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Thread: Please pardon a noob and his questions

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    Hello all. New to the forum (well, been lurking a few weeks, but first post), soon-to-be new to gun ownership (although I've had experience with firearms and shooting in the past, just never owned my own), and sometime after that may be new to carrying (we'll see where my comfort zones end up being -- I certainly won't be carrying until I feel like I can handle my firearm well enough to not be a threat to those around me). I have a few questions as I embark on this new chapter of my life.

    First of all, let me just state up front that while I have probably more liberal views than I do conservative views, I am a stringent supporter of the Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment, and I will die to protect any American's right to keep and bear (i.e. carry) arms. Whether or not I ever carry myself, I support you who do, whether OC or CC.

    My questions probably seem incredibly basic to you, but please bear with me. I've posted here because these are about accessories.

    First off, I keep seeing the term "paddle holster" used a lot -- what does that mean? Is that a particular type of holster, and if so what makes it a "paddle holster" as opposed to, well, "other"?

    Regarding retention holsters, I've seen references to "level 2" most often, but also other levels as well; are those terms specific to certain manufacturers, or are there general rules that define what holsters are level 1, 2, 3, etc.?

    Finally (for now), how many of you carry spare mags when you carry? If you do, how many spare mags, and does the capacity of your mags affect this number? How do you carry them?

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Welcome to OCDO. There are a LOT of very knowledgeable folks here, and I'm surprised this question hasn't been addressed already. So I'll take a shot at it.

    A "paddle holster" refers to the way a holster attaches to your belt. Some holsters have slots that you feed your belt through, like a Galco FLETCH, or the ubiquitous Bianchi 19L. The popular Serpa holsters also come with belt loop mounts, but also come with paddle mounts.

    The advantage to a paddle mount is that it is easier to put on and take off your belt. It slips over your belt and waistband, and is held in place by a system of spring tension and hooks.

    I prefer paddle holsters. I think they are more comfortable (I can move them around on my belt and their location is not restricted by where my belt loops on my pants are located) and they are easier to adjust when I'm in my car.

    Also, if I need to take my firearm off and store it in my car (like to visit a government office, school, or a restaurant that serves alcohol--I live in NC) I can take the whole rig (pistol and holster) off quickly and discretely while sitting in my car, without having to undo my belt. And when I am done, I can put it all back on quickly and simply.

    Some people prefer slotted holsters, claiming they are more secure. I don't really see that to be the case. The paddle holsters I own (Serpa, Bianchi, Galco) all have very positive spring and hook systems to keep them on my belt, and require a sort of "rock-and-twist" action to remove them. Somebody would have to be REALLY determined to get my paddle holster off my belt to succeed in removing it without my consent...


    As for "retention levels", there really is no "scientific" way to describe the different levels. They have to do with a series of retention tests, and redundant locking mechanisms. But here is it, in a nutshell:

    Level 1 = some sort of simple strap or thumb-break that holds your pistol. Any "old school" leather holster (or newer, polymer or nylon holsters) with a thumb-break strap classifies as a Level 1 holster.

    Level 2 = some sort of "internal" locking mechanism holds the gun in place. The Blackhawk Serpa CQC, the Safariland 2955, and the Bianchi Evader all classify as Level 2 holsters.

    Level 3 = a conbination of an internal and an external retention device. So the Serpa LE Level III Duty Holster and the Safariland 070 SSIII and Raptor 6070 classify.

    Safariland has a rather convoluted explanation for the Retention Levels, and their particular testing and certification regimen, and you can read it here:

    http://www.productwizard.com/safaril...explained.html


    The higher the retention level, the more secure your firearm is. However, this security comes with some trade-offs. Higher retention levels also require that you activate more "controls" on your holster to allow you to draw, which can slow your draw down TREMENDOUSLY.

    The Serpa CQC is probably the fastest-drawing L2 holster out there. OTOH, the Safariland 070 L3 holster is perhaps one of the slowest. In addition to knowing how to properly draw operate, and reholster your firearm, you need to learn the "tricks" of these retention holsters. Some of them are very intuitive. Some are like learning "chinese math". They ALL take practice to become safe and proficient. Safariland says that you need to do 200 properly executed draws from one of their L3 holsters to be considered proficient. I practice drawing from my Serpa CQC almost every day, usually doing a dozen or so draw and re-holster cycles.

    I recommend that anyone who OC's use at least a thumb-break, if not some sort of Level 2 holster. I use a Serpa CQC (level 2) for my Para Ordnance, and a Bianchi Special Agent (Level 1) for my Walther P22 (but only for when I'm on the range--when I carry the P22 as a BUG, I use a pocket holster)


    As for the spare mags, I carry a Para Ordnance S-14.45. I carry one extra mag most of the time, in a Blackhawk polymer mag carrier (tan, to match my CQC holster). I also have a Galco leather 2-mag carrier in blackleather, which will nicely match my Galco SSS. That rig will most likely be used ONLY for range use, or CC, because it has no active retention...

    I hope this helps...


    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Back before the canoe accident I carried two extra mags (8 a piece) with my 1911. I usually didn't carry extra with my Xd9 since it had a 18 rd mag, but I probably should have had at least one extra mag. I always had an extra reload in a Bianchi strip for my sp101...
    Nowadays I just carry a pointy stick with a backup pointy stick (BPS) strategically hidden in my trousers.

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    For spare mags, I'll only carry 2 spare mags on my weak side when I'm OC'ing strictly for the purpose of trying to even out the weight of the pistol (I carry a P226, which is quite heavy). I figure this should help keep my back muscles from pulling to one side as they try to compensate for that brick hanging out on my hip.

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    I carry a Glock 22 in either a Fobus Paddle Holster, Safariland Thumb break paddle holster and I used to have a serpa which I also used the paddle attachment. I highly prefer paddle holsters over on the belt holsters. If I needed to remove the pistol say for a long drive or just an uncomfortable car I'm in I can simply remove the entire holster pretty easy.

    The Glock 22 holds 15 rounds of .40S&W in the mag and one in the pipe. On top of that I carry one spare mag on my left hip also 15 rounds. Just for the simple fact If I have a FTF (Failure to Feed) and Tap and Rack doesn't fix it I have a second option to fix it before using it as a hammer.

    Glock 22 in the Fobus


    Holsters from Left to right
    Safariland Thumb break Holster, Fobus paddle holster, GLock OEM on waistband holster



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    Regular Member t33j's Avatar
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    Kromey wrote:
    Finally (for now), how many of you carry spare mags when you carry? If you do, how many spare mags, and does the capacity of your mags affect this number? How do you carry them?
    I carry 13+1 in the gun, and another 13 rounder in my left pocket. Besides capacity, a spare mag offers a quick solution to malfunctions. If I carried a 1911 I would probably carry 2 spare mags.

    I started out with a paddle holster but now carry in a leather belt loop holster exclusively (Galco Fletch here). I never remove the holster, only the gun when needed. I did not find the paddle holster easy to remove, although it was versatile in that I could position it however I pleased. Actually I see that as a downside now, as I want my gun in the same place each and every time I draw. The FLETCH has a thumb break and I would not feel comfortable open carrying without some sort of active retention.
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    Let me qualify my preference for paddle holsters. I live in NC. Here in NC, we have a VERY convoluted, arcane, and byzantine set of gun laws, and the list of places where you can't carry (even with a permit) is long, weird, nonsensical, and historically based on racist Jim Crow laws.

    For instance, you can't carry in any establishment that sells alcohol for consumption on-premise--open or concealed--even if you have a permit. Also, you can't carry--open or concealed--in any establishment or event that charges admission. That would include concerts, movie theaters, and some community events like county fairs.

    Because I carry pretty much 24/7, I am CONSTANTLY being posed with going into places where I can't legally carry. So for me, some days require a lot of on-off with my firearm. Rather than leave the holster on my belt, and take the gun out and secure it in my vehicle, I just take the whole rig off, rather than handling my unholstered firearm, and risking some soccer mom seeing it and making a MWAG call...

    If I lived in VA, where I could pretty much carry anywhere, I might be a little more willing to try a belt-slot holster. But for my location, and the laws under which I much carry, a Paddle holster just makes things a LOT easier...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    I'm not bashing paddles here Dreamer. Seems like they are pretty much what everyone else prefers so I thought I'd offer a dissenting opinion.
    The choice of a firearm and method of carry are personal and vary widely.
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    t33j,

    You carry 13+1 in a 1911 style handgun? So are you a member of the Para Ordnance Club too?
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Regular Member t33j's Avatar
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    lol my post was a legitimate hypothetical unlike these boat stories :P

    The picture I linked to above is actually me. The holster is a little more worn now, and I have a nicer belt but that's all that's changed.
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    Dreamer wrote:
    Level 1 = some sort of simple strap or thumb-break that holds your pistol. Any "old school" leather holster (or newer, polymer or nylon holsters) with a thumb-break strap classifies as a Level 1 holster.
    It is my understanding that level 1 retention is friction based, similar to what you would find here:



    ...where there is no button or snap to retain your weapon, but rather a couple of indents in the material supplying added friction. This isn't limited to kydex as there are plenty of leather holsters that only offer passive restraint systems. It is also my understanding that thumb-break holsters offer level two retention benefits since you're having to undo a snap that is primarily used to control the weapon when holstered, similar to a level 2 serpa system, only a different way of providing added retention. Maybe I'm wrong? If so, are these offering level "0" retention then?

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Onlurker,

    I was going off Safariland's and Galco's definitions of Retention Levels...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    On the subject of carrying extra magazines....

    Extra magazines are a good thing to increase the amount of ammo in case it is needed. However.........

    Having that extra ammo won't help one little bit if the person can't reliable change magazines every time.. in a hurry.

    So if:

    A person doesn't have the time, or a place, to safely practice changing a magazine and racking the slide to chamber another round in order to become proficient.... or...

    A person has some physical concern that doesn't allow them to reliably change a magazine every time... in a hurry...

    Perhaps considering simply carrying another gun with the magazine already in it would serve them better.

    After much practice on the range I discovered that for me... I can access, draw, and fire, a second gun in the same time it takes me to change magazines and rack a new round into the chamber.

    And if a magazine change goes bad my attention is diverted to some degree to the malfunction instead of being fully on the threat... and that is not good.

    Other folks can change a magazine, rack, and fire, just as fast as I can use the second gun... it all depends on the person and level of practice... or lack of physical concerns.

    Each of us is different... some have a carry permit and can carry a second gun concealed... some do not have a carry permit and carrying two guns openly could be problematic... and some of us just can't afford more than one gun. So.......

    Each of us has to figure out what will work the best for them.
    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Wow, good information everyone, thanks! I do visit places where I cannot carry a firearm semi-frequently (fortunately there aren't that many of those here), so the ability to remove a paddle holster instead of having to unholster my weapon is definitely a draw to the paddle holster for me. And if I get stopped by a LEO who insists on taking control of my weapon during the stop, I'd much rather the gun stay holstered and he/she take the entire rig.

    Anyone with experience with both waist holsters and thigh holsters? The latter seem like they'd be more comfortable, anyone have opinions on that?

    Bikenut wrote:
    So if:

    A person doesn't have the time, or a place, to safely practice changing a magazine and racking the slide to chamber another round in order to become proficient.... or...

    A person has some physical concern that doesn't allow them to reliably change a magazine every time... in a hurry...

    Perhaps considering simply carrying another gun with the magazine already in it would serve them better.
    Count me among those who lack a place to safely practice changing mags and racking the slide. Although I suppose I could practice with empty mags, and just accept that the slide will lock back every time I rack it.

    Also count me among those who (at present) cannot afford a BUG. Don't even have one gun yet, been saving up for a few months just to get that. I definitely see the benefits in carrying a BUG, it's just not a possibility for me at this time. And happily I live in a state that allows both OC and CC (and neither requires any kind of permit), so I can OC my primary and CC my BUG to avoid the "mall ninja" appearance I'd otherwise have with multiple guns strapped all over the place.

    Given a choice between slowly and unreliably changing a mag, and simply switching to using my empty gun as a hammer, I'll take that extra mag even without the time to practice reloading drills. Sure, if I'm unpracticed enough no BG would give me that time, but I'd rather have that option (for the times when I can use it) than not.


    Another question for y'all: Those of you with guns that can load X+1 rounds (where X is the mag capacity), how many of you load that "+1"? (For the record, I do anticipate carrying with a chambered round if I do decide to carry, I'm just wondering how many take the extra time to add that one more round.)

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    Kromey wrote:

    Bikenut wrote:
    So if:

    A person doesn't have the time, or a place, to safely practice changing a magazine and racking the slide to chamber another round in order to become proficient.... or...

    A person has some physical concern that doesn't allow them to reliably change a magazine every time... in a hurry...

    Perhaps considering simply carrying another gun with the magazine already in it would serve them better.
    Count me among those who lack a place to safely practice changing mags and racking the slide. Although I suppose I could practice with empty mags, and just accept that the slide will lock back every time I rack it.

    Also count me among those who (at present) cannot afford a BUG. Don't even have one gun yet, been saving up for a few months just to get that. I definitely see the benefits in carrying a BUG, it's just not a possibility for me at this time. And happily I live in a state that allows both OC and CC (and neither requires any kind of permit), so I can OC my primary and CC my BUG to avoid the "mall ninja" appearance I'd otherwise have with multiple guns strapped all over the place.

    Given a choice between slowly and unreliably changing a mag, and simply switching to using my empty gun as a hammer, I'll take that extra mag even without the time to practice reloading drills. Sure, if I'm unpracticed enough no BG would give me that time, but I'd rather have that option (for the times when I can use it) than not.


    Another question for y'all: Those of you with guns that can load X+1 rounds (where X is the mag capacity), how many of you load that "+1"? (For the record, I do anticipate carrying with a chambered round if I do decide to carry, I'm just wondering how many take the extra time to add that one more round.)
    As far as the question of extra mags vs extra gun.... do what is best for you according to your situation. I just wanted to give you some food for thought.

    The +1 question...

    First of all... there are some older guns that are not "drop safe" in that they lack an internal firing pin block allowing the gun to fire if it is dropped onto the hammer. Just something to think about when buying a gun intended for self defense since that gun will be handled quite often... putting it on and taking it off.

    However, a gun without one in the chamber is not immediately ready to use. Something must be done to it first before it can be used... ie.. racking the slide.

    There is no guarantee you will have both hands free when a bad guy attacks. Yes, the slide can be racked by hooking the rear sight on a belt or shoe sole... but that takes time and practice.

    So, basically, a gun without one in the chamber is almost the same as a real expensive hammer.

    Many folks are leery of carrying a gun with a round in the chamber thinking the gun might go off by itself. Well... if the gun's design is "drop safe".. and the gun is carried in a quality holster... and .... the most important gun safety rule of keeping the finger off the trigger is always practiced... the gun won't go off.

    One of the things I stress constantly and even in an annoyingly fervent manner to everyone ... is...

    Keep your snot snagger off the trigger!!!!!




    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Oh believe me, I'm as anal as they come about the rules of firearm safety. I would have no qualms about kicking a close friend out of my home for repeated and/or flagrant violations of those rules, and I would even go so far as to call the police and have him trespassed -- my personal safety, and that of my loved ones, is worth far more than your idiotic machismo any day.

    My question is more along the lines of who takes the time to chamber that "+1"? It's one thing to insert a loaded mag and rack the slide to chamber that top round, but who makes the added effort to chamber a "+1" in top of a fully-loaded mag?

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    Kromey wrote:
    Oh believe me, I'm as anal as they come about the rules of firearm safety. I would have no qualms about kicking a close friend out of my home for repeated and/or flagrant violations of those rules, and I would even go so far as to call the police and have him trespassed -- my personal safety, and that of my loved ones, is worth far more than your idiotic machismo any day.

    My question is more along the lines of who takes the time to chamber that "+1"? It's one thing to insert a loaded mag and rack the slide to chamber that top round, but who makes the added effort to chamber a "+1" in top of a fully-loaded mag?
    My apology.. I misunderstood...

    I take the time, every time, to refresh the mag to "full" because I carry more than one gun to have the extra ammo capacity... and do not wish to "short" myself even one, or two, or three (depends on how many I carry that day) rounds.

    One thing I might mention.... after a round has been cycled from mag to chamber several times, depending on the ammo used, there is a possibility of "bullet setback" where the bullet is pushed back into the cartridge case by repeatedly being chambered. This can result in not enough room inside the case for proper pressure and end up with excessive pressure when the round is fired.... and bad things could happen to the gun/you/your hand.

    I will alternate rounds in the magazine that are chambered for a while... then, after about a month or so, shoot up the entire magazine and start with fresh ammo. Yes, it costs money to keep buying ammo... but I'd rather do that than risk blowing up my gun/hand/face.:shock:


    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Bikenut wrote:
    I will alternate rounds in the magazine that are chambered for a while... then, after about a month or so, shoot up the entire magazine and start with fresh ammo. Yes, it costs money to keep buying ammo... but I'd rather do that than risk blowing up my gun/hand/face.:shock:
    That's a good point. I'd fully intended to "cycle" my ammunition in a similar fashion -- shoot off my defense-loaded mags when I practice at the range, then reload them with fresh ammo afterwards. Sure it costs money, but if you don't practice with live rounds what good is that gun going to do you if and when you really need it?

    I hadn't realized that repeatedly cycling a round through the chamber could adversely affect it, though -- that's good to know. I'll probably take your advice and alternate which round gets chambered in between visits to the range.

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    Founder's Club Member ixtow's Avatar
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    Kromey wrote:
    we'll see where my comfort zones end up being -- I certainly won't be carrying until I feel like I can handle my firearm well enough to not be a threat to those around me
    I'm not going to get in your face and tell you that if you aren't OCing 15 guns, including a legally registered M16, that you're not good enough...

    I am going to tell you that, just like everything else, you comfort zone is where you put it. Nothing is really comfortable until you do it a while feeling uncomfortable about it and realize there is no reason to continue feeling uncomfortable.

    I encourage you to do what you don't feel comfortable with, until you do.

    I appreciate your prudence and functioning brain, as described elsewhere in your post. Don't let it get hung-up.
    "The fourth man's dark, accusing song had scratched our comfort hard and long..."
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    Tyranny with Manners is still Tyranny.

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    Founder's Club Member ixtow's Avatar
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    Kromey wrote:
    Bikenut wrote:
    I will alternate rounds in the magazine that are chambered for a while... then, after about a month or so, shoot up the entire magazine and start with fresh ammo. Yes, it costs money to keep buying ammo... but I'd rather do that than risk blowing up my gun/hand/face.:shock:
    That's a good point. I'd fully intended to "cycle" my ammunition in a similar fashion -- shoot off my defense-loaded mags when I practice at the range, then reload them with fresh ammo afterwards. Sure it costs money, but if you don't practice with live rounds what good is that gun going to do you if and when you really need it?

    I hadn't realized that repeatedly cycling a round through the chamber could adversely affect it, though -- that's good to know. I'll probably take your advice and alternate which round gets chambered in between visits to the range.
    I think this concern is overstated. And, as a footnote, it seems opposite to logic.

    Defense rounds tend to be loaded heavy. +P, +P+, etc... If you're going to blow up your gun, your defense rounds are what will do it.

    I carry cheap White Box .45, or my own reloads. Sure, other ammo would be 'more effective.' But 3-7 rounds of anything out of a .45 is going to be "He's dead, Jim." How much 'more effective' do you need to be? You can't make them "more dead."

    My reloads being nowhere near a max load, and use rainier restrike full copper plated round nose. Still, I pity the BG who is fool enough to put himself down range of them. No, wait. I don't pity that fool...

    Ammo doesn't "go bad." It's not a dairy product... Store it out of humidity (guess what, ammo cans are called ammo cans for a reason) and it'll outlast you and your grand kids.
    "The fourth man's dark, accusing song had scratched our comfort hard and long..."
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    "Be not intimidated ... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your Liberties by any pretense of Politeness, Delicacy, or Decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for Hypocrisy, Chicanery, and Cowardice." - John Adams

    Tyranny with Manners is still Tyranny.

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    ixtow wrote:
    Kromey wrote:
    we'll see where my comfort zones end up being -- I certainly won't be carrying until I feel like I can handle my firearm well enough to not be a threat to those around me
    I'm not going to get in your face and tell you that if you aren't OCing 15 guns, including a legally registered M16, that you're not good enough...

    I am going to tell you that, just like everything else, you comfort zone is where you put it. Nothing is really comfortable until you do it a while feeling uncomfortable about it and realize there is no reason to continue feeling uncomfortable.

    I encourage you to do what you don't feel comfortable with, until you do.

    I appreciate your prudence and functioning brain, as described elsewhere in your post. Don't let it get hung-up.
    No, you're exactly right. What I'd meant to say wasn't that I was going to wait until I was comfortable carrying before I carry -- because you're right, how can you become comfortable with something until you've done it? -- but rather comfortable with general handling and use of my firearm itself. Yes, RTKBA is a right, but it carries with it a responsibility to ensure that in exercising our rights we are not endangering those around us. While I'm not new to shooting or handling guns, it has been a while since the last time I had one in my hands, and no matter what gun I buy (unless it's a used Ruger .22 Mk I) it will be unfamiliar to me and will require some handling to gain a level of comfort with the firearm that would make me feel like I'm safe enough with it to carry it around others.


    Ammo doesn't "go bad." It's not a dairy product... Store it out of humidity (guess what, ammo cans are called ammo cans for a reason) and it'll outlast you and your grand kids.
    Perhaps not. Although my understanding is that older ammunition is more prone to FTF, or even delayed fire.

    Could be that you're right. Could be that there is no real need to cycle ammunition at all. Humidity certainly ain't an issue around here -- it's frozen out of the air for 9 months out of the year here! -- so it could very well last a good long time in storage. But when I go to the range I'll fire my loaded mags, then reload 'em and fire 'em some more. When I'm done, I'll load 'em back up and go on home.

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