Guns, Holsters & Conceal Carry

I am not going to do any kind of review of guns or holsters since there are people who are far, far, far more experienced and knowledgeable then me, who have already done fabulous reviews on many different kinds of guns and holsters.  If you are interested in viewing some of those videos go to YouTube and search LimaLife Channel, Falia Freedom Channel or just search holsters and you will probably find more info than you know what to do with.

So, no reviews from me.  I am just going to share my experience as a neophyte gun owner and as a neophyte, I made a number of very critical mistakes when I first tried to conceal.

Before I bought my first gun, I did a ton of research and talked to lots of people and after doing so I ended up buying a Glock 23.  I spent all of my time on the gun.  What caliber it shot.  How it felt in my hand.  Could I shoot it?  It never occurred to me to think about how I might “hide” it on my frame.

I knew I would need a holster, but I had no clue that there were so many different kinds or that being left handed would add to the fun.

Our town is not super small, but it doesn’t offer a wide variety of shopping options, so my first outing to find my holster was a bit frustrating.  First store did not have any holsters.  Second store, does not carry holsters, but the nice kid behind the counter did tell me about a web site where he bought his holster.  The third store had quite a few holsters, but none that fit my gun or that did fit my gun, but were not for a left handed person.

I went home empty handed and deflated.  I whined a bit to my husband who suggested on Saturday we head down south to the range and then on the way home stop by the mega outdoor/camping/fishing/hunting super store.  With new hope I snapped out of my funk and looked forward to the weekend!

So, so excited, I walked into the monstrous store and headed straight for firearms where a very friendly gun guy offered to help me.

I can not under estimate how nice this guy was to me, but the entire helpful session took all of 2 seconds.

I explained my need…”One holster for a left handed person who carries a Glock 27.”

He grabs a holster off the shelf, hands it to me and says this is what you want.  I knew nothing and he is the expert, so I bought it, no questions asked.  Probably should have asked a few questions, but I was so naive, I didn’t even know there was something that needed to be asked.

A black Serpa outside the waistband holster.  Again, all excited, I rush home to try it out.  I put it on and holster up with my gun and a sweater as a cover garment…Ugh, no.  That was not going to work.  It looked like I was trying to hide a giant cat on my hip.  I needed to figure something different out.

I spent the next several weeks trying on everything in my closet in hopes I could find something that would conceal what seemed like the BIGGEST gun ever made.  When that didn’t work I tried buying new clothes. Clothes that were stretchy or clothes that were one size larger.  I tried jackets that were longer and flared at the bottom.  When I wasn’t shopping I was Googling “conceal garments for women” and while I found a lot of helpful information I didn’t find anything that told me exactly how on God’s green earth, I was going to conceal this thing from anyone who wasn’t blind.  On one rather frustrating shopping trip, I nearly bought one of those 80’s jacket with shoulder pads.  I probably would have too, but it was only in orange and I do not look good in orange.

Anyway, since finding clothes that would work, wasn’t working, I was convinced I could solve my problem with a different holster.  Once again, I ventured out on shopping trip after shopping trip.  I bought several holsters both inside and outside the wasitband and nothing would conceal this thing.

Soooooooooooooooooooo, I decided maybe a different gun was the answer.

In a desperate attempt to get me to talk about anything other than holsters and large clothing my husband drove an hour away, in a massive thunderstorm, at night to buy me a Glock 27.  And, yes, that last sentence is entirely, 100% true.  But, the good news was I loved the 27 and it was indeed smaller!!

Well, maybe not such good news. I am tall and thin and again no matter what I seemed to do, I could not conceal this gun either.

I had spent several weeks hunting, searching, and shopping with no luck at all and I was running out of time.  I had signed up for my first gun training class and strangely enough, I was required to bring a gun that I could conceal and a holster.  The class was now a week a way.

I had ordered the holster that was recommended by the cool kid from the second store, but the company is small and delivery time takes several weeks.  It had only been a few weeks since I placed the order, so probably not gonna get to me in time.

My last hope was the gun show.  If you read my post about the gun show, then you know I did not find a holster there.  Actually, I bought 3 holsters there, but they did not work.

