Defensive Tactics:When you get to cover you are still in a fight!

Defensive Tactics:
When you get to cover you are still in a fight!

One sound defensive tactic that surely all of us are aware of is getting to some concealment or (even better) cover when someone is shooting at you or in your vicinity. Doing so makes good sense because you’re a less viable target if the attacker can’t see you. Moreover, mounting a defense from the relative safety and partial concealment of hard cover is far better than doing so while standing in the open.

To increase your chances of survival in an active shooter situation you must first understand the difference between concealment and cover and then know what to do once you get to either one of them. These things are vital because in the event you’re compelled to seek concealment or cover due to gunfire you are still in a fight for your life once you get there! Your survival likely depends on knowing what benefit—if any—you have gained and then how to exploit that benefit before it disappears. Because the moment you arrive behind cover or concealment, its value typically diminishes every second you’re there. Without deliberate action to exploit the value of your potential advantage, it could be that you’re merely waiting to die later rather than sooner.

Concealment vs. Cover

The difference between concealment and cover is, on the surface, pretty simple: concealment merely hides you from view, while cover shields you from gunfire.

In some active-shooter situations, hiding behind simple concealment may be the best option for some folks, whether that’s behind a short aisle of product in a convenience store, behind clothing racks in a department store, or in a room or closet of an office or school. One problem with concealment is that in a life-threatening situation concealment will not protect you from bullets that are being fired toward your location. Even if you’re in another room, bullets from almost any firearm will penetrate many simple sheetrock walls and are still deadly after passing through a few of them.

One other problem with simple concealment is that if all you’re doing is hiding, the shooter need only discover your location to completely evaporate your advantage and take your life.

One odd lesson one can glean from security footage of armed attackers and public gunfights is that the average criminal and defender in public both tend to treat concealment as cover in these violent altercations. When someone who is being shot at finds concealment from their attacker, the shooter almost never continues to fire through the concealment to try and hit their victim. I tend to believe this is due to two primary factors: 1) these criminals and armed citizens are seldom trained in gunfighting and have no point of reference for how to proceed when their target disappears from view, and 2) most of this type of footage depicts petty thieves, where the criminal is shooting only at those who are interfering with them or those who are not yet scared away and might interfere with them in the moments to come.

Even with these accounts from crime footage, as intelligent, responsible citizens we must not train ourselves to discount the important differences between concealment and true cover. By the same token, we should not rely on the ineptitude of our attackers.

Cover, too, is a visual barrier, but in addition has the quality that it cannot or is unlikely to be penetrated by bullets. Common examples include a thick concrete wall, the corner of a brick building, a car’s engine block, or an earthen hill.

Note, that the degree to which something qualifies as cover varies depending on the type and caliber of round being fired at you. For instance, cover from pistol fire is not necessarily cover from rifle rounds. Therefore, the quality and potential of cover is always contextual.

Concealment and Cover for Armed Defenders

As mentioned before, cover and concealment are not just for getting behind; you must then USE it to improve your position and/or tactical advantage, along with your chances of survival.

So what do you do once you get there?

The answers depend on quite a few factors, but one issue that is fairly consistent to all scenarios is that the assailant and everyone else in the vicinity are likely not just standing still. So remember that when you get to cover or hide behind some concealment, the situation that you can no longer see will continue to evolve. This may include the attacker advancing on your position because he saw you duck behind cover! That would be an example of why the value of your concealment diminishes by the second once you get there. This horrible video from the 2016 sniper attack in Dallas, Tx shows just how quickly the advantage of cover can disappear (Caution: it’s an immediately violent and disturbing video).

As for the specifics of what you might or should do, I’m going to be deliberately terse and vague from here on out because 1) context will dictate what is appropriate and there’s no way to touch on every possible tactic, and 2) you cannot learn this stuff from an article; this one or any other! You learn this stuff by receiving relevant instruction and then practicing what you’ve been taught on a continual basis. There is no substitute. I’m writing this article merely to illustrate just how much most of us have to learn about these issues.

Now, depending on context, once you reach cover it may or may not be a good idea for you to draw your weapon. Your survival may depend on your ability to return fire and stop the threat, but having a gun in your hand could greatly increase your danger if, say, police officers or other armed security are on site or imminent. Even another armed defender could perceive you as a threat if you have a gun in your hand where people are getting shot. So choose wisely and know how to best respond to various situations in this context.

If you do draw your firearm, remember that even though this is a violent and dangerous situation you must maintain proper safety protocols: muzzle in a safe direction, finger off the trigger unless your sights are on your intended target. Moreover, now that you are under threat it is VITAL that you exercise precise target discrimination (Rule #4): you don’t just shoot the first person to come around the corner to where you’ve taken cover!

Note that if you point your weapon at any well-trained civilian gunfighter—with or without deadly intent—s/he is going to drop you like a sack of potatoes. So if you don’t want to needlessly take the room-temperature challenge, know how to practice good discrimination and how NOT look threatening/criminal while holding your firearm (This stuff is complex and difficult! Take many classes.).

If you’ve already fired your weapon in defense, behind cover/concealment is a good place to reload (you do carry spare magazines, don’t you?). Even if you’re down even just a couple rounds, exchanging for a fresh mag is always a good idea if you have a moment.

If your concealment/cover affords you a view of or path to an exit, escaping the scene without being seen by the attacker(s) is likely the way to go. Logic makes clear that when it comes to gunfights, not being in one is always the best defense.

If you cannot escape from your concealment, best to quickly prepare your defense, including:

  • changing your position behind your concealment (don’t let them just shoot you through the concealment to your one position) – if it’s merely concealment, mobility matters quite a lot
  • setting up a counter-ambush, returning fire from a different or various location(s) while partially concealed
  • If you carry a backup gun(s), maybe share with others gun-competent people who are seeking cover with you: multiply your defensive force!
  • If you’ve been injured and don’t immediately have to mount a defense, use your IFAK to treat your injuries (you do carry a personal first aid kit or at least a tourniquet every day, don’t you?). For example, here’s a 1-handed tourniquet drill.

