Keeping It On The Down Low

June 20th, 2016

Some weeks ago, I discussed my new self defense gun.  One of the things I revealed was the odd, gimicky holster I use to keep people from knowing that I am armed.

sneaky pete holster front

px4 storm in sneaky pete holster

This prompted long time reader knirirr to ask a question

“That holster looks like it does a good job of concealing the contents. But, it seems fairly large compared with a mobile phone holster – does anyone ever mistake it as that, or ask what’s in it?”

knirirr’s question was answered very well by Siergen, another long time reader, who said that he would tell curious people that it held a tablet or other electronic device.  This is a great bit of misdirection, as it leads onlookers to start imagining what kind of Internet capable gadget is nestled inside the square box, while banishing images of firearms that might otherwise dance in their heads.

But the exchange started me to thinking.  You see, I have never experienced anyone asking me what was inside the box.  In fact, it would appear that no one has even harbored suspicions that I was carrying a gun.

This is due to three very deliberate steps that I have taken to minimize the characteristics that people usually associate with advocates of armed self defense.


I am not a fashion plate by any stretch of the imagination.  There are no bespoke suits to be found in my closet, and all of my clothes were purchased in big box bargain chain stores.  But what I put on in the morning is just a tiny bit higher quality than the bottom rung.  The best way that I can put it is that all of my shirts have collars.

What do I mean by that?  Consider the difference between a polo shirt and a T-shirt.  One has a collar, and one does not.

black t shirt

black polo shirt

Please note that I also don’t wear anything with logos or pictures, and I certainly don’t advertise the fact that I am an advocate for armed self defense.

smith and wesson polo shirt

There isn’t anything wrong with such garments, of course, but the very essence of carrying a concealed self defense tool is concealment.  This purpose is defeated if one becomes a walking advertisement for their favorite firearms manufacturer.

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You Don’t Have To Be Freud To Figure This Picture Out

June 2nd, 2016

pretty girl with really large japanese sword

Hers is bigger.

Poking A Hole In The Myth

June 2nd, 2016

Is a katana nothing more than a saber from Japan?  Let us examine the evidence.

Katanas!  And some other kinda katana-ey swords.  And it looks like a replica of a movie prop at the 12 o’clock position.

katanas in a pile

Sabers!  And a cutlass.  And three backswords at the top.

sabers in a row

Looks like it may be so, but this is hardly definitive proof.

I’ve heard that sabers are the most common swords on Earth.  Considering all of the extremely cheap samurai swords I’ve seen littering the landscape over the decades, I’d say that this is true only if one considers katanas to be a form of saber.  If you should insist that Japanese style swords are a breed apart, then I would say to say that all those cheap, crappy samurai swords I practically trip over every time I visit a comic book store win the top spot.

cheap swords on display for sale

I Have A New Carry Gun

May 31st, 2016

I wrote here before about carrying an old .38 revolver as a self defense tool.

snub nosed 38 with six rounds

It certainly did the job, and I didn’t feel unprotected while it was on my hip, but there were a few drawbacks.  It was heavy, and it had very limited firepower compared to modern autoloaders.

So what did I do?  I purchased a modern autoloader.

beretta storm compact

It is a Beretta Px4 Storm, the compact version.

The gun is a polymer frame autoloader with a 15 round magazine.  Nothing particularly innovative about that, certainly.  The good folks at Beretta insist that they have a different wrinkle, though.  It is a “rotating barrel”, something that first appeared about 20 years ago on their 8000 series of handguns.  The idea is that the barrel rotates upon recoil, unlocking from the frame during the cycling action.  Beretta claims that this has the effect of stretching out the time the gun takes to cycle, meaning that perceived recoil and muzzle flip are both greatly reduced.

Well, I’ve seen a whole bunch of gimmicks in my day, and most of them don’t deliver.  I really didn’t expect much when I first hung a target at the shooting range and loaded up.  This whole reduced muzzle flip thing was probably just marketing oil for the masses.

Except that it really seems to work pretty much as advertised!  Surprised me, I must say.

On aspect of the design which might aid in in the whole reduced muzzle flip is that the gun is very top heavy.  The barrel is more robust than most found in polymer guns intended for concealed carry, something which is supposed to contribute to th durability of the handgun.  Beretta claims that the Storm is capable if firing 100,000 rounds without requiring any major repairs.  I don’t know if that is true or not, as I have only fired about 800 through mine so far.  I’ll let you know in 50 years when that particular milestone is reached.

So far as hauling it around, I usually carry the handgun in a belt slide holster with an extra magazine riding in a velcro pouch.

px4 storm and extra magazine pouch

This works pretty well for me, although your own mileage may vary.

I’ve also mentioned that my workplace does not object to me carrying a defensive handgun while on the clock, with the only restriction being that it has to be concealed.  So how does one go about concealing a handgun when the dress code is business formal?

big guy in suit and tie

The shirt has to be tucked in, so belt carry is out.  It is possible to wear a shoulder holster but that means the jacket has to be worn at all times, which would be absolute misery in the West Texas heat.  In most cases, I would recommend either a pocket holster or ankle holster.  Unless someone wanted to go in for one of those gimmick holsters, of course.

So what did I do?  I decided to use a gimmick holster.  It is a design that has served me well in the past.

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Say Hello To My Little Friend

May 22nd, 2016

little friend

(Click on pic to enbiggen.)

What is that machine, and what is it used for?  Haven’t the foggiest, but I could probably guess.

It is obviously used to kill monsters from Hell, should oil drilling go so deep that it releases such horrors upon the surface world.

I mean, what other explanation makes sense?

Royal Throne

May 22nd, 2016

royal throne

Purple is the royal color, right?

Living In Cloud Cuckoo Land

May 15th, 2016

Make something more expensive, and people buy less.

Seems pretty clear, right?  I mean, really FREAKIN’ obvious!

I remember the anti-smoking campaigns in the US back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Television commercials for cigarettes were banned, movies started to shun scenes showing tobacco use, public service announcements detailing the health risks of smoking flooded the airwaves, and each container of tobacco had to carry a warning.

surgeon generals warning on a pack of cigarettes

Nothing seemed to have much impact, since the percentage of the population that smoked barely changed after each new ad campaign rollout.  It was as if nicotine was addictive or something!

The effect of the propaganda blitz had almost no discernible effect, but the numbers of smokers kept falling.  What was the cause?

Mainly it was the unintended consequences of heavy taxes.  (Last link leads to a PDF file.)  The anti-smoking campaigns might not have convinced people to stop buying cigarettes, but it did change public attitudes towards tobacco.  If tobacco companies were villains, and smoking products weren’t considered cool anymore, then politicians were free to levy ever more taxes on them.  This drove up the price, which kept many people from starting to smoke in the first place.

This is hardly something that is a mystery.  Politicians pushing environmental causes routinely brag about how they are going to increase the cost of gasoline, or bankrupt the coal industry.  The reasoning behind such statements are so clear that no one ever has to bother to ask them what they mean.

Okay, so it is blindingly obvious that we can reduce unwanted acts by increasing the personal costs.  But what happens if we instead reduce the personal costs of unwanted behavior?

When I grow up.....

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Even The Wild West Wasn’t That Wild

May 10th, 2016

Anyone out there remember Wyatt Earp (1994)?

kevin costner in the 1994 movie wytt earp

It was, probably, the most realistic movie portrayal of what is, probably, the most famous gun fight in all of American history.

The film did poorly at the box office, my own opinion being that it would have fared better if it had been much less true-to-life.  One example which springs to mind is how the action screeches to a halt right after the famous gun fight, as the scene shifts to a courtroom.  History records that the survivors on the losing side filed assault and murder charges against Wyatt Earp and those who were with him on that day.  A local Justice of the Peace held hearings for 30 days to determine what had happened, and then turned the case over to a grand jury to see if there were any grounds to bring the accused to trial.

court gavel with scales of justice

Hold the phone!  Court proceedings?  Justice of the peace?  Month long hearings?  Even a grand jury to see if there was to be a trial?

This certainly doesn’t sound like the Wild West that is famed in song and story!  Wasn’t every man an island, armed to the teeth and a law unto themselves?  Hair trigger tempers cause the use of hair trigger guns?  No consequences or rules that spell out when lethal force is acceptable, and no one to say that gunning down a ne’er-do-well is murder most foul?

cowboy action shooter with two guns

The historical record is very clear.  Virtually at the very instant that permanent settlements were formed, the residents turned their attention to imposing law and order on everyone involved.  County sheriffs were elected, town marshals were hired, and court houses were built as soon as possible so local judges could hand down punishments to those who violated the law.

modern western lawmen

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the legality of protecting your beloved pets when they are attacked through the use of lethal force.  The fact of the matter is that the law considers animals to be property, not people, and the general rule is that shooting someone to protect property is strictly against the law.  This applies just about everywhere, except under a very narrow set of exceptions.  This is true even in my adopted state of Texas, even though the conditions where lethal force is legal are broader than those found in other parts of the US.

After writing about protecting pets, I received an email from a long time reader concerning the essay.

“I thought it was a general purpose acception in most “firearm friendly” states like Texas and AZ ,was that thar were no given rules of engagement…”

No, not so.  And it wasn’t even so more than 130 years ago.

Before anyone takes our friend to task for his erroneous impression, let me remind you that it is a very easy misconception to acquire.  The majority of people working in the American news industry nurture a bitter and unrelenting hatred of any private citizen who dares to arm themselves against violent criminal attack.  They strive at every turn to depict decent, law abiding people who want to protect innocent lives as racist, misogynistic, in bred killers who are hell bent on finding a legal way to kill someone.  The wonder of it all is that there are some people who don’t fall for the line of bull!

So he has a wrong impression.  But he comes here along with all of you, my dear readers, so it looks like the best efforts of the gun control advocates have failed this time around.

Layered For That Crunchy Taste

April 30th, 2016

Not everyone has the means for fine dining, and not everyone can afford to have the fridge stuffed to bursting with fresh ingredients.  Sometimes you just have to make do.

Many has been the time when I placed a single slab of lunch meat between two slices of bread and chowed down.

bologna sandwich

Rather dull.  But there isn’t any cheese to be had at the moment, and there won’t be until the end of the week when I get paid.  No lettuce or fresh greens to lend a little texture to the soft blandness.  What to do?

Use those leftover potato chips, of course!

bologna sandwich with potato ships

Pile them on until the top bread slice is teetering precariously, and then push down to level out the structure.  This lends a great deal more flavor and texture to the bland and soft.  Crunch crunch, eat em’ up!

Don’t have potato chips, or crisps as our brothers and sisters in the UK and Ireland call them?  Then use any other snack crisp you can get your hands on.  Corn chips, tortilla chips, whatever.  Thin, crunchy, and salty is the order of the day.  When it comes to bland sandwiches, this is the spice of life!

McDonald’s has a Great Tastes of America menu that is available in the UK and Ireland.  They trot it out for six weeks every summer, and try new variations on the old favorites.  This year they offer something called the Tex-Mex Stack, and this is how a food writer describes the sandwich….

Another bloody weird one.

The Tex Mex Stack has two beef burgers, pepper jack cheese, spicy smoky sauce, CRISPY TORTILLA CHIPS, and a spicy bun. Whaaaa.


The author thinks chips on a sandwich is “bloody weird“???  What bizarro world did they come from?

Am I to understand that snack chips on sandwiches is unique to the United States?  That is something I simply cannot believe!

I wish they would offer the Tex Mex Stack here in Texas where I now reside.  The worthy residents of Ireland and the UK may find it to be shockingly odd to their palate, but it would fit right in with the residents of the Lone Star State.

Protecting Your Pets

April 24th, 2016

I was working as a security guard back in the late 1980’s.

elderly security guard

The must-have high-tech gadget at the time, which every motorist lusted after, was the radar detector.

radar detector circa 1985

The various models retailed for a couple of hundred dollars in 1980’s money, the manufacturers kept trying to slim them down and make them ever smaller.  Handy enough to slip into a jacket pocket, it took but two or three seconds to smash a window and rip the device from atop the dashboard.  Many a driver had a sorrowful tale of woe to relate after they left their car ” … for just a few minutes …” as an errand was attended to.

smashed car window

I was working for a rather large regional bank at the time, and the powers-that-be had decreed that the guards were to be armed.  This wasn’t an issue for me, except for the fact that armed security guards were entitled to a bonus.  Hey, more money for the same work!

Except for one month, when we started to experience a rash of smash-and-grabs out in the remote sections of the parking lots.  The loot of choice was, you guessed it, radar detectors.

There was some discussion as to what to do if a guard should suddenly come across one of the brazen thieves.  I pointed out that the on-site manual clearly stated that the thief should be observed as long as they were on the property, while we used our walkie-talkies to summon the police.  And that was as far as our responsibility for our minimum wage plus a buck jobs were concerned.

But there was one hothead in the group, as there usually is.

“I’m gonna shoot him!  I’m not even gonna bother to chase him!  I’m just gonna shoot him!”

I asked if he was actually going to end the life of some person just for a $200 radar detector, and our erstwhile Rhodes scholar loudly declared that the thief would have it coming if they tried to run away, thus forcing Deadeye Dick to pick up the pace and break into anything faster that a slow walk.

fat security guard

“I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that’s murder.” I said.

All the other guards swiveled their heads to gaze upon Deadeye, but he didn’t have any further nuggets of wisdom to impart.  He just kept repeating that he was going to shoot if he got a radar detector thief in his sights.  Lucky thing that the thieves were a crafty bunch, and managed to conduct their foul work without encountering a guard.  We never did find out what the courts would do if some rent-a-cop killed a teenager over a dashboard toy.

Okay, so you can’t use lethal force to protect property.  But what about our beloved pets?

chris takes his ease

Long time readers know that I have a very profound emotional bond with my pets, and that I am willing to go to great lengths to protect them.  In fact, I bear some small yet permanent scars for trying to do that very thing.

james with a chewed up arm

Even so, I realize that animals are considered to be property under the law, and that lethal force is a no-no when it comes to protecting stuff as opposed to people.

There appears to be an exception, however.  It seems that my new home state of Texas has a provision where one can employ lethal force under very narrow conditions.  The primary condition seems to be that the theft has to take place during the nighttime hours, which is certainly food for thought.

Like I said, I am no lawyer.  I’m going to have to consult with a professional if I ever want the lowdown on things legal, which is exactly what anyone who is also untainted by a law degree should do when faced with such questions.

But I think I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that the default assumption should be that you don’t shoot if there is only stuff on the line.