Meditations on holsters.

I am contemplating getting a new pistol.

As my new duties are administrative, rather than operational, I’m tending towards something less than full-sized. Since I’m of the opinion that every handgun should have a dedicated holster, this means I need a new holster to go with the bang-stick. So I’ve been paying more attention than normal to the holsters everyone else is wearing, and doing a bit of Internet research into holsters.

Ye gods and little fishies.

Let me begin by stating that I don’t believe in hardware solutions to software problems. Technology, no matter how “high-speed”, “gee-whiz” or “cutting-edge” it is, can not trump insufficient, inadequate or generally [deleted]-poor quality training.

Matter-of-fact, I’m firmly of the opinion that mixing high-tech gear with minimal training only makes the problem you’re trying to solve that much worse — only no one notices that fact until right after Something Has Gone Pear-Shaped.

Any holster I use has to do two things very well: 1) It has to have a death-grip on the pistol when I don’t need said pistol; and 2) It has to turn loose of that pistol like it was hot when I do need said pistol.

I’m a big fan of friction-fit holsters for off-duty carry, and I have two that are my particular favourites: a leather pancake holster by my friend Michael Hast of Michael’s Custom Holsters, and a kydex Yaqui slide that was a gift from a gunsmith friend. Big fan of “Grab, Yank, Bang”, I am.

However, carrying as part of your job tends to require another level of retention.

I started my career in the early ’90s, and I trained on thumb-snap holsters because that was pretty much what was available to me at the time, to the point that it is ingrained in my psyche — for good or ill — that any retaining mechanism is to be released by the thumb.

By the thumb. Not by the social finger and not by the trigger finger. This is not to say that the popular holsters that do release by the index or middle finger aren’t just the cat’s meow — for someone else. After twenty-plus years of training, my thumb sulks if any other digit releases the retention.

Any movement required to release the retaining mechanism must be a simple, single motion. If I have to press something in one direction until a certain point, then in another direction — Bzzt! Thank you for playing, go home. And any holster that needs me to press one device in one direction, and second, separate device in another direction before giving up the pistol I need right the hell now! … no. Just, no.

The holster should cover the trigger guard to keep any trigger-manipulating thingies out of the trigger area as long as the pistol is holstered. And by “trigger-manipulating thingies” I mean knotted drawstrings, zipper pulls and twigs, so half-cover of the trigger area isn’t going to cut it.

Changing your grip part-way through your draw is an Epic Fail looking for a place to happen, so the holster has to allow me to achieve a proper grip upon the weapon before the retention is released.

My drawstroke has undergone only minor, evolutionary changes since I first received pistol training in the late ’80s:

I start, bladed 35 – 45 degrees to the threat, both hands stacked flat on my chest at elbow level, middle fingers pointing at the opposing elbow. (This stance is probably familiar to long-time Gentle Readers.)

To draw, I slide my right hand down my torso towards the holster. My palm remains flat on my body until my hand clears the horizontal plane of my torso and my fingers rotate down; but my thumb maintains contact with my body.

My hand settles on the grip of the pistol, thumb maintains body contact and the last three digits achieve a solid grip.

Once a solid, three-finger grip has been achieved, my thumb moves to the release and activates it.

The pistol is drawn up almost to my armpit, then rotates toward the threat. If necessary, the trigger finger can enter the guard and shots can be taken from this high guard position.

If not, the trigger finger remains straight, the pistol is pushed towards the threat, with the left hand sliding across to meet it on the way out to full extension.

Voila! A draw.

The problem comes with the way I slide my hand across my torso to the pistol. This is down to clear any cover garments, radio cords, body mic cords, or anything else that might get in the way. It also keeps the gun hand close to the body where it is less likely to be interfered with — deliberately or not — by a third party during the whole affair.

Unfortunately, the Latest and Greatest Contraption to hit holsters seems to be something call a “chop block” or a “hood guard”. This is an “L”-shaped piece of metal or polymer that sticks up from between the holster and your body and angles over the retention mechanism. It is supposed to stop Bad Guys from accessing the retention mechanism from a position in front of the officer.

