top of page
Wave

Guardian Conference 2023: Gear We Used

*Some of the external links found on this website are affiliate links. Those links use cookies to generate revenue and fund continuation of this website. By clicking an external link you are consenting to a temporary cookie, by purchasing from that link you are supporting this website. To opt out of cookies do not click external links.

Because there is so much to cover about our trip to the Guardian Conference 2023 we'llbreak it down into separate articles. In this piece we'll cover the gear we used, why it was chosen, and our experience with it.

We've been through a lot of training including ITTS, CENTER-T, Front Sight, Thunder Ranch, VerTac, Sentinel Concepts, and now the Guardian Conference. It's been my experience that often guns and gear that could have been fine through 100 range sessions will fail on the second day of a course. I don't know if it's the duration of use, or simply that little imperfections that are tolerable at a casual range day become problems when that range day is all day and there are performance expectations.

It is my hope that by reporting things like this we can help you plan for your next training event, learn from our experience, and that you'll share your experience with us.


A Condition 1 Case came in handy for flying to the Guardian Conference.
A Condition 1 Case came in handy for flying to the Guardian Conference.

Firearms Transportation:

We used a smaller Condition 1 case that fit all four pistols easily and met TSA requirements. We've been using Condition 1 cases for a number of years and found them to be both of high quality and affordable. The fact that they're made in the US is a bonus, but the feature set and price is hard to beat. The case just barely fit inside my luggage which helped keep a low profile at the airport, and by not plastering the case with industry stickers it could easily pass as a camera case or some other piece of proessionnal equipment other than an obvious gun case. Color selection helps with this too.


Our selections came from Bul Armory and Canik
Our selections came from Bul Armory and Canik

Firearms: (see our thoughts on selecting training pistols HERE)

I wanted to run the BUL Armory pistols, with the SAS II TAC 4.25 as my primary and my summer carry SAS II UL as a backup. Teya planned on the Canik METE SF as a primary with a Shield RMS-C dot on top and the Canik METE SFT as a backup.

I made a morning-before swap of the SAS II TAC's front sight from blacked-out steel to fiber optic because I did not intend to run a red dot. That new front sight ended up walking a bit on me within the first 200 rounds (I later learned that BUL Armory uses a dab of locking compound during installation, something I had not done) and I was forced to swap to my backup.

Home-install failure. The factory uses a drop of thread locker to rpevent this from happening and I did not. This is what caused me to switch to the SAS II UL which takes the same magazines and fits the same holster.

The SAS II TAC had made my first few hundred rounds very easy and I was able to focus more on the course material than on the firearm just as I had intended with that pistol choice. Not only was recoil soft, and the trigger perfect for letting me time a shot, but the added traction of the texture used on the SAS II TAC meant my sweaty hands from the Oklahoma heat and humidity were not an issue. To be frank the SAS II TAC 4.25 made the courses almost too easy.

Swapping to the SAS II UL required I be a bit more engaged in the shooting process. The combination of a shorter grip, less traction, and shorter barrel meant the pistol wanted to flip more in hand. As mentioned in our original review of the SAS II UL this was not unpleasant, and much less of an issue than other guns of similar size, but it was still a more active process to shoot the smaller gun well than it would have been with a larger pistol.

Aside from one round being loaded a little too long (we used reloaded ammunition) I had no malfunctions throughout all three days and enjoyed getting the extra practice in drawing and using a gun I carry from the holster I carry it in.

The SAS II UL 3.25 fit the same holster, and I used the longer magazines from the SAS II TAC 4.25. It's important to keep in mind when using over-sized magazines that damage can occur to both magazine and firearm if they are slammed in too roughly. The Guardian Conference is about training for the armed citizen, my choice of holster and firearm was one of the combinations I carry. As discussed in our previous piece about selecting training firearms, this maximized my potential learning.

The Canik METE SF and BUL Armory SAS II UL ended up getting the msot use.
The Canik METE SF and BUL Armory SAS II UL ended up getting the msot use.

Teya had intended on running her Canik MC9, but hadn't yet found a holster she'd be comfortable with and so took the Canik METE SF with a Shield RMS-C as a primary and Canik METE SFT as a backup. Although she'd not shot the METE SF before, she'd had plenty of time with other METE models including running them at other training courses. The choice of the METE SF was to have as close of an experience to the MC9 without gaming the experience with an over-sized gun.

The METE SF ran without issues all weekend long. Teya experienced one failure to fire which was likely an ammunition issue. Another note about running a shorter-barreled gun is that it required less shoulder movement for draws and holstering.


If you haven't tried the REAL Avid Pistol Tool or Bore Boss you're missing out. Lucas Oil's Extreme Duty Gun Oil is excellent.
If you haven't tried the REAL Avid Pistol Tool or Bore Boss you're missing out. Lucas Oil's Extreme Duty Gun Oil is excellent.

Firearm Maintenance

Wanting to be ready for maintenance needs, but also keep our bags light meant packing minimal cleaning supplies and hoping anything more serious could be handled by simply swapping to the backup firearm. This is where REAL Avid came in with the space and weight-saving Pistol Tool. I own three of these because I've found them so useful and sure enough it came in handy not only for our own firearms, but to help others with theirs.

As always the REAl Avid Bore Boss kept tidy until needed. Although these are larger than other "snake"-type cleaners, I've found them to be better than the rest and when you've got multiple calibers they're much easier to identify thanks to larger labeling.

For lubrication, we kept to our usual Lucas Oil which has yet to give me a reason to stop using it, plus the needle applicator helps with application control. Oil lubricates, but it also holds dirt, so I generally run my firearms as dry as possible, oiling only where I know there are friction points.

The allen wrenches were for the BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 as well as my custom takedown tool (paperclip) for the full lnegth guiderod.


It's the Guardian Conference, not USPSA Nationals! Run real gear. For me that meant the BUL Armory SAS II UL 3.25 in a Tier 1 Concealment IWB holster.
It's the Guardian Conference, not USPSA Nationals! Run real gear. For me that meant the BUL Armory SAS II UL 3.25 in a Tier 1 Concealment IWB holster.

Holsters

Holsters are entirely a matter of personal preference. The gun you're carrying, where you carry, your comfort threshold, your clothing style, and in this case comfort with trianing all play a role in what makes the "best" holster. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either trying to sell you something or ignorant. I ran my an IWB option from Tier 1 Concealed that was sized for the larger of the two guns; enabling me to bring just one holster but run either gun. This is the same holster make and design that I have been carrying the BUL Armory SAS II UL all summer long. Using a low-profile IWB holster gave me extra challenge in training, but also helped train draws from the holster I use. Come winter I may opt to move to the SAS II TAC 4.25 as my carry gun.

Teya ran an old OWB Canik holster that came in the box with one of our Caniks. Despite being generations older than the METE models it still fit both the SF and SFT, once again giving us the benefit of bringing just one holster for both guns. Although strongside OWB is not how Teya carries, it is easier and let her focus more on coursework.


The EDC BeltCo Foundation Belt was perfect for the Guardian Conference and any other armed citizen training because it's both strong enough for carry work and comfortable enough for real life.
The EDC BeltCo Foundation Belt was perfect for the Guardian Conference and any other armed citizen training because it's both strong enough for carry work and comfortable enough for real life.

Belts

I took the same belt I've worn everyday for several years, in fact I'm on my second of the same make and model (the first one lasted about 5 years of daily use). The Foundation Belt from EDC Belt Company has long been my favorite for daily use, including carry, and it's strong enough for course work. The Foundation belt is reinforced where it needs to be for weapon work, but remains flexible where it needs to be for comfort. Addtionally the low-profile "buckle" fits through belt loops easily and does not set off metal detectors at airports; I've proven this dozens of times. Additionally, because this belt uses velcro to secure it can easily be adjusted for thicker or thinner holsters, larger or smaller meals, etc.

Teya began the course with a two-layer competition-type setup from Double Alpha, but soon transitioned to her own Foundation Belt.


SuperVel partnered with the Guardian Conference.
SuperVel partnered with the Guardian Conference.

Ammunition

SuperVel partnered with the Guardian Conference and offered an unbeatable deal of free shipping to the event. Despite my exhaustive testing of common range loads, I'd not used any SuperVel before. Adding uncertainty was that we never use reloads and that was all that was available when we placed our order. We fired about 1,500 rounds of SuperVel 115gr reloads prior to the course without a single issue and at the course shot another 800 rounds with just two failures. I have not tested their new ammunition to know how it would rank in our 9mm 115gr range ammo test, but it felt about average in energy. One note about reloads is that they were of course naturally dirtier to handle. Combustion was clean, but you can expect some dirty fingers after a day of magazine loading.


Teya and I both wore Gatorz eye protection at the Guardian Conference
Teya and I both wore Gatorz eye protection at the Guardian Conference

Eye Protection

Both Teya and I wore Gatorz eye protection the entire time. Not all of the Gatorz line are true eye protection, but the models we wore are. It's important to have not only safety-rated lenses, but a real wrap-around design to protect from spall and debris not only from your own shooting, but others on the line, and even raining over from other bays. Hot brass is another reason to wear a face-hugging design that will do more than provide a place for brass to catch and sizzle into your eye. Gatorz are not inexpensive, but the billet aluminum construction (US Made) makes them somewhat moldable for the perfect fit. Through little tweaks and twists their shape can be slightly altered for the best fit.


We both used our custom-made N-Ear hearing protection at teh Guardian Conference. You don't need to see what they look like after years of use :p
We both used our custom-made N-Ear hearing protection at teh Guardian Conference. You don't need to see what they look like after years of use :p

Ear Protection

Both Teya and I stuck to our trused N-Ear sets. This ear protection is a printed scan of your ear. While not inexpensive, nothing fits better than something made specifically for your ear. The noise reduction is strong which can make hearing speach difficult at time, but simply popping one loose to hear instruction, then tucking it back in the ear for shooting is easy enough. We've been using these for years and the comfort advantage really adds up on longer range days and multi-day courses. N-Ear has advanced quite a bit, and come to the US market in full since Teya and I got ours. The closest product they list now to what we had made years ago is the PROTECTR Custom Ear Molds.


Teya weaving through barrels during Carry Trainer's Shoot on the Move course.
Teya weaving through barrels during Carry Trainer's Shoot on the Move course.

Clothing

While fashion is a matter of personal preference, comfort and practicality on the range, especially in hot weather is fairly universal. I mixed some time-proven choices with new ones as did Teya.


Pants are a big one for me. Shorts + sun = sunburn and dehydration, but pants restrict airflow. I opted for the Atlas pants from LA Police Gear as I've used them several times over in hot weather and found them bearable. The pockets aren't as ideal as I'd like for magazines, but they're comfortable and deliberately-placed stretchy and ventilating fabric on the seat and below the rear belt area really helps with all-day comfort. They're also reasonably-priced which helps. For handgun work I wish they had the hip pockets like 5.11 uses as I train without magazine pouches and opt for the more challenging, but more realistic pcoket reload.

Teya wore both jeans and pants from 5.11. Britta Skinny Denim jeans and Shella pants. Teya has her own feedback about running these pants in a course environment that she will share in her own piece later.


Tops: Teya and I both began wearing short sleeves because of Oklahoma's hotter weather, but eventually shifted to long sleeves in favor of sun protection. Oregon's limited sunlight has made us both a bit sun-sensitive when traveling. "Sun shirts" came the the rescue. I had packed one (a discontinued product from Tactical Distributors), and we both bought some which were available at the event. Full sun protection, lightweight, and breathable. One thing to keep in mind however is that lightweight fabrics can make drawing and reholstering a bit tougher than you'd expect. In the end it's important to get the msot out of your training, but to do so safely. I slowed down my draw (and reholstering has never been a race) to ensure safety, but still get good repetitions in.


We have more coverage of the event and you can expect a write up of the courses we attended as well as some video coverage coming soon.

340 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page