Maybe if I have enough equipment…

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… I’ll be tactical?

About a month and a half ago, Mrs. Untactical and I began this journey with the goal of becoming responsible, qualified gun owners. We think that is a good, solid, achievable goal. Perhaps, someday, we’ll be at least a little tactical, but that day is far, far away. For one reason, attaining a significant level of tactical ability – at least as I’ve derived from my Internet travels – is expensive. Let’s break down the how and why of it.

What does one need in the way of gear to be tactical? I suspect that question has as many answers as their are gun owners. The wisest response I’ve found suggests that it’s not the equipment that is most important – it’s the mind.

All the gear in the world won’t save you in a life-or-death situation if you have not trained well.

Equipment needs are dictated by their specific applications. Are you considering equipment for concealed carry? Home defense? Shooting at the range or in some type of competition?

1. The Gun (or guns): I read an article recently that stated guns were like Lay’s potato chips: you couldn’t have just one. Frankly, I thought it was hogwash because I am very happy with our Ruger 9E. Lately, however, I’ve been eyeing the Canik TP9SA as well as the other TP9 variants.

Canik TP9SA

Canik TP9SA (Photo courtesy of Century Arms)

The Canik TP9SA is a sweet looking pistol and, by all accounts (including this review by the ridiculously popular Hickok45) the TP9SA is a very good shooting gun as well. The Canik tagline on their website reads: Superior Handguns. I believe it. And the TP9SA can be had for sub-$350.

Hmmm. Maybe just one more gun? After we purchase Mrs. Untactical’s subcompact, of course!

Still, whether we have one gun or five, weapons alone won’t make us tactical.

2. The Holster(s): I have a state pistol permit, which, where we live, means I can legally carry concealed (aka CCW). Despite our relative newness to the community, I have purchase three – three! – holsters already. Although this is not a product review article, I will definitely give a shout out to the Stealth Operator compact holster by Phalanx Defense Systems out of Gainesville, FL (Go Gators!).

Stealth Operator Compact Holster

Stealth Operator Compact Holster (image courtesy of Phalanx Defense Systems)

Of the three holsters we have, the Stealth Operator compact is the best by far. Per the company’s website, it will fit over 150 guns. The holster – an outside the waistband (OWB) design – is an injection molded nylon shell utilizing rust-resistant black oxide hardware. Positive retention across this large array of pistols is achieved by something they call Frame-Lock technology.

I don’t know exactly what Frame-Lock technology is or how it works, but this holster works a treat for the Ruger 9E whether I’m sitting, standing, walking, or on a 6-hour road trip. Where other holsters have gouged my side while driving, I actually do “forget” that I’m carrying in the car. Naturally, I don’t really forget, but once in and settled, I have no discomfort whatsoever.

The Stealth Operator compact holster will run you in the neighborhood of $34.99 at Academy Sports and Outdoors. In the realm of good, usable holsters, that is pretty inexpensive. And when I say usable, I mean one in which it is practical to carry – and employ – your self-defense firearm.

If you can’t practically use your firearm if and when needed, you need a new holster. For example, the first holster I purchased without any research whatsoever was a Tagua SOFT-350 made for the Ruger SR9 series of pistols (of which the 9E is a member). The Tagua is a pliable IWB (Inside-the-Waistband) holster. Once I figure out how to mount it, I quickly discovered it would not work for me.

Even if I had bought new pants to accommodate the additional width of the Ruger 9E and holster inside my waistband, as soon as I drew the gun from the holster, it (the holster) collapsed. Now, it achieved one goal – it let me draw my weapon. But, I thought to myself, who wants to stand around holding their pistol after a gunfight? If you can’t re-holster your firearm with relative ease, I call that an equipment failure.

I’ve since learned that, in the event you are required to defend yourself with your pistol, you DO NOT want to be standing around holding the gun in your hand when the police arrive!

So today, our nice, soft, $40 Tagua holster is our nightstand and gun bag holster, used merely to give us something in which to carry the gun around when it’s not in the actual carry holster.

3. The Belt(s): Like guns, holsters are a very personal decision based on application, taste and a lot of other factors. But what do you connect the holster to? Your belt, of course (unless you’re going all James Bond with that shoulder rig thing).

A Toy James Bond with Shoulder Holster Rig

Toy Bond with Shoulder Holster (Creative Commons)

When I started looking at holsters, I quickly discovered that most people follow any commentary on holsters with, “If you’re getting a holster to carry your gun, then you need a flippin’ gun belt designed to handle that.”

I thought to myself, ‘Makes sense.’

Until I started pricing them.

