A Failure To Function

| Reality Check |

Being on the range on an almost daily basis I’m exposed to shooters of many different skill levels. It’s also interesting to see just where students spend their money when it comes to equipment. Sometime money gets spent on stock panels while important things, like a good holster, takes a backseat. Function should be first — looks second.

reality 2

Excellent holsters for the pocket — which isoften an environment where guns are carried
incorrectly. Milt Sparks, Mitch Rosen and Five Shot Leather examples are shown.


Some handguns just work better than others and it’s a simple fact. Small guns are good for carrying, but usually suck when you shoot them a lot, like pushing 1,000 rounds though a pistol in a class. That’s a pretty good test of gun function and reliability. Guns like a Glock 19, Springfield XD series and Smith & Wesson’s M&P models will virtually always work fine, and last through a class.

I question the survival of midget versions of these same guns through the same class. Often, the shooter is the issue as much — if not more — than the gun though. I don’t cherish the thought of having a mid-size 1911 in a class, even a Commander-sized gun. They are very often a pain in the arse, with the smaller Officer-sized (and smaller) models even worse. If you want a 1911, get a full-sized 5″ one. Yet, even some of those don’t work well, depending on the maker.

Hammer spurs break off, sights fly away, safeties break off — and worse. And why any handgun made today has a sharp edge anywhere on it I simply cannot fathom. In spite of this, it’s actually not hard to get a handgun that works, so find a good one.


Today there must be 5,000 people who make tubes with a bulb and batteries inside them and call them flashlights. And about 4,990 of them are junk. If you’re looking a for a cat toy under the couch, that’s fine. Going down a hallway looking for a threat in your house is a totally different ball game. Buy a good light. It’s not hard — just give the guy the money and get the light. I buy Streamlight, SureFire, First Light, and you get to choose the other seven best.

There’s no excuse — none — for not having a good handheld or weapon-mounted light. I also know a good light, with a solid off/on switch is best. My real-use comment is this: Simple is usually better.


People kill me … really. A nylon holster? Nylon is for pantyhose. Kydex is good if you buy quality. We’ve been using them a long time, long before they were cool. Ever heard of a Snick? Mike Horne and Mike Harries were clever long before clever was cool, and any Kydex worth a crap traces a lineage to the Snick. That said, good Kydex is simple for me, with Comp-Tac and some Safariland special stuff for rail guns is what I tend to gravitate to these days. There is some blending of Kydex and leather today too and that seems to work, but I don’t know about it much as I only have limited exposure to that type of product. Read Sammy’s Carry Options column in Handgunner to keep up to speed on holsters.

And then you all know about leather, be it horse, cow, pig, shark, snake, lizard and other stuff. I don’t carry a pistol in material I would normally shoot fulla’ holes in its original crawly form. So I like cow stuff, and for me, Milt Sparks, Mitch Rosen and Five Shot Leather are what I generally use. Hey, His Editorship asked me to talk about what I use, so there you go.


Crappy ear protection is a killer. You’ll know when you have arrived there as everyone you know yells at you and you yell back. Heidi and I have been married for 15 years, and are both lifelong shooters. If you ever walked up to the front door of our house and knocked, it will sound like a case of domestic violence in progress inside as we yell at each other someone is at the door. We can’t hear anything without having about a half-a-yelling hoopla between us just to see who’s wanted on the phone, or if the dog wants in or out.

So …

Buy a good-working handgun, with sights you can see and have spare magazines or speed loaders, and the more the better. Buy a good flashlight (or three) so you can see the threat and your good sights on the good pistol you bought. Buy a good holster so when you reach for the good pistol it’s there for you to draw. Buy good ear protection so you can save what hearing you have, while you draw the good pistol from the good holster and turn on the good flashlight you bought — so you can shoot that lizard or whatever it is you’re after.

There’s no magic to any of this. Just buy good stuff, keep it simple and make it easy on yourself.
By Clint Smith

AH MK 2013
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