Friday, June 24, 2011

Optimists, Pessimists, Analysts, and the Revolver.

My wife would likely tell you, "He's not an optimist or pessimist, he's an analyst."  It's just my nature to keep an open mind and make decisions based on an analysis of facts, past performance, hands-on experience, qualitative data, and quantitative information.  Once the analysis is done, I usually choose the most practical solution and when all options are fairly equal, then my passions and biases will kick in and affect the outcome.

Now when it comes to guns, I never saw a gun I didn't like or find interesting.  The design, the mechanics, the finish, and the style all fascinate me.  That doesn't in anyway imply that I would be happy with any gun for our personal collection or use, but then again, the first rule of the gunfight is to have a gun.

During an Ohio Concealed Carry course I was teaching a while back that incorporates the NRA Basic Pistol Course, one of my students asked me about what gun she should buy.  She had come to class with an M&P 40 Compact that belonged to her husband.  She had the opportunity to try a number of different guns during the course, and after some questions and discussion... I recommended what she had pretty much concluded herself - a revolver.

She went home and asked her LEO husband about going with her to look for a revolver which resulted in me getting "The Call".  "The Call", also known as "The Discussion" when done face-to-face, is usually a pointed conversation where one party discusses my incompetence, lack of manhood, and my head placement in dark places, among other things.  He did make some interesting points including: The .40 is a man-stopper causing "perps" to do double back-flips when hit and anything less is equal in ballistics to a Daisy Red Rider BB gun; His wife was smaller in stature and had small hands so the compact version of the M&P 40 was the gun for her... besides, it was a smaller version of what he carried every day.  The only problem in his decision process was forgetting to include his wife in determining the answer.

As I observed, conversed, trained, and assisted this gal in my course; I learned a few things about her and used that information for my recommendation.  Here are some pieces of information I gathered:
  • The first time she had shot a gun in 17 years of marriage was a quick session with her husband a week before the course.
  • She noticeably winced every time she started to touch the trigger on the M&P 40 compact, a remnant from her experience shooting it the previous week.
  • She had no interest in shooting or practicing on a regular basis after the course - I appreciated her honesty even though I recommended otherwise, she just wanted a gun in case something happened and her husband wasn't home.  Her shooting during the course was likely her last handling of the firearm (until that day her life depended on it, I'm guessing).
  • The beginnings of arthritis in her hands made operating and cycling the slide on the semi-auto difficult.
  • After handling a dozen or more guns during the course and firing a Glock 26, Ruger SR9, Ruger SP101, Ruger GP100, S&W J-frame, and a Ruger Mark III .22, she really liked the fit, feel, and operation of the revolvers.
  • She was very comfortable and confident with operating the revolvers.
  • The M&P 40 Compact is a terrific gun, but this gal just didn't have the physical ability and confidence to operate it safely and reliably.  Could she with practice, possibly, but I appreciate her honesty in saying she had no interest in practicing.
When I try to make a decision or recommendation, I find it is always best to educate myself and all those involved.  If you provide the unbiased information, experiences, empathy, and education to all involved, you'd be surprised at how often everyone comes to the same or at least a similar conclusion from their analysis (although I still have some friends who buy tractors without the John Deere logo).

So, yes, after my analysis, I recommended a revolver for her and after providing her the training, knowledge, and education about firearm basics and concealed carry, she recommended a revolver for herself too.  While ideally, I'd like to see every gun owner and student go on to practice regularly, participate in shooting sports, and enjoy guns as much as I do, that just isn't the case.  I know there are students who go through the course and then go home, put their gun in a drawer and forget about it.  All I can say is, "I ain't your mama."

Some will take me to task about the virtues of the semi-auto over the revolver and that is why I often carry a semi-auto over a revolver, but when it comes down to basics, revolvers are easy to operate, easy to load, and easy to check if loaded, and less susceptible to human failure of operation in a stressful situation - especially those that don't regularly practice - or ever - with their firearm.  I've seen folks countless times in courses and on the range who pull the trigger on their semi-auto only to hear... (crickets chirping).  They forgot to load the magazine, or they loaded the magazine, but forgot to cycle the slide, or they loaded the magazine and cycled the slide, but forgot the safety was on.  On a revolver, for the most part, when you load the cartridges and close the cylinder, you're ready to go.

When it comes time to purchase or obtain a gun or anything, I recommend you work with someone who will teach you about what you need, rather than tell you what you need.  Don't make decisions out of optimism or pessimism, but analyze all the information you can, and make your own recommendation or decision.

Oh, and PRACTICE REGULARLY... it's fun!


  1. AMEN Sister! It is sometimes hard for husbands (boyfriends) to realize it is HER choice. What she is comfortable with. Good job expressing this. Now if we could only get the rest of the 100 and some million other men to get this message!

  2. Thanks for the encouraging comment on my blog. I am still looking at more classes. There are quite a few within 25 miles.

    This post was great. I truly related to much of it. I too have problems working the slide on a gun and would much prefer a revolver. However, I don't want to buy one without trying it out to see if I can actually operate it. I would love to be able to practice often, but in a range, not out in the woods.

    My husband, bless him, does not understand why I want to pay money for classes when he and the neighbors can teach me everything I need to know. But I have to do what I have to do if I am ever going to be comfortable carrying and using a gun.

    Thanks again. You have a great blog here and I've added you to my blogroll.