Muscle memory and repetitive actions.

This is a discussion on Muscle memory and repetitive actions. within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; It is a widely held belief that using the same gun in the same holster on a regular or permanent basis helps with muscle memory, ...

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Thread: Muscle memory and repetitive actions.

  1. #1
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Muscle memory and repetitive actions.

    It is a widely held belief that using the same gun in the same holster on a regular or permanent basis helps with muscle memory, that the action of drawing and operating the handgun becomes virtually automatic.

    I agree, but I am also of the opinion that it pays to be able to carry a variety of weapons in different holsters as there are circumstances that can dictate the need to being adaptive.
    • Your primary weapon might be too large for your cover clothing on any particular day.
    • Your primary weapon might be in for repair.
    • Your holster choice might be compromised due to clothing or conditions.


    I carry a variety of guns in different holsters, I also alternate between a few different folding knives that don't all open the same way.

    I don't feel that I suffer from lag or hesitation.
    I dry fire - I practice my draw - I make every effort to be fully cognizant of the weapon I am with, the idiosyncrasies of it and how best it handles.

    Anyone else a multi-carry weapon person?
    How do you feel about it?

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  3. #2
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    Agreed, Pete.

    I have a variety of weapons I carry in a variety of holsters. Heck, even my primary gets carried in at least three or four different ways.

    While I do believe that muscle memory is import to a degree, I think the rest of it is being smart about how you carry your gun and in what.

    For instance, I have one holster that if I pull straight up on it, the holster will just bend outward and the gun won't come out. I have to actually press the gun in toward my body while pulling up and it will slide out like a hot knife through warm butter. I draw faster out of that holster than any other because I know it, and I know what's required of it to get my gun out quickly.

    I think what's better than muscle memory is having an INTIMATE knowledge of your options. Another holster I use is leather and grips my gun more, it also sits higher on the waist and I know that I have to draw straight up and out to clear the extra mag pouch on the front.

    I know that because I've drawn from that holster several times.

    I don't think you need just one holster and gun to be effective with drawing. I'm a woman of variety and I won't be put in a one-gun, one-holster box by golly.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Array cockedlocked01's Avatar
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    I don't know if it's so much different weapons as it's different weapon SYSTEM that's the problem.

    If you're using different guns that are DAO, you should be fine. Now, if you're using say, a 1911 & a Kahr, there might be a problem.

    I found that out recently while practicing. You're better off using the same system.

    If you doubt this, try some FonF drills, if you can. It might open your eyes.
    "Use human means as though divine ones didn't exist, and divine means as though there were no human ones." Baltasar Gracian
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  5. #4
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    I think the over-riding need is, if possible, to stick to a prime manual of arms. May not always be practicable but I do think that is top of my list, thus SIG carry for me. BUG however may be pocket or ankle.

    Some differences in rigs not so big of a deal altho even there I'd want some consistency - so IWB/OWB in my usual position would be OK. I have thought of again using a sho rig at times but it would now require some practice again so my hand does not go straight to right hip!!

    Bottom line for me is, to stick religiously to one ''package'' but appreciate for some that may not be feesable ... in which case plenty of familiarity will be necessary. Fumbling not good
    Chris - P95
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  6. #5
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cockedlocked01 View Post
    I don't know if it's so much different weapons as it's different weapon SYSTEM that's the problem.

    If you doubt this, try some FonF drills, if you can. It might open your eyes.
    Very true, there is a world of difference between my snubbie and my XD.
    Also a fair bit of difference between a 9mm and a .40 for that matter.

    Accuracy can and will suffer but basic implementation of the weapon (drawing and bringing to aim) is comparable.

    But then, when all hell breaks loose I don't expect to get 15 shots in the X anyway, I just want to stop him in his tracks.

    Good point CL01.

  7. #6
    Member Array bullseye's Avatar
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    IMO I think that the same manual of arms is important. I carry a G-35, 99.9% of the time if I need a smaller gun I go with my G-27 it even fits in the same holster. My favorite all time gun is the 1911 I just cant bring myself to carry that gun for self defense. I have seen people that have carried that gun there whole life, shoot in IDPA and forget to take the safety off before shooting. This is just my opinion and the way I feel. I don't think there is a wrong answer
    LIFES JOURNEY IS NOT TO ARRIVE AT THE "GRAVE" SAFELY ,IN A WELL PRESERVED BODY.BUT RATHER TO SKID IN SIDEWAYS TOTALLY WORN OUT SHOUTING "HOLY S@#$...WHAT A RIDE"

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    Just some hypothetical thought.
    Well, maybe more than just pure speculation.

    Don't you think that it's possible for human beings to retain more than one muscle memory?

    I know that the three semi~auto firearms that I carry the most are pretty radically different.

    They would be the Colt Combat Commander - the SIG 220 & occasionally the Glock 36.

    I know that with my eyes closed if you would hand me any of the three I would instantly (and before I could rattle off the name) know which of the three I had in hand.
    Of course that is not a high stress situation but, regardless the recognition is instantaneous as I'm incredibly familiar with two of them and a tiny bit less with the Glock but, there are no controls on the Glock to be concerned with during the SHTF firing sequence.

    I'm not even including the last ditch S&W J Frame DAO revolver since there is no real appreciable muscle memory involved with that one either. It's a Grab, Point, & Shoot.

    For sure there are professions where multiple muscle memory is stored in the brain.
    A golfer comes to mind as being a person that stores and retains muscle memory for each individual golf club.
    How about the Circus Knife Thrower?
    The beautiful babe is spinning around on the wheel & first he hurls the knives and then he tosses the Axes and then the bigger knives and still she (hopefully) manages to keep all of her limbs.

    I think maximum familiarity and practice are the key and then it's possible to carry more than one type of firearm with equal qualification.

    The worst I have done is occasionally attempt to swipe off the thumb safety on the SIG (that was not there) but, it's an ingrained thing that does cost any real time in the presentation to the intended target and both firearms (the SIG & the Colt) point right where I look.

    It's an interesting topic of discussion. Good thread.
    I hope that I've complicated it a little bit.
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  9. #8
    Distinguished Member Array fed_wif_a_sig's Avatar
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    It has always been preached, that it takes 2500 acts for something to become muscle memory. This number was used in civil case by a Houston PD officer who sued Safariland over their Level III holster not allowing him to get his weapon out of the holster. The "experts" agreeded that it is required to practice something to make it a "memory" act and the number that was used was 2500 times.

    Because of that I routinely practice with all my carry options/weapons and each time I switch I practice a few times to remind my brain which "memory" to use.

    Good luck and have fun while you practice.
    Steve
    "Respect all ... Fear none!!!

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Here is another vote for same manual of arms. That is why I traded away my 1911s and am now all Sig. I did just add another holster to my collection and haven't had time to practice with it much, but it looks like it will become my primary. One thing I try to do is to keep the "manual of holster" the same. I only have one that does not have a thumb break, and I think that one may be for sale soon.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cockedlocked01 View Post
    I don't know if it's so much different weapons as it's different weapon SYSTEM that's the problem.
    Bingo ^^

    This is why all of my pistols are 1911s in the three primary formats from govt/large to commander/medium to Defender/small.
    Multiples of holsters as per clothing and situation with a single weapon system even as their weight and size format are different.

    - Janq
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  12. #11
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    I'll throw in an anecdote:

    I have always carried (professionally and privately) in a strong side hip, straight drop holster, with no thumb-break or any other type of retention device. In 2002, I was issued a Safariland thigh rig with the "rotating hood" retention device. I practiced with the thigh rig extensively, qualified with it many times, and really grew to like the system when concealment wasn’t an issue. I didn't use it much - only for warrant services and high-risk protective details outside of the states, but I practiced with it on a regular basis...

    Fast forward to 2005 - I am in Afghanistan with the Army. My gear/armor prevent strong side hip carry, and have no use for concealment in any case. I carry my M9 in an identical Safariland thigh rig. I have been carrying and training this way in-country (that is, all day, every day) for about 8 months.

    One day my Plt and I are conducting a raid. As we go through a door, a large dog lunges at my RTO and secures itself to his calf. I drop my M4 (it's slung, naturally, so I don't actually drop it) and reach for my pistol...and guess where I reach? Strong side hip, of course.

    I hadn't carried or trained SSH in over a year, and I had carried and trained with the thigh rig extensively over that time. I don't know if I reached the magic number of 2500 presentations, but I did a LOT. All that, however, was lost under the stress of a simple dog attack on one of my soldiers, and I went for the place I had done thousands and thousands of presentations from, despite dedicated and extensive work to overcome that draw.

