Posts Tagged ‘Personal defense’


Carrying a handgun in a daily basis is one of the surest ways to guarantee your personal safety. A concealed firearm gives you a tremendous advantage in surprise and as a force multiplier when confronted with a threat of death or great bodily injury. Having a firearm gives you options and puts you on equal footing or gives you an advantage against an armed attacker/opponent.

One disadvantage to concealed carry is having to downsize the amount of ammo available to you or when carrying a small or more compact firearm, the number of rounds are now limited. When in a training environment or on duty, carrying around 3 full magazines (or more) is quite common. Even though I carry 37 rounds of handgun ammunition with me, it was still a limited amount when you look at some of the sustained gunfights some law enforcement officers have been engaged in. While I hope to avoid a gun battle which requires me to reload, or reload more than one time, the possibility exists so we carry at least a pair of magazines. Some of my staff who work in one of our most dangerous inner city areas are now carrying 5 full magazines or a combo of the standard 3 mags with a backup gun.

While off duty or in civilian life, carrying 3 to 5 magazines is just impractical, uncomfortable and probably difficult to conceal. The question becomes, how much extra ammo (magazines) should I carry and why? Like choosing a gun to carry this is a personal choice and does not come with a blanket answer, though I will give you my recommendations. First of all it starts with the gun you carry… allow me to explain.

The first gun I carried concealed was a Glock 17. A single standard capacity magazine holds 17+1 rounds of 9mm ammo. When this was my daily carry gun, I rarely felt it necessary to take an additional 17 round magazine with me. Overtime as I transitioned to the smaller Sig P938, which has an optional 7+1 round magazine, I always carried a spare magazine to bring my total up to 14 rounds… and I was always nervous that maybe I should be carrying two additional magazines for the little thing.

Now that I have standardized on carrying my duty weapon at work and away from it, I have found that the 12+1 capacity is a good balance. Should I have to engage a threat I will have a sufficient supply of ammo already in the handgun, however, I do carry an additional magazine (sometimes two) at all times, but not for the primary reason you might think.

Okay, so the primary reason to carry a spare magazine is to have more rounds available, there is an additional reason you should consider carrying a spare. Reliability! When working with quality semi-auto handguns, the primary reasons they fail to function or fire is typically caused by the magazine. More than any other reason, almost every failure I’ve experience has been to a faulty mag, with the poor quality of design being secondary followed by a broken or worn extractor and lastly by a worn out recoil spring.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need your firearm to save your life or the life of another, it has to work. If you have a faulty magazine that does not seat properly, or have sufficient spring tension to feed the handgun, you will be using a single shot firearm with an immediate action drill between shots. If there is a function problem right away, consider dumping the faulty magazine and inserting a different one. When proverbial excrement hits the oscillating device, you need a gun that functions and having a spare magazine with you, might be the difference between longevity and terminal lead poisoning.

There is one more primary thing to consider when contemplating how many rounds you need to carry. Ability! Probably more important than Reliability, your Ability to make hits with the rounds you have will stop the threat faster.

Wyatt Earp who carried a single action revolver (and won gun fights with it) said it best, “Fast is fine, but accurate is final.” Despite the old west movies we see on TV, cowboys and gunslingers weren’t throwing volumes of fire across town. Having only 6 rounds in a single action revolver back in a day where ammo was unreliable or reloading meant packing powder and balls into individual cylinders, one’s Ability to get good accurate shots on target first was more desirable than more capacity.

When I teach my Defensive Handgun courses I spend a lot of time emphasizing the holes on the target that fall outside the lines. I do this for two reasons: The first is the liability side of the training. You are going to be accountable for each and every round that leaves the barrel of your handgun. Each round that strays from the target is going to hit something, and I ask my students write me a check for $10 million dollars for each “miss.” While this seems silly, it is a teachable moment that allows me to explain to them that they were shooting faster than they were capable, and as a result, are going to incur at the minimum some financial loss… and if the stray round hits someone unintended, the financial loss will pale in comparison.

It is very important to emphasize that a fast draw speed and rapid shots are important skills to develop, but not at the expense of accuracy. I’d rather be the slower gunfighter that strikes my opponent and begins delivering debilitating injury first than be quick on the trigger and wind up as a bullet trap.

