There are many things you learn when carrying handguns on a regular basis. Some call it “tricks of the trade” that are passed down from older generations to newer. Other things are learned over time through training and experience. As a professional firearms instructor I have had the privilege of learning from some amazing instructors as well as individuals who carry firearms professionally every day.

The first thing to look at when choosing a defensive handgun sight is what you are going to be doing with that particular firearm. Handguns used for target shooting are going to be set up completely different than handguns that are set up for personal protection because they need to achieve different results.

Target Guns vs. Protection Guns

Target guns are specifically designed to shoot the tightest group possible at different distances with good lighting and no pressure. Generally these firearms have been fitted to tighter tolerances to mitigate inaccuracy which ultimately makes them finicky or more prone to potential feed jams. Handguns used for personal protection are designed with looser tolerances to minimize weapons malfunctions. And, the sights are typically set up with wider notches and a bigger front sight so you can line up your sights faster.

The idea behind this is that with personal defense handguns you do not necessarily want to shoot 1-inch groups but rather “fist-sized” groups as fast as you can. When you are selecting sights for defensive use you generally want to choose a low-profile sight that would minimize snagging on clothing when you are drawing your firearm from a concealed position.

When selecting a good sight for personal protection I generally look for sights that do not have a ledge angled to the front such as the Novak Cut rear sights, but rather sights that have some sort of a squared-off edge to the front like the Ameriglo I-Dot Pro or the Trijicon HD’s. The reason is that I like having a ledge that I can cycle my slide on if I need to clear a malfunction with just using one hand.

If you are in a self-defense situation and you get an injury to your shooting hand, you’ll need to clear any malfunction with just one hand. Adding grip tape in the space between the front of my rear sight and the rear of my chamber adds some texture so that the gun has something to “grip” onto if I need to clear the slide by using clothing or the back of my boot or a table or any other fixed object. Grip tape or skateboard tape can be acquired for less than a dollar at most home improvement stores and adds a world of difference in single hand operations of defensive handguns.

Night Sights

Night sights are always an added bonus. However, you are still going to want a sight that is easily acquired during the day as well as night. Fiber optic sights work well during the day however they leave a lot to be desired during the night. Sights like XS big dots, or Trijicon HD’s have almost a duel role and give the user of the firearm the ability to see the sights just as well in both circumstances.

Regardless of whatever sight system you decide to use it is highly recommended that you practice with it a lot. Not all sights will have the same point of aim or point of impact and it is vital to understand how your sights will responded when shooting from different distances. Also realize that different ammunition can have a slightly different point of aim vs point of impact. Having said that, there is no shortcut to effective training and any upgrade on your firearm is no substitute for effective marksmanship.

Sight images courtesy of Gun image courtesy of Donovan Beard.

Thanks to American Concealed for the previously published article. 

New firearms need to be broken in, and it is advisable to do so before you start carrying the firearm as an everyday carry pistol. It is very uncommon, however firearms can come from the factory with a defect. So it is highly advisable to break the firearm in before relying on it in defense of your life. Some firearms need to be broken in in order to hit their “peak” in terms of accuracy as well.

The break-in period for most handguns will be around 1,000 rounds. Some may be a bit higher, but with a thousand rounds through I will carry the firearm as an everyday carry pistol. I see a lot of people buy a new pistol, never fire it and start carrying it as a defense pistol. I do not recommend this due to the fact that I have seen on numerous occasions brand new pistols having issues detrimental to the operation of the firearm. The range is the time to find out your pistol has an issue, not when you are relying on it to save your life.

Function testing is another important factor as well, and this goes for any modifications or changes you make to your loadout. Ammunition is one that I see people skip the most. Some firearms will function with any ammo you throw at it; some however don’t like certain ammunition. Again, a self-defense situation is not the time to find out that your firearm doesn’t like the ammo you purchased and decided to carry. If you are going to change the ammo you are going to carry for self-defense, you should put a minimum of 50 rounds of that ammo through your firearm at the range before you decide to carry it for personal defense.

As for modifications, first and foremost refer to your manufacturer’s manual as any modification can potentially void any warranty you may have on it. The same concept applies for function testing however, especially if you are doing the modification yourself and not having a licensed gunsmith do the work. If you accidentally put something in wrong, or assemble something the wrong way and your firearm subsequently will not function; the time to figure that out is at the range, not in defense of your life.

