Stupid simple, stupid cheap. For less than 2 bills you can get a versatile, useful, defensive grade shotgun. She won’t win any beauty titles, but you can run the heck out of it, and it’ll keep on truckin. I put this bungee breaching sling on it, I bought years ago that is light weight, and is rigid enough it stays out of the path of the pump, so there are no hang ups. Lastly, I put a two shot side saddle on it. I don’t want to make it prohibitively heavy, I like keeping the wrist of the receiver narrow for manipulation and carry, and if I can’t handle a problem with seven rounds, then please tell funny stories about me at my funeral. One last bit…the Hogue youth stock has an 11.75” length of pull. Don’t say it’s too short…I’m 6’4” tall and it works great for me, with as little as a t-shirt on, all of the way up to layers of clothes under a parka. If you bang into your nose or your teeth, keep your thumb on the other side of the receiver.
I recently returned to teaching for Tactical Response in Camden TN. My dear friend, James Yeager, the founder and MFCEO of Tactical Response passed away in September of 2022, and a huge absence was left by him, not just in the company but in the training community. I have felt a huge hole in my being since he died, and along with all of my life’s other issues, it just seemed like it was the right time to return to teaching at Tactical Response. James can’t be replaced, but I feel that since I was one of his closest compatriots and he was my mentor, it would be fitting to his legacy and his family to return to teach for his company and continue to blaze a trail through educating others. In the spirit of true martial artists, when your Master dies, you continue his lineage of teaching. I don’t know how genuine of a martial artist I actually am, but I’m on the path. And I deem this to be a worthwhile effort.
As an instructor, you are expected to be able to demonstrate, on demand, anything you ask of your students. Seems simple enough. I like to demonstrate for students, not to show off, but to illustrate what we are looking for, and also what you want to see your students do. With that, I only expect to fire about 1/10 of what a student does in a class. Maybe even less than that. So I like to have a dedicated training gun, that mimics the features and feel of my duty guns. With my pistols, I use an identical mechanically (but marked with a FDE back strap) 9mm M&P pistol and with my rifle, I use two identical copies. Same with this shotgun. It is functionally identical to my duty shotgun, the only difference being the Pardner has a, “hump,” a la the Browning Auto-5. Otherwise, it’s an 870. I’ve heard rumors that these are actually made in China by Norinco, and imported to America by H&R 1871. Either way, for $175 NEW, this gun can be yours. Interestingly, the price has stayed pretty low. I bought this model back in 2007, and it has about 10K through it at this point. I’ve cleaned it exactly twice. I have changed the magazine spring twice as well. Not because it was having issues, just prophylactically.
And there you have it. Little different this time…more pics and less yakking. You could do a lot worse for a training gun for under two bills. And if you’re wondering, would I take THIS GUN over a Remington 870 EXPRESS, the answer is YES. The internals in this gun are made of metal. They may be made from melted down leaf springs, or Soviet T-72’s, but they are metal. The extended magazine holds five rounds and is very well balanced. The magazine extension/barrel retention nut stays snug after hundreds of rounds of full power rounds. It’s not glamorous, the finish is modest but does repel rust and corrosion even in Tennessee’s impressive humidity, and it just plain works. I’ve lent it out to students several times, and people always offer to buy it from me because they fall in love with it. I’m telling you…try a 11.75” LOP stock and tell me it doesn’t make an 870 feel like an M-1 carbine! It really does!
So if you’re in the market for a low budget 12 gauge, or something to stow in your boat or RV, or you’re a training junkie or an instructor who needs something that won’t break the bank but will serve you with minimal issues, look into the H&R 1871 Pardner in 12 gauge. Especially if you are an 870 person and want to have an understudy, you could do much worse than the Pardner!
I’ve known Chuck Haggard for years. First as an online buddy on the old GOTX and TPI forums of the early 00’s. Then in person through the Paulepalooza Memorial training events that began in 2012. Chuck is a unique guy in the training industry…he’s literally done it all. He’s one of the few guys around that can chew up a problem from the perspective of a military serviceman, a police officer or an armed civilian. I’ve trained with Chuck in the past and we’ve both audited each other’s classes. Chuck was recently in Nashville teaching for two days, and I had a break in my schedule, which allowed me to attend.
Chuck calls the class I attended, “Pocket Rockets,” but it’s really just a catchy name. What’s a pocket gun for one person, might be a full-size gun to a smaller human. The chief difference between a full size or compact sized pistol and a pocket rocket could be defined as the size the pistol relative to the size of the user. I’ve known people who have pocket carried Glock 19’s and done it well, and I’ve seen people who couldn’t pocket carry a J frame in normal clothes, because that would be too big for them, and it would defeat the purpose of carrying a concealed gun that is obviously NOT concealed.
The point of the class is to be able to achieve precision hits on target, with speed but more importantly, adapt the user’s normal manual of arms to smaller sized guns. I used a SIG P365, as did many others. Several people used Glock 43, 43X and 48’s. One man had a Beretta 21 in .22LR and a few others had weirdos like the Shadow Systems guns, which I know almost nothing about. As anyone who goes from using a full size pistol to a smaller pistol knows, malfunction clearance can prove challenging. The TAP portion of the TAP-RACK-BANG (or TAP-RACK-REASSESS) is difficult to pull off with a small gun because if you’ve got a solid grip, and the gun only has room for one or two of your fingers at the bottom of it, you end up smacking your own hand. Conversely, ejecting a mag with the gun in your grip can also be delayed because your hand prevent the mag from falling free. Chuck has come up with a few solid operation algorithms that overcome that hang up, without drastically changing the way that you might have already programmed yourself to do them. I won’t give away Chuck’s secret sauce, and you’ll still have to take the class to learn them, but they work! Chuck is a master instructor so he understands that there isn’t a one shot solution for every person, and he teaches several different manipulations and one of them is bound to work for you, even if you lack significant hand strength, or coordination. Chuck has tricks! He’ll get you through it!
The course took place at the GLOCK STORE in Nashville on their 270 degree shooting range. The range has movable backstops that allow 270 degrees of fire. The range was lit but had very subdued lighting. And it was variable from the middle of the range to the edges of it. It was the first time in maybe forever that I was glad I had tritium sights on my gun, as it was difficult to see the sights on my Smith M15 when we shot the evening section with our revolvers! I had to dip/duck the front sight to pick up the edge. At 3 yards it wasn’t a big deal, but out at 10 and 15 and further, that obviously makes a difference. Even though I had painted the front blade with orange model paint, there wasn’t enough contrast to see. If you’ve shot Smith OEM adjustable sights (not the recent iterations) you know there isn’t a lot of space around that front blade…there is even less in low light!
We concluded the Pocket Rocket class with a qualification course with Chuck demonstrating each phase of the course. The range for each phase started at 3 yards and progressed to 25 yards. Getting solid hits, at 25 yards, with a 3” barrel gun, in poor light, with a time crunch, was challenging but also rewarding!
I think people often take classes like Chuck’s thinking that their performance with a smaller gun will be comparable to their capabilities with a full size (full size gun FOR THEM). But the truth is, little guns are harder to shoot. You have less sight radius, smaller guts inside the guns and thus operational idiosyncrasies, and truncated barrels that sacrifice ballistic performance in already marginally effective pistol ballistics. Small guns are lighter, there’s more recoil and less barrel so more unburnt powder and muzzle blast. So it’s a wake up call for many students! I’ve been using a J frame Smith of some kind for my entire adult life, so I wasn’t unaware of the hazards of downsizing to a smaller gun. But under pressure, when you really need it, you can’t expect the skills of the full size gun to translate to the smaller one…it’s a different animal entirely.
I was both shocked and amused by the number of students who had used guns that they actually carried but hadn’t tested. Meaning, they had a Glock 43X, that they added an optic, sights, a magwell and extended mag release to, but hadn’t tested it to see if they all worked together. One person’s gun wouldn’t fire more than one round without a malfunction because theit mags weren’t compatible with the magwell, and or the release. Luckily they figured that out in the class instead of in a parking lot somewhere! Testing your equipment, under the eye of a master instructor like Chuck, is important especially if you don’t necessarily know what you need to be looking out for. Very few machines in existence IMPROVE their performance with added complexity. The design requires miniaturization already, and stacking more parts on it for a negligible increase in performance can be a dubious foray into absurdity. Unless you can shoot to the mechanical accuracy of the gun, most people would benefit from the minimalist approach. I’m still undecided on the SHIELD magazines for the Glock 43X and 48. I know people that have success with them, but I’ve also seen a number of them fail. I chose to go with, “eleven for sure,” in my 43X, but you’re welcome to use what you like. I enjoy having the availability of a nearly 50 state legal pistol in stock configuration, but that’s my view.
At the end of the training day for POCKET ROCKETS, we had a ballistic gel lab where Chuck shot a number of rounds into a block of CLEAR GEL ballistic gelatin out of short barrels to see if the performance, penetration wise, was still within the bounds of effectiveness. As you no doubt recall, the FBI specifies 12-18” of penetration after passing through 4 layers of denim. Chuck fired a number of rounds, including my carry round, the SuperVel 115 grain solid copper projectile. The round went about 16” with great expansion and 100% weight retention. The SuperVel 115 grain is a round that shoots well in both my full size M&P as well as my P365 and Shield/Shield Plus. It’s widely available by mail-order on SuperVel’s website, and was one of the few defensive loadings that didn’t dry up during the pandemic. Chuck told us that many of the mono-metal projectiles like the SuperVel and DPX type rounds perform well in gelatin and have similarly good performance in actual shootings as well. I’ve heard similar intel from Professor John Farnam, another trusted source. I shot two mags (I rotate carry ammo on daylight savings time…change the clock, change the carry ammo), and it was THE most accurate ammo I shot all day. I used TULA 9mm steel case and aside from the impressive flash and fire tornado it launched at the target, it was boringly reliable and shot to the sights.
Wrapping up the long day, Chuck ended with a three hour session for wheelguns. I brought two…my Smith M15 2” and a Smith 66 2.5”. I shot a variety of 158 grain lead and LSWC as well as 130 grain flat nose FMJ. They all shot to a different yet acceptable POI. Chuck demonstrated and we used a method of punching out the empties from the cylinder using a hammer fist method. Just like it sounds, you hammerfist the ejector rod vigorously, and it launches the empties with gusto and considerable inertia, even in guns with short ejector rods (like the Model 15). I used the Zeta-6 rubber speed loaders and was satisfied with their performance (more on those down the road). Like I mentioned earlier, I had trouble seeing the sights, due to the subdued lighting on the range. But that’s probably more of a ME problem than it was the fault of the gun. I get spoiled seeing the high visibility dots on XS, Warren or Sevigny sights with lots of light around that front, which just isn’t a feature on the older Smiths. And even without a grip adapter, my accuracy and performance didn’t suffer. It’s only six rounds…I’d rather have better concealability and more of a hook shaped grip than have really comfortable grips, even when shooting stout .38’s. It’s not a .454 where grip shape and beating up the middle finger really comes into play. But I’ve got big hands too…
If you haven’t trained with Chuck, you should! He’s one of the few trainers on the road these days who really has many pieces of the pie to offer you. He’s seen it all…and done it all. If you fancy yourself a gunman, you’d be wise to seek him out and learn from him. His website is https://agiletactical.com/ . Tell him the Doctor sent you!
What a buzz kill…it was 1993, I had just turned 18, had a job working as a full-service gas station attendant and as a police explorer cadet, and I had JUST enough money to scrape together to be able to start buying guns. And then all of the desirable semiautomatic long guns that any young person would be enamored with, were gone. Literally made unobtainable by some weak legislation in hopes it would curb violent crime (SPOILER ALERT…it didn’t). So what to do? I did what I could with manual action long guns (an 870 and a lever action/bolt action combo). But I was bummed.
A few years later, I got a job working full time at an armored truck company. I carried a pair of revolvers (one in my duty holster and another on my ankle). And when I was off-duty/street clothes I would sometimes carry 3 guns, working side gigs where I could mostly in the field of valuable/cash transport. It wasn’t optimal. It wasn’t ideal. But I pivoted to adapt to the market, the world and what I could afford at the time (a used K or L frame was in the $275 range, a J or N frame was closer to $400 at the LGS). And the x-factor here (that many overlook) is I used what I could afford AND still train with. I could get all of the .357 Magnum and .38 Special I could shoot, as long as I turned in the empties (on a 1:1 trade). Many of my coworkers gave me their ammo, and a few of them did that in return for me riding shotgun for them. Because why practice yourself when someone else can do the hard work for you???
I think that in the next couple years, due to the weirdness of the world, people’s relative apathy to said weirdness and government legislation, we will have an entire new batch of, “Crime Bill Kids,” who will also have limited defensive options. They’ll have to get what they can from the secondary market, feed it with ammunition they can reliably (and affordably) source, and still have the resources necessary to practice or train. The elders of the community can be self-righteous jerks and say, “Well you should’ve been stacking it up!” or, “I prepared for this? Why haven’t YOU?” But that’s not a solution…and the older I get the bigger my Dad her gets and the more I value people that are part of the solution, not accessories to the problem.
So no surprise from me, but the, “most useful,” gun for strange times can be wheelgun. Here’s a few reasons why: 1. Dry-practice with a trigger pull that EXACTLY replicates live fire. “First round hits,” are all the rage currently, but they’ve always been amongst those that know best. How do you get that skill? Dry practice helps TREMENDOUSLY. 2. Ammunition versatility…a .357 Magnum revolver can also fire .38 Special and some can even fire 9mm with a conversion cylinder. Also, you can fire whatever you can source. Light/fast ammunition that may not cycle the action on a semiautomatic pistol reliably, will work fine in a revolver. I’ve noticed a ton of weird, foreign, lightweight/high velocity Ammo in the store when everything else is gone. 3. Ammunition durability. All ammo is relatively fragile. Continually reloading the same cartridge into a self loader can and will decrease the ignition capability of that specific cartridge, or set the bullet back and create pressure issues. So not a big deal to build a zip-lock bag of, “discard,” carry ammo to shoot at the next qualification, or practice session, but in the middle of an ammo shortage, that one round is a valuable commodity. THAT could be the round you need to save your life. With a revolver, the trauma to the individual cartridges is minor or a complete non-issue. And since the state of readiness of a revolver can be ascertained by looking in the cylinder, there’s no need to remove the cartridges from the individual chambers or, “press check,” like many folks do with semi autos. You can open the cylinder, see the primers and close the cylinder. You’re ready. 4. Revolvers are adaptable. You can find OR MAKE (3D printing nerds…looking at you here) revolver grips that will fit any hand or esthetic. Finger grooves are optional, and in many cases, can be removed with patient, cautious abrasive application. And places like VZ grips can make stocks for revolvers that make the BIGGEST revolvers around feel and actually be, volumetrically smaller without compromising comfort or function. 5. Sights. You can DIY many revolver sight options. Some of the greatest revolver pistoleros did this, and with a little hobby paint from Michael’s Treasure House, you can too. Even blacking out the rear notch on a fixed sight stainless revolver can make your sight picture cleaner.
DIY is probably one of the revolver’s greatest adaptability strengths. The guts of the gun largely inhabit the middle of the revolver…the sights and the grips lay at either end. And you can manipulate the ends without affecting the function of the middle. Something to consider.
Concealability, adaptability and availability are just a few of the revolver’s strengths. Is it weird that someone would chose technology from the 19th century to defend themselves in the 21st century? No, but also yes! It isn’t going to be easy, but I don’t think the choice of weapon is the weakest link, nor the most significant in what the cognoscenti like Massad Ayoob, outlined in his, “Survival Priorities,” so many years ago. Utilization requires thought, but any cop who grew up and worked in the, “bridge generation,” between the nationwide switch from revolvers to semiautomatic pistols will tell you, they’d still hit the streets with a revolver and feel fine about it. But all the same, they’d also tell you to bring a spare or two. 😉
During my last practice session on the range, I was quietly (gunfire excepted) thinking about the spate of Instagram and online articles relative to the Indianapolis Mall Active Shooter who was rapidly interdicted by a man called Eli Dickens. Eli reportedly made 8/10 hits on the shooter from a distance as far as forty yards. Quite the feat!
As I moved through my practice routine of various drills, I thought about something that a few of my mentors have said over the years. First, James Yeager taught me years ago, “You should be able to shoot fist-sized groups, as fast as you can shoot them, at any range.” And Tom Givens who says, “The majority of your practice should take place within ten yards, or the length of a couple cars. You should also work in strong-hand-only, weak-hand only, and distance shots, all with precision. Get your gun out quickly, and get to work.”
This makes sense, and when you really think about it, most civilian defensive gun uses are a simple shooting problem. The Indianapolis incident was a statistical outlier, but still within the realm of possibility. Can engagements lawfully occur from a distance greater than 25 yards? Quite possibly! Is it common? No it isn’t. However, with that said, maintaining proficiency requires work. How much work? Depends on where your starting point is. If you can shoot at 100/10X at 25 yards with time pressure, then you are probably going to do just fine at 40 yards. Do you have 40 yards to work with at the range? Some people might not! So use a smaller target, like a target paster or a post-it note, and set it to the extreme end of your range. If that’s only ten yards (a range I use frequently only has 10 yards) then that will have to suffice. The trick, with any engagement range is to program that response beforehand. Pre-engagement planning has been shown to be a decisive way to give the defender the upper hand in armed conflict.
You can’t expect to realistically step up and perform with an iron-sighted concealment sized pistol, if you only practice on the range with a full-sized, 20 shot 9mm with an optic that weighs 3 pounds loaded. If you are blessed with the lifestyle that allows for full-sized carry guns during 99% of your waking life, have at it man, but the rest of us who live where concealment is the first priority, would be better off training with what we actually carry. And yes…smaller guns are harder to shoot. They’re lighter so they recoil more. You can have hands of steel and wire and the smaller sized guns (smaller than a G19) will still generally beat the crap out of you and be more fatiguing than their larger counterparts. But if you CAN practice regularly, and maintain proficiency with smaller guns, when you put a full-sized pistol in your hand, the ease of use is immediate and profound. Revolver guys have known this for decades…if you can make a J frame work, a K, L or N frame is like a vacation. Same logic applies for self-loaders.
So get out there, and don’t be a part-time PRACTICIONER. Sharpen all the knives, at least regularly. You never know what kinds of problems the world will present for you to solve. Don’t get ready…stay ready.
Thanks for reading! Sorry for the hiatus…but uh, uh, life, uh, finds a way. Stay tuned for more. House, from Nashville HQ, OUT.
Come out and train! With the rise of wild violence on American streets these days, it behooves you to know at least the bare minimum skills necessary to treat penetrating trauma and blood loss. I will be teaching two, 4-hour classes in the Middle Tennessee area in August and September. Spots are limited, so sign up today. Please tell your friends and training pals. I know that medical training is the least glamorous facet of the tactical training world, but I can promise you it is one of the most commonly used!
If you spend any time shooting a great deal, or especially using guns in an official capacity, you’re going to have guns break, or need modification work done on them. And like I said, if you carry a gun in an official capacity, you want to be able to assert positively, under oath that your gun was not modified by anyone who wasn’t a professional armorer or gunsmith.
Gunsmiths, like many tradesmen, are becoming more and more rare. The legendary gunsmiths that we all read about growing up have passed away. Some taught their secrets to apprentices, but a good deal of that knowledge is gone. It’s really quite sad. As the popularity of modular guns that require only armorer level maintenance to mobilize become more popular, some people and many gun shops, where gunsmiths used to abound, are now replaced by kids who watch YouTube videos but don’t have the capabilities or artistry of a true gunsmith.
Jeff Walle is a gunsmith that is local to me, and operates out of the fantastic gun shop, “Guns and Leather,” in Greenbrier TN. It’s a short drive to the shop from Nashville, and worth the trek. Jeff hails from the great state of Colorado, where he graduated from Gunsmithing school back in the late 1970’s. His shop is something out every gun guy’s dream and he offers the full scope of Gunsmithing and repair capabilities. He also works on Smith revolvers and Marlin lever guns, and I’m particularly hard on those, so I’m glad he is there and accepting work. He repaired my S&W pistol while I waited, and I was back southbound in no time flat!
If you are in need of an ACTUAL gunsmith in the Nashville area, and not just someone with an AR bushing wrench and a sight pusher, go see Jeff Walle and tell him the Doctor sent you!
One of the fun things about weapons craft and martial arts is that since you’re constantly testing yourself under realistic conditions, you continuously refine your methods. It is really a beautiful direct application of the scientific method because constantly testing, analyzing results, and refinement of the experiment gives more and more usable results. Occasionally (and ideally) this would lead to mastery or perfection. But rarely does that happen…but constant experimentation CAN get you closer to the PATH of mastery.
The late, great firearms trainer Todd Louis Green used to say, “You can’t buy skill.” Meaning that there’s no piece of equipment you can buy that will instantly improve your skill at arms. Skill improvement will always require work on behalf of the user to get to a measurable increase in performance of said skill.
So if we accept the premise that we cannot buy skill, it goes without saying that we CAN buy improvements in ergonomics that allow us to improve our interface to the weapon’s grip. Especially with firearms, the grip on the gun plays a large role in determining the quality of trigger control. The best trigger management occurs when the trigger can be manipulated straight to the rear, without any upward (or downward) deflection of the trigger finger.
For years, decades in fact, one of the negative qualities of N-frame S&W revolvers have been the size of the revolvers grip. Conversely, the K frame grip has always been known as the, “every person’s grip,” since it can be adapted to fit nearly anyone. As modern combat revolver shooting techniques changed to be primarily/all double-action based, revolver grips that fill in the sinus behind the trigger guard were created to allow the index finger to depress the trigger straight to the rear. The problem arises when the rest of the grip grows…material is added to the sides of the grip as palm swells, or by adding material to the backstrap. This greatly increases the trigger reach…and that makes the gun feel bigger. So shortening this distance between the backstrap of the revolver to the trigger face is akin to shortening the length of pull on a shotgun. If you’ve ever used a shotgun that has too long of a stock, you know how uncomfortable a long length of pull is! You can’t really get comfortable behind the gun and the recoil forces aren’t directed straight perpendicular to the user’s body. A similar application of recoil force occurs when the grips are too big in girth or in the distance between the backstrap and the trigger face. It makes shooting uncomfortable and you lose control of the weapon. You become a passenger and are no longer a driver…you’re simply along for the ride.
Enter VZ Boot Grips. I have a set for both my N-frame round butt S&W 327PC and my K-frame round butt K-frame S&W 66. I took some measurements after an acquaintance on Instagram asked me some questions about the dimensions of the different guns with the grips attached.
He was curious if the round butt dimensions of the K frame could be replicated on the N frame. And with cursory measurements, the differences are slight! LOOK!
The VZ grips have the best fit of nearly any production grip I’ve ever seen. There is no space on the front strap and the rear of the grip from the bottom end up to the frame horns are tightly adapted with no space. They are held in place by either a black or stainless T15 Torx head screw. And since they’re made of synthetic materials, they’re moisture resistant which is vital for a concealed carry revolver. In my subjective opinion the grips transfer the recoil energy of the gun like synthetic grips do, which is to say it seems like the dense material absorbs some of the recoil. I mostly use wadcutters so the recoil with those out of a compact carry revolver is minimal anyway. They also allow a full firing grip for every finger…and most, “boot grips,” do not allow space for the pinkie finger. The shape of this grip is more reminiscent of the old OEM, “banana grips,” of yesteryear. I have a pair of Beez speedloaders for the 327 inbound so I can’t say if they will clear it, but I CAN say that Safariland Comp 1’s and HKS do clear the grips on the 66. I mostly use a speed strip for my revolver reloads though, which of course work great!
I’m really glad that forward thinking companies like VZ are making modern products for us old folks that like wheelguns. The melding of modern materials and design with 19th century based technology is an interesting juxtaposition, but it works. I bought these grips myself…I have no business relationship with VZ. But if you buy a set to try out, tell them you read about them here on CIVILIAN DEFENDER and that the Doctor sent you! Thanks for reading!
I have been experimenting with the Smith 327PC as a viable carry piece for the wheelgun savvy shooter for a bit more than a year now. I finally got the stocks/grips situation solved with the VZ N-frame boot grips, and they’re fantastic. After I got all of that locked in, I needed a carry option.
Unfortunately, not every holster works for every gun out there. What I mean by that, is that first, not every maker supports every model of pistol and revolving pistol, and not every holster model works for every handgun. For example, I’m a big fan of the Tucker Gunleather CoverUp, and I have a few for both J and K frame revolvers. For those small and medium frame revolvers, that holster works great. But with the N frame 327, it just didn’t work. I’m a big guy and the footprint of the holster wouldn’t fit in the space between my hip bone and my belt buckle. So the search continued.
I next tried an old favorite I’ve had luck with in the past. Kramer holsters is an American classic builder, creating tough-as-iron Horsehide holsters. Although the rig was comfortable and well-made, the ride height and cant didn’t work for me. It’s a beautiful holster though. The search continued…
I loved the gun, but still hadn’t found a good way to carry it. I had a Simply Rugged Sourdough which is AWESOME for 3-4 o’clock carry on the hip. But unless I’m in uniform, I prefer to carry AIWB. It just works better for my build and how I shoot and fight. I should’ve thought of this earlier, but I emailed my friend Dale Fricke and asked if he could make a version of his Archangel for the 327. I have used a version of Dale’s Archangel going back to the early 2000’s. Dale makes some of the most rugged AIWB holsters around, and he supports a huge number of handguns INCLUDING every S&W revolver around.
The biggest objection most people have to using kydex with revolvers is that they’re hard on the finish. I think that’s probably true with any holster, regardless of material. I have seen high grade 1911’s that have never been in anything outside of a Milt Sparks Summer Special and have NO finish left on any edge of the gun. I haven’t really ever been one to concern myself so much with the esthetics of my tools, so I find the accelerated wear from kydex to be a non-issue for me.
I emailed Dale Fricke on a Monday…and had the holster in less than a week! That’s a tremendous turn-around time for a custom maker, and was a pleasant surprise. I immediately unwrapped the rig, affixed it to my belt, then did a series of unloaded dry practice runs to see how it rode and presented…all systems go! I loaded it up, and hit the trail with my Weimaraner to see how it wore in relatively vigorous waking/jogging/stepping over several miles. No hot spots, no shifting, no tipping, and no idiosyncrasies that cause a commonly overlooked holster issue…the unconscious, “holster check.” Lots of people do a great job of hiding big guns, but give it away with their incessant picking to see if their gun is, “still there.” I work to NOT do that and using sound gear that works as it should makes confident carry easy!
