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The Pocket Dump-Part 1

I have to admit that I love looking at Instagram pictures of “the pocket dump.” If you haven’t seen these photos, every day folks will take a picture of what they carry every day. Common items include a gun, knife, keys and flashlight. But, I sometimes find myself shaking my head as I look at the choice in firearms.

I was cautioned as a young patrolman to NEVER modify my duty gun in any way, shape or form. The reasoning was if I were involved in a shooting, the gun would be seized and closely examined along with being test fired. Modifications to reduce pull weight on the trigger were strongly discouraged as it would make the officer appear to be overly anxious to be involved in a shootout because they had made their duty gun much easier to shoot. In my head, I thought this was kind of ridiculous if it made the gun easier to use but I also began to see the light very quickly police are scrutinized for every word they say (and don’t say) in every encounter so if they’re involved in a deadly force encounter one can expect the scrutiny to be overwhelming. Your actions, reactions, thoughts, words and equipment are going to be tried in legal proceedings and the court of public opinion. Most officers are cleared of any criminal wrong doing but the municipality can face civil proceedings (wrongful death) and be sued by the family of the deceased criminal. Keeping the civil proceedings in mind, officers don’t modify their duty weapons.

With that in mind, why do I see concealed carry handguns with flared mag wells, compensators, 3 pound trigger jobs and “Punisher” engravings on the gun? Over the last few months, a few concealed carry instructors and I have had the debate over whether or not it’s a good idea to modify concealed carry guns. A few instructors have said they encourage students to personalize their firearms and one of these instructors (not a friend of mine) told me he actually has no reservation about having engravings or a decorative slide cover plate. If he is involved in some sort of self-defense scenario, how do you think the civil trial is going to go? Can you imagine the jury seeing a ported and comped Glock 34 with a Punisher slide cover plate or one that says, “Kill ‘em all”?

My every day carry guns include a bone stock Ruger LCR in .38 special and a Smith and Wesson Shield in 9mm. The Ruger is completely unmodified and is also used as a backup gun while on duty. The Shield, though, has been modified. If you’ve ever shot the early Shields, they had a less than great trigger. Apex Tactical offers a Duty/Carry kit for less than $100 that greatly improves the trigger. The function of the gun is not affected at all while providing a smoother trigger pull and a positive, audible reset. The trigger kit improves the accuracy for me without giving the gun a greatly reduced trigger pull I would have difficulty explaining in court. There are no other modifications to the gun.

Maybe my carry guns aren’t the sleek and sexy things you see on Instagram but they work. The money I could have spent on all of the fancy, useless stuff, I spent on ammunition and training. You can spend money on gimmicks that aren’t going to sit well with a jury during a civil proceeding, or you can train. Practice is what is going to save your life, not some skull and cross bone engraving. Perform a pocket dump today and take a look at your carry gun. Is it a tool or is it some kind of showpiece? Mine are tools of self-defense. If you find yourself in court after a self-defense situation, I hope you can describe your carry guns as tools of self-defense, too.

Rich Portwood