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

What is the legality of a trigger modification like those from Apex?

Though you will have to consult your local version of the legal system for the legality of anything firearms-related, ethos-wise, this is where generational schools of thought can end up butting heads. (You can read my response to a similar topic addressed in the September 2020 installment of “Ask Ed.”)

Some people will tell you that it is nothing short of courtroom suicide to replace the stock trigger in your Glock pistol. But when you press them for specifics, you find out that — like Ayoob — they’re all for changing out the trigger so long as it makes the gun more difficult to fire.

This is where I disagree with them.

My sole decision-making criterion for a firearm mod is as follows: If legal to install, does this modification make the combination of me and this firearm safer?

If the modification in question allows me to more accurately and easily place bullets where I want them to go and reduces the chances of me shooting anything or anyone I do not intend to shoot, then I am of the opinion that said modification is an improvement and a benefit to society at large.

But unfortunately, as I so often have to remind everyone, WHERE you are forced to defend yourself will have a lot more to do with how you are treated than WHAT you use to defend yourself. If you are forced to defend yourself in a jurisdiction administered by anti-gun and anti-self-defense prosecutors, judges and law enforcement agencies, you’ll quickly learn that they don’t like private citizens defending themselves with box-stock firearms any more than they like private citizens defending themselves with anything else.

What are your thoughts on tactical gloves? When should they be worn, and what should you look for in buying them?

Whenever we’ve run photos of a man (often me) wearing gloves while training, we get comments to the effect of, “HA! Sure hope he has those gloves on when he gets attackedZOMGLOLWTFBBQ !1!!1!” But, as usual, the kind of individual who leaves such a comment is entirely missing the point. Overseas, tactical gloves are all about protecting the wearer’s hands from cuts and gouges — especially when going into and out of a prone shooting position. In law enforcement contexts, they are partially for that kind of protection but mostly for protecting officers’ hands while conducting searches. In the private-citizen, non-competitive-shooting context, they’re mostly for protecting hands from lead exposure, hot firearms and chafing.

If I shoot 200 rounds during a training session wearing a short-sleeved shirt and no gloves, the lead oxide levels on my hands, wrists and forearms will be high enough to be of concern until I can remove it through washing. If, however, I shoot those 200 rounds while wearing a pair of gloves and a long-sleeved shirt that I then remove after shooting, I can get back to wherever it is I’ll be scrubbing up with LeadOff or a similar detergent and leave the lead oxide on that clothing until it can be washed off in a typical washing machine. Atop that, there’s plenty of this country in which if you leave an all-black firearm in the sun for more than a few minutes, it will quickly become too hot to handle. And if you have a gun that you love to shoot but the way it moves in your hands often leads to irritation, gloves can be a simple, inexpensive fix.

Like everything else in shooting, you can spend as little or as much as you’d like on your tactical gloves. I prefer my gloves to be borderline disposable, so the synthetic work gloves found at most big-box stores are my go-tos. But as with everything else available for every pursuit and pastime, you should buy what you like and what best meets your needs.

What are some of the best legally possessed weapons, aside from firearms?

With the understanding that nothing is going to beat a loaded firearm with which you are comfortable, that’s an excellent question.

Pepper spray (also called “OC” for oleoresin capsicum, a chili pepper extract) is an excellent less-lethal force option but is not without its problems. First, understand that it is not uniformly effective on humans. Ask any law enforcement or corrections officer: It just doesn’t have the effect on some guys and gals that it does on others. Second, it absolutely must not be used around small children or any adult with respiratory issues. This is generally understood to mean anyone who is over 65 or anyone with COPD, emphysema, asthma or another condition that can hinder his or her ability to breathe.

When employing pepper spray against an attacker, spray it first into the eyes and then onto the forehead above the eyes. This is a lot easier to say than it is to do. Outside of police academies, humans very rarely stand still to receive an impending pepper-spraying.

Once you’ve done that, continue moving laterally to put distance between yourself and the threat. Then reassess — there’s no need to spray a second time unless the threat corrects course and comes after you again. Moreover, you do not want to empty your can any sooner than necessary. Just as with a fire extinguisher, you might be surprised just how quickly holding down the trigger will void a can of OC.

If you intend to carry pepper spray, you will need to train with it. So buy a can to spray in an area not frequented by children or domestic animals and put it (and you) through the paces. See how much you send in a half-second and full-second burst. See what your maximum range actually is. See just how much OC you’re going to be carrying. And do understand that when you deploy pepper spray, or indeed any chemical agent, you’re extremely likely to receive a bit as well. A can is best carried in a belt-mounted carrier like one of those from JOX Loader Pouches.

Other Less-Lethal Options

It is difficult for me to blanket-endorse any other options. Batons, karambits, kubotans, “tactical pens” and other forms of impact weapons take anywhere from a decent to a great amount of training and physicality to effectively employ. Knives, while offering an edge in intimidation, require about as much. And stun guns, TASERs and other electronic control devices (ECDs) are designed for taking suspects into custody, not self-defense. (If you doubt me, understand that countless agencies’ policies are strict: ECDs are only to be deployed if the officer deploying it has lethal-force cover backing him or her up.)

It is natural to want to have it both ways. You want to carry something with which to defend yourself, but you don’t want to carry a gun. Or maybe you’re not allowed to carry a gun. Whichever the case, you need to internalize that your gun substitute will be just that: a substitute … and a poor one. Humans invented firearms for countless good reasons, principal among them the fact that you can defend yourself far more efficiently and effectively with a firearm than with a knife, stick or chemical. Some will argue that firearms aren’t as good as those other things, and they are welcome to.

But there’s a reason why cops consider their sidearms their primary weapons when it comes to stopping immediate, impending threats of death or great bodily harm and why everything else on their duty belts rates secondary at best.