When I turned 21 one of my birthday gifts to myself was a handgun. It was a Ruger GP 100 all stainless steel with a three-inch barrel in .38 Special. Shortly after I went through my training to qualify for a CCW. I went through the in classroom training and then rage time with both my revolver and a friends Glock 19. As soon as I could, I started carrying concealed every day. Fast forward to 2016 and I’ve been carrying just about every day for almost five years. Over this time I’ve picked up a few good habits, and gotten rid of some bad ones. I’d like to share with you guys what I do to help me keep my CCW firearm good to go. While my CCW has changed over the years from that six shot revolver to a Smith & Wesson 6906, a Ruger SR1911, a Glock 21, a Ruger SR40, and even a .45 ACP Hi-Point. Don’t judge, I was broke and out of work for a while, selling guns for rent and food is never fun. My desire to improve my training and become more competent with a firearm has not.
I’ve done stupid shit, yes, so I’m here to give you some tips on what to do with your CCW firearm so that you can be better prepared. That said, I’m not the end all be all of firearms instruction. I do what works for me right now and I’m constantly listening to others, taking their ideas into consideration and refining my drills and practice. What works for me may not work for you. No two people have the exact same needs or requirements so at the end of the day I ask you to take what I have written here, consider it and if you find it helpful put it into practice.
Standardize your firearm
One of the things that my main firearms trainer drilled into my head was this, reusability of training. If you are going to train, train so that if for some reason you have to move to another firearm you are familiar and flexible enough so that if you have to pick up a Glock, M&P, or what have you, you are able to use that firearm effectively. This is why I train with and carry a 1911 and guns that use similarly positioned safeties. I disengage the safety as part of my draw stroke and pointing the handgun. The idea of reusability of training is also why I don’t use the slide stop to release the slide. It’s a small piece of metal that is difficult to hit and not always in the same location on different guns. Finally it requires fine motor skills that go out the window when your body is flooded with adrenaline.
So how does this translate into your everyday carry?
If you are going to change your everyday carry firearm, don’t transition to something that is going to radically change your manual of arms. Switching from a semi-automatic to a revolver that you don’t have a lot of time on as your everyday carry does not make much sense. If you have spent hours and hours dry practicing with one particular manual of arms why radically change what you need to do to get your gun back in the fight when the adrenaline is kicking in?
What if you see some benefit of changing your manual of arms? Like going from a revolver to a semi-auto? You’re going to need to train on that new platform. Spend lots of time dry practicing and making yourself familiar with that firearm. Below is Billy Birdzell talking about how to structure your dry practice. He has some excellent advice in this video and I highly recommend spending some time listening to his videos.
Don’t Off Body Carry
I know this is tempting for women especially, heck I’ve even done it myself. I carried a Hi-Point remember? However the risks are not worth whatever perceived convenience you may have. First off you are not in control of your weapon all the time. The second you put your bag down the firearm is out of your control and that just makes me uncomfortable. Second it’s far more difficult to draw from. Unzipping a zipper and reaching for a handgun that’s probably shifted and moved in some way does not make for a quick or easy draw. Nor does it allow for you to repeat the exact same motion over and over in training. I have a spot on my belt where my gun always is and I count on that to be able to draw under stress. Finally you are limited in your choices to some kind of small frame or snub nosed revolver. If you think you are going to shoot someone from inside a handbag with a semi-auto you are in for a surprise. The gun will almost always end up short stroking or jammed. It’s not worth the risk.
Don’t off body carry. If you need deep concealment go for a smaller gun and maybe have a few more mags on you to make up for the decrease in capacity.
Let Your Magazines Rest
The minimum number of magazines that I like to have for my everyday carry gun is four. I have one in my firearm, two back ups on me, and a fourth one disassembled on the shelf.
Each magazine I have I do the following things to. First I check if they will drop free of the gun no matter what. Loaded, unloaded, slide back, slide closed, and every combination of that. Next I make sure that they will run through the gun a few times fully loaded without any issues that can’t be blamed on the ammo. If I have a light primer strike I’m not going to blame my magazine.
I rotate my magazines through my everyday carry once a month. Each magazine is numbered, #1 to #4 and at the start of the month I load up the magazine I had on the self and put it into the gun. The magazine from my gun goes into the first slot in my mag pouch. The magazine that was in that slot goes to the second slot and the magazine that got kicked out of the mag pouch gets disassembled and cleaned. I leave the magazine on the self disassembled so that the spring can spend time at full extension. While it’s debatable as to if this will really increase the life of my magazine springs this not only gives me a chance to inspect the follower but to also clean lint out of the magazine body. This also follows the recommendations of Mec-Gar. Below you can see my everyday carry set up numbered to help illustrate this. Now let’s talk about ammo.
Rotate Your Carry Ammo
Modern ammo is pretty good stuff. Most self-defense loads are good for quite a while, even if carried on you for an extended amount of time. About once every six months I like to change out my ammo and put aside the old ammo for range time. I personally use Winchester PDX1 hollow points, but there are plenty of good performing hollow points on the market such as Speer Gold Dot, and many more. If you are looking for a defensive round check out Shooting The Bull 410’s videos. He’s spent years testing various handgun rounds and I highly recommend taking a look at his findings.
Clean Your Gun
My last tip that I have is about cleaning. Once a week I take apart my gun, get the lint and dust out of it and put a few drops of oil into key spots like the rails. This keeps dust and debris from building up in your gun. You’d be surprised how fast it happens. After reassembling the gun and doing a function check I like to take a bit more time and just do a few draw from concealment drills.
Hopefully these points have helped you. Again, I’m not the end all be all of training. I’m a firearms enthusiast who cares about his ability to defend himself and those I care about. I’m constantly looking for new tips and practices to improve my training and better myself. While I don’t think that everyone needs to be some kind of tactical master running split times to rival that of the world’s fastest shooters. I do think that being competent with your firearms is a must.