Remember that if you are being targeted as you get to cover, your assailant is doing things to improve his/her position, too. They’re not just waiting to see what happens. Work to achieve specific goals that negate their deadly actions.

Know when to move away from the cover and when to crowd your cover; yes, there are times when crowding is beneficial.

But do something!

The overriding point to remember is that once you get to cover or concealment you are still in a fight! So when you get to concealment, know that you are eminently vulnerable and need to take immediate action to save your own life. When you get to hard cover, you are less vulnerable, but you must still exploit your momentary advantage in order to survive…before your advantage evaporates.

Learn and train on specific tactics for specific circumstances. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn how distance from cover can give you a visual advantage over one who is closer to the barrier (It’s true!).

These skills are forged in training, under the tutelage of good instructors. Make sure that in addition to your gun-handling-skills classes you’re also taking tactical gunfighting classes. Regularly. And practice what you learn on a continual basis so that in the unfortunate event you are caught in a deadly situation, you have experience from which to call on viable survival tactics.

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Featured photo is from the Palm Beach Post.

 

About The Author
Shooty McBeardface is a denizen of Twitter and flexes his beard on his personal website. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Choosing your first Handgun

Choosing your first Handgun

 

 

 

If you’re in the market for your first handgun, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all of the different available options. You also may not be entirely sure what terms like “caliber” mean or what the differences are between pistols and revolvers.

This guide will fill you in on everything you need to know to choose your first handgun confidently.

Handgun Calibers

Choosing a handgun chambered in the right caliber for your needs and shooting ability is the most crucial decision you’ll need to make.

Caliber is a measurement of a bullet’s diameter, measured in either inches or millimeters (mm). 9mm Parabellum ammo, for example, has a bullet diameter of 9.01 mm and .45 ACP has a bullet diameter of 0.451 inches.

When we say “bullet,” we’re specifically referring to the projectile shot from a firearm, not the entire cartridge which includes the bullet, case, powder, and primer.

With very few exceptions, you can only safely shoot a particular caliber from a firearm chambered specifically for that caliber. For example, you can NOT shoot .40 S&W or .45 Auto from a pistol chambered in 9mm. You should always refer to the owners manual of your firearms to be sure what ammo can safely be shot from them. Failure to do so could result in the catastrophic failure of your gun and even severe injury to the shooter or bystanders.

In addition to differing bullet diameters, handgun calibers are loaded to different specifications from one another.

The most important factors to note are the mass of a bullet, measured in grains (gr), and the velocity it will travel. These factors play a tremendous role in both the “stopping power” and felt recoil of a given round.

Common Handgun Calibers

There are hundreds of calibers that handguns have been or are still commonly chambered in today. To keep this guide concise, I’ll be focusing on the most popular options.

Rimfire Calibers

Among the most popular calibers, .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) is the only one with rimfire cartridges.

Rimfire ammunition requires a gun’s firing pin to strike and crush the cartridge’s base to ignite the primer. Rimfire ammo has a very thin case which limits this type of ammunition to low-pressure loads.

By contrast, Centerfire ammunition has an external primer located at the base of the case head.

.22 Long Rifle most commonly has a bullet weight of 36 grains or 40 grains, yet a velocity roughly on par with the much heavier 9mm. Particularly for experienced shooters, it can feel like this caliber has almost no noticeable recoil.

This makes .22 LR pistols, revolvers, and rifles a excellent options for introducing children and new shooters to firearms. .22 LR ammo is also the cheapest available by a significant margin, making it a favorite caliber to shoot for even the most experienced shooters.

The downside to this caliber is that it has limited applications beyond just shooting for the sake of it. .22 LR can be used for hunting very small vermin but lacks the power to hunt larger animals.

While .22 Long Rifle can certainly be lethal to a human with a well-placed shot, it’s by no means remotely close to optimal for self-defense. For these purposes, .22 LR lacks sufficient power and is likely to fail to penetrate to the required depth needed to hit vital organs.

Self-Defense Calibers/Concealed Carry Calibers

The most popular pistol calibers used for self-defense, including concealed carry, are:

  • .380 Auto (.380 ACP)
  • 9mm (Specifically, 9x19mm Parabellum a.ka. 9mm Luger and 9mm NATO)
  • .40 Smith and Wesson (.40 S&W)
  • .45 Auto (.45 ACP)

Some also choose to use revolvers for self-defense which can be chambered in other popular calibers like .38 Special and .357 Magnum.

.380 Auto is the minimum viable caliber many would consider using for self-defense. Of the options I’ll cover, it has the lightest bullets (most commonly 90 grain or 95 grain) and a velocity usually slower than 9mm.

This makes it easy to shoot, having minimal recoil compared to larger calibers. Nearly all non-disabled adult shooters should be able to shoot it comfortably.

The small size of the cartridge also allows firearm manufacturers to make some extremely small pocket-sized pistols chambered in .380 Auto.

Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ

The negative to .380 Auto’s lack of power is that it performs worse than larger calibers in important metrics during ballistic gel testing. It’s common for this caliber to underpenetrate recommended depths of 12″-18″ and most loads have very poor bullet expansion compared to hollow point ammunition in larger calibers.

With that said, any gun is better than no gun if you need it for self-defense, so .380 Auto can be considered if you can’t handle larger calibers.

9mm is the most popular handgun caliber commonly recommended for self-defense use.

It’s the caliber of standard issued sidearms in the U.S. military, as well as all NATO forces. Though larger calibers were popular among local and federal law enforcement over the last 30+ years, many have switched to 9mm in recent years (if they weren’t already using it).

Recently, the FBI switched from .40 S&W to 9mm after ballistic testing and studying the performance of officers with different calibers. They found that the design of modern 9mm ammunition reduced the gap in ballistic tests when comparing it to larger calibers. Participants in their study also shot faster and more accurately with 9mm pistols compared to .40 S&W pistols. Lastly, they cited the larger magazine capacity of 9mm pistols as a significant benefit compared to pistols chambered in larger calibers.

9mm is a fantastic choice for a self-defense pistol. Even if you feel comfortable shooting larger calibers, you may find that you’re meaningfully faster with 9mm when doing drills.

With bullets weights most commonly being 115 gr, 124 gr, and 147 gr, combined with velocity in a similar range to the heavier .40 S&W, most people will find that they can comfortably shoot 9mm.

The heavier bullets of both .40 S&W and .45 Auto typically produce more energy than 9mm.

Though an argument can be made that this increases their “stopping power” compared to 9mm, it also results in greater felt recoil that can decrease your ability to perform with these calibers. Because of this, new or weaker shooters may also feel uncomfortable shootings pistols chambered in these calibers.

If you’re an experienced shooter or feel that you perform just as well with .40 S&W or .45 Auto, then, by all means, get a pistol chambered in one of these calibers. However, I’d generally recommend 9mm for people looking for their first pistol to use for self-defense.

Revolvers vs Pistols

Another decision you’ll have to make is what type of handgun to buy. The two major options are revolvers and pistols.

Today, most people opt for pistols for the increased capacity they offer. When comparing two very compact handguns from each group, the Colt Cobra (revolver) and Glock 26 Subcompact (pistol), the Glock pistol can hold 4 additional rounds in its magazine compared to the cobra’s cylinder.

Most revolvers only hold 6 rounds, so the difference in capacity becomes even more significant when you start looking at larger handguns. The full-size Glock 19, for example, has a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds.

Revolvers do have a major benefit of being incredibly simplistic. Thanks to their simple design, handling malfunction can often be as simple as pulling the trigger again.

Military, police, and most civilians typically favor the increased capacity pistols offer over slightly more reliable revolvers.

Though I wouldn’t carry a revolver for everyday carry chambered in calibers like .38 Special, revolvers do have their place. Larger caliber revolvers are a great option for protection against large animals when hiking or camping.

Handgun Size

Handgun manufacturers make handguns in a variety of sizes.

Full-size handguns are often more comfortable to shoot because you can easily get a full grip on them. Though most modern handguns aren’t heavy, the extra weight of full-sized handguns can significantly reduce felt recoil. Remember though, larger handguns are more difficult to conceal, so they’re unlikely to be a great option if you plan to concealed carry.

In the picture below, you can see two SIG Sauer pistols I own. The larger of the two (P320 RX) is one of my favorite guns to shoot at the range and a great choice for home defense, but I carry the much smaller (P365). (If you’re wondering what’s mounted to both pistols, each of them has a pistol light attached.)

The smaller P365 is a bit more challenging to get a good grip on and it holds 5 less rounds (12 vs 17), but I accept these tradeoffs because it’s comfortable and easy to conceal in a holster.

Keep in mind, these two handguns are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You can find plenty of handguns sized between these.

Choosing Your First Handgun

Now that you have some idea of what to consider when buying your first handgun, the next step is to head to your local range and find what’s right for you.

Think about the reasons you’re buying a handgun before you get there, so the staff can help point you in the right direction. Many gun ranges have rentals available so you can try different options and see what feels best to you.

Once you own your first handgun, be sure to familiarize yourself with it and regularly practice at the range!

At Eagle Gun Range you can rent any handgun for $5.00

You will need to purchase ammunition with your rental gun. This will allow you to try out many different options before you decide which handgun is right for you.On Ladies Day, ladies can rent lanes for $5 and handguns for Free with ammunition purchase.  Ladies Day is all day Tuesday every week.

This article first appeared on GunPros.

Shooting Review: The Sig Sauer P365

Shooting Review: The Sig Sauer P365

It will come as no surprise to those of you who keep up with my reviews here that I’m a Glock fan and a practicality fan, and habitually measure every pistol I shoot against a Glock; either directly or subconsciously. Given that few pistol can match Glock’s simplicity, reliability, and size/weight-to-capacity ratio it’s hard to consider recommending most pistols over a similar (but superior) Glock model. This time, though, I’ve got little to argue against. The Sig P365 does what it does better than either the Glock 26 or the Glock 43. With one caveat.*

I guess I’ve summed up my review right there. Okay, there probably is a reason to continue reading and my positive assessment of the 365 is not without dissent, but Sig got some things right here that can’t be denied. I spent part of this month shooting and getting familiar with the Sig P365 and this is what I found.

Why Consider the Sig Sauer P365?

The Sig P365 is a purpose-made concealed-carry pistol. It is also…the work of gypsies, as it takes a frame and slide that are either the same size or SMALLER than that of the Glock 43 (a single-stack gun) and adds 4 rounds to it. And it does it in a way that is more comfortable to hold and has a better trigger.

So you might consider the Sig P365 for its impossible sorcery of improved capacity and grip comfort over all competitors or perhaps for how it logically allows you to carry an 11-round, 9mm pistol that disappears onto your waistline as almost no other gun. Or perhaps you might consider this one because it’s a Sig Sauer pistol, known (with a cringy exception or two *cough*P320*cough*) to make excellent firearms.

Now, about that caveat I mentioned. Despite reports of issues with this pistol, I experienced no issues when running the gun through a couple hundred rounds (a gun that had 2,200 rounds through it already) and since this is a first-impression and shooting review, I will merely report on my experience.

Sig Sauer P365 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Length: 5.8 “
  • Height: 4.3” with flush magazine
  • Width: 1”
  • Barrel: 3.1”
  • Trigger: ~6 lb.
  • Sights: XRAY3 Day/Night Sights (3-dot)
  • Weight: 17.8oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide: Stainless Steel, Nitron finish
  • Capacity: 10+1 (1 flush mag, 1 extended mag) – 12-round magazine available
  • MSRP: $599

Sig P365

Shooting the P365

The first time I shot the P365 I tried to use my normal grip, with a high-forward support hand. I left not liking the experience because the slide-lock lever painfully abraded my support-hand thumb knuckle at the palm. Shooting it was genuinely uncomfortable. It later occurred to me to augment my grip so that the thumb knuckle was not in contact with the lever. This grip proved to be both effective and comfortable.

I came to enjoy shooting the little pistol and had no problems or difficulty running the gun; inserting mags, getting a grip, firing, ejecting the mag, locking the slide back, etc… The controls seem to be well located for my medium-sized hands and perfectly functional to what I’d expect. Frankly, I was expecting difficulty and never encountered any.

In one session I went back and forth between my Glock 43 and the P365, shooting groups at various ranges. I used my normal grip with my G43 and the altered grip with the P365. I was surprised to see that at every distance, the groups with the P365 were half the size of the Glock 43 groups. Yes, that is anecdotal and I am not quite sure what to attribute this difference to, but I believe it is the better trigger on the Sig. Also the sights on the Sig seem a bit more precise.

I’ve read where the P365 is rated for +P ammunition, if you care about such things. The average defensive 9mm round is perfectly effective without any added pressure so I’ve always been against +P ammo. It’s possible that +P matters in a tiny gun like this, with such a short barrel, but I confess I don’t at this moment know where performance would necessitate a +P round.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
As I mentioned earlier, once I changed my grip, I found the P365 to be quite comfortable to hold and to shoot. The grip is actually quite small and would be excellent for people with smaller hands.

Generally speaking, it’s a tiny pistol so shooting 9mm from it means it’s going to be snappier than a mid-sized pistol. That said, I found it very easy to control—even with a modified grip—and easy to make quick follow-up shots. This is especially true when I was using the extended magazine, where I was able to get my whole hand on the grip. I still find it amazing that this short, thin, little grip can hold a magazine with 10 rounds. It seems impossible, yet here it is.

Components & Features
The slide is a mere 1” wide and it has good serrations both fore and aft. The stock sights are very nice, with tritium inserts front and rear (mostly invisible in daylight, so you get a blacked-out rear) and the front dot is surrounded by a day-glow-green ring for daytime high contrast. I found the sights to be very easy to pick up and to use for easy accuracy.

P365 sights

As do all good pistols, the P365 has no extraneous external controls; only a slide-lock lever and a takedown lever mar the otherwise clean design. The trigger is plastic and does not have a safety-tab rib, making it a bit more comfortable on the finger pad than most striker-fired pistols’ trigger shoes. The trigger action is very nice for a stock trigger. It has some takeup, a clear wall, and a sort of dull break (not super-crisp). The reset is quite short and a bit soft; not as tactile as you’ll find on many striker-fired pistols. I found the trigger to be very nice when running the gun and, I think, it’s a component that contributes to the easy accuracy.

The frame has a nice, if not very aggressive, texture and it features an accessory rail up front. Note, however, that this is not a picatinny rail and is entirely proprietary. I expect that Sig will release some Sig-specific accessories for this rail in the future. The magazine release is easy to find and use and is reversible for lefties. The pistol comes with a 10-round flush mag and 10-round extended mag (with 12-round mags available).

P365 magazines

*Issues

I experienced no issues whatever shooting a few hundred rounds through the Sig P365. That said, there have been many reports of some specific failures and issues from the early purchasers of this pistol. The primary issue reported is that the pistols firing action causes the tip of the striker to drag across the primer (primer smear), often leading to a broken striker where the tip breaks off. As counterpoint to those reports, there are reports from folks who have 10,000+ rounds through theirs with no issues.

As this is not an in-depth review, I can only report on my own limited experience with this pistol. Issues after a first release are in no way uncommon with pistols and what matters most at this point is the manufacturer’s response to them. As you can likely tell, I’m a fan of the gun for a few important reasons. I cannot, however, recommend that anyone use this pistol as their sole personal-protection tool until Sig has a chance to address these post-release issues.

Conclusions

Pros
The P365 has the best size-to-capacity ratio of any subcompact pistol. The trigger and sights are quite good right out of the box. While small, the pistol’s ergonomic design makes it fit comfortably in the hand and the extended magazine allows most folks to get all of their fingers on the grip. For carry, the pistol is small enough to disappear onto your body no matter what carry location you choose. I found it to be easily accurate out to 15 yards, which is plenty for a subcompact.

Cons
The slide-lock lever will painfully abrade your support hand if you take a high, thumb-forward position. Being so small and light, the pistol is rather snappy firing the 9mm round. The P365 seems to have some function and construction issues yet to be worked out by the manufacturer, so it may not right now be the best choice as your only carry gun. Some may find the purchase price to be a bit off-putting.

So for rating the Sig P365…

Ergonomics (****)
For such a small pistol, it’s quite comfortable in the hand. I found the controls easy to reach and use.

Shootability (****)
Definitely a shootable pistol, with its nice trigger action and excellent sights. It’s only detriment is it’s subcompact size.

Accuracy (****)
I found it plenty accurate and easy to get there. Again, sights and trigger are positive contributors here.

Concealability (*****)
The P365 tiny and thin and should be invisible on just about anybody in any carry location.

In Summary

Sig has seemingly done the impossible here; squeezing 11 rounds into a super-tiny striker-fired pistol that is both comfortable and accurate. It’s the kind of thing that most concealed carriers always wish for. I have to believe that this P365 will eventually become a concealed-carry staple for lots of folks.

I’m a Glock guy because I’m a 100%-reliability guy and it’s hard to contemplate replacing my G43 with something other than a Glock, but this little pistol has me seriously considering it. I’m not quite ready to jump yet, as there seem to be some function issues that Sig Sauer needs to address, but once done I am likely on board. I think this little pistol is a gem.

* * *

About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Review 380EZ

Review 380EZ

Reviewed and Authored by Andy Rutledge

Why make a low-capacity, mid-sized pistol chambered in .380? This was my first question when I saw the specs of the 380 Shield EZ. Well, Smith & Wesson are no dummies so there had to be some logic behind their move here. What I found when I got my hands on the gun and a few rounds downrange was that they’ve got something rather interesting here.

The frame is seemingly larger than would be required for this capacity and chambering, but there is a benefit. The capacity is seemingly lower than would be expected for a frame of this size, but there is a benefit. The result is an easy to hold, easy to manipulate, lightweight pistol that shoots a defensive round but feels like a .22 cal gun. Hrm.

Why Consider the M&P 380 Shield EZ?

The M&P 380 Shield EZ is a compact pistol purpose made for carry and for home defense. Though compact, it is longer and taller than the 9mm Shield most of us know, so there is more of the gun to hold onto. One of the primary features of the pistol is its easy-to-rack slide, seemingly tailor made for people without strong hands. Another feature worth consideration is the grip safety; a feature not often found on compact pistols. If you’re someone who values an extra layer of safety, the 380 Sheild EZ might just be the ticket for you. Finally, you might consider this pistol for its appealing price.

The combination of the slightly larger frame and the slightly softer round make this pistol a joy to shoot and very easy with which to be very accurate…all so long as you don’t mind the minimal defensive ballistics of the .380 round.

380 Shield EZ

M&P 380 Shield EZ Specs:

  • Caliber: 380 Auto
  • Action: Internal hammer fired
  • Length: 6.7″
  • Height: 4.98”
  • Width: 1.15” (1.43” including the slide “wings”)
  • Barrel: 3.675” stainless steel Armornite™ finish
  • Trigger: ~5lb.
  • Sights: 3-Dot steel, adjustable rear
  • Safety: Grip safety + available with or without ambi thumb levers
  • Weight: 18.5 oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide: stainless steel Armornite™ finish
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • MSRP: $399

Note that the model I’m evaluating here has ambi thumb safety levers.

Shooting the 380 Shield EZ

Shooting the 380 Shield is like shooting a .22 pistol. No kidding, the recoil impulse is almost nonexistent so the pistol is very easy to control and to maintain a high degree of accuracy. While some .380 pistols are a bit snappy, due to their subcompact configuration, this Shield model has both the size and weight necessary to mitigate all snappiness. This is an easy pistol to shoot.

The frame is larger than a typical Shield, but smaller than, say, the M&P 9. This mid-sized frame offers plenty to hold onto and allows the controls to be very comfortably positioned. I had no problem running the gun for on/off safety, magazine ejection and reloads, and locking the slide back. It all felt very natural and comfortable.

The trigger is actually quite nice and has a very short and crisp reset, but somehow running it fast did not go as smoothly as I thought it should. I did a few strings of rapid fire during which I wasn’t able to keep the gun as still as it seemed I should for being such a soft shooter. I chalk this up to my being familiar with my EDC gun and this slightly altered geometry of this 380 Shield EZ threw a wrench in my gears. Surely with a bit of practice shooting fast drills would become smoother.

Mostly, though, I just enjoyed shooting this gun. No kidding, outside of a precision .22 this is the softest gun I’ve ever shot. So fun.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
The 380 Shield is not at all heavy and lighter than even the smaller Shield 9mm. Though it is named for the Shield, it feels less like that model and more like the M&P 9 in the hand. It’s a single stack gun, but the grip is not overly thin. For my medium-sized hands, it was quite comfortable. And as mentioned earlier, the controls were easy to get to and to manipulate. The 8+1 capacity is a bit low for a .380 of this size, but being a single stack gun keeps the frame width down and facilitates a more concealable gun.

Controlling the 380 Shield EZ is about as easy as it gets. Even older children and new shooters should do quite well keeping this pistol under control.

Components and Features

The 380 Shield EZ looks like a typical striker-fired gun, but it’s not. It has an internal hammer and that brings consequences to both the trigger (smooth) and the recoil spring weight you feel when racking the slide (softer), since there is no striker to load up.

The most conspicuous feature of the 380 Shield EZ is the grip safety. It’s a large component that disappears when the frame is gripped. I found that I never even noticed the grip safety fin so it was a non factor in my working with the gun. The model I used had the ambi thumb safety levers. Though I always believe such components to be useless or even dangerous on a pistol, I did spend time engaging and disengaging the levers during shooting. They seemed stiff enough to be properly tactile and easy enough to manipulate. The 380 Shield EZ can come without the manual safety levers if you prefer that model (and I hope you do).

The sights are 3-dot steel and the rear sight is drift adjustable. I had no trouble picking up the sights and maintaining a good sight picture during shooting strings. The slide has good serrations, but with the addition of some “wings” on the rear of the slide, I guess to assist with slide racking. I found them entirely unnecessary, but they also didn’t get in my way as some similar components on other guns have.

380 Shield EZ detail

These are the wings at the rear of the slide. Not necessary, but not a problem, found.

As mentioned before, the trigger is darn good and contributed positively to accurate shooting. I did not measure its weight, but it seemed to break at around 5 – 5.5 pounds. I’m a fan and wish my Glocks had as good a trigger. The frame is nicely textured and plenty comfortable for my medium-sized hands.

380 Shield EZ detail

The grip texture is rather mild, but still grippy. Most folks will still want to stipple.

Interestingly, the magazines have side tabs very similar to those found on .22 magazines so that you can if you wish pull down to allow for easier loading of rounds into the magazine. I didn’t find the need to do so, but they work just fine.

380 Shield EZ

Conclusions

Pros
This is a relatively lightweight pistol that carries relatively lightweight ammo, which amounts to a mid-sized gun that would be very comfortable to carry around concealed all day. Virtually anyone could rack the slide to lock open or to load. The soft-shooting, highly controllable characteristics make shooting the pistol a very appealing prospect. The trigger is excellent and the grip safety offers an unobtrusive layer of mistake prevention. Also, the price is comparatively very nice.

Cons
The .380 round is not optimal for defensive use, but it is serviceable; especially during warmer months when clothes are not thickly layered. Eight rounds in the magazine is a bit anemic for a carry gun, especially with such a small caliber and the overall package is a bit large for an 8+1 capacity (only 1 more round than the smaller 9mm model???).

So for rating the M&P 380 Shield EZ…

Ergonomics (****)
There is nothing spectacular about this gun’s ergonomics, but it works and feels just fine.

Shootability (*****)
Perhaps the most shootable pistol I’ve ever laid my hands on.

Accuracy (*****)
I found it to be very accurate and very easy to maintain that accuracy!

Concealability (****)
The 380 Shield EZ is thin enough and small enough to conceal quite well, though not as well as its smaller cousin, the M&P Shield 9mm.

In Summary

Essentially what Smith & Wesson has done here is create an easy to manipulate, easy to shoot, lightweight gun that sacrifices some size and capacity for a soft shooting experience. In my mind, this is not a bad tradeoff as it addresses some issues that plague some shooters and gives them a mildly compromised solution. Good for S&W.

In the end, my only complaint with this package is the .380 round. Everything else is just fine for my money. Eagle Gun Range has the 380 Shield EZ for rent, so take it out for yourself and see what you think.

* * *

About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.

Why make a low-capacity, mid-sized pistol chambered in .380? This was my first question when I saw the specs of the 380 Shield EZ. Well, Smith & Wesson are no dummies so there had to be some logic behind their move here. What I found when I got my hands on the gun and a few rounds downrange was that they’ve got something rather interesting here.

The frame is seemingly larger than would be required for this capacity and chambering, but there is a benefit. The capacity is seemingly lower than would be expected for a frame of this size, but there is a benefit. The result is an easy to hold, easy to manipulate, lightweight pistol that shoots a defensive round but feels like a .22 cal gun. Hrm.

Why Consider the M&P 380 Shield EZ?

The M&P 380 Shield EZ is a compact pistol purpose made for carry and for home defense. Though compact, it is longer and taller than the 9mm Shield most of us know, so there is more of the gun to hold onto. One of the primary features of the pistol is its easy-to-rack slide, seemingly tailor made for people without strong hands. Another feature worth consideration is the grip safety; a feature not often found on compact pistols. If you’re someone who values an extra layer of safety, the 380 Sheild EZ might just be the ticket for you. Finally, you might consider this pistol for its appealing price.

The combination of the slightly larger frame and the slightly softer round make this pistol a joy to shoot and very easy with which to be very accurate…all so long as you don’t mind the minimal defensive ballistics of the .380 round.

380 Shield EZ

M&P 380 Shield EZ Specs:

  • Caliber: 380 Auto
  • Action: Internal hammer fired
  • Length: 6.7″
  • Height: 4.98”
  • Width: 1.15” (1.43” including the slide “wings”)
  • Barrel: 3.675” stainless steel Armornite™ finish
  • Trigger: ~5lb.
  • Sights: 3-Dot steel, adjustable rear
  • Safety: Grip safety + available with or without ambi thumb levers
  • Weight: 18.5 oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide: stainless steel Armornite™ finish
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • MSRP: $399

Note that the model I’m evaluating here has ambi thumb safety levers.

Shooting the 380 Shield EZ

Shooting the 380 Shield is like shooting a .22 pistol. No kidding, the recoil impulse is almost nonexistent so the pistol is very easy to control and to maintain a high degree of accuracy. While some .380 pistols are a bit snappy, due to their subcompact configuration, this Shield model has both the size and weight necessary to mitigate all snappiness. This is an easy pistol to shoot.

The frame is larger than a typical Shield, but smaller than, say, the M&P 9. This mid-sized frame offers plenty to hold onto and allows the controls to be very comfortably positioned. I had no problem running the gun for on/off safety, magazine ejection and reloads, and locking the slide back. It all felt very natural and comfortable.

The trigger is actually quite nice and has a very short and crisp reset, but somehow running it fast did not go as smoothly as I thought it should. I did a few strings of rapid fire during which I wasn’t able to keep the gun as still as it seemed I should for being such a soft shooter. I chalk this up to my being familiar with my EDC gun and this slightly altered geometry of this 380 Shield EZ threw a wrench in my gears. Surely with a bit of practice shooting fast drills would become smoother.

Mostly, though, I just enjoyed shooting this gun. No kidding, outside of a precision .22 this is the softest gun I’ve ever shot. So fun.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
The 380 Shield is not at all heavy and lighter than even the smaller Shield 9mm. Though it is named for the Shield, it feels less like that model and more like the M&P 9 in the hand. It’s a single stack gun, but the grip is not overly thin. For my medium-sized hands, it was quite comfortable. And as mentioned earlier, the controls were easy to get to and to manipulate. The 8+1 capacity is a bit low for a .380 of this size, but being a single stack gun keeps the frame width down and facilitates a more concealable gun.

Controlling the 380 Shield EZ is about as easy as it gets. Even older children and new shooters should do quite well keeping this pistol under control.

Components and Features

The 380 Shield EZ looks like a typical striker-fired gun, but it’s not. It has an internal hammer and that brings consequences to both the trigger (smooth) and the recoil spring weight you feel when racking the slide (softer), since there is no striker to load up.

The most conspicuous feature of the 380 Shield EZ is the grip safety. It’s a large component that disappears when the frame is gripped. I found that I never even noticed the grip safety fin so it was a non factor in my working with the gun. The model I used had the ambi thumb safety levers. Though I always believe such components to be useless or even dangerous on a pistol, I did spend time engaging and disengaging the levers during shooting. They seemed stiff enough to be properly tactile and easy enough to manipulate. The 380 Shield EZ can come without the manual safety levers if you prefer that model (and I hope you do).

The sights are 3-dot steel and the rear sight is drift adjustable. I had no trouble picking up the sights and maintaining a good sight picture during shooting strings. The slide has good serrations, but with the addition of some “wings” on the rear of the slide, I guess to assist with slide racking. I found them entirely unnecessary, but they also didn’t get in my way as some similar components on other guns have.

380 Shield EZ detail

These are the wings at the rear of the slide. Not necessary, but not a problem, found.

As mentioned before, the trigger is darn good and contributed positively to accurate shooting. I did not measure its weight, but it seemed to break at around 5 – 5.5 pounds. I’m a fan and wish my Glocks had as good a trigger. The frame is nicely textured and plenty comfortable for my medium-sized hands.

380 Shield EZ detail

The grip texture is rather mild, but still grippy. Most folks will still want to stipple.

Interestingly, the magazines have side tabs very similar to those found on .22 magazines so that you can if you wish pull down to allow for easier loading of rounds into the magazine. I didn’t find the need to do so, but they work just fine.

380 Shield EZ

Conclusions

Pros
This is a relatively lightweight pistol that carries relatively lightweight ammo, which amounts to a mid-sized gun that would be very comfortable to carry around concealed all day. Virtually anyone could rack the slide to lock open or to load. The soft-shooting, highly controllable characteristics make shooting the pistol a very appealing prospect. The trigger is excellent and the grip safety offers an unobtrusive layer of mistake prevention. Also, the price is comparatively very nice.

Cons
The .380 round is not optimal for defensive use, but it is serviceable; especially during warmer months when clothes are not thickly layered. Eight rounds in the magazine is a bit anemic for a carry gun, especially with such a small caliber and the overall package is a bit large for an 8+1 capacity (only 1 more round than the smaller 9mm model???).

So for rating the M&P 380 Shield EZ…

Ergonomics (****)
There is nothing spectacular about this gun’s ergonomics, but it works and feels just fine.

Shootability (*****)
Perhaps the most shootable pistol I’ve ever laid my hands on.

Accuracy (*****)
I found it to be very accurate and very easy to maintain that accuracy!

Concealability (****)
The 380 Shield EZ is thin enough and small enough to conceal quite well, though not as well as its smaller cousin, the M&P Shield 9mm.

In Summary

Essentially what Smith & Wesson has done here is create an easy to manipulate, easy to shoot, lightweight gun that sacrifices some size and capacity for a soft shooting experience. In my mind, this is not a bad tradeoff as it addresses some issues that plague some shooters and gives them a mildly compromised solution. Good for S&W.

In the end, my only complaint with this package is the .380 round. Everything else is just fine for my money. Eagle Gun Range has the 380 Shield EZ for rent, so take it out for yourself and see what you think.

* * *

About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Endangered Dangerous Men

Endangered Dangerous Men

I am what many people would call a dangerous man. This is because since 1988 I have trained 3 to 7 days a week, as other responsible men do, in the arts, sciences, and techniques of maiming and killing men. The popular and appropriate term is self-defense, because few are comfortable with the fact that self-defense requires you train to be very good at maiming and killing men.

This is what it means to be a responsibly prepared man: to be prepared for violence. This is what I train to understand and to do. As such, I am a member of an endangered, beleaguered, and therefore shrinking group. According to our cultural and political masters, my being this sort of responsible man makes me a threat to society. More specifically, it makes me a threat to the society our cultural and political masters are desperately working to create. And mostly they are succeeding.

Like other responsible men, I train weekly and have proficiency in using environment, observation, behaviors, and tools to gain advantage. Like other responsible men, I train weekly and have proficiency in using unarmed techniques and weapons, including knives, swords, sticks, pistols, and long guns, to incapacitate and destroy the spirit and body parts of those who would threaten me, my family, or my property. I fire roughly 30,000 rounds every year in training and competition in order to maintain my proficiency.

Despite these facts and what leftists otherwise claim, no one in my vicinity is ever under any threat from me unless they choose to threaten or act to harm me or harm others within my mantle of protection. In short, the people in my proximity are far safer than most other people specifically because of their proximity to me. Even so, the pop-culture leaders of our deteriorating culture now deliberately and erroneously classify me and others like me as a threat to society. You may find this difficult to believe, but there was a time when society did not exclude responsible people. But those days are waning.

Our cultural and political masters often repeat the provably false cliché: “Violence never solves anything.” An education will make remarkably clear that, indeed, violence is the only thing that ever has. Diplomacy is the art of destruction by incremental compromise. Violence or the promise of assured destructive finality is the only thing that has ever ended a conflict.

Despite what your cultural and political masters will tell you, violence is not objectively bad. It is, like every other tool, morally neutral. It is a means to an end and, exclusively, the moral prerogative of the defender. As with any other tool, it is the circumstance of the employment of violence, measured against objective morality, that defines its quality; a fact both sheep and tyrants ignore in order to hasten the embrace of tyranny.

Violence Is No Circus

Because I train and occasionally mention it, sometimes my habits become known by those I interact with and I am often asked if I “know how to fight.” I do not. In the context that those asking imagine it, a fight is either 1) a lie, or 2) a case of something frivolous treated as serious and then carried out irresponsibly and incompetently.

Fighting is for irresponsible men; it’s a laughable circus for ill-tempered bubbas, thugs, and hooligans devoted to indulging emotional fetish. They fight to create spectacle or build irresponsible legend. They fight because they lack self-control and morality and because they relish harming others…and they fight to ensure that others know these things. Indeed, they fight to project an ungoverned threat of irresponsibility.

Responsibly prepared men don’t know how to fight and spend no time trying to learn. Fighting is dangerous, foolish, and pointless and a misemployment of violence. Violence is for finality, not frivolity. Violence is terrible and no responsible man ever wants to employ it. Men trained in and prepared for violence don’t fight; we only know how to maim and kill—or—how to immediately and decisively end a physical threat without violence, because the purpose of violence is destructive finality. In a situation where destructive finality is not the proper outcome, violence has no moral purpose and its employment is irresponsible.

Regular, Dangerous Men

As a dangerous man, I am also just a simple designer. For eight to ten hours a day I employ my God-given talents and hard-won skills as a designer and business strategist. The rest of my waking hours, outside of a bit of leisure, are devoted to my family and to responsible preparation as a good, dangerous man. I want and need to be a dangerous man, in part, because I am a husband and a father.

Just like being responsibly prepared for violence, being a husband and a father makes me a member of another endangered, beleaguered, and shrinking group. According to our cultural and political masters, my filial and marital fidelity makes me a threat to the society leftists are working to create. They seek to supplant me and other responsible husbands and fathers with an all-caring, all-knowing, all-controlling government. This is the sort of outrageous idea that takes hold when a society ostracizes good, dangerous men and demagogues their very existence.

Despite these tyrannical efforts and irresponsible ideas swelling in American culture, there are other good, dangerous men around you. They maintain our important traditions and hold to objective morality and they keep us safe when mortal threats arise. They also serve you coffee, pick up your trash, calculate your taxes, fix your plumbing, design your websites, teach your children, write the books you enjoy, and run the companies that employ you and your friends. But not a single one of them is a Democrat, Socialist, Communist, or other statist. Objective morality is anathema to statists and their ideology doesn’t allow for good, dangerous men to exist. As such, they are the actual threats to society.

For Goodness Sake, Be Dangerous

The existence of responsibly dangerous men is culturally and legally threatened and curtailed by a now-continual and rampant encroachment of tyranny. This tyranny is buoyed and enabled by willful ignorance and by the systematic destruction of morality and important, once-sacred traditions. Because of this leftist-designed destruction of morality and American culture, liberty is dying. For everyone. By design.

American culture and liberty are under threat. Our nation needs more good, dangerous men. Our nation needs more people who embody the antithesis of the leftists who seek to destroy our liberty and our culture. If you’re a moral man, you have a solemn responsibility to be a good, dangerous man. You have a solemn responsibility to learn to defend yourself and others. You have a solemn responsibility to train to decisively and abruptly end threats to your life, your family, and your property. To do so means you must possess the ability to maim and kill men. You must also have the capacity to stop a threat decisively, without violence; something impossible without dangerous, destructive capability.

This responsible preparation means ongoing training. It is not something you can devote a few days, weeks, or years to and then have done with. If you once prepared and now wait in supposed preparation, claiming to be prepared, you are deluding yourself and others. If you are not training regularly you are not prepared and your claim is an embarrassing lie. Training is preparation. All else is fantasy.

Fantasy is the opiate that those working to destroy our liberty and our culture are handing out like candy. Fantasy is what they rely on; that, and the elimination of good, dangerous men. Don’t buy into utopian fantasy. Choose responsibility. Become responsibly prepared. For when the good, dangerous men are gone, liberty and The United States of America will be gone.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
An Ordinary Citizen’s Training Year in Review and Plan

An Ordinary Citizen’s Training Year in Review and Plan

As many of you know, I’m an avid firearms-training enthusiast and spend several days each week at gun ranges, indoor and out. I thought here that I’d do a bit of a 2018 review and then describe some plans for 2019. Firearms training can sometimes be lonely and/or tedious, and I often seek useful insights or inspiration from others who are on the same responsible path. My hope is that those of you who are taking up firearms training or planning to do more this year might find this examination useful or inspiring.

Of course, the foundation of individual practice comes ONLY from quality instruction received in classes or lessons with skilled firearms and defense instructors. Otherwise, regardless of what you think you know, you have no idea what or how to train on your own. Therefore, please hold that idea as the context from which all my thoughts here are presented. This is not a lesson, it’s just an article.

The Past Year’s Training

If you like, you can visit my full 2018 training and competition records, but here’s a screenshot of part of it:

 

Andy's training screenshot

 

I keep detailed records of my ongoing training and rounds-fired for all my firearms. In 2018 I fired 30,452 rounds in training and competition. This was fewer rounds than the previous year, which was fewer than the year before that. As I reflect on my ongoing training, this is a trend I’d like to continue.

I participated in only 4 pistol matches and only 3 classes in 2018. That’s the least I’ve done in years. 2018 was a bit of a turbulent year for me personally and my attentions were drawn elsewhere. I look forward to a more active 2019, especially with regard to course participation.

As is normal, I spent most of my training attention focused on my EDC pistol, either working on precision fundamentals or defensive drills and manipulations run from concealment. As an everyday carrier, unless I’m shooting some different pistol for a review article or working with my rifles, I train almost exclusively with the pistol I carry every day, using the clothing and EDC loadout I use every day.

One of the things not reflected in my training records is the time and reps spent in dry-fire training. I do this in a few ways.

The basic methods involve my EDC carry gun (Glock 19) and a magazine or two of snap caps. I will do dry-fire practice either for trigger-press mechanics—where I’m just sitting or standing still and carefully aiming and slowwwwwwwllly pressing the trigger in proper fashion—or with dynamic movement and/or drawing from concealment and executing dry shots at various targets.

The other method of dry-fire that I began in 2018 is with my exact-replica G19 airsoft blowback pistol. With this tool, I can engage in dynamic drills in my personal indoor range (my garage!) and practice the no-recoil shot of an actual projectile for accuracy, but with the mental stimulus of the sound of breaking the shot along with the slide cycling. I find it very effective and, also importantly, very engaging. In any event, in 2018 I engaged in dry-fire practice once or twice per week.

My 2019 Training Plans

This year I plan to make better use of fewer rounds than in 2018. I want to do this for a few reasons. Firstly, ammo is expensive, so I’d like to decrease my training-ammo budget a bit each year. Secondly, with now well-established pistol fundamentals I don’t need to spend so many rounds on my all of my pistol skills, but rather more specifically on pistol-skill weaknesses. I can spend fewer rounds maintaining strengths. Lastly, I want to spend more time and rounds with my rifles this year.

Another component of pistol training is that I want to devote more time and attention to dry-fire practice in 2019. It costs far less, and I understand that it pays significant dividends toward live-fire ability. Win-win.

Another primary goal for 2019 is that I want to get back into the habit of regularly receiving instruction in classes. I took eleven classes in 2017, but only three in 2018. I’d like to more than double my 2018 total this year.

I enjoy competition and would like to do more of that in 2019, too. I find that pistol competition is a useful and instructive measure of my ongoing training, for if I find it difficult to execute in a match, chances are that it’d be even worse in an actual defensive situation. Also, matches are a good place to explore limits, which allows for more focused training sessions afterward. I haven’t tried a rifle or 3-gun match yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll ease into that, too.

Overall, I’d like to become more efficient in my 2019 training. With more attention devoted specifically to weaknesses (1-handed competence, left-hand competence, rifle speed reloads, etc…) While I’m already pretty serious at the range, I hope my 2019 training becomes more like work and less like messing around.

Conclusion

I hope you found this examination useful. If you’re a responsible, ordinary citizen and especially if you carry concealed, I hope you might conduct your own similar assessment and make your own specific plans for 2019 with the aim of becoming better skilled, more broadly skilled, or even just better a one specific skill.

As I often tell my friends, “Trained in the use of firearms” is fantasy. There is not “trained.” There is training, else there is some level or another of incompetence.

So keep up your training, but if it’s not taking you where you want to be, change it up! If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been. Okay, I think that’s enough maxims for one post. Happy New Year and good training in 2019!

* * *

About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.