5.56 Timeline

Steps of the Draw for Personal Defense.

When it comes to drawing your firearm for defensive shooting, there are a lot of techniques being taught.  Some people want no steps, while others want long complicated steps in presenting the firearm.  I have always been middle of the road when it comes to the steps of the draw. The main goal in the draw should be using the most efficient movement to get the firearm into the fight.  I have always used a six (6) step method to teaching the draw. The benefit of using these key steps is consistency in the draw for Duty Carry or Concealed Carry.

1.) Grip

2.) Clear

3.) Lock

4.) Grab

5.) Punch

6.) Trigger Press

In each step there are several things going on that you need to incorporate.  It is important to remember, depending on the encounter, you may not complete all six (6) steps. Most deadly force encounters (shootings) happen in low light, at extremely close distances, from three (3) to seven (7) feet. Incorporating these steps in the draw will address close range as well as longer range engagements. I will discuss the importance of each step.

The Draw:

Grip – This first step is critical as it sets the entire tone of the engagement.  The outcome could be won or lost right here.  Several things are going on at the same time: Support hand is clearing clothing and comes to the center of the chest (Grab position). Gun hand breaks holster retention and acquires a positive, high in the web of hand grip, with trigger finger indexed along the side. Movement should also start happening at the same time, (i.e. stepping off line or back).

Clear – Keeping the support hand on your chest, clear the firearm from all gear and clothing. This is the time that you will be taking the safety off of a firearm that has a safety (i.e. 1911, HK USP, Berretta). Continue your movement off line.

Lock – Bring the firearm up presenting the firearm towards the threat. This is a close quarters encounter shooting position (arms length). It is important to keep your support hand on your chest incase you have to fire.  This will help you avoid putting rounds through your own hand.  If you are not shooting from this position quickly transition to Grab.

Grab – Push the firearm forward and towards the center of your body. At the same time come underneath the trigger guard with the support hand and acquire a high ready two handed grip. The firearm should be high enough that your peripheral vision should start to pick up the front sight. Having the firearm in this position of the draw is critical to set you up for the next step.

Punch/Sights – From the Grab position push the firearm towards the threat while acquiring your sights. This should be a straight forward motion like a punch. Pushing the firearm straight out will avoid fishing or bowling of the firearm and sights. This straight motion from the Grab will help you pick up the sights faster. At this point your movement (stepping off line) should be ending, as you are preparing to fire.

Trigger Press – Once you have your sights on target, move your trigger finger from indexing to the trigger. All of the steps mean nothing if you mash the trigger and don’t get the rounds to hit. Use good trigger fundamentals and press.

These steps are a guide to help you in your training. All of the steps should be used in one fluid motion when presenting the firearm from the holster. The only time you should think about the steps is when you are going to shoot from one of the Lock, Grab or during the Punch steps.  Mix it up during your training. I had a fellow officer who would regularly train firing from the Lock position through the Punch, while moving off line, from close quarters.

Close Quarters Encounter:

Lock – If you have to fire from this position, slightly cant the firearm away from your body, rock back a little to make sure your rounds are contacting center mass. Canting the firearms slightly will ensure the slide cycles properly, especially if multipule rounds are needed.


I feel, in the civilian Concealed Carry field, not enough attention is focused on close quarters encounters. Remembering the important steps in the draw, Lock, Grip and Punch are important fundamentals.  You are more likely to be stabbed than in a gun fight and that means close range. The steps will help you identify shooting skills you may need in protection of your family at home. In your house you will more than likely be at very close range to a suspect. Use the high ready Grab to move in your house or pull it back to Lock if you have to push someone away and then shoot.


Glock 21 Gen4

I had the opportunity to test drive a Glock 21 Gen4 this weekend. I wanted to do a quick review as this was the first time I had shot the Gen4 21.  This is a firearm I recommended a friend purchase. He called me for advise, stating he had a friend who wanted to sell him a new Glock 21 Gen4. We shot it this weekend and I was impressed. Both of us are very familiar with the .40 cal Glocks having carried them as law enforcement officers and we found the 45acp Glock was a delight to shoot.

I shot a variety of ammunition though it to test the recoil of different loads.  I ran Federal 230gr ball, Hornady Critical Defense 185gr FTX, and full power LE Winchester Ranger 230gr SXT (RA45T). The new dual recoil spring drastically reduced the recoil of the 45acp rounds. The 230gr ball and the Hornady Critical Defense felt almost like shooting LE Gold Dot 147gr 9mm. I could feel a noticeable difference when firing the Winchester Ranger but it was still very manageable.  I had no problem putting multiple shots in quick succession center mass.

The Gen4 grip was nice, with no back straps it felt like the Glock 21SF model. While the Glock 21 Gen4 is a very large pistol, it felt small in my hands. When firing, I forgot all about the fact I was shooting a 45acp, even with the Winchester Ranger ammo.

In fact the recoil was so soft, a great opportunity to demonstrate how manageable the Glock 21 Gen4 is presented itself. My friend had his teenage daughter with him this day. She had never shot a firearm before and after a few minutes of instruction she was ready to take on the 45acp.  We did not make it too easy for her, we placed our man sized targets at 7 yards/21 feet. After firing her first round she was quickly placing rounds center mass. She had no problem manipulating the firearm and as time went on she was more confident in quickly putting rounds on the target. She stated she liked the size and feel of the 9mm/40 Glocks more but had not problem handling the larger size of the Glock 21.


Overall Impressions:

There are many reviews of the Glock 21 Gen4 out there. I did not want to get into all of the different shooting aspects of the Glock 21 as they have been covered. As far as the handling of the Glock 21 Gen4, it performs like a Glock.  It ate everything we put into it. The Glock 21 Gen4 was a big surprise for me in the recoil department.  I just did not think the recoil would be as soft as it was. The fact that a petite teenage girl, who had never fired a firearm before, picked it up and was throwing lead down range without a problem says a lot.  If you are looking for a 45acp that is very comfortable to shoot, check the Glock 21 Gen4 out.


Magpul L-Plates

I have always preferred USGI magazines, you can stock up quickly at a lower price than non-USGI magazines. When selecting your USGI magazines stick to known high-quality brands. Several are: NHMTG/Colt, D&H Industries, Brownells, and Center Industries. I mainly use NHMTG/Colt magazines, but I have been switching to D&H Industries magazines from DSG Arms. The D&H magazines with the Magpul follower can be $8.50 a magazine if you buy the ten (10) pack. Another big plus (+) I see for using USGI magazines is Magpul L-Plates.


Magpul L-Plates offer several advantages for your USGI magazines and I will go over a few of these in no particular order.

1.)  I have cut myself several times in the heat of the moment with USGI magazines. USGI magazine floor plates have sharp edges and can really beat up your gear, clothing, and skin. When using open top magazine pouches on a vest or chest rig, I have cut my forearms while moving and sometimes my hands/fingers when quickly removing magazines. The rubber L-Plate quickly addresses all of these issues. They take less than a minute to install. The rubber L-Plates protect your gear, clothing, and skin from the previously mentioned sharp edges.  The rubber L-Plates extend the magazine for a positive grip during magazine changes (i.e. removal from the pouch).  The rubber L-Plates protect the bottom of the magazine during ground strikes that may occur during speed reloads.   This added protection is especially important on harder surfaces: gravel, pavement, or concrete, and it will increase the life of the magazine.

2.)  Depending on your weapon system or current role in law enforcement, the military or average citizen, you may or may not have several different types of ammunition loads.  Having the ability to mark and quickly identify what type of round is in which magazine can be very helpful. The L-Plates can be used for such purposes by using a different color L-Plate to identify the type of rounds in a particular magazine. For Example, I have Hornady 75gr OTM ammunition in magazines with FDE L-Plates; Federal Tactical Bonded 55gr. ammunition in magazines with OD green L-Plates; and Federal M193 ammunition in magazines with Black L-Plates. Another example where ammunition/magazine marking proves useful is with newer rifles, like the Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout. The 300 BLK, which uses 7.62x35mm ammunition, uses the exact same magazine as those used with 5.56mm ammunition. In this situation, marking your magazine to identify ammunition type is necessary to avoid injury and/or catastrophic failure.

3.) One of the best benefits of using L-Plates is when using the magazine as a monopod. The monopod technique provides a quick stable platform for more accurate shots with a patrol rifle. Standard USGI magazine floor plates can become scratched and/or gouged when firing using the monopod method on abrasive surfaces (i.e. brick or concrete). This in turn leads to added wear and tear on your gear, clothing, and skin.  By using the L-Plates you can avoid the scratching and gouging, as well as the added wear and tear. The L-Plates can also help with recoil absorption and provide a nonslip contact point when firing from a wet/slick surface, like the hood or trunk of a vehicle.



For anyone who is concerned about malfunctions when using the magazine as a monopod, don’t worry this is a non issue in my opinion.  This has been a long debated question. I started using and instructing officers on this technique almost a decade ago. Any advanced carbine course you might take, from any number of well respected schools/instructors, will teach magazine as monopod technique. If you have a feed issue or malfunction, you more than likely have a bad magazine. All magazines wear out and can be damaged, if it’s not working properly make it a training only magazine or get rid of it.


Note. There is a drawback to using L-Plates. I have found the inner locking plate for the L-Plate takes up a slight amount of room inside the magazine and affects the amount of ammunition it can hold. Technically, the magazine can still be loaded with 30 rounds but you cannot seat the magazine on a closed bolt.  If you are going to be performing magazine changes with a closed bolt, and you are using L-Plates, I suggest sacrificing one (1) round to ensure the magazine is fully seated. Years ago, I got into the habit of only loading 28 rounds in USGI magazines, and I have never really stopped, so the concern identified above is really not an issue for me.

Overall Impressions:

The Magpul L-Plates are a great addition to your USGI magazines. Several of the ranges I used as a police officer had paved areas, sidewalks, and some gravel areas.  This environment took a heavy toll on dropping magazines during range sessions. For a law enforcement officer who operates in an urban or street environment with sidewalks, paved surfaces, fences, block walls, and vehicles, the L-Plates may provide an advantage in stability when using the magazine monopod technique. The L-Plates also save you and your gear from the sharp edges that can get you from time to time.  While the L-Plates are not a necessity, they are a nice piece of gear to have.


The importance of a 3 month food supply and getting started

Cassie Larsen submitted this article.

The importance of a 3 month food supply and getting started

When most people think of preparedness they think about their emergency/ bug out bags and 72 hour kits. When I think of preparedness I think about my 3 month food supply and long term food supply too. Your 3 month food supply is easier and quicker to get then the long term food supply or ultimate goal of a year of  food. I suggest you start with your 3 month supply then move up to the long term food storage foods.

What is a 3 month food supply? It is a supply of foods you eat on a daily basis, foods that are part of your normal diet. It is not the long term foods like wheat, oats and beans in number 10 cans. It’s can goods, pasta, cereal, and grains. You should try to convert some of the fresh items you use into canned or frozen items, so they will store longer.

There are many reasons to have a 3 month supply of food. If you or your significant other lose your job, an unexpected expense, unexpected guests, a shorter than expected pay check, bad weather, sickness or just a busy week. Now with any of those situations it is nice to have extra food in the cupboard and freezer.

Getting started with your supply:

Option number 1: You can buy an extra couple of items each week at the store. Say you need a can of chicken noodle soup instead of buying one can you buy two cans. Once you have used that one can you add it to the grocery list to buy another two cans. As time goes on you will slowly add up to a 3 month supply of food.

Option number 2: You can shop the ads and coupons and stock up when items go on sale. If cereal is on sale you buy 4+ boxes instead of one, or buy as much as your budget allows. This option helps you to get your food supply quickly while still staying on a budget. An important thing to keep in mind while doing this option is to not buy extra items that are not on sale. Once you watch the ads you will realize everything goes on sale in a rotation. Say this week its pasta, next week it will be cereal and in another four weeks it will start again.

Option number 3: Keep a list of meals you eat for two weeks and all the ingredients needed for those meals. Then add extra items from your meal list to your grocery list each week so you always have the ingredients needed to make those meals.

I like to do all 3 options, that way I have complete meals plus extra filler foods too.

Date and Rotate Supply:

One thing that is really important to remember when having a 3 month supply of food is to rotate thru your food. You wouldn’t want all your money to be thrown away because the food expired. To rotate thru your foods, I suggest you write the month and year of when you bought the item on the top of the item. I write the date on top of all non perishable items; including my freezer, cleaning and toiletry items. When you write the month and year on top of the package you are able to see quickly what package to take out and use next. If you have eight cans of cream of chicken soup, you want to use the can you bought in May 2012 (5-12) not the can you bought in October 2012 (10-12). This method alleviates the need to worry about the expiration date. It also helps you to quickly see that you don’t need to buy any more of a particular item.  For example: Since the two packages of rice you bought in January 2012 (1-12) still haven’t been opened there is no reason to buy rice.

