The Rotation

1-Dec-11 – 13:14 by ToddG

A frequent topic among many shooters is the “rotation,” a list of different handguns that a person carries on different days just to enjoy the variety.

It is, to me, the sign of a feeble mind.

Of course, it’s perfectly understandable if someone actually needs different guns on different days. The police officer issued a G22 who opts for a G26 off-duty cannot be faulted. Someone who works in a very non-permissive environment may need a tiny mouse gun during the work week but chooses something larger for other times. I’ve had students whose daily activities varied such that they might carry a 9mm when in town and a 10mm or .44 magnum on days spent in the wilderness. That isn’t a carry rotation, it’s choosing a specific tool for a specific job.

The carry rotation, on the other hand, is essentially turning a piece of critical life saving equipment into a fashion accessory. When the gun you wear is a choice you make differently each day based on a whim, it suggests to me that you are more concerned about what other people think you’re doing than your actual ability to do it well.

(my carry rotation for M-T-W-T-F-S-S)

It suggests to me you have failed to grasp the fundamental concept of precise physical skill execution under life-or-death stress, that you believe you’ll rise to the occasion when “the balloon goes up” and somehow not find yourself struggling to deal with a gun you only shoot infrequently in a holster you only use sometimes. Not because circumstances dictate that you make that sacrifice but because you like carrying Glocks on Monday and SIGs on Tuesday for no reason beyond the pre-school “I wanna!”

If carrying a gun is something you do for enjoyment and cool points rather than because — oh, I don’t know — you might actually need a gun some day, you’re doing it wrong.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 40 Responses to “The Rotation”

  2. I hope you brought your nomex underoos today. Unrelated, what kind of knife is that?

    By Caleb on Dec 1, 2011

  3. Yes. #1 sign someone on a forum has no idea what they’re doing or talking about. ‘I just put this into my rotation’ – no, go away.

    By jellydonut on Dec 1, 2011

  4. Caleb, anyone who flames Todd over this post isn’t worth arguing with. The knife looks like a Shivworks Clinch Pick.

    By Jeff on Dec 1, 2011

  5. So this means I shouldn’t carry my nickel-plated S&W model 27 with the 6″ barrel?

    By TCinVA on Dec 1, 2011

  6. Somewhere at TFL, ‘way back in the past, there is a post where I am rationalizing why switching back and forth between a Glock and a ParaOrd P12 and… and… a P7M8.

    I’m pretty sure I was sober at the time, too.

    I wish I was making this up. Thankfully I came to my senses some time in ’03.

    By Tam on Dec 1, 2011

  7. The concept of having another of the exact same firearm, as a backup when the carry firearm is in service, or to practice dry fire with, or take to the range, doesn’t seem practical to those who like to ‘rotate’ their firearms.

    By Gun on Dec 1, 2011

  8. Hmm. I switch between a p30 and the hk45 depending on my mood. Both lems both carried in the same holster at the same spot. I shoot them both about the same amount. Does this qualify me for a stupid prize do you think?

    By Sparks2112 on Dec 1, 2011

  9. @Jeff – I agree, but can you imagine if he posted something like this on one of those “other” gun forums?

    By Caleb on Dec 1, 2011

  10. I guess I qualify for the stupid prize as well. I sometimes switch from one G19 to another or to a G17. Now, all are setup up the same (controls, trigger, sights, etc.) and all have been proven reliable prior to being qualified to serve “in the rotation”. Two of the three guns I consider to be my “carry guns” have been used in multiple training courses and seen thousands upon thousands of rounds. I don’t see a problem switching from one to the other. They all run the same.

    While I completely agree with the idea behind Todd’s post I do sometimes think the whole “my ninja is stronger than your ninja” ideology is a bit overly dramatic at times. I’m not pointing at Todd here so please let’s not all get defensive. I am just stating this mindset paints people with too broad of a stroke AND it can go both ways.

    Dismissing someone who changes pistols on a whim doesn’t factor in all the pertinent variables. Have they trained extensively with each? Has each been proven? Can he switch effortlessly between the two without measurable loss of handling skill or accuracy. You get my point.

    I see the same all the time on places like M4C where the ninja crowd gets tweaked because someone doesn’t wear the exact same holster, in the exact same location, etc. 24/7. If someone modifies their setup in the slightest (as in moves his mag pouch from 3 o’clock to 1 o’clock), for whatever reason, they are dismissed as not taking “the whole carry thing” seriously. Yet at the same time the same person ranting about it all is talking in another thread about mounting a holster on his war belt for when the SHTF.

    I personally scratch my head at the average Joe Civilian that trains all the time wearing a chest rig, war belt, etc. He clearly doesn’t wear that same gear at home or at his suburban office or to the mall. Is this person more ninja than me because he is more “prepared”? Why only train that way? Why not prepare to fight as you are?

    My point is we should be stressing the importance of extensive training/practice/repetition with whatever you choose to carry or defend yourself with. Be real about it. Be honest with yourself. Do all this rather than spending time judging everyone else or comparing how ninja you are compared to “that guy”.

    I’ll probably get flamed for this post but I can take it.

    By VolGrad on Dec 1, 2011

  11. I tried to quantify a magnitude of performance change when I shot 2 out of 5 F.A.S.T drills (we had one unofficial extra runs) during AFHF class with pistols that a) were completely different from my carry pistol b) I hadn’t shot for 5 month before the class. Of those two, one I had little familiarity with and another I had shot extensively. There was about 1.3-2 second drop in my F.A.S.T time. There are few small details I am omitting that suggest that practical difference could be smaller, but, as far as cold numbers are concerned, the decline was immediately apparent and significant.

    By YVK on Dec 1, 2011

  12. I don’t worry about men that own many guns; I fear the man who owns only one gun and has nothing to lose.

    By Andrew on Dec 1, 2011

  13. Vol makes a good point when he says, “Dismissing someone who changes pistols on a whim doesn’t factor in all the pertinent variables. Have they trained extensively with each? Has each been proven? Can he switch effortlessly between the two without measurable loss of handling skill or accuracy.” Switching guns regularly may be a problem for some, it may not be an issue at all for others. I switched quite a bit when I was a trainer as I felt it important to be familiar with multiple platforms. I’d carry a G17 for a few months, then an S&W 65 for a while, then maybe an S&W 39, or a Beretta, and so on. But I was also quite proficient with each of them. Mas Ayoob is probably the “switchingest” guy around, and he regularly wins matches with diverse types of guns. I realize that is a bit different than Todd’s original concept, but switching in and of itself isn’t bad, IMO

    By David Armstrong on Dec 1, 2011

  14. I’m gonna choose not to feel too bad about it, seeing as at most I’m switching calibers when you take everything else into account.

    By Sparks2112 on Dec 1, 2011

  15. I’m issued a G23 at work, off duty carry is a G19 or G26. Sometimes a G23/27/G21SF/G30SF combo is used. I try to keep it all Glock with the same sight/trigger configuration.

    By S. Kelly on Dec 1, 2011

  16. “I realize that is a bit different than Todd’s original concept, but switching in and of itself isn’t bad, IMO”

    Beware counterfactuals – they are hard to get right. There are two statements that have to be true for switching not to be bad in and of itself.

    1. Switching is a workable solution – I can handle the transitions easily and I am comfortable with everything in the rotation.

    2. I am just as skillful with all of my guns as I would have been had I only had one gun to carry and practice with this entire time instead of the rotation.

    Statement 1 is easy to evaluate, and is probably true for a good number of people who have a rotation.

    I am deeply suspicious of people who casually sign off on statement 2; I suspect that this can really only be true for people who put very little effort into being skillful with any of the firearms they carry.

    By Johnny Abacus on Dec 1, 2011

  17. From someone who really only carries one gun, but owns a couple:

    Something got up your keister today, Todd? As an industry professional, I think you should be more tactful. You should have learned in your adult learning theory classes that insulting people doesn’t usually make any positive results, and is basically just you pounding your chest in the aforementioned “my ninja’s better.” But whatever, as long as you’re the one that wins the fight it’s okay to belittle people…right?

    By Tyler on Dec 1, 2011

  18. And before you post something saying that you weren’t the least bit offensive,
    “the sign of a feeble mind”

    Yeah, that’s going to come of as “Hi, I’m Mr. Dickhead that can’t get past 1st grader socialization methods”

    By Tyler on Dec 1, 2011

  19. from

    ToddG said…
    Every time I hear “my CCW rotation” I’m incited to violence.There are so many quality handguns, so much quality ammunition, and so many excellent holster designs on the market today that no one should need a different gun for Tuesdays than Saturdays or a different gun for winter than summer, etc. Will special circumstances come up from time to time? Sure. But for most people most of the time, fewer guns equates to better skill.
    9:31 AM, January 10, 2010

    By anonymous on Dec 1, 2011

  20. volgrad,

    I guess I qualify for the stupid prize as well. I sometimes switch from one G19 to another or to a G17. Now, all are setup up the same (controls, trigger, sights, etc.)

    I would submit that a closer reading of Todd’s post would suggest that switching back and forth between three largely identical guns does not qualify for a “rotation”.

    By Tam on Dec 1, 2011

  21. Todd – is that a Tim Ridge knife?

    By Pepper on Dec 1, 2011

  22. Tam … I hear what you are saying and do agree. My point was mostly the world isn’t so black & white such that we can draw lines and call people fools if they differ from us.

    By VolGrad on Dec 1, 2011

  23. Volgrad,

    +1. Just because someone is not hell-bent on the absolute maximum performance they can put out doesn’t qualify them as nincompoops. Maybe someone wants to carry their P7 instead of their P30 on a certain day, for whatever reason. I don’t see that as a guarantee of trying to look fashionable, or that they’re incredibly vain and worried about what their gun buddies are going to think if they don’t wear the same outfit twice.

    I think it’s natural in humans to want variety in life. If we follow Todd’s advice in this thread, then we should all be driving the same cars, and all of our houses should be built the exact same way, all our desks organized exactly the same…because that’s what’s MOST efficient, and thus the only thing that matters. I guess not all of us have reached enlightenment yet. Big fan of the movie Equilibrium, Todd?

    By Tyler on Dec 1, 2011

  24. I shoot many different handguns for different reasons. I shoot them often, qualify with them often, qualify with them both strong and weak hand AND enjoy the variety. I do not have a “rotation” per se but do often swap out depending on the mood. I do however keep all of them simple in operation.

    A Beretta 92D, Glock 26, Glock 30 Short Frame, SIG 229R DAK, Kahr PM9, Smith and Wesson Model 19 Combat Magnum, Smith and Wesson Model 638 Bodyguard, Smith and Wesson Model 65 M&P. These guns are shot often at local club matches, on duty and off duty training venues. Each is a DAO. As such I feel very confident that I can shoot each much better than the majority of my friends and associates since I practice, compete and train often. They only train when “on the clock”. A friend carries a personal 229 off duty and issued 229 on duty. He has no other firearms. He like most barely qualify and almost never shoot on their own time. They are the ones that I worry about.

    I will stipulate some of my choices depends on circumstance. I EDC a pocket handgun. Either the PM9 or the 638. When I carry a belt gun it is carried in the same place no matter the selection. I use the same holsters across the board. The Serpa for OWB or the Sparks Summer Special for IWB. My duty rig is the Uncle Mikes Triple Retention and I use that same model for all of my duty style guns when training or competing. The Revolvers have similar rigs. I enjoy shooting them all often and well.

    Todd, I believe your thoughts have a bit of bias that is too broad. I do not doubt that there may be some or many who prefer the “rotation” for social (Bar Be Que anyone?) or aesthetic reasons BUT for many is is a reasonable option.

    For me…variety is the spice of my shooting hobby and personal defense needs.

    By FotoTomas on Dec 1, 2011

  25. Todd,

    Thanks for the post. Following this blog and it’s associated forum over the past year has convinced me to carry one type/style/format of gun.

    Now that the butt-kissing is out of the way…

    I am partially guilty of doing the rotation thing.

    At first I was convinced that I should carry a Glock mostly because of their reputation for reliability.

    However, I also have a small cache of Berettas that I shoot more accurately with less total effort.

    So I tried carrying the 92 and the px4 to find the one that was better suited to carry.

    I settled on the PX4 and bought an identical copy for practice/dry fire, etc…

    I realize that the PX4 isn’t well received in “Professional” circles, but It is a format that I seem to be more competent with than any other.

    The point is, while on the outside I may appear to be another gun forum goob rotating on a whim, I was actually trying to find [i]the[/i] pistol that worked best for me.

    I agree about needing to find a single format, ditching the carry rotation as a habit, and practicing more.

    However, sometimes a carry rotation is part of an overall process of finding out how good a certain pistol works in real-time, actual use: every day carry (for your unique schedule and employment), accuracy, and reliability.

    By fixer on Dec 1, 2011

  26. Tyler … please don’t side with me. lol.

    My intent was not to insult Todd. My intent was to merely point out the world isn’t b&W …. well, you read my response to Tam.

    By VolGrad on Dec 1, 2011

  27. Christian Bale was great in that movie.

    By Jeff H on Dec 1, 2011

  28. I think a lot of people are missing the point and taking things a bit personally assuming he’s directing his ire at them.

    To use a bit of an extreme example, what I took from the post is criticism of the person who takes a different safe queen out for each day of the week to carry and never bothers to become proficient with any of them because they’re too worried about impressing some pixels about all the different carry setups they use.

    By ddbaxte on Dec 1, 2011

  29. ddbaxte,

    I find your ideas interesting and would like to subscribe to your newsletter

    By Tam on Dec 1, 2011

  30. Folks:

    The point Todd is making is about swapping guns for the sake of swapping guns. They’re not fashion accessories. They’re a tool meant for personal defense. The situation where you actually have to use one to defend yourself will possibly be the most stressful event of your life…and it’s your life on the line.

    Novelty is not an asset in that circumstance. It’s a liability.

    If you’re carrying a gun with no expectation that you’re actually going to have to use the darn thing, feel free to ignore the advice. If, however, the reason you are carrying the firearm is because you actually want to stop someone from hurting you, then actually settling on a weapon or family of weapons with a common manual of arms you rely on as your primary implements of self defense would be wise.

    By TCinVA on Dec 1, 2011

  31. There is one strong case for a rotation that hasn’t been discussed. Folks that are overseas often and may have little choice or control over the weapon they have at hand then are well served to cross train and live daily widely across common, and often far from “perfect”, platforms and carry options. (Makarov, Beretta 1950 and 1930 series, Browning, Tokarev, CZ etc). There is however a valid point as to length of rotation, not multiple per week but rather equal to common deployment break in periods.

    These are folks that won’t score low on a FAST challenge, and may use odd condition 3 carry techniques expecting a lack of viable manual or drop safteies.

    Ranted, not your everyday forum ninja. But train as you fight.

    By anon on Dec 1, 2011

  32. I’m pretty sure he is talking about folks like Fotothomas.

    “As such I feel very confident that I can shoot each much better than the majority of my friends and associates since I practice, compete and train often.” – Fotothomas.

    It’s not about whether you can shoot better than a majority of your friends and associates. It’s about whether rotating through 8(!!!) pistols decreases your ability compared to if you had practiced and trained with a single weapon (or perhaps a several weapons that are very similar.)

    It’s also about purposely carrying a pistol that’s less suited to the task at hand. (Surely you don’t think you shoot all 8 pistols equally well, or that they are all equal in terms of suitability and reliability. The why the hell would you purposely choose to carry one that is inferior?) It would be a shame to die because you wanted a little “spice.”

    Good post, Todd.

    By boat on Dec 1, 2011

  33. Boat…as you might guess…I disagree. In my case I do shoot them all well and to the same standard. I compete in IDPA and shoot both SSP and SSR categories. I am NOT a master class shooter but when I classify with both I consistently score in the same classification for both.

    My issued duty gun is a SIG 229R DAK. I am prohibited by policy from packing that pistol off duty. I do have a personal copy of the Beretta 92D Centurion we used to issue. The two platforms are so similar that I have no issues with packing one on duty and the other off duty. Same for my Glocks…they all have the same trigger (DAO) and manual of arms as the Beretta and SIG.

