The Concealed Carry Course
Before I start, I would like to mention a few caveats about the Concealed Carry Course I took. First and probably the most important. When I took this course, I was not thinking about the website at the time. I didn’t keep my notes, so everything here is off my own memory and some research I did as a refresher. RGD Reviews was not setup as an information site at the time. This course covers both the revolver and the semi-automatic pistol.
Unlike future courses, this will only be a basic outline of what I remember. I still believe the information will help our readers prepare for their concealed carry. This is an 8-hour course in Michigan, 5-hour class time and 3-hour range time. The course I took was the NRA version and not the USCCA or MCRGO. It requires approximately 100 rounds of ammunition. It is likely they will not allow reloaded ammo for liability reasons.
This is a long course and it is different based on the instructor and course being used. The basic information is the same in both the NRA concealed carry and USCCA concealed carry and home defense versions. The topics covered after the basics is where the USCCA version leaps ahead. The NRA has recently added a new CCW course that is supposed to be more inline with the USCCA version.
What You Will Learn
- The different parts of the revolver and semi-automatic pistol.
- The different action types (Instructor should demonstrate how each works)
- NRA Gun Rules
- How to handle a firearm safely
- The different components of a cartridge
- The firing sequences
- How to properly identify and store ammunition
- How to identify and clear malfunctions
- The fundamentals of shooting
- How to shoot from a benchrest and proper seated position
- Different stances
- Finding your Dominant eye
- Proper grip
- Demonstrate the basics you learned such as aiming, breathing, hold, trigger control and follow through.
- Load, cocking, de-cocking, and unloading each pistol
- How to safely clean a pistol.
- Demonstrate the basics from a benchrest and the Isosceles
- Finally shooting qualification.
The shooting qualification is the only part I am not going to explain here. Largely because I don’t remember everything. I don’t want to give you something to practice that isn’t going to help you prepare. Other than the fact that the instructor will make sure you are doing it safely. Prior to allowing you to work with a loaded weapon. They will also have you shoot from different distances.
The instructor should let you know that no ammo is allowed in the classroom ahead of time. He/She will also cover the days itinerary. It is likely they will explain the two major causes of firearm accidents.
- Ignorance or simply put not knowing – The safe gun handling rules and not knowing the proper way to handle or use a firearm.
- Carelessness – falling to follow the rules and safety procedures when dealing with a firearm.
Many of the accidents that have happened with firearms. Is due to the user believing the gun to be unloaded and not properly checking it. Following the safety rules will avoid many accidents.
Gun Safety Rules
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Treat every gun as if it is loaded
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until you’re ready to use.
- The USCCA will include always know your target and what’s beyond.
Early in the class they will likely cover why people choose to own pistols. Everything from recreational, competitive, protection, collecting, to exercising their rights.
Types of Pistols being Discussed
- Single action(SA) Revolver
- Double action(DA) Revolver
- Double action only (DAO) Revolver
- SA semi-automatic
- DA/SA semi-automatic
- DAO semi-automatic
- Striker-Fire Semi-automatic
The revolver will have a rotating cylinder that holds 5-8 cartridges. The action of the trigger or hammer will line up the chamber with the barrel and the firing pin.
The Revolver will have 3 main parts frame, barrel and action. Keep in mind the concealed carry course is considered a more entry level course for those wanting to carry. As a result, it is designed for both beginner and advanced students.
State laws usually require you to show that you have at least a basic understanding to get a concealed carry license. They also require you to have an understanding of the laws in your area. No excuse will get you out of a gun charge. Things like I didn’t know, I was bumped while shooting, It was an accident all carry the same penalties as if you did it on purpose.
Basic Parts of the Revolver
Depending on the class and the instructor on how detailed this will get. Going off the basics you will need to know these few parts at a minimum.
- Frame- the backbone of the gun, that all parts connect to.
- Grip panels – they are attached to the grip and can be made of wood, rubber or plastic.
- Trigger guard – protects the trigger and lowers the chance of accidental discharges.
- Rear sights- used with the front sights for aiming. Including iron sights, red-dot and laser. The red-dot and laser don’t require you to align two sights together.
- The Just like the backstrap is the back part of the frames grip, the front strap is the front part. Other wise described as portion of the frame that lies between the grips.
- Barrel – the part the bullet travels through.
- Bore – is the inside of the barrel.
- Muzzle – The front of the barrel, where the bullet exits.
- Rifling – the groves in the bore. They are used to spin the bullet to stabilize it in flight. Think the spiral motion of a football being thrown.
- Caliber – The distance between the lands or groves. It is measured in inches or millimeters.
I would also like to mention that today most barrels are stamped with the caliber on them. Your guns owner’s manuals will often have most of this information as well.
The actions described in this course go beyond just what the actions do but also what they actually are.
- Trigger – can cock and release the hammer or simply release it. Depending on if it is a Single Action (SA) , a Double Action(DA), or Double Action only (DAO).
- Hammer – hits the firing pin, which in turn hits the cartridge causing it to fire.
- Hammer Spur – the bumps or grips on the hammer that allows your thumb to pull the hammer back without slipping off.
- Cylinder – has individual chambers that hold the cartridge. It rotates and aligns with the barrel with every pull of the trigger or hammer.
- Ejector – pushes out the cartridges when you push on the ejector rod.
- Ejector rod- used to push the ejector out.
- Single Action – Releases the hammer when you pull the trigger. The hammer must be cocked back manually for each shot.
- Double Action – The Pull of the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer. Most double action revolvers and semi-autos allow you to use either DA or SA by cocking the hammer manually.
The concealed carry course allows you to use either a revolver or semi-automatic. It may be recommended that you cock the hammer prior to firing a double action. This is done to help the shooter achieve a more consistent shot.
I also want to point out that even though the hammer will likely have spurs. Remember the gun can fire if it slips from your thumb. That is one of many reasons why you must always know what your muzzle is pointing at.
The Semi-Auto performs multiple actions with a single trigger pull. It fires the cartridge, extracts the casing, strips a new cartridge from the magazine, and inserts it into the chamber. One thing it does not do is fires more than one shot per trigger pull.
I only point this out because many people still believe the ArmaLite Rifle (AR) 15 sporting rifle is an automatic. Rather it is the revolver, semi-auto, or an AR they all fire one shot per trigger pull.
The semi-auto has three main parts just like the revolver. The frame, barrel and action. The main differences are the semi-auto has more interior parts that are used to complete the actions of the pistol.
The definitions of the semi-auto’s parts are generally the same. Even though they may look and perform slightly differently. For example, the frame is still the backbone of the gun and the grips can still be made of wood, plastic or metal. The barrels still have the same function but are usually easily detachable on a semi-auto. The revolver barrel may be removable can requires tools and you risk the chance of ruining it. I won’t be defining the same parts that are defined above, although the instructor may choose to do this.
The other semi-auto parts are:
- Trigger guard
- Slide stop – locks the slide in an open position and releases it from slide lock.
- Magazine release – just as it sounds, it’s a button, used to release the magazine from the pistol.
- Back strap
- Front Strap
- Safety – meant to prevent the pistol from unintentional discharge. Let me just stress here and again later. Never assume a gun won’t fire with the safety on. Everything mechanical can and will fail at some point. There are multiple kinds of safeties. They can be located on or near the slide, the grip, the trigger, and other areas. Not all semi-autos have safeties, although they may use and internal safety system instead.
- Hammer Spur
- Slide – slides on the rails on the frame. Firing causes the slide to move to the rear, ejecting the casing at the same time. It is then brought forward by the tension of the recoil spring. While moving forward the slide strips the cartridge from the mag and reloads the chamber. It also cocks the hammer or firing pin during this motion.
- De-cocking lever – used to safely lower the hammer.
- Takedown lever – a lever used to break down the gun. Also known as field stripping. It is used when the slide is locked back. You will then use the takedown lever, usually by pointing it down. When you release the slide, you can remove it from the frame. Other steps maybe needed in conjunction with the takedown lever. For example, on some pistols you will also need to squeeze the trigger when the slide comes forward.
- Magazine – the detachable storage used to hold all the cartridges.
