How I got where I am today regarding my employment as a use of force instructor, is as much a mystery to me as it would be to my college Anatomy and Physiology lab instructor who i ended up “dating” for a few months. Anatomy study sessions I will never forget…but I digress. You see, at one point I aspired to be a Chiropractor and attended undergrad pursuing a degree in exercise physiology and physical therapy. It was the need for a job where I could basically sit on my ass and do my homework, that took me back to the world of private security and executive protection. That was almost 25 years ago, and a lifetime of lessons learned about what it meant to be an armed private citizen in high crime urban environments. Many of the places I lived, worked and played on a day to day basis were social non-permissive environments (NPE’s) were the presence of a firearm would cause significant anxiety, to say the least. My professional career combined with my upbringing in NYC, one of the most dangerous cities in the country during the 70’s and 80’s, has shaped and molded the training principles and methodologies that I deliver to my clients today.
Fast forward to the present and there has been a tremendous shift in the quality and availability of gear, training and accessories. With the increase in active killer events and the looming threat of domestic terrorism being a stark reality, the game has also changed a bit. No longer is it enough to simply be your own best bodyguard, but in a crisis, you may be thrust into the position of being the medical first responder or have to engage the threat head on to save lives. Dr. Sherman A. House DDS, on his blog-site “Revolver Science” has written an excellent breakdown on some areas of focus, the civilian defender needs to consider in order to be prepared. In this write up, based on my experiences living this role both personally and professionally, I want to address the tools that I’ve learned one can benefit from having at their disposal and my personal choices for each category. These tools fall into the categories of medical, use of force options and E&E.
Over the past three years or so, my company Caliber Training Group, has been the exclusive host of Dark Angel Medical in metro Atlanta, twice annually. Kerry Davis is the real deal when it comes to delivering a quality course on Trauma self-aid and rendering aide to others. No previous medical training is necessary, which makes this the perfect course for everyday citizens. The one thing that differentiated for me, in selecting this course over some of the others, was his Direct Action Response Kit (D.A.R.K.) which can be acquired as part of the tuition for the course. When you look at the break-down of what you get for the cost of the course, I think it’s one of the best values you can get for this kind of training. Full Kit description can be found HERE.
I currently own three of these kits for my vehicles and range bag should the need to render aid to an injured person arise . For more discrete access to life saving trauma supplies, I carry a variation of this kit in an ankle med kit which is specifically for rendering aid to myself should I be injured. This ankle med kit is a great addition to the Urban EDC line-up because it can be worn under your pant leg on a daily basis without anyone but you knowing it’s there.
USE OF FORCE OPTIONS
LETHAL FORCE: Firearms and Knives
For those of us who live in states where constitutional freedoms actually mean something, many people choose to carry a handgun for protective use. I’m not going to get into a caliber or brand rant, I will only state what my personal choice is and that’s the Glock 17/19. Many who know me will tell you that I am “brand loyal” to Glock and might go as far as to call me a “Glock fanboy”. Let me go on record and say, I am loyal to the performance of the firearm, not the brand. If something else comes along that performs as well or better at a comparable price, than it would be highly likely to catch my attention. Some of the features of Glocks that I find of great value are:
- Ease of maintenance: I hate cleaning guns. Nothing about it is enjoyable to me. When I first converted to Glock, over from H&K and Sig, I was intent on proving all of the Glock fans wrong about their beloved pistol. So, I intentionally did not clean or lube my first Glock for a little over 18 months. During that time, I put just over 27,000 rounds through it with no thought about the type or quality of ammo I was using and experienced ZERO malfunctions or stoppages. Needless to say, I was convinced and purchased my first Glock 19 for concealed carry.After that initial “testing” I now clean my guns at “regular” intervals which for me is every 5000 rounds and this rarely takes more than 30 minutes. Once annually I will do a complete, detailed breakdown of the gun for repair and maintenance of worn parts. That usually takes just over an hour.
- Easy to customize: Many people complain about the Glock factory sights and trigger feel and say both are sub-standard for an effective “combat sidearm”. I agree, there is room for improvement. I still feel that right out the box, neither of those make the gun, less functional or less capable in the hands of the average shooter. Especially when you consider that the average citizen will probably never come close to putting “combat handgun” work through their pistol. The plastic sights that come from the factory, as with any plastic, can break. There are a number of aftermarket options available. My favorites are the Dawson Precision Charger sights with blacked out rear and fiber optic front.
Just about everything you would want to change can be done yourself, with no incurred expense of going to a gun smith. Parts are readily available on a number of websites and in some cases, direct from Glock. I recommend mastering the stock configuration before making significant modifications, for the average shooter.
- Proven long term reliability: During that initial “testing” period I learned a lot about Glocks and consider much of the negative play they get on the internet to be bullshit and regurgitated rhetoric. Out of the box, it is a gun that can be trusted as a duty or personal defense weapon, as is illustrated by the 63% of US law enforcement agencies that carry them and the 70% of global MIL/LE commands and agencies that issue them. There are reports of Glocks still being functional, that have in excess of 300,000 rounds through them.
- Low cost: As a state licensed instructor of armed private security personnel, I’m able to purchase my firearms as part of Glocks “Blue Label” program. For such a reliable and proven firearm $398 +tax ($424) is hard to beat.
Guns are a very specialized tool for a specific set of circumstances that must meet a very exacting criteria in order to be lawfully used in a self defense situation. So to ignore other force options is believed by many, myself included, to be irresponsible. So, some other force options are…
Make no mistake. Knives are considered to be a tool of lethal force, in most legal jurisdictions, much like a gun. Legalities vary by state and municipality, be sure to know which ones govern your rights.
- I classify EDC knives into two categories, utility and “Meat work”. A utility blade is necessary for day to day carry and is the sole blade used to open packages, cut rope, scrape or do whatever with it that is NOT a defensive/offensive use against an attacker. Having this blade keeps my “meat work” knife razor sharp and ready when I need it. It is also usually a folder as well. I like Kershaw and CRKT for these purposes, as they make a good quality knife that is easy to resharpen with many good options under $40.For my “meat work” knives, I’ve narrowed my options down to two primaries. My two primary “Meat work” EDC knives are the Spyderco Ronin 2 and the Shivworks Clinch Pick. “Meat work” is my term for the offensive use of an edged weapon against a living, breathing, flesh and blood threat…working the meat to the bone. I like the Ronin 2 (and it’s folding brethren the Yojimbo 2) because of the Wharnecliffe blade. This blade design by Michael Janich, is in my experience, has the deepest cutting ability along the entire length of the blade, so doesn’t require the blade length to be excessively long to be effective. The clinch pick, as the name implies, is a good choice for an entangled engagement where you may not be able to engage with arching slashing movements but you can get some good pokes in the taint as it’s designer, Craig Douglas, likes to say.
LESS THAN LETHAL FORCE: Taser C2 and Pepper Spray/Gel
I held the Taser Instructor certification for a few years and primarily taught it to armed private security and bail enforcement/fugitive recovery professionals. These folks mostly carried the Taser X-26c which is the civilian version of the one issued to law enforcement with the major difference being the length of exposure. The LE model last 5 seconds and the “C” version last 15 seconds. Then Taser came out with a private citizen model that did not so closely resemble a firearm like the X26 models. It was called the Taser C2 and it was designed to take you on a long and electrifying 30 second ride on the white lightning express. Why so much longer than the LE version? Well, the C2 was designed to give it’s user time to run away and escape harm after deploying it against an attacker and believe me, 30 seconds of exposure from this baby is plenty of time to make a hasty retreat. Taser has an excellent customer service policy that states if you ever have to use the C2 and leave it at the scene, simply send them a police report and they will replace it free of charge. I’ve been Tased close to 15 times by now in demos and I will tell you that anyone who doubts that the Taser works, has clearly never been hit with it. It was so effective that I wanted to buy one for all of the women in my family. Unfortunately, the majority of them live in the Freedom hating city of New York.
Next, an often overlooked but highly effective use of force tool, pepper spray or in this case, pepper gel. Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, is a big advocate for the carry and use of pepper spray as a non/less lethal option for anyone who carries a gun and I agree with him. Here is a video that outlines some of the benefits of Pepper Gel.
SHIT THAT HURTS: Jaw Jacker, Expandable batons
The “Jaw Jacker” has slowly become one of my favorite EDC tools to carry, particularly when venturing into non-permissive environments where carrying a firearm is not feasible. I would only recommend it to those with experience learning how to properly throw a punch and some experience having done so against live adversaries.
It’s basically an update to the tried and true brass knuckles of the gangster era but made of a hard composite plastic that makes it undetectable by metal detector or wand.
I also like the ASP P-12 and P-16 expandable baton. It consist of the same rugged design as the full sized versions carried by law enforcement officers globally, but in a much smaller length and diameter for concealed carry. They were both designed specifically for low visibility protective personnel and can be easily concealed on a pants pocket.
ESCAPE & EVADE/ANTI-ABDUCTION
As I was writing this, I realized the the E&E / Anti-abduction kit is worthy of it’s own separate write up. So I will follow up with that in the very near future.
As with any EDC checklist, the items discussed in this article are carried on an as needed basis, not all at once, everyday.
Do the work, be hard to kill