The Evolution of The Underwear Gun

It’s been several years since I wrote about about my search for a tiny gun that I could wear regardless of how I was dressed. I coined the term The Underwear Gun, and the internet had a chuckle. I obviously am not the only person who sees a need for this sort of tool. For instance, Darryl Bolke of Hardwired Tactical calls his the ‘Rule 1 gun’. As in, Rule 1 of a gunfight is have a gun. Claude Werner carries a KelTec P32 for a similar purpose. William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting calls it the ‘milk run gun’ for running to the grocery store real quick. So, at least I know I’m not totally crazy.

Unless you literally have guns laying all over the house (for someone with a kid is a no-go) if you want to be armed in the home and not inconvenienced too much, an underwear gun is a good choice. Let’s cover it all in some detail.

Why the Underwear Gun?

I’ll be covering some old ground, but it’s worth repeating. First we have to recognize the problem. Namely, that bad things happen anywhere. Including your home. Tom Givens recently mentioned that twenty years ago, home invasions were most probable if you were dealing or buying drugs. The simple advice was, don’t deal in drugs, and you likely won’t have to deal with home invasions. But he mentioned that the incidence of armed home invasions (where they come in with weapons while you’re at home) isn’t relegated to that sub-culture anymore. If you like numbers, here’s some stats from the FBI and BJS:

  • There are about 8000 Burglaries a day
  • 40% of those are armed. Usually targeted are single females, the elderly, handicapped.
  • in ~28%, the victim is home, which is about 1,000,000 incidents/year with people at home during the crime
  • Out of 3.7 million burglaries, 7% include violent victimization
  • Night time burglaries are less profit motivated and more likely to include rape and assault (they know you’re home).

If you’re moved by stories, read about this father and son duo who broke in to a home and raped and poured bleach over their victim.

If you’re a visual learner:

In summary, it should be apparent that having a layered home defense plan is worthwhile. This includes, for me, a readily accessible firearm. Anyone willing to come into your home while you’re there needs to be dealt with harshly. What do you think this crew had in mind when they were checking doors?

Options for Access

There are a few ways you can handle the firearm access. If you’re in a home with no kids, you could stash long guns and pistols in every nook and cranny. I advise against this because of the ease of theft, and because it’s easy to forget where all the guns are. If you have house guests with children, now you have to worry about where the kids are playing. Even if your kids are trained to not touch your guns, their dumb friends aren’t, and plenty of preventable deaths result from this annually.

This leaves your guns either secured in a safe, or on-body. Quick access safes are a good option if you’re not interested in on-body carry. For instance, the GunVault speedvault or this generic push button safe keeps little fingers and drunk uncles away from guns, while giving you rapid access. There is always a trade-off between security and access. For a staged home invasion gun, rapid should be the emphasis.

Some quick access safes. Photo: Luckygunner.com

Another option is to have a gun that you carry in and around the home. If you’re super dedicated, it might mean watching Game Of Thrones wearing belted pants with holster, pistol, mags, etc. I’m not that dedicated and I won’t be bothered to do that. Mowing grass, walking dogs, checking mail, and watching Netflix demand something less obtrusive.

Definition of an Underwear Gun

A reliable gun with a trigger I can use, sights I can see, with a weight that can be held by a pair of drawstring gym shorts, and with support gear that doesn’t require a belt. Caliber is irrelevant for this gun.

The Underwear Gun

That’s pretty much it. It turns out there are a lot of options, and I’ve tried a handful of them. Here’s a few that have fit my needs over the years.

  • Ruger LCP in .380 (or a comparable Kel-Tec in .32 or .380)
  • The Taurus PT-22 in .22 (or Beretta 21 bobcat)
  • The Smith and Wesson 43C in .22 (or LCR .22)
  • The Ruger LCR in .38 or .357 (or Smith&Wesson 442 , or any other J-frame as light as you can get it)
  • Glock 42 in .380 (or Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm or any single stack micro 9 or .380)
  • Etc.

Carry Methods

There’s a reason I prefer a Double Action pistol for my underwear guns. In an effort to keep weight down and increase convenience, I really like carrying them with minimal, if any holster. I understand the possible safety issues associated with not covering the trigger guard, which is why I only use them with DA guns. NEVER use them with Glock style triggers. I also don’t use them when I’m playing with my son and he’s crawling all over me. My absolute favorite underwear gun ‘holster’ is one with either a spring steel clip, or ledge built into the grips to hold the gun at the waist-line. Click through the photo gallery and I’ll give my thoughts on each kind. Not all are created equal.

If none of those tickles your fancy, there’s still a ton of options. Here’s some I use depending on what I’m doing around the house.

Weight is King, Caliber is Not Important

Since I love wearing gym shorts, BJJ Gi pants, pajamas, shorts with no belt, and being comfortable in general, one of the big features of an underwear gun is that it not pull down my pants and that it can be carried without a belt. As a weight ceiling, I’ve found that my Smith Shield in 9mm is heavier than I can comfortably manage for my most common house clothing. I can always tie the drawstring tighter, but even then the weight of the gun will cause flopping over the waist and destroy any concealability I might want if I make a store run.

Caliber is basically irrelevant for this gun. It’s a big reason why my Smith 43c gets a lot of ride time. I get 8 tries at under 12oz. I use high quality, high velocity .22 ammunition, and practice enough that I can make good hits on demand. .22 high velocity ammo can get to 12″ in gelatin, so if I do my part, I’m not sweating it. The CCI Stinger gets to the minimum 12″ penetration through double layer denim. This isn’t the place for a caliber debate.

You Still Have to be Skilled

Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you get to cop out and call it your ‘belly gun’ or your ‘bad breath distance gun’ or your ‘contact range gun’. You have to be able to make good hits and be fast enough at realistic distances. I tend to use some different drills as well as police qualifications so I can always answer in court that I hold myself to the same accuracy standards as the police do. Here’s a few things to try and track progress:

Lots and LOTS of dry work is in order too. I don’t emphasize reloading as much, because I simply won’t have a reload on me if I need to use it. Here’s one of The Tactical Professor’s dry fire targets that works great for small space practice.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

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The Long Game: Maintaining Your Progress Over The Years

Everyone has resolutions and goals. Some people want to lose weight, get stronger, start a new hobby or sport, get better at shooting, or whatever.

So you pick a diet plan, a hobby, a sport, a goal, and you do the work. You realize your goals. People notice. Your family notices. They congratulate you on your hard work and ask how you were able to do it. You excitedly preach about your path and the methods you use. You feel accomplished, and people care about how you’re doing.

Public accountability is a strong motivating factor in sticking to a goal. Knowing that there’s an audience of people watching (no matter the size) can light a fire to keep doing the work. Checking in with progress pictures and having people comment and like give you a nice dopamine hit that makes you want more.

Time passes. The newness of your achievements wears off. Now you’re a person who just does a hobby, or weighs a healthy weight. You’re a few years past your goal and you’re just doing your thing without anyone noticing. There is a definite choice to be made here. Either progress in silence, or let the old habits sneak back in.

Sometimes people who get a taste of their goal will regress (quickly or slowly) because they fall off the wagon. They wanted to say they achieved their goal more than they wanted to improve as a human. They turned a marathon into an unsustainable sprint just to cross a line.

Sometimes the path was wrong to begin with. The diet-plan didn’t jive with your lifestyle or physiology and became unsustainable. Adjust your course and keep going.

Injuries and sickness can lead people down a path to failure. For some, they are the beginnings of a cascade of negative emotions, inactivity, and poor choices. Listen to your body, but don’t stop moving forward.

Burnout is a big problem for me. I personally tend to get obsessively focused on a goal and work towards it until I can’t stand that activity. When this happens, I have to indulge in some goal-hijacking. I have to allow myself to find something else to focus on while the fire re-ignites for the original goal. I haven’t found a shortcut for this. Just time.

Everyone fails and falls short. Everyone gets frustrated and goes off the rails. Everyone gets sick or injured and regresses. You just have to decide that you’ll maintain the discipline to start again.

Pro-tip: THE PROCESS IS THE GOAL.

Find motivation in the minutia. The deep dive. Depth of study and depth of discipline.

Remember why you started, and that you’re doing it for you. For your health, sanity, safety, whatever. People will eventually stop caring, and stop ‘liking’ your progress pictures. They might even mock you for your slip-ups. Rapid improvement will eventually become imperceptible forward progress, or maybe just maintenance. That’s how it is. And that’s fine. The journey doesn’t end.

Do The Work.

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Costa Rican Armed Robbery Gone Bad

Robbers got what they deserved. from r/instantkarma

Link to News Article

The players:

Bad guys- helmeted “space men” and green stripe shirt who likely was a driver until he came out to help.

Good guy- Security guard in black coat.

Bystanders – Couple transferring $50k to a bank

  • This ambush fits Craig Douglas’ criminal assault paradigm to the letter. Multiple opponents, armed, and the ambush is initiated at best time for them, worst for you.
  • Classic transitional space ambush. It was over $50k in the white bag. Always remain alert when in transitional spaces like entering/exiting buildings or cars. Doubly so when you have valuables, and triple so when you have valuables that you move on a regular schedule.

The Scene:

  • Ambush is initiated by a pistol whipping on the woman. The bad guys seem like they didn’t intend to do any shooting this day. They just wanted to show their magic wands, and get what they wanted. There was a discernible ramp up period that they needed to get into fight mode. This luckily cost them.
  • The security guard tackles the only known bad guy (at the time) and tries to gain control of pistol.
  • The other bystander (the husband) picks up the bag and gets into a 2 on 1 with the spacemen. Security guard picks up spaceman pistol and starts shooting. Gun fight begins.
  • Accomplice in striped shirt that wasn’t committed to the fight decides he should get involved and picks up pistol and slugs it out with security guard.
  • good guy wins.

Lessons:

  • The ability to make and break entanglements is crucial. Especially when there’s multiple bad guys (which we have to assume is the case).
  • Understanding basic wrestling or BJJ is like cheating in these scenarios, especially if you have an understanding of guns as well.
  • The ability to mentally shift from distance shooting, right into a retention and entangled shooting posture also helps here. The distance is ever-changing until the fight is over.
  • A dedication to the fight is required. The security guard remained aggressive the entire time, even though he was starting from a huge initiative deficit.
  • When the bag guy’s plan started going bad, notice the confusion that begins once they start trying to get the object of their focus, and win a gunfight they weren’t expecting. Stripe shirt was not expecting to get in a gunfight that day and had to steel himself up to get into the fight.

Brazilian Gun Grapple Analysis

I shared this video on my Facebook page, but I wanted to give it some more attention. I feel like there are layers to this onion that are worth peeling. This short clip is a powerful example of several concepts that we try to convey in the extreme close quarters range and fighting in general. I’ll address it non-contextually, as if we don’t know who the good or bad guy is, since there are lessons on both sides in both cases.

***Graphic Content, Gun Fight, DeATH***

The Monkey Dance

You need to know who you are with your gun on, to paraphrase William Aprill. When good guys put the gun on, we give up the right to get angry in traffic, posture and chest bump someone who we disagree with, yell and scream and poke chests, and generally be an asshole. We strive for avoidance, deterrence, and deescalation. Even if there was no gun on scene before, once we arrive there’s a gun that could be used by anyone around.  Swallow your pride, apologize even if you’re right, walk away, and you’ve won. RedShirt probably isn’t a good guy, and didn’t take the advice.

Avoid the chest thumping monkey dance.

A gun as a talisman/intimidation tool

This being Brazil, there are strict rules on gun possession and carrying outside the home isn’t really allowed for good guys. As a result, the common feeling in Brazil is that carrying guns is something bad guys do. As a result, there is a big stigma on firearms in general. It’s safe to say that RedShirt is a bad guy who regularly uses his pistol as a conversation starter and negotiation tool. He shows the pistol, you do the thing he wants, and everyone can go home. As a result, he didn’t bother handling the gun like he might have to use it, and paid dearly for it.

Luckily, the bad guys in the US tend to feel the same way. It’s merely a tool of convenience to get what they want. We can use this to our advantage.

If we’re the one with the gun, we have to understand the space management and pitfalls of drawing a gun within arms reach.

Decisive action and aggression can make up for lack of skill

BlueShirt’s disarm was sloppy, possibly accidental, but his action was decisive. As soon as he was aware of RedShirt’s gun, he averted the muzzle with his left hand and began landing sloppy punches with his right. RedShirt, realizing he made a bad timing decision, starts to turn away (bad idea) and blades himself to BlueShirt. With a classic (if accidental) boxing  outside position on Redshirt, BlueShirt was able to perform a sloppy trip while holding onto the gun. Redshirt lost control of his gun, and BlueShirt pressed the fight.

There was no technical skill involved here. Since Redshirt wasn’t really ready for a fight, the simple act of immediate retaliation completely overwhelmed his ability to fight back. We can use this to our advantage. I believe this is why it is so common for the average person to win their fight when they simply decide to fight back. I personally don’t want to rely on facing an unskilled opponent, so I continue to improve myself in this area.

Retention gun handling

We’ve covered this before (Here). If you train with a high and tight thumb-pectoral index shooting position built into your drawstroke, or at least get repetitions getting to this position, you’ll be able to avoid the problem that RedShirt had. Floating the gun and over-extension are common in untrained people who are doing this for the first time.

I would argue that the immediate action for RedShirt once the gun was out and BlueShirt had a hand on, was to aggressively draw the elbow back into a thumb-pectoral index, drop his base, and square his hips. None of those things are intuitive when a weapon is in play. We tend to get weapon fixated and think we should try to get the most distance between the weapon and opponent, when recomposing a strong structure and base is priority.

Craig Douglas showing his Thumb-Pectoral Index Photo: Tenicor FB page

Emotional control at the point of victory

While we might be inclined to understand how BlueShirt would mag-dump into RedShirt’s face out of rage, we have to strive for better emotional control. I would say the first several shots could be explained away to a jury. But the coup de grâce mag dump takes it too far in the eyes of the law, to my basic understanding. People have been locked up in the US for similar things. It would be hard to explain 7 head shots on a downed opponent to a group of your peers. We have to be training to stop shooting so we don’t fall victim to this trap.

Fight and use deadly force until you perceive the fight has left your opponents. Then pump the brakes.

Experience in Violence

It is apparent to observers that BlueShirt is experienced in violence.  From his immediate forward drive when he sees the gun, to this ruthless face shooting, to his calm demeanor immediately following. He has done this before.

So, short of getting into gunfights, how can we gain experience and not become completely overwhelmed if we ever find ourselves here? Training and Practice. Learning to manage emotion by inoculating ourselves to the stress of a fight. Familiarity and study of these videos, Force-On-Force training, Shooting Competition, Grappling, and boxing. The formula is simple. You just have to Do The Work.

Put yourself in deep holes in training that you have to dig yourself out of. That way, when it counts, you’ll have the best chance possible.

Thanks,

Mark

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