I had already deferred on Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) carry (see above) because it would basically mean the replacement of all my pants. All of them. Several videos I watched described one of the key features of a good gun belt as something one could not fold in half. In other words, the belt needs to be stiff enough not to collapse under the weight of the gun, or under the repeated pull and pressure of drawing and holstering.

George Dress Belt (Walmart)

George Dress Belt (Photo courtesy of Walmart)

On a lark, I thought I’d apply that test to my very own $10 Walmart dress belt, which many reviewers had used as the perfect “Don’t buy that belt” example. Guess what? I could not fold it over. Sure, I didn’t stand on it or go all Hulk in my efforts, but it seemed plenty stiff to me. One downside is that my Walmart belt is only an inch and a quarter wide. Most OWB holsters are fitted for a belt that is at least an inch and a half in width, if not more.

All that said, I’ve carried comfortably with my cheap Walmart belt. I’ve practiced my draw and holster technique with my cheap Walmart belt (using an unloaded pistol! Remember, safety first). And it works. On the negative side, there is a little too much play because of the narrower belt width, but not enough to render it an unusable solution. Did I mention it cost $10?

But… lest my readers think I’m all about cheap and nothing else, I will be testing and reviewing a belt from Anson Belt and Buckle in the near future. Although I regularly see gun belts ranging in cost anywhere from $75 – $100, the Anson Complete Belt lists for $49.99 and seems like a high quality, highly customizable solution. I’m looking forward to wearing it, testing it and reviewing it. So look for that article around the beginning of January 2018.

In summary (assuming you’re all still with me!), it is possible to enter the handgun community and not have to mortgage the farm to do so. Not counting range ammunition and extraneous holsters, our current rig consists of:

  • Ruger 9E: $315.00
  • Additional Ruger 9E magazine (from Gun Mag Warehouse): $30.00
  • Stealth Operator Compact holster: $35.00
  • “Gun” belt (Walmart dress belt): $10.00
  • Ear plugs, ear defenders, gun cleaning kit, safety glasses and other misc. gear: $60.00

NOTE: You can spend a ton more money on all the doodads, depending on how flashy you want to be. Just sayin

Total outlay to date: $450.00

That amount is more than $50 less than the price we were quoted for a Glock 19 (Gen 5); which was the cost of just the pistol alone.

Hopefully, this article has helped at least one person understand a little bit more about the gear and costs involved with what many would consider entry-level equipment. Had Mrs. Untactical and I wanted to get in the game with a Glock, Heckler and Koch (HK), Sig Sauer, etc. the numbers would be much higher.

And maybe someday we will have an opportunity to purchase one of those fine pistols. For now, we’ll continue to discover, test and offer our experiences with more economical equipment.

If we don’t talk to you before, please accept our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Stay safe, thanks for reading and God bless.

Mr. Untactical

So… You’ve Decided to Buy a Pistol

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If you’ve somehow stumbled into this distant and lonely corner of the Internet gun universe, welcome! I’m Mr. Untactical (you can call me Mike), and I’m using this blog to help chronicle our journey from completely untactical neophyte gun owners to, well, we’re not really sure where the journey will lead just yet!

If you’ve scrolled down and read our other articles, you know we’re nearly as new as you are when it comes to experience with a firearm. Mrs. Untactical has her days when she believes I’m taking this whole “gun thing” just a little too seriously. My belief is that, if you’re going to purchase and use a gun of any kind, you not only better darn well know as much as you possibly can about that gun, but you should also know a great deal about shooting in general.

So let’s back up a minute and remind ourselves of… THE FOUR RULES:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded (ALWAYS!)
  2. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you have made the (conscious) decision to shoot
  4. Be sure of your target and be sure of what is beyond your target, too

For those entering the world of guns these are the most important four things you can learn. Learn them first and learn them well.

Rules? We don’t need no stinking rules

Look. I’m all for freedom. After all, freedom is one of the founding principles of America. But, if you are EVER going to pick up a weapon, these four rules need to be ingrained in your mind.

The second thing you should know is, perhaps, counter-intuitive. Look back at that word in the last paragraph: freedom. No other right, not even freedom of religion, creates such a schism between our citizens these days as the freedom to keep and bear arms. If you have made the decision to purchase a firearm, you are now on the 2A team.

What is the 2A team?

Amendment II in the Bill of Rights reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Your race doesn’t matter. Your sexual preference doesn’t matter. Your gender doesn’t matter. Your career, your education level, your location, your political affiliation… none of that matters anymore. If you’ve bought a gun, you are now a member of the second amendment (2A) team.

