Category: Pistols

New: Concealed Carry Prep Class

New: Concealed Carry Prep Class

A New Class: A Concealed Carry Preparatory Class

We begin a new “Concealed Carry Prep” class in March. It is short, and available through our scheduling portal, here.

Why A Concealed Carry Prep Class?

In our experience, there are people who want to obtain a concealed carry permit, but who never (or seldom) handled or fired a handgun. We recommend beginners take a preparatory course before taking the NC Concealed Carry Handgun Training (CCHGT) since there are gun handling expectations in it beginners do not have. This class prepares the applicant to meet that expectation.

This is NOT a concealed carry class! It is a only preparatory class for those who have little to no experience handling or firing a handgun. The purpose of this class is to give the student the gun handling experience necessary for a Concealed Carry Handgun Training course.

How Long Is The Class?

This class is very manageable. It takes two hours, only, and is by appointment, so you can take the class at your convenience.

What Does The Class Cover?

Topics in this non-shooting class include safety rules for firearms, parts of a handgun, shooting positions, field stripping, cleaning, preparation for firing, and clearing minor malfunctions. Also included is a session with laser training devices to introduce you to the fundamentals of sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger press.

What Do I Need For The Class?

All books, training material, and equipment are provided by LNPDSA. Applicants have the option of purchasing a “Basics of Pistol Shooting” handbook on the registration page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of the class is $40. Payment is due at the beginning of class, and may be paid by cash, check, or credit card.

How Do I Sign Up For It?

You can sign up for the Concealed Carry Prep Class, here. Sign up more than one person by increasing the “Quantity” button on the registration page.

Want More Information?

If you desire more information, use the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page, or call us at 252.497.2965.


The Decision to Carry

The Decision to Carry

Decisions, Preparedness, and Consequences

Responsibility: What It Means

North Carolina’s concealed carry training handbook entitled Concealed Carry Handgun Training (the “red book”), published by the North Carolina Justice Academy, opens with the acknowledgement, “With the right under law to carry a concealed handgun, comes a tremendous responsibility.” Carrying a concealed handgun entails the personal assumption of that responsibility. Fundamentally, deciding to carry a concealed handgun means that you, and you alone, choose to personally assume moral, legal, and financial accountability for the actions you may take with that handgun.

If you use your handgun in a defensive force scenario, you are accountable not only for the immediate force-on-force required to stop the threat against you, but also for collateral damage your action may cause. Bullets have no consciousness. They continue on their trajectory until their energy is expended.  One facet of bullet design that aids in expending that energy, thereby slowing it down, and eventually stopping it is its expansion capability. Bullets with full metal jacket (FMJ) construction lack the characteristics to expand appreciably. This feature, alone, weighs against using full metal jacket rounds as part of your defensive carry.

The Decision To Carry

Presuming that you have considered the risk of taking upon yourself the moral, legal, and financial accountability for any action that a defensive force scenario may require, and elected to take that risk, there are other elements you should consider. The most significant is mental preparedness.

One harsh, in-your-face reality of carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense entails the risk of having to use it. This means you may have to point your handgun at another human being, and pull the trigger. A decision you have to make before putting that holster on your belt is, “Am I mentally prepared to take a life?” There are some who propose that “if you do not believe you can kill another human being, you have no business carrying a gun” (Chris Bird, 2019, The concealed handgun manual, 261). Bird couched his proviso in a crass and seemingly aggressive tone to provoke a conscientious assessment of your personal fortitude–“If a self-defense scenario develops, do I have the personal rectitude to potentially destroy my attacker.”


If you are ever involved in a defensive force scenario, you will inevitably experience aftershocks. They may merely be the shakes, or they may rise to more severe bodily reactions, such a vomiting or bowel evacuation. It will happen.

And then there is law enforcement. A consequence of using deadly force is that you, at the least, will be interviewed. Your interaction with law enforcement also may result in detainment or arrest with incarceration until the event is investigated.

The good news is that there are organizations that can help reduce the trauma (let alone the financial burden that may ensue) after the use of defensive force. United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), and U.S. Law Shield are two that spring to mind. Remember, when you made the decision to carry a handgun for self-defense, you chose to personally assume moral, legal, and financial accountability for the actions you take with that handgun.

A Personal Decision with Personal Accountability

The decision to carry a concealed handgun mandates critical and conscientious, and highly personal self-assessment at the deepest moral levels. Our final decision, whether we carry or choose not to, is fraught with varying responsibilities and consequences. Hopefully, it will be one we can live with.

EZ – The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

EZ – The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

Our focus is training, not gear reviews. However, every once in a while someone introduces a piece of hardware that is unique enough to require one–Smith and Wesson’s introduction of the M&P® 380 Shield EZ meets that qualification.

The Struggle with Slides

Women students are among those we introduce to the basics of pistol shooting, as well as concealed carry classes. Often, they struggle with manipulating the slide of a semi-automatic, and in doing so frequently sweep the muzzle in wide arcs. Generally, not a desirable outcome. And, the size of the handgun seems to matter little. Pocket pistols are as much of a struggle as compacts, and full-sized semi-autos. Revolvers seem to be the go-to handgun, but then we have to deal with the long, and relatively heavy trigger press of double action, or cocking the hammer, which is sometimes a struggle for those with smaller hands, for a shorter, lighter trigger press. Those whose strong hand is the left hand seem to have even greater struggles with handling the slide (not least because most instructors are right-handed shooters, and teach from a right-handed perspective). There is a light on the horizon.

Enter the S&W M&P® 380 Shield EZ

Smith and Wesson recently introduced their M&P® 380 Shield EZ. This is a semi-auto that is designed for people who struggle with slides due to limited hand strength (it may do well with first time shooters who have no experience with handguns as well, although we have not experienced that, yet). Roughly the size of their standard Shield line, the EZ is a single-stack, .380 semi-auto. The ease with which the slide can be pulled to the rear is the first feature noticed by those who handle this handgun. Generally, the first response we have heard so far is, “Wow!” The typical response from the women we have shown this pistol to has been, “I like it,” rapidly followed by “What is this, again,” and “How much is it?”

Another benefit that we have seen is in shooting. The relatively larger size (compared to a pocket pistol), more aggressive grip stippling, and slightly heavier weight, coupled with a .380’s reduced recoil, all seem to produce better control, and more accurate fire.

External Safeties

Unlike their other entries in the M&P® line, the 380 Shield EZ has a grip safety. It is available with an optional thumb safety, as well.  This pistol is hammer-fired, that is, it has an internal hammer that strikes a firing pin, which reduces the pressure required for trigger press compared to a double-action handgun. The grip safety accomplishes two purposes: The first is that unless the grip is securely pressed (which really is a function of getting a proper grip, anyway), the hammer cannot strike the firing pin. The second is that the grip safety releases a firing pin block. The optional thumb safety is typical in its operation; when engaged, the trigger cannot release the hammer.


The M&P® 380 Shield EZ breaks down like others in the M&P® line. Lock the slide to the rear, rotate the slide takedown lever to the down position, then pull the slide slightly to the rear to release the lock, and the assembly slides off the frame. Unlike other pistols in the line, however, no trigger pull or sear release is necessary–the slide simply slides off the frame. The recoil spring and barrel separate from the slide in the same fashion as other pistols in the M&P® line.


Reassembly has one wrinkle other M&P® pistols do not; the head of the polymer guide-rod is oval, not round, and has to be properly aligned with the guide-rod hole in the slide. Reassembly is the same as other pistols in the line, just ensure you do NOT press the grip safety while putting the slide assembly back on the frame, otherwise you engage the firing pin block lever, and the slide will not move fully to the rear. Lock the slide back, rotate the slide takedown lever to its horizontal position, and release the slide-voila!


Full specifications can be found on Smith and Wesson’s website.

Bottom Line

Smith and Wesson’s M&P® 380 Shield EZ is a hit out of the park for shooters who struggle with hand strength. It is an affordable alternative to the pocket pistols that frequently have heavy triggers and stiff slides. While larger than most .380 pocket pistols, the ease with which it can be manipulated overcomes its size.

Jargon: Basic Handgun Types

Jargon: Basic Handgun Types

The jargon surrounding firearms is often confusing to those new to shooting. Fundamentally, there are three popular types of modern handguns: single shot, revolver, and semi-automatic.


The single-shot, as the name implies, allows the discharge of only one round at a time, after which the handgun action is opened manually, the expended round removed, and a new unfired round introduced into the handgun’s action.

Double action revolver showing open cylinder


In a revolver, the unfired rounds are introduced into a wheel-like cylinder that rotates and sequentially aligns each round with the barrel, at which time the round can be fired. In a revolver, new rounds are typically loaded, and fired rounds unloaded either singly, by rotating the cylinder, or in a batch process where the cylinder swings out of the frame, thereby allowing all the rounds to be loaded or unloaded at one time. Since casings expand when fired, both types of revolvers typically have a mechanism to assist in ejecting the fired casings. Although somewhat rare, there is also a break-action revolver where the handgun rotates around a hinge at the forward end of the frame, similar to the break-action of a double-barreled shotgun, and all the casings are ejected at one time.

Typical semi-automatic pistol, action open, with two magazines


In a semi-automatic,new rounds are loaded into a magazine, from which the handgun’s action aligns a single round with the barrel. Once the action is locked to contain the explosion of the gunpowder, the round can be fired. Immediately after firing, the reaction produced by the fired round cycles the handgun’s action, extracting (pulling the casing from the firing chamber), ejecting (throwing the case away from the handgun’s interior through spring-loaded tension), and chambering (aligning a new round with the barrel) take place, preparing the handgun with a new, unfired round. No reloading (placing new rounds in the magazine) is required by the operator until all rounds have been fired.

In another post, we will tackle the jargon of action types: single, double, and striker-fired.