As a trainer I will push my students and simulate stress to the best of my ability because I need to know and my students need to know where their failure point is. They need to know that three rapid shots are good hits but a fourth shot is more than they can manage and results in a miss. This is a performance threshold that must be established.

Do you know what your performance threshold is? If you do not, you need to seek out a competent handgun trainer in your area and find the limits of your ability. If you know your performance threshold, how are you training to overcome it and raise the bar higher? Is it time for you to also seek some training? While you are training, you may also discover the capabilities and limits of the handgun you have chosen to carry and find out if the round count and spare magazines you have chosen are sufficient for your perceived needs.

Whatever you decide, spend some time contemplating the questions I have posed. I applaud you for taking personal protection seriously and I firmly believe more armed citizens make society safer. Carrying a handgun is not a decision that is to be taken lightly and equipment selection and set up should be well thought out.

With 2015 just around the corner analyze your Ability and plan to take at least one course in the new year to maintain and increase your proficiency.

Merry Christmas, I hope you have a safe holiday season.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool


Distraction Devices

When we deploy with our Special Response Team, prior to creating a breach point or a dynamic entry, they deploy (usually several) distraction devices to cover the movements, and to confuse the direction of the intrusion. A distracted opponent makes it easy to gain the initiative by exploiting their divided attention. While a flashbang device is loud, bright and can be disorienting it is not fatal, however, there is another distraction device almost every American deploys every day that is far more dangerous and deadly to you. It divides your attention, distracts you and allows those with evil intentions to get close enough to victimize you: Cell phone

I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a debrief of a SWAT and Negotiator call out conducted by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. During this particular incident the young woman who was victimized was returning from the grocery store. She lived alone in an upstairs apartment with a narrow staircase that led to a small landing. The front door faced the parking lot where her car was parked. The young woman was talking on her cell phone as she unloaded her bags of groceries. Carrying the bags upstairs while conversing with her sister on the phone she was totally unaware that a sex offender was walking nearby and took notice.

The suspect was completely unrelated to the victim and had a history of assault and sex charges. He, like many criminals saw the lovely young lady and due to his mental disorder and sick propensities he saw an opportunity to gratify himself. He watched as she parked, continued talking and then proceeded to further divide her attention by unloading. By the time the young lady reached the landing, opened the front door and carried in her groceries, he had closed the distance, walked (almost directly behind her) up the same narrow stairs and walked directly into her apartment closing the door behind her, trapping her alone inside.

Now think about your daily routine and how frequently you carry, use and look at your cell phone. I have a few friends who might as well have it surgically implanted in their hand since it is never more than a few inches away and always on. Every time it blinks, rings, or pings they can instantaneously draw it form their pocket, clip or case and be reading the latest Facebook update faster than you could ever draw your concealed weapon. Just imagine how good you would be if you could get your gun out as fast as you could get your phone out.

When you are walking down the street or sitting on a subway are you looking at the people around you and staying aware or have you completely zoned out and tuned out everything around you? When you are jogging or working out and have your headphones in, have you completely shut out one of your 5 senses? Hearing is vital to your survival and neuroscience shows us you will react faster to stimuli you hear versus one you see.

Now ask yourself, what information on that device is so critical to know that you would shut down your Sympathetic Nervous System responses necessary to your survival? Humans are not good at multi-tasking so anything that divides your focus is going to have a negative impact on your awareness.

Why would you tune out the mannerisms, movements and threat indicators just to look at a picture of your friend’s latest meal? Is viewing a picture of a cheeseburger worth getting beat up and robbed over? One of our patrol divisions monitors the bus service in the county and I remember seeing a video from one of the forward facing cameras where a bus was making a right turn and a guy walking down the street looking at his cell phone (with headphones in) stepped right off the curb and walked directly in front of the bus. While he survived, it was a perfect example of his distraction device working perfectly… costing him awareness, common sense and a severe injury.

Fortunately for the young lady in the incident above, when the suspect shut the door she started screaming. Her sister on the other end of the phone felt something was wrong, listened to her intuition and contacted the LVMPD, provided the address where the victim lived and ultimately saved her sister’s life. While the young lady survived, the distraction device that allowed the assault to take place still extracted a price. While the SWAT team responded and negotiators made contact and ultimately shot the suspect (who lived) and surrendered, he had several hours barricaded in the apartment, alone with her. She was sexually assaulted and battered and ultimately will be scarred for life physically and emotionally.

While I cannot say that the reason this incident occurred was due to the cell phone distraction, I can say with 100% certainty that it played a major role in her ability to perceive and react to the environment around her and was also a cue the suspect picked up on and an opportunity he took advantage of.

While I’m harping on the cell phone there are many things around us daily that divert our attention away from our personal safety. Be it a tablet, music device, phone or computer, make sure you stay aware of who is moving around you. While I understand the need to stay in contact, respond to emails and post pictures of your food, make sure that every other sentence you glance around.

Stay aware, stay safe and don’t get distracted. Your safety depends on it.

Scott S

One Weapon, Any Tool

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We set standards so we have a benchmark of what we would like to achieve in life.  Whether you are aware of it or not, you are constantly evaluating things in your life based upon standards you set and measure yourself against to determine success.  You set a standard of living that you are comfortable with and when you work hard for your bi-weekly paycheck, you are satisfied with meeting your life standard.  When you are working, your boss has a set of standards and expectations you must meet if you want to stay employed.  As a good employee, you are constantly trying to exceed those standard so you can each your objective of being the boss someday. 

When it comes to our personal protection we also have goals, and depending on the standards you set for yourself will depend on how you come out of the encounter. Simply hoping to survive the encounter is the minimum and lowest standard and if merely surviving is good enough for you… then you need to re analyze your priorities! 

Survival means barely making it through a hardship and coming out alive after an intense struggle.  Survival could mean you suffered severe injury, lost someone you loved or worse…but you are still alive.  Survival in a personal protection scenario is the last option.

The standard you set for yourself when preparing for and fighting through an encounter is unequivocal victory for you and the absolute safety of your loved ones.  When it comes to being attacked, especially when death or great bodily injury are imminent, you have to win.  Before you can be the victor, you have to set standards in your training regimen that will prepare you for encountering violence and doing violence to another.

Talking about violence is uncomfortable for most people, but it is an everyday reality and as I write this article we just saw a depraved, misogynistic young man in Santa Barbara unleash violence on the public.  While I refuse to type his name and glorify his pathetic acts, he prepared, planned and executed his plan to lash out and hurt as many people as possible.  It is a shame he didn’t run into me during that rampage, because I have a plan and have trained to deal with a low life like this.  I don’t relish the thought of hurting someone and I certainly hope to die peacefully without ever having to drop the hammer… but I have prepared mentally that circumstances may someday dictate the employment of the lethal tools I carry.  I might have to go to the darkest corner of my mind and use violence to make sure I go home, and my family is safe!  Do you have a plan?  Have you trained for this type of encounter?  Have you decided what is worth killing for?

If you haven’t thought about it, start now.  If you haven’t trained for it… find a training course near you and go get the training you need to exceed standards when your life is on the line. 

When you do have time to go to the range and train, make it count.  Hanging a target at 10 meters and congratulating yourself for hitting inside the center ring when you are not under any type of stress is not going to serve you when a psycho is accelerating towards you in his car after stabbing three people.  Find a friend with some property or a range area where you can hang several targets, run and get your heart rate up, and shoot from different positions.  Wear the clothes you normally wear every day and actually practice with the holster and equipment you carry.  Instead of dots, and colored silhouette targets, get some that have pictures of people on them and condition yourself to shoot at another human.  When you think you are getting good, find a force on force course that uses Airsoft or Simunitions and watch your skills deteriorate under simulated stress.  I’ve said it a hundred times and will do so a few thousand more, you have to seek training, practice what you learn and raise the standards you set for yourself until victory is the only acceptable outcome!


Until next time, stay safe, train hard and play hard!  Godspeed.

Scott S

One Weapon, Any Tool

Also on Facebook and Twitter: @1weaponanytool 


For my followers on WordPress or Home Defense Gun:  Mention that you read this article and get $25 off one of our training courses! 



When you are contemplating your personal defense how many attackers do you train to defend against?

At what distances do you train to interdict these attackers?

Are you ready… after firing your gun to slide lock to engage them in hand to hand combat to defend your life, or the life of someone worth dying for?

What other tools do you have nearby that can assist you in winning the fight?

While these are some pretty direct and heavy questions, they are worth contemplating, preparing a strategy and training to win when the odds are against you.

Growing up in the “good old days,” when two kids on a school yard or adults in conflict would settle things mano-e-mano or one to one, and let the better man win. It was how we settled arguments when every other option had failed. During these conflicts the crowd would gather, and friends of both sides would watch while the two individuals settled things. These fights were rarely fatal and there were gentlemanly rules of engagement.
In our modern society, cowardice reigns and the one on one fight is gone. You need to look no further than the evening news to see groups or gangs of combatants attacking a lone victim, and unlike the good old days, they will do so for the slightest perceived insult. Working patrol and especially during my experience in corrections, the fights were almost always 2 on 1 or more. Robberies are now committed by crews not individuals. Ten years ago no one heard of Home Invasions, but now they are rampant and always committed by a group or gang of thugs. When talking about personal defense, are you prepared to deal with the home invaders or are you preparing for the 1970’s lone cat burglar?

When you spend time at the range it is sometimes difficult to hang two or more targets and practice shooting each one in rapid succession. Most ranges limit the rate of fire and confine you to one lane which makes it difficult to achieve realistic practice. This is why you need to go to a training class! In my intermediate and advanced courses every student will end up having at least two and often three targets posted in front of them with urgency to put a minimum of two to four accurate rounds into each target. To add some pressure I’m also using a timer so you can accurately gauge your abilities. If you have never tried driving the gun from target to target and getting good hits, you need to train this.
Moving the gun from target to target is not an easy skill to master, and if you swing instead of drive the gun, you’ll end up missing! If you do not understand what I mean when I say, Drive the Gun… you need a training class!

The main reason you need to hone this skill is because gun fights occur at very short distances. Having multiple attackers less than 10 feet away forces you to shoot quickly and get hits. I do not have the exact stat but nearing the 90% mark, most gun fights occur less than 21 feet away. Measure out 21 feet with a tape measure and ask yourself honestly… how many bad guys could you shoot before they got their hands on you?
This brings me to my last point for the article: When you don’t have a firearm or find yourself in a hand to hand struggle, how prepared are you to continue fighting the threat. You have never been in a fight until you’ve had to fight someone for control of a loaded handgun! If you can’t get to the gun and you need to keep your attacker away from it, what makeshift weapons of opportunity are nearby? An empty gun, a flashlight, lampshade, bat, knife, heavy book, or shovel… whatever you can get to and use, do it! Your life depends on it.

Now, not every situation will involve a firearm, but the fact of the matter does not change. If you are attacked, expect to be outnumbered, and have a plan to defend yourself. Martial arts like Krav Maga, Kenpo, MMA and Kajukenbo are excellent at teaching defense against multiple opponents. The key to surviving these assaults is this: Action beat reaction. Use the maximum amount of violence in the shortest amount of time. You need to seize and maintain the initiative against multiple attackers. Note I used the word survive. You are going to be hit, you are going to get hurt, but that doesn’t stop you from fighting on!

It is not a matter of if… it is when! Get trained up, get ready and win the fight!

Be safe this week. Stay vigilant.

Scott S

One Weapon – Any Tool
Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

Often things happen right before our eyes and we don’t even see them. How many times in your life have you looked at your watch and a second later realize that you do not know what time it is? This is because of how your mind works in conjunction with your brain. The way we perceive objects and people is critical when it comes to personal safety and not picking up on a few minor cues can cost you your life. For this article I’m again borrowing a bit of research from the book, Incognito: The secret lives of the brain by David Eagleman. In this fabulous book Mr. Eagleman delves into how your brain works and perception is a key component to awareness. You only perceive the information you are seeking despite the eye’s ability to see vast amounts of things. Here is an example to illustrate the point Mr. Eagleman uses in his book.

Take a look at the picture below called The Unexpected Visitor painted by Yarbus in 1967.


Look at the picture and estimate how old you think each person is?
Look at the picture and tell me what activity the family was doing before the visitor arrived?
Finally, look at the picture and tell me about what time of day it is?

Based on research, when you were asked to identify the ages of the people in the picture, your eyes looked at the faces of each person.
When I asked you what the family was doing before the visitor arrived you looked at the table, the doorway and the instrument in the corner.
When I asked you what time of day it is, your eyes likely went to the windows and the light reflecting off the walls trying to determine if it was morning or mid-afternoon.

Now, without scrolling back up and looking at the photo, can you tell me what the people in the picture were wearing?
At this point most of you will not be able to recall this information because your mind didn’t need to know that, so your eyes did not see in detail the clothes. Your brain forces your eyes to look at the specific areas of the picture you need to see, so you can gain the information needed and though you noticed they had clothes on… your brain did not think it was important to capture details about the clothes. As you can see there is a vast difference between seeing and perceiving. How does this apply to personal defense? I’m glad you asked and since you stuck with me this far, allow me to explain.

When I worked a patrol beat people used to get annoyed with me and I got complaints because people said, “He never looks me in the eyes.” To this day I still have a hard time looking someone in the eyes when we talk or interact because I’ve been conditioned to conduct a threat assessment of everyone I meet and a security assessment of all the places I go into. While you may have captivating blue eyes, your eyes are very little threat to me. What I’m looking at is your hands, and where your hands are in relation to the common places people keep weapons like, your waistband, pockets or the small of the back.

I’m watching to see if your fists are clenched and if they are then I will glance at your feet to see if you are in a balanced and bladed (fighting) stance. Hands access weapons, feet tell me your intentions, eyes have their uses and can be windows into the soul, but your eyes and soul can’t hurt me.

When entering a building I always try to look for several important pieces of information. Where are the entrances or exits? What items in the room provide concealment (a place to hide) and what offers cover (something that will stop bullets). Who is in the room and what threat do they pose to me, right now or what areas are nearby they can disappear into or access that might pose a threat to me later.
This is the information my brain is seeking so my eyes naturally look at hands, waistbands, windows, doors, walls, bookshelves, furniture, etc. If you asked me what some of the people I met were wearing, I doubt I could recall that information right away because even though I “saw it” I didn’t “perceive it.”

Circumstances however can dictate what information is a priority and as a result your brain will force your eyes to look at certain items. Another example from my patrol days was when I was in a foot chase with a suspect. He was running away from me at the time and had quite a good head start when the chase started. I immediately focused on what he was wearing, his skin tone, height, approximate weight and the direction he was running. Why? I “perceived” those pieces of data because I knew my suspect had a good chance of getting away and I would need this information to broadcast a description to responding units and to set up a perimeter based on the area he was in and the direction he was traveling.

Using these examples above, it is time for you to put this into practice in your day to day life. Situational awareness is talked about in almost every personal defense circle but there is precious little information about how to get better at recognizing potential danger.

Armed with the information above I want you to look at the next photo posted below of a typical shopping mall in America. Before you look at this photo I want you to think about what information you need to do a threat assessment of the area pictured. Look at the picture for about 10 seconds and then answer the questions below:


What pieces of structure provide concealment?

Which pieces of structure provide hard cover?

Where is the nearest exit?

How many people are above you on the second floor?

Is that hallway to the right an exit and what is beyond the door the delivery man is next to?

If the delivery man is holding a gun in the hand we can’t see… what are you going to do?

You can apply the above example to everywhere you go. As you just learned it also takes a few seconds to make this assessment. When you enter a new place or unfamiliar surroundings is it worth taking a few seconds to scan with your eyes and let your mind perceive the information necessary to maximize your safety?

Here is one more picture. You need to get to the office building at the end of the alleyway. Before you enter, scan and decide:

Where can potential threats hide?

Cover? Concealment?

Escape routes?

Remember that your eyes are optimized by your brain to seek only the data you perceive as necessary. To be safer and more aware, you will have to train your brain to tell your eyes what data to look for. Consider the eye movements you are making as you read this article. The eyes are jumping from spot to spot rather than moving smoothly across the page. If you don’t believe me, watch someone else’s eyes while they read.
Your brain does not need a full analysis of the world around you to operate. You’ve grown up conditioned to operate based on being able to perceive the few particulars needed to navigate. Your mind only encodes certain pieces of data and the rest of the picture it fills in with assumptions based on previous physical and social encounters. You will have to re-condition your mind to start perceiving potential threats and only then will you truly be on the path towards situational awareness.

As always, stay safe and Godspeed.

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!
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