Often, a new leather holster is stiff and tight. This means it will be hard to draw your handgun from the rig, and it also may be hard to fully seat your weapon in the rig initially.
Many leather rigs have adjustment screws, useful for adjusting to your gun both initially and when leather shrinks from heat, moisture, sweat, and humidity. Getting your gun stuck in your holster can be embarrassing to say the least, and fatal at worst.
If your leather holster does not have adjustment screws and is too tight to draw from effectively, the solution is to break in the holster with your unloaded handgun.
Also known as “working” the holster, this means pushing your unloaded handgun all the way into the holster, moving it around, and then drawing it out. This should be done 10 to 15 times. If the holster is really tight, then you need to carry out a simple break-in procedure called “blocking.”
This involves putting your unloaded handgun inside a plastic bag, such as the bag the holster came in, and then pushing the bagged, unloaded handgun all the way into the holster. You move it around as much as you can and then draw it and reinsert it 10 to 12 times.
You then leave the bagged, unloaded gun in the holster for a couple hours. When you withdraw the unloaded gun from the holster and the bag, re-insert it and withdraw it again, you should find that the gun moves more easily into and out of the holster.
Excerpted from the book Armed, by Bruce N Eimer, Ph.D.
From knowing how to choose and maintain a handgun, to understanding when you are justified in drawing the gun, both beginners and longtime armed citizens alike can benefit from reviewing the basics.
The Higher Standard
Anyone who legally carries a concealed handgun or who is trained in the martial fighting arts is held to a higher standard of conduct both morally and legally. That means the legally armed citizen must think about the use of force continuum. The amount of force that you use to defend yourself must not be excessive under the circumstances. It must, rather, be proportionate to the degree of force with which you are confronted.
There must be an overt act by a person that indicates he immediately intends to carry out a threat, in order for deadly force to be justified. Verbal threats don’t begin to come close to constituting this kind of justification.
You must reasonably believe that you will be killed or suffer serious bodily harm if you do not immediately take the life of your attacker. And, when it comes to employing deadly force in the defense of another person, the circumstances must justify that person’s use of deadly force in his or her own defense. In other words, you must “stand in the shoes” of the person being threatened or attacked.
The actual use of a firearm for self-defense is the highest level on this force continuum and the last resort. When you carry a concealed firearm, you must use extra discretion.
The Gun Corollaries
Two is better than one, and three or four are even better, but one is a basic minimum. However, it is not enough to just own a gun. There are a number of corollaries to this tenet.
The first and primary corollary is that you must know how to use and maintain your defensive emergency rescue equipment. Therefore, you should read your gun’s owner’s manual and, if you are new to guns, you should get competent hands-on instruction.
The time arising where and when you really need to use your handgun is not the time to be figuring out how to most efficiently work its manual safety or decock the hammer! You also need to keep your guns clean. Your guns, as emergency rescue equipment, should be kept in good condition. That requires regular cleaning, adequate lubrication, and periodic inspections and function checks.
A second corollary is that you should join a gun club and attempt to make like-minded friends. One of the secrets of success and happiness, as well as personal safety and security, is building a support network of human resources. This can be done by making friends with available individuals whose talents and abilities complement your own.
Not only will you have fun, you will benefit from the camaraderie. If you have a computer, check out several quality online discussion forums where you can make friends and share knowledge. A third corollary is that you need to go to the range and shoot regularly, so that you become comfortable and accurate with your defensive handguns. You must make shooting them a basic reflex. So join a gun club or range. You’ll meet nice people, and it’s cheaper than paying by the hour for range time.
Finally, you should also practice handling your unloaded defensive handguns at home. This is called dry practice, and it can build and strengthen your muscle memory for gun presentation and handling. Dry practice develops your unconscious competence in gun handling.
When you go to purchase your first concealed carry handgun, you may find yourself feeling nervous and out of your element at the gun shop. If this sounds familiar, I promise, we’ve all been there and done that. Know that this is where the value of a truly concerned and dedicated professional can shine through, and that would be the gun shop sales person from whom you decide to buy your first gun.
The salesman’s role is to explain to you, in terms you can comprehend and with no condescension, the varieties of handguns available and how they operate. An ethical gun salesperson or firearms instructor wants to see you on a regular basis and keep you as a customer. An ethical professional will also never push you into buying a particular product and should work to keep you, as a first-time buyer, resist being seduced into believing that cute, sleek, shiny, or complicated makes for a better defensive weapon. Rather, a good salesperson will help you make a truly informed choice, and they stay updated on quality products on the market.
2. Try Before You Buy
I suggest that, when shopping for a defensive handgun, you find a range facility that will let you rent different handguns, as well as offering basic handgun, personal protection, and concealed carry classes taught by qualified, certified instructors. In such a customer-friendly environment, you can best determine which type of handgun will best suit your particular needs.
As you begin to shop, you first need to educate yourself by gathering information about the different handgun types, makes, and models available. Then, compile a list of your objectives based on your own personal attributes and needs, so that you can make an informed and personally appropriate selection. No one handgun is perfect for everyone or every situation.
3. Know the Attributes of Good Carry Gun
Think light and thin, which equates to carrying comfortably. Also, think about how you dress. Will the gun be easy to conceal with your normal, every-day wardrobe? You may want to try before you buy. A customer-friendly gun shop will permit you to hold a handgun you are considering and maybe even try it out in a holster on your hip to see if it is the right type for you to carry.
4. Insist on Reliability
While the above criteria are important, we mustn’t sacrifice reliability and durability in a carry gun. Remember, if you are going to carry your handgun everyday and practice with it, it must hold up!
5. Find a Good Fit
In choosing your carry handgun, you must judge as to whether each option provides a good fit for your hands. Does it point naturally? Is your trigger finger comfortably able to reach the trigger without your having to distort your proper grip? Unless the gun is a point-and-shoot gun, are the sights usable? Can you see the front sight clearly with your corrective lenses on?
6. Strive for Manageable Recoil
Is the gun comfortable to shoot? Is the recoil manageable? Seriously, if you can’t answer “Yes” to those questions, you will not shoot it, and you won’t get in the necessary practice time. So, choose wisely. It is better to shoot a 9mm pistol accurately than a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP erratically.
7. Get a Good Trigger
You want a trigger that is neither too heavy of a pull nor too light. Bottom line—does it feel right for you? Can you operate it without getting finger cramps? Conversely, can you feel it when you press it? Too light of a trigger can spell accidental discharge. Can you repeatedly dry fire the gun without making figure eights with the front sight?
8. Seek Reasonable Accuracy
In your hands, the gun needs to be reasonably accurate when you shoot it at 10 yards and closer. Is the gun forgiving of the arc of movement created by your hand tremor? Are you able to place accurate follow-up shots? Bad guys have a nasty habit of not going down after just one shot, so good second-shot recovery is essential.
9. Demand Ease of Operation
Your defensive handgun should be simple and safe to operate. Do you have the hand strength to pull the slide all the way back on a semi-auto pistol to cycle a round into the chamber or to clear the gun? Can you easily operate the slide stop/release lever to lock the slide back? Can your thumb reach and operate the magazine catch to drop the magazine? If you have a revolver, can your thumb easily reach and operate the cylinder release latch? Under stress, whatever fine motor skills you do have tend to fly away.
Ease of operation includes choosing a gun that’s simple to field strip for routine cleaning and maintenance. Choose one that’s difficult, and the end result will be that you won’t maintain it, and then it won’t work when you need it. Keep in mind, too, that, as we age, many of us develop arthritis, which makes it difficult to disassemble and reassemble mechanical devices with many stubborn little parts. For those of us with weaker hands, it is important to choose a gun that does not require Herculean hand strength to disassemble and reassemble.
10. Affordability — Don't Overpay!
Your gun should be affordable to purchase and use. If you’re on a fixed income, you don’t want to have to sell your firstborn grandchild to stay protected! Also, if practice ammunition is too expensive, then you may become reluctant to practice. Choose a handgun in a substantial caliber for which there’s plenty of cheap, quality target ammunition and a good supply of affordable, defensive hollowpoint ammunition—9mm would fit the bill.