While many semi-automatic pistols will have a safety option. Not all will have manual safeties. For example, the Glock introduced its three-point safety system(safe action system). Which consist of a trigger safety, firing pin safety and a drop safety. If the trigger is not squeezed the firearm won’t fire. By squeezing the trigger, the firing pin and drop safeties are lowered allowing the firing pin to come forward. Each time the slide is racked(or the trigger is reset while firing) the firing pin is half cocked and the safeties are put back in place.
This was made to prevent accidental discharge from drops. If using a manual safety, it is best to practice with it on to form the habit of turning it off before you fire. In a self-defense situation, it is unlikely you will remember to do it if it is not trained in. There are other safeties like the grip safety that require your grip to be firm at the top of the grip. Some firearms like certain Rugers also offer a magazine safety.
The magazine safety is meant to stop the firearm from discharging if there is not a magazine in it. For anyone who has watched the tiger king. They will know that a cast member died while trying to show it would not fire. Not only did he believe the firearm to be unloaded he thought the safety would prevent it from discharge. Unfortunately, he was wrong on both counts. Another reason why the gun safety rules are so important.
Types of Actions
Early on there was only 3 main types of actions. Today while still debated on what type of action it is. There is also the striker fire, which is more of a middle ground between double and single action. There is no hammer in a striker fired pistol. Instead it has a firing pin, which I discuss more in buying your first gun here.
- SA – squeezing the trigger releases the hammer – SA have a much lighter trigger usually 4.5lbs or less and the trigger sits much farther back.
- DA – squeezing the trigger cocks and releases the hammer – When set for DA the trigger is farther forward than when in SA and has a trigger weight approx. 10lbs or more.
- DAO – does not allow the hammer to be cocked. So, squeezing the trigger pulls the hammer back and releases it.
- Striker-Fired – squeezing the trigger releases the firing pin. Striker Fired pistols have slack in the trigger. The trigger sits farther forward than SA but not as far as DA. The trigger weight is usually around 5.5lbs.
The purpose of the heavier trigger weights is to prevent accidental discharge. Most SA firearms will be carried with a safety on and the hammer cocked which is also known as cocked and locked. The heavier trigger is often preferred when carrying and can be thought of a safety measure rather than a safety. Striker fired pistols are sometime recommended because they are considered the middle ground. Their triggers don’t have such a far reach as DA pistols. Which can cause consistency issues for smaller hands. Along with the fact that it doesn’t take as much weight to discharge.
During some points of the concealed carry course. The instructor will demonstrate how to load and unload the revolver and the semi-auto. He/she will also show you the proper procedures for cocking and de-cocking.
Prior to being out on the range, you will likely need to show that you can do this as well. I also want to point out a gun cannot fire when it is empty. Yet there are plenty of videos and reports of accidental discharges that happen because the person thought the gun was loaded or they trusted the safety. I recommend going to YouTube when you are done and checking out gun safety failures.
If you always remember the rules and don’t allow yourself to ever get comfortable most of these mistakes will be avoided.
- Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Never point it at anything you are not willing to kill or destroy.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Never put your finger on the trigger until after you have lined up the shot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to shoot.
Safe Gun Handling
The concealed carry course is a beginner course and is treated as such. You will likely be allowed to handle an unloaded weapon or sirt pistol during the class. Make sure above all else, you pay attention to where that firearm is pointed. They will be looking closely at this to determine if you can be trusted on the range.
Pay especially close attention when you are cocking, de-cocking, loading and unloading. It is easy to forget where it is pointing when you are doing other things. Typically, you will stand there until given some command.
The command could be “load” or some variation. To let you know it’s okay to pick up the firearm and complete your task. If the instructor allows you to do it on your own, ask before picking it up. Take your time, there is no points for speed in this class. Mistakes are more costly than going to slow. At certain points there will be Q&A sessions, make sure you write down any questions you have while they are talking. This will help you to remember everything you would like to know. I forgot more than a few questions during my course.
To practice reloads the instructor will likely have to you load and unload using dummy rounds or snap caps. These will be in the shape of a cartridge, but they don’t look like the real thing. The dummy round typically has some colored tip on it with a shiny casing. The snap cap may be all one color or a combination. The main difference between the two is, the snap cap has a spring inside. Both may have a rubber or plastic portion on the bottom of the casing where the firing pin would hit.