There are parts that can be put in wrong or assembled wrong, or parts for another similar firearm can potentially fit but can hinder the functionality of the firearm or cause it to not fire at all. Great example: I just had somebody bring in a Glock 23 that would not fire because they had used the rear coupler of the striker from a Glock 42. The part looked the same, but was slightly shorter than the proper Glock 23 coupler. If you do not have a substantial amount of experience I would advise allowing a licensed gunsmith do any modification on your firearm.

Thanks to American Concealed for the previously published content.

For many of us, summer is a time for traveling. However, it’s important to remember that our safety doesn’t go on vacation. If you’re planning to travel this summer, be aware of the laws and regulations regarding firearms. Gun laws are complicated and vary by jurisdiction. As a responsible gun owner, it is up to you to know the laws and regulations wherever you go to make sure you are legally authorized to carry your firearm. The following tips will help you prepare for your upcoming vacation and ensure you’re protected.

Traveling by Car

When traveling throughout the United States, it is important to know the gun laws of each state you will pass through. Some states have restrictions on certain types of guns, so make sure you pack accordingly. Make sure you know which states offer concealed carry reciprocity for your permit. If you’re traveling to a state that does not recognize your concealed carry permit, you might have to leave your gun at home.

If you’re just passing through, the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 will protect you from liability as long as you are only stopping briefly for essential services such as getting gas, using the bathroom or to buy food. When passing through states with strict gun laws, it’s best to keep your firearm unloaded and locked in a secure compartment that is not easily accessible.

Traveling by Plane

If you’re traveling by plane, you will have to check your guns, gun parts and ammo. They cannot be transported in a carry-on bag. The TSA requires guns to be unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided case to prevent the firearm from being accessed. Only the passenger who is checking the firearm should have access to the key or combination of the lock. You must declare each firearm when you present them to be transported as checked baggage.

The TSA does change its policies from time to time, so before you travel, check the agency’s website for the latest regulations regarding firearms transport.

Traveling by Train

If you’re traveling by train, you’ll probably have to check your gun in your baggage. As always, make sure you understand the rules of the train company before you travel. Amtrak allows firearms to be carried on trains, but they must be transported in checked baggage and stored in a locked, hard-sided container. In addition, you must notify Amtrak at least 24 hours before your scheduled departure that you plan to check firearms and/or ammunition. Further, your firearms/ammunition must be checked at least half an hour before your train’s scheduled departure.

Traveling by Bus

Before traveling by bus, make sure you read up on the bus operator’s firearms policy. Some bus operators do not allow passengers to transport firearms. Other companies do allow booked transport of firearms. Again, these policies may change, so be sure you do your research before you buy tickets. If you’re committed to traveling with a firearm, you may want to consider alternative modes of transportation such as renting a car or using a taxi.

Whether you’re fighting for your life, camping, or hiking with the family, you might find yourself in remote areas, often alone and probably fatigued. You need to protect yourself in every scenario.

Many outdoor enthusiasts choose to carry a concealed handgun for protection. There are just a few things to keep in mind to keep it secure and safe.

Keep it Concealed and Secure
There are plenty of holster options for active concealed carry. Compression shorts and tops for both men and women keep a firearm concealed and close-fitting, ensuring you’ll be comfortable.

Clothing made specifically for concealed carry has secure pockets made specifically for compact handguns. Make sure that they offer trigger protection and keep the gun secure.

Avoid holsters that cause discomfort and chafing or ones that deter you from moving naturally and engaging in strenuous activity. You won’t carry regularly if it’s annoying or painful.

Clean your handgun regularly to limit the effects of sweat and moisture on the frame and action parts.

Stay Aware
It shouldn’t stop you from getting out for fresh air and exercise, but remember that being in remote areas makes you a target. The backcountry can be full of sounds and activity, but try to be aware and get in tune with what’s happening around you.

Stick to well-known trails if you can. Getting lost will only make you anxious, and that can lead to bad decisions. Bring a friend along on your active pursuits to deter opportunistic attackers or animals.

You can carry concealed to be protected no matter where your outdoor lifestyle takes you. A compact handgun is very capable of protecting you while running, hiking, bicycling, and bugging out in a crisis.