Being Basic: Sartorialist

A lot of folks in the gun community that I talk to express some frustration, because they don’t know where to start when it comes to dressing better.

For many they think that if they need to dress up, they just put on a suit & tie and they’ve probably got one in the back of the closet somewhere so that’s fine. Combined with the contempt that some people have for the idea of wearing suit jackets regularly, most don’t bother.

The biggest distinction that I want to highlight is the fact that there’s a huge difference between dressing well and dressing up. It’s entirely possible to be well dressed, and still casual. Dressing well has less to do with what you’re wearing and more to do with how you wear it.

This video serves as a primer to help people new to the style world, and provide a visual template from which to work.

First I highlight the importance of fit. Inexpensive clothing that fits well is infinitely better than a $5,000 Tom Ford suit that’s baggy or too tight. This is one of the universal rules that applies equally to your casual clothing and your suits. I do touch on a couple of common mistakes dudes make when it comes to suiting that make them look sloppy and out of place.

Then I delve a little deeper into some mistakes that I’ve made in the past so that, if you do choose to up your style, you don’t end up looking like you’re trying too hard or that you don’t know what you’re doing.

Hope this hekps!

•••

Discount Code SUITUP saves you:

*20% @ Strike Force Energy

20% @ Dark Angel Medical kits (excludes training)

15% @ Swampfox Optics

*15% @ Trunk Monkey Designs

13% @ Big Tex Outdoors

10% @ Dark Star Gear

10% @ KSG Armory

*10% @ POM Pepper Spray

*Free Shipping & 2 month membership @ Roaster’s Marketplace

•••

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP!

Facebook Page

Instagram

YouTube

Check out the Amazon Store & Support the Channel!

Being Basic: Horologist

This one is a combination passion and pet peeve of mine.

Firstly, I just love watches. It seems to be common among people in the firearm space; they’re almost guaranteed to also be geeks about either watches, photography, and/or cars/motorcycles.

That being said, it’s certainly not a universal interest. There are those people for whom a watch is purely a tool, and really only exists as a convenience to keep from fishing a phone out of their pocket. And that’s perfectly fine. I’m certainly not going to sit here and insist that everybody needs to share this interest. The challenge is that this lack of interest and understanding can cause some folks to make some avoidable errors.

We’ve all seen it. The guy that’s dressed up to a level past where he’s normally familiar or comfortable still rocking his G-Shock or Suunto, even worse if worn on the inside of the wrist. Is it offensive? Not at all. It does however communicate a lack of social literacy. It broadcasts that you “don’t belong” there. It’s like wearing Salomon’s with a suit.

If you’re the kind of guy that just likes the functionality of those wrist computers, that’s cool. Rock on with it. But if you find yourself in a situation that requires a collared shirt and tie, I’d just leave it at home at that point. Especially since they’re wholly unnecessary these days, no watch is definitely more appropriate than the wrong watch.

If you want to delve down this rabbit hole, here are some pointers to help start your journey:

The Sports Watch:

If you’re only going to own one, a Sports Watch will give you some good versatility.

I prefer bracelets because A) they hold up better in hot weather and B) they’re a better general purpose option. Straps can work, but you’ll need to swap them out for various casual/formal situations. This can be fun, but if you’re only owning one watch, accessorizing probably isn’t your thing.

  • Minimal complications. Usually just Time, Date, maybe Day
    • Avoid Chronograph (stop watch) for a 1-watch collection
  • A bracelet vs. a strap (leather, rubber, NATO, etc)
    • I always prefer to get a watch on a bracelet, because they hold up longer than straps. You can always swap them out.
  • Ideally 100m + water resistance (min. 30m)
  • 36-40mm case size
  • Examples:

The Dive Watch:

This is a very specific subsection of Sports Watches. They’re generally more water resistant, and tend to be a little beefier. This can be a good thing, especially if you’re rough on your equipment.

Thanks to James Bond, the Dive Watch has become more acceptable in dress attire, just make sure it’s not one so thick that it can’t fit under your cuff.

  • 300m+ water resistance
  • Rotating bezel
  • 38-42 mm case size
  • Examples:

The Dress Watch:

If you find yourself in suits frequently enough, it’s probably a good idea to have a dedicated dress watch.

These will typically be smaller and more delicate, to fit under the cuff of a dress shirt.

  • 34-38mm case size
  • Leather strap(s) (Generally a good idea to match the color of your belt & shoes)
    • The quality of the leather on affordable watches will be mediocre. Be prepared to replace these.
  • Simple (Time only or maybe date)
  • Examples:

The Beater Watch:

This is a pretty open category. These are your utility watches. The name is really the job description: a watch that you’re going to beat on. So it either needs to be rugged, replaceable, or both. There’s no real rules here, so buy what you like. Just don’t try and shoehorn your Beater into an inappropriate role like a Dress Watch.


Discount Code SUITUP Saves You:

Some of the above links are affiliate links.   As an Amazon associate I earn a small percentage of the sale price from qualifying purchases.

Being Basic: Communicator

We spend a lot more time speaking with people than we do fighting, stabbing, or shooting them. I mean, unless you’re a complete psychopath, in which case please stop reading this. I don’t want my explosion of publicity to be “The People’s Exhibit A”.

On top of all that, being able to effectively communicate with people and control your message can allow you to prevent a situation from ever getting got the point that force is needed.

The challenge, as I see it, is that a good portion of people that are into guns are those that interact with their world physically. This is easy because there are “moves” to practice, and tangible results of your efforts in the form of holes in the target.

There seems to be some resistance to the idea of leveraging communication as somehow cowardly or less manly; not wanting to fight. But I’ll remind folks that “Verbal Judo” is a thing for a reason.

If you had to fight with someone, would you rather they be resisting you with everything they’ve got, or not even know that they’re in a fight? If your goal is just to fight (or spar), then the resisting opponent might be fun. But if your goal is to prevail, why make the job harder than necessary.

The other major reason that verbal skills are critical is because if you don’t have them, it’s easy for someone to jam you up and now you’re at their mercy. The reason why a lot of muggings start off with a request for the time, a cigarette, or change is because, while your brain is tied up responding, you’re not processing what they’re doing (read: initiating the attack).

Just like how you want your draw, trigger press, and reload to be so automated that they don’t require active thought, the same is true of your verbal skills. You want to have some appropriately automated responses (John Farnam calls them “Tape Loops”) established so that you can focus more attention on what they’re doing vs. what they’re saying (or trying to get you to do/say).

Having active, intentional control over the words you use can also ensure that you don’t create a situation that requires more force. Watch the video to see what I mean.

Discount Code SUITUP Saves You:

Being Basic: Stylist

I get a lot of feedback from folks because nobody’s wearing a suit & tie anymore. Not only is it no longer required dress code in most professions, but lots of folks won’t wear them voluntarily at all.

So I decided to put together some visual examples to highlight how dressing intentionally and putting care into your wardrobe applies across the board, from the most casual outfit to the most formal.

Casual

On weekends when I’m running errands or meeting friends at a bar you’re likely to see me in something like this. The major things to pay attention to are:

  • Henley instead of a t-shirt: Visually a little more interesting, and also more flattering if you’ve got rounder features like I do
  • Jeans that fit properly! There’s not too much material bunching at the ankles, and no “relaxed fit” baggy bullshit around the legs.
  • Chukka boots: I love these things. Partially because I’m a huge Steve McQueen fanboy. That being said they’re an amazingly practical shoe, and an easy way to bump up from the beat up pair of sneakers you’re probably wearing right now.
  • Lightweight Field jacket: For the 2 1/2 weeks that it’s cold enough in Texas to warrant a jacket, this is a great one. Pick something that’s not too heavy, and jives with your style.

