Guns, Gear & Skills

Be your own Bodyguard?:
You Learn as You Go

Bendigo Strange
After Dark
August 14th, 2022

Spring had finally arrived with the first hint of real prolonged warmth, with my Principal breaking us from a routine evening by leaving the office early to get a jump start on the cocktail hour. The restaurant bar was quiet but, not uncrowded with patrons with our small entourage occupying space near the end of the old oak bar slab not far from the kitchen.

The slurred murmuring started from the opposite end. Apparently, in years passed my Principal and, the Cougar-in-Question had something of a falling out and, to her credit not let, the bygones be by, nor gone. Another vodka martini, this time with a splash of courage allowed her to make way towards our group. Foot by drunken foot. Until she had the entire restaurant’s attention with her alcohol induced verbal rage. Passing a plate of half eaten food, she acquired the steak knife that had been unfurled from it’s napkin. Now armed, after a fashion, full martini glass in one hand, steak knife in the other she wobbled her way down the bar, slinging foul utterances, and offense in our general direction.

Maneuvering to intercept her before reaching my Principal, I was mixed with feelings that ranged from the weekday randomness of it, to simple irritation. Then that little voice in my head said “don’t under estimate this”.

“Ma’am” sternly, putting a palm out, just as the martini hit my eyes. I saw the knife hand move, raised my left arm to bat it away, as my right hand reached for her face. I felt pressure where my arm had impacted her arm, and not a stab. Then, for the briefest of moments I saw the knife protrude straight up from my arm, then give way to gravity. Clattering to the floor.

My eyes still burning from the martini, and now the cut in my sleeve, all I could think was “I just bought this suit”, as I proceeded to drag the “attacker” by her face out of the upper class eatery, relocating her to the sidewalk. I walked back into the restaurant but not before locking the door, fire code regulations be damned. Had the knife stuck in my forearm, or the “attacker” been some international assassin, the story would have exuded some amount of sex appeal. Instead, I was left with a drunken cougar who had been sipping martinis like water since 2:30 in the afternoon, and armed herself with a steak knife from the restaurant bar.

Walking back to re-assume my position near the Client, I could hear her drunken pounding on the glass windows, when I saw the red droplets trailing across the floor. Utilizing my superior skills in observation, I traced the source of blood, as it dripped off my pinky finger. Seeing the opened mouth gasps of those in our party and, the other patrons, I closed my eyes and shook my head, further irritated. This was a dumb way to make a living.

A few minutes later, standing in the door of the black Suburban, dressing the inch and a half stab wound with butterfly bandages, gauze, and medical tape from my work bag. Somewhat pleased with the fact that I had managed to stanch the bleeding, and even more so that I had an extra white button down shirt with me. The evening continued on quietly enough.

A couple of months later a girlfriend and I inadvertently ended up at one of those Renaissance fairs that often pop up in June at city parks across the country in the Summer. There I found a man, selling his wares in the form of metal implements. Swords, chain mail, a suit of armor, and there laying on a cloth covered table was a pair of polished steel vambraces. As we walked away from the tent, turning the armor over in my hands, my then girlfriend asked “What are you going to do with those?”, “Not get stabbed in the arm ever again. That’s what I am going to do with them.”

It seems laughable some two decades later, dare I say “mall ninja-ish” but, catch a steak knife. Let alone any knife in the arm you tend to seek out means and methods that deny a repeat performance. Practicality be damned. So, for a few months, I would fasten a vambrace to my left forearm, slide on my jacket, and go to work. While one may shake their head, myself to a degree included, I’ve always pointed out that had I been shot and, began wearing a bullet proof vest after no one would think it silly to do so.

Much, has been written about the dangers of carrying in Condition Three, a pistol carried for defensive use with no round in the chamber. Of the so-called “Israeli Method” I am no fan. Not long back a friend who was very new to carrying a handgun, mentioned that he doesn’t carry a round in the chamber. It made him nervous, adding the ubiquitous phrase that everyone says, “I’ll have time to chamber a round if something happens”. No sooner had the words come out of his mouth, than another member to the conversation launched into a near angry diatribe as to why it was damn near suicidal to carry in Condition Three. When it was finally over, I looked at my friend and, encouraged him to pick a short interval of time, say running to the store, or some other small errand, to then carry with a round in the chamber. Reminding him to practice good trigger discipline, muzzle safety, wear a good holster. Then, I advised him to, spend some money to get some training, go buy some snap caps and work on drawing from concealment, racking the slide, and hustling on toward a sight acquisition. After that, see how it goes. He took to the recommendations in earnest and worked on it. He no longer carries with an empty chamber.

In the two decades plus of introducing, encouraging, and doing a little training here and there of other private citizens to go among the populace armed I know one thing. Every newly armed member of society has their own concerns, their own flaws. I have yet to meet a first time pistol owner who starts out carrying a round in the chamber. They are very conscious, if not nervous about what they are carrying.

Everyone has the right to come to their own conclusions, let alone methods of carry in their own time. Chastising someone for wanting to exercise an abundance of caution to something that they are completely new to with a device that bears an inherent lethality to it, is little more than arrogant. It is certainly not very reassuring to someone new to the practice.

The gun culture, and I mean to include anyone who uses, or designs guns the world over, has had to work through a lot of strange concepts to separate the wheat from the chaff, in order to find out what works and, what does not.

Heckler and Koch, for instance, in the 1970s not only figured out how to mount a sub-machine gun inside of a briefcase, someone even developed a training methodology around it. The Operational Briefcase, as it is officially known made its way to England and enjoyed some popularity there for a time with more than a few outfits like the SAS and, SO14. Back in 2003 a detachment from the U.S. 7th Infantry regiment came across a small cache of New-in-the-Box, Operational Briefcases in Iraq. Apparently Ol’ Sadaam had a soft spot for them as well. No doubt for his close protection guard. Civilian causalities be damned.

A former U.S. Secret Service Agent I knew, told me about having his suit jackets cut extra large to conceal an MP5K in a leather push-out shoulder rig. The USSS and the DSS (Diplomatic Security Service) guys I would later get some training under would tell me how they all had been run through various training courses that contended with carrying and concealing SMG (sub-machine guns) and engaging threats. Some years later, working in tandem with some extremely large built security guys who protected the members of a famous boy band, we were going over our advance security detail coordination when the subject turned to guns. One of them, looking at me from across the table says to his team member “Hey man, show Bendigo your new rig.” at which point the largest member of the giant security detail walks in the other room and comes back out wearing a strong side push-out shoulder rig for an HK SP89, the semi-automatic pistol version of the MP5K, complete with two spare thirty round mags. The whole device simply disappeared under his suit jacket. According to all four of them, he could out draw and engage targets quicker than anyone else, and out to twenty-five yards was more than capable of centering man sized targets. About fix or six years later I asked him if he still carried it. He laughed and said that he still had it, but after a year or so of carrying he had shelved it, now carrying something “a lot smaller”. Which as it turned out was a Glock 20.

The first AR15 pistol I saw in the wild that I honestly can remember was before an IDPA match somewhere around 2007, or 2009. I knew of them. Had probably seen them at gun shows and such but they didn’t really stick to memory per se. One of the guys at the match was showing off his latest acquisition.The oohs and ahhs were mainly centered around it having a suppressor. I asked him what kind of accuracy he got from it? , “Half dollars easy at twenty-five yards”. He then showed off a modified cheek weld with a neoprene padded buffer tube. He declared to the small cadre of on lookers that “this is the future right here”. Everyone laughed with one guy calling it an over priced mall ninja gun. While others rolled their eyes and said “stop playing at something stupid and just go get a Tax Stamp and make it a “real” SBR.

Then in November 2012, the ATF would sign off on SB Tactical’s Arm Brace and, rifle caliber pistols seemingly overnight went from “toys” to a now very legitimate response for accurate and compact firepower. I can only wonder how many times that guy made his friends eat their words.

A few years ago, you couldn’t buy a defensive shotgun without a door breacher on it. They were extremely popular in the gun press, with knowledgeable guys who have sway saying they “made tactical sense”. They have all but disappeared from current production guns.

Fanny pack’s and photographer’s vest are an immediate mark of derision in the twenty-first century gun culture. Hawaiian shirts and discreetly designed backpacks that can conceal an aforementioned AR pistol are dominated the social media gun fashion two summers ago replacing Private Military Contractor Fashion of the early 2000s.

In the 1980s Colt came out with both the Mustang and the .380 Government. It was not well received by and large and almost no one, 1911 guys included recommended carrying it cocked and locked due to their diminutive features. Everyone anxiously awaited for the day you could have a double action trigger on a pocket gun. Then a few years ago we circled back and there are any number of 1911 styled diminutive .380s and 9mms under glass at your local gun shop.

All of us, each and every one will at one, if not several points and time follow a trend, in one fashion or another. We need to own it, if for no other reason in that we forget sometimes where we all have been chasing after the market. Because, the gun market is just that. Where manufacturers come up with new ideas and, put them out there to see what sells and what doesn’t. What has a legitimate purpose and, what is grasping at the barest concept of reality for the private consumer market.

Think I’m wrong? Twenty years ago, the general consensus was that having a ported handgun was an overall bad idea. In confined spaces they were/ are deafening, and in low light conditions they compromised your night vision and ability to get back on visual target. Yet, this week what hit the market? A compensated carry pistol. Ironically the trend of the last few years has been fitting sub-compact pistols with threaded barrels and high mount sights for a suppressor ready pistol. Loud is the new quiet one could suppose.

So what does this all have to do with “Being your own Bodyguard”? A lot actually. For one, this is the real beginning of this series, and the while we all want to think of ourselves as being “high speed/low drag” the reality we aren’t. Second, as you learn something new, particularly with regards to a martial art, which guns are by the way, there is a lot of well…weirdness or perhaps awkwardness. You come across or come up with ideas that sound completely reasonable. Frankly, they just might be very sound and reasonable, but they just seem stupid until some former Tier One Special Operator signs off on it. It’s only cringe worthy unless someone cooler than you makes it so.

I write all of that to say this. We’ve all been there. Like the rest of us who may have been doing this for a while, you learn as you go. Be of good courage.