Dale’s holsters are made of thicker kydex than most makers use. This means that while his holsters appear to have less detail molding, they’re actually more rugged and have less edges and angles that create hot spots of pressure when worn. And they still have a positive seat on reholster (an audible, “click,”) There’s a distinct difference these days between the makers who design and build holsters made for actual wear and hard use, and those who design and make holsters that are intended for Instagram photos…know the difference. 😉
I’ve been active in the, “tactical training community,” for nearly 30 years now. I started training back in the early 1990’s and I’ve never stopped. I’ve had some slow-downs due to school, residency training and life-issues, but I’ve never had a training lay-off in that time period longer than 3 months. The focus of my training lately has shifted towards the hands-on Brazilian JiuJitsu/grappling/combatives arena, and that opens an entirely new can of fun worms.
So the other areas of study from the CIVILIAN DEFENDER concept, tend to get pushed to the back burner, and while not entirely neglected, they just don’t get hit as readily. And honestly, much of the firearms training industry rotates about the gear issue…that is, trying out the latest and greatest in technology (which generally isn’t new, or even novel, and harkens back to something that is decades or even a century old). But when you don’t get ga-ga for gear, and have a great appreciation for the SOFTWARE behind the gear utilization, you still get areas of interest. A few of the more esoteric concepts I’ve been actively experimenting with currently include the S&W 327PC in-fight weapons access issues and 0-5 foot application as the ultimate, “gun grappling,” revolver. Another is exploring Colonel Jeff Cooper’s hypothesis on the, “Scout Rifle,” concept, which, while the technology of today has far surpassed What Col. Cooper had available in the 1980’s, the mission is interesting to me. And I’ve been doing more and more with edged weapon utilization, mostly in the BJJ-integrated training ideology. And although I haven’t gone full ham on the red dot sighted pistol, I have one, and I plan to do some work with it under the qualified guidance of several thought leaders in the industry.
But like any of us, I get bored…I get bored with, “guns.” So I tend to hit the, “other,” areas more. I primarily teach medical subjects, both as my primary vocation as a college professor at a medical college, and in open-enrollment classes I teach on weekends to the general public. Dealing with bleeding is something I literally do everyday. I’m planning on adding some of the excellent material produced by Ed Monk on active shooter interdiction in my Hemorrhage Arrest Course. Thinking deeply about dealing with the problem of spree killers lately, which has heavily permeated the current news cycle, has renewed my interest in many areas of firearms training where my interest and enthusiasm has waned. Since I recently attended Tom Givens of RANGEMASTER Tactical Conference, I took several notes which gave rise to more questions that I need to pose to the respective teachers that inspired the thoughts, but also do more work on my own, through research and experimentation. There’s no time like the present, and while the public is busy largely believing in the mass hysteria that the media is heaping on everyday, there must be more done in terms of promoting facts, not hysteria. So now is the time to spread solid, fact-based information. I’ll add what value I can to the conversation and further try and cross-pollinate by disseminating good ideas from those who have them.
I don’t have a big presence in the industry. I have a small sphere of influence thanks to my friendship with a few of the big names. (As I’ve always joked, I occupy the rearmost table next to the restrooms in the corner of the swap meet…and most of the interest in my table is from people looking for the restroom). In my school, I have a larger influence since every student and resident has to come through my clinic to complete their educational program. And as a reserve police officer, I am part of a small department that I have the ability to lead through doing the right thing, being bold, and also demonstrating sound survival and rescue skills in real-life work. This brings me to a great quote:
The world is a strange place right now. The LAST thing that any of us need to be doing is taking a break. We can’t quit right now. Because in the face of mounting legislation, pandemic weirdness and the everyday hustle of life, it’s easy to get bored, distracted and fall into the groove of an apathetic routine. We CANNOT stop training and we CANNOT stop educating those who are receptive to our message (nobody is coming to help you, and it’s up to you to acquire and maintain the skills necessary to preserve your own life from existential threats). As Professor Paul Sharp of SHIVWORKS and SBG says, “EVERY DAY ON NO DAYS OFF.” Constant pressure, applied daily, leads to massive changes over time. So let’s keep on driving. And remember: