Can You Reach Your Weapon?


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

December 27th, 2010






Click pictures for a larger version.


GunVault GVB2000 Biometric Gun Safe.





Everyday, I receive emails from folks wanting help with choosing a handgun for self defense. There is a limit to what I can assess through email correspondence, but usually after a couple of back-and forth messages, I can be of help to the person wanting some guidance in choosing a weapon. Many are frustrated, as they have tried to receive help from their local gun seller, with little real help provided. Many gun stores are very helpful, and take the time needed to try to fit the customer with a gun suited for their needs, but most are not. Sometimes, the clerks are too busy helping other customers and filling out government forms. Other times, the fellow behind the counter is a closet commando, and tries to sell a weapon that might be his personal favorite, but is not the best choice for the customer. Other times, the store owner is financially motivated to just sell what he has in stock, without regard for the customerís needs. Whatever the reason, sometimes people need more help than they can receive locally in choosing a weapon, so they write in for guidance, and I am happy to help. That is why I am here.

I also many times get asked for help in choosing a proper holster in which to carry the chosen weapon. Most folks want to carry concealed, and I try to urge the person to carry the weapon in a position in which it can be quickly and easily reached, while also keeping the weapon out of sight. Usually, recommending the best holster for the person and the chosen weapon is pretty easy to do.

However, many people, after choosing a weapon and a method of carry while out in the world, give little thought to keeping a weapon within reach while in the presumed safety of their homes. That is a mistake which comes not as much from complacency as it does from a false sense of security. Most working folks come home after a tiring day, and want to kick back, eat some supper, and relax until time to get up in the morning and do it all over again. That is certainly understandable. While out in the world, they have wisely chosen to carry a weapon, and are at least mildly aware of their surroundings as they walk from work to the vehicle, watching for suspicious behavior, hopefully. However, when they close the door behind them at home, they feel safe, as we should all be able to do in an ideal world. If it ever did, that world no longer exists.

Home invasion crimes are on the increase. The home invader is not to be confused with the home burglar. The burglar wants to slip in and steal your possessions without confrontation. The home invader wants more. Studying a bit upon the topic of home invasion, I have found that in most cases, the thugs certainly want your possessions, but if that was all they wanted, they could easily break in while you are away, as do most burglars. It is aggravating enough to come home and find that you have been burglarized, but you can replace your stuff. When someone kicks in your back door, knowing fully well that the home is occupied, they want more than your big-screen television. They are also most likely not alone, but invade in multiples of two or more. They burst into your home suddenly, with weapons in hand. At best, you will be immediately beaten down. Your wife and daughter will not be as fortunate.

This topic is not a pleasant one for decent folks to ponder. We feel relatively safe in our homes. We want to be safe in our homes. That is not too much to ask, but there are those in our society who seemingly have no souls. They are sociopaths, and have as little regard for you as they do for a piece of trash. You have something that they want, and they have been raised with an entitlement mentality. Never mind that you have worked for what you have, and that your family is dear to your heart. They have neither a heart nor a family, and have no respect at all for yours. When that door is suddenly kicked in, can you reach your weapon? If not, it is useless to you. They will have weapon in hand, probably be at least two of them, have been planning this crime, and the best that you can do is react. If you canít reach your weapon, immediately, you lose.

In doing research for this piece, I also studied statistics on police response times in cities across the nation. It was worse than I thought. In the recent home invasion case in Connecticut in which the mother and daughters were murdered and the father left to die, after police were alerted by a bank teller of the situation, help arrived at the home 33 minutes later. The girls and their mother were already dead, and the demonic sociopaths had set the home on fire. A lot can happen in thirty-three minutes. A lot can happen in just three minutes. Average response times in most major cities in the US to the most urgent of emergency calls were in excess of ten minutes, according to the latest 2009 statistics. Imagine that someone just kicked in your door, and by some form of luck, your neighbor saw it happen and called 911 for you, then watch the clock...ten minutes. After about thirty seconds, you begin to realize that ten minutes is a lifetime. Your lifetime and that of your loved ones.

If all the above has your attention, that is good. If it has you scared, that is even better. Now you can do something to improve your chances of survival. If you purchased your handgun and a box of ammo, fired off a few at the local range at a paper target fifteen yards away, admired the nice group that you fired, and put the gun away feeling safe and secure, you are mistaken at best, and a fool at worst. Just as owning a skillet doesnít make you a good cook, owning a handgun does not make you a gunfighter. If you can afford some professional training, I highly recommend that you get it. I am not referring to a school that teaches you to stand squarely facing some steel plates to see if you can knock them down faster than the fellow standing next to you. What you need is training to teach you to fight with that handgun. Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona is an excellent place to get that training. There are a couple of other good training facilities, but I have personally been to Gunsite twice, and can assure you that the staff there is concerned foremost with teaching the student how to fight with that handgun. The punks that just entered your home rudely and uninvited are not going to wait for you to retrieve your pistol and load it. Both you and your weapon have to be ready, right now. If you have a wife or girlfriend that doesnít allow you to have a loaded gun in the house, you have a much more serious problem than I can address here, and you have failed at the mate-selection process. Your wife should be reaching for her own weapon as you reach for yours. Certainly the weapon has to be secured from unauthorized use, but if it is not loaded and ready to go, it is of no use to you. I cannot overstress the fact that it must be within reach. If you are lying on the couch in your underwear watching some silly television show, and your weapon is in the other room, you lose. If you are awakened suddenly from a deep sleep by the sound of glass breaking, and your weapon is in the gun safe, you lose. The cops are several minutes away. They will show up later to fill out paperwork and draw a chalk line around your body. Your only hope is in your weapon and your ability to immediately bring it to the fight.

For the most of us, the safest that we feel is when we are in our homes, and that leads to complacency. In our homes is where we are also the most vulnerable to a planned criminal action. That is where we sleep, shower, and do other things which usually leave us not wearing our weapon. For many of us, the next most vulnerable place is when at work. Oddly, for those of us who do go heeled, out on the street is where we are most likely to be both armed and aware. There are things that we can do to help prevent a home invasion. Buy the best door locks that you can afford. Donít open the door to just anyone that knocks. Beware of delivery personnel that are not familiar to you. Donít ever answer the door unarmed. However, the best of prevention, while helpful, will not thwart a determined group of punks. Always have your weapon within reach. For most of us, that means a handgun. The handgun is a weapon to have available when trouble is not expected. If the home invaders are kind enough to call ahead and announce their intentions, have a twelve gauge shotgun pointed at the door. Most criminals are not as polite, and will enter rudely and unannounced. The handgun can be close by at all times, so that is likely the weapon we will have within reach in the event of a home invasion.

In my house, I have a gun or two stashed where they can be accessed quickly if needed, but they are usually a few steps away. That is why I have a handgun on my body until I go to bed. Each of us should have a bedside gun, that stays there at all times, if possible. The weapons that I carry concealed daily are built for that purpose. They are relatively small and lightweight. I sometimes carry a larger weapon in addition to a pocket gun, if I feel the need, but beside the bed, I want a full-sized fighting gun. I also have to keep it secure from the hands of my grandchildren and their friends when I am not in the room. My grandkids know to not touch my guns, but they are kids, so I keep that bedside pistol locked up unless it is within my reach. There are a few good small gun safes on the market, but my favorite is the GunVault brand GBV2000, a deluxe small safe with the biometric lock. It also has a key lock backup, but the biometric lock is very convenient. I donít have to worry about keeping the key secured from reach somewhere else. The biometric lock recognizes my fingerprint, and opens in about one second, almost every time. Sometimes it takes more than one attempt, but it is still a good system. For my wife, it works every time. My fingers are rough and calloused, so about one time out of six, it is delayed another second or so. Even if it popped open immediately every time, one second is still a wasted second when suddenly shocked from a deep sleep. When I go to bed, I open the GunVault, so that I have only to grab the pistol if needed. When I leave the bed in the morning, I simply shut the vault door. No key is needed to lock it, and no key is needed to unlock it. Before this biometric GunVault, I had another small vault that required a combination of buttons to be pressed. It worked well also, but needed a bit more time to unlock, and was too small. The GunVault is plenty large enough to hold any of my handguns, even two or three of them. It has a removable center shelf, and a light inside, if needed. It is powered by a nine volt battery, and also has a 110 volt adaptor. I like this new GunVault much better than my old bedside gun safe.

There are other good options for readily securing a weapon close at hand for those who do not need the weapon locked up and out of the reach of children and others. These devices can be used in a vehicle, boat, or motor home also if needed, and are a good way to stash a pistol at work, under a desk or in a cabinet, as well as in places throughout the home, such as attached to the bed frame or even in the shower.

The C-Burr from Grassburr Leather Works is a very versatile holster, offered in three different sizes, with a sturdy and easily-adjustable mounting system. The heart of the design is the mount. It is a heavy brass casting that is mounted with screws or a clamp, depending upon the exact mount chosen, to any reasonably flat surface or the rack of an ATV. Grassburr offers a side mount for mounting to a vehicle console or door panel, or a top mount for under the dash. The clamp model mounts to the rack of an ATV or a motorcycle handlebar. The holster is a reinforced nylon type with adjustable strap and thumb break. This C-Burr holster keeps the weapon readily at hand. When I travel, I usually put a pistol in the door panel pocket, but this C-Burr is much more secure, and the position of the weaponís grip can be adjusted to any angle.

Another handy yet simple device for securing a pistol under a desk or in a cabinet is the Magna-Arm from Predator Shooting Products. As the name implies, the Magna-Arm is a strong magnet, the base of which is secured by screws to a hard surface. The magnet is covered with rubber to protect the weaponís finish, and is strong enough to hold any handgun which I have tried.

There are other innovative ways to stash a handgun within reach, depending upon your individual circumstances. If you work at a desk all day, even if you have a smaller weapon in your pocket, it is a good idea to have a full-sized fighting pistol within reach, without having to open a drawer or cabinet door. The idea is as close to immediate access as possible.

When an attack comes, it will come quickly, and it will come violently. I have written this piece directed mostly towards men, but of course, it applies to women as well. The thing that differentiates a home invasion from most other crimes of violence is that, if you have a family, it is much worse than just being attacked alone on the street. There are things that are worse than death. For any decent family man, the worst thing that can happen is to be found helpless as his family is being abused, tortured, and killed. That is the most distasteful and evil thing about a home invasion; it violates the entire family, and even if one or all of you survive, a home invasion leaves you scarred for life. A man should be able to just come home, kick back, and enjoy the fruits of his labor, but as long as evil exists, it will manifest itself in the dark souls of heartless men. It falls upon the shoulders of good men to defend against violence. The police cannot be with you at all times, and they will not arrive in time to help. Your only chance is to answer violence with violence. When an attack comes, your response must be both immediate and violent. 

Can you reach your weapon?

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Grassburr C-Burr holster with mount.



Magna-Arms weapons mount.