View Full Version : OBFG tactical choices

David Armstrong
December 14, 2007, 04:36 PM
Well, they're not all bald and fat guys, but the youngest of the bunch recently turned 50, and all of them have at least 20 years of working in a field where they carried and used guns a lot.

Frequently when considering personal defense needs we sometimes get wrapped up in the latest gear, or the newest doctrine, or the tactic of the month. Between the recent Thanksgiving holiday and the upcoming Christmas break, I’ve been talking with and visiting a number of old friends. As a result of a conversation with one of them, I decided to ask a few questions of some of my former colleagues and coworkers. Each of these guys has BTDT regularly, with each of them having multiple gunfights to their credit.

Basically I asked them what they carried for personal protection on a regular basis (not what they carried at work for those still in the field in some form or another), how they carried, and what “extras” they had with them. Of particular note I felt, was that each of them carried with him a folding knife where he could access it easily and each of them mentioned a small light of some type, ranging from an ASP keychain light to a Surefire 6P. Other than that, there was little in common except when I asked each of them if they would feel at all troubled if they had to carry some other guns/calibers. To a man they said it really didn’t matter as long as the firearm was reliable, and they overwhelming choice (5 of 6) mentioned the S&W Airweight .38 as the gun they would likely carry if they couldn't carry their first choice.

This is not an endorsement of anything, BTW. I just thought it of interest to see how a number of old-timers who had done a lot of fighting looked at the personal protection issue. I also think it interesting that their carry selection tends to reflect what they are most familiar with and/or have used successfully in the past, without much concern for a new or improved model.

Bill was with the U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam in the late 1960s and then with the DEA in S.E. Asia and Panama. Usual carry: Beretta Model 21, 22 LR, chamber loaded, no spare mag, pocket holster.

George was one of the early Military Advisers in Vietnam in the early 1960s, then did 20 years as a police officer with a major metro agency. Carry: Colt LW Commander, chamber empty, no spare mag, Mexican carry.

Paul was on a Navy swift boat in Vietnam. He served as a US Deputy Marshal 1972-1979, then became State Department Security stationed in Columbia, Honduras, and Beirut (and the U.S.) 1979-1990. Usual carry: S&W Model 19, 2.5” RB, no reload, preferred OWB holster for carry but also used IWB when needed.

John was a Marine in the late 1970s then entered LE where he worked his way up to becoming a SWAT Team Commander for a State-level agency. He still does training for SWAT teams. He was carrying a Makarov chamber loaded and safety on, IWB holster, no spare mag.

Ted served with the Rhodesian SAS, then did private security work in South Africa and most recently executive protection in South America. Carries a Star BKM 9mm, chamber empty, no spare mag, soft IWB holster.

Daniel was with the IDF, then a security team in Israel, now does security consulting in the U.S. Usual carry is a 4” S&W Model 12 that has been converted to RB, IWB holster, 1 Bianchi Speed-Strip.

Sort of summarizing, nobody felt any need to upgrade to any of the new guns out there. Also, nobody felt the choice of a specific weapon/caliber of particular importance. The revolver is still considered a viable option, and they split 50/50 on whether to carry chamber empty or chamber loaded. With one exception, nobody seemed to think a reload was worth carrying around. Everybody thought a folding knife that could be opened with one hand and some sort of light were essential.

Hard Ball
December 14, 2007, 05:04 PM
"Of particular note I felt, was that each of them carried with him a folding knife where he could access it easily and each of them mentioned a small light of some type, ranging from an ASP keychain light to a Surefire 6P"

ITt certainly seems to me that they knew what they were doing.

December 14, 2007, 09:19 PM
With the level of experience of your friends I do not find it suprising that they continue to carry what they are familliar with. I would suppose they know every surface imperfection over every inch of their weapon.

I have owned handguns for a little over 10 years now, and while it is always fun to see/handle the latest and greatest, I also think it is very important to pick your weapon of choice for SD and become intimately familliar with it.

With my severely limited knowledge, but doing my best to read all I can and become better educated, it is easy to fall into the magazine babble telling me I need the latest and greatest to be able to protect myself. Sometimes it takes a while to sort out the good information from the bad.

December 20, 2007, 09:19 PM
As a VietNam vet, . . . one who bought his first hand gun just off Tran Hung Dow in Saigon, . . . a 1911 of WW2 vintage, . . . I can understand why they all chose that which is very familiar for their carry weapon.

I do the same, . . . but I just haven't yet found a light I really like as well as my 6 cell, . . . it's just a bit much for every day carry.

May God bless,

December 20, 2007, 10:46 PM
Based on their experience, it surely indicates they know what the essentials are. They have also carefully weighed what is practical given their expected threats. I'm sure that they would carry more equipment if they were expecting trouble though. For everyday purposes, you have to balance the practical with the tactical.

December 21, 2007, 12:52 AM
I agree with Stephen about suiting your own needs. Theirs being different from a street cop from a swat member from a soldier. I think they're probably a group of smart guys who have masterd being prepared and living safe.

December 21, 2007, 01:37 PM
Dwight, the small LED lights are great. I got a pretty cheap one a while back and it puts out almost as much light as my 6 cell mag light.

David Armstrong
December 21, 2007, 11:21 PM
I'm sure that they would carry more equipment if they were expecting trouble though.
If they were expecting trouble they probably wouldn't go there<G>!

December 22, 2007, 09:31 AM
I started carrying a knife a few years back for tactical purposes. They've evolved a lot in the last decade or so. Last night at the sporting goods store, I bought my son (coming of age now) a decent folding knife. When my wife (not arguing, just wondering) asked why I would buy one for someone without any real tactical training, I explained to her that it's more than tactical. I don't know how I got along without it before. I use it for everything from opening letters to fixing trouser cuffs. The other night I cleaned a lady's battery terminals with it so her car could be jump-started. Whether it's "enough" knife is questionable, a 2 1/2' blade, but I can clip it on & never have it bother me. Bought the same size for my kid.
Flashlight - I modified a broken small LED headlamp with a small piece of PVC tube. It goes anywhere and pivots. Neat little gadget.
Sidearm - No doubt, we're creatures of habit. I carried a J-frame for a while because it was the most practical choice, but I always had the nagging feeling that my 1911 belonged there. I could't resist any longer. I respect anyone's choice, but the 1911 was the one for me.

Spade Cooley
December 22, 2007, 05:32 PM
Lets not forget about a couple of other weapons they have, experience and a mind. They are just as important as the other weapons.

Covert Mission
December 28, 2007, 01:46 AM
I don't understand why no reloads, for the most part. If I'm gonna bother to carry, I'll carry an extra mag or speed strip 90% of the time. Fanny pack makes it really easy, and even with the Glock IWB, it's no biggie. For the 1911, even easier. 10-4 on the light: Surefire E2E or L2 (awesome, but the new L1 might be even better for EDC).

For when you don't need a "real" gun, some pals like the KelTec .32, but I'm not convinced, so it's my Airwt BG Smith.

Thanks for the anecdotal info!

December 28, 2007, 04:09 AM
It takes time to find out what works for each individual. That is why OBFG's are a good resource, they didn't get that way by failing the requirements.

December 28, 2007, 07:37 AM
Exra mags>>>There has to be some point of critical mass. As it is, I have a .45 At 4:00, A knife clipped inside my left pocket, a cell phone, a big key ring, often OC spray, spare change etc, and I still need a pocket to stick a parking garage ticket or whatever in.
I guess we have to strike a balance that suits ourselves. I've got one in the chamber, and seven in the mag. At some point, we're talking about a shootout. To me, that's 4+, so I've got a few extra as it is.
If I was carrying a spare mag, I guess I'd be wondering if one spare was enough.

December 28, 2007, 10:19 AM
Last night at the sporting goods store, I bought my son (coming of age now) a decent folding knife.

Please make sure he does not bring it to school. Many schools have a very strict or zero tolerance policy on weapons... even 2.5 inch folders. Don't forget about that girl that was arrested (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=272577)for bringing a steak knife to school (to cut her food) a few weeks back. :eek:

December 28, 2007, 01:45 PM
Stephen 426,
Thanks, but fear not. That was about the first thing I told him after "It's sharper than you think". He's got a good head on his shoulders. A few months shy of Eagle Scout. I'm sure he wouldn't have, but I did remind him.

December 29, 2007, 11:09 AM
Wow... almost an Eagle Scout. I'm sure he has a good head on his shoulders. Send him our congratulations. Now you're going to have to get him something special for that event!

December 29, 2007, 08:58 PM
that is an interesting read to say the least. all the tactical wanna be's won't go less than 9mm and carry as much as an on duty police officer. I have carried a s&w 66 4" with a reload when my permit was minted, but have been with the airweight bodyguard sans reload for years. Although I am a GHSB...
read "Gelled Hair Skinny Bastard"... with very little combat expirience

November 11, 2008, 07:23 PM
I think that extra mags can be of little use in a gun fight. In a place where I know there would be trouble: either I dont go or if I have to I dont take pistol with me. Pistols are just side arms and thats all what they are- to dispense of immediate and unexpected threat. For combat there are some very good choices in automatic weapons out there.

Knife seems a good idea, and if coming from such experts it must have some weight to it, but the is what concerns me. I rather carry a backup revolver, especially because I dont think I am proficiant to slice hostiles effectively. Plus here in PK if the blade exceeds 4'' you need a license to carry!

November 11, 2008, 08:14 PM
I used to carry my knife strong side, then I got my CCW. Then I had to learn to draw my knife from my weak-side - but it is a must have. Tactically to fend someone off from grabbing my strong-side/weapon, and as an everyday tool.

Extra mags are nice to have, but if you empty a magazine in a gun fight - you have many more problems than not having more rounds... Get away man, save your life...;)

Agree 100%, carry what you know, not what is 'cool.'

Remember, the more you know, the less you need.