Monday, January 29, 2018

Choosing A Self Defense Caliber - Part 1

This is the first of a three part series on caliber selection. The primary focus in the series will be handgun cartridges for self-defense; however, the math and science discussed here also applies to target shooting and hunting as well as rifle cartridges.

Warning, I will attempt to get technical with data in this series posts. I will also attempt to make that less painful than it sounds. No guarantees.

Disclaimer: I am an unabashed fan of the .45ACP cartridge and the guns that shoot them especially the 1911. I also own or have owned and loved guns chambered in .22LR, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum. It is not the intent of this article to advocate for any particular cartridge as the “best cartridge” for everyone and every situation. The intent is to provide information to help you decide what’s best for you and your situation. I will offer up a personal opinion at the end for what that’s worth.

For those who are not interested in reading to the end, please allow me to sum things up for you right here. All calibers (rifle, shotgun or handgun) are a set of compromises, and different calibers do some things better than others. One size does not fit all. I don’t want to get shot with any of them. No one caliber can do it all (though some get closer than others). Only hits on target count, you can’t miss fast enough to win, and a slow hit beats a fast miss. If you can’t get hits with a particular gun/caliber, it is useless to you. You have to decide what works best for you not what works best for some data crunching gun nerd on the internet. Go to the gun range, beg, borrow or rent one of each caliber/gun combination you are considering (to the extent possible) and try before you buy. You’re welcome.

Now that the disclaimers, caveats, summaries and provisos are out of the way, let’s get busy.

If I had it my way, I’d have a huge collection of guns in every caliber possible with enough ammo to shoot them whenever I wanted. But, since I don’t live in the alternate reality where I won the lottery, I must make “wise” choices about what I do choose to buy. Statistically speaking, they're more people out there in the same boat as me than not. So, chances are good you need just as much help as I do making the best choice of caliber for your own individual circumstances (hint: it’s not the same for everyone).

To that end, the table below has some data points I will be referring to in the rest of the article for three common semi-automatic pistol calibers in use today. If you are interested in crunching your own numbers on different loads or calibers, part three in the series will jump into the deeper waters with the science and equations so you can go math yourself silly. However, some information, like SAAMI Max Pressure and charge weights, must be looked up or measured as opposed to calculated.

9x19 mm
.40 S&W
.45 ACP
Bullet Diameter
9mm / .355 in.
10mm / .40 in.
11.5mm / .451 in.
Overall Cartridge Length
1.168 in.
1.135 in.
1.275 in.
124 gr. @ 1115 fps
165 gr. @ 1130 fps
230 gr. @ 900 fps
Muzzle Energy
342 ft. lbs.
468 ft. lbs.
413 ft. lbs.
Bullet Area
0.10 sq. in.
0.126 sq. in.
.16 sq. in.
Bullet Momentum
19.75 ft.lbs/sec
26.64 ft.lbs/sec
29.57 ft.lbs/sec
Sectional Density
Recoil Energy/Velocity
6.0 ft.lbs./16.0 fps
9.3 ft.lbs./19.9 fps
7.5 ft.lbs./13.9 fps
SAAMI Max Pressure
35,000 psi
35,000 psi
21,000 psi

So, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Larger caliber bullets are bigger and heavier than smaller caliber bullets. There’s a shocker for you. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Yes, but, look at the other dimensions for a moment. There is only a 2.5mm / 0.096 in. difference in diameter between the 9mm and the .45 ACP, and there is only a 0.107 in. difference in the overall cartridge lengths between the two. However, those little fractions of an inch make huge differences in the design of the guns that fire these cartridges. From little things like the size of the bolt face to the size and position of the extractors and ejectors, to feed ramp angles, to bigger things like frame size, grips and magazines. Those fractions of an inch add up. For instance, most polymer .40 S&W guns can easily convert to shoot 9mm with a simple barrel swap. You cannot do the opposite conversion because the breech face on 9mm guns is not large enough to accommodate the case rim of the .40 S&W even though they are only 1mm different in size.

So, if versatility and modularity are important to you, a gun chambered in .357Sig (which is essentially a necked down .40S&W case) or .40S&W may be a better choice than a gun chambered 9mm or .45ACP.

