Mindset v Hardware

September 14, 2015  
Categories: Learnin'

Grey Ghost Gear

Today’s guest post is from Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training. We call him “Gorillafritz”, and if you ever meet him you’ll know immediately why. Mad Duo


Mindset vs Hardware

Greg Ellifritz

I have a confession to make. I like guns and gear. If you are reading this website, then you probably do as well. Nothing wrong with that. Guns are cool. Having the latest and greatest new gear makes people happy and drives growth in an industry where many of us make our living. But understand this: cool guy guns and gear won’t guarantee you’ll win your next life threatening confrontation. In fact, spending too much time buying and talking about hardware issues may prevent you from doing the work required to ensure your victory.


photo from http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/

Let me tell you a little story….

In my cop job I once responded to a call where a man had received death threats. The guy had legitimate intel that a former employee with a grudge was planning a home invasion. The employee and his friends planned to break into the guy’s house in the middle of the night, killing him and his wife, and making off with cash and guns they knew the employer owned. These weren’t just idle threats. The guy had reliable information that the home invasion was going to go down that particular night.

I didn’t recognize the guy’s name or address before I arrived at the call. But once I got there, I remembered the caller as a man with whom I had shared several gun-related chats over the years. He was a guy who would randomly start talking to cops about guns, gear, and tactics. Lest I make it sound like this guy was some “wannabe” or “crazy gun nut,” I’ll say that when the guy had approached me in the past, he was exceptionally friendly. He wasn’t weird, he just liked talking guns. Being knowledgeable on the topic, he was always pursuing the “next big thing” in terms of firearms and accessories. Being a gun nut myself, I enjoyed talking to this guy when we crossed paths.

That night, as he told me about his former employee’s plan to kill him, he was visibly shaking, sweating profusely, and stammering. He looked completely different from the dude I had spoken with so many times over the years. Granted, he was in a scary situation. It’s hard to stay calm when you know that a couple of guys are going to do their best to ensure that you don’t make it to daybreak. The problem wasn’t that he was scared; it was that he was completely paralyzed with fear.

As we made plans to temporarily evacuate him and started the process of tracking down the suspects, I asked the man if he was carrying a gun. This was before the time that my state had concealed carry licenses, but there was an “affirmative defense” clause that allowed people who received death threats to lawfully carry a weapon. Knowing this guy was a “gun guy,” I assumed that he was packing.


The man lifted his shirt and showed me the $2500 custom 1911 pistol shoved into his waistband. He didn’t have a carry holster and had never really contemplated having to use the gun outside the shooting range. The pistol’s hammer was down and chamber empty. He told me he didn’t feel comfortable carrying his expensive gun “cocked and locked.” Unfortunately, he had no idea that his chance of prevailing against multiple armed attackers wasn’t very likely given his shaking, sweaty hands, empty chamber, and gun flopping around in his waistband without a holster. He spoke the language of guns and tactics, but when it was time to put his knowledge to work, he failed miserably. He was relying on his expensive gun as a “hardware” solution to what was essentially a “software” problem, where mindset, skill, and tactics were more important than the weapon he carried.

The story had a happy ending. We got the guy a safe place to stay and soon had the potential home invaders locked up. Even though the deadly confrontation never happened, I often think back to the guy’s behavior that night.


I especially think about it when I see and hear my new students talking about gear instead of mindset and tactics. I shake my head when I regularly see students show up for my gunfighting classes geared up like their favorite special operations soldier or looking like the mismatched lovechild of a 5.11/Crye Precision/Arcteryx threesome gone wrong. I automatically wonder if they are going to turn into a quivering mess like my friend did when things become serious.


“No tactical clothing gangbang here. Check.”

It’s cool to have the gear. It’s cooler to have the skills to use it effectively.


Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

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About the Author Greg Ellifritz is a 20-year veteran police officer, spending 13 years as the full time tactical training officer for his central Ohio agency. In that position, he was gorillafritz_bioresponsible for developing and instructing all of the in-service training for a 54-officer police department. Prior to his training position, he served as patrol officer, bike patrol officer, bike patrol coordinator, sniper and field training officer for his agency. He has been an active instructor for the Tactical Defense Institute since 2001 and a lead instructor for TDI’s ground fighting, knife fighting, active shooter, impact weapons, and extreme close quarters shooting classes. Greg is the president and primary instructor for Active Response Training. He also does insane things like attend Burning Man without the assistance of illegal narcotics to save his sanity.

Mad Duo

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About the Author


  1. Daniell

    I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye


    The comment about clothing is particularly apposite. I was involved in a number of altercations with street hoods when I was young. Oddly enough, none of those fights occurred while I was wearing tactical clothing or gear. I wear camo while hunting but my range time now is all spent in street clothes.

    And being older and wiser I now avoid street fights by not going to stupid places and doing stupid things with stupid people. 🙂

  3. JC

    Great to see Greg featured here. His tactical training scenarios over on his site offer a quick “software” update.

  4. Jeff Street

    Well said. Many people have Gun friends like that guy who give them horrible advice. I ask my 3 gun competition friends if they own a sling and most reply no. If their goto home defense weapon is a long gun I ask does it have a weapon mounted light? The answer often is no. Not surprised this guy didn’t have a proper holster for his goto defensive weapon.

  5. Charles Osborne

    This is the best article I have read in a while about this issue. Mastering a gun on the range is no good if they cant master their mind.


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