    As for the revolvers…well I shoot ICORE as well as IDPA. After MP school where I trained on the M1911 my first city police job and several after had me packing a medium frame revolver. The police academy and annual qualifications were all revolver based. I shoot it well and sometimes when out and about prefer the option of a .357 magnum in my carry gun.

    Todd mentioned that there are circumstances where swapping tools for specific purposes is valid. I agree and all of my choices are based on common actions (DAO) and common carry locations. On the other side however I prefer to exercise my choice options because I have those options within the genre. I carry a gun daily not because I need one but in “case” I need one. I insure that I have the ability to handle them all and insure they are similar enough to facilitate east transitions. They also give me options when a tool selection might be specific due to circumstance. For that reason I pick, choose and rotate.

    Just to add fuel to the fire… I do the same with my three gun options at local matches. Bushmaster AR15 carbine, Ruger Mini-14 carbine and KelTec Sub2000 are selected based on whichever one I want more trigger time with. They fill different holes in my battery and deserve practice time. Same with my shotguns. Remington 870, Mossberg 590 and Winchester Model 12. Similar but different and used in rotation. The pistols are the same that I carry for personal defense. They rotate to keep me current.

    I am perfectly willing to stipulate that if I want to be the absolute best with a particular weapon and dedicate mucho time to its mastery then a “one and only” gun might be the best option BUT it then limits my options AND the increase in skill is not so great compared to mucho practice with a passel of similar arms.

    Good practice and training is the key and variety is a bonus.

    By FotoTomas on Dec 1, 2011

  34. I too am a former Safe Rotation Junkie. However, it has occured to me that my time and ammo budget are limited. Thus, I can’t afford to put in the proper time in becoming proficeint in:

    -Drawing (IWP, Crossdraw, Pocket, AIWB),

    -Reloading (Speedloaders, Speedstrips, heel released mag, Traditional drop free mag),

    -Pulling the trigger (striker fired single action, TDA auto, DA revolver, Condition III single action)

    -Contolling recoil (.25acp, .38spc, .380acp, 9mm, .45acp)

    And yes, I would switch between a S&W Model 15, 1917, Baby Browning, CZ-75, and Walther PPK, often all during the same week! And I shot like crap.
    Plus, because of cost, I could not really afford any good holsters (my best was a Fobius!). Had I picked one platform, and stuck with it, I would have been a much better shot.

    By Joe in PNG on Dec 2, 2011

  35. “…a person carries on different days just to enjoy the variety.”

    I believe this is the ‘meat’ of the subject. Not about carrying different sized guns with the same action, or occasionally dropping a .380 in your pocket. More about wearing the BBQ gun with the fancy grips with a suit, and the next day carrying the plastic pistol with cargo shorts. Using the gun as a fashion accessory. Todd, you hit some sore spots with this one!

    By mongooseman on Dec 2, 2011

  36. As several have stated, I think the point/spirit of Todd’s post is being missed. He clearly stated there are times when carrying a different handgun is necessary.

    His point is very few are proficient enough with multiple handguns to stake the safety of themselves or others on the notion that they carry X handgun on Monday, and Y handgun on Wed and Fri, etc… His point was about those who seem to “rotate” their carry gun on a whim, simply for the purpose of switching/carrying one of other handguns they own.

    I for one, agree with Todd. I firmly believe, especially in a concealed carry situation, a person is better suited to carry the same gun in the same holster in the same location. I’m not gonna say anyone who doesn’t prescribe to this belief is wrong, however based on my experience I feel Todd is correct.

    Now, if you can draw, shoot, move, re-load, re-holster, etc… equally with a variety of handguns (I don’t think switching from say a G17 to a G19, or whatever qualifies for what I’m trying to say), I am impressed. If you can instictively draw from various locations and carry options, in the most stressful conditions you’ve likely ever experienced, then go ahead and “rotate”. However, I doubt most of us can say this is accurate..

    just my thoughts…

    By LCSO264 on Dec 2, 2011

  37. Great post!

    But I wanna. . . Desert Eagle

    By Krasen on Dec 2, 2011

  38. We are talking about regular citizen concealed carry, right?

    Who in the world are the rotationers trying to impress? I thought “concealed means concealed.” At least, that was what my CHL instructor said. It’s not like you’re going to whip it out to show people. Are they just trying to feel like a movie action hero?

    By Cary on Dec 2, 2011

  39. A related anoyance I have seen a few time is the “If it’s Tuesday I must being carrying cross-draw” crowd. Same theory, but they switch up carry method and gun placement just to keep thing fresh. Now that I think about it, they usually have a wide variety of guns they rotate through as well. Nothing wrong with having the right tool for the right job, but changing things around just for the sake of fashion just never seemed like a good idea to me.

    I have used different guns and different holsters at various times, bit usually because it was mandated/issued, or it was for a specific purpose. Otherwise, I stick with the same gun in the same location for practice, carry, competition, and training. Sounds boring, but it works for me.

    By Corey on Dec 2, 2011

  40. As Todd indicated in the original thread, if you have a plausible reason for changing, then by definition it is not a whim. On the other hand, if you change on a whim, then admittedly you have no particular reason for doing so. A lot of us would like to delude ourselves into believing we are like Massad Ayoob, but even he has very legitimate and practical reasons for changing.

    For most of his adult life, Mas has devoted himself to 1) becoming and 2) remaining a firearms expert. His practice is to change carry guns every training cycle, which for him is usually one to two months. During that time, he dedicates himself to that one particular firearm, using it for everything: CCW, LEO duty, teaching, training, and competing.

    As a court expert, no matter what particular firearm is the subject of the case, he possesses book knowledge, practical knowledge, and field experience with that same gun. As a teacher, whatever guns students bring to class, he has very likely carried, shot, and written extensively about it at some point in his career, and probably at some point has won matches with it. He knows how they work, how to take them apart, put them back together, how to maintain them, and what their shortcomings and advantages are. If students are looking to buy a gun, he can tell them what to watch out for and what checks to perform before buying a used one. Whatever you are shooting, he can show you how to get the most out of it because that’s his job. And this encyclopedic knowledge did not come from reading about them–it’s all firsthand knowledge. To attain and maintain this incredible knowledge and skill set and credibility, he must continually rotate, and he does it because he gets paid to do it. Yeah, I know that’s got to be the coolest job in the world, but how much does his lifestyle apply to the rest of us would-be Walter Mitty’s?

    By Greg Perry on Dec 2, 2011

  41. Geez, what a bunch of whiners.

    I carry a Glock 22 on duty or in uniform at secondary employment an avg of 6 days a week.

    OFF duty I carry 95% of the time a Glock 19. At this point trying to get back some skill-set that I lost in the world of pistol craft, Main reason I have been reading for the last few months. I am leaning toward carrying a 17/22 full-time.

    Occasionally I carry a Kahr Arms MK-9. I have no desire to argue that I’m “just as good as” with the Kahr as I am with any of the Glocks, I simply make the conscious lame brain decision that I want to be more of a sheep than a sheep dog at that point in time.

    Normal humans don’t liked to be told that they do anything wrong.
    I do a fair share of things wrong, Do I need someone I’ve never met to tell me, nope, DO I need to get all pussy-hurt over someone I’ve never met telling me? NOPE.
    I’ll keep reading and trying to work on skills with the two main handguns in my life.

    I know people with literally a safe full of pistols, that they literally wear a different one each day, its jewelry to them.
    I know guys that wear 3 guns and 4 knives and probably can’t use any of them to any extent whatsoever.
    I own 6 AR-15’s, I have a good friend that owns 1 and can own me any day of the week no matter which of my 6 I chose. So Todd does have a point, to those that choose for mindless reasons to carry this or that, own the decision for what it is. Otherwise, choose one, master it and be done.

    Hopefully I’ll meet Todd at a class in the future. Til then, I’ve got targets to print for tomorrows range session.


    By krazykiddjoe on Dec 3, 2011

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