Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bring enough gun... for you.

After reading a recent post over at Say Uncle, aside from realizing the he and I think a lot alike, I began thinking about all the hyped-up cow manure a lot of new and inexperienced shooters have to wade through when trying to choose a gun for self-defense.  I've been to a lot of firearms training from a variety of instructors, read hundreds of books, and watch more videos than I care to remember... and I've now been instructing students myself for over twenty years and with all that said... I must say that when it comes to the rules of selecting and using a gun for self defense... I see it this way...

First things first... the "using a gun for self-defense rules" don't even matter unless you are of the sheepdog mindset, you know what having a deadly weapon is for, you know how and when you to use it, and you are willing to use it to take another person's life... which is no small undertaking... even if they are a dirty scumbag.  Guns used for self-defense ain't for scaring people off (although it happens), they're for shooting people... people who are threatening you with serious bodily harm or death.  If you've got that in your psyche, then consider these rules...

Using a Gun for Self-Defense Rules:
Rule 1: Have a gun (as in with you or ready at hand).
Rule 2: Have a reliable gun you can reliably shoot.
Rule 3: Be a life-long learner and shooter so you can decide about Rule 1 and Rule 2.

Rule 1 was basically covered in a previous Sheepdog 101 post, so an introduction to Rule 2 and Rule 3 is probably overdue.  A reliable gun is one that goes bang pretty much every time it is supposed to and doesn't go bang when it is not supposed to when combined with YOU, the shooter.  What works for someone else may or may not work for you.  Being able to reliably shoot a particular gun means that you can comfortably and reliably operate that gun to place bullets on intended targets in the intended places any time the need arises.

Now which gun fits into these rules for you is something you will need to learn about and decide.  Too often I have students show up at a basic pistol, rifle, or shotgun course with guns that were selected for them rather than guns they selected.  That might work when you're first starting out, but try as many guns out as you can, educate yourself, and make your own decisions.

A shotgun is hard to conceal, but might make a good home defense firearm.  Need to shoot at a significant distance, a rifle is always better than a handgun and even works in close-quarters, but again... difficult to conceal outside the home.

The .45ACP vs 9mm debate has been raging for years, but it doesn't matter.  But the big ol' 45 will make rapists do double back-flips when hit while the little niner will just annoy them... maybe you should also consider that my Ruger SR9 carries eighteen rounds with one in the chamber verses my SR1911 that carries nine rounds with one in the chamber before a reload occurs... stopping power vs. firepower.

Now I'm not advocating one over the other... those are questions YOU need to learn about and decide.  Some people recommend you use or carry the largest caliber gun you can reliably shoot, but I don't always buy that the diameter of the bore is the prime factor you should consider in selecting a gun for self-defense. 

Revolvers are old school, don't waste your time... and they only hold five or six shots... now wait a minute there folks... I do still recommend revolvers, but each recommendation is based on the person and their need for a reliable gun they can reliably shoot.  Revolvers just seem simpler to some people and if that is what works best for them, then that is the best choice.

The .22 is worthless and isn't lethal enough... maybe, but I wouldn't ask Robert F. Kennedy's opinion on that one.  No, I'm not endorsing the terrific little .22 as the defensive round of choice, but as I tell my students... a .22 shot placed on-target is better than .45 shot that misses the target.  The two considerations that make .22s a possibility for self-defense is that they are usually inexpensive to purchase and shoot, and they're easy to shoot reliably so folks will likely practice more often.

So how do you know which gun is best for Rule 2... follow Rule 3.  Take an NRA Basic Firearm training class, go to a gun dealer and ask questions, try out a local range and rent some guns to try out, join or visit a shooting sports or gun club... many folks in a lot of clubs enjoy showing new folks their guns and even letting them try a few out.  You'll meet a lot of good, like-minded folks... and an occasional idiot or two... so learn to sort the wheat from the chaff for yourself.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
~Proverbs 15:22

There are a lot of good and bad opinions and information out there about guns and the best thing anyone can do is educate themselves, practice regularly, and... bring enough gun... for you.


  1. This is a great sanity check.

  2. excellent points. I was reminded last night of the need to not place my preferences and biases on others. The Queen and I went to the fun store after dinner for a little browsing and for her to get an idea of what several pistols felt like for purposes of "her" gun. After holding the Glock 19, Ruger SR9 and the S&W M&P 9 (as well as the officer length RIA 1911...for giggles), she declared that the "lowly" Walther PK380 was what she liked best. I had to suppress a raised eyebrow at that selection. I reminded myself that, if she's happy and comfortable with it, keep my big mouth shut.

    I will show this post to any number of new shooters that want a gun for self defense.

  4. Why Was the RIA "for giggles"? My wife likes shooting 1911s better than she likes shooting her 9mm XDm. The hard push of recoil compared to the lighter snap makes her feel like followup shots are easier.

  5. Great minds think alike Dann but I think you said it better than I did. This is what I wrote last September

    It's really a challenge to we who instruct and advise. What do we tell those who are less educated and experienced than we are? What do we teach when the resources are nearly bare? It's kinda like being a preacher. We must be careful what we teach and advise, lives (and more) are at stake. There are far too many out there, both in religion and in the firearms field, who are trying to sell something.

    I think you are absolutely right and I wholeheartedly endorse your words.

  6. Outstanding! Well thought out and eloquently put! I see so many people coming through CCH classes with a newly minted Airweight revolver. I don't have a problem with that, but that is NOT a pistol to learn with if you are a new shooter.

    I carry a revolver on occasion (Colt Detective Special), a .380 semi, a 9, and a 1911 in .45.

    Some people simply cannot work the slide on a Semi. I see many older students and ones with degenerative diseases that prevent them from in my opinion working a semi.

    I look at it as buying shoes. It takes time for you, the holster, the gun, and time on the range to figure out if the pistol you have is indeed the pistol for you.

    I enjoyed this post! Thanks for that!

    Of course I am still amped up after teaching a CCH class yesterday.

    We all learn from each other.

  7. Thanks for the kind word folks, but truthfully, there are a lot of good folks like yourselves and others that provide good advice too...

    Dann in Ohio

  8. I must congratulate you on a very nice blog with old school values published. I am from Cape Town South Africa which translates to survival. I live in a violent country which means I am armed.

    I have a .38special 2 inch barrel with 5 +P rounds loaded. I am of the believe that simplicity rules and if you cannot do it with 5 rounds then you should not own a firearm.

    I was in the Military for years and know all about combat and I have shot with just about every conceivable weapon out there but for me it is about placing the round were it belongs, making it count and not pulling the trigger just for the sake of it!