As he so often does, ace trainer Greg Ellifretz brought this article to my attention. 

I’m not sure who “Uncle Zo” is, but he’s absolutely spot on in this article.

As an expert witness for 45 years now in weapons and shooting cases, I’ve seen a bunch of both criminal and civil attorneys try to say that this or that modification to a defensive firearm created an element of recklessness or negligence. I sometimes carry custom guns, but none will have trigger pulls lighter than factory spec and “common custom and practice for that type of duty weapon.” I will not carry a gun which has had a safety device removed or deactivated. I will not carry a gun with a name that sounds like something out of a Rambo fantasy, nor with an emblem like the Punisher skull.  I do not give weapons to my opponents, whether the fight is on the street or in the courtroom.

Uncle Zo has good advice. And if you ever have a chance to train with Greg Ellifretz, do so. The man is one of the genuine stars in the self-defense training business.

32 COMMENTS

  1. Right on! Swiping your term, in my eldertude, I find myself often toting one of several revolvers around while on my land or locally. While the trigger weights have been massaged, they’re DAO, so there shouldn’t be an issue. The carry semi for long trips or to the big city is bone stock unless the RDS slide is on.

    I’m really not sure why folks are so focused on having near thought controlled triggers on defensive guns (any guns?), but they do. I expect they don’t want to put in the training time to learn to use the piece. OK, out of the box, some examples have manufacturing artifacts that need smoothing, but shooting will do that. When we went from TDA semis to striker fired guns, by the end of week long transitional training, we’d those issues mostly solved themselves. Given today’s ammo prices, if there’s an available certified armorer-or a factory slick up-it’s probably cheaper.

    My one gripe with many current pieces are ambidextrous controls that might get inadvertently operated. Same for super sized controls. Don’t need that. Also the tendency to make even micro pistols “optics ready” and maybe have light rails.

    Same goes for long guns. Leave the trigger action alone, it’s that way for a reason.

    • “My one gripe with many current pieces are ambidextrous controls that might get inadvertently operated.”

      Clearly, Mr. Moore is right-handed. Right-handed folks are so accustom to having “The Entire World” designed expressly for the right-handed that they sometimes feel slighted when they find an exception.

      If I was a leftist (please, forgive the pun!), I would call this “Right Privilege”. 🙂

      While I am (absolutely) not a “Leftist” in politics, I am left-handed in the “Real World” and I can tell you that ambidextrous controls are a godsend for us “right-minded” folks. 🙂

      As far as I am concerned, no firearm ought to even be put on the market without adequate controls to allow left-handed operation. I, as a general rule, oppose firearm bans but this is one that I could support!

      • Ya got me, guilty of right privilege. But, sometimes it’s the size/configuration of the controls that’s the problem. Making mag releases reversible was an outstanding idea.

        I’ve never really understood (other than RP and/or saving a couple of bucks) why MSR manufacturers insist on using the full auto fire selector lever instead of a short throw item that could be ambi too. One properly designed wouldn’t interfere with the trigger digit of which ever hand was operating the trigger.

        I figured out an easy way for lefties to wipe the safety off, but you definitely have a point there.

  2. Another consideration — tangentially related — is ammunition choice. I’ve read and heard that it’s legally-questionable to carry custom loads; the prosecutor can claim that your home-brew ammunition is “hotter” or “more powerful”, and therefore “deadlier”, than standard factory loads. Ditto for hollow-point projectiles marketed as being especially effective/lethal.

    (Winchester discontinued their “Black Talon” loads, at least in part due to the controversy of the projectiles’ sharp edges upon expansion, plus the “scary” black coating applied to the projectiles, plus the street reputation of being a “cop killer” bullet. Needless to say, if you were in a self-defense shooting incident and used this ammo, you KNOW the prosecutor would use it as a line of attack.)

    The most reasonable recommendation (IMHO) is to stick with factory-loaded JHPs that emphasize “defense”. Or if you can, find out what your local PD issues, and see if you can purchase and carry that. Legally, using the same ammunition cops carry should be equally defensible as using the same or similar (unmodified) model sidearm they carry, and while the prosecution could play the “wannabe cop” card, it forestalls the “enhanced lethality” line of argument — unless the states’ lawyers want to throw their badge-wearing colleagues under the proverbial bus.

  3. Mas, quite early on in my pathway from long guns only to the short ones always I wsadvised to read your book In the Gravest Etreme. I found your advice on deciding “which one” tobe very helpful.

    Find something that FITS MY HAND, points naturally, and can be comfortably carried in a suitable holster. In my search I became a denizen of our state’s primary gun club and their monthly shows, back when those were still allowed to function as they did pre-Bloomburg. Tables filled with handguns… got to pick up and handle dozens of them. One month I came upin a table that had a dead stock somewhat battered but fully functional nine mm semi. It seemed as though its designer had custom made THAT GUN just for me. I dropped four picures of ben on the table, shook the cha[‘s hand, and walked out with it. Its been on my right hip for some twenty years since and I’ve found a number of her very fine sisters over the years, in case “something happens” to that first one. Not pretty, but VERY functional and I don’t need to wart over some slight new blemish to a dainty showpiece. Belgian made in 1964 Still in daily service. I was still in high school when that one popped out of the chute. This was pre-BGC mandate for private transfers which were still legal then. Happy to have this very fine personal ghost gun. Oh its gots numbers it do.. but they are meaningless now. Trigger and slide were pluperfect then, and remain so. If I had the money to pay someone to custom make the perfect handgun for ME ths is what they’d produce.

  4. 100%. Grey man is the best color. I’ve taken to carrying a revolver most days when I’m just living my life and a semiauto when working as RSO or church security. Hard to look like a dangerous person when carrying only 6 in the weapon and a spare speed strip.

  5. I agree with the idea of keeping my carry gone stock, Mas. I know you have stipulated this for some time. I used to carry a Glock 23 and decided I wanted to transition to the modern day 9MM ammo. Therefore, I was carrying the Glock 23 with a 9MM barrel and magazines. I was still leery about this, and discussed it with you via email several years back. We decided it was not worth the risk, so I laid down the money for a Glock 19 and have always carried that instead of the Glock 23. The only thing changed on my 19 was Big Dot sights. Everything else is stock.

    I have never trusted the S&W key lock and have always felt they ruined beautiful revolvers by “pissing in the soup” for the Clintons. Since I won’t carry a modified S&W revolver with the lock disabled for all the reasons in the article, I have had to hunt and hunt for the model I wanted that was pre-lock. All my S&W revolvers are pre-lock and they cost a pretty penny. No trigger jobs for the revolvers for the same reason. Use and practice will improve stock triggers.

    • I modified a G22 with an aftermarket barrel in 9mm but only use it as a training gun so as to get cheaper ammo. It is currently also the test bed for a red dot. Were I to use it as carry gun, I would reinstall the 40 barrel. My carry guns are Glocks in 9mm or 45 which are stock except for sights.

  6. I agree with the article, and I live my life that way. However, my rights are being infringed, because I am not free to do as I please, I have to consider how gun-haters view me. The gun-haters are the ones in power, and I am following their lead.

    I am not free to dress the way I want to, in order to quickly deploy my weapon. I have to carry small guns, so they are well hid, and sometimes that means not carrying spare magazines. I have to be careful, and keep the bulges in my clothing really small. I am told not to look too threatening, or too military. I am told not to modify my defense guns. Fine, the way things are, I think that is good advice, but it means I am not free. I am making decisions based on the perceptions of gun-haters. I am trying not to offend them. They are calling the tune, and I am dancing to their tune. They are the head, I am the tail. I don’t like that. Yes, I deal with it, and I am glad to live in a country that is more free than most countries. I count my blessings, but I am not free.

    Those of us who are pro-gun are in the minority, at least when it comes to cultural power and influence. We are tolerated, for now. But the tyrannical majority would get rid of us, or make us change our ways, if they could. I am speaking for those of us in blue states. Red staters fare much better.

  7. Karl Rehn can tell you who Uncle Zo is since the latter is an associate of the former – both were in the recent Professional Pistolcraft Instructor Class that Tom Givens conducted in Bandera, TX, as was I. Zo struck me as being a dedicated practitioner with a good head on his shoulders, and a very nice guy to boot. Feel free to not publish this comment upon review…

  8. Interestingly, in reading Greg’s, Uncle Zo’s, and Marty’s articles no one mentioned ‘striker’ control devices. I have one on my 90% of the time carry gun. I can’t see where it would be a problem though. It adds another layer of safety. BTW, Glock’s OEM ‘Performance’ triggers are not deactivated by the SCD, because they are fully cocked when the slide is racked. This creates a conundrum. Since it is now single action, is 4.5# an ok trigger pull? Per Uncle Mas’ example, that trigger stays in the game playing gun, and is only carried during such matches.

    • 4.0 pounds became the default minimum acceptable “duty” trigger pull in the 1911 pistol because that design includes thumb safety and grip safety, both of which are lacking in most striker designs. I won’t carry a Glock with a less than 5.5 pound pull.

      • My spurless revolver still appears the lower-liability choice of a defensive wheel gun, while giving possibly a quicker first shot in an encounter. I generally prefer 3.5 lbs of trigger pull for a bolt-action hunting rifle, enhancing shot accuracy while being of adequate resistance to premature discharge. For me the main safety factor is making sure that nothing accidentally presses triggers. Convenient and reliable safety levers can be important, too, but the good habit of consistently protecting triggers seems central. I do like having two safeties, however, one a lever on the trigger, and the other a thumb safety engaging the slide, on one of my semi-auto pistols. I will yet go back to my all-time favorite pistol platform one of these days, though, a 1911. I liked the similarity of the triggers on my .303-British-caliber SMLE rifles to a double-action revolver trigger. Seemed like an especially effective idea on a bolt-action combat rifle.

  9. I would be interested to know if the defensive use of a pistol with an optic has ever been brought up by the prosecutor in a trial. Also, what potential repercussions may result from the use of a firearm marked and/or marketed as “for competition” by the manufacturer even if it is bone stock.

    • Mark, I haven’t seen the carry optics become an issue. If they did, I believe the equipment is highly defensible. Most guns aren’t marked “competition only,” but Glock has clearly stated their 3.5/4.5 pound trigger connector is for competition only and it became an issue in Santibanes v. Tomball which you can find on Google.

  10. “Leave the trigger action alone, it’s that way for a reason.” Exactly, to protect the manufacturer from litigation. It has nothing to do with you the gun owner in a defensive situation.

    • Having been a sport shooter before I spent decades in the serious use and training with firearms, I understand your viewpoint. That said, with all due respect, you’re not fully informed. I expect if you ever stacked on a door for a dynamic entry, your perspective on light triggers might change-unless you were the last in line.

      The first reason the triggers on new firearms are stiff is that the springs will let down somewhat in use, and all moving parts have to break in to move smoothly together. The second reason is that the makers have no control over maintenance. Yet, the guns got to function under any and all conditions for it’s life.

      Then there’s intended use. Before they went to electric triggers, Olympic free pistols had triggers so light you couldn’t point the muzzle up when loaded or the weight of the trigger itself would cause it to fire. Obviously not going to work for a defensive pistol.

      The violent action of the moving parts of self loading firearms don’t allow the same safe trigger weights as manually operated firearms.

      Finally, there’s the nut at the end of the trigger. Research has found that even highly trained and experienced people will, under stress, put their fingers on the trigger, sometimes with surprising force, when they shouldn’t. But, you need to be able to feel contact with the trigger, even through gloves. Oh, and add in the increased strength and possible lack of “feel” during adrenaline dump.

      As stated earlier, I understand your viewpoint, but, simply put, you need to do some training. BTW, the average private citizen defensive shooting is around 5 yards. My petite DIL was doing quite well with her stock pistol over the weekend.

      • Whilst walking the dog I realized I forgot something. The long gun mention was because they, like handguns, have to be drop safe. That is, not go off if dropped or otherwise treated harshly. While handguns can use trigger actuated safety plungers on the firing pins/strikers, there’s not really a way to do that with long guns.

        Worse, most shotgun safeties block only the trigger. Leaving the sear/hammer engagement the only thing preventing a firing when the gun is dropped. Many rifle safeties are similar.

  11. Not just handguns. I had to buy a 50 state defensive rifle because Washington State, where my grandkids are, illegally outlawed semi-auto rifles. So a lever gun it was. Don’t like the sights and I am replacing. The most elegant solution was a ghost ring but unfortunately, it goes in the hole where the useless safety is currently located. Not wishing to deactivate a safety, I had to go with a rail that goes in the holes where the current sights are.

  12. Good advice, Mas!
    Please advise us now on AR rifles and shotguns used for defense.
    I’m considering a CMC dropin trigger with a 3.5 lb pull for an AR-15 5.56.
    Your thoughts, please?
    Lights (integral with the slide by Surefire) and optics on a home defense 590?
    Your knowledge and concern for our safety and survival and welfare is deeply appreciated!
    Piet

  13. Mas hasn’t chipped in yet but the spec for the AR platform trigger is 5-8.5 lbs. So, going by the principles stated earlier, 3.5 may be fine for a game gun, but you don’t want to go into a court room with it.

    ALG has individual hammer/trigger kits that’ll improve the feel and get you around 6 lbs. Dillon has a drop in module that’ll do 5-5.5 lbs.

    Personally, I found the stock grip angle of the AR to be a potential safety issue. BCM has a grip about the same angle as a 1911 and a filler for the rear of the receiver.

    • Brother Moore, I am with you on the AR15 trigger pull weight. I would only add, make sure your custom trigger has some palpable slack in its take-up so “the other side” can’t claim “The defendant modified it in such a way that it would go off the moment you touched the trigger.”

      • I thank you both, Gentlemen!
        We attended a CUFI pro-Israel event at a church recently, and I commented to the aubstantial security visible and very present, “Thank you, and what a shame it’s necessary!” Same said for all this fuss about details in court for living out a basic moral and Constitutional right, eh?

      • Outstanding point on the slack/2 stage trigger. Last year I installed a 2 stage trigger on a bolt gun. Being able to know you’re on the trigger without actually starting the press is a good thing.

  14. This is off-topic, but I simply must pause for a moment to report the news that Hunter Biden has just been found GUILTY on all counts. Lest we forget, these counts are violations of Federal Firearms Laws.

    Isn’t that something? The most zealous anti-gun President in our lifetimes, the President who has used Executives Orders and the BATFE to push firearm-prohibition measures that Congress never authorized, the President who tried to make millions of legal gun-owners into overnight “Paper Felons” with his stabilizing brace ban, the President who would ban all AR’s and, as near as I can tell, anything else that has more capacity than his favored “Double-Barreled Shotgun”, has finally managed to convict a gun-owner for violating Federal law.

    And it turns out to be his own son!

    Now we can look forward to Hunter Biden’s legal team raising a “2nd Amendment Challenge” to his conviction during his appeal of his conviction! Oh, the irony!

    Whether this is Karma or Fate, one must admire the beauty of it.

    Please forgive me while I wallow in schadenfreude over this news! 🙂

  15. Mr. Ayoob, in your opinion would the installation of the decocker only conversion kit marketed and sold by Beretta for its 92 series pistols be a potential problem in court since it changes the decocker/safety to a decocker only, and it could therefore be argued that a safety was removed? Does it make a difference that the kit is sold by Beretta for those who prefer a different configuration? Thank you for your response.

    • Any sound bite like “he removed (or caused to be removed) the safety from a deadly weapon” can be used to argue negligence. The argument could easily fly with a jury from which opposing counsel de-selected all the gun people who would understand.

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