CCW Instructor Donald L. Miller, Retired Mendocino Deputy Sheriff
Class Dates: Will be posted on our web site.
The Basic CCW Class for Newbies Location to be announced.
CCW Renewal Classes are 8 hours.
DO NOT Bring Any WEAPONS or Ammunition To The CLASSROOM
Things You Will Need For The Range:
For those who are going to go out and buy a weapon, please look at what Don's suggestions attached to the bottom of this memo. It might help you decide what you want. Remember that you get what you pay for, and that sometimes buying a gun is like buying a car, like the differences between a Ford and Chevy is personal. If you have questions, email me and I will answer what I can. Be careful on buying reloaded ammo, make sure you get it from a reputable dealer and that the ammo fits the weapon. Do not purchase magnum ammo for practice.
Here are some things to consider when you are shopping for a new firearm that will assist you in making a good choice and keep you in control of the buying process.
Price and Mission
For backup guns and hideout guns, conceal ability will dominate the selection process. If the gun is too big or heavy, you may end up leaving it at home. If it is low quality, it may not last long or malfunction at a critical moment. The key to these weapons is to use the word “practical” when you look at them. Will you be most likely to have it with you all the time because it is convenient to carry? Again, price is a consideration, but don’t sacrifice performance or durability in the name of paying less.
Remember though, durability standards are not the same for small, very light guns when compared with full-size pieces made to shoot a lot of rounds. Make sure it goes “bang” every time, it is safe, and you will carry it all the time.
Mode of Carry
Think of climate or mission considerations and what type of clothing will fit with the mode of carry. Hot summers may preclude wearing a jacket to avoid standing out as a gun carrier. Here a slimmer/smaller gun can be worn in a higher ride or inside the pants holster with a squared bottomed shirt hanging over it.
If you like to carry a backup gun in a coat or pants pocket, a hammerless revolver such as the Smith &Wesson Scandium J-Frame weighs only 11 ounces while allowing you to fire from the pocket without jamming. A North American Arms, five-shot, .22 Magnum, Black Widow revolver weights about 9 ounces and hides effortlessly in an ankle rig, pocket or deep-cover position.
Size, Weight and Capacity
One of the first things to do, after determining the firearm is in a safe condition, is to grip the firearm and see whether the middle of the pad of the trigger finger rests easily against the trigger when you finger is relaxed. If you have to stretch your finger to get the middle of the pad on the trigger it is most likely too big for you. Now try this same test while wearing any gloves you would wear for duty or off-duty wear. This can be a deal-breaker.
Shooters with smaller hands almost always benefit from a narrower frame size that allows a stronger grip and gives a better reach to the trigger. I would gladly give up a few rounds of capacity in order to increase controllability and speed. The classic Colt 1911 pattern, carrying 8+1, has served many a cop well for many years and is still one of my favorite firearms. The Springfield XD in .45 ACP adds several more rounds to this yet has a smaller grip than many other high-capacity firearms.
Please note that smaller guns do not necessarily have smaller frame circumferences. As an example, going from a Glock 22 to a Glock 23 will not reduce the reach to the trigger. For a shooter with small hands, you will need to find a gun with a shorter reach from the tang to the trigger.
How well does the gun point for you? When you bring it to eye level, are the sights falling into line with your line of sight? Some guns allow you to feel like you have built-in radar. Grip angle and shape, as well as thickness of the grip, will factor into this equation. Certain guns just point better for you, and you know that your sights will be aligned naturally for you. My advice is that if it is otherwise a high quality weapon, has sufficient round count, good sights and trigger then buy the one that points the best. Only you can determine this.
The single-action trigger, a la the Colt 1911 Government Model, remains the No. 1 trigger in the world for high-performance shooting, and for good reason. It is an extremely viable trigger system for law enforcement and lends itself well to large and small hands when combined with a 1911-style handgun.
If you need to shoot precisely at high speed, make precision shots on a suicide bomber from a safe distance or take a longer shot, this style of trigger makes it far easier to do so. As a bonus, the manipulation of the thumb safety and trigger is almost identical to the M-4 Carbine, making weapons training that much simpler.
That being said, the striker-fired system is a close second to the single-action trigger and, in some ways, superior for certain modes of carry. Now that the Glock patent has expired, we are seeing a host of weapons from other manufacturers with this style of trigger. Springfield, S&W, Ruger, Taurus — all have firearms with similar trigger systems. I think this system will become the dominant system for law enforcement in the future.
Still, many prefer the double-action/single-action trigger system. Sig Sauer makes a very nice double-action trigger that is even better with competent gunsmithing. It is also hard to beat a small or midsize revolver for certain applications.
For off-duty or concealed carry, many prefer a slightly downsized version of their duty weapon for better conceal ability and lesser weight. This lends itself to fanny pack carry as well. You do give up some control and capacity, but the trade-off is something you will have to judge for yourself. I generally don’t like carrying fewer than nine rounds in my primary gun if I can avoid it. Backup or hideout guns are a different story. Capacity is less of an issue than conceal ability and weight.
Most guns are rated to a service life of 10,000 to 20,000 rounds, even though they routinely shoot more than that. Even if you don’t shoot a lot, it gives you peace of mind to know your gun won’t break when you need it most.
Don’t expect a small, light hideout or backup gun to have the same durability of the full size guns. They have a different mission and generally will be carried a lot and shot enough to maintain a strong sense of competence with it. Undercover cops need something they can hide well, and they may need to compromise a bit on size and durability to have something that they feel they can use. Just make sure it goes bang every time.
If you are shooting a hot round in a light gun and find yourself pushing shots around a lot because you are flinching all the time, then it is too much for you. Many times a bit heavier gun will allow you to have far more control than a lighter gun. My advice is to go to a local gun range and rent one to shoot or find a buddy that has one and shoot it.
I have tried to cover the most important points in selecting a gun that is right for you. Following these guidelines will help find one that fits your mission and your price range.