All posts by refactor

10 Reasons to get Travel Insurance

If you haven’t already started your vacations this year, there’s no doubt the season is upon us. Have you considered getting travel insurance? If not, there are plenty of reasons to consider this often cheap protection for that not so cheap vacation. Here are our top 10 reasons to get travel insurance.

Canceled Trip

Things happen, it’s inevitable. However, when things happen and you’ve paid thousands of dollars for a vacation do you really want all that money going to waste because you need to cancel your trip? We doubt it. That’s why it’s important to consider travel insurance. It’s easy to sit there and say nothing is going to happen or I don’t care if my leg gets chopped off, I’m going on that vacation! It’s an entirely different story when it actually happens—the need to cancel, not the leg chopped off part, although you never know.

Say a family member dies, or a close friend. Maybe mandatory training came up at work and you’ll lose your job if you don’t show up. Maybe your pet is deathly ill or the country you’re going seems a little unsafe for the time being. Whatever the case may be, you’ll have to cancel your trip. If you don’t have travel insurance, or you have insurance through a crappy company, you’ll be out of pocket—some insurers have specific cancellation scenarios in order for them to consider your case. *Read the fine print*

Read our blog, Best Travel Insurance for Veterans, Service Members

Terrorist Attack

None of us wish for anything bad to happen, but it does. Sadly terrorism isn’t an occasional act anymore. And believe it or not, without insurance, some travel companies won’t give you a refund because of a terrorist attack. They aren’t concerned about your safety. They’re concerned about that money you paid them and how to keep from giving it back to you.

You get Sick on your Trip

You’ve sailed off into the sunset. It’s day two of your trip and life really couldn’t get any better. Oh, but it could get so much worse. Because on day three you wake up and feel like you were run over by a bus. You’ve fallen victim to some terrible bug and you might actually die this time. Especially after you find out your trip won’t be reimbursed because you left early and laid in the ICU for a week.

However, if you had something like, I don’t know, travel insurance, you wouldn’t have to worry about this. Instead, you could file a claim and get some or all of your money back and rebook the trip for a future date. Or just go ahead and flush your money down the toilet now – completely up to you.

Photo Credit: (Seaman Michael Colemanberry/U.S. Navy Released)

Lost Passport

Now this one might be news to you, but it happens. I was headed out for Peru one year. I had taken everything I needed to carry with me onto the plane and placed it into one spot for packing. It was about an hour before I had to leave and I went to take this pile and put it in my bag. Book – check, phone – check, earphones – check, wallet – check, passport…wait, where is my passport? I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was not in my safe, where I normally kept it. It was not in my pile. It was not already in my bag. Oh no!

To make a short story even shorter, I found it about 15 minutes before I had to leave (I just looked over it) and was able to make my flight on time. However, what would have happened had I not found my passport? Well for me, a young buck, I would have been screwed out of all my money because I was too wise to buy travel insurance. My hotels were booked, my flights were all booked, my travel fee was paid, everything. And every dime is what I would have lost. Everything paid for and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of any of it.

You might not think it would or could happen to you, because you’re too organized to lose anything—I thought I was—but it will. And when it happens, travel insurance might have been a good idea. Also, they’ll help by getting a new passport expedited to you – in case it was lost or stolen while in a foreign country, preventing you from getting back home.

Natural Disaster

Natural disasters happen, why, because, Mother Nature wants to ruin your vacation. Okay, not really, but seriously, have you ever wondered why it rains on all your days off? She has some serious mood swings! With that being said, if you’re the victim of this and it ruins your travel plans, travel insurance would have your back.

And no, your travel agency isn’t responsible for what Mother Nature does. So chances are, without travel insurance you won’t get your money back.

You Missed your Connecting Flight

You might be thinking to yourself if I miss my connecting flight because of the current flight I’m on, that airline is then held responsible. No, no they are not. Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand. Oh, and if you’re traveling internationally and going from international to national flight, they definitely won’t be paying you back. Maybe if American Airline flew you from Italy to DC and DC to CA, you’d have better luck. But trust me, you’re chances of missing a flight when dealing with international flight is highly likely. I’ve missed a flight, almost missed a flight, or got lucky because my connection was also late. It’s almost never been a smooth process

Without travel insurance, you might find yourself out of money for your flight and booking a new flight for more money because it’s last minute. Oh, and don’t forget about the fact that it’s late at night, everyone else is trying to book a new flight, and the next flight doesn’t fly out until tomorrow. So now you’re also looking for a hotel for the evening—maybe the airline will be so kind as to give you a discounted rate toward the airport’s hotel.

Your Flight got Canceled

This one is a bit disappointing, but believe it or not a canceled flight as a result of weather does not constitute reimbursement. Sounds terrible, I know, but it isn’t the airline’s fault that Mother Nature was having one of her fits again. It also isn’t the airline’s fault you decided to forgo travel insurance. Now you’re left with a flight that never even left the airport and you’re missing the money you spent on it. However, travel insurance does account for bad weather and they’ll help you get your money back.

Lost or Damaged Luggage

You probably haven’t considered this one because lost or damaged luggage isn’t actual travel. However, travel insurance will help reimburse whatever was lost and help you buy new clothes and things at your location. Because wearing what you traveled in for a week because the airport lost your luggage is not fun.

The good news is, the lost luggage department can typically give you hygiene necessities, but they won’t be giving you a week’s worth of outfits. The last time my luggage was lost, I got a white t-shirt with my kit. But, I wasn’t about to wear that in a five-star restaurant in Paris – they probably wouldn’t even let me in. (It’s a good idea to pack a set of clothes in your carry on).

Emergency

Emergencies happen. You might need a medical evacuation from your trip. You might end up hurting yourself while you’re on the trip and need medical care. Travel insurance can often help with this.

Keep in mind, you typically need to purchase additional health insurance for overseas travel. Medical Evacuation Insurance is a thing too. So make sure you read the fine print before assuming your travel insurance company has you covered.

Before you go on your next adventure, read our blog, Protect yourself when you Travel

The Travel Company Filed for Bankruptcy

Something else you probably wouldn’t expect, that your travel company went bankrupt. You’ve paid a bunch of money for them to book your hotels, transportation, amenities, experiences, etc. You haven’t actually been booked with any of these things and now the company you hired is incapable of finishing the job. What do you do? You give up on getting your money back and you go home and cry yourself to sleep.

Or, you call up your travel insurance agent and get that your money back. You can choose not to believe this happens, but please trust us, it does. And when it does, a lot of unhappy people are left without a vacation or the money they spent, unless of course, they had travel insurance.

Disclaimer: Travel insurance is like car insurance. Not all agencies are the same or offer the same coverage. Make sure you shop around and that the company you’re seeking insurance through will cover you for what it is you’re seeking coverage for. Read the fine print because some companies might cover you in the case of a medical emergency but not in the case of a job emergency.

Camp Red Devil Cafe | Get your Beef Patty MRE, Served Hot and Fresh Daily

Apparently, there’s a cafe on Fort Carson that used to be a shoot house. Rumor has it, someone turned it into a cafe that serves MREs. Of course, it’s on a military installation, so it’s exclusive access only. So, if you haven’t had your fill of crappy food lately—though we’ve heard that MREs have had a makeover as far as tastes goes—then maybe it’s worth the visit.

People have even left reviews about the place, earing it a whopping 5 stars on Google—okay, it’s only two reviews, but still. The stars allude to a fantastic dining experience, but the words tell a completely different story.

Cody H. wrote, “Great Food. I’d prefer ordering Pork Sausage Patty (Maple Flavored) for Breakfast. What you pack in, you pack out.” Pack out after three days of constipation, maybe…

Foxtrot Kilo wrote, “Great food, but, you gotta bring it yourself. Also, military only.”

Hmmm, maybe it’s not the kind of cafe you’re thinking of.

If you’ve been the victim of this top-notch establishment, please feel free to leave us your comments below. We’d love to hear about your experience, and find out why people keep coming back – maybe it’s the friendly environment?

Don’t worry, if you can’t take advantage of this fine dining facility, feel free to buy some expired MREs off Amazon. Okay, we’re kidding, they might not be expired. But, they would make a great Christmas present for your brother-in-law, trust us.

USAA Federal Savings Bank | Everything you need to know

We’ve produced several posts on what USAA has to offer, both the good and the bad. To make things a bit easier, we’ve decided to compile everything in one giant article for your reading convenience. Here’s everything you need to know about USAA Federal Savings Bank.

USAA Bank

If you’ve read any of our previous articles on USAA, you know it didn’t start out as a bank, but rather a car insurance company. USAA started out with 25 army officers who wanted car insurance but couldn’t get anyone to insure them. And that’s how USAA got its start. Originally, the plan was to only insure officers—sorry to all the enlisted folks. Good news thought they started to expand to everyone serving at the time. Today, they insure even more people than that. They’ve extended their services to family members of those serving and veterans. Of course, this can be seen as a bad thing because USAA might be getting too big to serve everyone they’re making promises too—which might be resulting in all the complains we’re seeing lately (we’ll get more into that shortly).

USAA Car Insurance

Today, USAA is probably one of the best-known providers of car insurance, home insurance, banking and investment needs for military members and our veterans. So, we probably don’t have to mention they’re pro-military and looking to give you some of the best discounts available—at least that’s how they frame themselves.

From personal experience, they love bundling, and the more you have, the more you save. The nice thing, unlike cable, your bundle won’t end up costing you more next year. I’ve saved so much money over the years by banking through USAA, having my personal property insurance through them, my homeowner’s insurance, my car insurance, and my investment through them. Every time I ask about adding something, it seems like I save another $5 and my fees go down instead of up.

Unfortunately, if you aren’t bundling or you don’t bank through them, the other services might cost you more than you’d expect. Even so, the above will depend on what you’re bundling, how much, where you live, your credit, etc. But, it’s a good option if you want everything in one spot.

Pros 

  • They have excellent customer service
  • They offer huge discounts, especially if you can bundle
  • Free payment plan available
  • Car replacement assistance available
  • Military Installation discount, if you store your car on base while deployed (must be more than 30 days) 

Cons

  • Geico is a cheaper option, in most cases
  • Driver training discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or NY
  • Safe Driver’s discount isn’t available in HI
  • Storage discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or VA
  • New vehicle discount isn’t available in NY

USAA Roadside Assistance

Imagine yourself stranded on the side of the road because you were an idiot and didn’t fill up in the last town you drove through—you know, because you know your car. Or maybe you have a flat, got mad and threw your keys into the lake—yeah they’re gone forever—or your battery finally died; if you have USAA roadside assistance, there shouldn’t be much to fret about.

USAA has 24-hour online roadside assistance. Below are some of the things you should consider before electing USAA as your roadside assistance provider.

24-Hour Online Roadside Assistance 

Contrary to what some may say, USAA roadside assistance isn’t free. Roadside assistance is an add-on. You might get a little discount for the addition, but in some way, you are paying for it. There are also some policies which include the service, but again, it’s included at an additional charge.

Either way, if you want roadside assistance, it’s easy to get, and you can take advantage of it 24-hours a day—from your driveway even. Now, the bad news. Just because you can use roadside assistance any time of day or night does not mean it’s a speedy service or that you can use it anywhere. Yes, in some cases you can call and a USAA approved mechanic or the likes will come out to you in a reasonable time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is in part because USAA does not affiliate with every tow company, locksmith, etc., and the nearest one might be 60 miles away from where you find yourself needing help.

Now imagine you’re asking for that service at an unreasonable hour; you’ll have to wait on the notification to go through, for that person to get ready—because they aren’t at work, just on call—and then make the drive to wherever you are. You might be sitting stranded for longer than a few minutes.

Of course, if you happen to be calling from your driveway, have another source of transportation, or you aren’t in a hurry, maybe this isn’t a big deal. But that one time you aren’t stranded in your driveway, that’s when you might be wondering if you should have shopped around a little more.

Roadside Assistance (If it’s NOT an Accident)

USAA provides roadside assistance for pretty much any problem that might leave you stranded. However, these are services rendered when you haven’t been in an accident. Also, there are a few caveats to their services, so keep reading.

Vehicle Tow

USAA will send a representative to come out and tow your vehicle, but only if you’re stranded on or near a public roadway.

Flat Tire

If you don’t have a spare tire available, it’s pretty much pointless to call USAA. If you want someone to change the tire, you better have a tire to replace it with. The tire must also be in good condition—because changing a flat with a flat doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

Unlock your Vehicle

USAA will send out a locksmith to come open your car door for you. But, if you’re calling about a lost key, your policy will not cover the cost of a new one.

Deliver Gasoline

Gas delivery services do not cover the price of gasoline. They’ll pay for the delivery of the goods, but not the goods themselves.

Jump Start

USAA will send a representative out to jump start your vehicle. So, if you’re parked at the local mall, come out to find your battery is dead, someone will be there to help you – but it might take a while if you’re not close to a USAA approved company to provide those services.

Submit a Claim

Most of USAA’s complaints come from their car insurance and claims departments. However, submitting a claim is not a hard process. You can file your claim via the claims center online, over the phone, or through the USAA Mobile App.

Request Reimbursement 

If for some reason, you did not use USAA to get a tow truck out to you or you were towed to an unapproved location, you can request a reimbursement. Simply keep a copy of your receipt for the tow and send it in for a USAA representative to look over and consider – requesting a reimbursement does not mean you’ll get approved.

Roadside Assistance Outside of the United States, Canada

If you breakdown on the side of the road in a foreign country, USAA might have services you can take advantage of. However, this requires you to go through their international contact directory. Unfortunately, we can’t promise the services elsewhere will be the same as what you’ll get here in the US and Canada, as we haven’t actually used roadside assistance outside of this great country or talked to anyone who has.

USAA Roadside Assistance Contact Information

Contact Number: 800-531-8555

International Contact Directory

USAA Renters Insurance

Whether you’re living in an apartment or base housing, chances are pretty high you’ve been required to get renters insurance. The good news, renters insurance doesn’t typically break the bank, but the type of coverage you get and your payments will depend on who you get it through. So, while you might save a few cents here and there with one insurer, you might not get the same type of coverage.

USAA Renters Insurance Application Process

Signing up for USAA renters insurance isn’t very hard. I personally did it over the phone, just because I like talking to people over using the Internet. But, you can do it online too. If you aren’t already a member of USAA, that will be your first step. If you have that knocked out, here’s what’s next:

  1. Sign-in
  2. Click on “Products” at the top of the page
  3. When the menu drops down, click on “Renters Insurance” on the far left-hand side under “Insurance”
  4. Click “Get A Quote”
  5. Fill out the renter’s location form
  6. Get your rental insurance offer

Proof of Renters Insurance

Access your proof of insurance by first logging into your USAA account and clicking on “my documents.” You can have it mailed, emailed, or sent to the landlord requesting proof. Keep in mind while USAA is pretty fast about getting this out in the mail, downloading it online and emailing it to your soon to be apartment complex is a much faster option.

USAA Renters Insurance Claim Process

If you ever have to use your renters insurance, filing a claim through USAA isn’t very difficult. All you have to do is file your claim through the claim center. You have the option of calling the claims center, filing online, or filing through the USAA Mobile App.

What USAA Covers

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Silverware
  • Phones
  • Military Equipment
  • Jewelry
  • Storage
  • Fine Art
  • Bicycles
  • Sports Equipment
  • Cameral
  • Liability
  • Coins
  • China or Crystal
  • Music Equipment
  • Guns
  • Furniture
  • Stamps
  • Antiques
  • Computers
  • Appliances
  • Furs
  • Hearing Aids

When USAA Coverage Applies

  • Fire and lightning
  • Flood and Water
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Collapse of building
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Earthquake
  • Smoke
  • Freezing
  • Falling objects
  • Explosion
  • Theft
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Vandalism and malicious mischief
  • Riot and civil commotion
  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging
  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current

How much is Renters Insurance

The price of your renters’ insurance will vary based on where you need coverage and how much of it you want. Your deductible will also determine how much your coverage will cost.

USAA Renters Insurance Quote 

As of this article, USAA provides basic coverage for $12/month. Again, this will depend on a lot of different variables. So, if you’re in the market for renters insurance, the best option is to talk with an actual representative who can let you know what you need and how much and tell you if you qualify for any discounts.          

Why get USAA Renters Insurance

  • Your stuff is safe and protected
  • You’re covered for flood
  • Earthquake coverage is standard
  • USAA replaces the old with the new
  • Move, take and store your stuff, worldwide

How to Cancel USAA Renters Insurance

If you’re looking to cancel your renters insurance because you’re moving or want to switch to another provider, simply call USAA. The process is smooth. Simply call USAA and tell them you want to cancel. They’ll probably ask why to ensure you’re going to be covered in your new circumstances. 

Renters Insurance and Military Housing

If you’re still serving, you probably already know this. But if you got out before 2015 or came in after 2015, this might be news to you. Have you ever wondered why you haven’t been asked to get renters insurance when you move into base housing? Well, you never have because renters insurance used to be a part of your BAH. However, in 2015, the DoD decided to remove this from BAH.

Because of the changes, service members have gone from not needing renters insurance for base housing, to needing it. If you use USAA for banking and other insurance needs, you can get renters insurance for pretty cheap.

USAA Renters Insurance Phone Number

210-531-USAA (or 210-531-8722)

800-531-USAA (or 800-531-8722)

USAA Student Loans 

We are only covering this topic because so many people are still asking questions about USAA student loans. Unfortunately, this is a thing of the past. USAA announced it was no longer giving its 25% discount to USAA members who got a student loan through Wells Fargo back in 2016.

With that being said, it does not mean they aren’t working to continue helping poor college-age students. If that’s you or you created one of these needy spawns, keep reading.

What to do if you have a USAA Student Loan

So, here you are now in the middle of paying off your USAA Student Loan, or maybe payments haven’t actually kicked in yet and you find out USAA is no longer participating in the Student Loan market. What is your next move? Have things changed? Will this somehow affect your current loan? Does this mean you lose your discount? We can’t answer any of these questions, but Wells Fargo can. Give them your loan number and they’ll be happy to help, or at least we hope so.

Last we checked, your questions can be answered by calling Wells Fargo at this number: (877) 336-1316 

How to Refinance your USAA Student Loan

Back to our comment about refinancing your USAA Student loan: the bad news, you can’t refinance through USAA, the good news, you never could. USAA just got you the discount. Which means, you can still refinance your loan through Wells Fargo, just not with USAA’s blessing. 

What to do if you need a new Student Loan

If refinancing isn’t on the horizon, but instead an entirely new loan, you’ll have to look elsewhere besides the USAA/Wells Fargo partnership. However, before you start burying yourself in a new student loan, make sure you take the appropriate steps to get all the financial aid you need.

Look into FASFA, grants, other federally based loans, scholarships, and even work-studies through the school you’re planning to attend or you’re planning to send your child/spouse through.

Start a USAA College Savings Fund

USAA may not offer student loan services, but they do offer some great financial advice on how to start saving for a college education. We’ve taken the liberty of covering some of the ways they’ll help you do this below, so keep reading.

Apply for a Free USAA College Checking or Savings Account

Set your kid up for success in the financial world by opening up a USAA College Checking or Saving Account. You can set debit/ATM card limits, choose if they can make transfers and even deposits, and get text alerts when your little angel spends too much and the account balance drops too low for your comfort.

When they turn 18, USAA will automatically convert the account to a free classic checking account, and you’ll be given the option to continue your joint account or let the little birdy leave the nest and make all the financial mistakes you’d hope they’d never fall victim to—completely up to you, of course, failing at life can be the best lesson.

How to Apply for College Financial Aid 

USAA has an entire article on how to apply for something called FASFA. If you haven’t heard of it, it stands for Free Application for Student Federal Aid.

If you don’t qualify for federal financial aid, there are grants and student loans with discounted rates for those falling into a certain income bracket. There are even work-studies, which will let you basically work for your education. Typically, this is work on campus, with a schedule that works around your classes.

USAA Debt Management

USAA might not have given you the student loan or all that other debt you’ve racked up, but they’re there to help you manage it. Simply talk to one of their advisers, tell them about your debt, let them build a debt payment plan, and help monitor your progress. You’ve made it this far, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the advice from the financial experts at your bank.

529 Plan

A 529 is just one more way you can help prepare yourself or your child for their education. The difference between this account and other investment options are the tax benefits. If you have to withdraw from the account for any educational costs, including K-12 expenses, you won’t have to pay federal income tax on it.

You can open an account for as little as $50 and make automatic investments of at least $50/month or do an initial investment of $250 and save yourself from having to do make that automatic $50/month contribution.

USAA Education and Training

If you want to do a little more research on what USAA has to offer in regards to investing in your future—or your child’s—education, they have plenty of resources. If you visit their Education and Training page, you can start looking at what steps can be taken to save for college and securing financial assistance when the time comes.

USAA Investments

If you’re looking to invest, there are plenty of ways to do so through USAA. However, before you start, you need to think about your goals. Some investments offer tax benefits, while others don’t. There are short-term investments, long-term investment, education investments and more. So first, consider your goal, and select the option that will benefit you the most financially.

Disclaimer: Never invest if you’re not in a position to do so. Make sure you have an emergency fund saved up, you are paying all your bills on time, and make sure if you have debt that it’s manageable.

USAA Mutual Funds

You can open a mutual fund for $50/month after you’ve invested an initial $50 when opening the account. You also have the option of simply opening an account with $500, without the $50/month.

Minimum investments range anywhere from $50 to $3000, depending on what type of mutual fund you open, which will depend on how much risk you’re willing to take.

Digital Investment Adviser

Knowing which exchange-traded funds or EFTs to invest in can be confusing, especially if you’re new to investing. That’s why USAA has something called a Digital Investment Adviser to help you out.

All the hard work is done for you and you’ll end up with a globally diversified portfolio, according to USAA. If your account becomes unbalanced, they’ll rebalance it for you, without an additional fee. There isn’t a transfer fee or any additional trading fees either—if USAA is the one buying and selling for you.

However, there is a .50% annual fee for what your account is worth. This excludes underlying fund fees. You’ll also need $2,000 to open this account.

This is an option for those who are looking to make a long-term investment of 5 or more years.

Exchange-Traded Funds

EFTs are an investment in diversified securities. If you want to invest in this, you’ll first need to open a brokerage account. You’ll also need a minimum of $3,000 to get yourself started. Unlike some of the other investment opportunities, this requires you to do the work. You have to give USAA your trade details and complete your own orders. USAA won’t be investing for you.

If you need a little help, don’t worry there’s something called Morningstar Investing Education, which has several virtual classrooms on everything you’ll need to start investing properly. You can learn about EFTs, mutual funds, and stocks through this resource.

Managed Portfolios

If you have $25,000 or more you can have a USAA managed portfolio. You’ll start by telling your representative all your financial goals—retirement, vacation, new car, house, send your kid to college, etc.—how much risk you’re willing to take, and then they’ll let you know what type of portfolio fits your specific needs and desires.

They’ll monitor, reallocate, and rebalance when need be. However, this does come with a fee, but you’ll get diversified investments and a professional to keep you on track toward the goals you’ve set with them.

If you have $250,000, you have the option of doing a UMP Wrap with Wealth Management—USAA Managed Portfolio with additional benefits. This option is a bit more custom, and you’ll get a lot more than investment management basics.

USAA CD

If you’re not wanting to hold your money up in a retirement account, but still want to invest, you might want to consider a Certificates of Deposit or CD. With a much lower risk than dealing in the stock exchange, you can choose to deposit as little as $250 and let your money sit for days or years. Of course, the longer and larger your investment, the larger your APY.

USAA IRA Options

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account.  You have the option of a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Both are intended to help you save up for retirement. With an IRA you can choose to place your money in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and even a managed portfolio, for a financial expert to manage for you. Which IRA you choose will depend on a few things, such as your future tax bracket and when you want to pay taxes on the money you invest. In both cases, the following apply:

  • If you withdraw money before you turn 59 1/2 you’ll risk a 10% tax penalty.
  • You may invest a maximum of $6,000/year if you’re under 50 as of 2019
  • You may invest a maximum of $7,000/year if you’re over 50 as of 2019

Traditional IRA

Traditional IRA accounts aren’t for everyone. But if you think your tax bracket will lower once you hit retirement, this could be a good option for you. It’s also great for people who would rather pay taxes once they start withdrawing money than right now. If you aren’t planning on taking out any money until you’re 71 1/2 this could be a beneficial investment.  It’s also a good option for those who are still making taxable income up until age 71 1/2.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is nearly the opposite of a Traditional IRA. It’s optimal for those who intend to stay or be placed in a higher tax bracket in retirement compared to their working years. It’s best for those who don’t want their tax benefits now and would rather wait until retirement. Do not mind paying taxes on their investment now, so they can make tax-free withdrawals once they’re retired. And it’s good for those who don’t want to worry about minimum distributions.

How to roll a TSP into a USAA IRA

Rolling your TSP over is pretty straightforward. It’s really a matter of transferring funds. Many banks will let you do this. If you’re a USAA member, simply sign on to your account and request to rollover your TSP into one of their IRA options.

  1. First, open an IRA account with USAA. You can do this online or over the phone with a representative.
  2. Select, “Rollover” for your funding source
  3. Download the form that applies to you: TSP-70 (full withdrawals) or TSP-77 (partial withdrawals)
  4. Mail, send via member message, or fax the completed form to 800-292-8177

USAA Review – What people don’t like

Believe it or not, it’s true; there are people out there who really hate USAA. Hate may seem like a strong word, but if you were to talk to the individuals feeling this particular way, you might use the word hate too. In fact, some of them used it themselves, keep reading to find out why.

