I came across a post by North American Rescue this morning about an instructor that shot himself in the leg while holstering his pistol. While it is very unfortunate for him, he managed to survive to tell his story, which allows us to learn from his mistakes.
The instructor’s name is Drew Kavanaugh, who is part of Davad Defense, a Chicago, IL-based company that focuses on firearm instruction and home safety. The post by NAR does a good job of describing what took place so instead of putting it into my own words, here is the post:
“Drew, a firearms instructor for Davad Defense, lives in Chicago and in the predawn hours of April 19th, 2019, heard a commotion in his alleyway and went outside to investigate. As this was urban Chicago, he had his G19 drawn but didn’t find anyone. He is an experienced appendix carry guy, and when he reholstered, a piece of his t-shirt got inside the trigger guard causing the weapon to fire. The high-velocity personal defense round went into his upper thigh, and the bullet passed obliterated his femoral artery. He quickly lost consciousness, but a responding Chicago police officer (who had recently attended LEMART training through CPD) applied a tourniquet and stopped further bleeding. Drew coded twice (6, and 7 minutes – all of his ribs were broken during the administration of CPR!!!), but they got him to the hospital and were able to revive him (30 units of blood) and ultimately save his life. We appreciate his willingness to tell his story in the hope that it helps someone else – accidents can happen to even very experienced people!”
The rest of the details come from Drew himself in replies to the many comments on the Facebook post. I appreciate him leaving his ego behind and taking the time to answer all the commenters. Again, I’m not pointing out these mistakes out to bash or belittle Drew at all but so that we can learn from his mistakes.
Investigating a Strange Noise in a Dark Alley
First off, I’m not sure I agree with going outside to investigate a strange noise coming from the alley. I wouldn’t leave the safety of my house unless I absolutely had to. If you think something shady is going on, then call the police. Have them investigate strange noises coming from a dark Chicago alley.
This reminds me of something I hear on a podcast recently. Fieldcraft Survival talks about their Three Pillars of Preparedness, the third being your safe house. Why leave the security of your own home to investigate a commotion in an alley?
Drew mentions how he thought this was his biggest mistake of the night in the following comment:
“I think that doing that may have, in fact, been my biggest mistake of the night. That’s one of the big things I want to share moving forward. It’s amazing to me that I teach that, but then I do something stupid like that. It’s not only stupid, but it’s also not tactically sound. Why would you willingly give up ground that you are intimately familiar with, to seek out an unknown number of threats in an unknown place? I’m no longer in the military, and I am not a cop. I made the wrong call.”
Knowing When to Draw Your Gun
The second issue here is having your gun drawn while investigating. I’m no lawyer, but this is pretty much just brandishing a gun. We concealed carriers are not law enforcement. You don’t get to just run around with your weapon drawn while investigating strange noises. If you draw your concealed carry pistol, you should be doing so because you feel that you or someone else’s life is in danger, or there is a threat of great bodily harm. The laws on self-defense obviously vary depending on which state you are in. But as far as I know, no state allows you to draw your pistol in public to investigate a strange noise.
Making Sure Your Holster is Clear of Obstructions
And the third mistake was when he reholstered. He got his shirt caught in the trigger guard of his gun, causing it to fire while reholstering. Yes, he was carrying a Glock 19. And yes, appendix carry is his preferred carry method. The comment section is filled with people talking about how appendix carry is dangerous. Well, he could have shot his leg if he was carrying at 4 o’clock as well.
If you are reholstering, then that should mean that there are no longer any threats. At this point, there should be no rush to holster and no threat to keep your eye on. So take your time and reholster properly. Glance down to make sure there is nothing in the way that could get caught up, like a t-shirt in this case. That is one of the reasons why I like Appendix Carry reholstering. I can quickly look down to check and be sure the holster is clear. When I carried in the 4’oclock position, I would reach back with my support hand to pull up my shirt or whatever cover garment I was wearing at the time to make sure it was free from the holster. But I prefer to be able to confirm that there is nothing in the holster visually.
In this case, Drew was using a G-Code INCOG, which is an excellent appendix carry holster. I used one when I carried a Springfield Armory XD-S. Drew mentioned that after watching the security video, it appeared that he swung away the button-down grey wool shirt, but failed to clear the black t-shirt that he was wearing underneath.
He goes on to talk about how he now practices pulling his holster out to reholster the gun and then reholster the gun and holster together. I’m not sure I agree with this method. The holsters I use most of the time have belt loops or Discreet Carry Clips. So taking my holster off every time, I reholster could be a little cumbersome. It would also add a ton of time to my training, be it dry firing at home or on the range. Instead, I practice and train holstering properly by not rushing, taking my time, and making sure there are no obstructions every time. I often see people reholstering on Instagram or YouTube videos, and they are slamming their gun back into the holster without looking or paying much attention. I just don’t see a reason for that other than trying to look cool. If I am wrong, let me know in the comments.
Also, before you point out that he wasn’t carrying appendix and that the picture shows a holster on his strong side, what you see is not the holster. That is a G-Code Optimal Drop holster attachment without a holster attached to it. It allows you to change out holsters for different weapons. He said it was on his belt from the previous day when he was carrying his Glock 34 with a Streamlight TLR-1 weapon light in a holster with Level 3 retention for work.
Here are some pictures showing the extent of the damage caused by this negligent discharge.
Have Medical Supplies On Your Body
Drew stated that he did have a tourniquet on him but lost consciousness before he could get to his RAT tourniquet that was in his back pocket. He mentioned that he also had a CAT tourniquet and an IFAK in a backpack that he left at his backdoor. Medical supplies in a backpack are great, but what happens when you put it down? In this case, he had a TQ in his back pocket, but this just reminds me that you should have medical supplies on your body for quick access. I carry a trauma kit in an ankle first aid kit most places I go. If I am wearing shorts, then it is usually in a backpack, but that backpack stays on me no matter what. For the past year or so, I’ve been using a Ryker Nylon Gear AFAK, which has worked great. Warrior Poet Society just sent me their AKAF, so I’ll be switching to that one to test it out. But here’s what I carry in my AFAK. The Warrior Poet AFAK has a few more pockets, so I might be adding to this kit. Keep an eye out for the review soon.
- Cat 5 Gen 7 Tourniquet
- Rolled Gauze
- Nitrite Gloves
- Celox Z-Fold Gauze
- North American Rescue Hyfin Vent Chest Seal
Good thing the responding officer recently had LEMART training and applied a tourniquet to stop further bleeding. LEMART stands for Law Enforcement Medical and Rescue Training. The officers also get a specialized kit that possibly saved Drew’s life. But his artery was destroyed entirely. The surgeon reconstructed it with a vein from another part of his body. He had to use a wound-vac for a few months until it was healed enough to go to somewhat more traditional bandaging.
Again, I hope we can all learn something from this. And I’ll end the article with another post by Drew from the comment section:
“It is not written to say that appendix isn’t safe. It is written to illustrate that even experienced, safe people can still make a potentially fatal mistake. I 100% own this as my mistake, and the fault lies not with Glock or the method of carry, but with me. I hope that others realize that safety doesn’t end when you have experience, and maybe this will encourage them to not repeat my mistake.”