Another size related consideration is frame/grip size. Due to the longer overall case length of the .45ACP, guns chambered in .45 generally have a larger frame/grip than 9mm/.40S&W chambered guns. Technology advances in polymer handgun design has mitigated this problem somewhat, but those little 0.096 inch / 0.107 inch dimensional differences require bigger magazines which require bigger magazine wells which adds up to bigger frames and longer trigger reach. Those shooters with small hands/short fingers may find it difficult to hold and control the larger framed guns. It’s one of the reasons the FBI went from the 10mm to the .40 S&W and now back to the 9mm. I have pretty good sized hands with longish fingers, and even I have trouble with some designs (the Sig P220/P227 in has a fat grip/long trigger reach combination that doesn’t work well for me). Bottom line, more people will have an easier time finding a comfortable fit with a 9mm than a larger caliber such as a .45ACP or 10mm.  

Moving on, let’s compare the size of the bullets themselves because size matters or so I’ve been told. If you hang around the gun community long enough, you’ll hear somebody say things like “carry something beginning with a 4”, “a 9mm may expand to a .45, but a .45 will never shrink to a 9mm”, or “I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46”. My best friend gave me a t-shirt that says “.45 because shooting twice is silly”. While most of these sayings are just hyperbole and ignorant macho nonsense, differences in bullet size may be important to some especially those living in restrictive states or cities that have limits on magazine capacity.

The diameter of a .45 is only about 27% larger than the 9mm, the cross-sectional surface area (think of the flat top of a wad cutter) is 60% larger. In other words, it takes 3 9mm bullets to make entry holes covering roughly the same number of square inches as 2 .45s. Bullets do weird things once they go through things like car doors, clothing, skin, bone, etc. So, there is no precise way to compare wound channels or hollow point expansion except in general terms. Generally speaking, a larger bullet will make a larger wound channel and expand to a larger diameter than a smaller bullet.  So, bigger hole is better. Right?

Maybe. It depends on your intended usage and circumstances. There are situations where quantity can be a quality all its own.

So, let’s take a few moments to discuss size versus quantity in the self defense context. Size and capacity really don’t matter in target shooting unless you are involved in organized shooting sports with rules specifying calibers and capacities. For hunting, size and capacity may have a minimum requirement or be limited by law.

The object of any self-defense weapon is to stop a threat (whether the threat is human, animal, vegetable, vehicular or killer robot). A bullet can do this in one of three ways: 1) turning the lights out by hitting the threat’s central nervous system, or 2) poking holes in the body allowing air to get in and blood or other vital fluids to get out, or 3) wrecking the skeletal structure to the point that further movement is limited or impossible.

A shot to the CNS is the best way to stop a threat. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest shots to make under stressful conditions…like a home invasion, assault or other social unpleasantness. The spinal cord is between ¼ and a ½ inch thick depending on where in the spine you poke it. The medulla oblongata is a little over an inch long, and the other critical areas of the brain are not much bigger than that. If you think you can hit those targets on command when your heart rate is through the roof due to an adrenaline dump, mad respect to you and buy me a lottery ticket while you’re at it. This is the reason people are trained to shoot center of mass because hitting a moving target barely bigger than your bullet borders on the impossible.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re a good shot, calm under stress and you want the best chance of hitting the CNS. A .45 with 10 rounds (like, say, a Glock 30s), you have 11 chances (10 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber) to turn the lights out. Those 11 chances are slightly more forgiving of less than perfect aim than the smaller 9mm, but not by much. If we change the gun to a similarly sized 9mm (like, say, a Glock 19), you have 16 chances (15 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber). 16 chances are more than 11 chances pretty much everyday of the week. However, if you live in a restrictive state that limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds, maybe the bigger bullet makes more sense for you.

Now, let’s move on to bloodletting. It’s pretty much a no brainer that bigger holes let more blood out faster and more force breaks bones easier. Again, if you are in a restrictive state, bigger bullets may make more sense for you than smaller bullets. Outside of restrictive states, some people like to tout the capacity advantage of the 9mm over the .45ACP. As discussed above, it takes 3 9mms to open roughly the same surface area as 2 .45s. So, unless you are successful in a 1 shot stop, the capacity “advantage” of the 9mm is pretty well washed away when you consider the fact that it takes 15 rounds of 9mm to create the same area of holes as 10 rounds of .45.

Bone breaking is hard work. A quick check with Google says it takes almost 900 ft.lbs. of energy to make a clean break a femur which is one of the hardest bones in the body. However, we don’t need to cleanly break the bone; and, besides, that’s not how bullets work. Bullets crush and shatter outward from the point of impact. All handgun cartridges above 9mm are capable of breaking bones. Even the lowly .22LR can poke through some of the thinner bones.