Top Reasons People are Dissatisfied with USAA

  • Car insurance is too expensive
  • Claims center doesn’t know what they’re doing
  • It takes too long to get through to a representative
  • You will get the runaround with your claim
  • Getting USAA to pay out is near impossible
  • Some discounts aren’t available in all states
  • USAA doesn’t call their customers back
  • Concerns go unanswered, and members don’t get updated
  • USAA has been known to close accounts and open old accounts without authorization
  • Customer service is rude
  • USAA doesn’t have answers for their mistakes
  • Unless you’re actively serving, you don’t get as many benefits

Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is through a third party with USAA. This simply means you get an extra discount by going through USAA. But, who’s to say you can’t just tell the other company you’re military and still get the same thing. Also, USAA uses after-market parts, so if you’re looking for a better quality replacement on your motorcycle or car, you might want to consider elsewhere.

USAA Student Loans

USAA used to get you a 25% discounted rate for getting a student loan with Wells Fargo through them. But, guess what, they don’t do it anymore. Now you have no choice but to go directly to the company, and the discount isn’t included anymore.

USAA Car Insurance

The cost of car insurance is hit or miss. Depending on your driving record, how long you’ve been with USAA, and if you have any other products through USAA will alter your premium. Even your credit score could prevent you from getting a good deal—this is with most insurance providers. However, these things seem to hit a little harder when getting a good deal through USAA. So, shop around before you make your choice.

USAA Home and Personal Loans

Loans are not the easiest thing to get through USAA. And if you get approved, their rates are typically higher than most banks. This is the case for home, car and personal loans. Even if you have a good credit score, you’re looking at some pretty high interest rates. Personally, they told me I couldn’t get a VA loan through them because my civilian job wasn’t related to what I did while I was in the military—first time I’ve heard that. 

USAA Investments

Investing your money is a smart move. You need to save up for retirement, emergencies, and just everyday life. But who you invest with, how you invest, and the rate at which you invest are all just as important. USAA does a good job of advising their members on how to do each of these. However, they do not always have the best return rates (not always the case, but just shows you should shop around before you invest).

USAA Banking

USAA does a great job of offering more than just banking services. They offer a lot of products that other banks don’t. What might be attractive with USAA is how much you can get out of the company. It’s convenient to bank, invest, pay loans, and get insured all in the same place. But, that doesn’t mean it’s financially the best choice. If you’re looking to save money, it might be wise to get these products from different companies. Of course, in many cases, bundling these things with USAA does save you money. But, not always, so shop around.

2019 Buyers’ Guide to Laser Sights

If you’re looking for laser sights, look no further. Actually, you’ll have to look a tad further, because we don’t sell any. However, this is a great place to start before you actually buy a sight. Here’s our full buyers’ guide to everything laser sights.

Top Red Laser Sights

Red laser sights are probably the most popular. Not because they’re better, but because they’re cheaper than a green laser. Red lasers work great in low-light conditions and work well up to 25-30 yards in well-lit conditions (such as outside during daylight hours with no overcast).

LG-410 LASERGRIPS® FOR KIMBER® EVO SP

 

Description

Crimson Trace® LG-410 Lasergrips® are a compact and versatile laser sight system for Kimber® EVO SP pistols. With a simple replacement of the factory grips, the LG-410 features Crimson Trace’s famed Instinctive Activation™, allowing the laser to be activated with a normal grip on the pistol – via front activation button.

These Lasergrips include a Master On/Off switch, are fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and are eligible for Crimson Trace’s “Free Batteries For Life” program.

LG-410 Lasergrips fit Kimber EVO SP Two Tone, TLE™, Raptor™, CDP2 and Custom Shop models.

Price: $339.00

MBS-AA Borelight

Description

Low Power Mode for Low Light Conditions
Stainless Steel Bore Rods (2) Fully Adjustable for Windage / Elevation Rotary Switch for Easy Operation
Powered by One AA Battery
Includes Arbors for these Calibers:
    ⁃    .22/.223/5.56mm Oversize
    ⁃    .223/5.56mm
    ⁃    7mm
    ⁃    .30/.308/30-06/7.62mm
    ⁃    .38/.357/9mm
    ⁃    .40/10mm/.45/.50

Price: $279.00 (Must purchase directly from Steiner for this price)

TLR-4® GUN LIGHT

 

Description

  • White 170 lumen LED and red laser for long-range targeting
  • 3 modes: White LED only, Red laser only, or both LED and Red laser
  • Runs 1.5 hours to the 10% output level ( LED only or LED and laser); 15 hours (laser only)
  • Compact – weighs 2.81 oz. (79.7 g) with included battery; 2.73″ (6.93 cm) long
  • Key kit included for mounting to a variety of weapons (H&K USP models do not include key kit)
  • Rail clamp designed to rapidly attach/detach from side of the weapon. One handed snap-on and tighten interface keeps hands away from muzzle when attaching/detaching
  • Windage and elevation adjustment screw mounted in bushing for dependable zero retention of laser
  • Ambidextrous momentary/steady On-Off switch
  • Uses one 3V CR2 lithium battery (included)
  • Impact-resistant polymer construction with durable anodized aluminum facecap
  • Borofloat high-temperature glass lens
  • Operating temperatures of -20°F to +120°F
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Serialized for positive identification
  • Models also available for H&K USP Compact frame and H&K USP Full-Size frame
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Assembled in the USA

Price: $131

Top Green Laser Sights

Green laser sights are generally more expensive than red lasers. This is because the technology behind a green laser is more advanced. Green lasers work better than red lasers in well-lit environments. For instance, if it’s during peak daylight hours and you’re outside, you’ll be able to see your laser for up to 100 yards. In low-light conditions, the green and red lasers are about the same. However, green lasers are more powerful, which means the battery life isn’t as long as a red laser sight.

LG-401G FRONT ACTIVATION GREEN LASERGRIPS® FOR 1911 FULL-SIZE

 

Description

The LG-401G green laser sight for 1911 pistols combines Crimson Trace’s celebrated Lasergrips® platform with the visible advantages of green laser technology. Using the smallest laser green laser diode available, the LG-401G emits a powerful green beam yet still provides over two hours of run time on (4) #2016 batteries.  The LG-401G utilizes Crimson Trace’s famed Instinctive Activation™ technology – meaning that when the pistol is held in a normal firing grip, the laser sight is activated.  A Master On/Off switch allows the shooter to completely power down the unit for range training without the laser.  Green Lasergrips® set a new standard in 1911 green laser technology.

This product is not compatible with ambidextrous safety levers. We stock shortened ambi-safeties from Wilson Combat® in BLACK and STAINLESS. Gunsmith installation is required.

Price: $399.00

Steiner TOR Micro

Description

The TOR Micro is a sub-miniature rail mounted aiming laser for pistols available with a green or red laser.

The TOR Micro features a Type III hard-anodized machined-aluminum housing and rail mount. It is dustproof and splash-proof to IP54 standards and is available in red (635 nm) or green (520 nm) lasers. Both the green and red lasers are direct diode type allowing them to operate in extreme cold weather. Other features include left and right fire buttons for ambidextrous use, constant power drive that ensures the laser output remains constant throughout the life of the battery, low battery indication, as well as windage and elevation bore sight adjustment screws.

The universal rail mount on the TOR Micro will fit all pistols that have a Picatinny or Weaver style rail forward of the trigger guard. This design of the TOR Mini and TOR Micro allows optimum positioning of the laser so that the fire buttons are easily accessible for a wide range of users.

Price: $199

Streamlight TLR-2® G GUN LIGHT

 

Description

  • 510-530nm direct drive green laser with a wide operating temperature range
  • Green laser provides long-range targeting even in daylight
  • White LED delivers 300 lumens and 12,000-candela peak beam intensity
  • Runs 2.5 hours (LED/Laser simultaneously); Laser only function runs 17 hours
  • Powered by two 3V CR123A lithium batteries with a 10-year storage life
  • Rail grip clamp system securely attaches/detaches quickly and safely with no tools and without putting your hands in front of the muzzle
  • Mounts directly to handguns with Glock-style rails and to all MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rails.
  • Includes keys for Glock-style, Picatinny, Beretta 90two, S&W 99 and S&W TSW and Sig P320
  • Durable, anodized aluminum construction with high-impact, chemical-resistant polymer laser housing
  • Ambidextrous momentary/steady on/off switch
  • User programmable strobe can be enabled/disabled
  • Windage and elevation adjustment screws mounted in bushings for long life and dependable zero retention
  • Highly accurate sight repeatability when remounting
  • Fits existing light bearing holsters
  • 3.39 in. (8.61 cm); 4.72 oz (133.8 grams)
  • Operating temperature: -40°F to +120°F.
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Lithium Battery Notice under DOCUMENTATION
  • Remote switches are available as optional accessories and must be used in conjunction with 69130 remote door switch. All switches and door switch are sold separately. Reference TLR Accessories Brochure in DOCS/INFO tab for more information.
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Assembled in the USA

Price: $316

Why Mount a Laser on your Pistol

You might be asking why you should mount a laser on your pistol, especially if there are things like the guide rod laser, which requires replacing your original guide rod and won’t make your pistol any bulkier than it already is.

Well, you see, the smaller your laser is, typically, the less powerful it is. You might consider doing a mounted laser because these tend to be more powerful, meaning you can see the laser better. However, you’ll never get anything more powerful than 5 mW—legally speaking.

Best Red Dot Sight | The 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Green vs. Red Laser Sights

We’ve already pointed out that green lasers require more advanced technology, they work better in a well-lit environment, and they’re more expensive. People who purchase green lasers do so because it works for the environment they plan to be using it in.

With that being said, yes green lasers are easier to see, particularly because humans see green better than any other color. And yes, that makes green lasers seem brighter than red lasers. However, the amount of power needed to operate a green laser effects more than the battery life.

All that power also means green laser sights are sensitive to temperature, which doesn’t affect your red laser as much. A green laser sight can operate between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you want to shoot in conditions under 40 degree or over 100 degrees, you should probably look into getting a red laser sight instead of the green option.

Disadvantages of Using a Laser Sight

Besides having to buy a new holster dedicated to holding your pistol with a laser on it, there are a few other disadvantages. One of these is that some people become too reliant on the tool and forget that the basics still matter. Your laser is meant to be a tool to use with your iron sights, and it can be easy to forget that for some.

A laser is not an excuse to forget the fundamentals. It is also not an excuse to disregard the fundamentals if you are a beginner. This, however, does not mean lasers can’t be a great learning tool – we’ll get into that shortly.

Advantages of Using a Laser Sight

While disadvantages of using a laser sight include the possibility of losing fundamental shooting skills—because you stop practicing or focusing on this—it does not mean there is a lack of advantages. In fact, it can help improve your aiming. You still have to use your fundamental skills, but it’s a great option for improving speed to acquiring sight picture.

Laser Grips

Laser grips are great for those who aren’t looking to add extra bulk and weight to their pistol. You can get grips that automatically turn the laser on from the pressure of your hand or a grip you must make a conscious effort to switch on. The downsides to these are, they aren’t interchangeable between all pistols, and they aren’t ambidextrous.

Best AR-15 Triggers | 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Left-Handed Laser Grip Options

Unfortunately, the number of left-handed laser grip options are limited. If you’re left-handed and choose to purchase a right-handed laser grip, know that the possibility of your hand impeding the laser is likely.

Rear Sight Lasers

Rear sight lasers are a popular choice because they tend to be lightweight compared to some other options out there. They’re typically much easier to install compared to a guide rod laser. However, some users have complained that the laser is not as powerful because it’s much smaller than other laser sight options.

Trigger Guard Mounted Lasers

Trigger guard mounted lasers are convenient because they can be used on multiple pistols. However, if you’re purchasing this type of laser for an existing pistol you carry, you’ll likely have to buy a new holster too.

These lasers are bigger and will add weight to your pistol. The laser is typically more powerful on a trigger guard mounted laser as well. However, your accuracy may be affected negatively if the mounting bracket doesn’t provide the secure attachment you’d expect—which is a common issue with this type of laser sight.

Guide Rod Lasers

Guide rod lasers are great for those of us who don’t want to add additional weight to our pistols or don’t want the worry of purchasing a new holster. However, unlike some other laser options out there, they’re a bit more complex when it comes to installation, as it requires you to replace the existing guide rod. If you know how to do this it may not seem like a big deal. However, it will affect your ability to adjust your sight’s windage or elevation.

Rail Mounted Lasers

If you have enough rail space to mount your laser, rail mounted lasers are simple to install. However, you might find it difficult to keep the laser completely still, as some mounting brackets just aren’t that good.

Legalities of Laser Sights

Believe it or not—insert dramatic eye roll—the federal government does have regulations on laser sights. This involves the power of your laser. Legally you can have a laser sight, so long as it is no more than 5 mW.

Concealed Carry with a Laser Sight

Depending on what style of laser sight you have on your pistol will depend on how much it affects your concealed carry. Some options will make your firearm bulkier, meaning it might be harder to conceal the fact that you’re carrying, because you’ll also need a larger holster. However, some laser systems—such as the guide rod laser—won’t make much of a difference.

