three days, there are variables to how long you might actually survive without or with very little water intake. In certain circumstances, it is possible to overheat, dehydrate and die within a matter of a few hours. On the other hand, some people have known to survive a full week without water. But why take that risk? The other danger comes from drinking contaminated water, which can make you very sick. Having a way to filter water prevents sickness and possibly death. I like the LifeStraw and the Katadyn Vario pump water filter. Further, many hikers and backpackers chose to carry a hydration pack.

3. Survival Knife

Image shows a fixed blade survival knife
The Aircrew Survival Egress Knife (ASEK) is a true MIL-SPEC, Army-approved survival knife.

Cheap knives have gotten me out of pinch before—if it is sharp enough to saw through a seat belt or shave off some bark for kindling, a cheap blade can save your life. However, a true survival knife should be out of the box sharp enough to split hairs, hefty and handle a variety of tasks. A survival knife will skin and gut game for food, chop wood, shave kindling, cut cordage to build a shelter and perform any number of tasks you need to survive. I like the Ka-Bar fixed-blade, full-tang utility knives. A cheaper option is the Ultimate Survival Technologies ParaKknife that includes a compact LED flashlight, compass, fire starter wheel, tinder, JetScream signal whistle and signal mirror.

4. Firearm and Ammo

If you buy only one gun, buy a Mossberg 500.
Depending on who you ask, a firearm and ammo is not an essential part of your bug-out or emergency kit. I’ve never seen Bear Grylls whip out a pistol or .22 rifle and shoot a squirrel. But for me, a way to protect my life and potentially kill game for food is something I do not want to be without. The Mossberg 500 Cruiser Just In Case (J.I.C.) kit is perfect for survival. The Cruiser is a reliable pistol grip 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that comes with a waterproof carrying tube and survival kit. Another neat option is the folding Chiappa M6-22, an over/under 20 gauge and .22 LR long gun. It’s a single-shot rifle/shotgun with double triggers. Load your shotgun with #4 buckshot and a high-velocity hollow point .22 Long Rifle bullet for the rifle. There are hundreds of suitable firearms, and the point of this isn't to tell you which one, just to say that having one is important.

5. Shelter

Tarp Hammock
Tarp Hammock
A shelter can be many things—a mosquito net hammock, cave, tarp or tent. Whichever one you choose or find available, it is extremely important to stay directly off the ground and out of the elements—be it the hot sun, cold winds or rain. Shelter protects you from bug bites, predators and helps keep you warm. Tents can be heavy, cumbersome and bulky. I prefer a lightweight, easy to pack emergency tube tent. For longer trips and bigger packs, the Adventure Medical Kits SOL Emergency Shelter Kit doubles as a heat-reflective emergency blanket. I am never without my military poncho either.

6. Food

MREs and other goods for a food supply
Stock your food supply well. It does not have to be gourmet grade, only nutritious and edible.
You expend a lot of energy during a survival situation—making a fire, gathering fire wood, trapping or hunting animals, searching to find a spot to signal for help—you don’t just sit back in your shelter and enjoy the ride. Yes, you can survive over a month without eating, but you wouldn’t be doing much to get yourself out of your dire situation. Pack energy bars and a few packs of freeze-dried foods. My comfort-food favorites are the pasta primavera and chicken with rice from Mountain House. Also, make your own fishing kit including fishing line and a few hooks in case you are near a body of water and can catch a fish or two for sustenance. Don’t forget a metal cup or cleaned-out tin can for boiling water.

7. Cordage/Rope

Paracord bracelet and keycain fob
Start with smaller projects to learn to make the knots or weave and then tackle the more complex ones.
Rope and cords will help you when making a shelter, build snares for trapping small animals, as a line to dry out your socks or clothing and can aid in first aid. I recommend paracord over any other type of rope or cordage. There are so many uses for paracord that it is an article—or a few—on its own. You can wrap paracord around your survival knife’s handle, make a rifle sling with it, throw a spool in your pack, or wear it like I do.

8. First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit is an essential item in your gear.
A good first aid kit is an essential item.
From minor sprains and cuts to broken bones, there is a lot that can happen when out in the wilderness. Your first aid kit needs to contain items to care for the most likely of accidents—bandages, pain medication, allergy medication, antiseptic, gauze, burn treatment, insect repellent, and tweezers. Basic kits usually have these items, but you can always supplement your kit with more stuff. Did you know that one of the greatest threats to your health in long-term survival is not taking care of your teeth? Poor dental hygiene can lead to heart disease—crazy, huh? For your long-term survival kit and preps, throw in the Adventure Medical dental medic emergency kit.

9. Proper Clothing and Appropriate Footwear

Picture shows a rubberized military surplus rain poncho in Alpenflage camo.
Compared to current manufactured cheapies, a Mil-Surp poncho is built to last and has an unlimited number of alternative uses during a disaster.
Just like the importance of shelter and a fire, so is the proper clothing to keep you warm and dry preventing hypothermia. Pack extra layers for unexpected cold nights and moisture-wicking fabric to control sweating. A good, sturdy pair of boots that fit well are imperative for hikers and backpackers to prevent trench foot—a condition that develops from exposure to cold and damp conditions. Trench foot can take less than a day to develop and can lead to gangrene. You don’t want to lose a foot because you were unprepared. Keep two pairs of socks and polypropylene sock liners in your pack. Under Armour makes good base layer shirts. The Original S.W.A.T. waterproof boots get high reviews.

10. Navigation

Even the most experienced outdoorsmen can get themselves lost.
Even the most experienced outdoorsmen can get themselves lost. A few steps off the trail, low visibility due to weather and attempted short cuts can easily throw you off your path. Many survival stories start out by someone getting lost. Carry a compass, GPS unit, like the Bushnell Backtrack, cell phone with maps or a personal locator beacon to avoid the whole nasty situation all together.

What else do you consider a survival essential? Share it in the comment section.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Home Invasions, Do You Have a Plan of Action? Part 1

You hear someone jiggling the lock of your front door.
If you have ever awakened to that sound, you know how quickly you go from peaceful sleep to panic-inducing paranoia. And that panic compounds if you have children or other family members in the house.

Man's hand holding a black pistol, barrel pointed to the left on a mottled green background.
To prepare for an invasion, be sure to discuss safe gun practices and identify beforehand who will carry the weapon.

Home invasions are on the rise, and so is the number of people who are starting to think about what may happen to them or their loved ones if they are not properly prepared. Of course, the first thing to do is attempt to prevent someone from breaking into your home. Surveillance equipment, home security systems, signs, fences and locks on tamper-resistant doors and windows are all good preliminary measures. Hopefully, they will work and discourage the bad guys.

But what do you do if someone actually breaks into your home while you are inside?

Assuming you have at least one other person living in the home, it is important to put together a plan of action and then practice the plan. A high-stress situation is not the time to tell your spouse or children what you need them to do. Here are a few suggestions to prompt your thinking when creating a plan.

Make a Master Family Plan

Create a detailed plan of what to do and where to go, if you can safely gather each member of your household in a safe place.

Make an Individual Plan for Each Member of the Family

Lock with key in it and additional keys on a key ring.
Make sure children know when and how to lock doors.

Remember, there is a fine line between helping younger children understand safety needs and traumatizing them during the plan-building process.
  • Show kids where to hide.
  • Tell them when to lock their doors.
  • Teach them how to call 911.
  • Discuss what to say to 911 personnel.
  • Help them understand awareness and their particular roles in the plan if an invasion occurs.
  • Emphasize to every family member—especially the younger ones—the importance of remaining quiet.
  • Take a self-defense course with your family to learn a few basic maneuvers.

Consider Making a Family Safe Room

Partially opened wood door to a closet.
A large, centrally located closet makes for a good safe room.

This could be a large closet or other area centrally located for all family members.
  • Stock your safe room/closet with a flashlight and cell phone.
  • Consider having a lock on the inside of the safe room to lock your family inside while you wait for help to arrive.
  • On the back of the door in your safe room, write your street address and any other pertinent information (during a stressful situation children may find it challenging to remember details).
  • Once you have called 911, do not hang up; stay on the line, but stay quiet until help arrives.

If more than one person in your household has access to a firearm (and knows how to use it), discuss, before an invasion happens, what plan you want to follow and who will be carrying a weapon.

Keep all weapons, especially firearms you may use during a home invasion, in a safe place, out of reach and out of sight of children. One possible safe place for a handgun is inside a bedroom closet high enough only an adult can reach. Consider using a gun magnet or gun rack to safely store a firearm.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan, and every situation is different. And, of course, even the best-laid plans can fail.

Now is the time to start thinking about what to do and whether you are ready if someone breaks into your home.

Has your home been invaded? Share in the comment section how you handled it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Messages We Send


Criminals don't heed the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover" - they look for clues and decide on victims based on their appearance. Sheriff Jim reminds us to be mindful of how we might appear to a bad guy.

I met the complainant at a local motel where his truck had been burglarized and several guns stolen out of it. In the course of my investigation it quickly became clear that, while the parking lot was full of vehicles, this was the only one broken into. The citizen was understandably upset and told me he couldn’t understand why he was the only one to be victimized. So I walked him around to the back of his truck and pointed to the gun club sticker on one end of his bumper and the 2nd Amendment slogan on the other end of the bumper. In police work, we call that a clue.

Whether we know it or not, or whether we like it or not, how we dress can send the same messages to criminals. Unknowingly, we might dress like their perception of a victim or we might be dressed like a person who seems to be able to take care of him or herself.

