Lowa Zephyr Mk2 GTX

Gunfighter Moment – Larry Vickers

Americans love to customize stuff and make it our own. Certainly you see this anywhere you go on this planet but make no mistake Americans set the standard. I would say it’s one of our greatest strengths in the firearms world. But it is also one of our greatest weaknesses as I see many guns in my classes customized to the point of being unsafe. Meaning they could not be counted on to function properly in a gunfight.

My take on this is real simple; you have range guns and real guns. We all have range guns (also known as range toys) and that is where they need to stay. Never grab one of these to protect yourself with. With your self defense guns make sure any modifications make sense and bring something to the table. Also make sure they will stand up in court. If in doubt on this last part consult a lawyer that specializes in this area. Get ready because if your carry gun has a Punisher skull on the back of the slide or your self defense carbine has ‘Surprise Cock Fag’ on the ejection port cover your probably not gonna like what your attorney tells you. Just food for thought – as always it’s your skin so it’s your risk.

-Larry Vickers
Vickers Tactical Inc.
Host of TacTV


Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical is a retired US Army 1st SFOD-Delta combat veteran with years of experience in the firearms industry as a combat marksmanship instructor and industry consultant. In recent years he has hosted tactical firearms related TV shows on the Sportsman Channel with the latest being TacTV of which Bravo Company is a presenting sponsor. Larry Vickers special operations background is one of the most unique in the industry today; he has been directly or indirectly involved in the some of the most significant special operations missions of the last quarter century. During Operation Just Cause he participated in Operation Acid Gambit – the rescue of Kurt Muse from Modelo Prison in Panama City, Panama. As a tactics and marksmanship instructor on active duty he helped train special operations personnel that later captured Saddam Hussein and eliminated his sons Uday and Qusay Hussein. In addition he was directly involved in the design and development of the HK416 for Tier One SOF use which was used by Naval Special Warfare personnel to kill Osama Bin Laden. Larry Vickers has developed various small arms accessories with the most notable being his signature sling manufactured by Blue Force Gear and Glock accessories made by Tangodown. In addition he has maintained strong relationships with premium companies within the tactical firearms industry such as BCM, Aimpoint, Black Hills Ammunition, Wilson Combat and Schmidt & Bender.

Larry Vickers travels the country conducting combat marksmanship classes for law abiding civilians, law enforcement and military and has partnered with Alias Training to coordinate classes to best meet the needs of the students attending the class.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer us some words of wisdom.

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29 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Larry Vickers

  1. netrunner says:

    lol ‘Surprise Cock Fag’ that is too funny, I’ve actually been wondering if it would be unwise to have a Trijicon RMR on a carry gun ?

  2. Ed Hickey says:

    Yep the KISS process. The less the liberal la la land can twist around on you.

  3. Brad Brakhane says:

    I used to be a reserve deputy and we had to provide our own firearms. We had a road lieutenant that didn’t want me to use my Nighthawk Custom 1911 because it was the Predator model, thus had “Predator” stamped on the side. I kinda saw the point, but I didn’t ask for tha customization, that was just how it came.

    • Murry Williams says:

      We had a rookie that had “Thumper” and the image of the Disney cartoon character (Bunny rabbit from Bambi) professionally engraved on the receiver of his personal 870 He was butt hurt when the firearms Sgt told him no way was the shotgun approved for the street. Imagine trying to sell that in court

  4. Disco says:

    There were several documented cases of people using full auto in self defense. One involved an HK employee in the 80s (using an AC556 of all things).
    Naturally the prosecution tried to make a thing of it but…

    Ine thing I was told was, if you’re justified…you won’t go to jail.
    No promises on anything civil, but if you are justified you won’t go to jail and anything goes.

  5. Jake says:

    The same could be said for the “bada**” t-shirts that are out these days. You’re probably going to get run through the ringer if you legally used your firearm in self defense but at the time had a “When in doubt, empty the magazine” or “Two in the chest, one in the head”. Its fanboy’s looking to be hard a**ses, but do everything to stand out. Remain incognito, don’t dress from head to toe in 5.11 with a in-your-face shirt on.

    • SC says:

      When a dude has top and bottom 5:11 you call him 10:22.

      • Joe Flowers says:

        If he also has the shoes and vest, is he a 20:44? Because I shot with a 20:44 at an IDPA last week.

      • Reeky says:

        My cable guy this weekend was wearing 5.11 pants, and he knew his cable shit.

        • OkieRim says:

          I wear 5.11 shorts, they are actually pretty good for running errands…also wear a lot of baseball caps (minor lg teams)…no bad@ss gun stuff..

  6. Casey says:

    Can anyone provide a documented example of a weapons modification that was the deciding factor in a self defense case? Not saying that either example Larry provided serve any useful purpose on a defensive firearm, but some folks will interpret this to mean “don’t modify your guns, period.”

    • Bill says:

      I sure can’t, but I’ve never seen the point of the T-shirts, engraving and “morale patches” i’ve see. From legal perspective, the prosecution would have to prove that the markings were relevant and material to the case, and in a self-defense shooting that could be tough, though you could still wind up looking like a dick.

      I’ve debated having “Instant Karma” engraved on my carry gun, but it’s way down on my to-do list.

      I think the shooting by the H&K guy was complicated by some paperwork and permitting issues.

      • Jack says:

        Prosecutor/Plantiff’s Attorney: “So can you explain to the jury the significance of the logo on the shirt you were wearing the day of the incident? What does the Punisher skull signify?”

        Defense Attorney: “Objection, your honor. Relevance?”

        Prosecutor/Plantiff’s Attorney: “Goes to mind set, your honor.”

        Judge: “I’ll allow it. Witness will answer.”

        Prosecutor/Plantiff’s Attorney: “So I’ll ask again. Explain to the jury the significance of theskull logo on the shirt you were wearing the day of the incident? What does that Punisher skull mean?

        You: “Uh…it’s just a cool logo?”

        Prosecutor/Plantiff’s Attorney: “Isn’t it true that the Punisher comic book character is an ultraviolent vigilante, who decks himself out in combat gear and deadly weapons and goes out hunting down ‘criminals’ who he then kills? And isn’t it also true that you see yourself as a vigilante, armed to the teeth with your high capacity customized pistol, extra high capacity magazine, dressed in your skull costume? You were looking for a fight that day, weren’t you? WEREN’T YOU?”

        You: “Uh…it’s just a tee shirt?”

        Goes to mind set. It’s not a tough sell. And to a jury, especially in certain parts of the country, giving the appearance of being not only ready, but eager for a fight, could be enough to have them vote Guilty. Like the man says, your skin, your risk. Choose wisely, gents.

        • Bill says:

          Possibly, but then anything in court is possible. In the scenario you described, the mere fact that the defendant was carrying a gun could be an indicator of mindset.

          I essentially agree with your premise, but there will be a long sidebar before the judge rules. It isn’t that clear cut in this example, as opposed to wearing BDUs to shoot up a movie theater.

          The whole profession, be it LE or MIL, could use an intro class on symbolic interactionism.

          As a trainer, Ive pretty much non-empirically determined that if I don’t wear the costume; cargos and a polo shirt, I’m perceived to have less validity and credibility. Showing up in street clothes on the ranges, or God forbid, a jacket and tie, doesn’t get it, even though that’s what I’m likely to be wearing when I actually have to fight. There may be issues of practicality, but just look at the amount and types of comments that come in when ANY aspect of uniforms, camo or insignia are raised here.

          • Jack says:

            Sure, and like all thumbnail sketch examples, there are plenty of “yeah buts…” to go around. And I agree, there are many, many people, including a whole lot of gun owners, who are in need of some schooling on “symbolic interactionism” as you put, great phrase by the way.

            I am tracking your point about the well known instructor costume. Somebody once sai something about to play the part you have to look the part. But like everything else, it has to be time and place appropriate, no?

            The issue, as I see it, that Mr. Vickers is getting at, is this: if you should be so unfortunate to be involved in a deadly force incident, do you want to be viewed (by responding officers, prosecutors, media, the public, a jury…) as a law abiding citizen who was prepared but not looking for trouble, or as a self styled gunfighter, eagerly looking for a chance to shoot someone?

            In this day and age, you can bet that everything from your social media footprint to your clothing to your bumper stickers on your car will be scrutinized. The less provocative, the better, in my opinion.

            My question (in general to the “sheepdog gunfighter” crowd, not directed at you, Bill) is this: what “cool guy” points do you think you gain by dressing/carrying that pseudo tough guy operator junk that is worth getting hemmed up in court after a deadly force encounter? Sure, you can defend a “surprise, cock fag” dust cover if you had to, but why not just avoid having to?

            This is a great topic for discussion.

  7. Snake says:

    Could you elaborate on some of the modifications that made the guns unsafe?

  8. Danke says:

    You’d have to figure on two kinds of unsafe. First is very light to the point of absurd trigger jobs and second but really should be first from a self defense view are changes that cause failure to feed or failure to fire.

    In other words unsafe for you.

  9. xpoqx says:

    All y’all arguing like some jailhouse lawyers, and I’m just sitting here wondering where I can get one of those “SURPRISE COCK FAG” ejection port covers I’ve been told about.

  10. Disco says:

    So….Leroy the homie gets to sag and wear a sideways hat and his juvie record is ‘not relevant’ but the knockaround 5.11 shirt I got for free and the well faded decades old utility trousers I souvenired will just damn me to prison?

    Yeah. No.

    I can’t be compelled to explain anything. A GOOD and COMPETENT lawyer will NEVER have you take the stand in a self defense case. If you do God’s Work as a police, you won’t go farther than Grand Jury. The ‘black community’ created an uproar and Darren Wilson was CRUCIFIED by the media for weeks before grand jury. It was a slightly sketchy shoot from initial reports but the autopsy buttressed his Use of Force.
    He was no billed and is a free man today.

    Wear whatever you want. Engrave WHATEVER you want on a gun. Engravings are like tattoos. Something meaningful will gain more favor than something stupid. Not an engraving but I know of two or three police counter snipers with PS 144:1 on their rifles. One of which used in a shoot. The most germane thing people were concerned with was justification, training, data book, and toxicology.

    Nobody ever thought about Psalm 144:1.

    Oh well. But if you just gack some dude because he called you an asshole then a Manslaughter charge is most def in your future at a minimum.

    A good defense focuses on facts and a desperate prosecution appeals to emotions. Usually, facts win out. When 12 strangers say “yep, woulda done the same thing” then that’s all that really matters.

  11. Larry Rankine says:

    The way things are going in the world and our country I’m not thinking its going to matter much anyway. My concern at this point is to insure I’m as prepared as I can be to protect me and mine.

  12. reverend says:

    This is why I talked with a buncha lawyers, and linked up with the “Shark in a suit” as my attorney.

    Anyone who carries a weapon, LEO or Civy, needs a GOOD LAWYER in their phone!

    Call 911, Shut yer piehole, call your lawyer… Even if you’re innocent. It’s not just “criminal” you have to be concerned about these days.