Let’s Talk about Guns

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Cliff C

In all our recent discussions there has been a lot of back and forth about guns. Which one to buy, what to use, what ammo and stuff like that. I’m a life time gun collector but am by no means an expert of what works best for what situation. But, I’d like to throw a few thoughts out and see if anyone wants to wipe their feet on them.

First off, you have your basic home protection situation. Many, many people sleep with a handgun in the nightstand. I keep mine in the nightstand when I’m not wearing it (that’s only when I don’t have my pants on) but that’s not my go to gun if I hear a bump in the night. I have a “youth model” Remington 20 gauge pump shotgun under the bed. There are 4 rounds in the magazine and a spare 5 on a holder on the butt stock.

So, you say to yourself, sonny, why did you get a youth model pump. I got it at Wal-Mart for under 210 dollars. It’s a solid shotgun, inexpensive and when I hear that bump, the bump hears the racking of the first shell into the chamber. The shotgun sleeps under the bed on my side and I can reach it without getting out of bed. Being a youth model it has a shorter barrel and a shorter stock so rather than having a shotgun with a pistol grip I’ve got a street legal, little bit shorter than regular shotgun that comes around corners fast and you’ll be hard pressed to get it out of my hand (unlike when someone is holding a pistol grip shotgun).

So, there you have the youth model, but why the shotgun and not the pistol. First, the racking of the first shell is a universal noise recognized everywhere, that’s the warning you get. Second, in 20 gauge I can let loose and not kill my daughter 3 or 4 wall down and if someone is at the door and I shoot then I don’t have to worry about killing the people across the street when the bullet passes through. My carry handgun is a Glock 23 in .40 S&W calendar. I carry it loaded with self-defense rounds with 13 rounds in the magazine and I always carry 2 spare 13 round magazines in my back pocket (no, those are my magazines, I’m not happy to see you).

If I had to fire on someone in self-defense I am almost guaranteed a stop with a double tap (that’s how I was trained and that’s how I practice). If the bullet does not expand on contact and passes through I stand a really good chance of hurting a neighbor or if I miss that bullet is going hot and heavy across the street. Killing my neighbor is not in my plan. Killing someone breaking in is also not in my plan. Life is precious and I’ll only take it when I have to.

The last shell in the shotgun and the first to be chambered in #8 shot. It’ll hurt like heck but probably not kill unless we are less than 1 or 2 feet apart. All follow ups are #4 buckshot. I can go through all 4 shells in less than 5 to 6 seconds if need be but I’d really give the person a chance to change their mind and a ride to the hospital rather than killing them outright. I can also reload 5 shells from the stock in less than 10 seconds but I surely doubt that will be necessary.

So, first thing to think about is getting a good pump shotgun. Inexpensive. 20 gauge ammo is cheap and its comfortable enough so that my wife and daughter can run through a box of shells without bellyaching about their shoulders. That’s number one home defense.

Self defense is my Glock and when I’m in my vehicles I usually have a spare 40 or 50 rounds sitting within reach. I carry on my belt, under my shirt which is always untucked. The nature of my work and demeanor means that I’m almost always casually dressed but if I’m in a suit the suit coat will cover the bulge. I tried a lot of holsters before I found the Blackhawk holster that I always wear. I tried the pancake options and saw too many of them ripped off the side of people’s pants.

My holster has a retention system and as I draw I also depress a button on the side of the holster that releases the handgun. Without that button being mashed it’s not coming out. As I draw and since I’ve had my finger on the button, as the gun comes free my trigger finger is indexed on the side of the gun just about the trigger guard. Never pull a handgun with your finger on the trigger unless you like holes in your pants or legs or feet. Because I bet mine and my family’s life on that handgun I didn’t mind paying the 600 for the gun and the custom trigger work.

I also carry a backup gun. It’s a Taurus ultralight .38 special that lives in an ankle holster. If I get knocked down on my gun side and can’t pull my pistol I can more than likely pull the .38. I’m double tap trained on that too. I do not carry extra ammo for that since it’s not my main go to gun but the 5 it carries will give me the time to get to my Glock.

As I stocked up on guns I got the usual SKS, AK47, Mini-14 and a heck of a lot of other things that might be called main battle rifles. Problem with everything except the Mini-14 is the others look bad and look dangerous if you are just carrying it around shooting down some mistletoe. Their job is to lay down a lot of rounds in a hurry of a military caliber an they do their jobs just fine. But, if you watch TV and there is a gun battle, one guy leans out, shoots a bunch of rounds and then pops back behind concealment and then it’s the other guys turn to lean out, shoot at no target and then back behind his concealment.

That’s not the way it works. If you are in that type of gun battle, let the other guy lean out, shoot at you, you lean out, shoot a round or two back and stop and when he leans out for his turn you have a target that can be neutralized. The idea of expending 500 rounds per kill or some other such ridiculous number is fine during a Vietnam war but not so good for protecting the house. If you can empty a 30 round magazine in 10 seconds than you have a club in your hand until you can get another magazine in place and ready.

I sold off several of the SKSs and AKs but kept a few for old times sake, but went with the mini-14 in-depth (1 is none, 2 is one, 5 is depth) plus spare parts. I can carry that out in the open and it looks like I’m going hunting rather than to war. I have several of the AR platforms in various configurations and that’s good in that they use the same ammo as the Mini-14 from Ruger, the .223. It’s a well-tested, well proven round. I don’t really care for the AR style rifles. Every billy-bad-ass has one and doesn’t know what to do with it. Again, if you want to spray and pray, they are fine for that. I’d rather pick my shots and still be able to follow-up quickly when needed.

OK, now you’re saying, sounds like a lot of guns right there and a lot of money. I’m a collector and have been able to get pretty much any of the guns that I’ve wanted over the years. I have multiple .22 rifles, bolt-action, pump and automatic. I have a really old JC Higgins .22 revolver that carries 9 shots and it has a 6 inch barrel. I grew up shooting that and am still pretty good with it. I also have, in-depth, Ruger 10/22 rifles in various configuration and since Ruger started making their own 25 round magazine for this rifle I’ve gotten rid of my other after market magazines. So, the .22 is great. It’s a person stopper if used right, but it’s also a squirrel or rabbit getter without a lot of noise. You can get a nice, plain jane 10/22 on sale usually around 160 or 170 dollars.

Now, lets talk about inexpensive first guns. A lot of people talk bad about Hi-Point and how it’s a gansta gun and crap like that. It’s made in America, comes with a life time warranty, holds 10 rounds in the magazine and I have one in .40 S&W (same ammo as the glock), one in 9mm (just because I can) and one in .45. These handguns are made mostly of polymer, they are a bit bulky and don’t work well for concealed carry but I have put several thousand rounds of ammo through each one and have never had a failure to feed or a failure to fire.

They are what they are, an inexpensive, entry-level gun that can be outfitted with laser and all that other happy stuff. Hi-Point also makes a carbine in .40 S&W and .45 ACP that uses the same magazines and ammo as the pistols. Yes, we are talking about handgun calibers in a carbine. They look like something from Planet of the Apes, they are pretty cheap, I got a used .40 for right under 200.

I got a new .45 with all the bells and whistles they could put on it for $400. This .45 is a deadly tack driver. I didn’t opt for the 9mm but they also sell a carbine in that caliber. I don’t really care for 9mm. If you remember the lady senator that got shot in the head a while back and survived and is still going strong, you’ll know she was shot with a 9mm. If the shooter had used the .40 or .45 there is no way she would have survived. 9mm is just not enough in a handgun or a carbine.

Other rifles, I have bolt-action 308s, level action 30-30s (which I love to shoot and everyone else at the range also wants to shoot), along with bolt-action .243, 30-06 along with the various magnum and larger calibers. I also have quite a few military rifles from the first and second world war that I got very cheaply. Most of then kick like a mule but if you only have 200 dollars to spend, buy a Mosin Nagant and a tin of ammo and you have a guaranteed man stopping bolt-action rifle with a nasty looking bayonet on the end. Do yourself a favor if you buy one, get a recoil pad and warn anyone that is going to shoot it that it kicks.

OK, we’ve covered home defense with the .20 gauge (I also have a 12 gauge and a 16 gauge double barrel and a .410 from my youth). The 12 gauge is very effective outside but not comfortable for my wife or daughter to shoot. OK, we know you can get the shotgun for some where around 200 to 250 and then you need to buy a few boxes of ammo from Wal-Mart, they sell 100 rounds of #6 o #8 shot for less than 30 dollars. The buckshot is more but stock up on the bird shot, practice with it and then go to buck if you need it.

Now, if you are willing to jump through the hoops (not very big ones here in Georgia) you can get a concealed carry permit that lets you carry your handgun concealed just about everywhere except the bank and the post office and the air port and by a strange quirk you can’t wear it to church because of the law. The preacher, when I visit my home church, knows that I’m one of 15 or 20 guys in the congregation that are packing and if there is every an instance where a madman comes in shooting, he’s not going to have the opportunity to hurt many people before he is stopped. Law be damned there. Rest of the time, if I go to the bank or post office the pistol comes out of the holster and goes in the console until I come back.

I have no intention of putting myself between a bank robber and his way out if I’m unlucky enough to be there when that happens. The bank can afford to let them take the money and as long as you don’t ask for my wallet we’ll be fine. So, here we are at a concealed handgun. You can get small .38s that you can carry in your pocket, you can carry up to a .45 or so on your belt without the world knowing. When I carry my Ruger .44 magnum with the 7 1/2 barrel and scope it has to ride in a shoulder rig and my jacket fairly well hides it although I look more like a really well endowed woman in profile it’s very comforting to have if I’m some place with bears or lions and tigers and flying monkeys. The Glock is also riding along.

I’ve talked about home defense, I’ve talked about personal defense and I’ve talked about a main battle rifle. Sounds like a lot to keep up with and in my case a lot of calibers to keep up with. It’s a life time of buying, selling, swapping and dealing too. But, bottom line is when you look at my ammo safes, there are a lot of bricks of .22, boxes of 12 gauge and 20 gauge ammo, along with a lot of 30-30 and a whole lot of .223. I’m heaving in .40 S&W and .38. Everything else has ammo but it runs from 200 rounds to a few thousand rounds. Again I have the variety because I can and I want to. You could easily get by with .20 gauge, .22 and then a larger caliber if that is what you want and you can easily pick up a box of ammo a week fairly cheaply.

Bottom line, guns are like belly buttons, most people have them, some are pretty, some are ugly and they are no good if you don’t know what you are doing with them. If you have one you have to know it intimately. Learn all its secrets. Take it out and practice and when you are tired of practicing, practice some more. Practice in the daylight, practice at night (most people are shocked when they shoot at night and see the blast of fire from the burning power envelop the gun, it’s bright and scary).

Practice when you are dog tired but not before you get really good. When you are dog tired you can get careless and careless can get you killed. Make a family outing of going to the range. It’s fun for everyone. If you have smaller children and a lot of patience, get them a “cricket” .22, it’s a single shot, bolt-action, and you have to “cock” it before each shot. They are very small, kid sized and are great for them to learn on. Always assume that every gun you pick up is loaded.

If I’m going to hand my Glock over to someone to look out I’ll take the magazine out, open the slide and visually inspect it and then hand it to them. I expect them to check the magazine well and to pull the slide back to check for themselves before they ever get near the trigger. When they hand it back I’ll do the same check again then remount the mag, chamber a round and put it back in the holster. If you do it that way every time then you are in the habit of doing it that way and less apt to have an accident.

Years ago a guy came by wanting to sell is old .38 that his wife didn’t want in the house anymore. He kept it in a sock and when he got here he just tossed it over to me. I took it out of the sock and it was loaded. Gave him hell for handing me a loaded gun, not just throwing it but handing it too, we, in our polite Southern way just don’t do that.

