What Does Average Joe Need In A Trigger? 5 Years Later

In 2015, I wrote a blog post that addressed some thoughts I was having about what type of pistol best fit my life. I was processing exactly what I needed a pistol to do for me, in my life, for my situation. That post was my way of getting through the inertia of over ten years of Glock 19s and heavy indoctrination into having to find the perfect, easy to shoot fast, competition/carry trigger. Shortly after that post, I believed my own idea and started investing in and learning (and attempting to master) Double Action and Traditional Double Action pistols in various size envelopes. This post will highlight my mental map that led me to where I am today.

Current Underwear Gun and gym shorts options: smith 640, LCR, and LCP

Full Circle

I find myself going full circle on a lot of things in my life. I could write a post about this, but I’ll give a relevant example here. I started my firearms training under instructors that were trying to build a strong foundation of self-defense in a two day class. As a result of the scope of those classes, there isn’t much time to talk about, much less use, shot timers and discuss progressive improvement in shooting skills or competition. So I left those early classes with too much confidence and not knowing what I didn’t know regarding time pressure.

Then I fell into circles who were skilled competitors and instructors who taught me that time matters and being faster than the other guy wins fights. So I mocked the no-timer-guys and was on a mission to go fast(er). I got really wrapped up in the timer and achieving what I now view as “meaningless degrees of precision” in score and time. It is really easy to get wrapped up in the timer once you discover it.

Now, after thinking about this a lot for the last few years, and listening to people who have been thinking about this for entire careers, I am somewhere in the middle. Speed matters, to a point and at certain times. (Meaningful) Precision is my primary performance goal with enough speed to ride the edge of assessment of my shooting. This fact leaves a lot of room for DA guns in my life.

Training time is another factor. Dry fire is free. I can practice the most important shooting skills for free at home. I can learn a new trigger style at home for free. The Pareto principle applies. For me to squeak out a .02 second split time improvement below say .25 seconds would take an inordinate amount of time and money. It also might be counterproductive to self defense, as I mention below. As a multi-disciplinary practitioner, that time is better spent getting my 80/20 under the bar, on the mats, or meal prepping. You have to dive deep enough into each facet of this thing, but not too deep or you’ll neglect something else. But that might be another post.

The Discontinued P250 (sadly), and a Beretta 92a1 with some Wilson goodies.

What does a defensive gun need to do?

Since we have to live with and around our guns a whole lot more than we have to shoot them, some weight should be given to ‘margin of safety’ in our pistol’s function. Those little mechanical assists that cover for us when we have a lapse in concentration or are otherwise overwhelmed my the situation unfolding before us. It’s worth considering that the most dangerous thing we do with our guns, statistically speaking, is administrative handling. Specifically holstering. Keep in mind that 98-100% (by time) of our interactions with a gun will be administrative.

In order of importance, a self defense gun should facilitate:
1- Not shooting ourselves
2- Not shooting people we don’t want to shoot
3-Shooting what we want to shoot

Then I took to heart Darryl Bolke’s requirements of a handgun that only ask for, “Sights I can see, a trigger I can manage, in a reliable package.” This isn’t a big ask and leaves a lot of options available, including DA guns and revolvers.

Timers and Scoring still play a role. You have to know where you are.

…But your split times are slower!

Then I learned about assessment speed (and reaction times via Bill Rogers) and how it’s possible to “out-drive your headlights” and shoot faster than you can process the impact of your shots on your target. I learned that LAPD SWAT trains to .5 second splits to allow good hits and proper assessment. This made me less anxious about moving away from striker guns and towards double action guns.

Since I can’t think and react faster than about .25 seconds (and nor can you), why should I seek a defensive gun that I can shoot faster just for faster’s sake. It didn’t make sense for me. Detractors say, “If you can shoot .17 splits, then shooting .3 second splits becomes easier”. This of course is true. Moving the ultimate ceiling of your speed higher will make all slower cadences easier. To paraphrase Darryl Bolke again, once you can shoot .25 splits at self-defense ranges on a grapefruit sized target reliably, you have all the speed you “need”. I’m content to trust his experience and not worry about finding a gun that allows me .19 second splits and trade away a ‘safer’ trigger.

The Barami Hipgrip (which I textured). While designed for behind the hip, this does pretty well Appendix. Note that there’s enough grip sticking up to get a firing grip. Pairs well with a Tyler T-Grip.

…But you’re NoT AS aCcUrAtE

Consider The Most Important Shot in defensive shooting. This, of course, is the draw to first shot. After this, things get much more hectic. So I strove to build and hone my draw and first shot on my DA guns. I learned to Fear Not The Double Action Shot, as Ernest Langdon explained. Just knowing that people can be highly competitive and winning with DA/SA guns showed me that if I would make the transition I could become competent with some practice. So that’s not a concern.

HK P30sk V1 LEM – 1lb 9.0oz empty mag

Tactical Implications and fudge factor

At about the same time, I was thinking about Zen and the Art of Not Shooting. Prior to this time, I was almost always practicing my draw to a shot. Then I realized that most defensive gun uses are non-shooting events. So it might be worth having another neural pathway set that ends in a strong low ready and an indexed finger, ready to issue commands. This lesson was driven home by my training with Claude Werner, as well as Shivworks AMIS course. A double action gun allows us a margin of safety here if our finger gets confused during the presentation.

Closing

This post is already long enough so I’ll wrap here. If anyone is interested, I’ll do another post to list of the guns I’ve tried and experimented with over the last few years. I have pretty much settled on my favorites for different applications, and I can also outline why I sold the ones I did. It’s been a revolving door, but I’m happy where I am.

I think the TL;DR of this whole post is: It’s not just about the shooting, and those things are more important anyway.

Gear Review: Summer Test of Zulu Bravo Kydex J-frame (A)IWB Holster

My friend Matt at Zulu Bravo Kydex was working up some revisions to his J-Frame kydex holster and was kind enough to send one to me. I was looking for something to house my Hot-Rod J-Frame while I did my thing this summer. This holster proved to be truly excellent for this role.

Link to Buy Zulu Bravo Kydex J-Frame (A)IWB holster

ZBK J-Frame Holster. Discreet Carry Concepts belt clip. Note: bump near trigger guard to help tuck butt into body

Perceived Need for This Holster

So, we all can agree that a J-Frame is about as concealable as a capable handgun can get. You can pocket carry, ankle carry, fanny pack carry, shoulder holster carry, thunderwear carry, Clip-Draw carry, and you can (A)IWB and OWB carry. They are versatile and people tend to reach for them in the hotter months for convenience and comfort (whether they admit it or not).

My Hot-Rod J (The 640) is a bit heavier than some other offerings and I wanted a holster that I could clip and go on my summer duties. A lot of which involve running around with a 6 year old and occasionally wrestling with him. A protected trigger is important for me.

I’m in gym shorts and gi pants more than I’m in pants with belt loops. As a result, I prefer spring steel clips for my carry guns, which I find to be sufficient to keep the holster in the pants when I draw and stays put during gun grapples (which I perceive as the benchmark for retention).

This was my general need. Zulu Bravo Kydex delivers.

CNC forming makes for accurate and repeatable retention. No adjustment is necessary. Velcro foam pad and extended length allows to grip to tuck the perfect amount.

What A Holster Must Do

  • Cover and protect the trigger guard
  • Cleanly release the gun when drawn
  • Stay Open to allow one handed holstering
  • Retain the gun during anticipated physical activity
  • Allow a full firing grip while gun is seated
  • Be stable on pants to allow repeatable indexing of draw

This holster meets all these criteria easily.

Accurate molding negates need for retention adjustment. It’s ideal for my needs.

Details That Make This Holster Excellent

  • Spring Steel Clip (like the excellent DCC clips) for easy on/off.
  • Structure to tuck butt into the torso to aid in concealment.
  • Bright color to allow visual check that no foreign material is in the throat of holster. You’ll never convince me that a no-look holster is the ideal technique for a regular person.
  • Ability to accept a muzzle pad to aid comfort, increase safety of holstering via angle, and drive the top of the gun into the body for concealment. Also note the muzzle portion of the holster is longer than most J-Frame barrels. This aids concealment and prevents ‘flop over’ the belt.
Bright interior looks attractive and allows user to visually confirm there isn’t foreign material in the throat of the holster.

Again, the fine details and careful craftsmanship make this worth every penny. Having the right gear means you’re more likely to carry your gun, and more able to readily access it under stress.

Recommended.

Buy Yours Here.

AAR: Pepper Spray for Non-Cops, Instructor Cert. by Agile Training

I recently attended a new offering from Chuck Haggard of Agile Training and Consulting. It’s his new 1 Day OC (pepper spray) instructor course for non-LEOs. I have been carrying pepper spray daily for about 6 years now, and wanted to be credentialed to pass on what I’ve learned. I jumped at the chance and don’t regret my decision to attend.

Safety

A note on force on force safety. The owners of The Complete Combatant, the hosts of the class, have a very robust and meticulous safety protocol to assure no live weapons make it onto the training area. It includes a group chat, and a group disarming, followed by securing live unloaded weapons in a box to be stored in another location, and a final pat down from the instructors and your neighbors in line. It’s these overlapping safety features that help keep force on force training safe. There’s a reason the book Training At The Speed of Life exists. There’s a lot of training accidents, and we have to be diligent about securing our training area.

History Lessons

Chuck is a career lawman and has unique experiences with testing and real-world use of less lethal technologies. As a result, and for context, the class opens with less lethal options, and an overview of less lethal chemicals that have been used over the years. Chuck’s reasoning for favoring OC over all the other available options is well reasoned and convincing. He frames the course in a civilian context, and his conclusions based of the civilian ‘mission’ make a lot of sense, and OC is very effective at the tasks it’s needed for.

He does an overview of the chemicals involved, the immediate effects of OC on the body, the lasting effects, the solvents used to carry the OC, as well as the propellant gases that companies can use.

Eyejab In A Can

The unregulated nature of the OC business requires that we know what to look for in a product before we trust it. The only quantitative measure we can currently trust is the MCC (Major Capsenoid Content) of the spray. If this isn’t listed, then you can’t trust it to be sufficiently hot. There’s even some companies that seem to overestimate their product. Chuck recommends anywhere from 0.7-2.0% MCC. Bear spray is 2.0%MCC and regulated by the EPA, while ‘human grade’ is not under such scrutiny. Apparently there’s lots of weak sauce formulas. So go off of the MCC and brand when possible.

This portion of the lecture was very valuable for me. Chuck gives an overview of spray patterns (Spray, Fog, Cone, Gel/Foam) and the best uses for each style of spray. We talked about best care practices for assuring the can worked when you need it, and how to not accidentally contaminate your car on a hot summer day. Shot distance capability, target zones, time to take effect, as well as the shortcomings of each.

He ends the lecture segment with decontamination protocols, which mostly amount to washing the face with baby shampoo under cool water in a well ventilated area and just waiting for the suck to end.

Force on Force Exercises

I’m at the point where I believe any quality training program should include some manner of force on force. Chuck didn’t disappoint me and the latter half of the day was exercises that built in complexity and layered the use of OC into the existing Shivworks MUC/PUC (Managing Unknown Contacts) style pre-assault strategy.

Chuck using the author to illustrate the ‘Default Cover’ arm position

While the time was compressed, I feel the students were able to grasp the basic idea of MUC with movement, vebalization, and a high/compressed ‘fence’ hand posture to preserve and make space and time. Failing that, the default cover position was taught. If you’re not familiar, this is a non-diagnostic defensive posture constructed of a lowered center of gravity in base, and a helmet formed around your head with your arms. This allows you to weather an unexpected attack without needing the attributes of a fighter to stay upright and conscious.

Photo Cred: TCC

After the students had reps, the OC was plugged in. We were able to try various inert training units of various sizes and spray patterns. We also were taught ‘failure drills’ where the OC didn’t take effect and we had to transition to a secondary force option. We also got some ideas on using a flashlight and OC in conjunction. Overall it was a great amount of force on force for such a compressed time frame.

I think this is a great class and I’m looking forward to doing some coaching on the use of OC at my home MMA gym here in Lawrenceville, GA. I recommend training with Chuck whenever you can.

Additional Info and Recommended Products