Smart Casual

Depending on where you work, you could probably get away with wearing this to the office. If I want to dress “nice” without being overly fancy or risk being overdressed I’ll go to something like this:

  • Chambray shirt: Originally workwear, so much more casual than a crisp dress shirt.
  • Dark denim: A good bridge between casual pants and dress slacks.
  • Derbys: A leather lace-up that’s more casual than the traditional Oxford. You could easily do this with the chukkas or other polished leather shoe/boot.
  • Jacket/Vest: Either one works, and you can see how it elevates the look just slightly, but without being stuffy and formal. The vest offers the advantage of not having to tuck your shirt in over the holster

Business Modular

Something like this would be equally appropriate at a business meeting or an anniversary dinner. I call this one “modular” because as long as you keep the basic tenants, you can kinda plug & play different things to your tastes:

  • Dress shirt: Your standard button-up shirt. If you want to play it safe, stick with light blue, lavender, or pink. White can be a little too formal, plus they’re just a pain in the ass to keep clean. If you want to, you can toy with different fabric textures & patterns.
  • Trousers: Actual slacks. Same kind of fabric they make suits out of. Lighter weight, so they’re super comfortable. Blues and greys will give you the most mileage.
  • Sport coat: Firstly, make sure it fits right! (Those sleeves are just a smidge too long). Also make sure it’s not close in color/shade to the pants. It’s supposed to complement and contrast, not match.
  • Shoes: Leather. Polished. Either brown or oxblood. Black shoes are reserved for formal occasions.

Featured Gear

My comparison of Slidebelt & Kore Essential

Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and Instagram.

Some of the above links are affiliate links.   As an Amazon associate I earn a small percentage of the sale price from qualifying purchases.

Discount Code SUITUP saves you:

Being Basic: Mixologist

So this might seem like a bit of a departure. I mean side from the silly “ATF should be a convenience store” bumper sticker, we constantly hear “guns and alcohol don’t mix!”

There are those people that are so dedicated to their personal protection that they flat out refuse to consume anything that would negatively impact their awareness, or set foot in an establishment that legally prohibits carrying a firearm. That’s their call to make. However, to steal a line from William Aprill’s Unthinkable class, “there’s a lot of fun stuff that happens with stupid people in stupid places”. Admittedly he’s being a little facetious, but the point was that living a purely risk averse lifestyle can be limiting.

On top of that, it’s just good to have hobbies that aren’t violence related. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I have several, one being cocktails. I’ve never been visually artistic; I never really took to drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. Food and drink have always been my creative outlet. You can’t tell me that on some level this isn’t a work of art.

Image may contain: 1 person, drink and indoor
The classic Mai Tai

Another advantage of this hobby is that it helps me understand exactly what I can handle. We’ve all had that one friend who’s not a big drinker out with a bunch of friends go completely off the rails, and end up either as a hilarious story or potential 6 o’clock news story because they didn’t know their limits and overindulged.

In the video I go over 3 basic drinks that are a good place to start. They only have a few ingredients, nothing is super hard to find, and you can play with the ratios to dial in to whatever suits your taste.

Whiskey Sour

Image may contain: drink and indoor
The prettiest Whiskey Sour I’ve ever made

Even if you’re not a big drinker or you don’t like the way liquor tastes, this is a very accessible drink. Even my wife (whose drink prior to us meeting was *shudder*…..Malibu & Pineapple aka Liquid Diabetes) enjoys these when they’re made properly. The standard ratio is:

  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. whiskey of your choice
  • 1 egg white

Put ingredients in a shaker tin and shake aggressively for 20-30 seconds. Add ice, shake for an additional 10-15 seconds, then strain & serve either in a stemmed coupe or cocktail glass, or a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with Angostura bitters if desired.

Martinez

Image may contain: people sitting, drink, table and indoor

Based on the name you’d think “OK, so it’s a Martini, but with tequila, right?” Nope! This is a classic gin drink. Lots of people have had bad experiences with gin, and so they shy away from any recipe where it’s mentioned. That’s unfortunate, because there’s such a breadth of options out there that there’s a gin for every palate. It’s especially great when the weather starts to heat up, when brown liquors can be a little heavy. I picked this because the gin is balanced out with the sweetness of the vermouth. It’s a gateway gin cocktail:

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo Marashino Liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz. Sweet (red) vermouth.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Gin

Measure all ingredients into a mixing glass, and stir until the mixing class is cold to the touch. If you’re mixing in something conductive like a shaker tin, stir for ~ 30 seconds or so.

Queen’s Park Swizzle

Image may contain: drink

Everyone’s familiar with the Mojito. What I like about this one is that the use of dark rum and Ango (again) makes the drink a little more interesting, at least to me. Plus it’s prettier. This is a great summer drink, just be careful because they barely taste like alcohol.

  • 5-10 mint leaves (depending on size)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 2-3 oz. dark rum
  • Angostura bitters to garnish

Muddle mint, lime & simple in the bottom of a collins glass. Add the rum, and fill halfway with crushed ice. Swizzle with a barspoon, then fill with more crushed ice and top with 5-6 dashes of Ango.

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and Instagram.

Some of the above links are affiliate links.   As an Amazon associate I earn a small percentage of the sale price from qualifying purchases.

Discount Code SUITUP saves you:

Being Basic: Pistolero

Across all aspects of life there’s generally a core set of concepts that are the foundation of proficiency.

When it comes to shooting that’s going to be your grip, your draw, your trigger press, and your sight picture.

Grip:

It’s the platform for everything else, and one of the areas where I’ve struggled the most. It’s amazing how nuanced the grip can get, not just “grab the thing” or “grip harder”. My current grip consists of elements taught by Spencer Keepers, Paul Sharp, and John Johnston. I’ve written in depth about each of those classes, and if you’re interested in learning more you can find those posts here.

Grip needs to be mastered first, because otherwise if you jump into your draw too quickly you end up reinforcing bad habits that will negatively impact your performance. You’ll have a much harder time shooting consistently (ask me how I know).

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that there is not one singular “right” grip. There’s an almost infinite combination of hand shapes & grip geometries, so you’re going to have to play around with it to see what allows you to control the pistol most effectively. A few placed to get some ideas are Aaron Cowan, Scott Jedlinski, and Bob Vogel. Not saying it’ll work, but it might give you an idea to play with.

Draw:

Once you’ve got a good grip on the gun, now it’s important to be able to bring it to bear quickly and efficiently. The great thing is that this costs absolutely nothing. You already own the gun, you’ve already got the holster, you have plenty of clothes.

Whenever you’re doing dry work, it’s critical to ensure complete safety. No ammo in the room, a dedicated practice space, conscious, intentional repetition, and a backstop that can stop a bullet if everything else goes wrong.

This is also helpful to find out how your wardrobe and carry gear work together (or don’t). Trust me when I say it sucks to try and fight against your own equipment.

Having a shot timer is definitely helpful. Target Barn was kind enough to send me one and I can say it’s significantly more convenient, but there are several free apps you can download to your phone to get started. I also did a video about some of the ways to use that timer in practice.

I find it helpful to video yourself, so you can see where you’re wasting time/effort. I’m still trying to break myself of the habit I’ve got of hunching my shoulders on the draw. Jedi has some great pointers on developing your draw stroke as well.

Trigger:

Trigger control ties in to grip on a couple of levels. A good grip sets you up for a clean, uninterrupted trigger-press. A strong enough grip can also compensate for some flaws in your trigger pull (not saying that should be your goal).

I’ve found that the Dry Fire Mag to be extremely useful because my biggest issue was hard to diagnose on single trigger pulls. I have a tendency to milk the grip if I’m shooting (combined with a flinch I’m still trying to break).

Trigger finger placement is another area where people get dogmatic about THE way that it must be done. Bullshit. For the same reason that there isn’t one single master grip, the size of your hand and your pistol grip will dictate where your finger falls on the trigger. Pat McNamara has some great ideas on the subject.

Sights:

There’s some discussion as to in what order these elements should be prioritized. I put sights last because if your trigger pull sucks, it doesn’t matter what your sight picture is because it won’t be there when the shot breaks.

Sights are another place where you can end up fighting your gear. I tried shooting a 25 yds. B8 at an indoor range with standard 3-dot night sights, and spent the entire time cursing because the lighting was JUST dim enough that it was hard to make out the front sight effectively enough.

I’ve become a huge fan of blacked out rear sights, and a high visibility front. Personally I like fiber. My Warren Tactical sights are just about the closest equivalent to red-dot optic you can get with conventional irons.

The other reason I think trigger comes before sights is that, once you have an appropriate sight picture, that’s the instant you want to make the shot break. Shooting various drills will help you to understand what that sight picture needs to look like in order to achieve a desired result.

Play around with this stuff. It’s going to take some experimentation to find what works for you.

Gear Featured In This Video:

Discount Code SUITUP Saves You:

AAR of Spencer Keepers Handgun Essentials & AIWB Skillsets

Handgun Essentials: 

Spencer’s choice for the course name is purposeful. It’s not “Introductory Handgun” or “Handgun Basics”. The fact that he calls it the “Essentials” class very much intentional: these are the things you should know to be prepared for a use of force event as a private armed citizen. You shoot a decent amount in this class, but you don’t just turn cash into noise. Spencer makes sure that there’s a reason for every round you fire. 

Full disclosure, I took this class as Day 2 of a training weekend with Spencer, so I don’t know of the tempo/cadence/sequence changes if you take this as Day 1 or as a stand-alone class. 

Let me start of by telling you what this class isn’t:

  • This class isn’t if you want to pretend your some hardcore elite door kicker, doing God’s work at the tip of the spear
  • This class isn’t designed to work on your weapon manipulation or mechanics. (none of the strings we shot required a reload. Most of the reloading we did was either in the holster administratively, or topping off between strings)
  • This class isn’t scenario based training. All the drills can be extrapolated to real world concepts, but you’re not yelling “stop” and side-stepping as you draw. 

This class is to allow you to become intimately familiar with your handgun if you aren’t already. You’ll shoot enough, and with enough guidance that you’ll be able to identify where you suck and what you need to work on most. Spencer’s class isn’t a “familiarization” class, but it’s definitely an exposure class.

For someone like me who hasn’t really shot under time & accuracy standards before, I came to 2 very important realizations:

  1. Shooting accurately and quickly isn’t this magical voodoo that takes decades of zen-like study to understand, and 
  2. It’s sure as shit not as easy as it looks on Instagram either. 

So, here are the top 3 things taught in this class 

  • X-Grip: Many instructors try and teach either a “front-back & side-side” or “push/pull”. The way Spencer teaches it, your grip forces are forming an X through the middle of the pistol grip. It’s kind of hard to explain, so I’ve included a diagram for reference. 
No photo description available.
  • Target Transitions: Lots of the drills had you switching targets. Sometimes you were shooting at different reference points on the same paper, sometimes you were changing targets altogether. Some involved minimal movement, some involved a lot more. But rarely did you shoot more than a few rounds at the same spot. 
  • Balancing Speed & Accuracy: Spencer has spent a lot of time with Tom Givens, both as a student and Assistant Instructor. One of Tom’s observations is that people who have been shooting (at speed) for any period of time have a familiar cadence, a rhythm with which they shoot. It’s almost like “cruise control”. Your system is familiar with the task and sets into that pace, regardless of it’s appropriate or not. You may have more time (i.e. slow the fuck down and make better hits), or you may need to push the speed a little bit, because your target is a little bigger and the time constraint is a little tighter. This was best represented in some of the drills where we had the whole “head” of the “bowling pin” target as a hit-zone instead of just the 3×5 card that represents a face shot.

Top 3 things I learned

  • You literally cannot grip hard enough with your support hand: Before I took this class, I had been watching some videos. Primarily Paul Gomez’s “Tweaking the Grip”. Spencer’s method stops at the “thumbs forward” stage of that video. Reason being that it better complements the X-grip that he teaches. Now body mechanics and hand specs are all different, so it may not work for you specifically. I can tell you that I saw a dramatic improvement in my ability to shoot quickly and precisely, by going back to the traditional “Thumbs Forward” grip, and just absolutely gorilla-gripping the everloving shit out of my left hand. This was the first non-combative 2-day class that I walked away from sore. Arms, chest, shoulders, all of it. Granted that’s not all good, there’s some excess tension in there that I need to work out, but that’s beside the point. If you feel like you’re having difficulty controlling the gun, or if you feel like your grip is constantly shifting, just crank down on it. You may be surprised as to how many issues that fixes. 
  • Shooting fast isn’t nearly as daunting as I thought it would be: The only other time I’ve been on a timer was the shooting qual at MAG-40. Anyone who’s taken that class knows the goal isn’t to shoot fast. There just needs to be a measurable standard for your accuracy. Spencer’s class is completely different. You shoot fast. You shoot faster than you’ve shot before (if you’re like most folks who have lived their lives on a square range and have never competed). You’ll shoot faster than you’re comfortable with, and that’s the point.

    Now I want to point out up front that at no point are you pushed past what you can do safely. There’s no instructor yelling at you and you’re never out of control, the closest analogy I can think of is it feels like the very first time you rode a bike without training wheels: the body mechanics and the machine you’re using are both familiar, and it’s something you’ve done hundreds of times already, but it’s unfamiliar enough territory to make you feel uncomfortable.

    The idea behind this is that, if you’re not missing, you’re not pushing yourself. If you’re missing inconsistently, or if you’re missing way too badly, then you’ll be encouraged to back it down to a level where you can consistently produce results, but in Spencer’s class missing is a good thing.
  • There’s a certain pace at which you’re still in control, but you’re going just fast enough that you can’t over analyze. This sort of melds in with the previous point. The idea is that, if you’ve mastered the basic mechanics enough, then you can start pushing your speed to see where your capabilities actually lie. Understanding that “good enough is never good enough” Spencer isn’t looking for perfection. He’s looking for pragmatic, functional results. The idea behind this class isn’t that you walk away a card-carrying master pistolero, but that you have a much better understanding of what you need to work on to get you to that level.

    During the course of the shooting strings, you start to feel what right feels like. It can be tricky for an instructor to help get you dialed in, simply because they’re not seeing what you’re seeing and not feeling what you’re feeling. A good instructor though, can help create an environment where you’re in tune with what’s going on, and is able to replicate things enough for you to recognize certain patterns. 

Top 3 things I’m going to change. 

  • I’m going to be a lot more attentive to my grip, and a lot more aggressive with it. Cranking down on my grip was the singular most productive thing I’ve done to my shooting performance in recent memory.
  • I’m not going to fear/mock the timer. You hear a lot of critics say “there’s no shot timer in a gunfight” which is a little myopic. Being faster certainly can’t hurt. That being said, it’s not the only thing that matters, but being able to get effective hits on target quickly is certainly not a bad thing.
  • I’m going to start a dry-practice regimen. My main focus for that dry practice (for now) is increasing my draw speed. 

*special thanks to Short Barrel Shepherd for this 3×3 format. 

AIWB Skillset:

This was actually the first day of our training weekend. The very first thing Spencer does when you train with him is take you out and have you perform a shooting evaluation totally cold. He does this for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s a reality check for you, because if you ever need those skills, you’ll have to perform cold, on demand. There’s no warm ups in “da streetz”
  2. It’s a good gauge for him of the ability of the shooters in his class. 

I’m not going to tell you what that drill is. I didn’t get a chance to practice it beforehand, so I’m not giving you that chance either. 

I always like to say up front what the class isn’t, to help manage the expectations and let people decide if this is a class they’d benefit from or not.

This is not just a shooting class. I honestly would almost suggest that Spencer change the name to “AIWB Lifestyle”, because he covers all aspects of AIWB. How to dress for it, how to live with it, and a bunch of gun handling considerations. 

You get a pretty great crash course in holsters. Spencer goes over a lot of the “industry standard” designs, and then walks you through the logic of why they’re not well suited to appendix carry. He of course has a few examples of his design as well, and is able to effectively articulate the why behind each of his design elements.

One thing I can tell you right off the bat is this: I’ve worked in sales in one capacity or another for the last decade, so I can sniff out a sales pitch from a mile away. This isn’t Spencer’s timeshare presentation; he’s not suckering you into a holster sales pitch under the guise of a pistol class. Now don’t fool yourself, he believes in his product, and he’ll tell you why his is better and why everything else comes up short, but if you run one of his loaner holsters (assuming he has one that fits your gun) and then come to the conclusion “you know what? It’s not for me”, you won’t hurt his feelings.

Most of the shooting drills are geared around familiarizing you with the access and presentation from the appendix position. There are some off-hand/support side/ whatever the trendy new term is for the hand you don’t write with drills. The main purpose of them, at least that I took away, was to show how beneficial appendix carry is for off-hand weapon access, and how important a good holster is for one-handed weapon manipulation.

3 major topics covered

  • AIWB gear considerations: Obviously the holster is a top consideration. What you learn is that a lot of manufacturers take the same holster body they’ve been making for other carry methods, and just change the attachment point to make it an “AIWB” holster. You quickly understand why this is a less than ideal solution. Next is the belt. Spencer recommends an “infinitely adjustable” type of belt; his preferred being the Wilderness Frequent Flyer. The ride height of your pants also factors in to the equation. This may come as a shock, but Spencer isn’t a huge advocate of skinny jeans. In all seriousness, he breaks down where the waist of your pants should fall on you to best position his holster for maximum concealment. This guy really boils every element down to its most important elements. 

Once question I had for Spencer that’s been a big challenge for me up to this point was “How do you carry in dress clothes, especially given that your holster isn’t tuckable?” His answer was almost maddeningly simple, and I’m a little annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of it sooner: wear a vest. *Insert Dope Slap Here*

  • AIWB specific drawstroke: The way Spencer teaches the drawstroke, and specifically clearing the cover garment is zen simple. Grabbing the bottom of the cover garment with the curled fingers, and simply bending the arm at the elbow. The reason for this is two-fold:
    1. It helps to ensure the drawing pistol doesn’t become entangled in the cover garment
    2. It helps make sure that you don’t hang up on the fixed blade, center line knife that you’re likely carrying if you’ve had any exposure to the Shivworks curriculum. 
  • AIWB specific reholster technique: aka “The Lean”. It’s somewhere between a limbo move and an obscene gesture. The basics of it are you push your hips forward, causing the muzzle line of the holster to be angled even further away from the body. The logic behind this is that even if the pistol discharges it’s pointed in the safest direction possible. Ballistic Radio did a good video of this technique with a cutaway holster and a T-gun. Look it up on YouTube. The other part of the technique that Spencer teaches is capping the back of the slide with your thumb. Now this only works if you’re running a hammer fired gun, or a Glock w/ a Striker Control Device (aka Gadget). Reason for this is, if the trigger moves during the re-holster, you’ll feel the hammer/gadget move. Not only will your thumb help resist the movement of the firing controls, but it also is a tactile alarm for “stop what you’re doing right now!”

3 things I learned

  • My carry gun & holster are too short: When I first entered the AIWB arena, I started with my Glock 19 a $20 Vanguard. My logic was it wasn’t a big financial risk, in the event that I didn’t like it, I hadn’t just burned a bunch of cash on another holster I’d never used. I was an immediate convert. I tried repurposing a couple of my old holsters, and it didn’t work too well. I finally bought a specific “AIWB” holster, but I was still having printing issues, so I went with a 26 for a shorter grip. I kept the same holster (which turned out to be my only saving grace), but still had issues. It was because the muzzle end of my holster wasn’t long enough. The more holster you have riding below the beltline, the more the holster can lever the grip of the gun in towards the body and keep it concealed. It also means a wider footprint and less digging. 
  • I’m not moving my hands fast enough: Spencer’s biggest criticism of my technique during the class was that I wasn’t getting to the gun fast enough. I knew this to be true, because I was scared of going too fast and fumbling the grip. Now don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t berating me to go faster, just encouraging me that I have the capacity to go faster. I need to get past the block that there’s a difference between getting to the gun and building the grip.
  • Face-shooting paper isn’t as hard as I thought it was: No I was by no means the best shooter in the class. Most of the folks that took this course shoot a lot more regularly, and some even competitively. But even with the accuracy and time constraints that I’d never been presented with before, I never had a “wow do I suck” moment. Every failure, every missed shot had a reason behind it. Something quantifiable that I could identify and work on. I was able to walk away from this class feeling a lot better about how good/bad a shooter I am, because I have a game plan now.

3 things I’ll start doing differently

  • I’m buying a Keeper: Spencer had a loaner that I was able to run the whole weekend. There were times that I almost forgot I was wearing it. It was amazingly comfortable, and didn’t shift around as much as any of the other holsters I’ve tried. Part of that is because of the giant loop he uses on the holster body. Even if you don’t buy his holster specifically, if you’re buying an AIWB holster, buy it for the duty-sized/longest barrel version of your pistol. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.
  • Dry- practice regimen: For the time being I’m going to start off with just getting to the gun. Once I’m there, I’ll work on the draw itself.
  • Over-exaggerating “the lean”: It can’t be done. You cannot over-exaggerate that lean enough. There’s no such thing as overdoing it. I make sure to keep that in mind whenever I’m going to the holster now. 

Discount Code SUITUP saves you:

20% @ Strike Force Energy

15% @ Big Tex Outdoors

10% @ Dark Star Gear

10% @ KSG Armory

Free Shipping & 2 month membership @ Roaster’s Marketplace

Business Tactical

Today I’ll be joining Eve Kulcsar for her presentation that would have been part of Tac-Con 2020.

https://facebook.com/events/s/the-suited-shootist-presents-b/544792173140949/?ti=as

Incorporating Defensive Tools & Mindset into a Carry-Restricted Office Environment.

If carrying a gun to work means a risk of losing your job, or, if your work attire makes it difficult or impossible to carry at work, then this presentation is for you.

We cover personal safety for people who have to dress in a ‘business casual’ manner for their jobs, as well as anyone working in an office or carry-restricted setting (the non-permissive environment).

We’ll discuss different means of carrying at work and the risks/benefits associated with them, managing concealed carry at work, defensive options other than firearms and types of gear that are best suited for business people, office workers and other professionals.

Protecting & Defending All Aspects of Self

Everyone’s freaking out over something right now. Some over COVID-19. Others over how society is reacting to the virus. Others still are worried about the long term economic impacts, or the second and third order effects of city-wide shutdowns.

There’s plenty of anxiety to go around. That’s why, especially now, we’re as actively aware of our mental and emotional safety/wellbeing as we our of our physical.

A couple years ago, I found myself in this perpetual state of “blah”. On paper everything was going great, but there was this internal weight that just kept dragging me down. I was constantly fatigued, found myself regularly experiencing random and inexplicable feelings of dread. I wouldn’t even partake in things that I normally enjoyed. I kept trying to shake it off. Telling myself that I was somehow being weak, because I had no good reason for these feelings. Despite my efforts, I still regularly found myself just wanting to curl up on the sofa with my dog and wait for the day to be over.

I finally reached out to a friend of mine who is a mental health professional, and we talked. Our conversation resulted in him making me aware of something called dysthymia. Paraphrasing, it was suggested that the dysthymia could be environmental. He was right. Soon after I’d changed jobs and found myself in a much better headspace.

In the defensive community, you hear Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear touted quite a bit. The focal point of that work is “listen to what your brain/body/instincts are trying to tell you”. Survival instincts are hardwired for a reason. Well guess what, same applies to the mental/emotional side of things as well. Be aware of it. Control and manage it, but don’t suppress it.

The point of this post, as with most that I share, is to simply present my experiences as a learning opportunity. If it resonates with you, great. Hang in there, and take care of yourselves on all fronts.

*I feel like this goes without saying, but I’m in no way a mental health professional, and none of this should be construed as medical advice. If you feel like you have issues that require that attention, please consult a professional*