Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Running Your Gun, Not It Running You

Weer'd Beard makes the argument that carrying a concealed handgun in Condition 1 is a better option than my preferred Condition 3 status. I demurred in his comments and can see no reason not to quote my own argument here:

In what actually plausible circumstance would you be unable to draw and cycle the action but still be able to draw the weapon unhindered? My point being that any physical confrontation with someone who is so close to you as to preclude engaging with a gun from Condition 3 (loaded magazine in weapon, no round in chamber) is close enough to interrupt your doing so with a gun in Condition 1 as well. Ask any firearms-rated CQB qualified instructor, don’t just take my Krav Maga-novice word for it. I won’t clog up your comments with YouTube links, but search “krav maga gun defense” there and see for yourself.

Just for the record, I prefer to concealed carry my Colt Commander in Condition 3, primarily because I’ve taken the trouble to learn how to take your gun away from you from 5-7 yards initial distance and am painfully aware just how susceptible I – anyone really – am to the same maneuver under the same conditions. The remedy to this threat is to maintain a heightened sense of situational awareness and be willing to act upon it pre-emptively. This means noting something “wrong” about your surroundings and maneuvering to a defensive position as you exit the area. Drag your companion by the hand if necessary; shop elsewhere or later if necessary.

If any of us are ever compelled into a defensive shooting, it will be as a result of either a deliberate, intentional attack from cover (the classic “ambush”) – and I include home invasion in this category – or a failure to exit the area upon notice of the onset of an armed attack in your immediate vicinity (there are justifications for this last, but the basic mindset must be one of “personal defense” rather than “proactive defense”). The former situation is time for “coffee-do” or some other form of hand-to-hand combat and the later permits sufficient time to cycle your weapon into Condition “0″ as you seek out cover from which to defend yourself.

You’ve practiced carrying in Condition 1 (and, yes, I do practice first shot placement from Condition 3) so you should continue as you’ve trained to do, but give some informed consideration to expanding your personal defense options as well. I can’t fully express how much less psychological burden I experience because I don’t have to rely on my gun to violently defend myself.

His (and others) points regarding potential gun sub-system failures (like redundant "safety" mechanisms) all strike me as obfuscation of the primary thesis; is it better to train yourself to operate your gun or let your training be dictated by the gun's optional conditions? I train to carry (and if necessary, fire) my gun from what I regard as the most all-around safest condition of general (that is, concealed under one or more layers of clothing or within a container of some description) carry, Condition 3. I arrive at this decision in large part due to my also training in Krav Maga - specifically, training to engage with or against a firearm. In my opinion, while these tertiary concerns regarding potential weapon mechanical failure are valid, they would be better addressed in a gun maintenance class (or by a hired professional smith) then as part of some carry condition justification.


DirtCrashr said...

Don't the Israelis all do it in Condition-3, and they have real issues...

Will Brown said...

I don't know about all, DirtCrashr, but it is my understanding that Cond. 3 is the norm for off-duty Israeli military personnel toteing their issue weapon 'round about town.

A largely unstated component of this perennial debate is the purpose, intent and practical limitation all firearms carriers experience in a non-military (or more generally, non-active combat) setting. There seems to exist a wide-spread belief that not maintaining eternal readiness to win a "fast draw" contest with any and every hypothetical bad guy equates to "not serious/not ready/fail" for any CHL holder. My personal experience, all my instruction and all my reading on civilian gun carrying contradicts that, but the contention persists.

DirtCrashr said...

What (little) I know about "Israeli style" I learned from DoubleTapper. :-)
God I'm slow at follow-on comments...sorry!
BTW I believe I agree with you on the two trains of thought. One is that the Holster is for carrying on your person (and suitable design prevents unsightly physical skin blemishes where the skin meets the hammer), and the other is the Holster is a fast, ski-jump means of getting into-action, responding with rapid deployment against the sudden onslaught of Evil Incarnate Walking the Mall.
Seems to me that a condition less than Yellow will alert to EIWtM, and such a Le Mans race-car start of rapidity only becomes necessary if one is trapped.
I hate being rushed or hurried, that makes things get sloppy.

Tam said...

"Don't the Israelis all do it in Condition-3, and they have real issues..."

Pretty much all militaries teach Condition 3 for people who aren't actually currently shooting at the enemy.

And the reason isn't the super ninja skills of their soldiers with the pistol, either. If you're going to have half-trained people ambling about with an odd assortment of pistols (the Israelis issue a motley collection of single- and double-action pistols with and without decockers.)

Also, if I hear "the Israelis do it" held up as an example of 'leet supersoldiers again, I'm going to break out laughing.

They're about as good as any other modern, socialist, heavily PC short-service draftee Army. If Denmark was playing in the same division as Israel, they'd be 5-1-1, too.

To use a more pertinent example, name one US law enforcent department or serious firearms instructor who teaches empty-chamber carry.

Will Brown said...


Regarding the IDF, I was thinking about the battle rifle/sub-gun's IDF Infantry and Loggie troopies are issued rather than any model of handgun. To the best of my knowledge, handguns are prohibited to the vast majority of Israeli civilians and (I'm less clear on this point) are only issued to such a relatively small percentage of their active duty .mil-types as to make development of a "standard issue model handgun" financially unjustifiable for them. With the resulting mish-mash of weapons you noted in your comment.

As to my original comment on Weer'd Beard's site - which was itself in part inspired by an original post of yours, which also sparked this literary gem as well ... Crap, we're going to have to hire the shade of M. C. Escher to moderate this discussion, aren't we?

While I sympathise with your annoyance over the predictable (sorry, DirtCrashr) appearance of the Israeli Bogeyman as justification for some nonsense or other, I didn't make any such claim and, I think, DirtCrashr was simply making reference to a concuring .mil practice that echoed my original reference to Israeli instruction (Krav Maga).

All of which overshadows my initial (and unchanged) belief that Condition 3 carry is more consistent with both the considered doctrine of professional self-defense and military instruction as well as being in greater accord with the philosophical underpinnings of personal self defense as that is commonly understood here in the United States (your rights end where my rights reach).

I stand by that assertion (condition 3 vs condition other)while conceding that others have a different viewpoint. So long as we each recognise the personal responsibility our decision entails and we train accordingly then I think this is all at least a little ado about not-quite-nothing.

The original argument (to the extent it can fairly be called such) is whether or not proficiency with your hand cannon is sufficient for an adequate self defense. I contend it is not and offer my - limited - experience with Krav Maga (and specifically as that relates to gun defense) in support of that assertion.

From reading your blog, my suspicion is you are another of those who tends to over-rely on your shooting skills without having fully taken into account just how restricted their effectiveness can be within the frequently constrained terrain that the statistical majority of assaults occur in. Frankly, should your gun be "concealed" (within the meaning of that word as described in your state's legislation) and your hand not actually on the weapon, you almost certainly cannot draw your weapon before an accomplished attacker can close to physical contact with you from a distance of 21' or less.

Unless your self-defense training deliberately incorporates defense against weaponed and empty-handed assault, both with and against a modern weapon, your self-defense capabilities are woefully inadequate. Indeed, I'm tempted to argue that the time you spend training only with your gun, beyond the level of basic handling and firing competancy, detracts from your overall self defense capability. Ideally, we should each train to fight with our weapon and without it, against both an armed and unarmed attacker(s). Krav Maga is the only structured system of instruction available to civilians in the USA that does all that to my knowledge, but learn some method of physical combat that doesn't entirely rely on Samuel Colt's PC self-defense crutch (or derivative).

Will Brown said...

Tam challenged: ... name one US law enforcent department or serious firearms instructor who teaches empty-chamber carry.

To which I respond that the first example is a false dichotomy in that it demands equal treatment of disparate circumstance and the second requires a dissertation on market analysis.

Police do not practice personal self defense within the established meaning attached to the phrase as it is applied to the rest of society not actively in military arms. The police are armed for the express purpose of imposing their will (as impartial officers of the court, of course) upon the rest of the populace. The common ruck are expressly prohibited from doing the same on their own recognisance and carry the additional burden of a more restrictive legal definition of "self defense" as well.

This is a false comparrison.

"serious firearms instructor" is equally mis-leading. By what standard or metric? Simple participation in the instruction market generally? Employment by a stipulated organisation for it's other personnel? Would you stipulate this fellow meets the standard (scroll down to the third entry), or this, or this (who teaches here or perhaps this? I've personally taken classes from three of them and the other certifies instructors in this very course of instruction all over the USA and Europe.

You are comparing instruction in firing your gun well with self defense. We agree the former is a critical component of the latter. The disagreement seems to me to be the extent of that importance within the entirety of the latter preparatory process for non-police in a non-military spontaneous combat setting.

seeker_two said...

William: Have you considered Condition Two carry? Having owned a few SA autos over the years, I've found that Condition Two works well and safely with all of them and still allows for one-handed deployment.

Will Brown said...

seeker_two asked: Have you considered Condition Two carry?

I have.

I'm trying to put together a somewhat more cogent post about all this, but to expand on your question, seeker_two, in a physical assault situation your gun is a priority point of attack (as is your attackers weapon from your own perspective keep in mind). As such, routinely keeping the gun in a condition of one-handed readiness empowers you both equally; whoever can best control the muzzle's direction determines who gets the bullet hole.

An apparently little considered factoid on the gun blogs (as far as my limited reading can determine); whether a semi-auto is SA or DA, once the first round has been fired, a reasonably firm grip on the slide will prevent it from cycling the next round into battery and you're in Condition 3 no matter what. It's not quite as certain an eventuallity, but the same effect occurs with a revolver too. If the assailants grip on the cylinder area of the frame is sufficient to contest your hold on the gun, it's likely the cylinder won't rotate by trigger pressure alone as well.

Ask me how I know.

Basicly (and to bring this back to a more generalised construction), my contention is that Cond. 3 carry for a semi-auto pistol offers greater all around safety than any other condition as a basic self-defense posture. There are exceptions and special circumstances to consider also, but this discussion was (before Weer'd sensibly went on to other topics :)) about that distinction.

I would consider Cond. 2 to be the re-set position following a Cond. 0 confrontation for example (until the PD showed up and it's "proned out, arms and legs spread wide"). My objection to Cond. 2 is that it offers an attacker at least as much advantage as it potentially does me. Carrying a gun is an important part of self defense, but it's at best only 20% or so of a good self-defense posture IMO.

seeker_two said...

"Ask me how I know."

I've read your profile...I know...

"My objection to Cond. 2 is that it offers an attacker at least as much advantage as it potentially does me."

And if your attacker is trained to cycle the slide every time he does a "battlefield pickup"?.....not much of an advantage either way....

Only advantage I see to using Condition Three is that, if you have to use your pistol as an impact weapon, you're less likely to discharge than in Condition Two (somewhat unlikely) or Condition One (much more likely). The advantage of Condtion Two (easier to cock a hammer one-handed than rack a slide one-handed) is worth it, IMHO....

Thanks for the reasoned response....and I'm glad to have a blogger nearby (I live @ 90 min. SW of you).....

Will Brown said...

And if your attacker is trained to cycle the slide every time he does a "battlefield pickup"?.....not much of an advantage either way....

I have to agree the relative advantage is not great nor universal, but I think the fact that I'm expecting to have to cycle the slide could offer the crucial disruption of an attacker's action to allow me fighting options I otherwise mightn't experience. The other factor I haven't gone into especially in this post is the more philosophical question(s) regarding defense; the pertinent example here might be, "to what extent do my defense preparations (the distinction between Cond.2 and 3) cloud my defense mindset?" Taking the issue to an extreme, would my walking around carrying a grenade with the pin removed qualify as a self defense preparation? How would that differ philosophically from the Cond 2/3 distinction (other than by degree)?

Thanks so much for contributing to the discussion. If you know you're heading this way in future, let's try to set up a range session (Lock & Load is indoors :)).