I, did, however, ended up buying a Ruger LCP .  I had read that women did like the small size,  but that it had a pretty massive recoil and was not a range gun.  Too uncomfortable to shoot, but I was desperate and I needed something smaller. I took it to the range, shot it and to my surprise, I loved it.  I did not find that it was difficult to shoot or uncomfortable.  I shot about 150 rounds and felt great.  Thought the little thing was darn accurate too.  The only problem was that I could not rack the slide.  I went back to the trusty internet and Googled racking the slide.  Lots and lots of info on that too.  All of it tell me, it was not a strength issue, but a technique issue and with practice I could master it.  These fine folks severely underestimated me and my abilities.  I could rack the slide on every single other gun I tried. Both my Glocks, my son’s Bersa .380 a variety of guns at the range, but not my Ruger.  I was absolutely paranoid that I would not be able to rack the slide in the event I would ever need my gun.  I was not carrying with one in the chamber at this time and plus even if I was, in the event that I had to reload, the slide does not lock back, so I would have to rack it when I put in a new magazine. Days a way from my training with guns that didn’t work for me and no holster, I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel.

As luck would have it, the day before I was to leave town for the training, the holster I ordered from Crossbreed came!  It looked huge, but I thought what the heck, let me get out my gun and give it a shot.  It was very comfortable and for the purposes of the training, I could kind of hide it under a open button down shirt, so that is what I did.

The next morning I headed off to my training with my Crossbreed holster and my Glock 27.

At the training i brought it up how I loved this gun and this was the gun I felt the most comfortable with it, but didn’t see how I could conceal it on a day to day bases.  The instructor had me stand up, put my gun just behind my hip at basically 8 or 830 and put my shirt down.  The whole class was like yeah you can hide that.  I said, hide that, you can see it under my shirt.  They said, “no, you can see something under your shirt, but no one is going to think it is a gun”.

“What?”  “Really?”

I took them at their word and became far less conscience that I was “hiding” a gun.

Here is what I learned:

First, the clothes you already have, the ones that fit you are the ones that will probably work best.  I wear my same size jeans that I always wear with shirts I always wear.  Jeans, in particular, have a way of stretching to fit the holster.  Even my skinny jeans.

Second, most people are not going to assume whatever is under your shirt is a gun.  Especially if you generally blend into the crowd.  Even though I know this to be true, I still don’t feel super comfortable carrying my gun with out some kind of cover garment, so since it is the summer months, I usually will pop on a sleeveless vest over the top of whatever I am wearing.  It looks casual, is not hot, and works well with jeans or shorts or even skirts.

Third, you can probably wear a much larger gun than you think even if you are tiny…with the right holster, and maybe even more important, the right belt.  I can not tell you what a difference it made when I had a belt made specifically for the size and weight of a heavier gun.  You probably don’t need a “gun” belt, but certainly one that is pretty wide and sturdy.  The belt was the final key for me to successfully carry and conceal.  My pants no longer sagged to one side.  My hip bones are no longer black and blue from the pull of the gun.  I don’t constantly feel the jab of the holster on the left and the poke of the side buttons of the pants on the right.  While no one will ever confuse me for someone that is hip, the sagging pants look did nothing to up my cool factor. 

Fourth, knowing where you are going to carry is also key.  The first few people that advised me, advised me that I should carry in the small of my back because that spot has the most room to hide something.  However, the more I shot and practiced drawing from the holster, I didn’t feel comfortable with the gun all the way in the back.  I didn’t like it directly on the hip either because it really is to bulky in that spot for my frame.  This really impacted my holster buying because, if I carried in the small of my back, I actually needed a right hand holster.  Had I known where I wanted to carry and what worked best for my body and preferences, I could have eliminated about half of the holsters I purchased.

Fifth, not every expert is an expert and not every helpful person is helpful.  When you know nothing, it is pretty easy to not know when the information you are getting is less than ideal.  The only cure for this is experience and that takes time, which brings me to my next point.

Sixth, take your time!!!  I think because I had an incident that scared me and much of the reading I did consisted of using shock tactics, I was in a big hurry to carry.  I was afraid to be without my gun and that haste cost me a lot of time and a lot of money.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you take years to figure out what works for you, but chances are you have a few weeks to figure it out.

Seventh, RELAX!!  Even without the perfect gun or holster or shirt or belt, all of the time spent shopping and searching and being frustrated and making mistake after mistake helped me to learn.  I learned a ton, not only about what worked for me in terms of holsters, but just generally about guns and terminology and the culture that surrounds it.   Learning is sometimes painful, but it never ever is a waste.

Emotions

I recently wrote that emotions are powerful.  All emotions move us.  Some move us to tears, some move us to take action, some move us to be thankful, and some don’t move us at all.  In fact they paralyze us.

I want to talk about the one that has paralyzed me for the past 2 months…

FEAR

I recently wrote about being a coward.  A post my husband took exception with and one that elicited the only comment I have ever received on this blog.

I will keep the conversation between me and my husband private, but I will share what the comment said, or paraphrase part of it anyway.

He said something to the effect of…you will feel less like a coward when you realize you don’t need the gun.

I read that and thought, what does that mean???  I spent a great deal of time thinking about that.  I am at the beach with my family on vacation and I am having a great time, but I just can’t seem to relax.  This is not like me.  I love, love, love being with my family.  I don’t care what we are doing, I am the most most happy and peaceful if we are together.  This week I have been anything but peaceful.

I have been thinking about the comment that was left and trying to figure out what it means to me.   The comment reminded me of a post I had read by LimaLife where she said “when she carries her gun, she doesn’t “feel” safe”.  In fact she said she doesn’t “feel” anything.  She said feelings are not reality and just because one feels safe, doesn’t mean he/she is safe.  While I understand that, I couldn’t understand how having a gun didn’t make her feel safe.  Isn’t that the point of having a gun?  To feel safe??

This has made me think of how I have felt over the past two months since my encounter in the grocery store parking lot.

Up until this week, when I thought about that moment, I felt tense and scared.  Helpless and hopeless.  I did not feel comfortable in my own skin.  In fact I didn’t feel comfortable anywhere.

This week when I have thought about that comment and the statements made by LimaLife, I realized that nothing really happened to me in that parking lot.  I was not harmed.  My child was not harmed.  I did not have a gun, and yet, I handled the situation.  I was not a coward.  I did not panic and truth be told, I do not even know the true intentions of this man who approached me.  Even if his intentions were nefarious, he did not succeed in harming me in anyway or did he?

Whatever he wanted from me, all he got was a few bucks and umm, well, every ounce of security and trust I had ever felt.  I came home from that day afraid and panicked and considering something I had never, ever considered before…

a gun!

We bought a gun, so I could feel safe.  So, I could be safe, but guess what?  I did not feel safe and in fact I was not safe.  My mind was always on “being safe”. On how I could get the most weapons and the most training and how I could get my mind ready to handle any situation, but no matter how much I trained, no matter how much I read, no matter how many guns I had, I didn’t feel safe.

If I had my gun, I was hyper aware of what could go wrong.  I was on edge waiting for “the attack”.  I didn’t want to shower if I was alone in the house because I was afraid I could not get to my gun fast enough.  I carried everywhere I was allowed to, but everyone I saw looked like a criminal.  I was more than alert, I was suspect of everyone, all the time. I was always “ready” to defend myself.

If I had to go somewhere without my gun, I was extremly nervous.  I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t want to go to work or to a state that didn’t allow me to carry.  How would I be able to protect myself?

I was traumatized by the idea of what could have happned in the grocery store parking lot, so much so, that my mind could not see things clearly.  If fact it re-wrote history in my own mind.

I have actually been extremely independent and comfortable in living my life.  My husband travels and I go about my business.  Sure I lock the doors, turn on the motion detectors and the alarm, but then I lay my head down and fall fast asleep.  I get my kids ready and we head out for the day.  I traveled to China to adopt my three children, one time without my husband, and I fly all over tar-nation to do whatever I need to do, even though I do not like to fly.  In fact, flying scares the holy crap out of me, but I do it.  When my friend needed me to watch her kids while she and her husband went to Africa to adopt their daughter, I hopped on a plane and spent a week in a town I new relatively nothing about.  I have been afraid, but until recently, I have never let fear stop me from doing what I needed or wanted to do.

Now, I realize none of this qualifies me as the most courageous person on the planet.  I am well aware of what freedom costs.  I know that lives are lost and the heroic sacrifices that are paid everyday to defend my life and the values of this country.  My husband has paid that price and to many of his fellow Marines and servicemembers have paid a much higher price, but for me, for my life, I did what I needed to.

While it was not heroic, it was not cowardly.  At least not until that afternoon at the grocery store.

What I realized this past week was that the gun didn’t make me feel any safer.  My mind told me that I was fragile and that I was a victim.  My mind told me even if I had a gun, I wouldn’t be able to stop an attack.  I was afraid and the gun did little to ease that.

