Your Hump Day Reading List for January 4, 2017

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Welcome to the first Hump Day Reading List of 2017! Today I bring you information about recoil springs and why you should replace them; an experiment that shows just because you look doesn’t mean you’ll really see anything; how to spot someone impersonating a police officer; two stories about silly self defense “tools”; another story of someone shooting a family member in self defense; and how and why you need to pattern your defensive shotgun. Much more to come in 2017!


Maintain your self defense firearm — including the springs!

Believe it or not, springs wear out. In a semiauto pistol the recoil spring has a specific service life, and every manufacturer has a recommended replacement interval. Most people blithely ignore those recommendations, though, and only replace theirs when trouble crops up. What kind of trouble? If your usually reliable pistol suddenly has feeding or ejection problems and you’ve never changed the recoil spring, you should try that first. Here’s an article on recoil springs and why you should replace them when the manufacturer recommends (with the caveat that the author’s last few sentences seem to make no sense in the context of the rest of the article. Ignore them.) Recoil springs are cheap and can be replaced the next time you clean your gun; there’s no excuse not to!


Are you sure you can really see what you need to see?

I remain amazed that the bulk of the defensive training world ignores the science of how our bodies work. Luckily not everyone is so myopic! Andy Loeffler at Black Wing Shooting Center in Ohio noticed something puzzling about his students reactions in a specific drill, so set up an experiment to test what he saw and then looked for the scientific answer. His article at Personal Defense Network explains the whole thing, and should give you serious pause if you’re a proponent of the idea of looking at your gun while you’re reloading because “it’s faster”. I’ve said for many years that threat fixation during a real fight is highly likely to make that looking useless, and Andy’s results (plus the related scientific research) support that opinion. Great information!


Is that a real police officer? How do you tell?

Believe it or not, dry cleaning establishments are often burglarized — not for cash, but for uniforms! Thieves steal uniforms of all types, but police uniforms are particularly prized. Why? So someone can impersonate an officer and get into places they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. This is real; I’ve heard from police officers around the country who’ve confirmed that their own departments have had uniforms stolen out of dry cleaners. Greg Ellifritz gives you some pointers on how to recognize someone who looks like a police officer, but really isn’t.


Useless self-defense products, Part One

There are lots of these kinds of apps being sold these days, all purporting to protect you in some way. I hate to sound morbid or stoke people’s fears, but it’s critical to understand that all they really do is tell police  where to find the victim after the fact. Save your money; learn how to recognize an impending attack, and  develop your ability to both de-escalate and respond to someone who intends to hurt you. That’s what will keep you safe, not another app on your smartphone.


Useless self-defense products, Part Two

This is a disappointing article from a site that purports to be about the “Personal Defense World”. The creator of the jewelry is, I’m sure, earnest in her desire to help — she says “women might carry pepper spray, but they’re averse to using it because they don’t want to be in combat with somebody.” I submit that if you get to the point where you need the kind of response that the little light and siren is supposed to summon, then you’re already in combat and really need to be doing something proactive to defend yourself. (Remember that I’m a proponent of less-than-lethal defensive tools, and tools that can be carried in non-permissive environments. I recommend a high-intensity flashlight because it’s multipurpose, up to and including as an impact device. This necklace is none of that.)


Shooting one of your own

You may remember an article I posted last year about the difficulty of defending yourself against someone you know. It happens a whole lot more often than you might think, and this story out of Texas deals with one such incident. A son was forced to shoot an kill his own father, who had shown up in an intoxicated and agitated state at the son’s home with a machete and pepper spray. Why? We may never know, but his son felt threatened enough to use a firearm in self defense. I don’t want you to think ill of your family or friends, but statistically you probably should consider how you’d react if one of them suddenly went berserk on your front lawn.


Why you need to test your defensive shotgun

“Patterning” a shotgun is a fancy term for firing it at a large sheet of paper or cardboard at the normal distances you expect to use it, and then looking at the pattern of pellet impacts. Doing this is very instructive, even (perhaps especially) if you’re using it for self defense at room distances. Using a rifled slug barrel for self defense, for instance, may not be such a good idea; as this article shows it may result it patterns wide enough to actually miss your target — especially with buckshot. Test your gun with the ammunition you plan to use at the distances you can reasonably expect to use it!

– Grant


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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