Additionally, the pelvic girdle and the femurs are not bad choices for secondary targets if you can hit them. Even trainer Clint Smith advocates for a first shot to the groin in a self defense situation. 

The femur itself is not very wide (roughly an inch or so…wider at the ends) which will be a tough shot on a moving target at up to 7 yards while amped up on adrenaline. But, the femur and pelvic girdle are also home to the femoral artery and a lot of other necessary circulatory stuff. So, back to our discussion a moment ago about the CNS, do you want a bigger round slightly more forgiving of less than perfect aim, or do you want more chances to hit the target?

Another consideration is the weight of the ammunition because ounces equals pounds and pounds equals pain. If you are going to carry a gun for self defense, you have to schlep whatever you choose. A 124 grain 9mm bullet is 0.283 ounces, and a 230 grain .45 ACP bullet is almost double the weight at 0.525 ounces. And that’s before you even factor in the weight of the cartridge case and powder. A little more Google Fu says a 124 grain 9mm case, powder and projectile run about 0.444 of an ounce vs. the .45 at 0.737 ounces.

What does that mean for a typical concealed carry load out of one magazine in the gun and one reload? A 9mm Glock 19 carries 15+1 rounds in the gun. So, gun + reload comes to a total weight of 36.97 ounces. For a polymer to polymer comparison, a Glock 30s (which has 10 round magazines and is close in dimensions to the G19) with an extra reload tips the scales at 37.77 ounces. Less than an ounce difference.

For another interesting apples to apples comparison, let’s compare the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield9 vs. the M&P Shield45. The Shield9 holds 7+1 or 8+1 depending on the magazine, and Smith & Wesson lists the weight as 18.1 ounces (they do not however say whether that is a laden or unladen swallow). The Shield45 claims a 6+1 or 7+1 capacity and a weight of 20.5 ounces. For the sake of argument, we will assume S&W is reporting unloaded weights which makes a full gun and reload 25.65 and 31.56 ounces for the Shield9 and Shield45 respectively. That’s just shy of 6 ounces.

Muzzle energy is pretty much a wash between the 9mm, .40S&W and the .45ACP when you get right down to it. The .40S&W has a slight edge over the 9mm and .45ACP in the energy category and is also available in a wider range of bullet weights; however, it comes at the cost of increased felt recoil. More energy is generally preferable to less energy in any given situation; however, too much energy can be a bad thing too. No one I know seriously recommends a .500 S&W magnum for home defense because of the possibility of over penetration. Since muzzle energy is a function of bullet weight and velocity, we get back to trade offs again. Lighter bullets typically move faster than bigger bullets, but shorter barrels allow for less time for powder expansion resulting in lower velocities. So, a bullet fired from a 3 inch barreled gun is going to have less velocity and correspondingly less energy than the same bullet fired from a 4 inch gun. Go look at the charts on Ballistics by the Inch if you are really interested in digging into this in detail.

That leads us to momentum. Back to physics class. Isaac Newton was a smart cookie. The Laws of Motion state that objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force and objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. Momentum coupled with sectional density is a pretty good indicator of how well a particular bullet will penetrate. Having said that, most modern self defense ammunition regardless of caliber is designed to meet the FBI recommendations for ballistic gelatin penetration of 12 to 18 inches. There’s some really good information on this done by others out there. Lucky Gunner’s test is pretty thorough and worth a look. 

Back to Newtonian physics, the “at rest” part of the laws of motion is your recoil. That big, fat, happy .45ACP needs a little heftier shove to get going in the morning than the smaller, lighter, zippy 9mm. We also have to pay the piper for one of Newton’s other notions: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you have 342 ft.lbs. of energy exiting the barrel stage right, you also have to deal with 342 ft. lbs. of energy pushing the gun, your hand and everything else stage left. This is where the weight of the gun, the stiffness of the recoil spring, etc. come into play to mitigate recoil, and it’s why no one enjoys shooting scandium or polymer framed, snub nosed .357 magnums. In part three, I’ll give you a link to a recoil calculator you can play with. I think it’s neat, but I’m an admitted data nerd.

Looking back at the chart, .45ACP has the best momentum number, and its recoil numbers are actually better than the .40S&W. If you are recoil sensitive, 9mm is a good choice for you.

Handguns exist as light weight, concealable, personal defense weapons (at least in comparison to rifles and shotguns) to get you out situations you’d rather not be in. I said at the beginning that it was not my intent to advocate for one caliber over another as the best for everyone and every situation. I will, however, offer up the following as my personal opinion:

For the majority of shooters including those new to the sport as well as those people who rarely, if ever, shoot and have a gun “just in case”, the 9mm offers the best compromise of capacity, size, shootability, economy, etc. and is more than adequate for most situations. Bigger, more powerful calibers are more appropriate to “expert” shooters and those knowingly making a trade-off for a specific reason (e.g. living in a restrictive state or in bear country, those that want to shoot major power factor in competition, etc.). Pick the one you shoot the best. Practice as much as you can afford (we’ll talk about the economics in part two), and quit worrying about

Saturday, January 27, 2018

SHOT Show 2018 - People who show up

It is amazing who shows up at SHOT Show.  All sorts of celebrities and even movie actors.

Even Bumblebee of Transformers fame showed up.
Sad news is, we did not get to test fire any of his cool toys.

So many cool things to see at SHOT Show.

By: Mez
January 2018

SHOT Show 2018 - Industry day

OK, we just wrapped up another SHOT show for 2018.  Here are some of the items we were able to test fire at Industry day.
Unfortunately there is never enough time to see everything.  These are just the highlights of what we were able to shoot.

1.    First up, is Springfields famous M1A rifle.  What is new for 2018 is it is now chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. This is an awesome combination of rifle and cartridge.  The mild recoil of the 6.5 Creedmoor makes the M1A a very soft shooting rifle.  I enjoyed shooting this rifle.  There are currently two variants.  One with the JAE precision stock and the other with the traditional black polymer M1A stock.  Both utilize a medium weight stainless steel barrel.
If you want an M1A but better ballistic performance and less recoil, look to the 6.5 Creedmoor version of the M1A.

2.    Next up is the new 911 pistol.  This is Springfields version of the old Colt Mustang Pocket .380 pistol.  You will notice it is very similar to the Sig 238. The main differences are the 911 has a larger trigger guard, slightly larger ambidextrous safety and the slide contour is uniquely Springfield.  Otherwise the two pistols are similar in size. 
Overall, I enjoyed shooting this pistol.  It is pleasant to shoot, mild recoil, good texture on the grips and shot where I aimed it.  Even though it is a Johnny Come Lately entry into the pocket .380 market, I think it is a welcomed addition to the Springfield line of pistols.

APO is a maker of high end precision rifles and accessories, including rifle receivers, Tripods and mounts and even rifle chassis for your existing rifle. 
What caught my eye was they had bolt action rifles chambered in the new .224 Valkyrie cartridge.  So I had to stop by to see what the hype was with the 224 Valkyrie. 
APO had their 224 rifled dialed out to 960 yards.  So that is what we shot.  The APO rifle was a joy to shoot.  Very nice, everything was smooth with an excellent trigger.  I would say if you are looking for a high end precision rifle, APO should be on your list of manufacturers to look at. 

The 224 Valkyrie cartridge performed as intended.  Tagging the 960 yard plate was easy.  With the extra light recoil of the 224, I was able to spot my own hits in the scope.   I think the extra light recoil is what will make this cartridge popular amongst 1000 yard shooters.  There are many cartridges out in the market that will do everything the 224 Valkyrie will do, but with more recoil. 

What makes the 224 Valkyrie unique is that it was designed to fit into an AR15 rifle. This makes your AR15 a true 1000 yard rifle.  Something other AR15 cartridges such as the 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC can do, but the 224 Valkyrie does better.  The 224 Valkyrie stays supersonic out to 1300 yards (at sea level).  This is why it is a better 1000 yard cartridge for the AR15 platform.  Combine this with the low recoil and you have a unique performance cartridge. 
Factory ammunition is readily available from Federal.  Federal has 4 loadings from 60 grain to 90 grain projectiles designed for hunting to long range target shooting. 

Check out the new 224 Valkyrie if you want use your AR15 for 1000 yard shooting.  And if you want a matching bolt action rifle to match your AR15, look at Ashbury PrecisionOrdnance. 

If you like precision shooting and you like shooting with a suppressor but don’t like your suppressor vibrating off the end of the barrel.  Then look to SWS.  What they do is take a match grade barrel and machine the suppressor as part of the barrel.  Barrel and suppressor are one unit.  This allows SWS to make light weight cuts in to the barrel and increase the overall volume of the suppressor by utilizing the entire barrel length as part of the suppressor.  Which increases sound attenuation a few decibels.  Recoil can be reduced up to 40%. 
Overall weight is kept to a minimum and the rifles still balance very well. 

