The Opposite of the Carbine, and other Shenanigans with Chuck Haggard
I set off for my morning walk a few weeks ago, there in the tail end of what was an extremely bipolar winter, and was glad to have a nice warm Kitanica coat. It was 17 degrees out in the predawn Indianapolis darkness, and the light shell I’d worn on yesterday morning’s 53°F walk wouldn’t cut it this morning.
I jammed my hands in my pockets as the wind started up and…dammit, I’d apparently left my can of OC spray in yesterday’s jacket. The thought crossed my mind that the internet would tell me that the .32 Magnum J-frame in my outer coat pocket was about the same as pepper spray.
The first up was a two-hour orientation on OC spray with Chuck Haggard, a program he called “Between a Kind Word and a Gun”. Pepper spray was one of those things I’d long advocated people carry without actually taking my own advice. I reasoned that, as a middle-aged woman, the only way I could be in a demographic less likely to get challenged to a fight in a bar parking lot after midnight would be to be either twenty years older or forty years younger. And that’s what pepper spray is for if you already carry a gun, right? Fisticuffs-type situations? Wrong.
[Chuck Haggard of Agile/Training & Consulting preaches the good word of OC]
Taking ECQC with Craig Douglas last October was an eye-opener with regard to a lot of things, and the result of one of them was that I ordered some Fox Labs OC spray as soon as I got home from that class. Now I wanted a bit more instruction in its use and jumped at the opportunity to do so with Chuck.
The first part of the class was a lecture that covered the history of oleoresin capsicum sprays, how they work, what makes them superior for personal defense to CS-type tear gas, and how to properly decontaminate yourself should you get a faceful. (Short Version: Bucket of water and dish soap, Bad. Running water and lots of fresh air, Good.)
Then we stepped outside for demonstrations. Response to the class was an order of magnitude past what Chuck had had for the same block at Tac-Con 2016, so instead of everyone getting to pair off and spray each other with inert trainers (“Don’t get the inert and the ert ones mixed up,” warned Chuck) we got to watch demos of both fog and stream type sprays in action, as well as see the difference in range and volume from a little keychain size cartridge versus a larger pocket or belt size can of Sabre Red.
I immediately mused on Facebook that I needed to get some Sabre Red and an inert trainer to practice with and fortunately received an “I got you, fam” response from John Murphy of FPF Training, who happened to be presenting at the same conference.
[Caleb Causey from Lone Star Medics shows the importance of aiming stream-type sprays]
Also, I can tell you that in stream form, the Sabre Red inert trainer sprays a long way, since our student volunteer sprayed both Chuck, who was portraying his attacker, and my breakfast sandwich, which was about eight feet behind Chuck, portraying an innocent bystander. The inert training spray is food-safe, apparently, since I haven’t sprouted horns or a third arm or anything, but it’ll make your breakfast sandwich kinda soggy.
[Ballistic Radio’s John Johnston poses with his clean target from the APD Second Weapon qual.]
After lunch, I found myself attending a couple more blocks of instruction being taught by Chuck Haggard. The first was called “Practical Practice With Pocket Poppers” (say that five times fast). As someone who zips her coat up in the coldest depths of winter and therefore relies on a J-frame in an outside coat pocket a lot during those months, this was of interest to me.
Chuck covered a lot of peculiarities in weapon-handling forced by little bitty pocket autos and stubby J-frame revolvers. Many of the standard drills developed for service-size guns don’t work as well on these lilliputian things. For instance, the “Tap” part of “Tap-Rack-Bang” is kind of hard to do when one’s hand extends below the grip of the firearm. For another, the pocket draw often requires the thumb to be up on the back of the gun to prevent snagging, rather than already in the master grip like a belt gun.
[Drawing from an ankle holster requires certain techniques. None of them normal]
And now we get back to the “pepper spray/.32 Magnum” joke from the opening paragraphs…
Chuck’s last block of the day involved carry load selection and terminal ballistics, and he was demoing various classic and current carry loads against Clear Ballistics gel blocks covered in four layers of denim. He had a big crowd gathered ’round wanting to see their preferred .38 Special, 9mm, or .40 load meet the jello monster, but I just hung back and waited until after class.
[The mangled thing in the center is a 9mm Gold Dot that went through the AK mag and 8″ into the gel. Myth busted.]
See, I had switched to the .32 H&R Magnum J-frame from the more common 5-shot .38 about a dozen years ago. My reasoning being that I didn’t practice with +P ammo in the .38 and that most standard-velocity .38 wasn’t going to expand (in fact, a lot of highly-clueful individuals I know carry 148gr wadcutters in their J-frames), so why wouldn’t I carry the .32 Mag, which probably won’t expand either, and has an extra round in the cylinder, to boot?
I’d brought four different types of .32 H&R Magnum to try: Hornady’s 80gr Critical Defence FTX-HP, Federal’s 85gr JHP & 95gr LSWC, and a 100gr JHP loaded by Georgia Arms.
Of the four rounds, we found three in the denim on the far side of the block, having shot all the way through 16” of clear gel, and the fourth, the 100gr Georgia Arms, went through the denim on the far side, too and buried itself somewhere in the berm.
[Note to self: .32 Mag is not the same as pepper spray]
This was just six of the thirty-two hours of training I got at Tactical Conference, which hosts a smorgasbord of trainers for a bargain fixed price. Next year is the 20th anniversary and is sure to fill up fast, so keep your eye out for when registration opens.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
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Tamara Keel made a living slinging guns across the glass for more than twenty years, so it goes without saying she’s been muzzled more times than just about anyone we know. Tamara has been regularly published in many places such as SWAT Magazine, Concealed Carry Magazine, and is currently the Handgun Editor for the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated magazine. But it’s not just on dead trees that she writes–you can catch most of her wit on her blog. She’s into making fun of gun hipsters, shooting bowling pin matches, drinking new craft beers, and collecting old and outdated cameras. You can also catch her on Instagram @tamarakeel.
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