People who choose to wear tactical clothing in public or shirts with gun slogans are saying a lot to the bad guys who are looking for victims. Obviously, the wearer is making some sort of statement like, “I am not a person to be messed with.” He dresses that way as a warning to others, or in hopes of looking like something that he wants to be. However, crooks (especially when there are several crooks together) may see it as a challenge. It certainly tells them, should they decide to commit a crime, this is the first fellow that will have to be neutralized.

I once saw a young policeman at a fast-food place. He had a police department T-shirt on and his badge clipped to his belt, but no gun. He was clearly proud to be a cop, and I applaud that, but he was also making himself a target. I’ve often wished I’d taken the time to have a word with him.

Now, let me be perfectly clear, it is none of my business how you choose to dress. I have a lot of things to worry about, and your clothing choice is not one of them. I simply want to point out that we should all be concerned about the messages we are sending in the way we choose to dress. For the armed citizen, this is critically important.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Scottevest Brad Thor Alpha Jacket



The Alpha Jacket by Scottevest, designed by author Brad Thor, contains enough pockets to carry your everyday-carry gear and then some.

By Steve Adelmann      
I spend most of my time building, shooting and writing about rifles but I am no stranger to handguns. I played around with revolvers and pistols as a teenager but I received my actual handgun education in the early ‘90s when I entered the world of Army Special Operations. There I relied on short arms in both overt and covert environments around the world. I have been a concealed handgun instructor for 16 years and I have carried concealed at every possible occasion since obtaining my permit 18 years ago. Handgun designs, tactics, ammunition and supporting equipment have evolved continuously over the years but one thing that has remained constant is the fact that regular concealed handgun carry requires patience, diligence and a willingness to bear physical punishment that sometimes rivals self-flagellation. If you live in a region where temperatures drop enough to require at least a mid-weight jacket, handgun concealment just got a lot easier thanks to best-selling author Brad Thor. Scottevest’s new Alpha Jacket was designed by Brad and is so well executed that they literally sold out a soon as the Alpha Jacket hit the market last fall.
 Before going into the details of this nifty carry-all coat, let’s consider the designer. Brad Thor has authored 13 action-packed thrillers that realistically detail modern-day battles between good and evil, with an emphasis on covert activities. You need only turn a few pages to get hooked and see that Thor draws on real-world experiences from a wide variety of military, law enforcement and other sources with specialized backgrounds. What does that have to do with concealed carry? Thor also happens to be a long time concealed handgun licensee and avid shooter. Just as he does with his works of “faction,” Thor poured experience-based effort into the design of the Alpha Jacket in order to provide a supremely utilitarian tool for anyone with a need to hide their personal gear in plain sight. But the Alpha Jacket is not just another coat with inside pockets or a loose cut to hide a belt-mounted hog leg, it is a system for carrying enough gear to help get you out of trouble, or better yet, to avoid it altogether.

The Alpha Jacket has somewhere in the neighborhood three dozen pockets but there may be more. It is actually hard to keep track of all the hiding places this urban “load bearing vest” actually has. The jacket’s webpage has a great diagram of the pockets as well as a manual explaining their recommended uses. It is set up to easily carry things like sunglasses, ballistic protective glasses, ballistic protective panels, ear protection, a laptop computer or tablet, a smart phone or other communications device(s), headphones (wired into nearly any pocket through wiring channels), wrist microphone and/or PTT switch, spike-type sleeve daggers, pens, ID/passport/credit cards, flex cuffs or handcuffs, medical kit, compass, handheld light and of course a concealed handgun and holster with several spare magazines. That’s just for starters. Other notable features include an RFID-protective inner pocket, multiple hidden pockets, a clear plastic cover that allows use of touch screen phones, “armor cut” sizing to accommodate soft body armor, removable logos, tricot linings for hook and loop attachments, a neutral colored, matte soft-shell finish to reduce nighttime signature and an IR-reflective inhibiting coating that will last for ten wash cycles. It is safe to say that should you need to carry something without looking ridiculously obvious (think photo journalist vest) this is your jacket. Even with pockets loaded down the Alpha Jacket looks amazingly sleek from the outside.

The hardest part of having a jacket with so many options for storage is remembering where everything went...

I have been wearing the Alpha Jacket for about two months. My only complaint is not the jacket’s fault but rather poor timing on my part. I am not exactly quick on the uptake when new products hit the market so by the time I ordered an Alpha Jacket for testing the only size available was medium. I would normally order a size large for my 5’8” frame but since these are cut for body armor I went ahead and got the medium, gambling that a large would be too big since I don’t plan to wear soft armor.

When I’m standing or walking normally the fit is perfect. In fact it looks like any other casual soft shell coat you would see on the street. But my chest and shoulders are wide enough that the sleeves are too short for over-the-head arm movement. It really is not much of a problem unless I need to traverse monkey bars or play lacrosse on my way to the gas station. I would get a large if I were going to order again. Beyond that, the coat is perfect for me.

Rapid Access Panels (RAPs) reveal very large pockets situated on either side of the wearer’s chest, allowing big and small items to be carried and accessed, well, rapidly. I stuck some hook side Velcro to the back of an old Kydex pocket holster and have been moving it around the Alpha Jacket’s cavernous interior to figure out where best to hide it within easy reach. Quickly drawing a handgun from concealment requires total efficiency of movement. The Alpha Jacket allows you to tailor your draw stroke so that no excess time or energy is wasted as you present the handgun. A great feature is that the RAP zippers have uniquely shaped and textured pulls. This is a critical feature because when a threat is right in your face, the last place you want your eyes is on your pocket as you search for the right pull. Worse yet is opening the wrong pocket while trying to rapidly get a defensive weapon into action. The RAPs’ pulls will tell you by feel whether or not you’re in the right place. They are very easy to find and open with practice. Another carry-friendly feature is a pair of side zippers that allow quick access to waist-level equipment. The sleeves also partially unzip to allow retrieval of items in the slim pockets contained just outside the inner cuffs. Small pockets for weights (change, bullets, etc.) are located inside larger side pockets to aid throwing the coat open and clear of a belt holster or reloads. I am much faster drawing from within the Alpha Jacket than with any other outer garment I have used.

I employ both a mirror and my wife’s eyes to make sure my handguns and gear don’t print. So far I’ve had no trouble with concealment using this coat. It allows me to carry a bunch of good-to-have items that would normally be left in my vehicle or at home. The biggest problem with the Alpha Jacket may just be that the wearer is able to carry so much gear they could forget what is where.

Again, practice finding critical items in a hurry will solve that problem. My covert days are long over so I keep my jacket’s contents to minimum: phone, handgun, magazine, light, small med kit, knife, pen, glasses and a couple other things I may have lost track of…

So what is not to like about this coat? Availability. They are currently sold out until sometime this spring. Scottevest placed a link on its website that allows one to request notification when the next batch of Alpha Jackets are in stock and ready to ship. My guess is the list is already pretty long.

The concealed-carry market has needed something like the Alpha Jacket for a long, long time. I have carried hidden guns and gear in environments ranging from 120 degrees F to 20 below zero. In most cases the decision to carry needed gear translated to an increased the risk of being compromised. An

Alpha Jacket would have made my life much easier in those days. I like to show my concealed carry students the carry gear that works for me and that which does not. The latter category consists of two large bins filled with concealment holsters, shirts, pouches and packs that I have tried and found lacking. The conversely small number of concealment devices that I actually trust and use regularly just went up by one.

Brad Thor has demonstrated that he is every bit as much an action guy as he is a great fiction writer. I plan to pay closer attention to products bearing his name in the future. Maybe we’ll see a Bravo Hat or Charlie Speedos before too long. On second thought, the Alpha Jacket is good enough for me…

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Light Can They Go?

Lightweight carry guns are easy to carry, but hard to shoot. Finding the right balance of size and comfort can be quite a challenge.

By Sheriff Jim Wilson

Just the other day I noticed a firearm manufacturer is introducing a five-shot, .38 Spl. revolver that weighs just 9 ounces. Now, I think I understand what gun makers are doing with these super-light defensive handguns, and it is actually two things.

The first is manufacturers are spending a lot time and research experimenting with the various new, lighter materials to see what will work in firearms and how well it will work. Materials like titanium and scandium, while not new, are relatively new to the firearms industry, and we have already begun to see numerous valid applications for their use.

The second bit of reasoning seems to be the theory that the lighter and more comfortable the defensive handgun is to carry, the more likely that the defensive shooter will have it with him when the balloon goes up. And there is some validity in this argument, too. A defensive handgun, and the skill to use it effectively, are worth nothing if you aren’t armed when you need it.

I do have a concern, however: Super lightweight guns in defensive calibers have an increased amount of felt recoil. They may be comfortable to carry, but they often are not comfortable to actually shoot.

And the simple fact is that one is never going to be good with his defense gun if he doesn’t practice a lot with it. Regardless of the old saying, it is not enough to just have a gun. You’ve got to be able to make decisive hits with it quickly and accurately.

So, how light can we go with a defensive handgun? Frankly, I can’t answer that question. It is up to each individual to find his comfort and performance level. I will simply suggest that the lighter the gun and the shorter the barrel, the harder it is to make quick hits in the vital zone. And it is something that is certainly important to remember and consider before putting out your hard-earned money for the latest and lightest.

You must remember, it’s not what you carry that matters, it’s what you can do with it when the chips are down.