Best of the Drop — Gun Fever

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

In this “best of” edition of the Weekly Drop, I’ve cultivated a collection of questions on one of my all-time favorite topics: guns.

Read on to discover my top pocket pistol recommendations, how to carry a concealed weapon in California, the best products to use to care for and maintain your firearms — and much, much more.

Let’s dive in.

I just bought a new gun (a Springfield 1911, just like you recommended) and I need some good practice drills. What do you suggest?

— David L.

You made a great choice buying a 1911; it’s one of my favorite guns.

There are a lot of different drills you could do, but one I particularly like is called the Mozambique or failure-to-stop drill. For this drill, use a standard person-silhouette target. Practice firing two shots to the center mass of the target and one shot to the head.

Once you get the hang of this, start timing yourself and continue to improve your speed and accuracy. Basically, this drill is great practice for when you encounter someone wearing body armor or when two shots to the torso fail to stop the threat.

Another drill I recommend uses any standard target that has numbers. Most gun ranges will have these types of targets. You will also need another person to help you complete this drill.

The way it works is the other person will call out a number on the target. You need to find that number, aim and fire one round. This is an important drill because it makes you think before shooting, which you should always do in a real-life situation.

I am looking for pocket pistol recommendations for concealed carry. I just got my permit, but I want something smaller than what I already own. Thoughts?

— Amy S.

Pocket guns are great — they’re comfortable to carry, and you can conceal them in all types of clothing, which makes them easy to access. In fact, one of my favorite guns for everyday carry is my Sig Sauer P238. I also like the Ruger LCP.

When you carry a pocket gun, you should use a holster that changes the outline of the gun. Some people would be very alarmed if they saw the distinct outline of a gun in your pocket. Plus, you don’t always want people to know you’re carrying.

Make sure the holster you choose stays in your pocket when you draw (you don’t want it to come out with the gun). My preferred pocket holsters are the plastic holsters made of Kydex.

How do you carry a firearm through California sans a permit? I am permitted for all the surrounding states and have to visit there en route home from Arizona to Washington state. I hear it’s difficult to get a permit for California.

— Shar S.

It’s very difficult to get a concealed carry permit in California. One of the (many) requirements to obtain one is that you must be a resident of the state. In addition, California does not recognize permits from any other state; therefore, your other permits are worthless when traveling in California.

When driving through California, your handguns must be stored unloaded in the trunk, vehicle storage compartment or a locked gun case. Unfortunately, California makes it nearly impossible for anyone (even residents) to get a concealed firearm permit, which is why many gun enthusiasts refer to it as “Commiefornia.”

How do I keep my firearm quickly available for a home invasion or similar situation and yet not easily found by thieves that break in when no one is home?

— Paul B.

I use a small rapid-access safe that sits on my nightstand with a cable that runs down the back of the nightstand and is secured to a large piece of furniture. Even if a criminal goes straight to my nightstand, they won’t be able to take the safe with them because the safe is secured and the cable can’t be cut.

Another option is to install a wall safe you can hide behind a picture or something else you hang near your bed (a mirror, maybe). Either way, your firearms should be stored in some type of safe so a criminal can’t walk off with them.

Is there a way to put a tracking device on the gun itself?

— Art C.

These days, GPS trackers are so small you can attach them to almost anything using a simple keychain ring. That being said, I don’t recommend attaching a tracker to a firearm. I would never want it to get in the way when I need to use my firearm.

The bottom line is I’m not a big fan of adding too many accessories to guns. I think a GPS tracker would be more of a headache than a help — even on the off chance your gun gets stolen.

I’m in the market for a good shotgun. My wife told me I should ask the expert (she means you).

— Desmond H.

Please tell your wife I’m thankful for her support (and I wish my wife thought I was an expert on more topics).

The shotgun I own and recommend is the Remington 870. This is a no-frills shotgun — meaning it’s pretty standard, but it serves its purpose. And you can find different versions of the 870 depending on what you want.

Frankly, this is one of the most popular shotguns on the market. It is commonly used by law enforcement, which is why Remington has sold over 10 million of them. Another advantage of the 870 is the cost. You can purchase one for around $400, which is a good price for a quality shotgun.

What does imprinting on a holster mean?

— Carri C.

This term describes when the outline of a firearm is visible through a person’s clothes — which is definitely something you want to avoid. For example, if you have a gun on your hip and you’re wearing a tight shirt, the shape of the gun will “print” through the shirt and people will be able to see that you’re armed.

If you carry a concealed firearm, it’s important to check yourself in the mirror before leaving home to make sure your gun isn’t easy to see. My favorite way to carry concealed is with an inside-the-waistband holster. I prefer this type of holster because it holds my gun very well, doesn’t imprint and is comfortable to wear.

I was always told dry firing can damage your firearm. Is this true?

— Tyler M.

The fact is, Tyler, it depends on your gun — most importantly, whether it’s a centerfire or rimfire. If it’s a centerfire gun such as a Glock, you can safely dry fire the handgun all day long. But if you own a .22, for example, you do not want to dry fire it.

Renaissance Wax is a great product that protects and produces a nice nonslick surface to your wood stocks. It is used on fine wood furniture including pianos. I am very pleased with it — a little goes a long way.

— Charlie C.

Thanks for the information, Charlie. I’ve never used Renaissance Wax, but it’s important to keep the wood parts of your firearm in good shape, so I’ll keep this in mind. It sounds like a good option.

I just purchased a Sig Sauer P938. What holster do you recommend?

— Ron C.

I recommend an inside-the-waistband Kydex holster. Or if you wear cargo pants with large enough pockets, you could get a pocket Kydex holster.

I carry my Sig Sauer P238 in a pocket Kydex holster. Just do a quick internet search for “pocket Kydex holster” and you’ll see plenty of options to choose from.

I’m seeing widespread use of silencers on the hunting channels lately (e.g., outdoor and sportsman). What are the steps necessary in owning them? Thanks.

— Keith T.

Gun suppressors are becoming increasingly common among hunters. Obviously, it’s a huge advantage if you can take a shot without scaring off the game. However, currently, it’s a lengthy process to buy one.

First, you need to find an approved (FFL) Class 3 dealer, so you can fill out the paperwork for the suppressor you want to purchase. You will need to provide passport photos and fingerprint cards, so be sure you have everything ready before you go.

After you fill out the application, you have to send it to the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) along with a $200 check. Then you have to sit back and wait for approval.

Once your request is granted, you can go back to the FFL dealer and pick up your suppressor. Fair warning, the approval process can take a few months at least, so don’t expect a quick turnaround.

I went to dry graphite years ago for all my firearms. It actually works into the metal and does not attract dirt, dust and debris. It also makes cleaning after shooting a bit easier (an old toothbrush is the best tool I’ve found). I also use Hoppe’s cleaner for the barrel swab. Any thoughts?

— JB

The question of wet versus dry lubricant really comes down to personal preference. Some people argue that using a wet lubricant attracts dirt, while a dry lubricant will let the dirt fall off. But actually, wet lubricants will hold the dirt and prevent most of it from getting into the weapon.

In my opinion, dry lubricant simply doesn’t do as good of a job lubricating the moving parts of your firearm. It is still a viable option with its own advantages, but I personally prefer to use a liquid lubricant.

I’m brand-new to shooting. I want to start going to my local range to decide what kind of gun I want. What should I bring? Any advice for such a beginner?

— Dan M.

That’s a great plan. One of the best things you can do as a new shooter is to rent several different guns to see what you like. We all have different-sized hands. You need to figure out which gun fits you best and is most comfortable to shoot.

Don’t let anyone at the range tell you that a specific gun is the best one for you — you need to determine this on your own. That being said, one firearm I suggest starting with is the Glock 19. This gun is simple to shoot and operate and very popular for concealed carry.

As for what to bring, you can bring your own ear and eye protection if you want, but you can probably rent this stuff from the range. If you think you will end up shooting often, I would purchase this gear to keep. Take a look at this post that runs down nine pieces of must-have gear for the range.

Lastly, always remember to practice good gun safety and hopefully you will learn a lot.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson