My good friend Dr. William Aprill was recently so kind to mention me, and the CIVILIAN DEFENDER in his section of Massad Ayoob’s most recent book, “Straight Talk on Armed Defense.”
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William is a good friend but also my co-conspirator, er, I mean co-founder of the Paulepalooza Memorial Training Conference. William is also the most prevalent member of the pragmatic criminal psychology community around. His, “5 W’s Of Risk,” and, “Violent Criminal Actors,” should be required attendance for anyone and everyone who is concerned about self-defense or law enforcement. William is a former LEO, competitive shooter and all around renaissance man. I will be hosting him, and John Murphy, in the Nashville area March 3-4, 2018. In the meantime, check out Mas’ latest book that is literally a virtual who’s-who of modern tactical thinkers, including some of my favorites like John Hearne, Tom Givens, Ron Borsch, Craig Douglas, Marty Hayes, Spencer Blue and of course Massad Ayoob himself! Massad Ayoob was the first Instructor in the tactical world I ever studied, starting WAY BACK in the mid-eighties. I didn’t know that that William gave me a shout out, so imagine my surprise when I found out while just reading away! I lead a charmed life!
If you look at any of the regular gun blog or Youtube channels, you’ll notice the perpetual trend of the, “next best thing,” in carry guns. This week, it is the Hudson H9…next week, who knows? Funny thing though, is THAT marketing strategy works! It’s a psychological ploy that truly fiddles with the casual buyer’s mind, and makes them think that their gun, whichever that might be, is somehow inferior, and upgrading to the, “latest and greatest,” is the right move. So they pony up the bucks, and get the new gun. Then they notice that their performance is either equivalent to the prior platform, or their performance takes a dive. Either way, what’s gained? Money changes hands, and the smart marketeers get more of your ducketts!
I’ve been lucky enough to largely dodge this phenomena, but merely by coincidence. I have been a perpetual student for years, and a good portion of the 90’s and 2000’s cost me about $600,000 in tuition for three undergraduate degrees, my DDS and a residency program and that’s not even including my kid’s private school tuition. UGH. Thus, I could, “want,” the top hardware all I wanted, but the funds were already allocated to getting to the next semester. I was also lucky enough to work for outfits that either required a specific sidearm (or a very narrow choice in sidearms G17 or G19) and thus it didn’t make sense for me to use anything else.
My first big foray off of service revolvers into semiautomatic pistols started with the Glock 19. This was circa 1996, and the Gen 2 guns were the heat. I got one, had a set of Trijicon 3 dot night sights pressed into it, and I hit the road with it. Now, mind you this was 1996, and thus, I had 10 round magazines, thanks to Bill Clinton et al. On the armored truck, I carried four magazines on my belt, one in the gun, for a total of 51 rounds on board, plus a Smith 649 on my ankle, with two speed loaders on my belt for that. I carried the Corbon 115 grain +P+ 9mm loading, which Ed Sanow and Evan Marshall, and Mas Ayoob had spoken highly of.
After carrying that gun for about a year, both on and off work, someone introduced me to the Heckler & Koch series of pistols, specifically the USP in .45 ACP. Since I was strictly saddled with 10 round Crime Bill magazines, I figured that the larger .45 ACP bullet would be, “better,” and thus I changed pistols. The official, “change,” required that I log the make, model and serial number with my employer, and then shoot the state mandated sobriety test, er, I mean, “qualification,” course, which was 30 rounds, on a B27 silhouette from 3 to 25 yards. Not a difficult course, and graded by the numbers. I held the, “TOP GUN,” of my branch every year I was employed there (I actually won a number of belt buckles that stated such, but at the time, I wasn’t sentimental, and had no use for a belt buckle of the size that doubled as an umbrella, so I gifted them to my cowboy friends. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve kept them to give them to my Son. Alas, I digress). So I was in the .45 business, and stayed that way until 2004/2005 when the Assault Weapons Ban ended, and I decided to go to the company issued Glock 22 (with 15 round magazines). The gun worked well with the 180 grain hollow point ammunition (I think it was CCI Speer) but it bobbled with the 165 grain ammunition. That was less than inspiring, compared to the boring reliability of the USP, and the, “Area 51-like,” accuracy the USP was capable of. So, after a short stint, I hung up the Glock 22 and went back to the USP and ran it until I left the armored truck industry and went on to the next big adventure, which was dental school.
While in school, I worked as an instructor and medical program director for Tactical Response, which was strictly (at that time) a Glock 19 organization. That was fine with me, and I ran the Glock 19. In 2008 I purchased the, “Glock Killer,” known as the Smith & Wesson M&P in 9mm. This gun was odd, and it was literally absorbed by the community with aplomb. The guns became ubiquitous in classes and they really caught on. Sure, there were some lemons that TRULY had accuracy problems, but in the several iterations of that pistol that I had, ran like tops, and had no accuracy issues that weren’t directly attributed to the idiot hanging off the end of the beavertail. In short, I was pleased with my M&P, and owned a pair of them…one for carry and one for practice/competition.
Unlike the Glock with it’s severe grip angle, the M&P hugged the belt line a bit closer, which made the draw slightly different, since I had to pry my hand all of the way under the frontstrap to get a full firing grip. The gun was very slick in texture, which made it easy to move my hand into position rapidly before executing the draw. Thus, although the M&P was a bit longer in both nose and butt than the G19, it was just as or if not more concealable. I also like how easily the magazines came apart for cleaning, especially when they filled up with the Tennessee mud and fine, particulate sand. I always felt like my OEM Glock magazines became weaker and weaker every time I took them apart! I don’t know if this is a real worry, or if it just felt that way. Either way, the M&P mags were easily disassembled and they held two more rounds than the G19 to boot.
This is my travel setup, for when I have to fly. I disassemble the Shield and put it into a fitted STORM HARDIGG case that has the top of the slide facing out. Any curious baggage handlers that feel like stealing it can plainly read, “I SEE THEM.” If they chose to steal it, hopefully it’ll make the police’s job easier in recovering it. Also pictured in the shot is the EXCELLENT Safety Solutions Academy, PLAN B, aluminum magazine floorplates. They are being rebranded now as the, “MAGFIX,” and is available at magfix.co . Tell them that the Doctor sent you!
The 2.0’s lines are closer to the Shield than they are to the 1.0. Oddly, the slide doesn’t bite, even without the beavertail, and you can still drive your hand just as high on the grip!
After using the M&P in numerous classes to include Tactical Response, Rangemaster and Larry Vickers courses, I put tens of thousands of rounds through the guns, and probably five times that in dry-practice repetitions. I felt really good about the M&P. So much so, that I stopped thinking about it completely. I knew, on a visceral level that there were other guns out there, that probably had better QC, mechanical accuracy and easier detail disassembly, but I didn’t care. I felt confident in my skills with my pistol and I had amassed a collection of duplicate guns, holsters, magazines, and magazine carriers. It was safe to say that I was fully invested in the platform. Sure, carrying in cargo shorts and a t shirt in the summer required a bit baggier t-shirt to pull off, but it was no great feat.
Enter the S&W Shield 9mm. FINALLY, Smith had done what Glock (remember, the 43 was just a pipe dream back then in 2012) refused to do for years. Pull off a subcompact 9mm pistol, that was small enough to conceal easily, but just large enough to allow a skilled user to run the gun just like its larger brethren. The Shield was just similar enough in grip angle, trigger geometry and feel to allow the full size pistol user to transition nearly seamlessly (with the exception of recoil control and front sight tracking…short guns are always snappier) which was cool! So the niche had been filled, for a small pistol that could be carried when normally a J frame would have to suffice. I’ve tried to carry my Shield on my ankle, and I have yet to find an ankle holster that works with it (although I have heard good things about the Wilderness Renegade and I just found out that Galco now fits the excellent Ankle Glove for the Shield). So I still rock my 442 on my ankle.
In 2017, the M&P 2.0 entered the scene, and I bought one of the first ones to arrive in Nashville. I’ve had nothing but success out of it. The accuracy issue, that folks have talked about, hasn’t been a problem for me. The function has been good, and with the exception of a Comptac paddle rig, holster compatability hasn’t been an issue. I’m very happy with it.
The biggest question I get asked about M&P’s, and conversely, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST CARRY A GLOCK?” my answer is multifaceted. First, Glocks cut my hands. I use a high grip with the web of my hand wedged into the backstrap, as deeply and highly as I can, and after about 20 rounds, the slide reciprocating draws blood. Not a big deal, but in terms of comfort, it isn’t fun after the 750th round fired in a high volume, two day class. I also get the, “Glock knuckle,” pretty severely, which I understand can now be ameliorated with modifications or the Generation 5 guns, but I have yet to experience that first hand. I know that there are beavertail additions that allow the user to keep the slide from eating them up, but I have yet to find one that stays in place with heavy use, AND doesn’t make the pistol grip appreciably thicker. I have big hands and long fingers, but I don’t wish to make an already NOT thin gun thicker. As I mentioned earlier, I also don’t like how Glock magazines seem to weaken after repeated disassembly. So, for as much as I like to/require myself to shoot in practice and training, the M&P family is more conducive to comfort and reliability for me. Your ideas may vary.
Striker-fired guns seem to be the gun of choice among the cognoscenti, as well as professional gun-handlers. But don’t let that guide your decision making! I always tell people, “Carry what works for you!” The first rule of gunfighting is, “HAVE A GUN!” And as I’ve talked about in other articles, nearly any gun will do, if you will do! It really doesn’t matter, that much. What DOES matter is that you carry a gun that works reliably, and allows you to accurately deliver shots on target, when you need to. Most modern service and carry pistols are accurate…far more accurate than 99% of their users. And don’t buy, carry or justify your decisions based on what, “ORGANIZATION X,” carries…if it’s governmental, there may be political pressure involved, or their organization may simply buy guns/issues guns that are complete garbage! And who knows if the folks carrying those guns in that organization even like them…they may not! There is a local PD here that requires their officers to carry a variant of the Springfield XD, in .45 ACP. If you live in that town, don’t rush out and buy an XD because that’s what the cops there carry. As John Correia from ASP has said, “XD’s are the McRib of carry pistols.” Don’t invest any ego into your carry pistol. It’s a machine…they fall apart and break, at some point. Some, quicker than others. You’re a civilian…you have a choice in what you use. Just be smart about it, and make wise decisions like:
Does the gun work? If it is magazine or ammo related, that happens. But your gun should be inherently reliable.
Get a number of spare magazines. I recommend eight (because that’s what my pistol rug carries, but the more the merrier). Magazines are expendable. They get beat up, dented, stepped on, and they wear out. Plan accordingly.
Make sure that your gun, sights and ammo shoot to the point of aim. That means that your point of aim and point of impact should be the same! Many folks walk around with a gun that doesn’t shoot to the sights, and that can be a really bad thing. You want to hit what the gun is pointed at…not 6 inches below what the gun is pointing at.
Your capabilities in MARKSMANSHIP and GUN HANDLING are far more important than your choice in carry guns. Buy quality, buy once.
To quote my buddy Kirk, “Until they come out with a Star Trek type phaser, I’ll carry a Glock.” I feel the same way…except I’ll carry an M&P.
Don’t worry…I didn’t pack up and leave revolverscience to die in gutter somewhere. It’s still here! After the long drive home from the 2017 20th Anniversary Rangemaster Instructor Conference and Reunion, I had about ten hours to think about where I am currently and where I want to be in the future, in terms of professional development.
I really appreciate all of the faithful readers that subscribe to my feed here (thank you, all 50 of you!) and it was great to meet several of you in person this past weekend at the conference. In the, “civilian self-defense,” world, I realized that I am known for a few different reasons:
I am a dentist. Not sure why, but people really like, “their,” dentist to be a gun enthusiast. Maybe because of the precision involved, or due to the Hollywood gun-slinging dentist persona, people dig it.
I wrote (my most popular essay) BECOMING THE CIVILIAN DEFENDER and then that essay got a TON MORE traction thanks to Tom Givens posting it on his Rangemaster Newsletter. In the wake of the Antioch Church shooting here, in Nashville, in October 2017, I started teaching a 4 hour course for the layperson called, “CIVILIAN DEFENDER: HEMORRHAGE ARREST COURSE,” and I needed a logo for my presentation, thus, the logo you see here was born.
Revolvers, although they are making somewhat of an industry comeback right now, are far from, “state of the art,” for civilian (and certainly law enforcement) applications. So while I think that it is a VERY important skill (revolver operation) for the well prepared Civilian Defender to have, I don’t think it should supplant a modern, self-loading pistol for everyday carry. YES…I do carry a back up gun on my ankle and it is a revolver, but as soon as I find a semi-automatic pistol that is as reliable, concealable, and tolerates a good deal of exfoliated skin cells, leg hair, smart wool shavings and associated dirt and grime from walking about, a Smith J frame will be my ankle gun, and I will tell you about it. However, much like my mentor Tom Givens, I firmly believe that if you MUST carry a revolver for self-defense, that you should carry two. Despite what Herbert behind the gun counter will tell you, revolvers don’t have fewer controls, nor are they easier to shoot, nor are they more accurate, nor are they more reliable, nor do they, “jam less,” than any quality self-loading service or concealed carry pistol. YES…they are more tolerant of oddly shaped ammunition (like wadcutters) and YES, they are more tolerant of neglect, but they aren’t a panacea. Thus, it would be disingenuous of me to give the impression that I SOLELY think that revolvers are the answer for civilian self-defense.
I am one of the two co-founders of the PAUL-E-PALOOZA MEMORIAL TRAINING CONFERENCE, in remembrance of the late trainer, Paul Everett Gomez. Dr. William Aprill and I designed the conference in the days following Paul’s death to raise money to support Paul’s three children. We wanted to have a conference similar in format to Tom Givens’ Rangemaster Tactical Conference, but, like Paul, allow the instructors to teach the WEIRD skills, tactics, concepts or ideas that might not get covered in their regular curriculum, OR, go into further detail than their regular curriculum permits. Thus, just completing its fourth iteration this past August, “PEP,” as it is known in the community, has turned into an interesting, thought provoking, welcoming and very fun event. I present something odd at every conference, and the masthead always reads, “DR SHERMAN HOUSE/THE PEOPLE’S DENTIST/REVOLVERSCIENCE,” which seems to cumbersome and odd, and thus the simple, “CIVILIAN DEFENDER,” as a website, concept, and url is far simpler. Correspondance stock (and Speedo) too.
I am one of the few people in the industry with relevent experience gleaned from my pre-graduation days as a Shotgun Messenger on an armored truck. If you’ve read any of my essays here at all, you’ve noticed that I’ve earned a few lessons from my time there. It’s not a prestigious job, and there are many turds that work in the industry, like just about every other industry (including medicine and dentistry) but if you have a dollar bill in your pocket, thank an armored truck guy or gal for getting it to that bank, store or casino. So, like the regular civilian CCW person, the armored truck crew is ALSO just trying to go about their daily life, the chief difference being that ONE: the armored truck crew has cash, precious metals, jewels or valuables that nearly everyone wants, TWO: the armored truck crew travels about in an eponymous armored truck that has their contents, mission and contact info graphically described on the side of the vehicle. There is no way to be a, “gray man,” in that job. Thus, teaching or talking about the counter-ambush aspects of that particular job, and how they relate to the armed civilian are far more applicable under the idea of the CIVILIAN DEFENDER than they do for REVOLVER SCIENCE.
I always thought the name, “REVOLVER SCIENCE,” was cool, and presented a neat idea. However, many people in the industry have said to me, “I don’t read your page because I don’t like revolvers.” Then I would say, “There’s more than just revolvers there!” To which they’d reply, “I don’t care. I don’t like revolvers.” At first I thought that this was simply a sentinel event, but it wasn’t! I hear it frequently!
Dr. William Aprill was kind enough to mention me and my term, “CIVILIAN DEFENDER,” in his section of Massad Ayoob’s, “STRAIGHT TALK ON ARMED DEFENSE,” and thus, it has gained traction, and needs a, “home base.”
I DON’T SOCIAL MEDIA! Social media isn’t social…I much prefer to meet and interact with people the old fashioned way: in person at classes and conferences, on the phone, or via email etc. I think when we are talking about matters of self-defense, freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms, ALONG WITH the entirety of the Bill of Rights must be respected and adhered to. Until there is a, “social media,” platform that allows unimpeded rights to the consumer, I won’t be on it. So, welcome to the, “back corner,” of the exhibit hall. This is the most punk-rock solution I have at the moment, and it works for me. All the cool kids are here, and you should be too.
So, hopefully that explains the changes. This will also let me post more content, since I don’t have to spin a revolver twist into it (which I don’t always do, but I do try and preach to my entire audience, not just the choir).
Thanks for hanging around. Please subscribe, encourage your friends to subscribe, and share my work on social media if you like it. If you have reader questions you’d like to submit, leave me a comment or hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
March is the PERFECT time to train in TENNESSEE! Not freezing, and not ridiculously/painfully humid either! I’ve trained with both William and John in the past and their fast-paced, multidisciplinary format is great for high-yield/short attention span learners (like me!). So come train with us, and get your learn on!
About 20-something years ago, I was working as an armored truck guard. I remember showing up on my first day of work at the armored truck company, complete with body armor, multiple speed loaders, back-up ankle-gun, and black ripstop BDU pants and steel toe combat boots. In addition to being the youngest employee at my branch, I was also apparently the strangest. The looks I got on the first day from the veterans, were not welcoming. I had no pressed slacks, nor Chukka boots or Oxfords, nor six round cartridge slide. No, I was there dressed for, what I thought, work. Armored truck work differs from conventional security work in many ways, chief among them the requirement to actually DO WORK. Meaning, money (cash and coin) is heavy, and thus moving it from POINT A to POINT B requires brute strength, and sweat. Thus, dressing like an armed mailman seemed silly to me. Aside from the completely benign appearance, that, “pressed,” look didn’t seem extraordinarily ergonomic, nor easily maneuverable amongst the various lifting and loading tasks required of an armored truck crewman. Thus, I was termed, “unique.”
My, “uniqueness,” ended one afternoon following the disarmament and subsequent robbery of a fellow employee. Although my coworker was physically large, played college football, and generally kept his head on a swivel (if for nothing else than gawking at women) he got ambushed that day, and relieved of his weapon. The robber didn’t know how to actuate the safety devices/retention devices on the guard’s Uncle Mike’s PRO3 duty holster, and thus he made the guard give him his sidearm, with the robber’s own pistol thrust smartly into the guard’s head. When the distress/robbery in progress call came out on the radio, we all went into CONDITION ORANGE, and listened intently to the radio traffic exchanges. The guard was lucky to get out of that nightmare alive…
When I returned to the truck base the afternoon of the robbery, everyone asked me where I purchased my security holster, my body armor and external carrier, the steel plates it carried, the spare magazine carriers, the ankle gun and rig, the medical kit (albeit crude) and the various other support/street survival equipment I carried everyday. I was no longer the pariah…I was the weirdo who was ready.
Fast forward a number of years to when I was in dental school. A number of students in my school had been carjacked and relieved of their vehicles. A frightening number, in fact. Of my class of 65 students, FIVE were forcibly removed from their vehicles and left shaking and afraid on the side of the road. In my 4th year, a carjacker unsuccessfully attempted to carjack ME, and was promptly sent running in the opposite direction. I had spent a fair amount of training and effort on vehicular ambush techniques, over a couple decades, beginning with my experience as a law enforcement student at the community college, through my armored truck experience, and honed it into a reliable skillset that allowed me to recognize a probable threat early on, prepare mentally and physically for the interaction, and then counter the robbery with a preemptive surprise response. Of course, spending free time at the range running skill drills from a chair or a vehicle, and pre-planning tactics in my head made me strange to the casual observer…who does these kinds of things?
Weirdos do these kinds of things. At the base of it all, lies the MENTAL AWARENESS AND MENTAL PREPAREDNESS that Mas Ayoob talked about WAY back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, that survival minded individuals employ to give them the competitive edge against any existential threat that they come up against. You see, to the layperson, the WEIRDO looks like a fighting ant, with their bristled visage, guns, knives, medical kits, 4×4 truck and bail-out bag. To the uninitiated, the WEIRDO looks like a gadgeted freak, and thus the tactical accessories of the WEIRDO seem like talismans that have the ability to ward off evil-doers, and help the wearer steer clear of environmental pitfalls. This couldn’t be farther from the truth though. The WEIRDO has simply undertaken the task of preparing their hands for the unexpected; the mind is already so equipped. So when disaster strikes, and action is needed, they are ready. For the weirdo, the acceptance of the, “NOT IF…WHEN?” eventuality is already completed. One of my email taglines used to read, “IF YOU PREPARE FOR THE EMERGENCY, THE EMERGENCY CEASES TO EXIST!” The weirdo doesn’t like emergencies, but they know that they occur and thus they find the study and preparation for countering emergencies, useful. And lately, in our current times, emergencies seem to occur more frequently than in the past. So, be a WEIRDO. Encourage others to become WEIRDOS. And maybe, someday, we can live in a world where the WEIRDOS aren’t in the tiny minority, and even seem (dare I say) NORMAL.