Snap caps are often used when doing dry-fire practice. This helps to protect the firing pin and stops it from coming too far forward. Although they are not required, they are still recommended. The Dummy rounds are usually hollow and are used for practicing malfunctions. You can use snap caps to practice malfunctions as well, but you run the risk of damaging the spring when they hit the ground. I also use a laser trainer which will put a laser dot where you hit when firing.
When dry fire practicing it is best to make sure all the ammo is locked away and to absolutely make sure none is in the room you are practicing. It is a good habit to not only check the chamber but to rack the slide multiple times before you start. Even when practicing my draw, I make sure to put either the laser trainer, snap cap, or dummy round in the chamber. I do this to prevent any accidental discharge, nothing can enter the chamber is something else is there. If you are using a pistol that requires you to rack the slide after each dry-fire shot, the laser trainer works best because it doesn’t eject.
The concealed carry course will break down each component of the cartridge and how it works. There are 4 main parts to a cartridge:
- Case – this is the metal cylinder or casing that holds all the components. Normally made from brass, aluminum or steel. Brass being the most common.
- Priming compound – the chemical used to ignite the powder. It is stored in the primer on center fired cartridges and in the rim on rim fired cartridges.
- Powder Charge – The chemical used as the propellant. Located between the rim/primer and the bullet.
- Bullet – the part that leaves the gun.
The rimfire cartridge keeps the priming compound inside the rim of the case head.
The center-fire cartridge keeps the priming compound in a tiny metal cup called the primer. It is in the center of the case head.
How It Works
- Firing pin strikes the primer or rim, which ignites the priming compound.
- This generates a flame which ignites the powder charge.
- The powder burns creating a hot high-pressure gas.
- The high-pressure gas propels the bullet out of the casing and down the barrel.
- Expect to be able to identify each part of a cartridge
You will also be expected to know how to identify a cartridge.
- Marked on the firearm
- Stamped on the cartridge
- Printed on the ammunition box.
- Higher pressure loads will be marked by +p or +P+.
You will have to check your owner’s manual to know what is safe to use in your firearm. +P+ is generally not recommended by most manufactures.
Some instructors may cover the local laws on storage. Others will shy away from it and let you know to contact an attorney for their interpretation of the laws. Just know that you will likely be held responsible for any accidents or unauthorized access to your firearm and ammo. The recommended storage they will cover is:
- Ammunition storage should be cool and dry. Avoid any high temperature location like attics and trunks. Temperature changes hot or cold can cause humidity and condensations inside the cartridges – degrading the ammo over time and making it unsafe to use.
- Keep it in the original factory box or carton. One of the reasons for this is to protect it from the elements. Even the salts from your fingers can slowly corrode it over time. It is easy to grab a cartridge and not realize it has degraded and end up having an accident at the range or during a self-defense situation.
- Store in place only authorized people have access to it.
- Do not expose to water, solvents, bore cleaners, petroleum products, or other chemicals. Any of which can cause a malfunction.
- Clean off your fingerprints.
- Misfire – the cartridge fails to fire. You can normally recognize this by a click when you squeeze the trigger.
- Hang fire – you will hear the same click when you pull the trigger but seconds later the gun will fire. It is recommended you wait at least 30 seconds before clearing the gun.
- Squib load – this is when the gun fires but does not have the same bang, recoil, or muzzle flash. It will sound and feel like it was a weak shot. YOU NEED TO STOP FIRING. The bullet is stuck in the middle of the barrel and you will need a gun smith to repair. Remember to keep the muzzle pointed down range, unload and check the barrel from the rear. DON’T LOOK DOWN THE BARREL. You can usually do this by using a light. For legal reasons, that is where my advice stops on squib loads.
There are more malfunctions that can happen with a pistol. The revolver is less likely to malfunction due to fewer parts. That said, the revolver does still have malfunctions. Here I will cover the basic one’s talked about in the course.
- Misfire – wait at least 30 seconds, smack the bottom of the magazine to make sure it’s inserted correctly, and rack the slide. Also called a tap & rack, or there is the tap-rack & roll. The only difference is your roll the gun to its side while performing the tap & rack so the cartridge falls directly below allowing you to inspect it.
- Hang fire – same procedure as the misfire. The reason for the 30 second wait is to make sure the misfire is not a hang fire.
- Squib load – I described above under malfunction types. A qualified gun smith can fix the issue.
There are other malfunctions such as double feeds, stove pipes, and jams. All of these could point to other problems. For example, a stove pipe could be caused from a limp wrist, light load in the cartridge, dirty barrel restricting the extractor, or a worn extractor. Remember when dealing with any malfunction keep your finger out of the trigger guard and keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
This is not an exhausted list or the only way to clear malfunctions. If you experience malfunctions that you don’t believe relate to the gun. You should change magazines and the brand of ammunition you are using. Some guns don’t like certain ammunition so be prepared to change if you are experiencing malfunctions. If the same thing happens again, take your gun to a qualified gun smith or contact the manufacture.
Once you reach this portion of the concealed carry course. You should have a good basic understanding of how things work. The instructor will now go into more about pistol handling. The bench rest is covered first but depending on the instructor on whether you will only do this in the classroom or also on the range. If you only train one part of this course make sure it is the safety rules.
- Benchrest – is done at a table with your feet flat on the ground. Arms will be fully extended, with your back straight but leaning forward slightly. They may have a stand or sandbag to support your wrist. Your head will stay erect allowing you to see your sights.
- Two handed shooting position or stance- some instructors will only teach the isosceles but show you the weaver, and even a modified version of each. I cover stance more here.
- Grip – I will include photos of the grip but a more detailed grip explanation is here. Once you learn the proper grip, remember the key is grip strength and a push on the back of the firearm from your strong hand. Along with a pull from your weak hand while keeping the firearm steady.
- Aiming – This is includes sight alignment and sight picture.
- Sight alignment – is the process of aligning the front sight with the rear sight. The notch of the front sight should be inside the notch of the rear sight. The sights should be level with each other and have equal space on each side. Easy way to remember is equal height and equal light.
- Sight picture – refers to the positions of the aligned sights on your target. For example, once you align your sights, you will then want to position them on the spot you are trying to hit on the target.
- Focus point – being your eye can only focus on one thing at a time. Precision shooting requires you to focus on the front sight rather than the rear sight or target.
- Dominant eye – The dominant eye is used to determine which eye to align the sights with. There are a few different ways to find out which eye is your dominant eye. Typically, you will put your hands together forming a triangle as shown in the pictures. Find a small object to stay focused on inside the triangle with your arms extended. Then you will slowly bring your hands back to your face. The eye you are now able to see the object through is your dominant eye (one eye will be covered by your hand). You can also do the same thing by closing one eye at a time and see which one has the object in the center still.
Remember while shooting it is better to keep both eyes open. If you are like me, you will find that with both eyes open, the sights are blurry. To alleviate this, you can put a frosted piece of tape on your safety glasses on the side of your non-dominate eye. You can also do a squint with one eye, enough that you can still see but also enough that your sights are now clear.
Some instructor may suggest that you only shoot with one eye. What I recommend is always follow the instructor’s advice. Even if another instructor taught you differently. Remember you are there to learn. As a result, it will never hurt to learn a different way. You can decide later what works best for you.
- Breath Control – This is done by breathing in and letting out just enough air so that you can hold your breath comfortably. The reason you want to hold your breath while shooting is to limit movement. Remember to breathe after each shot and not to hold your breath to long.
- Arc of movement – this will be the natural movement your arms make while holding them out. The more you practice this the less movement there will be. That said, there will always be some movement and it is normal. Remember when you practice anything to always keep a full shooting grip.
- Trigger control – This is one of those subjects that must be shown rather than explained but here it goes. For proper trigger control, you need place your finger in a position on the trigger, that allows you to squeeze the trigger without moving the firearm. The common recommendation is to have it on the middle of the first pad. Keeping in mind that not all firearms are going to fit your hand the same. For myself, I practice this by making sure I don’t curl my finger when I squeeze the trigger but rather move it from the middle knuckle(see what I mean by difficult to explain). Just remember if your grip is firm enough so that you can squeeze the trigger without the firearm moving then it is probably a good trigger squeeze.
- Trigger control II – the other thing is you don’t want to release the trigger so far that your finger comes off the trigger. You squeeze the trigger far enough for the gun to fire and release the trigger enough so that it resets. You will usually hear or feel a click. When dry firing make sure your sights are staying aligned through the whole process.
- Follow Through – you want to maintain all the basics and fundamentals through the shot and after. This will allow you to keep the firearm aligned and ready to take the next shot without having to reset everything. Some trainers will focus on trigger control for follow through. Where others will talk about everything from keeping your stance, arms straight, head aligned etc.
It is likely the instructor will focus on aiming and trigger control as the most important fundamentals. I will go one step further and say grip is also in that group. When firing multiple shots the grip is needed to control the firearm.
Each concealed carry course is different based on the instructor but normally they will recommend specific calibers for self-defense. Good instructors will let you know shot placement is going to matter more than caliber. That said it is a good rule of thumb to pick what you can shoot accurately and quickly because attacks happen fast. The recommended calibers.
- .40 S&W
- .45 ACP
This is not to say you can’t carry a .22, it is based on what is believed to be the most effective at stopping an attack. As a result, it will largely depend on what you shoot best and how you carry. You will also learn that some calibers will have a name next to them. For example, the .40 S&W, this is not to say it only works with Smith & Wesson. It only means that it was originally patented by S&W. There are also other designations like magnum, which means it will have a stronger charge. Like the +P and +P+ designations.
The smaller the caliber the less felt recoil, and the more rounds the magazine can carry. Except for revolvers, they typically only carry 5-8 rounds. The opposite is true with the barrel. The shorter the barrel the more felt recoil. If recoil is a problem for you but you need a smaller firearm, you may want to choose a lower caliber to start with.
Different Types of Ammo
When looking for ammunition there is always the question of what I should buy. The rule of thumb is, for practicing you will want to use full metal Jacket (FMJ) and Jacketed Hollow point (JHP) for self-defense and everyday carry (EDC). You can look up the data on the FMJ and you will see that police stopped using it because of its tendency to go right through a person and end up in someone or something else even as far as a block away.
The JHP acts as a parachute when it goes into the body. It mushrooms out and slows down until it comes to a stop. Leaving it inside the person that was shot. I will say this, not all JHP are equal and not all will perform as they are supposed to. It is best to shoot around 200 rounds through your firearm to make sure it is not jamming or malfunctioning before you use it as your EDC. There are plenty of gel test results on YouTube. Just keep in mind they may not be using the same gel the FBI uses.
The FMJ is a much cheaper round and is great for shooting paper and metal targets. It comes in steal, aluminum and brass. Brass being the most popular and widely used. The aluminum casing is cheaper and it’s safe to shoot. The only real downside is that it is not reloadable and can only be safely fired once. Steal on the other hand is hard and can cause damage over time but it is the cheapest. Make sure you check with the manufacture of your firearm before using any type of ammunition.
Gear is one thing that the instructor may talk about during the course. They may also cover the importance of cleaning your firearm after each use. Cleaning is one of those things that can be gun specific. Not cleaning your firearm can cause a lot of malfunctions. Ask anyone who has taken a course a used a firearm provided by the company. Some companies don’t clean the firearms after each class. If you’re the unlucky one to get that firearm, you may find malfunctions start happening.
Some classes will also cover the need for carrying a flashlight and possibly a pocketknife. Others will cover non-lethal options like pepper spray and tasers. A good question to ask an instructor is about the type of clothing he/she suggest. One thing I found right away was I needed to increase my waist size by two along with my shirt length. Then of course there is the tactical belt, and magazine holders.
- Kydex – a fancy way of saying a plastic holster. These holsters are custom fit for specific firearms and have good retention. They will often have a nice click when you holster the firearm. They are not as comfortable to wear as leather. They also can cause wear on the firearm due to the harsh material.
- Leather – leather holsters offer the most comfort for carrying. That said they tend to have less retention, and some will even collapse after the draw. This can make it more difficult to re-holster the weapon. They wear out over time and will need to be replaced with frequent use. More expensive leather that is doubled and tends to hold their shape better. They also cost more than kydex holsters.
- Hybrid – this is a newer style holster that combines the benefits of leather with the security of kydex. It has a leather backing that goes against your body. Along with a kydex portion to secure your firearm. They can wear over time causing the leather fold or bend. As a result, it can make the draw harder or even impossible.
- Pocket holsters – pocket holsters are pretty much like they sound. They can be made from nylon, leather, or kydex. They normally grip or clip inside the pocket to allow you to draw without pulling out the holster. Important note, if using a pocket holster don’t put anything else in that pocket. Once something is caught in the trigger guard, pulling on it can cause a discharge.
- Pancake holsters – Pancake holsters are meant to be worn outside the waistband (OWB). They are held tight against you by the belt. As with any of the others it is used as a good concealment holster. They also come in leather, kydex, and nylon.
There are many types and styles of each holster. There is also holster levels, which is designated by its retention. Some OWB holsters will have a button that you must press to draw. They may even have to be tilted a certain way to prevent the firearm from being pulled out the back. Level III holsters will require the most steps to draw the firearm but have the most retention, level I the least. Holsters will come with some designation inside the waistband (IWB), appendix inside the waistband (AIWB), or OWB. There are also small of the back holsters, shoulder holsters and angle holsters.
- Cleaning Rod – used to push through jags and brush attachments
- Nylon brush – all brushes are used to scrub harder to clean areas. Nylon is gentle on plastic frames
- Bronze brush – The softer bronze can be used on the harder metals without scratching
- Jag – used to put the cloth through or around to push through the barrel and other areas while cleaning.
- Bore Solvent – Ballistol, CLP, Hoppes are a few bore solvents that penetrate through the residue left behind after shooting.
- Small brush or Q-Tips – for cleaning small hard to reach areas.
- Soft Cloth – usually small patches that you can push through with the jag to make sure it’s clean and to remove smaller particles.
- Gun Oil – Used for lubricating moving parts. Remember to use very little in the recommended areas. To much oil can cause a big mess. It also collects more residue that can lead to malfunctions.
Finding the Right Gun
While it is unlikely that you will not have a gun at this point, some instructors cover this section. If it is covered. They will teach you to look for how the gun feels in your hand. As well as to make sure you can reach all the controls without having to reposition the firearm. It is likely they will make one type of recommendation for self-defense firearms, which will be different for competition firearms. As well as any gear that is needed for either.
They will cover the difference between the single stack magazine and the double stack. To put is as short and simply as I can. The single stack holds less and stacks the cartridges in a straight stack. The Double stack staggers the rounds in a dual stack. As a result, firearms that use double stacks will have a wider grip and carry more.
The different sizes like full, compact and subcompact are also covered. Compact usually being between a 3.5” barrel and 4”. The subcompact is typically any thing smaller, with the full size being anything larger. There are exceptions to both of course. Typically, the full size is easier to shoot more accurately. Where the compact is the middle ground. Keep in mind that most attacks happen between 9-15 feet. Meaning that accuracy is not really a concern at that distance. All sizes will work, and you need to make that decision based on your needs. A person with overly large hands will have a hard time with a subcompact and vice versa if you have small hands.
This portion will be vague even with an attorney present. It won’t help you a lot if you plan to ask a lot of “what if” questions in this area, most attorney won’t be able to answer them. If it’s instructor lead they surely won’t be able to answer “what if” questions. What they should be covering is the legal use of deadly force. For example, Michigan’s Self-Defense Act, section 780.972, the use of deadly force is justified when a person believes there is an imminent threat of death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault. They may cover laws like the “Castle Doctrine”, “Stand Your Ground”, and/or your legal duty to retreat if required by law.
The dangers of drawing your weapon, where one law ends and the other begins and what not to do. It’s easier to lose your right to bear arms than it is to keep it.
They may cover the reasonable person test, which basically says what would a reasonable person do in the same circumstance. The basic rules like you must be the innocent party, you didn’t escalate the situation. As well as, the use of deadly force in your home and defending property. For example, in Michigan you can not use deadly force to defend property.
They should explain a concealed carry license does not make you a police officer. As a result, you are not allowed to prevent crime simply because you carry a weapon. They may also explain what to do if you are ever involved in a dynamic critical incident. You will learn a lot during this portion of the course. However, you will not learn enough to be able to keep yourself from all the legal jeopardy that could arise. It is your job to learn the rest of the laws that apply and to understand when you can and can’t use them.
The main thing to work on here is using the basics safely. The NRA concealed carry course focuses more on accuracy than the USCCA course. The USCCA course focus on defense accuracy over precision. As I said in the beginning, I don’t have a complete breakdown of the shooting portion. Here are some areas that may be covered. The drawing from the holster and placing 5 shots on target. From a squared stance (think Isosceles) shooting with your main hand only- then your off hand. Then 5-10 shots starting at a closer range and working your way back. All in all, this will work out to be around 100 shots.
Some instructors will teach you how to draw and how to shoot one handed. Although they won’t have you live fire while doing it. They will focus more on your ability to get shots on target at distances with a two-handed grip. After speaking with a couple different instructors, it comes down to liability reasons as to why somethings are only taught and not fired. You are required to be taught how to shoot properly.
The benchrest portion may be taught in the classroom rather than at the range. It depends on the size of class and the range setup. Also, some indoor ranges will not allow you to draw from the holster.
Picking a trainer
You want to avoid classes that are large, these are usually just concealed carry course mills. Meaning what they teach is not enough to keep you safe while carrying. The other thing to watch for is shortened class times. There is a lot of information to learn before being able to legally carry and anyone who can do it quickly is likely missing a lot of information. You will be expected to know and follow all the rules of concealed carry. Not being taught certain sections can get you into a lot of trouble.
Good trainer should:
- Be committed to safety
- Have a Strong understanding of the content
- Encourage Students (Focus on the Positives but let them know how to correct the bad)
- Be Professional
- Be Patient
- Be able to explain why something is important
- Be willing and able to answer question
- Is not condescending
- Be a Student themselves (Nobody knows everything having an instructor that keeps up on things will help improve the knowledge you learn)
A good test is to ask a couple questions that are not listed on their website. For example, I am a smaller person or larger, what type size of gun do you think would work best for me? The answer should sound understanding and may even involve them asking a few more questions. Now if they blurt out a .45 caliber Glock or some other brand. They are probably not going to be a great fit. The reason is, no one can tell you what works best for you and they should explain that. They may help you to narrow down your choices and let you know what to look for, that is a good instructor.
Every instructor is different, as well as every course. If you are prepared to learn, you will have a better experience. It is important to keep in mind the concealed carry course is a beginner course and should be treated as such. This should be one of your first courses toward self-defense not you last. If this is the only course you take, you will not be prepared for a dynamic critical incident. This course merely gets you prepared to carry safely.
Each level of information gathered will get you so far. For example, reading a book, watching a videos, and taking a class will all help you. That said, it is only through experience and training that you will get to the level you want to be. No one portion can get you there by itself. Nothing will take the place of having an instructor. Just like nothing will take the place of practicing what you have learned.
Anyone can take course after course but unless they practice what they have learned they will lose it. For example, I had a striker assembly break on my firearm, and it took a couple weeks to get the new one. I then went to the range for the first time in 3 weeks. I immediately noticed my shots were off and I had to practice some of the basics to get back to the level I was at. All firearm skills are perishable, what you could do last year or even last month will not be the same if you didn’t keep up with it. As always I hope this information helps and gets you prepared for your concealed carry course and good luck.
This may not be a full course. As I said in the beginning, I had to write this from memory which was months ago. New courses will be much more detailed. I will have my notes and it will be written within 72 hours of completion. I am sure there are things that I missed or have forgotten along the way.
To new students, not all states have the same requirements as Michigan. Some will have even more while others much less. For example, you can take the Tennessee concealed carry course online below. Michigan requires you to take the course in person but does allow for a live conference for the classroom portion, but it must be live. There is no online concealed carry course for Michigan.
Finally, if you are practicing before taking the course. Make sure you pay special attention to the basic safety rules. There are a lot of shooters out there who look to do nothing more than degrade you when you make a mistake. It is better to ask for help when getting ready, rather than to go it alone if you can. Having someone helping you, will likely keep away the negative people. There are plenty that will sit back and watch just hoping they get the chance to pounce. Don’t let one bad experience discourage you from why you want to carry. Always keep fresh in your mind the reason you wanted to carry in the first place.
The written test is typically an open book test allowing you to review everything before you submit your answers.