Holsters for Pistols with a Laser Sight

In most cases, when you attach a sight to your pistol, chances are you’ll need to purchase a new holster. Some laser sights, such as the guide rod laser, won’t require a holster change. However, if you’re planning to add a laser to your trigger guard or do a rail mounted laser, you’ll be adding bulk, which means you’ll be needing a new holster. So, if you’re set on keeping the holster you have but also want a laser, you might have to settle for a smaller and less powerful laser.

Training with your Laser Sight

Anytime you add something new to your pistol you must practice with it. Yes, a laser can help you find your target quicker, but that doesn’t mean you should opt out of training with your new tool.

Chances are a laser will change the weight of your weapon, how you function—need to turn the laser on first or is it automatic—and maybe even the holster in which you’re drawing from. These changes may seem small, but they could mean the difference between hitting your target in time and not. So train to be comfortable with the changes. Train so you maintain accuracy. Train for safety. And always keep your fundamentals as a part of said training.

Fundamental Handgun Skills

A laser sight is not meant to correct or replace poor form—trigger squeeze, proper stance, etc. It is a great tool but it is not intended to make up for a lack of training.

How to set up your Rifle Sights and Optics

Laser Sight FAQs

Below are some of the most frequent questions people are asking about lasers.

Are laser sights legal?

Yes.

Which is better, a red or green laser?

The answer will depend on your environment. Green is easier to see in a well-lit environment. Green is also more expensive. Both options work well in low-lit conditions.

Are laser sights useful?

Yes, and no. Maybe you’d be surprised to hear that laser sights aren’t always a good idea, depending on who you are, how you operate and even the weaponry you use.

For many, lasers can have people forgetting their fundamentals or attempting to use them as a crutch rather than an additional tool. Of course, you can prevent this by training, but often people forget to train on the basics after attaching a laser. You might laugh about this, but it’s seen too often not to address.

Lasers, however, can be a very useful tool. Your laser is intended to be used with your iron sights. A laser simply helps you find sight alignment a little quicker in high-threat situations and when you’re in an awkward position to find that same sight alignment and sight picture with the iron sights.

Laser sights are also great training tools – especially for new shooters. The laser not only makes it easier for the instructor to immediately notice that you’ve shot low and to the left, but it also lets the shooter see that they don’t have proper sight alignment. Again, the laser is a tool – it does not replace your iron sights. You should train with both your iron sights and laser sight to maintain proficiency.

Are green lasers legal?

Yes, green is just as legal as red lasers. However, in both cases, the power of your laser cannot exceed 5 mW, per federal regulation.

How far do laser sights work?

The answer to this depends on which laser you’re using and your light conditions. A green laser in a well-lit environment can work up to 100 yards. However, a red laser in a well-lit environment might only give you a distance of 25-30 yards. Both are great options for low-lit situations.

Amazon Prefab Homes are Every Prepper’s Dream

Yes, you read the title correctly. Amazon does, in fact, sell prefabricated homes. They aren’t mansions or anything, but who cares. You can buy a home for less than $20,000, some as low as $5,000. Of course, you’re going to need tools and maybe a few basic carpentry skills. But has a lack of skills stopped you yet? We doubt it. Keep reading to find out how you can get your Amazon prefabricated home!

Amazon Prefabricated Homes

Owning two homes…who has that kind of money? Let’s be honest, most of us probably don’t have a few hundred thousand lying around. However, Amazon along with a lot of other retailers offer prefabricated homes for under $25,000. You can even find tiny homes for under $10,000. Of course, this is cheap in comparison to most single-family homes. And while you’ll be saving a lot, you will be compromising space, in both the prefabricated Amazon houses and other tiny home options.

Lillevilla Allwood Cabin Kit Getaway

Even if you’re not looking for a second home for when shit hits the fan, you have to admit, this isn’t a bad looking prefabricated house – off Amazon of all places. Right when you thought Amazon couldn’t do more than they’re already doing, they start shipping homes.

Who says you have to live in a tent after the apocalypse? Make this place your survival home instead.

Price: $18,800.00

Specs

  • Inside Combined Floor Area: 292 Sqf + the sleeping Loft (not part of the 292 Sqf)
  • Wall thickness: 1-3/4″ (44 mm) – dual T&G windblock pattern
  • Ridge Height: 12′ 8″ – Back wall height: 8″ – Kit weight is 7300 lbs
  • Doors: Exterior (2): 62-1/8” x 76-1/8” – Interior (1): 32-1/2” x 76-1/8”
  • Windows | front: 36” x 36” | back: 54-1/8″ x 36″ | left: 27-5/8″ x 46-7/8″ | right: 21-3/4″ x 68″

Allwood Claudia

This prefabricated home could also be a little garden room or the most beautiful shed you’ve ever owned. It’s one big open space – so plenty of room for activities. No one said you needed seven rooms and three full baths in your home away from homes, just a roof over your head and a way to keep warm.

 

Price: $8,250.00

Specs

  • Inside Floor Area: 209 Sqf – spacious yet cozy
  • Wall thickness: 1-3/4″ (44 mm) – dual T&G wind block pattern
  • Front / back wall height: 7’3″ – Ridge height: 11’11”
  • Each extra layer of wall planks adds approximately 4-1/2 inches to the wall height
  • Extra wall planks are listed separately – SKU: 8O-5C6V-VCA4

Timber Frame Cabin Kit

One of the more expensive options on Amazon, but still worth mentioning – because hey, it’s a cabin. Now you can be like your forefathers and build your own cabin back in the woods someplace. Of course, you’re not cutting your own lumber…but still. If you did it right, you’ll end up with two bedrooms and a bathroom.

This particular kit also has a bit more space, which is part of the reason you’re paying more.

Price: $59,321.00

Specs

  • 725 Square Foot Goshen Timber Frame Cabin Kit
  • Handcrafted Timber Frame
  • Prefabricated Insulated Panel Enclosure
  • Tongue and Groove Decking for Ceiling and Loft

Lillevilla Escape

Much smaller, and cheaper than the other options we’ve listed is this tiny little shelter. Yes, you could use it as a hobby space, a shed, playhouse, etc. Or, you could make it your survival home hidden away someplace up in the mountains. Really, it’s all about imagination, and I could imagine myself finding shelter in this 113 square foot building over a tent in a blizzard any day.

Price: $4,990.00

Specs

  • Inside Floor Area: 113 Sqf – 9’1″ deep x 12’5″ wide
  • Wall thickness: 1-3/4″ (44 mm) – Nordic Spruce Dual Tongue Windblock pattern
  • Ridge Height: 8′ 3″ | Wall height 6’5″
  • Door: 33.5″ x 69.7″ | Window: 46.9″ x 34.2″
  • Minimum site footprint 13’1″ x 9’8″ – Weight 3200 lbs

Allwood Ranger Cabin Kit

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any cooler, Amazon presents you with a ranger cabin kit that has a nice little covered front porch. No one said you couldn’t survive in style. Of course, it’s going to cost you, but not as much as that timber cabin listed above. No, it’s not as big, but there’s a bathroom, kitchen space, a living room, and a small loft to sleep in. What more could you possibly want?

Price: $19,990.00

Specs

  • 259 SQF main floor + spacious 168 SQF Loft
  • 2-3/4″ (70 mm) dual T&G windblock pattern
  • Milled from slow grown Nordic Spruce
  • 451 SQF roof area at 24.8 degree angle – ideal for solar panels
  • Lead time 45 days from order date

Why Get A Prefabricated Home

State of Emergency

If a state of emergency happens, do you have a place to go? Are you planning on running to the nearest cave? Maybe you’re planning on staying at your uncle’s place. No matter what, it’s important you know your options prior to the emergency. When things get really bad, you might have to forfeit everything you have and go someplace else, whether that be due to a hurricane, flood, or other natural disasters. Of course, there’s always the chance of a zombie apocalypse, so you should be prepared for that as well. Either way, you might need a place of retreat that isn’t your home on Sunshine Ave. Point being, you should be prepared for when things get really bad. Some choose a second home—you could use it as a vacation spot when your life isn’t being threatened too.

A Survivalist’s Second Home

Container Homes

Container homes are starting to become popular now. For those of us who have no imagination or building skills of any kind, there are container homes just for you. You can get all the necessities needed for survival, and oddly enough have a very modern looking home. There’s really no limit to what you can do with these things. You can add solar panels and even make additions later on.

20ft/40ft expandable container house With Solar Energy

What’s nice about a container home is how quickly you can turn it into a living space. Here you have this giant box and the next thing you know it’s a home. Of course, you might have to add some insulation for warmth. But, they do come water and windproof. Add some furniture and you’ll really be living in style.

Price: $24,800.00

Specs

  • Fast installation:2 hours/set ,save labor cost
  •  Anti-rust: all material use hot galvanized steel
  • Waterproof: without wood ceiling, wall
  • Fireproof: Fire rating A grade
  • Simple foundation: just need 12 pcs concrete block foundation
  • Wind-resistant (11 level) and anti-seismic (9 grade)
  • Solar power energy system can fully charge in 10 hours, it depends on the local sunshine condition.

Tiny Houses

Tiny homes aren’t anything new. They make great vacation spots, an awesome alternative to RVs, and they work as a survivalist’s second home. And yes, you can find them on Amazon.

Tiny Home – Park Model RV: Ultimate Vacation Home

Remember all those trips you took and made the statement, “We’ve taken everything but the kitchen sink!” Well, guess what? Now you really can take the kitchen sink. In fact, you can take the entire house. You’ll never have to worry about packing a suitcase again in this ultimate vacation home. Of course, if you’re planning to live long term out of your tiny home, you’ll have to downsize a little – maybe a lot. But, you’ll never have to worry about finding a pet-friendly hotel again. Or, maybe you don’t want to live long term in such a small space. It makes a great alternative if there’s a state of emergency or evacuation.

Price: $51,500.00

Specs

  • 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath, 399 sq.ft.
  • Includes covered front porch, pine accents, tile flooring, decorative barn door, kitchen appliances, and window coverings.
  • High ceilings, open-concept floorplan, and ample storage space

USAA Investments

USAA has been more than a car insurance company for a while now. Today they’ve grown into a huge bank with plenty of investment opportunities USAA members can take advantage of. Keep reading to find out how to start investing with USAA. We’ve even included a section on how to transfer your TSP to a USAA IRA once you leave the service.

Investing with USAA

If you’re looking to invest, there are plenty of ways to do so. However, before you start, you need to think about your goals. Some investments offer tax benefits, while others don’t. There are short-term investments, long-term investment, education investments and more. So first, consider your goal(s), and then pick where you want your money to go.

Keep in mind, you should never invest if you’re not in a position to do so. Make sure you have an emergency fund saved up (because you never want to pull from an investment account – this will typically come with fees), you should be paying all your bills on time (if you can’t, get that under control first), and finally make sure if you have debt, such as a car or house payment, that it’s manageable. If you have all that going for you, then you can start looking to invest.

USAA Mutual Funds

If you don’t know a lot about stocks or you don’t have the confidence you’d like to invest in bonds, mutual funds are a good place to start. This is because an expert does all the work for you. Now, we’re not saying hand over your money and never look at it again until you’re eligible to withdraw. You should still keep an eye on your account, watch where your money is being invested and all that. But, it’s a much easier option for those who want to invest but don’t have a lot of knowledge about doing so. You can, of course, do this yourself, but financial advisors are there to educate you along the way.

You can open a mutual fund for $50/month after you’ve invested an initial $50 when opening the account. You also have the option of simply opening an account with $500, without the $50/month. Minimum investments range anywhere from $50 to $3000, depending on what type of mutual fund you open, which will depend on what type of investing you want to do (c

Digital Investment Adviser

Knowing which exchange-traded funds or EFTs to invest in can be confusing, especially if you’re new to investing. That’s why USAA has something called a Digital Investment Adviser to help you out. It’s like a little tiny robot who has all the right answers. You tell it how much risk you’re willing to take and then your new robot friend will do all the heavy lifting. Okay, it’s not really a tiny robot; there are real people, portfolio managers. The “robo advising” takes place when your account needs rebalancing.

The good news, you can invest at any given time, you’ll have a globally diversified portfolio, according to USAA, and you can track it all from your computer or fancy smartphone.

They do all the hard work for you. If your account becomes unbalanced, they’ll rebalance it for you, without an additional fee. There isn’t a transfer fee or any additional trading fees either—if USAA is the one buying and selling for you.

However, there’s a .50% annual fee for what your account is worth. This excludes underlying fund fees. You’ll also need $2,000 to open this particular account.

This is an option for those who are looking to make a long-term investment—5 or more years.

Exchange-Traded Funds

EFTs is an investment in diversified securities. If you want to invest in this, you’ll first need to open a brokerage account. You’ll also need a minimum of $3,000 to get yourself started. Unlike some of the other investment opportunities, this requires you to do the work. You have to give USAA your trade details and complete your own orders. USAA won’t be investing for you.

If you need a little help, don’t worry there’s something called Morningstar Investing Education, which has several virtual classrooms on everything you’ll need to start investing properly. You can learn about EFTs, mutual funds, and stocks.

Managed Portfolios

If you have $25,000 or more just sitting there in an account, begging to be invested, but you aren’t quite sure what to do with it, a USAA managed portfolio might be the way to go. You’ll start by telling them your financial goals—retirement, vacation, new car, house, sending your kid to college, etc.—and how much risk you’re willing to take. Then, they’ll let you know what type of portfolio fits your specific needs and desires.

You’ll have a professional helping you make the best financial decision for you and your money, instead of leaving you to figure it out on your own. They’ll monitor, reallocate and rebalance when need be. However, this does come with a fee, but you’ll get diversified investments and a professional to keep you on track toward the goals you’ve set with them.

If you have $250,000 lying around, you can open up a UMP Wrap with Wealth Management—USAA Managed Portfolio with additional benefits. This option is a bit more custom, and you’ll get a lot more than investment management basics. This also comes with a fee.

USAA CD

If you’re not wanting to hold your money up in a retirement account, but still want to invest, you might want to consider looking into a CD—no, not that disk you used to put in your car before iTunes came out, Certificates of Deposit. With a much lower risk than dealing in the stock exchange, you can choose to deposit as little as $250 and let your money sit for 1, 2 or maybe 5 years if you so choose. The longer and larger your investment, the larger your APY.

If you’re not looking at investing for years, you can opt for a 30-day CD. You won’t be making a lot of money this way, but it’s better than nothing. If you’re looking for something with a little more gain, you can choose a 7-year investment.

USAA claims that their rates are competitive. However, this does not mean they have the best rates. There are some banks who offer a better return. So, shop around some before taking the leap, especially if you’re planning on tying your money up for 7 years.

USAA 529 Plan

In case you didn’t know, USAA can help you save for college with a 529 plan. A 529 is just one more way you can help prepare yourself or your child for their education. The difference between this account and other investment options are the tax benefits. If you have to withdraw from the account for any educational costs, including K-12 expenses, you won’t have to pay federal income tax on it.

Pro Tip: If you open a 529 account under the parent(s)’ name, it won’t affect financial aid as much as with other funds. Also, you can earn cash back if you’re enrolled in UPromise. And if that’s not enough, USAA will let you invite your friends and family to help contribute to the educational expense through something called Ugift. Yes, you can do this on a social media account.

You can open an account for as little as $50 and make automatic investments of at least $50/month or make an initial investment of $250 and save yourself from having to make that automatic $50/month contribution. 

USAA IRA

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account.  You have the option of a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Both are intended to help you save up for retirement. With an IRA  you can choose to place your money in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and even a managed portfolio, for a financial expert to manage. Which IRA you choose will depend on a few things, such as your future tax bracket and when you want to pay taxes on the money you invest.

In all cases:

  • If you withdraw money before you turn 59 1/2 you’ll risk a 10% tax penalty
  • You may invest a maximum of $6,000/year if you’re under 50 as of 2019
  • You may invest a maximum of $7,000/year if you’re over 50 as of 2019

Traditional IRA

Traditional IRAs aren’t for everyone. But if you think your tax bracket will lower once you hit retirement, this could be a good option for you. It’s also great for people who would rather pay taxes once they start withdrawing money, instead of right now. If you aren’t planning on taking out any money until you’re 71 1/2 this could be a beneficial investment.  It’s also a good option for those who are still making taxable income up until age 71 1/2.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is nearly the opposite of a Traditional IRA. It’s optimal for those who intend to stay or be placed in a higher tax bracket in retirement compared to their working years. It’s best for those who don’t want their tax benefits now and would rather wait until retirement. Don’t mind paying taxes on their investment now, so they can make tax-free withdrawals once they’re retired. And it’s good for those who don’t want to worry about minimum distributions.

Transferring your TSP to a USAA IRA

Before we get into talking about how to transfer your TSP into a USAA IRA, let’s take a moment to go over what a TSP is, what you should be doing with it while you’re in, and then we’ll cover how to transfer it to USAA once you get out. 

What’s a TSP?

TSP is the federal government’s IRA. That’s why it’s so easy to do a rollover once you leave the military or federal service. What’s inviting about a TSP account is, you can choose what percentage of your paycheck you want to invest. Also, it’ll be deposited before you actually see it. If you elect a traditional IRA, you will not have to pay taxes on the funds until you start making withdrawals. This means that you’ll actually make a little more on each paycheck. Why? Because the amount of taxable income has decreased. So, if you need more money upfront, this might be ideal for you.

The TSP also gives you the option of doing a Roth IRA. The difference is when you pay taxes on any invested money. If you opt for a Roth IRA, you’ll pay taxes before you invest. In the end, It’s up to you to decide which option is more beneficial for you. Will it be better for you to pay taxes later? Invest in a traditional IRA. Will it be better for you to pay taxes now so you can withdraw tax-free in old age? Invest in a Roth IRA.

Who’s Eligible for a TSP?

Almost all hired personnel working under the United States Government are eligible to take part in the TSP. According to tsp.gov, the following are eligible:

  • A Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) employee (generally if you were hired on or after January 1, 1984)
  • A Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employee (generally if you were hired before January 1, 1984 and did not convert to FERS)
  • A member of the uniformed services (active duty or Ready Reserve)
  • A civilian in certain other categories of Government service
  • Actively employed by the Federal Government as a civilian employee or as a member of the uniformed services

*You must be in pay-status to contribute

How to Invest in a TSP

No matter which type of IRA you choose, investing through a TSP account is easy. Go into your MyPay account and select TSP. Then go down the list and select anything from 1% to 100% of your base pay. Bonuses, allowances, severance, etc. do not count as base pay. You may select different percentages you’d like taken out of these extra payments to put toward your TSP as well. If you want to stop your contributions, you can do so at any time. You can also make changes through tps.gov or MyPay at any time.

TSP Fund Options

Depending on how much risk you do or do not want to take, will depend on what fund you invest your money in. You have the option of a G, F, S, C, I or L Fund. Each of these funds can help get you a little more cash in your pocket come retirement day.

G Fund

The G Fund, or Government Securities Investment Fund, is a no-risk investment option. No risk unfortunately also means you’re not likely to make a lot in interest. However, while you might not actually make a lot between now and retirement, you cannot lose any money you put in.

For example, let us say you invest $500 into your G Fund this year. You might potentially make a few dollars. But, you’ll never lose the $500 you put in. So, if anything, a G Fund will ensure you’re saving money for your future, just not with a high-interest rate.

Keep in mind, interest rates fluctuate daily. Therefore, it’s impossible to say exactly how much you’ll make by retirement age. But, you can have peace of mind knowing you won’t lose anything you put into your TSP.

F Fund

The F Fund, also known as the Fixed Income Index Investment Fund has some risk. Any account you invest in with risk means you could potentially lose the money you put in. For example, let’s say that instead of putting that $500 into your G Fund account, you chose to place it into an F Fund. There’s a potential that you could lose all $500. But, an F Fund’s risk value is moderately low compared to other investment options. However, that doesn’t mean the risk isn’t there.

For instance, the stock market or bonds drop. If this happens, you might be left with less than you started with. This is because you are contributing to more long-term investment-grade securities. Keep in mind, you’ll experience gains or loses based on how bond prices rise or fall. This also means you shouldn’t get scared when the price of bonds drop because they’ll most likely go back up again.

C Fund

The C Fund, also known as the Common Stock Index Fund also has some risk. This is because of the market risks of stock in S&P 500 index rates. As the prices of stocks rise or fall, so will your potential gain or loss. C Funds, just as F Funds are also subject to inflation risk. This simply means, whatever you invest might be less than what you’ll need to offset inflation.

C Funds carry more risk than an F Fund, which means there’s a potential for higher gains. This is because your money is being invested in equity ownership of large and mid-sized stocks. These stocks are all U.S. Companies.

S Fund

The S Fund, or Small Cap Stock Index Investment Fund, attempts to match the performance of the Dow Jones U.S. Completion Total Stock Market Index. Unlike a C Funds, S Funds do not include the S&P 500 Index. Your money will still go toward U.S. companies, just not those in the S&P 500 index.

S Funds are subject to the same risks as those of the F and C Funds. This is because they are susceptible to market risks and the risk of inflation. But, that does not mean you won’t see some rewards. Similar to a C Fund, you can increase your profit through equity ownership. But, instead of investing in large and mid-sized companies, your equity ownership is in small and mid-sized companies. Again, these are invested in U.S. companies only.

I Fund

The I Fund, also known as an International Stock Index Investment Fund has the most risk. Also, unlike your other investment options, your money is going into international accounts. Because of this, your risk increases. Why? Because now your money is subject to market risk, inflation risk, and currency risk. However, this also means you have the potential of having a higher gain on your investment.

L Fund

L Funds, or Lifecycle Funds, work slightly different than other investment options. Instead of going in and selecting which fund you want to invest in at a any given time, the L Fund does it for you.

It’s never advised to approach investing with a “set it and forget it” mentality. However, with an L Fund, you can get help on when to risk more or pull back, and it happens automatically.

Now, an L Fund does not mean you’ll be investing in a G, F, S, C or I fund one at a time. It will be a mix of all five. How much you risk in each will fluctuate the closer you get to retirement. This means that the further away from retirement you are, the more risk you’ll have. Therefore, less money will be going into your G Fund the further away you are. However, the closer you get to retirement, the more money you’ll have going into the G Fund. The reasoning behind this is, you shouldn’t be risking as much, and there’s no risk in G Fund contributions.

Currently, when selecting an L Fund, you can choose between the L 2050, L 2040, L 2030, and the L 2020. These refer to the year in which you plan to retire. For example, if you plan to retire between 2025 and 2034, you would select the L 2030 plan. If you’re already withdrawing from your account, you’ll be using L Income. The same applies if you will be withdrawing prior to 2020.

TSP FAQs

A TSP is like a 401(k). On the outside, it may seem like a simple investment. However, there’s a little more to it than one may think. If you don’t invest your money properly, you might not be taking full advantage of what a TSP could offer you. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about TSPs.

Are there any TSP restrictions?

Yes, there are restrictions to a TSP account. First off, you must be working for the federal government to take advantage of it (refer to the section, “Who’s Eligible for a TSP?”). There’s also a restriction on how much you can invest. In 2019, the investment limit raised from $18,500/year to $19,000/year.

When can you withdraw funds from a TSP?

Ideally, you can withdraw funds from your TSP at retirement age. However, if you want to withdraw before that, you may. But, a word of advice, don’t. Withdrawing, before you retire will leave you paying extra fees along with taxes on the cash you take out.

What are the benefits of a TSP for service members not enrolled in the BRS?

Service members investing in a TSP account, up until recently, have not been able to receive government matching. However, that changed when the Blended Retirement System (BRS) came out. Before, only civilians working for the federal government could contribute with a 5% match from their employer. Unfortunately, the same did not apply to service members. With the BRS, those serving in the military can now receive a 5% match, just as their civilian counterparts. However, only service members who opted into the BRS, or were automatically placed into this retirement category have this option. If you’re unsure about which retirement system you fall into, check with your finance office.

If you’re not investing under the new BRS, you might be wondering what the advantages of a TSP are? Is a TSP better than other investments options? The answer, yes. Fees under a TSP are typically much lower than outside investment options. In 2018, the fee for G Funds was only .40 per every $1,000. L Funds work similarly. One might think because an L Fund involves more on the part of professionals there would be more fees. However, this is not the case, and it is based on the average expenses between all five funds.

How to rollover a TSP into a USAA IRA

Rolling your TSP over is pretty straightforward. It’s really a matter of transferring funds. Many banks will let you do this, but we’re going to USAA as our example since a lot of service members use them. Simply go onto USAA’s website and request to rollover your TSP into one of their IRA options. You can do this by following the steps below.

  1. First, open an IRA with USAA. You can do this online or over the phone with a representative.
  2. Select, “Rollover” for your funding source
  3. Download the form that applies to you: TSP-70 (full withdrawals) or TSP-77 (partial withdrawals)
  4. Mail, send via member message, or fax the completed form to 800-292-8177

Best Concealed Carry Purse

Women have it hard enough with all the stupid questions people ask about why YOU carry. I mean, couldn’t a man do it for you? Or…what if the gun goes off??—yeah that’s a question people ask—Despite the stupidity and the sarcastic reply in your head, you still carry. But how you carry, that depends upon too many things to discuss in a single paragraph. What’s really frustrating is the amount of crappy concealed carry purses on the market, what’s more shameful is how pricy the—advertised as—good quality purses are. That’s why we’ve put together an article to help you pick out a concealed carry purse that’s both structurally sound, made of good quality, and won’t break the bank, starting with some of the best concealed carry purses on the market today.

Top 5 Concealed Carry Purses

1. Slim Cross Body-Distressed Buffalo

  • Subtle elegant Pebble Grain American Cowhide
  • Lightweight
  • Year Round wear-ability
  • Soft Hand that will get softer with use
  • Matte texture
  • Outside front Wallet Organizer
  • Held closed with 2 rare earth magnets
  • Zippered pocket and one open pocket
  • Clear ID window
  • 14 card slot pockets
  • Chrome gold plate accent
  • Cross Body timeless styling
  • Slash Resistant Shoulder Strap
  • 1 Ply steel wire tastefully reinforced
  • Cross Body Length
  • Easily clips on and off
  • Adjustable
  • Designed for Left or Right handed use
  • Special padding to prevent gun imprinting
  • Includes our Mini Holster ( designed by Mernickel Holsters)
  • Tested w/S&W M&P Shield – 9mm, Glock 27
  • Subcompact 40C, Sig P238-.380 auto, Ruger LCP 9mm,
  • Walther CCP-9mm, Springfield XD-9mm
  • Main Compartment
  • Zippered Top closure
  • Extra pockets with zippered interior back pocket
  • Fully lined with easy-to-see khaki Gun Tote’n Mamas
  • logo lining
  • Overall Bag size: 9- 3/4″ Tall x 10″ Wide x 3 – 1/8″ Deep
  • GTM Gun compartment size: 7 – 1/4″ Wide x 7 – 1/8″ Tall
  • Zipper opening: 7″ Tall
  • Gun Footprint in holster: 5 – 3/4″ Wide x 6″ tall

Price: $175.95

2. Cross Body Quilted Sac

  • 100% Quilted Microfiber Polyester
  • With smooth Microfiber accents and leather trim
  • Luggage grade Microfiber
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Outlasts Handbag microfiber
  • Designed for either Left or Right handed use
  • Special padding to prevent gun imprinting
  • Slash Resistant Shoulder Strap
  • 11 ply steel wire tastefully reinforced
  • Cross Body Length
  • Easily clips on and off
  • Adjustable
  • Includes our Standard Holster (designed by Mernickle Holsters)
  • Tested with Glock 43, S&W Shield and S&W Air Lite PD revolver
  • Chrome color hardware
  • 2 front chrome metal zippers
  • Gun compartment uses nylon coil zippers for safety
  • Leather zipper tabs
  • Two outside Front pockets fit most Smartphone sizes
  • Zippered main compartment
  • Interior zippered pocket and 2 open pockets
  • Easily holds wallet, glasses, lipstick, book etc.
  • Fully lined with Gun Tote’n Mamas logo lining
  • Overall bag size:
    10″ Tall x 9-1/2″ Wide x 3-1/2″ Deep
  • GTM compartment size:
  • 9″ Wide x 7″ Tall
  • Zipper opening: 6-3/4″ Tall
  • Gun footprint: 8″ wide x 6-1/4″ Tall

Price: $86.99

3. Urban Moxy aurora Concealed Carry Gun Tote

  • 12 “(Top)
  • 14″ (Bottom) wide
  • 11″ long
  • 4″ deep
  • 6″ handle drop length
  • Holster dimensions are approx. 6.75″ x 8.25″ x 2.5″
  • Measures 14″ at the bottom widest part and 12″ at the top.
  • 11″ long and 4″ wide with a drop strap length of 6″

Price: $95

4. Ali Concealed-Carry Cross-Body Purse

  • Adjustable shoulder strap – adjustable from 22″ to 40″ length
  • Turn-Twist clasp closure
  • A separate concealed compartment on the back with 2-zipper-openings for both right and left-hand draw
  • Lockable gun compartment
  • Removable universal holster included
  • Dimensions: 11″L X 6.5″W X 11″H
  • Concealed pocket measurement: 9.5″W X7″H
  • Made with Faux Leather

Price: $59.99

5. Leather RFID Travel Tote

  • Superb South American Cowhide
    • Buttery Soft hand
    • Rich patina develops with use and age
    • Naked finish shows leather at its natural best
    • Natural markings makes each bag distinctly individual
  • 3.75 lbs.
  • Over 1100 Cubic Inches of room!
    • 5 extra large interior pockets + a zippered pocket
  • Generous Capacity! Main compartment Easily holds so much:
    • Laptop, IPads
    • Shoes
    • water and baby bottles
    • work-out clothes
    • diapers
    • baby blanket
    • binders
    • umbrella
    • make-up / toilet kits
    • newspaper
    • snacks
    • etc
  • Airline Carry-on size approved
  • 4 outside large pockets can carry:
    • bottles of most sizes, phones of any size in protective covers, pepper spray, flashlight
  • RFID interior zippered pocket
  • Zippered top closure
  • Fully lined with easy-to-see-in khaki Gun Tote’n Mamas logo lining
  • Flat Shoulder length straps
    • Drop length: 10”
    • Mini D-Rings allow the use of favorite lock
  • Designed for Left or Right handed use
  • Special padding prevents imprint
  • Cross Body Slash Resistant Shoulder Strap
    • 11 Ply steel cable tastefully reinforced
    • 1.25” wide to disperse weight
    • Easily clips on and off
    • Adjustable
  • Includes our Standard Holster (designed by Mernickle Holsters)
  • GTM gun compartment size : 9 – 1 /2” Wide x 10” Tall
    • Zipper openings: 9” Tall
    • Tested w/ Glock 19, Heckler & Koch VP9 full size, S&W M&P 2.0 full size, S&W, M&P Shield, Sig Sauer P320, Springfield XD 9 mm
    • Gun footprint in holster: 8 – 1/ 2” Wide x 9” tall
  • Antiqued brass color metal hardware Color: Tan

Price: $199.95

How we rate our Concealed Carry Purses

Disclaimer, our list is based on structure—for safety reasons—quality, and price, however, the purse you like will also depend on your personal taste. So, while the above are the top purses based on our three standards, style is also a consideration, though, you might find yourself in disagreement because everyone’s style is different.

Interested in getting concealed carry insurance? Read our blog, Best Concealed Carry Insurance 2019

Structure and Quality

Structure is one of the most important considerations when it comes to picking out the perfect concealed carry purse. If your purse isn’t structurally sound, you might find it hard to draw your weapon. Your purse needs to have good quality structure. This doesn’t mean it has to be costly—more on that next—but it does mean you should be able to handle and safely use your purse as a concealed carry option.

If you can’t safely remove your weapon for use, then what good will it do you? If your purse is made of such low quality that the zipper or button holding your concealed weapon, concealed, breaks or falls off, it’s probably not worth it, especially if you’re considering safety and that little one standing next to your now exposed weapon. 

Price

Why are concealed carry purses so expensive? A purse with a single compartment designated for your handgun constitutes a $300 price increase? I think not! With that being said, you should know, you don’t have to spend half your paycheck on a concealed carry purse. While we have listed some purses that are more than $100, know that they are also real leather and can be used for more than concealed carry, combined with quality; this is what constitutes the price. Also, keep in mind, there are much more expensive, high-quality purses out there, so in the grand scheme of things, a $300 purse isn’t that expensive (comparatively).

Concealed Carry for Women

The problem with a lot of concealed carry purses out there is their blingy, cheap and/or not structurally sound. They’re either ugly, but work like they should or they’re “girly” and you probably shouldn’t actually be using it to carry anything more than a spare set of keys and an unwrapped sucker in the bottom. At least, that’s how it’s been. Luckily the population of female shooters and carriers have increased, and so has the market.

Concealed Carry Challenges

As a woman, we have a few more challenges than men do. First, we have curves and second, our clothing is made in a variety of styles, but typically more form fitting than that of mens’ clothing. This challenge means that we have to find ways of concealing both properly and safely, and then make sure we practice drawing the weapon from that source, whether it be from a purse or in the waistband holster.

Practice with your Purse 

While there are better ways of carrying your concealed weapon, we understand that a purse is sometimes the best choice, it’s at least better than leaving your carry weapon at home and not having it when you need it. Unless of course, you haven’t actually practiced with your purse. Yes, this is pertinent. If you haven’t actually practiced, and it comes down to using it, you might find you have trouble withdrawing that revolver. You might find that it gets hung up on something because you have the wrong purse. Or, maybe you didn’t realize you’d have to shoot through your purse for time, and can’t get a proper pistol grip to do so.

These are all reasons to practice. It’s no different from the necessity to practice drawing from your holster. However, where you practice might be a different matter. Make sure you talk with your range before you practice this maneuver. There’s a chance that this won’t be allowed for safety reasons.

Once you find a place that will let you practice, do so—with an unloaded weapon first. Practice until it’s muscle memory. Also, make sure you’re practicing from the same position you carry your purse. Keep in mind your strong and week hand as well—although it’s advised to practice with both.

Read our review, USCCA Concealed Carry Insurance

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

If you’re carrying, the first thing you need to do is make sure you know the laws. Know where you can carry, how you can carry, and if you have a permit, what the reciprocity is of the other states. This basically says which states will accept your permit and the ones that will not.

Concealed Carry Permit

Depending on where you live, getting your concealed carry may be easy, near impossible, or completely impossible. Some states have strict laws and it’s near impossible to get a permit. Others, it’s a simple matter of getting a background check.

Where to buy Concealed Carry Purses

There are plenty of places to look for a concealed carry purse than from the list we’ve provided. You could look on eBay or Amazon for instance. However, take caution because not all of the purses you get from here will be made of quality. They may be cheap on the wallet, but they might also be cheap in quality too.

Concealed Carry Purses

It’s true, there’s no better way to carry your weapon than on your body. However, it would be unrealistic to think you’ll always be in a circumstance to wear a weapon on your person. Because of this, many woman look to alternative carry option, such as a purse. With this, though, becomes a new level of responsibility.

Because your weapon is no longer on your body, there’s the chance of someone other than you gaining access to it. Are you prone to taking your purse off at the grocery store and placing it in the cart? You’d better get used to not doing that. Do you often remove your purse and place it on the sink in a public restroom and then forget it? That’d be a terrible mistake to make. If you’re prone to either of these things, we’d advise you look at another carry option outside of purse carry.

Crossbody Concealed Carry Purses 

If you’re going to carry concealed in a purse, your best option is a crossbody option. This is because a shoulder bag is more likely to get ripped from your side—because someone just had to have that quarter covered in gum in the bottom of your bag. Now you have a crook running around with a weapon with your name on it.

Read our blog, U.S. Law Shield Review for more concealed carry insurance information

Why a concealed carry purse over a normal purse?

Aren’t all purses the same? Well, no, not really. A concealed carry purse shouldn’t just be an extra pouch. It should be an extra, concealed carry dedicated pouch with the ability to safely secure your weapon. If you keep your weapon in a pouch with other things, you risk the chance of getting something stuck in your trigger guard.

So, when you go shopping for a purse to conceal in, look for one dedicated to concealed carry. Start with a Purse you like, and then look to find a concealed carry purse that is similar to the style you normally carry. The reasoning for this is not just for aesthetics. It has to do with what you’re comfortable with. If you start with something familiar to you, something that is similar to what you’re already carrying, it will make using it as a concealed carry purse safer and more enjoyable for you. However, this does not mean you can forgo your practice sessions. You’ll still need to practice drawing your weapon from the purse.

Remember, when you’re practicing do not forget safety. Practice with an unloaded weapon. There’s no reason to risk safety with a loaded weapon when you’re simply practicing drawing your weapon. When you get to the point where you’re practicing shooting with your purse, do so with safety in mind, always. Make sure you have permission from your range. Make sure you’re still pointing in a safe direction. You need to make sure you’re prepared to take action in the case of an adversary, but never forget safety in your practice. Otherwise, you might be seen as the adversary.

Concealed Carry Purse Accessories

We haven’t personally used this, but a user did recommend this, so we thought we’d add it. If anything, do your own research on this product and see if you can find anyone who uses or has something similar and see what they think.

The product is meant to be sized to the purse or bag you carry. However, keep in mind if you’re putting it in your everyday carry purse, one that isn’t meant for concealed carry, to keep it free of other items which could be a safety hazard or cause difficulty for getting a proper pistol grip and draw.

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Best AR-15 Triggers | 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Let’s face it, the market is completely flooded with AR-15 triggers so it’s hard to know where to start.  In the world of marksmanship your trigger pull/squeeze is incredibly important and having a good trigger will help ensure you accurately put rounds on target.  The purpose of this guide is to give you a few things to think about when shopping around for a trigger.

If you’re looking for the long and the short of it we strongly recommend replacing your AR-15’s stock trigger.  Replacing the trigger is arguably more important than getting an upgraded barrel, bolt carrier group or other enhanced parts because it’s such a huge piece to good marksmanship.

How we Rate the Triggers

When setting out to find the best AR-15 Trigger we wanted to create a few pieces of criteria.

Price

It’s easy to overspend on trigger upgrades and a lot of companies out there are pumping out some pretty mediocre triggers at super higher price points.  In the trigger world cost does NOT always equal quality.

Durability

Triggers take some serious abuse, so it’s important to spend your money on one that will hold up.  Trigger wells often get caked in dust, moisture, carbon and other debris that can keep the trigger from properly functioning; this is really important if you’re using the trigger in a duty AR-15.

Ease of Installation

Installing an AR-15 trigger can be a serious pain so we wanted to put this on our rating scale.  Many triggers are now drop-in triggers and can be installed in minutes while others take some advanced tooling.  It’s important to roll this into your cost because if you can’t install a trigger on your own you will need to hire a gunsmith to do it for you.

Interested in adding a red dot sight to your AR-15, check out our blog, Best Red Dot Sights| 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Overall Trigger Pull

The overall trigger pull is very important when deciding what trigger you’d like to purchase.  The pull should be smooth with a crisp sear break and a rapid reset.  The amount of play/creep in a trigger is also a deciding factor.  Some shooters prefer some slack when pulling the trigger while others want no slack at all.

Need new targets to test your trigger on? Check out our blog, The Best Rifle Targets for your next Range Day 

Trigger Pull Weight

We personally prefer triggers with variable trigger weights.  This allows the shooter to adjust the trigger weight to meet their shooting needs.  While lower trigger weights are enticing they can also be dangerous for unskilled shooters.  A lighter trigger can sometimes lead to negligent discharges.

Types of AR-15 Triggers

Mil-Spec Trigger

Mil-Spec is one of those terms that’s thrown around a lot but doesn’t really mean much.  There is no actual Mil-Spec on triggers or really anything for that matter so if you see the term being used to justify a product’s quality make sure you proceed cautiously.  In the world of triggers, Mil-Spec triggers tend to be stock triggers that come with most off-the-shelf AR-15s.  These triggers tend to have a heavier, less consistent trigger pull with a lot of slack or creep.  Most Mil-spec AR-15 triggers have around a 6-9lb trigger pull.

Best Mil-Spec Triggers

ALG Defense Quality Mil-Spec (QMS) Trigger

The ALG Defense Quality Mil-Spec (QMS) trigger is a very standard trigger with very standard features.  It’s a curved trigger with a 6.5lb trigger pull which is fairly normal for the Mil-Spec range.  The trigger itself is a non-adjustable single-stage trigger that won’t give you many options to tailor it to your specific shooting needs.  That being said it offers a fairly solid trigger pull for a basic trigger.

Price: $49

Trigger pull weight: 6.5lbs

Link to buy: https://www.provenoutfitters.com/quality-mil-spec-qms-trigger

AR Gold Adjustable Trigger (curved or flat)

AR Gold is an adjustable trigger, both the curved and flat, coming in at .375 lbs. and only a 3.5 trigger pull weight. The trigger is also a drop in module, making it an easy installation. The AR Gold was intended to work as a military, LE, competition and hunting trigger according to American Trigger. Their triggers are also made in the USA, which you know we like.

Price: $279

Trigger pull weight: 3.5 lbs

Trigger weight: .375 lbs.

Link to buy: https://americantrigger.com/shop/ar-platform-triggers/ar-gold-trigger/

FailZero Mil-Spec Single Stage EXO

FailZero has made a trigger intended to replace that stock mil –spec triggers that came in your AR. Assembled according to AS9100 aerospace standards, this trigger is meant to be reliable, in some of the harshest environments. This is a single-stage trigger with a short reset and a trigger pull of only 3. 5 lbs. However, while it fits most AR-style platforms, it is not intended for use in a Sig MPX.

Price: $169.97-$184.99

Trigger weight: 2.6 oz.

Link to buy: http://www.failzero.com/products/bolt-carrier-groups/triggergrpflat-detail.html

Best 1 Stage Triggers

Hiperfire Hipertouch® Reflex

Intended for the everyman (or woman) shooter, this trigger is adjustable from 2.5-3.5 lbs. Of course, made in the USA, this trigger has a positive reset you can both feel and hear. It also has a crisp and clean trigger break per HiperFire and was created with a Cam-Over Toggle Engine™.

Price: $225

Trigger pull weight: 2.5-3.5 lbs

Link to buy: https://www.hiperfire.com/product/hipertouch-reflex/

Lantac CMC E-CT1

Built on the original Super Match concept, this drop-in trigger group was made for control and accuracy—keep in mind, a good trigger won’t fix bad shooting habits—it was also intended to stand up to the rugged shooting life and reliability you’d expect in a quality trigger. This trigger comes at a pre-set of 3 to 3.5 lbs of trigger pull weight. Also, it’s made in the USA.

Price: $210

Trigger pull weight: 3-3.5 lbs

Link to buy: https://www.cabelas.com/product/LANTAC-CMC-E-CT-Triggers/2362524.uts

Rise Armament Super Sporting

Yet another trigger intended to replace your factory mil-spec, this trigger comes with a 3.5 lb. trigger pull. This trigger is made from high quality, heat-treated tool steel and aluminum per the company and is a precision CNC machined drop in trigger.

Price: $129

Trigger weight: 2.6 oz

Link to buy: https://www.brownells.com/rifle-parts/triggers-parts/triggers/ar-15-super-sport-trigger-prod109431.aspx

Best 2 Stage Triggers

LMT Defense 2 Stage Trigger

If you’re looking for a two-stage trigger, this one has been in development for over 20 years. Each of the triggers is individually tested before they make it to your front steps. They are tested at the 2lb first stage and 5 lb. second stage.

Price: $129

Trigger pull weight: 7 lbs.

Link to buy: https://lmtdefense.com/parts/lmp2400c

CMC AR-15 2-Stage Trigger Curved

A little pricier than some triggers out there—you can find it on various sites for cheaper—but still a quality trigger. This trigger comes with an initial pull weight of 1 lb, followed by a second pull weight of 3 lbs., for a total pull weight of 4 lbs. It’s also in accordance with mil-spec and comes as a drop-in for easy installation.

Price: $180-$225

Trigger pull weight: 4 lbs.

Link to buy: https://www.primaryarms.com/cmc-ar-15-ar-10-drop-in-two-stage-4lb-curved-trigger-mil-spec-.154in

LaRu Tactical MBT-2S Trigger

On the much cheaper end, but not in terms of quality is the LaRu Tactical MBT-2S Trigger. This trigger is made out of solid S7 tool steel plate. It has a 4.5 lb. trigger pull with 2.5 lbs. in the first stage and 2 lbs. in the second stage. You also have the option of increasing your pull weight to 6 lbs. with an additional (included if purchased through LaRu) trigger spring.

Price: $87

Trigger pull weight: 4.5 lbs.

Link to buy: https://www.larue.com/products/larue-tactical-mbt-2s-trigger/

Best Drop-In Triggers

Elftmann ELF-SE

This trigger is non-adjustable, but it is made of an ultra-light housing unit, coming in at only 2.3 oz. It was created to be drop safe with a double double wound hammer spring. The trigger is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and hardened steel. And, it’s made completely in America with a lifetime guarantee when you purchase it through Elftmann.

Price: $153-$169

Trigger Pull weight: 3.5 lbs.

Trigger weight: 2.30 oz.

Link to buy: https://www.elftactical.com/elftmann-elf-se-drop-in-trigger

Timney Solid Shoe

Made with an aluminum alloy housing and intended to be used in a small-pin AR, this single stage trigger requires nothing more than a simple drop-in install. You can choose between a 3, 4 and 4.5 lb. trigger pull weight without compromising reliability. Made in the USA.

Price: $203.99

Trigger pull weight:  3-4.5 lbs.

Link to buy: https://www.brownells.com/rifle-parts/triggers-parts/triggers/ar-15-small-pin-trigger-module-3-lbs-solid-shoe-sku883000024-40120-62700.aspx?sku=883-000-024

KE Arms SLT-1

This single stage drop-in trigger that’s intended to improve safety and reliability was created to stand the test of time. The makers claim an ultra-crisp break, an improved tactile reset, reduced split times and of course an easy install. This trigger is not compatible with the Combloc 7.62x39mm Ammo, Sig Sauer MCX with Firing Pin Safety Features, and some .22 Rimfire AR15s and conversions.

Price: $199.95

Trigger pull weight: 4.5 lbs.

Link to buy: http://www.kearms.com/slt-1-sear-link-technology-trigger.aspx

Best Competition Triggers

Triggertech Competitive AR Primary Trigger

This particular trigger is non-adjustable, can be purchased as a curved or straight trigger and comes as a short two-stage action. It is intended to stand up to the harsh environments of 3 Gun, competition, high-speed shooting, long range hunting, precision shooting, target shooting, and varmint hunting.

Price: $214.99-$224.99

Trigger pull weight: 3.5 lbs.

Link to buy: https://triggertech.com/products/copy-of-competitive-ar-primary-trigge

CMC Triggers-Competition Trigger

CMC triggers, created by a competitive shooter for competitive shooters. These triggers are intended to maintain a consistent trigger pull weight. You’ll find the triggers come with oversized center pins. This will help prevent wear, reduce friction and prevent trigger wobble.

Price: $195.99

Trigger pull weight: 2.5 lbs

Link to buy: https://www.cmctriggers.com/cmc-ar-15-ar-10-single-stage-drop-in-competition-trigger-2-5lb-pull/

Elfman 3-Gun

This particular trigger was made not only to be easily installed as a drop-in unit but also to be easily adjusted. You can adjust it from a 4 lb. trigger pull to 2.75 lbs. without removing it from your lower receiver. Made with aircraft-grade aluminum and hardened steel, this 2 oz. trigger is built with a full power hammer spring and double double wound hammer spring.

Price: $269-$279

Trigger pull weight: 2.75-4 lbs.

Trigger weight: 2 oz.

Link to buy: https://www.elftactical.com/elf-3-gun-ar-15-drop-in-trigger

Best AR-15 Trigger for the Money

The best AR-15 trigger for your money will depend on what you’re looking for. If you’re competing, the Triggertech is great in the long run, and the material is meant to last against wear. If you’re planning on going into combat, the ALG Defense Quality Mil-Spec (QMS) Trigger for only $49 would be a good choice. Keep in mind, the amount you spend doesn’t always equal quality of the product. Sometimes you’re paying for the name. So, when you’re looking to upgrade your trigger, first decide how you plan to use your weapon, how often you’ll be using it and if you have a preference in one or two-stage triggers. You want a trigger that not only does its job, but one that won’t fall apart or break after a few hundred pulls.

How an AR-15 Trigger Works

AR-15 triggers come in a variety of options. Single-stage or two-stage, curved or flat—also known as straight—drop-in or assembly required. How you select the trigger for you will depend on the intended use. For instance, if you’re planning to compete in long range, you might select a flat, two-stage trigger with a light trigger pull weight. Or if you were competing for time, a single-stage trigger might work best.

However, no matter which option you select, they all pretty much work the same way. The biggest difference is how much trigger pull is needed and if there will be any resistance in your pull. When you pull the trigger, the hammer is released, it then strikes the firing pin, which strikes the primer. The type of trigger you select will determine how much effort you have to put into pulling the trigger, which puts into motion the movement of your round. If you select one needing more trigger pull, you’ll need to place more weight on the trigger before your rifle goes off. If you select a dual-stage trigger, you’ll have some resistance before you hit the second stage and your rifle goes off.

Single-Stage vs Dual-Stage Triggers

The stage of your trigger refers to the resistance between trigger weight. If your trigger is a single-stage, there is no resistance, you simply pull the trigger and it will smoothy pull to the rear. However, if you have a dual-stage, also known as a two-stage trigger, there will be some resistance in your pull. For example, the first stage may take 2 lbs. of trigger pull weight, then you’ll feel a slight resistance, followed by a second stage, which might be 2.5 lbs of trigger pull weight.

Want to improve your marksmanship with your new trigger? Check out our blog, 5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship

The Best AR-15 Trigger for YOU

Something to keep in mind, while there are triggers out there made of better quality, better price, better anything, what makes it best is how you work with it. Everyone will have a “best for me” trigger. So, while the above is our list, know that it will vary from person to person. Make sure you test some of these—in the field—if possible before you buy. Some triggers are better for combat, some competition, and others just everyday use. So, select a trigger that works best for your weapon’s use and how well you can work with the tool given.

USCCA Insurance

You asked, and we delivered. Here’s an entire article dedicated to everything USCCA; a concealed carry insurance, also commonly shortened to CCW insurance, to make sure you’re covered in the case of a lawsuit after using your firearm. USCCA stands for United States Concealed Carry Association. An association not only dedicated to protecting its members but also educating anyone who will listen on how to properly carry and conceal their weapons. This article was specifically created to point out what USCCA has to offer its members, potential members, and other resources they have available to non-members. So, member or not here’s a full review of USCCA, a CCW insurance provider.

USCCA Membership

USCCA offers three different membership levels, gold, platinum, and elite. All of them come with the Concealed Carry magazine, educational resources, training, and legal protection. However, how much you get of each of those will depend on which membership you select.

USCCA Gold Membership

Gold membership is your cheapest option at $22/month or $247/year. It includes a year subscription to online back issues to the Concealed Carry magazine and a print and digital subscription—because not all of us are on board with digital books and magazines just yet.

Concealed Carry Magazine

  • Complete Print + Digital Subscription (8 issues per Year)
  • Complete Online Access To 1 Year of Back Issues

Education

  • CCW Reciprocity Map With Permit Expiration Reminders
  • Member-Only USCCA App Features
    • CCW Alerts When Crossing State Lines
    • Attorney Locator
    • Quick Access To Attorney Contact Info
  • Weekly updates on news, changing laws, and gear reviews
  • 10 Lifesaving Checklists
  • Digital Access to 15 Lifesaving Guides & eBooks

Training

  • Weekly Training Drills
  • Live Training Broadcasts With Industry Experts (3 Times per Year)
  • Access to Nationwide USCCA Certified Instructor Network
  • Member-Only Online Video Library
    • Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Series (Over 30 Videos)

Legal Protection

  • $500,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Civil Defense & Damages
  • $100,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Criminal Defense, Bail Bond Funding & Attorney Retainer
  • 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
  • Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Up-Front Funding For Criminal Defense & Bail Bonds
  • Protection For Use Of ALL Legal Weapons

USCCA Community

  • USCCA Community Giving Program – Provides Free Training and Resources To Your Community
  • 24/7 Access to Expert Member Services Team
  • Free Daily Entry to Annual USCCA Concealed Carry Expo

Member Perks

  • Exclusive Discount on Gold Spouse Membership
  • Carry Confidence™ Kit Mailed Within 1 Business Day
  • Member-Only Discounts on USCCA Training & Gear
  • Early Bird Access to Newly Released Training & Gear
  • Huge Discounts from Trusted Industry Partners

USCCA Platinum Membership

Platinum membership is your middle of the road option. It will cost you either $30/month or $347/annually. The differences between this membership and gold is, you get access to the interactive “ask an attorney” monthly webinar, access to situational awareness videos, more money for legal protection, and advanced show entry into the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo.

Concealed Carry Magazine

  • Complete Print + Digital Subscription (8 issues per Year)
  • Complete Online Access To 5 Years of Back Issues 

Education

  • CCW Reciprocity Map With Permit Expiration Reminders
  • Member-Only USCCA App Features
    • CCW Alerts When Crossing State Lines
    • Attorney Locator
    • Quick Access To Attorney Contact Info
  • Weekly updates on news, changing laws, and gear reviews
  • 10 Lifesaving Checklists
  • Digital Access to 30 Lifesaving Guides & eBooks
  • Interactive “Ask An Attorney” Monthly Webinar 

Training

  • Weekly Training Drills
  • Live Training Broadcasts With Industry Experts (3 Times per Year)
  • Access to Nationwide USCCA Certified Instructor Network
  • Member-Only Online Video Library
    • Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Series (Over 30 Videos)
    • Situational Awareness Video 

Legal Protection

  • $1,000,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Civil Defense & Damages
  • $150,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Criminal Defense, Bail Bond Funding & Attorney Retainer
  • 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
  • Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Up-Front Funding For Criminal Defense & Bail Bonds
  • Protection For Use Of ALL Legal Weapons

USCCA Community

  • USCCA Community Giving Program – Provides Free Training and Resources To Your Community
  • 24/7 Access to Expert Member Services Team
  • Free Daily Entry to Annual USCCA Concealed Carry Expo
    • Advanced Show Entry

Member Perks

  • Exclusive Discount on Platinum Spouse Membership
  • Carry Confidence™ Kit Mailed Within 1 Business Day
  • Member-Only Discounts on USCCA Training & Gear
  • Early Bird Access to Newly Released Training & Gear
  • Huge Discounts from Trusted Industry Partners

USCCA Elite Membership

Elite membership is your most expensive option. You’ll pay $47/month or $497 annually. The difference between the elite and platinum membership is your lifetime access to the Concealed Carry magazine’s back issues, an archive to the interactive “ask an attorney” webinar, more training videos, more money for legal protection, an elite VIP experience for the Concealed Carry Expo, and access to the elite concierge line.

Concealed Carry Magazine

  • Complete Print + Digital Subscription (8 issues per Year)
  • Complete Online Access To Lifetime Archive of Back Issues

Education

  • CCW Reciprocity Map With Permit Expiration Reminders
  • Member-Only USCCA App Features
    • CCW Alerts When Crossing State Lines
    • Attorney Locator
    • Quick Access To Attorney Contact Info
  • Weekly updates on news, changing laws, and gear reviews
  • 10 Lifesaving Checklists
  • Digital Access to 70+ Lifesaving Guides & eBooks
  • Interactive “Ask An Attorney” Monthly Webinar + Complete Archive

Training

  • Weekly Training Drills
  • Live Training Broadcasts With Industry Experts (3 Times per Year)
  • Access to Nationwide USCCA Certified Instructor Network
  • Member-Only Online Video Library
    • Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Series (Over 30 Videos)
    • Situational Awareness Video
    • When To Use Deadly Force Video
  • 10+ Hours in eLearning Training Systems ($344 Value)
    • Concealed Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals
    • Emergency First Aid Fundamentals 

Legal Protection

  • $2,000,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Civil Defense & Damages
  • $250,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Criminal Defense, Bail Bond Funding & Attorney Retainer
  • 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
  • Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Up-Front Funding For Criminal Defense & Bail Bonds
  • Protection For Use Of ALL Legal Weapons

USCCA Community

  • USCCA Community Giving Program – Provides Free Training and Resources To Your Community
  • 24/7 Access to Expert Member Services Team
  • Free Daily Entry to Annual USCCA Concealed Carry Expo
    • Advanced Show Entry
    • Elite VIP Experience

Member Perks

  • Exclusive Discount on Elite Spouse Membership
  • Carry Confidence™ Kit Mailed Within 1 Business Day
  • Member-Only Discounts on USCCA Training & Gear
  • Early Bird Access to Newly Released Training & Gear
  • Huge Discounts from Trusted Industry Partners
  • Elite Concierge Line (Priority Non-Emergency Phone Service)

Join USCCA

If you’re interested in joining USCCA, it’s not difficult, and you’ll have same-day protection. Simply decide which membership option you want and select the “Join Now” button under your plan. Type in your email and then fill out some basic shipping, billing, and payment information, and you’ll be good to go. Once you join, you can take advantage of more than just legal protection. Below are some of the resources you can take advantage of.

Concealed Carry Magazine

As a member of USCCA, you’ll get 8 copies of the Concealed Carry magazine. That also includes a year of digital access, for those who’d rather read it on a screen. Magazines include things like drills and training scenarios, as well as gun and gear reviews—like any good gun magazine.

Education

USCCA offers a ton of educational resources. Whether you’re looking to improve your shooting technique or improve your confidence, USCCA has something for you. You can take advantage of more with an upgraded membership.

Membership Training

If you’re interested in becoming an instructor for USCCA, you most certainly can. This might be something you don’t see on the main page of other CCW insurance sites. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. You can become a certified instructor or training counselor—we’ll elaborate on those further down the article.

Legal Protection

Legal protection includes self-defense shield, which is civil and criminal defense, damage protection, bail bond funding, and attorney retainer. You will also get a 24/7 critical response team, which works 365 days a year, your choice of a criminal defense attorney—most CCW insurers make you use theirs—upfront funding for criminal defense and bail bonds, and of course protection for use of all legal weapons.

USCCA Community

Under USCCA Community, you’ll see a giving program, 24/7 access to expert member services, and free daily entry to USCCA Concealed Carry Expo. However, when it comes to your show entry, only platinum and elite members get advanced show entry, and only elite members get the elite VIP experience.

Member Perks

Membership perks include a discount membership for your spouse, a Carry Confidence kit, member-only discounts on USCCA Training and gear they sell, early-bird access to new training and gear being offered, and according to them, huge discounts from industry partners. Each of these are available at every membership level. However, the elite concierge line is only available to elite members.

USCCA Training

USCCA offers class all over the US. Whether you’re looking to take a concealed carry class or become a trained instructor, USCCA has a class. They offer classes from training teachers how to deal with mass shooter threats to defensive shooting and emergency and first aid classes. They also offer a women’s only handgun and self-defense fundamentals class.

Certified Instructor

If you’re interested in becoming a certified instructor, USCCA will provide you materials and an endorsement through them. It will cost you $250 and they’ll send you your eLearning and instructor toolkit. If you want to sign-up for this course, you’ll have to physically call them—sorry, no online sign-up. Simply call 877-577-4800.

After you’ve completed the course and training, you’ll need an actual class with a USCCA training counselor. This will cost you $347 but is paid directory to your counselor. And that’s it. After, you’ll receive your credentials in the mail with a toolkit to use in your classes.

Training counselor

If you’re interested in more of a “train the trainer” type of environment, becoming a training counselor might be right for you. You can become a USCCA training counselor by first being a USCCA certified instructor. After that is done and you’ve signed up for a counselor’s course, you’ll find yourself in West Bend, WI, where you’ll do a little role-playing in the classroom and range environment.

Sometime this year, USCCA is expected to extend their classes out to a nationwide program, but for now, you’re going to WI. But, after that, you’re done. Unlike becoming a certified instructor, you may apply for this position online. Just be prepared to answer a few questions about your strengths and goals for growth as an instructor.

USCCA Resources

One thing USCCA doesn’t do is slack on resources. Considering you’re paying a pretty penny for coverage, you’d probably hope to get something else out of your membership. Because let’s face it, we all know the likelihood of needing to use them. It’s more of a safety net. In fact, you’re more likely to need your life insurance, car insurance, your home insurance, and pretty much any other form of insurance you pay for before needing to utilize CCW insurance. With that being the case, USCCA does a good job of providing a lot of extras.

You might think, all these extras are what make the prices so high. Maybe. But, the companies that provide only coverage are basically only taking your money for nothing. Instead, you’ll keep paying until you die, and you’ll probably never even pull your weapon.

With that being said, resources outside of legal defense include plenty of video training, lots of eLearning tools, a concealed carry expo, a terminology guide, federal gun law references, and plenty of advice on traveling with a firearm. Because we all know the first time you decide to fly with a firearm, the anxiety kicks in on what to do, how to do it, and how not to get in trouble doing it. The last thing any of us want is to have our weaponry confiscated, get the overly intrusive pat down, and miss our flight.

CCW Reciprocity & Gun Laws

If you’re going to carry a weapon, you should know the laws. It’s never wise to just carry and hope the 2nd amendment has you covered. Every state and even big cities within states have their own regulations. USCCA has an interactive map you can use to find out the concealed carry laws for your area. They also list any updates they make to the states, what they are, and when they made them under the map, so you can know how updated the information is.

We still advise you look at the actual regulation for your state, but this is a good place to start—especially if you’re traveling outside of your area of expertise.

Concealed Carry Expo

The Concealed Carry Expo is yet another educational resource provided by USCCA. If you’re a member, you get in at a discounted rate, you also get discounts on some of the extra priced seminars—don’t worry, there’s a lot of free ones too. And it lasts an entire weekend. If you’re reading this now, it’s probably too late for most of you to sign-up for this year’s expo, but there’s always next year—unless of course, you live in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, though, some of the classes are already sold-out at May’s expo.

USCCA Blog

USCCA’s blog is a great place to add a little more education to your arsenal. And you don’t even have to be a member to access it. The following are some of the categories you can find in their blog.

  • Self-Defense & Home Defense
  • Women & Guns
  • Guns & Gear
  • True Stories
  • Legal & Second Amendment
  • News & Current Events

Shop USCCA

USCCA, of course, also has its own product shop. You can pick from a variety of categories. Add more training materials, gifts, and apparel—you know, so everyone knows you’re a USCCA supporter—What kind of CCW insurer would they be if you couldn’t buy a hat with their logo on it?

Products include:

  • Books & DVDs
  • Digital Products
  • Range Accessories
  • Training Products
  • Home Safety
  • Gifts and Novelty

Interested in other CCW insurers? Read our blog, U.S. Law Shield Review

Why do I need CCW insurance?

You might be asking yourself, why do I need a CCW insurance if the likelihood of me using it is so slim? This is a valid question, and we aren’t attempting to shame anyone into going out and getting coverage. However, there are advantages, if you select the right provider.

Sadly, active shooters are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society, and so is your chance of needing to be that Good Samaritan. It’s not just about carrying or even carrying wisely. It’s about having someone to help represent you without paying the ridiculous fees after someone sued you for protecting their son. Yes, we know, the price of a lawyer will vary based on where you live and the actual circumstance itself. That’s why it’s wise to weigh the cost of CCW insurance and how much it would cost if you needed but didn’t have any coverage.

It’s also important to keep in mind, the more you carry, the greater your odds of having to use the weapon on your person. We, of course, hope that no one actually gets put in a position of self-defense. But, if you are placed in that type of scenario, it’s the aftermath you have to worry about.

Again, we’re not telling you to run out and get CCW insurance. What we’re saying is be smart. Do your research. Just because a company says they’ll support you doesn’t mean they will. Read the fine print in their policies. Look for reviews of people who’ve actually had to use the company their insured under, not the, “I’m so glad I got CCW insurance after I saw what my neighbor went through!” You want real-life stories of people who’ve utilized their CCW insurance to the fullest extent.

Some companies are just out there to make money. Find someone who will let you pick your own defense attorney too. And remember, you’re getting what you pay for. So, while there’s plenty of really cheap service out there not providing all the bells and whistles like USCCA, there might be a lot of necessities they’re leaving out too. Simply put, do a lot of research on the company you’re interested in.