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  • Writer's pictureBrad Parker

Personal Protection: Context Creates Compromises

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

The more familiar you get with the TSG site in regards to articles and product reviews you are going to see this concept over and over:

Context creates compromises

In other words, the situation is going to dictate what should be optimal. When the situation changes, the optimal solution changes. This has the effect of creating compromises in what you want to believe and how you react to the change. This is especially true for CCW license-holders and responsible armed citizens.

Some of you are familiar with the phrase "the mission dictates the weapon". The surrounding elements of your mission creates the context to which approach or piece of kit will work best for you. Where you are, the level of risk you are facing, what you are wearing, and what you are carrying will all create more contextual elements to consider.

In our real-life choices there are going to be tradeoffs. We see this all the time in the protection business. This can range from the technical and equipment side over to the behavioral side. It can affect your decisions on travel, accommodations, activities, and even training.

This also seems to fit into the old saying, "You can have anything you want, you just can't have everything you want".

At the 30,000-foot level the concept can be seen as a constant balancing act between security and convenience. The more security you ascribe to a situation generally the less convenience you will have -- and vice versa. The balance shifts when you want more security, you give up convenience. When the balance shifts to more convenience, you have less security.

When the focus is on security -- think COVID lockdowns -- you can't just do what you want, when you want to do it.

When convenience is the prime directive spontaneity is the word. There are little to no restrictions. Security takes a back seat to be able to do what you want when you want it.

You will see the same push/pull balancing act when it comes to your own carry methods. The more concealed and secure your firearm is, the longer it will take to access, draw or deploy it. If it's fast to draw, it's usually not very secure or concealed.

Take a look at Jerry Miculek's belt rig designed for speed:

There are times when you need speed -- and times when you need concealment or security. It's up to you to define which attributes are going to be necessary for your mission. Others might have a different mission and therefore, a different opinion on how to carry.

A personal experience with this was during an annual handgun re-qualification at the range for a southwestern law enforcement agency. One of the range instructors had taken me off to the side to discuss and practice trigger re-set. During this time, the instructor suggested my qualification times would be faster if I changed my duty belt setup. He thought I should have my magazines in open top carriers rather than with the full flap covers.

This instructor's own range belt set up looked more like a competitive rig than a duty rig. And right then and there I realized I was not going to convince him that having my magazines covered was a good thing. I'm assuming he had forgotten what it's like to fight with a subject in the back of a patrol car or to be climbing over fences during a foot pursuit. I had to choose security over speed to make sure that my magazines did not fall out during physical activity.

My choices to have my equipment secured on my duty belt were vindicated when I talked with a colleague who is on a SWAT team for a major West Coast city. He talked about doing a raid and an entry one night on a drug house. When he returned to the SWAT van, he looked on the floor and saw a familiar looking handgun laying there. Turns out it was his handgun. It had fallen out of his holster when they exited the van to perform the entry. He said the first thing he did was to go out and get a holster with a higher level of retention. This is a good example of when security trumps speed.

Remember when this happened? His holster was not apparently rated for a back flip on the dance floor.

And to make this horrible lack of judgement worse, note he picks of his handgun with his finger on the trigger and shoots a bystander.

Another example of security over convenience is from the history of the ubiquitous Glock handgun. Gaston Glock had originally designed his innovative handgun for the Austrian army. Therefore he made sure that magazines would not drop out of the well accidentally. Turns out they didn't fall free during deliberate magazine changes either. When you would press the magazine release, the magazine would detach, but you would have to pull the empty magazine free from the mag well before inserting a fresh mag. That feature was absolutely lost on the new American market because American shooters had grown to revere the free-falling magazines from 1911 handguns for quick magazine changes. Yanks cried and complained about the sticky magazines in the new Austrian pistols. That aspect has been changed now and modern Glock magazines will fall completely free after you hit the magazine release button.

We are going to run into this concept over and over when we talk about techniques, tactics, and procedures down the road. Consider this balancing act in your own life and your gear.

To be fair, there are compromises which can be somewhat more balanced between security and convenience/speed. We will be reviewing different products with discussion given to this constant tug-of-war.


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