Use your freezer:

The freezer is a great way to add storage room for your 3 month food supply. You can freeze milk, cheese, bread, pizza dough, tortillas, yogurt, butter, some cut up vegetables and fruits, as well as your normal frozen foods and meat. The freezer in your fridge, chest freezers and stand up freezers all work the same just work with what you have room for. If you don’t have the option of an extra freezer there are many can meat varieties that you can substitute in most meals.

Don’t forget extra supplies:

Toiletry items are another thing that you want to have a 3 month supply of. It’s the same process for getting your body items, cleaning items, food and drink items. Don’t forget Ammo! The quickest way to add to your toiletry items on a budget is to use coupons and watch the sales. If you are not brand specific you have even more opportunities to add to your supply. Most toiletry and cleaning products do not expire, but I recommend that you rotate thru your toiletry items.

Part of my 3 month food supply. If I had a bigger pantry I would have more:

At the top of the pantry you can see the dates on some of the cereal boxes.


Get creative with where you store your food if you don’t have a big pantry. I have extra toiletry items and drinks in my laundry room closet. I have long term food storage in boxes under the bed. This isn’t anything new for me. Growing up I couldn’t put anything under my bed because there was so much long term food under my bed.

Get excited about food storage and get buying extra food! It’s always better to be prepared so when an emergency comes you will be able to take care of yourself and help others. I love knowing that I have extra food in my house. It brings peace, security and self reliance when you are prepared to take care of yourself and your family.

Even if you don’t think you need a bug out bag, 72 hour kit, or need to prepare for an emergency situation, you will always need food and water. A 3 month food supply is a good in home, easy and inexpensive option for your preparedness.


Tactical Assault Gear (TAG) Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib

There are so many choices when it comes to chest rigs.  I wanted to get a chest rig that was not going to blow up my wallet and give me the function and features I wanted. I was looking for more than a basic magazine (mag) pouch chest rig, that was uncomfortable, with flimsy straps across your back. I wanted a slim rig that held more than four (4) mags (without being double stacked), had stable rear strap system, and would evenly distribute the chest load.  After looking at the choices out there, I chose the TAG Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib.

TAG Marine Gladiator w/Bib front
TAG Marine Gladiator back
TAG Marine Gladiator back

The TAG Marine Gladiator may have a higher price point than other standard chest rigs but it also has a lot of additional features you don’t get with a standard chest rig. Plus, this rig has the ability to carry a hydration system. Once I opened it up, I immediately noticed the craftsmanship of TAG gear, and I was very excited to start using this rig. I could see the rig was constructed with high quality material and stitching. There is no doubt that TAG products are built very strong and will stand up to whatever punishment you put them through.

Typically, the only thing I worry about with gear is can it be adjusted to fit my size. In reading some comments posted about the TAG Marine Gladiator, some stated they could not get the rig tight enough on their body. However, the rig appeared to be fully adjustable in my opinion. At 5’10” and 165 pounds, I found it easy to adjust this rig to fit my body type without wearing body armor to fill the gap.


The TAG Marine Gladiator has four (4) pouches in the front of the chest rig, an admin pouch in the chest bib, a pocket behind the mags, and two (2) pouches on each side of the mags.  All of the pouches have pull tabs to separate the Velcro holding them closed.  The back of the TAG Marine Gladiator is a hydration pack carrier. You can place a hydration bladder in the carrier or use it as a mini backpack to hold extra gear. The hydration carrier also has a Velcro loop strip for adding patches. The hydration carrier has seven (7) rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing and a drainage eyelet at the bottom of the carrier.

TAG Marine Gladiator Bib pocket
Magazine Pocket
Side Magazine Pocket
Hydration Bladder Pouch

With the TAG Maine Gladiator Chest Rig, you have the option to run the rig with or without the bib. With the bib strapped to the shoulder straps, you are able to use the admin pouch, and it also provides more stability to the shoulder straps. There are three (3) rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing if you wish to add anything to the bib and Velcro loop strip for patches.  To run the rig without the bib, you simply undo the Velcro straps on the back of the bib, and fold it down behind the mags. With the bib down you can also use the quick release buckle on the shoulder strap if needed.  Personally, I like the extra stability of the bib as it relates to the shoulder straps (prevents them from sliding off your shoulder). Nonetheless, the removable bib is a nice feature to have. The front of the rig also has loops on the right and left sides at the bottom for attaching carabiners or other gear you might want.

