All In: Cheata Trotter Bra

Today’s post was written by my wife, Kate.

I’m a woman who has stayed at the sidelines of defensive firearm training for 30 years.  I simply love a man who loves firearms and devotes his life to firearm training. However, over the last three decades, I’ve been called on, as a support person, to do most of what Steve does at least a few times.  This I know: wearing a firearm on your body can be a literal pain; it affects pretty much everything else that you’re wearing –especially in concealment.  When it comes to firearms, for a long time, women were forced to adapt to equipment that wasn’t really made for them. Happily, things have changed for the better in a lot of good ways; women are now an important market for firearm sales.

I happened upon one tremendous improvement at the Cheata Sport and Tactical Booth at the 2019 SHOT Show: the Cheata Trotter Compression Bra.  I learned there that female law enforcement officers choose Cheata garments for duty wear in order to achieve sufficient compression under their ballistic vest.


I’ve never worn body armor, but as an active person who carries concealed, I appreciate the need for stability and compression–and above all– comfort in one’s undergarments.  I am happy to report, the Cheata Trotter Compression Bra delivers on all accounts. I love these bras.  

Unlike detestable sports bras that squeeze like boa constrictors as they are yanked into place, the Trotter Bra opens and closes with a sturdy back zipper. The bra is pulled over the head with the zipper open, a single hook attaches the wide bottom band, and a ribbon zipper pull is used to close the garment.  After performing a few adjustment tugs, I immediately found that I my back felt supported and I stood straighter.  Here’s the manufacturer video demo:

The compression is immediately slimming–and while significant–was not uncomfortable at all.  I can wear the Trotter bra all day and not want to rip it off like most bras I own; I even slept in it!  I appreciate the wide shoulder straps and non-constricting bottom band.  The Trotter offers a very modest lack of cleavage. The Trotter Bras wash well in a cold gentle setting and hang dry.

I’ve also noticed that my La Griffe neck knife lays flatter in concealment when I wear the Trotter Bra.

Cheata Trotter Bras retail for $69.95 and are available in a range of sizes from XXSmall (29”) to XXXLarge (44”) and are available from Amazon and a number of other dealers.  I bought mine at Big D’s Track and Vet Supply.

I’m very satisfied.  With the Cheata Trotter Bra, I’m all in!

Copyright © 2019 Ravelin Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Fred Perrin’s Clever Claw

FPG-C1Coup de main is a military term (literally, helping hand or blow by hand) referring to a maneuver that relies on speed and surprise in order to accomplish an objective in a single blow.Perrin-Emerson-La-GriffeClose combat instructor and native of France, Fred Perrin, is responsible for designing a line of fixed, short-bladed knives that are capable of delivering a speedy and surprising “helping hand” in defensive situations.

Perrin’s ergonomically designed La Griffe (The Claw) lends itself brilliantly to defensive use especially for the smaller or more slightly built individual.  The integral finger hole provides security for those who may have a less than iron grip.  My wife has worn her Emerson Knives La Griffe on a neck sheath for many years.  Recently, she has come to appreciate the light-as-a-feather “La Griffe Carbone” carbon fiber fixed blade also worn in neck carry in a Kydex sheath.FPG-C2It can be really challenging for women to enjoy the advantages of “on-body” knife carry.  The design and materials of women’s clothes are not supportive of the weight of a knife nor do they hold a clip in place.  Generally, fabrics are light weight, pockets are shallow or non-existent and waistbands can be flimsy.  In many cases, neck carry emerges as the only viable option for a defensive knife.  The La Griffe Carbone, weighing a mere 0.23 ounces, is a very comfortable option!Fred-Perrin-Emmerson-La-Griffe-drawIn order to deliver a successful defensive “coup de main”, it is absolutely vital to practice a proper concealment draw.  As illustrated above, the thumb slides under both ends of the chain or cord, and the sheathed knife is pulled swiftly straight up and out of the shirt opening.  The hand slides down from the sheath; pointer finger indexes the hole and a fist-like grip is maintained as the fixed blade is drawn cleanly from the sheath. In defensive situations, I always teach my students to take a step back and loudly verbalize:  “Leave me alone!”  “Call the police!”  Clearly, with this particular blade, defensive cuts aimed at sensitive face and neck targets will have the greatest effect.