    I have no real conclusions to draw (pardon the pun) from this (and still wear the thigh rig when the situation calls for it), but it does show that it is difficult to keep more than one "muscle memory" in mind when you are under stress. All of my carry guns, therefore, are of the same manual of arms, and my long guns are as close as I can keep them. As always, YMMV.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  13. #12
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    While I believe that you can carry different designs , and in fact i have and carry a variety myself. I do believe you need to be reciently trained up on what and how you carry . This is exactly why when i got my first Kahr ( a pm9 ) and liked it so well as a " pocket rocket " i went to the expense of getting a p9 for a primary carry . Same manual of arms , same mags , same holster , same ammo . It works for me in the sense that even the trigger pull is almost identical and the only transition is the feel from short but to long or vica verca . As stated i occationaly will carry anything from a 1911 , hp , sig , 686 , sp101 , ect.. but day to day you will find me with one or both of the kahrs .
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  14. #13
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    I carry the same gun, in the same spot, all day, every day. If it was too large for my cover garment or the holster didn't work with my choice of clothing, I'd change the clothing rather than the gun. I haven't run into the gun under repair problem yet, but buying a second weapon so I'll always have one available is on my list (though it would probably be a G30, rather than another G21).

    How much of a problem is carrying different guns? I think there are really two aspects to this: getting the gun to go bang and shooting different weapons accurately. If you carry two DAO type guns (just pull the trigger and it goes bang) then getting the gun to shoot probably isn't too much of a problem. However, if you carry a DAO weapon and a 1911, or two weapons with manual safeties in different places, then it's potentially a much bigger problem. Using the wrong muscle memory could leave you sitting there hauling on the trigger wondering why the gun doesn't fire.

    If the gun doesn't have a manual safety (or if both guns have the manual safety in the same spot that works the same way) I think using different weapons is less of an issue. If you switch back and forth between a Glock and an XD, it may be hard to get both of them to point correctly, given the different grip angles. Similarly, if you switch back and forth between a heavy trigger and a light one, it may screw up your shooting a bit. At the most common self defense ranges, however, these are probably fairly minor problems.

    To follow up on what OPFOR said, I think the biggest problem isn't carrying a different gun, but carrying the gun in a different place. Gary Brommeland posted a story that illustrates this a couple of months ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Brommeland View Post
    Years ago, a friend of mine (who was firearms tactical trainer) showed me a tape from a surveillence camera in a bank. In this tape, there is a robbery going on, and the man centered in this particular segment was a LEO (an FBI agent, IIRC) who also happened to be an ardent IPSC shooter. When the BG tuned his back for a second, he raised his hands in a surrender position (just like in IPSC) and then slapped himself in the appendix position where his comp rig was usually worn. By the time he realized what he had done and went for his strong side carried weapon, the BG (probably alerted by the sudden movement) swung his shotgun around and fired a round right into the LEO's face. He was DRT.
    Carrying the same weapon all the time is best, but if you can't, at least carry weapons with the same sort of manual safety (or lack thereof) in the same place.

  15. #14
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    I'm well over the 2,500 mark on both the SIG & the Colt - for sure not the Glock.
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  16. #15
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    Originally Posted by Gary Brommeland
    Years ago, a friend of mine (who was firearms tactical trainer) showed me a tape from a surveillence camera in a bank. In this tape, there is a robbery going on, and the man centered in this particular segment was a LEO (an FBI agent, IIRC) who also happened to be an ardent IPSC shooter. When the BG tuned his back for a second, he raised his hands in a surrender position (just like in IPSC) and then slapped himself in the appendix position where his comp rig was usually worn. By the time he realized what he had done and went for his strong side carried weapon, the BG (probably alerted by the sudden movement) swung his shotgun around and fired a round right into the LEO's face. He was DRT.
    Ouch. Much worse result than my mistake...all that happened in my case was an extra second of calf chewing.

    While I am a big fan of "game" style shooting, and recognize that it has many parallels with defensive shooting, I balk at the idea of wearing a "race rig" that differs significantly in style or position from my everyday rigs. This example seems to be good justification for my fears...
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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