Articles
The Little Things
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It’s easy to forget the details—the little things that can save your life. We get so focused on the gun, and maybe the holster, that we forget the other aspects of our dress and behavior that are important. We can get lured into regarding the gun as a talisman which will ward off evil.
The truth is that safety is a holistic discipline, and as with so many activities, success depends on attention to detail. Here’s a few things to keep in mind It’s easy to forget the details—the little things that can save your life. We get so focused on the gun, and maybe the holster, that we forget the other aspects of our dress and behavior that are important. We can get lured into regarding the gun as a talisman which will ward off evil.
The truth is that safety is a holistic discipline, and as with so many activities, success depends on attention to detail. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Belts We don’t want to draw attention to the fact that we’re armed, both out of courtesy to the public and because it can get you killed in an encounter. Street predators have a pretty finely tuned sense of what makes a person dangerous to them, and they will spot the things that give your gun away, like one of those wide gun belts. In the 70s and early 80s, the only proper belts available to bear the weight of a holstered handgun were those 1 ¾-inch wide, fanny-stitched gun-belts that are still popular. In those days, they could pass for a Western-style sport belt, but today they scream “gun” to those who know what they’re looking for. If you’re inclined to wear a police duty-style Garrison belt, ditto, but in spades!) These days, there are a number of slim or slimmed-down belts designed specifically to support a gun, and they come in a variety of colors and styles—from sporty to Brooks Brothers. Jim Murnak/FIST makes some of the best. This is money very well spent.
Shoes You might think that cautions about shoes applied only to vice cops stupid enough to wear their black duty shoes in plain clothes while trying to get solicited by hookers. But they apply to everyone. When you’re in a self-defense situation—whether or not you’re armed—your feet will be moving fast—either to cover, or to fight. If you’re wearing sandals, loafers, top-siders, or any other kind of shoe that comes off easily, you’re going to lose them, and impair your tactical ability. And probably trip ass over teakettle, in the process. If you wear shoes with leather or another kind of slippery soles, you’ll lose your footing when you need it most. High heels and platform shoes, it goes without saying, are pretty high up there on the stupid scale. Being prepared means—in addition to having a weapon, training, etc.—wearing tie-up shoes with non-slip soles. Every time I buy a new pair of dress shoes, they go straight to the cobbler for rubber soles before I even wear them. Even if I’m not carrying a gun while wearing them, I may still get into an empty-hand self-defense encounter.
A note on athletic shoes. A lot of gun people wear running shoes with their jeans and gun. This is a bad practice. Running shoes—shoes designed specifically for running—are constructed with the outsole (the bottom sloe) glued onto the shoe in such a way that it accommodates running only. These shoes do not allow for side-to-side pushing-off type motion. If you use running shoes for activities requiring this type of motion—boxing, martial arts, etc.—you will sooner or later rip the outsole off the shoe—I’ve done just that on heavy bag workouts. Further, running shoes usually have very tacky outsoles, making it easy to trip when moving sideways. For casual wear, then, stick to cross-trainers, tennis shoes, or basketball shoes.
Dress Leave clothes with gun logos and slogans on them at home. A T-shirt that says “I have PMS and a gun—any questions?” is an offense to polite society, does wonders to raise funds for Handgun Control, Inc., and will get you executed first in a robbery. Likewise with that nifty golf shirt you picked up at the Smith & Wesson Academy. I like the guys at the Academy a lot, but I don’t wear their logo items in public.
Coats If you’re concealing a gun under a coat, for goodness sake, leave the coat unbuttons! This is pretty straightforward, but you’d be amazed at the number of otherwise reasonably savvy people who commit this sin. Guns don’t operate by telepathy—you have to access them!
Opulence Food attracts insects, and money attracts human scum. Dress down, or at least conservatively and plainly. If you must gratify your ego by impressing someone with your material wealth, have the grace and good survival sense to do so in private. A good example of this is holster maker Jim Murnak, who lives in New York City. He doesn’t carry his belongings in a briefcase, but rather in a plastic shopping bag. It’s not elegant, but it doesn’t attract muggers, either.
Flashlight If you carry a gun, you must carry a flashlight. If you don’t carry a gun, then you really have to carry a flashlight. If you’re not a cop, the flashlight isn’t so much for tactical use in a low-light shooting, or to search a structure with. It’s meant to blind an opponent by shining it in his eyes, and it’s used to scan potentially dangerous areas before entering them—such as approaching your car in a parking lot. There are some excellent small, bright lights out there, such as the Sure Fire 6, 9, and 12 series. Don’t but a cheap light—lumens count here, and a small ergonomic size means that you will really carry it. Don’t leave home without one.
Eyeglasses It’s only common sense that if you need corrective lenses to see, than you’ll need them to shoot and fight. That lesson was brought home tragically during the famous FBI Miami shootout, in which one agent lost his glasses early on in the fight, and spent the time until he was killed looking for them. Count on losing your glasses during the first second of an encounter. If you need them to see or fight, then you’ll just have to wear a retaining device (Croakies, Chums, etc.) That’s not particularly elegant or always convenient, but really, what other choice do you have? To not do so is to fool your self that you can survive.
Depending on whom you ask, either God or the devil is in the details. The point either way is that they count.