With Bib
Bib folded down / Quick release buckles

The shoulder straps are nicely padded, making the TAG Marine Gladiator very comfortable to wear.  They are fully adjustable and the excess adjustment straps feed back onto the padded portion.  The shoulder straps also have MOLLE/PALS webbing and bungee straps for holding gear. The bungee straps come in handy for holding the water tube coming from the bladder pouch. The quick release buckles on the rig are robust and easy to use one-handed.  The waist adjustment straps have Velcro hook and loop tabs stitched into the end to roll and strap down the excess length.

TAG Marine Gladiator Harness Padding
Molle Webbing / Elastic Straps
Quick Release Waist Buckles / Adjustment Straps
Quick Release Waist Buckles / Adjustment Straps

The TAG Marine Gladiator holds six (6) thirty round 5.56mm mags across the abdomen area. The rig design provides a smooth, thin, and non-bulky feel while still giving you 180 rounds at the ready. You do not notice the 7 1/2 lbs of six (6) loaded mags. One thing that made me look at this vest was the straight mag pouch configuration, which allows you to lay flat on your stomach in the prone position. This allows for a stable shooting platform while on your stomach.

The mag pouches cover about 75% of the mag body, have thick shock cords and pull tabs for easy mag removal, and eyelets at the bottom of each mag pouch for water drainage.

I found the mag pouches are generous in length to accommodate PMAGS. However, when using USGI mags without Ranger Plates or L-Plates, the shock cords seemed loose and ineffective. There was no real purpose/use for the shock cords when using this mag configuration. Since I typically run L-Plates on most of my mags, I found this to be the perfect combination. They added enough length to the mag to allow tension from the shock cord straps without it being too hard to clear the pull tabs.

Six (6) Magazine / 180 Round Capacity
Three rows of MOLLE Webbing for accessories
TAG Marine Gladiator

For Women:

My wife was interested in the TAG Marine Gladiator and wanted to try it on.  After a quick/minor adjustment, she tested it for a while.  Here are her comments:

“I found the TAG Marine Gladiator to be surprisingly comfortable. I was pleased to find it was not heavy to wear. Carrying my kids or my purse is heavier and more cumbersome than wearing this chest rig. The shoulder straps are really well padded and didn’t dig into my shoulders. I thought that it might fit a little strange for me, since I am a woman, have narrow shoulders and a chest, but it didn’t.  I’m 5’4″ about 135 lbs, and I’m kind of busty. I was concerned that the chest rig would be too tight on my chest, making me feel like I was wearing a corset, but with the bib up or down it wasn’t too tight. If you are really busty, then having the option to have the bib down is definitely a plus with this type of chest rig. I was able to adjust the side straps to fit securely around my waist. If I were to add a tactical belt, or kydex reinforced belt with tactical pants, it would still fit fine.

I like the extra pouches to be able to carry additional gear and water. The pouches are nicely lined and could work like the pouches in your purse. In the top pouch, I would put some gloves and a small medical kit for emergency use. I have no complaints about the TAG Marine Gladiator. I’ll be on the lookout for my own patch for it!

Knowing that there are military units in Afghanistan testing female specific gear, I feel a woman could use this rig, until a female specific product is available. I would have no problem strapping the TAG Marine Gladiator on!”


Gladiator for ladies with Bib
Gladiator for ladies without Bib
Cassie's Colt LE6720 w/ Tag Marine Gladiator Rig.
Cassie’s Colt LE6720 w/ Tag Marine Gladiator Rig.
TAG Marine Gladiator for Women

Overall Impressions:

The TAG Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib has exceeded all my expectations.  It is extremely well made and very comfortable. I have taken it out on several occasions, wearing it all day, working hard in the heat, and sometimes forgetting I was even wearing it. The fixed shoulder straps, rear hydration pack carrier, and the rig’s ability to evenly distribute load carrying weight contribute to the overall comfort of the rig.

I highly recommend this rig for the Law Enforcement Officer who wants an all day training rig, long assignment search/perimeter rig, or an active shooter rig. A law enforcement officer can simply throw it over their patrol body armor and go. With its ability to adjust to multiple body types, female officers should consider the TAG Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib.

For range day and average plinker use, the TAG Marine Gladiator will exceed all expectations. The options and versatility of this rig beat most of the dedicated chest rigs out there.


For USGI magazines with Magpul L-Plates, click the following link: http://looserounds.com/2012/10/14/magpul-l-plates/