Due to the trauma I felt, I let my mind rewrite history and define my future.

This past week I have had the luxury to think and be still.  Thanks to my husband and 2 very kind people who took the time to share their experiences and knowledge, I was prompted to explore my feelings and figure out what was real.

The truth is safety can not be guaranteed.

Even with a gun, I can not stop a heart attack or a car accident or a plane smashing into my house.  I know the risks and I do take measures to limit those incidents from taking place.  I eat healthy, I don’t smoke, I exercise.  I wear my seat belt, I don’t speed (seriously, I don’t) and I don’t live in the flight path of a major airport, although that part was not deliberate.  However, I know healthy people that have died
way to soon. We recently had a girl at our daughters’ school die in a car accident, and when I lived in California I was a few blocks a way from a house that had a plane crash into it.  Hey, you know what?  I am not afraid of having a heart attack.  I am not the least bit worried about getting into a car accident.  I do what I can do and I trust the rest will take care of itself.

Ahh, now I get it.  The gun is the tool.  My mind is the weapon.

I am not a coward.  I am capable.  I can defend myself.  I can take care of my family.

Last night with my pistol by my bedside, I fell fast asleep.  Completely unaware of what might happen and completely unafraid.

The Art of Communication

My husband and I were watching a show on the History Channel about guns. It included stories on Wild Bill Hickok and Annie Oakley.  The show primarily focused on exhibition shooting and having modern day experts try to recreate the shots of the yesteryear legends.

One of the last challenges was to split a bullet in half.

Me:  Babe, if you shoot a bullet in half wouldn’t it explode?

Babe: No.

Me: No?  If you shoot a bullet with another bullet wouldn’t the bullet explode?

Babe: Probably.

Me: So, when we watch this there will be an explosion?

Babe: No.

Me: So, the bullet will not explode if another one shoots it?

Babe: Yes, the second bullet would explode if it was a fully loaded bullet.

Me: But, you just said no.

Babe:  I said no to what?

At this point I am about to jump off the third story floor of our vacation home.

Me:  Babe, when a bullet shoots at another bullet in order to split it, will it or will it not explode?

Babe:  Probably, but that is not what they are doing.  This guy is shooting a single bullet into a piece of steal in order to try to “split” the bullet.

Me: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, got it.

Through out the show, they were shooting at things in an attempt to alter the object being shot at…ie a deck of cards, a clay pigeon, or a cigarette out of someones mouth, so when they said split a bullet, I assumed the bullet being split was the object and not the projectile.  My husband having much more knowledge than I, fully understood what they were talking about.

We have these little communication break downs from time to time,  Usually it is him wondering around the kitchen asking me where the glasses are.

Glasses that have been in the same cupboard for our entire 20 year marriage, but fortunately, these hickups rarely turn into anything more than a fleeting frustration.

After all, he thinks I am super cute and I, well, I think he is everything.

The Anti Gun Mind

For me the idea of gun ownership was nothing short of insanity.  I could not understand why anyone would want to own a gun unless they were a cop or a hunter.  I truly believed that only crazy people who loved to kill owned guns and I honestly believed that less guns would mean less crimes.

I understood that the bad guys didn’t care about laws, but I also believed that I should not contribute to something I believed was harmful and I completely believed that the police would be there to protect me and everyone else.

I remember having a conversation with one of my students about gun laws.  He was trying to convince me that guns save lives, but I could not for the life of me understand this argument.  Guns kill and if no one had a gun then there would be less crime and if not having guns saved one innocent life from an accidental discharge than to me it was worth it.

I am a mother and the thought of one of my children being killed by a gun I had in my house, was unimaginable to me and I believed that any effort to keep them safe was worth any price to include anyone’s right to own one.

I understand that my thinking was flawed.  I know what the statics are on accidental deaths and I also know that while it may have been an accident, the gun itself was not the one making the mistake, but rather whoever was handling the gun, but all that is for another post.

When someone believes something to be true, they tend to make all their choices and decisions from that view point.  So, if I sincerely believe guns kill innocent people then all of my actions are going to stem from that belief.

It isn’t until the belief changes that the actions does.

Up until the grocery store indecent,my experience with guns had been a very personal one that evoked a lot of pain and sadness.  I had only known one person who had a gun and he killed himself with it.  While I loved my brother dearly, he had problems and the way he took his own life only served to strength my beliefs on guns and their dangers. My experiences with guns and gun people were limited, but they were very personal and very powerful.  It wasn’t until something equally as personal and powerful happened to me that my beliefs began to change.

That experience jolted me into realizing things I just simply never realized before.  The arguments of those who supported gun rights and gun ownership never made any sense to me until I was living one of those arguments.  My reality changed and in doing so it rocked my world and everything I believed to be true up until that point.

Once I opened up to the idea of using a gun for protection, I dove right in to find out everything I could about anything and everything that had anything to do with guns.  What I found was that much of what I believed was based on ignorance and miscalculations.

I can’t speak for the mind set of everyone who is anti gun, but outside of the far side of any spectrum and the politicians, I think most people are acting out of a flawed thinking on issues they are ignorant about. 

If those of us who support the rights of Americans to carry and bare arms want to change the laws and gain more of our freedoms back, we need to focus on changing how people think and that is not going to happen with angry words and threats.

When I visit the NRA Facebook page or read an article posted by a pro 2nd Amendment person and then I read the comments that follow, I am saddened a bit.  Not because I think these people are wrong in what they are saying, but because it won’t help doing anything to further the cause.

Let me first say, that I think it is natural and even healthy to vent and we all use humor and sarcasm to let out our frustrations.  Of course, it is natural to share those thoughts, ideas, and frustrations with people who share your same values.  However, I see myself in those comments and if I had read any of those angry, hateful comments it would have only served to reinforce a belief I already held.

While I believe it is healthy and even fun to get all worked up about an issue with like minded folks, it does little to motivate anyone to look at an issue differently and if we want to secure our rights we need to change the way people view guns and those who own them.

One of the places I often go to, to learn about guns is YouTube.  I have found an awful lot of very helpful information on there.  The channel LimaLife is very, very informative.  The woman who runs it has started a new blog about being armed and pregnant and on that blog she writes about guns being inherently dangerous.  I think understanding that guns, in and of themselves, are nothing more than an inanimate object is fundamental to changing the way people view guns.  If your interested in reading what she has to say go here…

http://armedpregnancy.blogspot.com/ and read the post “But Aren’t Guns Inherently Dangerous?”

A Girl’s New Best Friend

For some women, diamonds fit the best friend role, but for me, it’s not even close.

Ok, maybe close.  Not that I have wardrobe full of diamonds, but I have had my eye on a pretty little bobble for sometime.  Of course time and money being what they are, I have yet to make her mine.

In the mean time, I found a new love and life being what it is, a choice has to be made.

I went from having no guns at all to having 3 in span of about 2 weeks.   Really, I don’t need another one, but I can’t seem to convince my heart of that fact.

I started out wanting “A” gun for protection, but as I learned more about guns, I started to appreciate them on their own for their uniqueness and their history.  I went from seeing them as cold hard  pieces of steel(or in the case of my Glock, plastic) to works of art.

I am not sure if there is such a thing as a cliche gun, but it would appear that everyone who knows guns, loves the 1911 and I am no exception.  Each time I read an article or watch a video review or see one at a gun show, my heart gives a little flutter.

So,  I think I will starting hinting around for my Christmas present now.

Girls and Guns

Today on the NRA Facebook site the people who post put a link to an article about Woman and Guns and how more woman are purchasing firearms.

One person posted something like, Oh no, woman and guns don’t mix!!

Now, I have no idea if this person was joking or being sarcastic, but it got me thinking.

Being new to guns and the gun world, I have no idea what the history of woman and firearms is, but I assume it is like most thinks involving history and woman…highly under rated.

I would guess the vast majority of gun owners are responsible members of society and take their rights as guns owners quite seriously and I bet this is across the genders.

I am a woman and I am girly and I quite small in term of weight, and I have been most fortuante to be taught exclusively, thus far, by men.(when I say taught, I mean in person.  I have learned much from the writings and videos of various women)

The men who are teaching me are kind and patient and not the least bit arrogant.  It is their skill and time and expertise that is teaching me to be confident and strong and a pretty darn good shot.

I would say if there is any doubt about a woman’s ability to preform, it is largly misguided, but I also believe that it is the responsiblity of those who can to teach, so if you can, stop making generalizations and use what you kow to educate and train someone who doesn’t know.

Self defense is not limited to the select few.  It is a right that should be afford to all of us and the best way to stop the bad guys is to join together and do everything we can to train, to edify, to support, and to encourage each other and not to ever, limit!