People in your church, your sewing circle, your spinning class, your bridge club, the PTA, your family, your friends – basically everyone you know – has an opinion these days on the second amendment.

If you own a gun, or even if you go to the local gun shop and look at a gun while you’re thinking about owning a gun, all those folks will know where you stand on 2A.

If. You. Tell. Them. About. Your. Gun.

In our post-modern world it seems like we share everything. What you ate for lunch; where you went for the weekend; your latest relationship status; dog and cat pictures. You name it, we share it. I can tell you from personal experience, the first week we owned our Ruger 9E, I told a lot of people about it. I couldn’t help it. I found myself opening conversations with friends, “Hey, do you shoot?”

It’s probably a good thing we live in the South, in one of those states that gets thrown under the bus about our antiquated ideas concerning guns, history, NASCAR… you know: we’re rednecks. But you probably figured that out from my poor grammar, right? And, just to set the record straight? I don’t like NASCAR, Monster Trucks, and I don’t hunt. But, because we live down here, the answer I received when I asked that question was a unanimous, “Yeah, I shoot.”

The truth is, I was stoked to have a pistol! It was fun to go down to the range. It was cool talking to others about what (guns) they had and to kick around the relative merits of different pistol models. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t stoked in a, “Imma gonna go shoot somethin‘!” way, I just discovered (or rediscovered) how much I genuinely enjoy shooting.

However, I soon realized that no one else but Mrs. Untactical (and our sons and relatives we’ve shot with, or will shoot with) really needed to know we have a gun. It doesn’t matter if you plan on going down the concealed carry (CCW) road. Regardless of today’s political climate; perhaps even more so because of the recent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, TX, our status as gun owners is no one else’s business but our own.

“… the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Don’t worry. You don’t have to go underground. You will encounter folks who will, like you, be new to guns. You will encounter old hands who, to use a well-worn cliche, have forgotten more about guns than you’ll ever know. And everyone in between. Study hard, practice, learn all you can.

Above all, have fun!

Stay safe, thanks for reading and God bless.

Mr. Untactical

Newbie +1 (Month): Ruger 9E

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It’s been nearly one month since the (most likely) completely unobserved launch of Untactical. What progress have we made in that time?

Some.

One thing I’ve learned and tried to employ is the need for near-daily practice. Since Mrs. Untactical and I are not independently wealthy, a lot of that practice has been dry fire. Although I’ve included a link to a definition from the new age encyclopedia known as Wikipedia, I’ll give you my definition of dry fire: practicing stance, grip, aiming and trigger discipline with an unloaded weapon or weapon simulator.

Ruger 9E 3-dot sights

Ruger 9E (left-view)

Ruger 9E (right-view)

If you would like the basic specifications for the Ruger 9E (3340), here they are. I will note that the pistol comes stock with white 3-dot sights. I took the liberty of adding green and orange paint to ours for improved contrast. You may like the idea or not… for me, I get a much better sight picture at the range this way.

Since purchasing our Ruger 9E, we’ve had the opportunity to shoot it a half-dozen times or so. We bought the model 3340. The only difference between the 3340 and 3341 is magazine capacity. Our 3340 version of the 9E holds 17+1 rounds of ammunition (the 3341 holds 10+1). For those even newer to modern handguns than us, that means our magazine(s) can contain up to 17 rounds of 9mm ammunition, with another (the +1) in the chamber. How you get that +1 in the chamber and still maintain 17 rounds in the magazine took a video to learn.

I’m slow, but I can be taught.

This is not the article that will take up the debate over carrying a round in the chamber or not. That is absolutely a valid discussion and, as with many things associated with firearms, your personal decision needs to be based on your level of expertise, your application (what are you going to use the weapon for?), the type of weapon you are using/carrying, and many other factors. I hope to take up that debate in a later post.

For those complete newbies (basically those who were in a similar position to us a month or so ago), here is a great video on how a semi-automatic handgun operates. The animation is clear, each component (where applicable) is exploded (not literally… just so you can see all the components and their names) and explained. The video explains the components and functions of a striker-fired semi-automatic pistol. If your weapon – or the weapon you are considering purchasing – is different, just search for that type and I guarantee you will find a similar video for it.

This article explains the difference between a striker-fired and hammer-fired pistol, as well as the difference between double-action and single-action, and so on. As I’ve noted, there are thousands of articles and videos on firearms available at no charge on the Internet. I will caution readers to use a modicum of common sense when digesting the information presented. Many of the articles and videos I’ve found have provided invaluable knowledge to help me and Mrs. Untactical improve our abilities with firearms. However, this is the Internet we’re talking about. Anyone with a computer and a connection can post (like me) anything they like. Trust, but verify.

I don’t want to go on too long. Suffice it to say that we’ve run about 500 rounds through the 9E with no malfunctions. Our ammunition (ammo) has mainly been Winchester White Box 115-grain full-metal jacket (FMJ). However, we’ve also put 25 rounds of home-defense ammo (Speer Gold Dot LE Duty 9mm Ammo 147 Grain JHP), 50 rounds of Federal 115-grain practice ammo, and maybe some other brands of 9mm ammo as well. The point is, the 9E took everything we’ve fed it and functioned flawlessly.

Mrs. Untactical spent some of the Federal ammo practicing with a Walther PPS M2 and Ruger LC9s at our most recent trip to the range. She believes the 9E is just a little too big for an every day carry (EDC) gun. I’ll get into that later, but we’re still trying out some of the more popular/reliable sub-compact 9mm pistols to see if one fits her better.

I will say this: Out of all the guns she has shot so far (which also include some outdoor shooting with a junker Kel-Tec 9mm and an old Ruger LCP, Mrs. Tactical shoots the 9E the best. That includes the ability to handle the weapon, maintain a good grip, and get rounds on target.

In short, we are both very pleased with the Ruger 9E. It is a reliable, accurate, American-made pistol that we recommend for home defense and/or (in my case) an EDC option. We paid @ $315 to our local (private) FFL (Federal Firearms License) holder (including shipping, etc.) so it was easy on the finances, too.

That’s all for now, but I look forward to sharing more of our journey with everyone.

Stay safe, thanks for reading and God bless.

Mr. Untactical

Welcome to Untactical

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If you’ve found your way here, congratulations!

In the galaxy, nee, universe of weapons, tactical advice, survival tips, and general home defense wisdom, websites, blogs, YouTube channels and so forth, Untactical is the veritable drop in the ocean. In fact, it’s more likely a grain of invisible sand at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

What will you find here?

The definition of tactical (adjective) is: characterized by skillful tactics or adroit maneuvering or procedure.

If there is a place on Earth that is the farthest from skillful tactics or adroit maneuvering or procedure… this is it. Ergo the name Untactical.

I started this blog because at the ripe, old age of (well, never you mind) I became a gun owner and concealed carry permit (CCW) holder. I will go into the reasons for those life decisions in future posts but, for now, let’s talk about the motivation for this blog.

I can’t be the only one.

That’s it in a nutshell.

As I researched (and continue to research) handgun models, holsters, places to shoot, state laws on carrying said handgun, and so on, I read innumerable articles, watched countless videos, subscribed to any number of newsletters, and generally tried to educate myself on modern gun culture.

You see, way back in (Ha! you thought I was going to give something away there, didn’t you?) my USAF basic training days, I qualified as a marksman with the M16 (albeit with the .22 conversion kits installed). A few years later, I had to shoot again (not much shooting went on in the USAF back in my day). That time, I qualified expert.

I say that, to admit this: Okay, I’m not a complete newbie when it comes to firearms. When I say that I became a gun owner recently I mean I purchased my second gun ever recently. About fifteen years ago we bought a small Astra 9mm semi-automatic pistol. I think I shot it once and I don’t think Mrs. Untactical shot it at all. We’ve owned a nickel-plated, pearl-handled .32 Smith & Wesson six-shooter since my mother passed away a few years ago. Mrs. Untactical typically keeps hold of that particular gun but, technically, we own it. The Astra was sold to a responsible gun owner in the family years ago rather than have it collect dust and offer up a tempting treasure for two curious boys (now grown and moved out).

To get back to the subject at hand, let’s just say that I was completely flabbergasted (and not a little sticker-shocked) when perusing the plethora of handgun options available on the market today. And, being a writer (but you guessed that already from all those fancy words I just used), I thought, ‘Why not chronicle this journey of ours?’

What journey, you might ask?

The journey from (more or less) modern firearm newbies to something resembling responsible gun owners.

Along the way, I’ll try to offer reasonable advice that will hopefully be of some value to other gun newbies (I had to so resist the urge to replace newbie with neophyte there… because of that writing thing). I will post pictures of guns, target sheets, and perhaps myself or Mrs. Tactical launching a few projectiles downrange. I’ll do my best to provide links to knowledgeable, tactically astute folks who can help us all on our journey from newbie to wherever it is we’re trying to get to with regard to responsible gun ownership.

To close this first, introductory post, I will say something that I will repeat early and often throughout this series: Safety First, Last and Always. There are enough knuckleheads running around out there without any more joining them.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to meeting and talking with all of you.

Mr. Untactical