See my thoughts on “hardware solution/software problem” and “technology vs. training” above.

In my case, what a “chop block” does is to cause me to expend my full vocabulary of abusive, indecent and profane language upon the makers of said device the first time I hammered the edge of my hand into the top edge of the bloody rigid bastard during a draw.

Did you know that you can frisbee the chop-block from a Safariland holster well past the ten-yard targets, given proper motivation? Well, now you do.


I need something moulded to the pistol, with a simple thumb-release and a minimal cant. It should cover the trigger guard, allow for a three-finger grip, not get in the way of my particular draw-stroke and be free of fancy techie bushwa.

Wonder what Old El Paso Saddlery has to offer these days?



I seem to have confused a couple of Gentle Readers.

The posts that you see written in blue Courier font are cut-and-pastes from reports that I have sent to various worthies throughout my career. As you can see, the snark is not just limited to the scribblings on this blog.

“LO/LOP” is an abbreviation for “Lock-Off/Loss Of Privileges” which is basically disciplinary segregation. An inmate violates a rule and catches “LO/LOP”, we toss his butt into a solitary cell, no phone, no commissary, limited visitation, that sort of thing.

“Water-checks.” Inmates in a solitary cell sometimes can’t — or won’t — report having problems with the water faucet in the cell. Every night, an officer goes around and checks every tap in solitary to make sure that the inmate inside the cell has access to water.

“SHU.” Special Housing Unit. The formal term for Solitary. Sometimes also called Segregation.

“Ad/SEG.” Administrative SEGregation. An inmate who — for whatever reason — can’t get along in General Population, but hasn’t caught a case and wound up on LO/LOP.  Protective Custody, MHMR patient, Escape Risk, amongst other reasons.

“TDC.” Actually supposed to be “TDCJ” — Texas Department of Criminal Justice”. The prison system for the State of Texas. Old-time officers remember when it was called the “Texas Department of Corrections”.

“Chain.” The trip to TDC from the County. The TDC bus is the “chain bus”; the trip is known as “catching chain”, so on and so forth.

“Jack.” The most handy and fluid word in a County inmate’s vocabulary. To “jack” is to succeed against another person, either by way of guile or by physical force. 

 “Hey, CO! Somebody jacked me for a soup!” 

 Translation: “Excuse me, Officer, but person or persons unknown appear to have stolen a food item from my property locker.”

“Fool! Rank ‘Dog just jacked Hernandez in front of his boys!” 

 Translation: “Comrade! Lieutenant LawDog has caused inmate Hernandez to lose face by removing Hernandez from his Housing Area in the presence of his compatriots after Hernandez stated that he would not move!”

“Boss! I don’t know, but word is that someone’s gonna jack Old Con in the shower tonight.”

Translation: “Officer! While neither I, nor my colleagues, are involved, we suspect that another inmate — one who is younger and Less Wise In the Ways Of The World — is planning to physically beat an elder in the bathing area this night.”

As happens, this useful word has found its way into the lexicon of the officers.  

“Hey, sarge!  21 just jacked his beanhole.”

Translation:  “Sergeant, the inmate in SHU/21 is preventing officers from securing the food pass slot in the door of his cell.”

“Taking a shower.” Alternatively, “Asleep in my rack.” In a Housing Area holding 24 inmates (and two showers) if you drag two inmates out of the tank for a bloody fight, when you ask the other twenty-two inmates what happened, all 22 will answer: “I don’t know, boss, I was taking a shower.”

That should cover some of the basics, I think.


A trampoline?!

‘Allo! ‘Allo! ‘Allo!

To begin with, in what has become a familiar occurrence, inmate R was transferred out to the River from Central for housing and immediately announced that he would not be housed on West Tier.

Already knowing the answer, but being morbidly curious, we asked inmate R who he had a problem with out that way. His answer was the name of an inmate who was released from our custody some months back. Then he decided that he had problems with Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings and any other gangs he could remember. He then followed up by stating that his wife/girlfriend/spouse-like love-unit was due to have his sprog in the morning, or any day now, and he needed peace and quiet to “settle his mind”.


He went off to SHU, where he was somewhat disturbed when it was explained to him that SHU visits were on Friday. I then gently corrected the SHU officer and stated that was true only up until his case for Disobeying a Verbal Order went to LO/LOP time, and we let him contemplate his navel for a bit.

Couple of hours later we needed a SHU cell for a suicidal inmate, we asked inmate R if West Tier were looking so bad now – I guess they weren’t because he’s there now.

Inmate L got kited out of East/4 for unspecified problems, we put him into East/6. Two shakes of a puppies’ tail later and he’s at the bars stating that he has a free-world problem with inmate F. I asked inmate F what sort of problem he had with inmate L, and he apparently doesn’t know inmate L from Adam’s off ox. I’m guessing that inmate L will have problems with random inmates until he gets into a tank he likes. We slung him back into East/4 anyway.

It’s been suicide night at the County – we are considering moving all of our suicidal inmates into one contiguous section of SHU near the officer station, but didn’t get around to it.

Inmate B got run out of West/2. Allegedly West/2 thinks he snitched out their supply of nose candy. To prevent the whole “snitches get stitches” thing we moved him to East/6.

West/8 was reading 65 degrees F, so we bumped the thermostat up a bit.

River did water-checks at 0430 and shook down East/5. Trash and the usual extras found.

Intake reports nothing exciting.

Central/North did water-checks at 0100; Central/Tower did them at 0220 and also shook down North/5. Again, trash and the usual.

Inmate G has decided that his latest LO/LOP time will mean he’ll still be in SHU when he catches the chain — meaning that he’ll probably do his first year of TDC in Seg. After begging most piteously to be released from Durance Vile, and being refused (to be fair, I didn’t laugh in his face) he has decided to be a rampaging honyock. He’s been beating on the door, howling, yelling advice to other inmates, and proposing marriage and/or uninhibited trampoline sex to SGT Krunch ever since.

Which, to be honest, was a little creepy to listen to.

Anyhoo, that should be about it.

I remain,

Y’r ob’d’t servant,



Good morning, ladles and germs.

On this fine early morning, let us turn our attention to chemistry. More to the point, let us meditate upon the following equation:

2NH3 + Cl2 → 2NH2Cl

Translation: Ammonia plus free chlorine released from the decomposition of NaOCl (bleach) equals chloramine gas.

It’s actually much more complex equation than that, but you get the point; and while chloramine gas isn’t as shagnasty as its cousin chlorine, it is somewhat more persistent.

Yes. Our trusties Inmate Workers are apparently attempting to gas Intake by pouring bleach down a drain full of ammonia.

Given the fact that at least one of the Usual Suspects involved can probably produce fourteen different varieties of Illicit Recreational Pharmaceuticals with $28 and 20 minutes free reign inside a Circle K, yet has spent several minutes staring in bumfuzzlement at the yellow-green gas drifting lazily through the kitchen says indictable things about the American Educational System … but I digress.


SadPanda has been notified, and water has been poured down said drain until the fizzing/smoking stopped (probably N2H4, better known as liquid hydrazine – a component of rocket fuel, by-the-by) and the smell went away.

Irritatedly yours, I remain:


La, la, la!

Report follows:

To start with, Inmate W got wrapped around the axle because when he swapped his manky uniform, we gave him a 2X instead of a 3X. He proceeded to whinge at great length until I finally went to his solitary cell, listened to him, and then had him walk the catwalk in front of Officer H. Both of us felt the 2X fit just fine, so I left. Inate W is sulking.

Kitchen Contractor came out here and wound up being about 20 pieces of turkey short. Sigh.

Nurse F announced that he needed to do a TB test on Inmate B in SHU/10. I practiced my diplomacy skills, then went down to SHU/10 and asked the ever-so-slightly Throwed-off Inmate B if he’d like to have a TB test done. I’m here to tell you that inmate B does not want a TB test done. Boy, howdy, does he not want one done.

I was fairly happy that I wasn’t going to have to get near inmate B with anything sharp-and-pointy, but contacted LT SadPanda about the refusal, and that worthy ordered that inmate B be placed in a negative-pressure cell.

Thanks to the silver tongue of Officer G, inmate B chained up with no problems what-so-ever, but when we got to SHU/5, he decided that he didn’t like me. Must be the moustache. Anyhoo, apparently the crazy doesn’t go too deep, because inmate B decided to wait on the Saying It With Saliva until the door to SHU/5 was just about all the way closed. Happily, the spit missed me by a good bit, but it kind of hurt my moustache’s feelings.

East/3 has been opining about what they consider to be cold temperatures back there, but I’ve run a couple of temperature checks, and it runs about 72 degrees. Inmate U felt strongly enough about it, that when he was pulled out for Indigent Health, he decided to open the thermostat panel and fiddle his booger-hooks around in it. I had a chat with inmate U — I may have displayed teeth — and I believe that he won’t be doing that again.

We shook down West/7, but found skippy-all.

Central/North states that they had a quiet evening.

Central/Tower did the needful in West/9, apparently the wee lasses are stocking up on milk. And makeup.

Intake says they had “normal business”. I note, however, that Officer S has been trained on the Transport Van. I am happy to announce that he has backed into the River sally-port with no loud noises, that both the van and the doors still function, and that the services of the Fire Department and/or EMS were not required.

He really does need a booster seat, though.

Y’r ob’d’t servant:


Morning meditations

While my recent change in duties has had its challenges (have you noticed that no one ever calls at 3 AM to tell you that things are going right?) I would be amiss in not admitting that there are some perks as well.

Strange as it may seem, while the 8 – 5 (more-or-less) workday and the weekends and holidays (usually) off are — indeed — nice; I find myself thoroughly enjoying my morning shave.

Over the last decade or so I had perfected the art of the shower shave: once the shampooing and the soaping was done, I could run a double-bladed disposable around my face (no mirror required, thank yew verra much!) check for missed stubble with my off-paw, then out of the shower and head-first into my schedule.

Now, I look forward to my morning ritual.

There is something almost Zen-like in rubbing the pre-shave into my beard; running the brush under the water, the precise strokes of the blade, re-wetting the still-frothy brush and reapplying the lather, more precise strokes — against the grain now — followed by a cold water rinse, and the after-shave.

You don’t hurry — unless you like bleeding — and this engenders a calm, meditative state of mind which allows me to formulate plans to deal with most of the dragons waiting at the office before I’m even dressed.

For me, at least — the Gentle Reader may find that his Mileage May Vary — the feeling of a good, close shave; of being neat and well-groomed, puts me in the state of mind from whence any unexpected dragon that may rear its head may be dealt with by way of a raised eyebrow and a calm suggestion or two.

Maybe a sip of tea if it happens to be a particularly gnarly dragon.

Looking at all the purple faces I see on the way in to work, and at work, I have to wonder if more of the male side of the species might benefit from starting the day with an old-fashioned shave.

Probably couldn’t hurt.


Oh! There you are!

Good greetings!

To start with inmate B is in hospital. When you send an officer, make sure that officer takes full universal precautions.

Officer C put his keys and phone in lock-box #1 at River and River appears to have tried to keep it, because the key to #1 wouldn’t open the lock. I went out there and tried, but I couldn’t get it to open. Several officers of the knuckle-dragging persuasion offered to take a look at it, and I agreed — as long as there was no hitting it with rocks, bricks, hammers or anything else hard and heavy; no using explosives, flammable gasses or anything at high velocity; power tools were right out; and anything that might conceivably produce arterial bleeding, traumatic amputation or loud noises in any way was strictly verboten.

Much pouting was evident, but they went out to look at it anyway. I’m pretty sure I heard the odd “Eek!” and an “Ook!” or two, and then they came back in and handed me the entire lock – key still inside.


We shook down West/3, came up with the usual string and colored smalls.

Central/North reports that inmate G got cross-threaded with the nurse and hurt the nurse’s feelings: G caught a write-up for it.

Central/South shook-down South/4, where they promptly discovered that at least five inmate workers put extra kibble in their lunch sacks and firmly caught write-ups for it.


I remain: