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Karl Rehn and Caleb Causey’s Low Light Force-On-Force

Karl Rehn and Caleb Causey’s Low Light Force-On-Force

In my overview of the 2015 Rangemaster Tactical Conference I said that I was focusing on “action based” blocks of instruction. Having taken time off to have yet another baby I wanted to use my time at the Tac Conference to gauge what I’m retaining, what I’m learning, what I’ve overlearned, what I need to work on and where I need to focus my training efforts going forward. It’s hard to do that without action-based assessments.

Karl Rehn and Caleb Causey’s Low Light Force-On-Force was not only an assessment of low light tactics but also incorporated medical scenarios. Being an EMT I was excited for the opportunity to practice and be assessed in some of the trauma skills I have been trained in but blessedly don’t have much opportunity to use.

I’d heard a lot about both Karl Rehn and Caleb Causey from other instructor friends but this was my first time meeting or training with either of them. Karl has extensive experience running force and force and Caleb is a veteran combat medic who now teaching civilians the principles of providing trauma care in hostile environments.

This would be a new experience for me. The few traumas due to violence I’ve responded to in my capacity as an EMT have all been secured prior to entry by law enforcement. The only potential criminals I’ve treated have been in handcuffs with a sheriff’s deputy standing over both of us. I’ve never had to provide both security and medical treatment or to pick priority between the two.

The class could only take 15 participants but we snuck a 16th under the door because he was a local officer who brought his own airsoft gear. The class opened with introductions and then Caleb asked how many of us carry medical gear with us everywhere we go. There were a few people who said they keep it in their car but as far as I could tell I was the only one who professed I carried it with me everywhere.

I don’t think Caleb believed me. He told me he wanted to see my bag and how I carried it and I welcomed him to do just that. In fact, I was hoping to get his take on my kit anyway to see if there was anything I needed to add or change. I can now proudly say that my med kit is Caleb Causey approved!

Karl ran the make up of the scenarios while Caleb ran the medical portions. All of the scenarios would be blind but with the same basic scene. The scene was set up as though there were a massive power outage. You were exiting your place of work into a parking garage that had automatic locks so you couldn’t retreat back into the building. Cell phones did not work and at the end of the parking garage was your car and the street. Karl would pull out a few people, take them aside and give them instructions, turn off the lights and the welcome the participants into the scene, usually in groups of threes. Injuries were indicated with strips and pieces of bright orange duck tape. Not all participants were armed and not every scenario was a fight or shooting scenario.

Those not involved as roll players were allowed to stand aside in a predetermined area in the room and watch but could not interfere in any way.

The first group of three walked into a pitch black room where four individuals were fighting. As soon as they came in, two of the individuals ran off and what was left was a man lying on the floor, unmoving, and a woman running around frantically screaming for help for her loved one.

Two of the participants had recently gone through a tactical combat medical class and while not entirely versed in the concept of triage, did quite well with their assessment and treatment of both the man on the floor and the woman who, it was later discovered, was shot in the chest.

The scenario brought up concepts like triage and focusing treatment on outcomes you can change and allocating resources and making advanced decisions about getting help vs staying and treating. When it came time to move the patients it became quite obvious to many that moving dead weight humans is a lot harder than most people anticipate and deciding to move someone vs calling in help may be an important advanced decision to make.

The next scenario had three individuals walking into an ambush. All three of them were shot–one in the upper thigh, one in the strong hand and one in the belly. Their med bag was stolen and they had to clear the area.

Had this scenario been real life it wouldn’t have boded well for any of them. None of them had medical training and clearing the room to find their med bag was difficult due to a lack of tactics and application of using lights and cover. When they did get their med bag they had to take the additional time to attempt to read the instructions on the back of packages on how to use the medical gear, all with injuries and while one of their participants bled to death. The scenario was ended early to walk through how it could have gone and to drive home the lessons of seeking training in medical skills and movement and off-hand shooting.

This scenario was designed to show the need for a security priority but also to use everyone for that means of security. We also talked about setting up a secured location where even the wounded can provide security and using cover and concealment.

When it came time for “my” scenario I was told that I’m walking to my car with my two friends. Neither of them have medical training and neither of them are armed but they both know that I’m armed. I sighed. I pretty much knew what was coming.

I was told my med kit was in the car and we were sent into the room.

Right away one of my companions blasts out ahead of us to “the car” while myself and my other companion are taking our time. Just about the time we come to our first corner, I hear her get into a tussle. She’s yelling, and there’s some popping from the airsoft guns and I push my companion behind me and into a nook behind cover, turn off my flashlight and draw my gun.

I hear, “Oh Shit,” ring out from the darkness.

It’s completely dark for a few moments. There’s no sound and no movement and I’m trying to take some time to think about what to do next. In many of the scenarios, once the initial violence was done the bad guys ran off. The bad guy could have run off or he or they (I didn’t know how many there were) could be waiting for me. My companion could be shot or hurt and needing help. Either way, help and rescue are forward and I have to move out of my relatively good position.

I step out from behind cover and turn on my light again and the moment I do the officer who brought his own air soft gear flies around the corner and shoots me in the leg while I shoot at him. I don’t know if I got any hits on him.

Caleb pauses the scenario and says, “Ok, well you weren’t supposed to be doing this so well so let’s just fast forward this and just say you are up here by the car,” he moves me into position, “and shot here” he puts a piece of tape on my left arm, “here” on my left upper thigh, ” and here” on my left upper chest. “You are having difficulty breathing and cannot stand. Go.”

I lay down on the floor, take a moment to collect myself and tell companion number 1 to go for help. He leaves to do that while I ask companion number 2 to bring me the med bag and I start walking her through treating me in order of importance. Apparently because I was helping too much Caleb then decided that I’d also been shot in my upper right arm and tells me that I now cannot speak for 20 seconds.

I’m lying on the floor, spread eagle, not able to talk or use any of my limbs and my companions are supposed to have no medical training. Goodbye, cruel world.

When Caleb told me I could talk again I had her put the med bag on my chest and show me everything in the bag one item at a time. When I identified what I wanted I talked her through applying it to include putting a tourniquet on my leg, a chest seal on my chest, searching my back for any exit wounds, putting a pressure bandage on my right upper arm and holding pressure on my left arm until help arrived.

At that point I was pretty thankful for the loads of “bystander” scenarios we did in EMT school where we had to direct clueless bystanders.

This scenario was supposed to illustrate the short-sightedness of people who say things like, “Well, my friend is armed,” or “My friend is a medic, if anything happens, we’ll just let you take care of it.” If your armed medic goes down, you might be up a creek without a paddle.

The scenario was also meant to illustrate to me the difficulty in “treating through a barrier” which is a medic having to direct someone else in providing care vs doing it themselves. In a high stress environment, trying to explain to a frightened individual what to do and get them to understand things they’ve never had to do before can be quite challenging. Placing a tourniquet or even identifying a tourniquet or defining what a windlass is can be maddeningly frustrating. It’s frustrating enough without real blood and pain and nerves. It can be fatal otherwise.

I hadn’t heard her but when my companion ran ahead of me and was accosted by the bad guy she had screamed out, “She has a gun!”

Going dark when I heard the commotion was exactly the thing to do but I exposed myself and gave away my position when I turned my flashlight back on and that directly led to me getting shot.

Flashing and moving or staying behind cover and flashing and moving to another piece of cover would have been far better for me. I need to work on my movement between cover and concealment and using my flashlight.

The next two scenarios were more along the lines of teaching wound priority and just because someone is making the most noise doesn’t mean they are the most wounded and not everyone who needs help is a good guy.

Each of the scenarios were built to illustrate a vital point and not a single one of us went away without having learned something very important from the experiences.

My biggest take-aways were security priority, maintaining that security throughout treatment and using that light to your advantage. Scene safety is drilled into anyone who attends EMT training but it means something entirely new when you are in a hostile environment that doesn’t include police officers standing by.

Another thing I found interesting was how fixated we all got during treatment to the point where guns were being completely forgotten. Some of the scenarios would end and people would be left looking around for the gun they were supposed to have during the scenario. I had lost mine because I’d been told I was shot in both arms and to drop it but others would put theirs down to treat, move and completely lose track of them. With security being a priority, keeping track of that firearm is pretty important.

I liked both Karl and Caleb. In addition to being knowledgeable they were both edifying and constructive in their criticisms. It can’t be easy teaching a class with participants from all ranges of skill but they pulled it off nicely, challenging those who needed to be challenge and instructing those who needed instruction and inspiring everyone.

I look forward to taking more training from both Karl and Caleb in the future!

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AAR: The Unthinkable – Tactics and Concepts for the Gravest Extreme

AAR: The Unthinkable – Tactics and Concepts for the Gravest Extreme

The day before Christmas Greg Ellifritz, an instructor I’ve followed since taking his defensive knife class in 2010, posted on his website that he and another Instructor, William Aprill, were announcing their debut class as co-instructors on topics seldom addressed in the defensive community. The class was called “The Unthinkable–Tactics and Concepts for the Gravest Extreme” and it was scheduled for January 24th and 25th, a mere four weeks out from the announcement. As I read the course description to my husband our collective excitement grew and by the end of the day we were both registered to attend.

The course description promised instruction in the psychology of violent criminals, what to do if taken hostage, weapon retention and disarming, escaping from common restraints, citizen responses to terrorist bombings, an abbreviated tactical medical course and much more.

This course immediately appealed to me. I have a history with the “unthinkable” and there’s something cathartic about it being addressed beyond merely acknowledging it happens and that it’s bad.

I’d taken three classes with Greg prior and have always wanted to take his medical class. I was hoping for a little more instruction and play time with the trauma toys I’ve carried but been too cheap to open. In addition to that, I was really looking forward to hearing pretty much anything William had to say. I’d first heard of him on an episode of Ballistic Radio. I was so impressed with the simplicity and sense he shared on the show that I sought out his block of instruction at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Feb of 2014 and some further guidance since then. He’s the first person I’d ever heard speaking of the psychology of violent criminals and the concepts of deselection. I was eager to hear more.

I was also pretty invested in learning how to escape from restraints but more on that later.

We started the restraints portion with Greg saying, "Melody, come here and put your hands behind your back."  Good times.  Escaping duct tape with hands behind the back.

We started the restraints portion with Greg saying, “Melody, come here and put your hands behind your back.”
Perfect way to start the day. Escaping duct tape with hands behind the back.

It took some creative rearranging of schedules and calling in a few favors but we eventually found ourselves settled in to the ten hour drive that would take us to central Ohio.

Day 1

We arrived a half hour early to the class so I could snag my coveted front-row seat (oh, yes, I am that girl). Greg was already there with his assistant and girlfriend, Lauren, finishing set up and sign in. The class was held in the back room of a gun store that shared a building with a church. The facility was clean and neat with plenty of space for the twenty-two students, two instructors and two assistants. There was a refrigerator and cookies, enough water to drown half of the attendees and bathrooms. In other words, we were prepared!

We started promptly at 9am with William Aprill and his “Fatal Choices” lecture. In it he defines what a Violent Criminal Actor (VCA) is and the difference between targets and victims (an important distinction). We discussed criminology, the rational choices that criminals make and the constructs that allow criminals to identify targets almost instantly and allow us to identify danger at the same rate. He brought it home by giving tips on how to make yourself look less attractive to criminals immediately.

From there we jumped right into Greg Ellifritz’s “Response to Terrorist Bombings.” In this lecture we learned why terrorists and active shooters use bombs, how to identify the components of bombs and some of the common ingredients of homemade bombs (those words have now put me on a government watch list, thank you very much). After discussing some of the blast radiuses (radii?) of common bombs we discussed whether it would be possible for an armed citizen to take out a bomber without being blown up him or herself (hint: The answer is no). We learned some of the ways you might be able to identify potential bombers and then we got to play “find the bomber” in a couple of videos. More challenging than that was, “find the bomber and his handlers.”

Rounding out the bomb lecture was tips and hints for what to do if you happen to survive a bombing or are responding in the aftermath.

The next segment was William Aprill going over disarms against someone who is holding you at gun point. He took a more practical approach to disarms than those I’ve previously seen. Anyone can go to YouTube and see idiots doing fancy and elaborate disarms but they aren’t applicable to average concealed carriers due to their complexity. Worse yet, a lot of them would not actually keep someone from getting shot because the gun is left covering the body for too long. William’s disarm steps were pretty easy to understand and implement. They involved getting the muzzle of the gun off your body, controlling it, and then pretty much beating the ever living crap out of whoever was holding it on you in the first place. I’m a big fan of quick, brutal and effective.

We worked those from all angles and then broke for the day.

Somewhere in all of that we actually had breaks and ate food, too.

Day 2

The second day opened immediately with Greg teaching us how to escape from common restraints. We talked about not allowing someone to tie you up in the first place but in keeping with the “unthinkable” theme we discussed ways you might find yourself restrained. He told us about the most common restraints: zip ties, duct tape, handcuffs and rope. We went over all the cool little gadgets and gizmos on the market that can assist in escaping those common restraints (hidden keys and knifes) and then we dove right into the practical application.

The room split up into three work stations. Greg did duct tape and zip tie escapes. Lauren did handcuff shimming and another assistant, Bryan, did picking handcuffs with items like hair pins and paper clips (it’s way harder than Die Hard would have you believe).

I breezed through handcuff shimming, mostly because I have really tiny wrists which allows for lots of movement of the locking mechanism (provided the cuffs aren’t double locked but I learned how to defeat that anyway). I was able to do that pretty quickly with my hands both in front and behind my back. Picking handcuffs was far more challenging but once I got the feel for it it only took me a matter of seconds to get out of them. Bryan even showed us how cheap handcuffs can be broken.

Learning how to pick handcuff keys.

Learning how to pick handcuffs.

My big concern was escaping from the zip ties and duct tape so that’s where I spent most of my time. Interestingly enough, the same breaking technique for zip ties works most of the time for duct tape either in front or behind but it does involve a measure of strength I did not have. Greg came prepared for that contingency and had me try a couple different techniques for both zip ties and duct tape.

Let’s just say that duct tape is mush easier to escape from than people think. If you are going to restrain me, please, I beg you, use duct tape.

Zip ties, on the other hand, are a little harder and get harder the stronger the zip tie. With those, the best technique for me was to use a paracord saw. Paracord can be used to replace shoe laces or threaded with a belt or coiled in a bracelet and once anchored between your feet and hooked through the zip tie it can cut through it in a manner of seconds.

Having been abducted and restrained myself I found the escaping from restraints part to be empowering. It felt good to escape and to feel more confident in my own ability to fight against the helplessness I know can come from being restrained.

To continue with that theme we moved right into William Aprill’s lecture on surviving hostage situations. This was another topic I’d never heard addressed before and, again, due to my history I was intently interested in what he had to say. He talked about the difference between hostage situations and abductions (the former meaning you were a target of opportunity to leverage a result, the latter being an individually selected target for a specific purpose). He discussed how hostage situations develop and how things like Stockholm syndrome happen and what you can do to keep yourself from identifying with the hostage taker vs your own rescuers. Finally, we talked about ways you might be able to aide your rescuers and then what to do when the good guys make their hard entrance.

We had to move on to the next segment and that was Greg’s abbreviated tactical medicine class. There were several in the class who’d been through the full version and quite a few of us who were in the medical profession to varying degrees. There were still plenty of complete novices and this segment covered and challenged all of us. Greg talked about what kills people in combat conditions and those injuries that can be treated, at least temporarily, until getting to definitive care.

Greg had enough pressure bandages and tourniquets to go around so we all had opportunities to apply both to ourselves and each other. Then we got to practice making improvised tourniquets and talk about when to use hemostatic agents. It was a fun but quick segment and then we were on to the last lecture.

William had the closing lecture on the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) of Risk. This lecture was designed to teach us more about VCAs and to encourage self assessment on whether you are prepared–mentally, physically, emotionally–for them. Again, keeping with the theme of the “unthinkable” we also discussed the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths and what it may mean for those who happen to cross their paths, rare though it may be.

The lecture (and therefore, class) ended on an exceptionally helpful overview on how to do a realistic self-assessment, how to get the most out of your training, mental preparation and more tips on how to make yourself a harder target from that moment forward.

Greg Ellifritz demonstrating a pressure bandage.

Greg Ellifritz demonstrating a pressure bandage.

Class was meant to go from 9am to 5pm each day but both days had us running a bit over. I think every one of us would have stayed even longer if it meant getting more instruction from either Greg or William.

This being an “unthinkable” class I would have loved to hear more about abductions but I understand why it wasn’t elaborated on as hostage taking and restraints were already covered. As unthinkable as abductions in-and-of-itself already are it’s even more unthinkable for the average participants of a class like this. Other than Lauren, I was the only female attendee and if we’re honest we’ll admit that your average adult male doesn’t have a whole lot to worry about in the way of abductions.

It didn’t really hit me until much later that active shooters weren’t discussed at all outside of their propensity to use bombs. It seems like it would have gone nicely with the theme of the class to include them but lots of other instructors are already doing loads of classes on active shooters and perhaps that’s why they left them out.

Either way, I did not go away feeling dissatisfied. On the contrary, I went away with twenty-eight pages of notes, a half-dozen book recommendations, some new learning experiences, a few more tools in my toolbox, a feeling of empowerment and a little humility, and new friends.

For two days I’ve been sitting here wondering to whom I would recommend this class. Finally, I gave up and thought, “Hell, EVERYONE!”

Lots of people throw out the phrase, “There’s something for everyone,” without a lot of thought as to what that means. I say it, now, with reserved respect for the collective “everyone” to whom the class might appeal. It will appeal to your newbies who do not understand violence because it will show them that what it is and how it is born. To survivors (or maybe even victims) of violent crime it helps us put a new perspective on what we went through. Heroes who want to save the word get the tools to be a little more effective in that task and probably brought down to earth a little, too. Seasoned veterans of the defensive world get to glean new instruction in topics seldom talked about in other classes. The medical types get to talk about blood and guts and play with trauma toys. The boy scouts get a little of their trauma data updated by a few decades. How could it not appeal to prepper types who like to think about worst case scenarios? There’s even something for the people who like to beat the crap out of people and take away their guns.

The segments are also short enough that it allows people who aren’t sure if they want to do a 2-day class on a particular topic to get their toes wet.

The participants of this class all seemed to be your dedicated self-defense types. While a few of them had never taken classes with Greg or William before there wasn’t a single person I talked to who hadn’t already attended at least one or two defensive classes of some sort. When it was time to put our guns up for the disarming portion of the class, the line of people waiting for their turn to put their guns in a locker was backed out the door. By the worn looks of the holsters, knives and other tools in the locker, it was safe to assume the majority of us were not new to being armed.

Both Greg and William are exceptional instructors and true masters of their respective fields. They are knowledgeable without making participants feel inferior. They are apt to give credit where it’s due and incorporate students’ prior training and experience provided it isn’t dangerous or detrimental. They are both very approachable and make their information relative to the common man despite their impressive resume’s.

William is a psychologist who’s spend many years working directly with violent criminals both from a mental health standpoint and in a law enforcement capacity. He is very easy to listen to and invested in making sure the information is understood. He stands ready with book recommendations, counter arguments and clarifications for everything. He’s patient and good at pulling the class back on track when we started devolving into discussions of temperament and personality.

There’s a reason I keep going back to Greg’s classes and it’s not because of his thick, flowing hair (that’s a joke.. moving on..). He truly has a command of the subjects he teaches through both study and experience. He’s very open with his knowledge and resources and is ready to challenge participants or defer to them if he feels they have more experience than he.

It really was a well-executed class on some very interesting topics. It was a fantastic way to start out my training year and I can’t thank Greg and William enough for putting it together.

Keeper Concealment Errand – My First AIWB Holster Review

Keeper Concealment Errand – My First AIWB Holster Review

Let me tell you a tale. A tale of a holster and a gun.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a young princess heard about Appendix Inside the WaistBand (AIWB) carry. Little did she know about this carry system and even when her handsome prince switched to AIWB she considered herself unable to acquaint herself to such a new and awkward mode of carry.

The years rolled on and fondly did she look upon this means of carry with desire. But it was not to be.

Then, one day, a knight shared his secret of the mystical weapon called, The Shield. It was concealable! She purchased one but still had no holster.

Another knight sent her an Errand to try. The match was made. The relationship was forged out of mutual respect, superior concealment, comfort and ease of use. The kingdom rejoiced and they lived happily ever after.

That’s the truncated version.

It’s also the true version.

When I got my safety-less S&W Shield and was considering my first AIWB holster Spencer Keeper’s Keeper was on my list of potential holsters, but not at the top. I feared his holster would be too thick and I wouldn’t be able to conceal the firearm well. I am, after all, a pretty petite female.

Knowing I was searching for a holster, Spencer contacted me and asked me if I wanted to try his new holster he dubbed The Errand. It wasn’t out on the market yet and he wanted to see what I thought. He told me he wasn’t expecting miracles with concealment because I am so small but I could try it.

I immediately accepted. I had nothing to lose. It was a chance to try one of his holsters without being out a lot of money and if it didn’t work out I could go back to my long list of holsters to start working through.

I got it in the mail a few days after our conversation (November 8th, to be exact) and I don’t really remember my first day carrying with it. Or my second. Or my third. Or my first time going to town. Or the first time to sit down and nurse my baby while wearing it. Or the first time I fell asleep wearing it. In other words, the holster system immediately melded into my daily life and practices.

It entirely surpassed all of my expectations for a concealed carry holster and even a way of carry. More importantly, however, was the fact that I could carry my Shield from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed in total comfort and concealment (if I chose) and even in unconventional clothing.

The Errand in draw-sting sweats.

The Errand in draw-sting sweats.

At first glances it looks like any other kydex holster with a few oddities. If you’re curious, like me, you call Spencer and drill him for an hour as to what those oddities mean. In the true form of someone who understands guns and long-term carry, Spencer designed a purpose-built holster with a specific reason for pretty much every nook and cranny of the design.

The Errand doesn’t rely on belt loops like a lot of conventional holsters. Instead it has a wide, stiff belt clip that is stippled on the tooth for better grip on casual wear like sweat pants or shorts. The whole point of the holster is that it’s meant to be something you could wear at one o’clock in the morning for a trip to the convenience store in your pjs, or bumming around the house in your sweats, or to and from the gym in shorts. No one wears jeans and a belt 100% of the time and the Errand is meant to fill that gap.

Despite being designed to be easily worn in the comfort of sweat pants and belt-less shorts, it still fits snug with a belt and, of course, has more stability and perhaps a little more concealment when one is used. More on that, later.

Belt or not, the clip makes for comfortable, stable carry.

Belt or not, the clip makes for comfortable, stable carry.

Spencer’s goal was to make the Errand as thin as possible. I asked him why he then chose to put the loop directly on the thickest part of the holster vs by the trigger guard where a lot of other AIWB holster makers put their loops or clips for a thinner overall profile. He said he’d considered doing that but without the stability of a belt, one of the heaviest parts of the gun, the slide, would be forward of the clip and could cause the gun to start tipping in.

Having experienced that with another AIWB holster that was not fit well to my belt I understood how that could be a concern. The centrally located clip does leave the gun more stable on not-so-stable clothing.

When I got the holster, at first I was a bit confused as to why it is so long. The length of the holster is about an inch longer than the gun itself. The tip tappers down on both sides to a comfortably rounded point that is open. I didn’t even get around to asking Spencer why this was before he started explaining that small guns like the Shield are heaviest in the rear and many holster makers leave their holsters so short that the gun can roll out over top of the waistband. Particularly those with generous midsections. The extra length of the holster keeps the gun from rolling out and the tapered, rounded tip eliminates pinching in the soft tissue of the thigh or groin but also allows air to circulate to cool hot muzzles while attending classes or having high round count range sessions.

The entire rear and tip of the holster is covered with soft Velcro and this is for the application of Spencer’s unique foam wedges. I’ll admit that I thought the wedges were dumb, or at least unnecessary. Most importantly, they were ugly. Why that mattered to something you stuck in the pants? I don’t know. But I’m a chick. We chicks are funny about those things. I also didn’t feel like I needed them. The point is to cushion the bottom of the holster and press the muzzle out so that the grip will be held more snugly to the body. The holster was very snug to my tiny little body. So for the first month I didn’t put them on the holster.

When I called Spencer to talk to him about the holster one of the first things he asked me was if I used the wedges. The holster comes with two but replacements can be purchased from his website. I confessed that I had not. “You should try them,” he chirped, and left it at that.

I felt guilty. I also felt like if I were to do a thorough review I should at least try so I could explain why I chose to leave them off. I wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted to put one because I really didn’t feel like I needed it. Then I remembered that in one pair of my jeans when I wore the errand I would get the slightest bit of chaffing on the inside of my right thigh. I figured that was a good place to start.

The foam wedge makes the holster that much more comfortable and concealable.

The foam wedge makes the holster that much more comfortable and concealable.

I put the wedge on the bottom of the holster so that it wraps around that area and it has stayed there ever since.

My only complaint is that I didn’t do it sooner.

I didn’t see a noticeable difference in my concealment (because, well, I really am tiny) but it does help push the grip into the belly more.

It’s ugly. But it works!

The Errand has a pretty generous sweat guard. In general, I am anti sweat guard. All of my favorite holsters have the sweat guards removed or I asked holster makers to cut them down. The first AIWB holster I ever used also did not have a sweat guard. I thought I would eventually want to take a Dremel cutting tool to it but I no longer see that happening.

AIWB carry is different in that you are going to be to bending your body around your gun. If you squat, sit, reach for anything or move you are going to have your belly moving around your gun. With no sweat shield or undershirt that is going to mean, A: that you will get sweat on your gun and B: that you will end up with a nice little imprint of the side of your gun in the skin of your belly.

It’s also probable that you will end up with a nice little hot spot where the rear sight and slide have been stabbing you.

A well formed sweat shield keeps the rear sight and slide from poking and pinching.

A well formed sweat shield keeps the rear sight and slide from poking and pinching.

This has not happened with the Errand. The sweat guard comes off the body of the holster strong, tapers in slightly and then flares out again before curving around the back of the slide and rear sights. This added curve protects the body from any pinching or poking of the rear sight and slide and leaves the wearer very comfortable.

Even with the large sweat shield, the magazine release is still accessible. Something I am fond of seeing in any holster. Neither does the sweat guard prohibit the shooter from getting a high, sure grip on the firearm as many sweat guards in the holster industry over are wont to do.

It’s well known that re-holstering is the most dangerous time for any kind of carry. Those who carry appendix appreciate the re-holster even more because of the sensitive nature of the pelvic area over which the gun rests. Looking and carefully placing the gun in the holster are paramount when carrying AIWB and the Errand assists to that end. The large sweat shield and generous open mouth act as a sort of funnel that is very easy to slide the firearm into with a solid, audible snap once the gun is fully seated.

The hardware is metal. The main retention screw is a nylon lock nut so one does not have to worry about it loosening over time. While the retention can be adjusted by removing a thin metal washer or adding another I have found the retention (which comes from the molding around the trigger guard) to be pretty ideal. Tight enough to retain the gun, loose enough to not have to fight to get your gun out of the holster.

A high, complete grip while in the holster is paramount!

A high, complete grip while in the holster is paramount!

AIWB carry by its nature allows for better access than many other forms of carry but the holster can have a fair bit to do with it as well. The Errand carried the gun high enough off the belt to allow for a full firing grip on the gun while still in the holster but not so high that it is not concealable.

The overall molding of the holster is good. There is no over molding around the ejection port or front sight which prevents those parts from snagging on the holster during the draw (a problem I’ve encountered with other kydex holsters). If you’re into changing your sights there’s plenty of room around the top of the slide/slight area for new, larger sights. You can even order the Errand to accommodate a Red Dot Sight (RDS) equipped handgun.

Spencer doesn’t make the Errand to accommodate lights or other laser mounts but any grip-activated lasers like crimson trace will likely find no interference.

I saved concealment for last because it was where I was most skeptical. I am not exaggerating when I talk about my size. The reason I had to go to a S&W Shield at all was because concealing a Glock in the AIWB position looked like a tumor on me. Going down to a single-stack firearm was my only option if I was going to go AIWB and even then it is not as concealable as I would have hoped. That is no fault of the holster, it’s simply my body size and type. On larger frames I have seen this gun and holster combination virtually vanish. To illustrate that I asked my friend and trainer, Greg Ellifritz, to send me some pictures of him carrying the Errand. It’s remarkable to note the difference that body type can make in concealment.

Even as small as I am, however, the holster does a very good job of concealing something so large relative to my body size. It conceals well enough without wearing a belt but with a belt it seems to tug the gun into my abdomen and conceal itself nicely behind any belt buckle I’m wearing.

The Errand allows for full access and grip even while holstered.

The Errand allows for full access and grip even while holstered.

Conceals fairly well for such a small-framed individual.

Conceals fairly well for such a small-framed individual.

Greg Ellifritz wearing the Keeper Errand with his Shield.

Greg Ellifritz wearing the Keeper Errand with his Shield.

Far more concealable on larger-framed bodies. Even in fairly fitted clothing.

Far more concealable on larger-framed bodies. Even in fairly fitted clothing.

I’ve had this holster for just about two months now and have lost count of how many draw strokes I’ve put it through. I’ve run it through a two-day defensive handgun class and done a little rolling around in it. It’s been spit up on, had sweet potatoes down it and a whole other slew of madness. It’s still going strong and I anticipate it will for a very long time to come.

Spencer knew what he was doing when he designed this holster and from one end to the other it is packed with features only a seasoned shooter would appreciate. To say it’s a good investment is an understatement. Right now the Errand is going for $90 on the Keeper Concealment website and is available for the S&W Shield, the Glock 42, the Walther PPS and the Springfield XDs though I know Spencer is actively looking at adding more firearms to that list. If I were rating holsters on a 1-5 star rating system, the Errand would get a blazing 5. It fits every one of my needs. It is far more comfortable than I could have imagined possible. It is accessible and concealable but also stable. Rarely does a holster fill all of those criteria without compromise.

If you’re looking for a good holster for a compact gun, check out the Errand.

Melody Lauer

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