If we can get the stupid gun laws repealed in this country, I see this being the future of rifles.  The barrel and suppressor being one unit. 
Until the laws are change, you still need to get the tax stamp to own one.  Otherwise I love this idea.  

Here is another entry into the Combat Tupperware game.  The Archon Type B. 
At first I was skeptical because there are so many variations on the Glock style.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I fired this pistol.  It has a low bore axis.  Good texturing on the frame.  Much better than a stock Glock.  The frame was comfortable to grip in the hand. 
Overall, the Type B shot very well. 
If you are looking for a striker fired pistol and don’t like the typical options, take a look at the Type B from Archon Firearms. 

Here is a unique pistol from Hudson Manufacturing.  The Hudson H9 is a unique pistol.  The best way to describe it is a Glock and a 1911 had a mutant child.
It is a striker fired pistol, similar to a Glock with the frame angle/shape and single action trigger of a 1911.  Essentionally combining some of the best features of each pistol. 
I found the H9 to be comfortable to grip and to shoot.   The H9 does have a unique trigger design.  The trigger press is a nice single action similar to a 1911, but the trigger is hinged from the bottom.  Something I have not seen before in any other pistol.  I had no problems with the trigger hinging from the bottom.  But some of our team members expressed they did not like it. 
The current model is a steel frame and slide.  In a few months they will be shipping an aluminum frame model which will be approximately 10 oz. lighter than the steel frame model. 

By: Mez
January 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Just for Giggles

I was hoping to get to shoot the new Remington 870DM (detachable magazine) at Industry Day, but there wasn't a Remington to be found at the range.

Luckily, though, when we were walking by the Remington booth, they had a few for us to play with. And I do actually mean play. They set up a head-to-head competition in which I got my butt handed to me by Robbie. It was fun. I'll do a more thorough write-up later about the shotgun, but here's a short video of our "competition".

Monday, January 22, 2018

Industry Day at SHOTShow 2018

Jay, Mez, GunDiva, Robbie

Today, we were privileged enough to attend Industry Day at the Range. It's always a good time (who doesn't like to shoot other people's ammo?).  Here are some quick highlights, in case I fail to get more thorough posts done once I'm home.

Decibullz is a Fort Collins-based company that has been around for a while, though they're just now getting into the ear protection game. They were kind enough to offer free custom-molded ear plugs to the attendees today. We didn't run into them until later in the morning, but quickly switched out our "foamies" that we got at the front gate for our Decibullz ear plugs and wore them the rest of the day. Their basic model worked very nicely for the range; they have a different model that we'll be discussing in the future. Since we're from the same geographic area, I'll be scheduling a post-show interview with them.

Though I'm not a long-range shooter, Mez talked me into shooting the new .224 Valkyrie. They had the target out 960 yards, and I'm not a long-range shooter, but I'm happy to say I hit all but one (and that miss was barely a miss). I struggled initially with the trigger, as in, I couldn't reach the freaking thing. Could not reach it. At all. They instructed me to use a strong-side only hold, with my thumb alongside the stock instead of wrapped around the handgrip. It was a soft-shooting round and easy to manage. I'm certain Mez will write more about the ballistics of this round/gun.

My "must shoot" list was pretty short - I need a new duty gun, so I wanted to check out the M&P 2.0 compact. I've shot a few rounds from one of the range team members, but the more I get to handle it, the more convinced I am that this is the gun I need. While I was up there, I thought I'd try the M&P Shield 2.0 as well. I carry my G42 daily, but would really like to upgrade to a 9mm. I planned on just going up to a G43 (because deep in my heart, I'm a Glock girl), but the Shield might be a contender. I'll have to shoot them side by side before I make a final decision.

Again, on Mez's recommendation, Jay and I ducked into the Hudson stall to shoot their pistols. Immediately, I was freaked out by their triggers. I've shot Glock "safe action" triggers since I started shooting, I'm comfortable with the M&P hinged trigger, but this Hudson trigger was just weird. It hinges from the bottom of the trigger. It is supposed to make the trigger reset easier to attain, but while demonstrating it, the Hudson employee had an ND into the dirt just in front of us. Imma go ahead and say, that's not the gun for me. The boys, however, liked the gun.

If you look at the trigger closely, you can see the pin at the bottom of the trigger.
And just for giggles, here's a cute dog picture.

Apollo, the cutest PTSD service dog I've ever seen.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Discreet Tourniquet Carry

I spent years trying to find the holsters that would allow me to carry my guns discreetly without changing my wardrobe. I know a lot of people are told to "dress around the gun", but that's dumb. I have a uniform I wear at work, so "dressing around the gun" is bullshit advice. Luckily, as more women have entered gun culture, they also thought it was bullshit advice and began designing holsters that work with the clothes we already own and wear.

Now that I've settled into my concealed carry holsters, I want to be able to carry a tourniquet (TQ). I've been thinking about it for a while. I own a tourniquet, but it stays in my shooting bag. I'd rather have it on me in case I need it. The Las Vegas shooting really drove that point home for me. I tried carrying my holster (C-A-T) in my Hip Hugger, but that didn't work out. It was either jabbing me or sticking out like a growth, neither of which I liked.

I remembered seeing that Rob Pincus (and, I believe, Grant Cunninham as well) had talked about an ankle carrier for his TQ, and asked about it on Rob's FB page. I was directed to Safer Faster Defense and their Responder.

I had some issues getting my order, but once I was able to get to the owner of the company, he was wonderful to work with and kept me updated on the progress of my order. I understand that his company is new and growing, and I had anticipated some delay in my order since I placed it the day of the Las Vegas shooting. It took from that day until the week of Christmas to receive my order, but like I said, the owner of the company was great to work with and kept me updated. I hold no ill-will toward him for the delay.

The Responder is exceptionally well-made and comfortable. I wore it around the house for a few days, just to get used to it, before I added the TQ. I knew from the onset that it was a bit too big, but thought I could work around it. I could tighten it around my ankle, but the width was too tall and the bottom of my calf kept forcing it down to rub on the top of my shoe. Even with that, it wasn't uncomfortable at all.

I added the TQ and work it around the house for a few more days. I didn't leave the house much, since I'd taken vacation time over Christmas. When the day came that I had to leave the house, I slipped it on my ankle and smoothed my pants over it. It was then than I realized that it wasn't discreet at all. In fact, I looked like I had a big ol' tumor on my leg.

I chalked it up to my fleece-lined pants not draping properly. Since I was headed to the range, I didn't bother to take it off, just wore it any way. I'm sure it looked like I was carrying a gun on my ankle instead of a holster, but at least I had it with me, and I was at the range, so no one was going to care if I had a gun strapped to my ankle.

The next day, I added the rest of my kit to it: two chest seals, and an Israeli bandage. (My QuikClot gauze hadn't arrived, and what I had in my trauma kit was years expired.) I know there are some who wear the Responder with everything I'd added to it and more, but I'm not quite sure how.

Israeli bandage, two chest seals, C-A-T TQ
I looked at the bulk, sighed, and strapped it on anyway. It wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, so I tried to pull my pant leg down over it.

My 5.11s said, "not today, lady".
I pulled the chest seals and bandage out of it, and put them in a gallon Zip-loc bag that went into the side pocket of my range bag. I kept the TQ in the Responder and wore it the rest of the day, ignoring the fact that my leg looked terribly distorted.

When I finally had to return to work after vacation, I put my scrubs on over it and hoped I was just being oversensitive about it showing. Luckily, it was a fairly light day at work, but almost every single one of my coworkers asked how I'd hurt my ankle. They saw the bulky black material and assumed I had an ankle brace on. Yay for them seeing what they expected to see (an ankle brace), but boo for it being that noticeable.

As much as I like the idea, the Responder is just not going to work for me.

What I really want, I've decided, is for Can Can Concealment to make a TQ carrier. They do such an amazing job with their concealed carry line, that I'm certain they can do something about this as well. My primary issue is that the Responder just doesn't fit - it's too wide and hits my calf. Secondarily, it's too bulky when fully loaded, though I'm not sure how to fix that.

Dressing around my TQ (and my gun) is not an option for me, so this is one of the times when I'm quite jealous of the deputies I occasionally work with - they keep all of their tools on their belt and don't have to worry about being discreet. Holster manufacturers have done an excellent job of making good concealment holsters for women, let's hope they start looking at making something for TQs (or even complete IFAKs).

When we're at SHOT Show next week, I'm going to make a point to stop by the GunGoddess booth to see if I can fondle one of the Can Can thigh holsters. If I get one small enough, I might be able to make it work for my tourniquet.