Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Off-duty reloads.

If I have pants on, I've got a gun on. There are very, VERY few exceptions, and they are notable enough to prove the rule. It's not that I'm paranoid; it's just that there is little point to carrying a gun unless I do it all of the time, as one can't predict infrequent (and yet altogether too frequent) tragedy. Over the years, I've made some bad people unhappy with me, and I plan to keep doing so. Should bad people commit horrible acts against me or others in my presence, I'm going to intervene. I understand the concept of "holding back and being a good witness;" I simply believe that there are times when that's not a possibility. So I carry a gun. Always.

But because I'm a realist about myself, in the warmer months (about 3/4 of the year) I carry the smallest, lightest guns available in the minimum calibers that I would consider defending myself or others with. Usually these are a 7 shot P3AT .380 acp or a 5 shot M37 .38 special, either one of which is on the happy side of one pound, loaded. I tend to just drop them in my pocket, in a ratty old pocket holster to keep them oriented correctly and keep crud out of their actions and trigger guards. (Note to self: obtain new pocket holsters!)

But for some reason, for years I've failed to carry a reload.

Dumb, right? Handguns are inherently poor manstoppers by their very nature. If they were particularly good, soldiers would carry only pistols, or pistol-caliber rifles. Then we take and reduce the caliber, barrel length, sight radius, and grip area to make a given pistol less effective and harder to control, and you end up with something that requires a LOT of practice to excel beyond "belly gun" status. It would make more sense to hedge my bets, and carry as many rounds as possible for such an inadequate weapon.

My rationalization has been that very few gunfights have ever involved reloads. But this means little; few people carry reloads. I know this myself from my own observations and experience. Hell, when, as a young college student, I woke up one night to chase some burglars out of my house and down the street with a 6" Colt revolver, I didn't have a reload with me. (Or pants. But that's another story, for another time.) When bad guys go on rampages in schools, malls, and churches, a spare round or two might be the most worthy pocket plunder I ever carry.

For some odd reason, I found it easier to to begin carrying a reload for my .38 Special. Silly, when you consider that 5 rounds of Buffalo Bore 158g LSWCHP are bound to be about 5 gazillian times better than 7 rounds of .380 acp, with the first round being JHP and the rest being anybody's FNJ. I started with small snapped dump pouches. These are very handy, holding 6 rounds of .38 Spl ammo in a tight little packet that can be dropped in an opposite pocket, or worn on the belt in an unobtrusive, completely covered black pouch. But it's a little slow. Faster, but bulkier, is the 5-shot speedloader. Open the cylinder, dump the empties, insert the bullet tips of the fresh load into the chambers, twist the knurled knob to drop them into the cylinder, and close the cylinder again, with a loaded gun in your hand.

But only last night did I finally think, as I started out the door to go to my Statistics class, how short-sighted it was to rely soley on the 7 anemic rounds for that sad little .380 in my pocket, without a spare load. I never had the availability of a reload for it until friend Peter gave me a spare magazine. But when I got it out of my sock drawer (Well? What's in your sock drawer?), I didn't have any ammo in it. I rummaged through the drawer. .357 Sig rounds. .38 Special reloads. .45 acp SWC reloads. A 12 gauge slug. Some collar brass. Oh, and some socks. No .380. I stepped to my front closet. .35 Whelen. 5.56mm. 7.62X39. .38 S&W in both lead reloads and Ishapore .380-2Z FMJ variations. .45acp Gold Dot. .22 LR, short, CB Cap, and Long. .22 Hornet. .243. 9mm. .32 acp. (Really?!?). .30-06. 12 gauge. 20 gauge. A round on the floor that looked like an old .303 round. No .380.

I got in my car, thinking I'm bound to have some in my trunk. I checked in my glove box and found a baggie of 158g Federal Nyclad .38 Special loads that Dad gave me. I felt under the seat and found a quarter box of .38 Special 158g LRN reloads. I found some more collar brass. (Hey! So there it is!) Parking at the university, I checked the trunk, and found Federal bulk pack .22 LR, 12 gauge slugs, 12 gauge buck shot, a Crossman 760 and .177 pellets for same, 2 pair of hearing protection, a box of .357 Sig reloads, a half box of .357 Sig Gold Dot, a few rounds of .45 acp, and a Sierra bullet box with a single round of .35 Whelen rattling around in it.

I walked to class, thinking, "I'm a piker. I couldn't find a single round of .380 acp in my car, my sock drawer, or my front closet."

Today, I found 50 rounds of .380 acp FMJ in my patrol bag in my trunk. The rest, I know, is in storage.

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At Thursday, October 16, 2008 1:36:00 PM, Blogger Dustin said...

Sounds like you need one of those battery organizers, but for bullets. Hmm... I wonder if they make those?

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 2:46:00 PM, Blogger Tam said...

Bianchi Speed Strips are the snubby-toter's flat-yet-fast little friend.

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 2:53:00 PM, Blogger Jay G said...


I've found the Bianchi speed strips to be excellent for carrying extra .38 special rounds.

Just a little bit of practice needed, but it lays flat in your pocket rather than the round H&K speedloader.

Just a thought...

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 4:35:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

hehehe- been there done that! I carry a Bianchi speed loader in the off pocket for the 637, but often don't carry a spare mag for the P-9. I guess I "know" in my own mind if I ever have to use the .38 special, I'm probably going to need more than five rounds... sigh...

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 5:17:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

While I will confess to never using Speed Strips despite my familiarity with them, I've always felt that the little dump pouch holds them tighter and with less clanky-clanky in the pocket. (Shrug.) It's true that I should actually use a product before judging it.

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 5:19:00 PM, Blogger Assrot said...

I'm with you Matt. I carry every where I go except where it is illegal to do so.

I generally carry 2 guns. One compact .45 semi-auto and one small .38 special snubbie.

I carry one reload for each. I'm a big guy so it's easy to conceal even when I dress light.

You're making me worry. An experienced cop that does not have at least 100 rounds of ammo for every gun he owns???!


P.S. - What's the point of having a self defense gun if you don't always carry it?

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 7:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What has it got in it's pocketses, my Precious?

Front pocket carry is my favorite, too. The speed strips have already been mentioned. I find that carrying them in the coin pocket of a pair of blue jeans places them just right for a reload. Don't carry six rounds, it's easier to reload with just five.

I use a Kramer pocket holster for my Taurus 85 and my S&W M36. It looks exactly like a wallet in the pocket.

My latest acquisition is a Kahr CW45 in a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster. It requires a fairly spacious pcoket; so far only cargo shorts have met the bill.

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 7:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a page I did on a very simple cover for your magazines that are suitable for just dropping in your pocket:

Basically it's a slip cover made from a plastic milk jug and some duct tape. Keeps the crud out and the sheeple happy.

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 8:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always carried a full size pistol and a spare mag. After the LA bank shootout and the FBI shootout in Miami I vowed to never carry anything smaller. I feel naked sitting here now without one... but I'm no longer a cop.

First visit to your blog. Great read. Keep it up.

Best Regards,

aka V5

At Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:24:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Puh-lease, Joe. When I moved into this rent house, it was strictly "temporary." I've got lots of stuff in temporary storage. Plan to move into the new place in just over a week.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 3:51:00 AM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

Have you considered working out and eating healthier until you can handle a real gun? :P The Taurus 605 with Gold Dot .357s fits nicely in a Coronado vest or a SmartCarry.

If nothing else, the magnum fireball makes a bigger statement than the .38s, and at close range you can miss by a foot to either side and still scorch the target.

Done just right, two speed strips can fit in the mag pocket of the SmartCarry without snagging or dumping both when you try to pull one.

Anybody ever tried the Safariland Comp I 5-shot/.38 speedloader with a 605? I've got Comp Is for my Model 10, and I'd gladly trade the Taurus's HKS for the speed of the Safarilands if they'll work reliably.

BTW, 7-letter capchas are getting ridiculous...especially when it refuses the first one and gives me another, harder-to-read one.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 8:25:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Funny guy, KD5NRH.
When I originally started carrying a pistol, I carried a full-sized 1911. But I didn't carry all the time. And neither do 99% of those who say they always carry a full-sized pistol. The two guns I mentioned are Always Guns. I may have something else with me, but I'm not going without an A.G.

I called down a guy on TFL a few years back, who said that he always carried a full-sized .357 revolver and a full-sized 1911, all the time. No, he did not. He sent me an email apologizing for having said that, saying that he meant that he carried that combo occasionally.

I've always been leery of the Comp-1 speedloaders, because they're designed for speed in competitin, not for carry. I don't carry speed loaders on my belt; I drop them in my pocket. What if I accidentally press the button? This is not a possibility with an HKS speedloader. But, as I said earlier with speed strips-- I really shouldn't judge without using it and giving it a shot.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're correct. I didn't "always" carry a full size pistol, but when I didn't carry a full size, I wasn't carrying at all. Like when at the beach on vacation.

And, there was a short period of time, that I carried a Colt Commander instead of a full size 1911, but only because it had been my Dad's pistol. And, personally, I sort of group the Commander into the full size realm.

However, in general, for most of my carer, if I was armed off duty, it was with either a full size 1911 or Glock and a spare magazine.

One of the main reasons for that was because of our department policy. For a long time we were only allowed to carry our duty weapon while off duty... and we were required to carry at all times, unless drinking alcohol. The only people allowed to carry smaller frame pistols were defectives, and they carried the 'cut-down' Glocks.

After a new chief came on board the policies were changed and we were allowed to carry smaller 'backup' pistols instead. I just never made that transition. (it was only after that new policy that I carried my Dad's Commander.)

I left the department (but kept my county reserve deputy status) a couple years after that for a more lucrative job investigating industrial accidents and arson for insurance companies.

aka V5

At Friday, October 17, 2008 7:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pocket carry virtually always and I have a loaded mag in the driver's side door panel of the car but not on my person.

Matt, I'm not sure if you were thinking/speaking as a LEO or a civilian. If you have the urge and time I'd be interested in your thoughts specifically from a civilian perspective regarding:

1. The expectation of intervention for a third party. I lean toward non-involvement *except* in a clearly life-or-death situation because I'm not enthused about putting my house and life savings up for grabs in a legal situation that does not benefit myself or my family.

2. Considering the above, no mag on me but in the car. Odds are??? (I've thought about carrying a mag with me and have the pouches but just never have done it.)

BTW, my latest pistol in the house is my first 1911, purchased this past week. Been wanting one for a very long time and finally made the move. Happy camper here, hopefully to the range next week with it.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 7:31:00 PM, Blogger Assrot said...

I forgot you were between houses right now. You're forgiven this time. Don't let me catch you without enough ammo on hand again!

By the way, you are correct. I don't always carry two guns but I try to as often as possible. I do always carry one and if it's only one, it's the snubbie wheel gun.

It goes okay in a pocket holster or a vest pocket and I know I can rely on it no matter what.

I'm 99.999 % sure I can rely on the CS45 also but given a choice I'll take the revolver over the semi-auto.

I can shoot just as good and reload just as fast with either. I have never seen a wheel gun fail even after it was dropped. I've seen other folks' semi-autos fail quite often.

I'd really like a .45 or .44 revolver for carry but they tend to run on the heavy side and are a little harder to keep concealed.

Good luck with that new house. You'll love it all the more because your blood, sweat and tears made it a decent home.


At Friday, October 17, 2008 8:59:00 PM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

I've always been leery of the Comp-1 speedloaders, because they're designed for speed in competitin, not for carry. I don't carry speed loaders on my belt; I drop them in my pocket. What if I accidentally press the button?

Try it; the rounds rattle until you let go, but they don't fall out. The only way to get mine to let go is to either press hard and turn, or press the little star buried between the rounds. My HKS loaders have dumped while trying to yank them out of a pocket as the rounds or body caught on fabric and twisted the body while I was pulling on the knob.

At the same time, reloading with the Safariland is a lot quicker; line it up and slam it in, then let go. As the rounds drop into the cylinder, the speedloader will just fall away, and no worries about twisting the release the wrong way under stress, or not having a good grip on the cylinder to keep everything from turning free while you're trying to turn the knob.

The Comp I is normally intended for carry, hence the lack of the big knob for quick grabbing in competitive reloading.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 9:10:00 PM, Blogger TOTWTYTR said...

I've been carrying more of late, for some reason. I always carry at least one reload, usually two. I expect that I'll never fire even one round, in fact I hope I never do. Still, I'd rather put up with the weight than risk dying with my last conscious thought being "I wish I had a few more rounds".

If I'm carrying my 442, then I have two HK speed loaders. If I'm carrying one of my S&W 9mm, I have at least one magazine on me. In the rare instances where I'm carrying one of the Model 10s, I have one or two speed loaders.

I'm probably just paranoid.

At Saturday, October 18, 2008 8:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There goes my vision of you wandering around in long johns and a holster.

At Saturday, October 18, 2008 2:31:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

"I have never seen a wheel gun fail even after it was dropped."

I have.

At Sunday, October 19, 2008 4:36:00 AM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

"I have never seen a wheel gun fail even after it was dropped."

Keep an eye on the screws: I've had a couple of them fail from various screws backing out under recoil. The worst was the 605, which just jammed up solid after the cylinder release screw backed out enough to let something in the action get misaligned. It took a few good whacks on my steel-toe boot to get it to line up enough to even open the cylinder. Percussive maintenance is an unnerving thing to have to do with a loaded .357, but it was that or drive home with a loaded .357 that has the hammer jammed partway back and no way of knowing if it might let go.

At every cleaning, all my revolvers get a good going-over with a screwdriver to make sure everything's tight, and the 605 gets a bit of Locktite to keep that from happening again.

At Sunday, October 19, 2008 8:22:00 PM, Blogger EE said...

You carry on campus?

I want to go to school where you go...

At Monday, October 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

The designation as a LEO helps.

At Monday, October 20, 2008 11:42:00 PM, Blogger EE said...

Hell, I'd love to have you in my classroom. My taser won't do much if someone comes in shooting. Your gun will...

At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carry on campus anyway. Risking being expelled/arrested beats being dead.

You might want to consider adding true pocket pistol with your load ... keltec, derringer, NAA, etc.

They may be crap tactically ... but the are always there with your pocket trash. Rule 1: bring a gun.


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