There are a lot of great knives to own, but for defensive use, you must:

  • Be willing and able to practice with it
  • Carry it regularly and carry it concealed
  • Be able to deploy it immediately in an emergency

Fred Perrrin’s La Griffe is an excellent and beautiful choice.

Copyright ©2019 – Ravelin Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Canik TP9 SF Elite

Ravelin's Blog Spotlight on Canik TP9 EliteCentury Arms Canik TP9 SF Elite  in 9mm gobbled up 600+ rounds of factory loaded 115 grain FMJ ammunition (Mag-Tech, S&B, Winchester and Federal) plus 100 rounds of Federal’s 124 grain +P HST load without any significant indigestion or malfunction.  This made-in-Turkey entry into the crowded and popular polymer frame, striker-fired 9mm defensive pistol performed with 100% functioning (after the red safety tab fix; see below)  needing no additional lubrication beyond what was applied at the factory and required zero cleaning. during the testing.


Out of the box (lockable TSA approved carrying case), the Canik TP9 SF Elite offers some very nice up-market features for a relatively low price tag:

  • Warren Tactical Series Sights .136” black rear and .120” red fiber-optic front sights (well centered for windage & elevation for point-of-aim / point-of-impact at 20 yards–truly excellent sights!)


  • Polymer frame with four hardened steel inserts which the frame has MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny molded under the dust-cover to attached accessories such as white-lights and/or lasers.
  • Machined carbon steel slide is durably finished in a phosphate under-coating and a Tungsten grey Cerakote over-coating for long-lasting protection.
  • Two 15-round capacity magazines with AFC (anti-friction coating) promising less friction when rounds are placed (charged) in the magazines and soother magazine insertions (loading & firing cycles.)
  • Polymer holster; magazine loading tool; cleaning rod; bore brush
  • Larger back-strap insert


Striker Fired Functioning  

The TP9 is a typical striker-fired pistol with a trigger mounted safety-tab (red in color) which is a “passively activated manual safety”. * It disengages when your trigger-finger makes contact with the face of the trigger.  The trigger breaks cleanly at 4.25 lbs. and is pretty crisp.  The trigger’s take-up is approximately 3/8” (.375”) with an additional 7/64” (.109”) of trigger travel before the striker is released and has 3/64” (.047”) of trigger over-travel after the striker is released.


Red Tab Initially More a “Stop” than a Safety, but Easily Fixed…

I discovered a burr or bump on the bottom rear corner of my TP9’s red-trigger safety tab (see arrow in picture above right).  The excess material on the tab prevented the red tab from cleanly clearing the frame and as a result, the trigger’s full rearward movement was inhibited and the pistol would not fire with anything less than precise trigger finger placement.  I handed the TP9 off to four shooters of varying experience and they had the same issue.

…The Easy Fix

Caution to all kitchen table gunsmiths: ANY altering of a firearm without proper training and experience is not recommended and can result in an improperly functioning or dangerous firearm! A trained armorer using a small jeweler’s file made two light passes on the red tab corner, removing just enough excess material so that tab cleared the frame and the trigger could function at 100%.

A Note About Disassembly Safetycanik-tp9sf-elite-with-safe-direction-academy-padPer the disassembly instructions included with the pistol:  “Before beginning the disassembly process, check to ensure your pistol is not loaded…Keep your finger off the trigger and keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.”  Matching up with Canik’s own instructions, Ravelin Group manufactures Safe Direction Ballistic Containment Pads and Cases for use during handgun loading and unloading providing NIJ IIIA equivalent ballistic protection against the immediate aftermath of an accidental or unintentional discharge.

Some Things to Consider: 

Compared to some other compact sized pistols, the Canik TP9 FS Elite has a greater grip circumference and back-strap-to face-of-trigger dimension; also a higher bore axis.  Although the pistol fit well in my hand during live-fire exercises, some shooters with smaller hands might find they have to adjust their grip slightly.  One female shooter found that the captured recoil spring offered a bit more resistance than she was accustomed to.

TP9 FS Elite Performance Summary

Rapid steel target practice with the Canik TP9 progressed flawlessly; the excellent sights and good trigger allowed us to quickly and consistently hammer steel plates out to 30 yards!  During an indoor tactical plate match, I was top shooter using the TP9 as we contended with a number of experienced shooters using high-end custom 1911’s, compensated 1911’s, Glock 34’s, 17’s & 19’s along with a couple of Beretta 92’s.  The Canik’s superior sights and excellent trigger aided the win.

The Canik TP9 FS Elite appears to be a dependable choice for an EDC (every day carry) defensive pistol that delivers on value and excellent function.

Copyright © 2019 Ravelin Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved

The M1911 and Cor®Bon Self-Defense DPX Ammo: Two of My Favorite Things

Springfield M1911-CorBonDPX Self-Defense Ammunition

Recently, I shared a range day picture featuring my lightly customized Springfield Armory M1911 pistol and some boxes of Cor®Bon DPX with my old friend, Mike Shovel, sales manager at Cor®Bon Ammunition.  He was appreciative of my choice of ammo, but chided me for my taste in pistols: “Can’t you find a nice polymer frame pistol made in the 21st Century?”, he chided.

Springfield M1911-CorBonDPX Self-Defense Ammunition

My mentor, John Farnam, of Defense Training International often reminds his students that it is dangerous to have a “favorite” pistol and I agree!  Dependence can lead to helplessness.  I do my best to keep up with the latest designs and I do practice with and carry a variety of defensive pistols — even newly minted ones made in this century! However, one’s first love is often the deepest, and I’ve admired John Browning and his M1911 pistol. since I was a kid. The history of the pistol itself is immensely interesting.  I remind my Ravelin Group Defensive Training students that the functionality and design of the M1911 works as well today in its many iterations as it did more than a century ago!


Here are my “Top 5” reasons to consider Browning’s 100+ year-old design:

  1. Ergonomic: Fits more hands properly than most double columned pistols in regards to trigger reach and circumference dimension.
  2. Carry-friendly: Thinner slide & grip profile (single column magazine) makes for more comfort & concealment when using an IWB holster.
  3. Optimal Standard Trigger Weight: 5 to 6 pound range allows for controlled & consistent hits. Stay away from <4 lb trigger weights in your 1911 for defensive use!
  4. Reliable: All steel construction / hammer-fired action offer reassuring durability & reliability when compared to polymer framed / striker fired pistols. Unlike most polymer framed pistols, the all steel framed 1911 will fully function even when a perfect or non-fully-supported grip is used.
  5. GTG Out of the Box: Most 1911’s come with very usable fixed high-profile sights that allows the user to quickly see the sights, unlike a lot of smaller compact pistols

M1911-support-sideStarting a quest for your own 1911? There are many models from which to choose ranging from “plain vanilla” workhorses, tactical models with picatinny rails, tricked-out competition pistols and top-of-the line showpieces. Here’s a quick caution: be prepared for sticker shock as you go shopping! 1911 platform pistols as a rule are made to very high specifications from quality materials.

Abbreviated “Good-Better-Best” Shopping Guide:

Good: $500.00 – $700.00
Rock Island Armory is a great place to start and offer an array models and options to keep your business as your interest grows.
Ruger makes their own SR1911, a cast steel version that is affordable and updated
Better: $800.00 – $1,800.00
Springfield Armory’s 1911 Series
Kimber, the choice of many professional competitors
Best: $2,500.00 and up
Ed Brown, a custom builder offers over 100 options from which to choose
Wilson Combat, offers top-of-the line models that are handsomely fitted and engraved and high-end “tactical” pistols:

The Used Market

Of course, there are plenty of options in the used market.  A few cautions:

  • “Parts Guns”
  • Replicas
  • Modified Pistols

A nice selection of iconic ‘70 Series Colt 1911’s in the $900.00 to $1,200.00 range, is at

FB-Header02In the Mood for Some 1911 Reading?

Patrick Sweeney has written a number of comprehensive 1911 books, here’s a few:
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 Volume 1
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 Volume II
1911: The First 100 Years

The Importance of Quality Defensive Ammunition

My defensive ammunition preference has been CorBon high performance DPX® (Deep Penetrating Expanding) ammunition for more than 30 years.  Becasue Cor®Bon’s custom serrated copper DPX® bullets have superior penetration and expansion.  Stopping power is maximized and engineered to be retained within the target (avoiding risk of injuries beyond the intended target).

Sales Manager, Mike Shovel, assures me that the Cor®Bon Company is coming up very strong in 2018.  Ravelin Group is a Cor®Bon Dealer.

Copyright © 2018 Ravelin Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved