Gunfighter Trifecta Series Part 3: Toolset
December 6, 2017 By JT Timmons, Tactical Instructor
In the first of the three-part series called the "Gunfighter's Tri-Fecta", we covered the MINDSET of a gunfighter. In the second edition, we covered the next important attribute - the SKILLSET of a gunfighter. In the third and last edition of the Gunfighter's Tri-Fecta, we will cover the TOOLSET of a Gunfighter. As I stated in the first and second articles, this is not a comprehensive curriculum. It is only a brief overview of what I feel are the important "big picture" ideas that every person should consider if he/she carries a firearm and understands that they may have to use it to defend themselves. This article is written with the intention of prompting readers to further study the deep subject of preparing oneself to be a responsible guntoter.
This installment of the Gunfighter's Tri-Fecta is the shortest and simplest installment of the three. This is ironic considering that probably 90% or more of everything that is written about in magazines and on the internet about gunfighters and gunfighting is related to the equipment that a "gunfighter" or guntoter chooses. Please don't misunderstand me. I believe that the equipment that you choose to carry is VITALLY important and deserves much consideration. It is just that it is not complicated and doesn't require pages and pages of text to get my simple points across.
First, let's understand this. The most important tools that a gunfighter must have, mindset and skillset, were covered in the first two articles. When you have those tools in your toolbox, you are way ahead of the game. Without them, the last set of tools is of very little importance. So, what is the last set of tools that we will discuss? The physical weapons; guns, bullets and a way to carry them.
One of the biggest wastes of time and bandwidth are the never ending "discussions" on the internet where you have several guys swearing back and forth that either a 9mm is better caliber than a 45 or that a 1911 is a better than a Glock, or any other combination that you can imagine. When I spot these emotionally driven and generally uninformed squabbles, I immediately know that I am in the presence of amateurs and I engage the scroll button faster than a new gun guy can slip into a 5.11 vest. Moral of the story, don't be an amateur. Here is what you need to know and after you know it, don't argue about it. In the words of one of my old teammates, "it's OK to be a rookie; it's just not OK to act like a rookie".
The first tool we will discuss is the gun. Most people who know me probably already know what I'm going to say here. I can hear them now, "JT is a custom 1911 builder so he says that anybody who is anybody carries a tricked out and dolled up, 5", 1911, cool guy blaster". Not true my friends. Not always anyways. Do I carry a 5" 1911? Yes, I do, 90% of the time. But, I also have days that I carry my old duty Glock 22, because I'm trained with it too. I also have days that I carry a Glock 19, which is the very gun that I commonly recommend to people who asks me for advice on what gun they should consider. I know that this is blasphemy to some, but I have 3 different guns in 3 different calibers that I will gladly carry and trust. This is the deal though. These are 3 examples of guns that have all proven themselves to be real warriors and I have trained extensively with all 3. There are many other good ones too. Manufacturers such as Sig, S&W, Glock, Colt, Springfield Armory, HK, Beretta and several others all make fully reliable versions of self-defense pistols that every new gun consumer should consider. Why should you consider them all instead of just listening to your guntotin' uncle who learned everything he knows about guns from watching Clint Eastwood movies? Because each of those guns has a very particular "feel" to them that fits every person different. If you go to the gun store and lay out the top 10 self-defense pistols that are sold in America, you are going to pick up 4 or 5 that don't feel great, 2 or 3 that feel pretty good and 1 or 2 that just feel right. Even better, shoot them all if it is possible. Find a gun shop with a range that will let you test guns before you purchase. The feel of the grip is very important, but the feel of the trigger is also very important, as is the sight picture. Some sights just suit some people's eyes better than others. Make sure that you can you manipulate all the controls such as the mag catch, the slide stop and the safeties. Can you easily rack the slide with a magazine full of ammo? Some guns are better for people with big strong hands and other guns are better for people with smaller hands. Picking them up, fondling them and shooting them is by far the very best thing that you can do to help you make an informed decision on what hardware is right for you. Don't just listen to everyone else's opinion. Get your own information together and make an informed decision that will help you feel confident with your choice.
Now, let's discuss caliber and ammo. As I already stated, I will gladly carry 3 different calibers that I fully trust and there are more calibers that I would trust if I had them. But…hear this! If you are going to carry a 9mm pistol, I believe that it is even more important than with the others to use the highest quality, highest performance ammo that is available. That is important with every caliber, but it is proven that low performance, 9mm ball ammo is not adequately effective, even with good shot placement. A 9mm with +P JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) ammo is the smallest caliber that I would recommend carrying for self-defense. I've had some very personal experience with this. If someone tells you that as long as you are a good enough shot, it doesn't matter what caliber you carry or how many rounds you have, you need to run away from them fast. They haven't been in gunfights and seen what a human body can endure for a long enough period of time to continue to engage in the fight while they are slowly bleeding out. To sum up caliber choice, carry 9mm +P or bigger caliber with as much capacity as your pistol will hold. More is obviously better.
The last thing that we will discuss is the best way to carry your weapon. Personally, I prefer to carry a leather, IWB (inside waist band) holster in the small of my back position. I've always carried this way because it was the first concealment holster I ever owned, I trained with it extensively and my sub-conscious is trained to automatically reach to this spot to draw my weapon. There are several other concealment type holsters that work great. Appendix carry is another very popular option and is very effective. The big deal here is to try a few different options including leather, kydex, small of the back, appendix, etc. and see which options feel as comfortable as possible while effectively concealing the weapon. Remember this, your weapon is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable. Try all the options and pick the one that suits your body style and your application the best. It must conceal well and you must be able to draw your weapon efficiently. If it is comfortable too, that is just icing on the cake.
This concludes the Gunfighter's Tri-Fecta. Mindset, skillset and toolset. Again, I reiterate that this is in no way a comprehensive study of the subject. I strongly urge you to consider the immense responsibility of being a gunowner and guntoter. If you are not willing to put in the study and the training that it takes to safely own and carry a weapon, please consider the consequences. One accident with a firearm can change your life forever and even worse, change someone else's life that happens to be near you. It's OK to be a rookie; it's just not OK to act like a rookie. Learn the Gunfighter's Tri-Fecta and get trained!