NOTE: USCCA Customer Engagement team members get a lot of questions, and they pass a good number of them along to Concealed Carry Magazine Senior Editor Ed Combs. If you have a question, you can either ask it below or email it to [email protected]. We, of course, cannot guarantee answers to all questions — Ed’s a pretty busy guy — but we’d love to help you out with whatever’s stumping you.

Jared Blohm
Managing Editor
Concealed Carry Magazine

Q: Is there a need for Tritium night sights?

A: “Need” is a funny term to use there. But I would say short-answer yes, long-answer no.

I am a big believer in steel sights on a pistol because they are less likely to break than polymer sights, especially when you’re injured and frantically trying to run the slide of your pistol on the edge of a step in a parking garage stairwell. I am a big believer in self-illuminating sights because not only are they extremely useful in non-high-noon lighting conditions, they are exceptionally helpful if you drop your pistol in the dark and are clamoring to find it. (Under such a circumstance, just be certain not to negligently discharge the pistol once you’ve located it.)

Trouble is, a great deal of manufacturers ship their pistols with polymer sights. I can hardly blame them though. Once it became clear that a substantial number of their customers were replacing the sights on their pistols regardless of what they shipped with, why bother investing much in the factory sights?

What style of sights you want to run on your sidearm is 100 percent up to you. A fiber-optic front sight will do a great deal of what a Tritium night sight will do. Howerver, they are only so effective when compared to self-illuminated units. While some will be quick to point out that you would never shoot at something you can’t see — and that is almost unconditionally true — you might be surprised just how much more difficult it can be to find a set of white dots (or, goodness help you, a set of flat-black target sights) just an hour before sunset. I’ve shot well in low light with a KelTec P11’s plastic sights that I don’t think even had any paint left on them. And I’ve shot well in low light with a Glock wearing a set of Night Fision sights that glow so brightly they sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night from my nightstand. Either is doable. Your results will vary depending on your level of training, experience and vision acuity.

So no, I would not say that there is a capital-N NEED for Tritium night sights per se. I would, however, advise that the sights on your daily carry gun be steel and at least in some way actively light-gathering.

Q: What’s your take on “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6?”

A: I suppose we were going to have to get to this one sooner or later.

Right out of the gate, I’d rather be neither judged nor carried. This is why we preach situational awareness (a fancy way of saying paying attention) and why we harp on the best fight being the one that you’re not in.

Beyond that, we’ll have to start with what it actually means: It means the individual who is speaking would rather be prepared to defend him- or herself and face the potential legal consequences of doing so than not be prepared for self-defense and die as a result (or, even worse, not be able to defend a loved one).

Where we run into trouble with this one is the fact that I would conservatively estimate a solid 25 percent of the human population is incapable of understanding when something they hear or read is not to be taken literally and certainly not to its farthest extreme. Some refer to this condition as “not having a sense of humor,” but I do not. What we’re talking about is far more serious than that. We’re talking about someone who is fundamentally incapable of spotting and connecting with the very concepts of sarcasm, “gallows humor,” hyperbole and even over-simplification. Regardless of their level of education, they are no better at understanding human communication in the English language than a 5-year-old.

What this can mean is that someone who hears you say you’d, “Rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” might interpret that to mean that you LOOK FORWARD to being “judged by twelve” after shooting someone. This brings us to our next problem: people who heard you say what they wanted to hear you say rather than what you actually said.

This doesn’t have to make any sense to you; their reality and yours are completely separate and irreconcilable. But what all of these (admittedly) odd realities can lead to is a person in a newsroom or on a jury honestly believing that you had a sticker on your vehicle declaring that you just couldn’t wait to kill somebody.

No, that isn’t what you meant. No, they will never understand that it means anything other than what they want to imagine it means. And no, none of that is “fair” to someone who simply wanted a convenient manner in which to express his or her desire to be ready to mitigate a disaster if necessary.

There isn’t anything you or I can do about any of this other than not be on the tracks when the train comes through. You may not think it rolls off the tongue as pleasantly, but just say “it’s better to be prepared to handle an emergency than unprepared to handle an emergency.” It’s why we wear personal floatation devices while aboard watercraft, it’s why we wear seat belts while in vehicles, and it’s why we own and carry firearms.

So to put a cap on this one, what is “my take” on “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6?”

My take is that it’s down there with “KEEP HONKING, I’M RELOADING” and “TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT, SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN” as far as the kind of stuff you do not want associated with your vehicle, clothing or online footprint.

Q: I would like to see some information on how to use a tactical pen.

A: We have some excellent articles on tactical pen selection and use in the Concealed Carry Magazine archives. If you are a member, you can access them through your dashboard. As for a quick-and-dirty rundown here in text form, you will have to remember that the pen you’re holding is not a nightstick and that you’re going to have to employ it with more finesse than force.

The most basic strikes will involve hammer-type blows delivered to an attacker’s joints or soft targets — specifically the eyes, nose, ears, temples, neck and kidneys. In order to strike, hold the pen with its clip facing in the direction you will be striking. If you hold the pen with its clip facing away from the direction you are striking, there is a good chance you will drive that clip into your own flesh when the pen strikes your target and precipitously decelerates. (Years ago, I managed to integrate a CountyComm “Embassy Pen” into my anatomy in this fashion.) Never place your thumb over the end of the pen while striking, especially if the end in question is pointy. You will see images of people using fighting pens with their thumbs over the end, but they’re executing pain compliance and other advanced techniques we’re not ready to discuss here.

And as with all techniques you will employ when fighting off an attacker, remember that there are no rules in a fight against someone who is trying to murder or rape you. Drive that pen into your assailant’s eye sockets as hard and as far as you can. Smash his ear canals. Don’t bother trying for groin shots if you can strike the eyes; too much can line up wrong and protect your opponent’s genitals from your hand, knee or foot. If you can reach his eye, you can strike his eye. And even sharks, crocodiles and grizzly bears hate getting poked in the eye.