If you can only have one gun, get the shotgun first and ammo. If you are on a budget, don’t be ashamed to buy a Hi-point, it puts the bullet where you want every time you want it. But, if you are going to go pick out a new gun from the gun store, see if you can rent the same gun and put 40 or 50 rounds through it before you buy it. You might just find that the slide coming back likes to take a chunk out of that web of skin between your thumb and first finger so it would be a bad buy.

Get armed, get ammo, get trained, practice, practice, practice and practice some more. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Good post! I like your honest, no nonsense approach. I’m with you on the 20 ga for the primary home defense weapon for the same reasons. My wife and 40 year old daughter prefer my double twenty for home protection. I appreciated your input on the Hi-point weapons since I have no personal experience with them. My 7 1/2 inch barreled 44 Redhawk is my all time favorite gun to shot. It is not scoped and I carry it in a shoulder holster. I carried it or its predecessor a Blackhawk in44 for 23 years in Alaska.

  2. Hello Cliff. I enjoyed your article and pretty much agree with everything.I live in California and can`t get hi points in 45 and I agree with you on 9mm so hipoints are out as far as I am concerned. If I had a 9mm it would be mostly for target shooting.I also can only dream of hi cap mags.I own a marlin 60 that holds 18 and I doubt that I will ever sell it or my marlin 781 for that matter.I also like the youth model 20 gauge.A good thing about youth guns is you can get them cheaper second hand ,at least it seems.thank you for you article. Steve

  3. Great article, Cliff. You sound like a walking encyclopedia.

    You provided information I need. I’ve struggled with two Mossberg 12 gauge shotguns for home defense. What an eye-opener to hear you favorably discuss the youth model Remington 20 gauge. I will look into that, for sure. I disagree about that satisfying sound the pump makes. Yes, the sound is scary but if someone is in my house in the middle of the night they don’t need a warning. They aren’t there by accident and their motives aren’t pure.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Agreed about the warning pump. I see Cliff’s point and my own brother (26 year LEO) advocates the same. It’s all good.
      With all due respect, in years of working for the DOD and law enforcement I have realized that the guy who waits until the actual confrontation to make his weapon hot is often not an expert. (I know my brother is an expert with firearms and Cliff sure sounds very knowledgeable) Not criticizing, just saying that I am less apprehensive in that situation as I smell a frightened amateur when such occurs. If the intruder turns out to be Cliff or my brother I may have underestimated! But when I pick up the long gun a round is chambered or I immediately chamber one and function check before I venture out after the bad guys. Make ’em hot! Early. Quietly. Just sayin’…

    • Yup, I whole-heartedly agree: the perp should never hear the action work unless you missed with the first shot.
      Nothing wrong with his choice of load, but it’s still birdshot. I’m going to be loaded with buck if it’s for defensive use.

      • The Prepper says:

        A lot of 12ga shotguns aren’t drop safe (the safety i spurely there to stop the trigger), so storing your shotgun in a “cruiser ready” position is actually ideal. You will have to rack in a shell if you need it, but assuming you practice with dummy rounds you can do this extremely fast. If you haven’t done so, I’d recommend everyone simulate a bump in the night scenario. How long does it take you to grab your gun? How long does it take you to rack in a shell. How long until you identify a target? How long until you pull the trigger? The results will amaze you.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Great idea Prepper. Make sure you all get the weighted practice rounds for realism. My Remington is always in cruiser ready mode and as soon as I rack one in the pipe , I top off the magazine.
          And speed loading an empty pump by slapping in a reload with your support hand while still at the ready would be good practice as well. I’ve shown friends and they thought it was easy….’till they tried it. Takes practice. Which reminds me, it’s been a while. Need to practice!

      • Hi JSW,
        Birdshot will do just fine and be lethal out to 20 feet + in a 12 guage. Any farther and the judge just might ask you how much of a self defense action it was. The worst part of defending yourself with lethal force is the court action that follows.

    • Prep Now [so.fl.] says:

      A Taurus Judge with .410 buck shot on the night stand is a comfort to sleep beside, right next to my 230 lumen strobe flash light. Mossberg also makes a pistol grip 20ga and 410ga for home defense. We have a 12ga. and a 410.
      We carry 38spl+p #642 S&W, and .45acp Taurus.
      House defense is the Judge 45 colt/410,, 410 and 12 ga pump guns
      “Shooting” is a scoped 45 colt lever gun and twin AR 15’s.
      For SHTF mode, my son and son-in law have a wide and large collection of 12ga, .223, 30-06, 30-30, .308, 9mm, 45acp, and .22’s. We have the food , bedrooms, sanitary, and water gear.

  4. Great article Cliff, although i gotta ask you how you justify saying that a 22 is a “people stopper” if used right but a 9mm “is not a good handgun or carbine”? In that same instance that you used about Ms. Gabrielle Giffords you failed to mention that 6 other people were killed. All I am saying is the 9mm is not a bad round. The reason people dont like it is because they don’t want to take the time to become proficient with them. it takes much more time to be as good with a 9mm as it would be with a 45acp. My point is dont give the 9mm crap just because you personally dont like it.

    • Luke,

      I agree – all of my defensive handguns are 9mm. I love the round and do not feel in the least “under gunned” or outclassed when it comes to stopping power. The most important consideration when it comes to “stopping power” is that the bullet hit a vital organ. Load the 9mm with a good round (I like Corbon 115 grain +P) and learn to shoot. There is no magic handgun caliber…

      • amen, learn to shoot the gun you own untill it is first nature not second nature and it will do what you ask of it

      • SurvivorDan says:

        Truly……a brain box hit with a 9mm beats a near miss with a 44 Magnum.

        • A brain box hit with a 44 mag beats a brain box hit on a 400 lb bear charging you. Where I live there are bears ,elk,wild pigs and hogs.Also bison and turkeys. The bison are farmed though. There is also coyote bobcats and some mountian lion.

          • Whoops. I meant to say a brainbox shot with a 44 mag beats a brainbox shot with a 9mm on the charging bear.

            • Thank god not everyone has to worry about bears all day and have to worry about humans more often

          • SurvivorDan says:

            Indeed. No argument there Axelsteve. No brown bears or big hogs down here in the desert. Do javelina count?

            If I lived further north I would take your implied advice and trade in the 45LC trail gun for a 44 Magnum. Hate to have a serious social situation with a brown bear and just piss him off with my 45LC! Probably only hike with my 45-70 guide gun to be certain.lol

            • Dan. 45 lc is fine with me.Although a 45 lc is no 9mm.that is going to be my last 9mm comment. I do not mean to stir it up, I am just opionated on some things.

            • Prep Now [so.fl.] says:

              Dan, BRV sells a hot 300 grain Bear round in 45 colt for lever guns.[ bitter root valley] Of course 5 rounds of .410 OOO buck out of a Taurus Judge might stop a bear too. [ 20-.32 cal pellets total]

            • If you are concerned about your 45 LC, there are some REALLY good rounds for it. I have several and both Buffalo Bore and Double Tap make some serious loads for it. I have several, including a 16″ Trapper style Model 92 lever gun and don’t feel under-gunned with these in the Montana woods. My preference if for the 225 gr Barnes bullet or a 300 JSP.

      • MD, I have to agree. The 9mm is perfectly fine for self defense – just like any other round it is all about round placement. With all the advances made in self defense ammo it will do it’s part if the shooter does theirs. Also if one of the other members of your group is forced to use you handgun they will hve a much better chance controlling the 9 rather than larger calibre.

    • Yeah, I agree, as well. The ammo used also makes a big difference. He was using cheap ammo, not any kind of defensive round.

    • As often noted, ask someone who was killed by a ‘wimpy nine’ if they thought it wasn’t enough bullet for them. With current manufacturing research and materials, about the only difference in bullets is the diameter of the hole. They’ll all kill you.
      However, if given a choice of going up against an unskilled shooter with a .22 or one with a 9mm, I’ll choose the .22.

    • I agree , I also have 9mm’s , With some of the new ammo that is out there , they are just fine ……………… by the way , you can kill a person with a pellet gun if your a good shot . Doesn’t have to be a cannon , I wouldn’t want to get shot with a 9mm or 45 . ( or anything else for that matter )

  5. good stuff. i have a little different view about the need for self protection and HAVING A GUN. my view is that ‘having a gun’ is 90% as an attack may come by deception and unexpected so first get a little reliable gun that would be on person almost continually. after that, the .22/shotty/larger cal hand and long guns. . just my 02.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Good point. .22 in the hand beats the 44mag in the car. I have the omnipresent .22 mag NAA revolver and .32 Beretta Tomcat on me as I type in my office. lol But that’s just me.

  6. Cliff C
    Very good practical advice!! I’m interested in the Hi-Point hand guns, can you do another article on it to include any modifications, ammo trials, holsters or any lessons learned? I’m thinking this might be a great option for my family BOBs or a glove compartment gun. I have a Jennings 22 that is designed in a similar blowback, fixed barrel fashion. It is very accurate but picky about ammo (Stingers only) and has been great for a pocket gun, and fishing gun. I think the High-Point might fill a niche or two as well.

    • Regarding the Hi-Points.. I own 2 of them in the beastly 45ACP and have fired perhaps 6 or 7 others at the local ranges. The first I bought new for 149.00 and currently have over 800 rounds through it without ANY issues! The second one I bought used for 75.00 and have over 400 rounds through it, no idea what the prior owner did with it, but again no issues at all. Likely 4 or 5 brands of JHP, FMJ and reloads. The other 45s I’ve handled at range visits have also been trouble free. Aside from pulling a Bore-Snake through the barrel a few times after a range trip they have never been properly cleaned. Hi-Point actually discourages you from doing a full field cleaning and say you don’t have to. ALL my other weapons get broken down and completely cleaned after each use but not these two.

      They are VERY HEAVY! Each one weighs in at 42oz empty add another 8oz for 10 45ACP bullets (about 0.75oz each) and your talking 50oz total! Each! If you happen to miss all 10 shots you could always throw it at the attacker and likely kill him with it! 🙂

      The weight really helps minimize the felt recoil and allows you to pretty much stay on target very easily. At 30yards I emptied the mag and had a 3″ grouping. I feel you could put this hand cannon in any adults hands and they could point, fire and repeat without much recoil issue. The heft helps that much. They are much louder then any other 45ACP I’ve fired and you do get some looks at the range.

      I have fired 2 of the 9mm Hi-Points and both had loading issues. I fixing one via bending out the top tabs on the mag (a known issue) however it still had a few issues after that. Cant comment on the .38 as I haven’t fired it yet.

      Hi-Points have a manual thumb safety and an internal drop-safety to keep it from firing if dropped or jolted. Get one, shake it and you’ll hear a rattle inside.. that is the drop-safety. No holsters.. most of the time they are kept in a Bore-Stores bag in the night tables.

      Lots of people bash them. Personally my experience has been great with the 45s. I do plan on purchasing 3 more shortly for exactly that purpose.. to toss in our dedicated BOB packs as something you grab if needed right away. An extra something. They would be disposable after emptied however simply due to their weight. They would be too heavy for a Get Home Bag. I keep a small/light survival rifle and a Walther PPS 9mm in the GHB with a 6 round mag in and 2 extra 8-round mags with it. Its my occasional 2nd carry hence the 6 round mag.

      Hope this helps.

  7. I don’t think the DEAD are going to ask what caliber killed them.

  8. I like reading your blog and you always have some well thought out postings. I might disagree with you on some points, but that’s fine too.

    I personally like the AR platform. Yes, its true that almost every “billy bad ass” has one and may not know what to do with it, but that doesn’t diminish its capabilities in the hands of someone that DOES know what to do with it.

    I am confident in my ability with any of my AR’s to pick my shot and still have plenty of ammo left for a quick AND well placed follow up shot. Just because some “billy bad ass” likes to use his AR as a bullet hose, doesn’t reduce its ability to place precise shots out to 500 yards and beyond.

    I have owned several Mini’s but still go back to the modularity, accuracy and ease of ownership of the AR.

    • So true- we all have our preferences and something we feel most comfortable with, be it a Mosin or a Garand, we choose what we like, what fits us and what we can handle, both physically and monetarily.

    • Well put, Robert. I’m still trying to figrue out how you ‘spray and pray’ with a semi-auto….

      • Cliff in Douglasville says:

        You’ve never seen someone bumpfire an SKS or AK? It makes it act full automatic even though you pull the trigger each time. Watch it on you tube if you like. I think it’s a silly and dangerous thing to do but yep, you can spray and pray with a semiauto.

      • pull trigger pull trigger pull trigger Amen pull trigger pull trigger pull triggerholy mother of god pull trigger pull trigger.

        • Cliff in Douglasville says:

          Actually you brace the rifle against your thigh. You pull the trigger and the recoil resets the trigger but doesn’t lock it so when the recoil abates your finger is still pulling the trigger. You can go through a lot of rounds fast but not by any means accurately. That is why they call it bump fire, you pull the trigger once, keep it depressed and let your thigh absorb the recoil. Someone had to be really bored to have figured that out in the first place. You can get tossed off most outdoor ranges for doing that.

          • Well, that is definelty truth in advertising – everytime I have used one of those things I was certainly praying.
            I get your point, too, Axelsteve – ‘make it rain lead’..

      • Mactex, spray and pray doesn’t have to be full auto. Spray and pray means firing your weapon and praying you hit someone. If you see any of the Vietnam footage where they fired their rifles overhead behind a wall, shooting indiscriminately into the jungle but can’t see the enemy or clearing a room just firing without siting in your target until you hit them. That’s spray and pray full or semi auto.

        • Actually, even full auto should be short, controlled, aimed bursts. Three to five rounds max. Spray & pray does have a place. Surpressive fire. Sometimes it is needed. We see too much nonsense on TV & movies because it looks cool. The prime example is the Lorenzo Lamas. You know, where a gangsta holds a pistol sideways. Looks cool. No trained shooter would use it. One thing I don’t think is stressed enough. DON’T DO WHAT YOU SEE ON TV or MOVIES. It’s not real life. I wish I had a dollar for every time an “actor” used a saloon door or living room sofa for cover. (As opposed to concealment).

          • Cliff in Douglasville says:

            I concur with your comments MethanP. People will keep their heads down if you are sending a lot of rounds down range. Oh, and in the movies and TV, someone gets shot and usually blown back about 4 or 5 feet, that doesn’t happen, they get shot and they fall back or down. They also don’t grab their shoulders and grimace and keep shooting usually. Usually they are curled up in a ball, crying for their mother, wetting their pants and in extreme agony from having their body invaded by a hot piece of metal going pretty quickly. It’s not neat, it’s not clean, it just is what it is.
            I doubt I would use one of todays cars as cover in a gun fight. Most any round will penetrate the thin metal and plastic that make up the bodies and there isn’t enough stuffing in the seats to make for much stopping power. Better to run off, get in the ditch and then get them as they come around the car. Fire from concealment, don’t have a quick draw contest in the middle of the street, one of their friends will shoot you in the back.

            • Cliff; I don’t claim to be an expert myself on any shooting related activity. However I have read experts, and take Fairburn as the guru. I have also fired almost every WW1 & WW2 rifle and pistol except French. Would you believe none? I am a very good shot. I know first hand that most of what you see on TV/movies is bull. They hit when they should miss, miss when they should hit, and the only time a rifle bullet goes through a car is when they’re killing a cop as a gun control message. I’m signing off now because I can feel my blood pressure going up thinking about it!

            • Cliff, I was shot in the knee with a large caliber round. I have no shame in admitting I cried like a little girl and til this day when the doc asks on a scale of 1 to 10 I say the number 10 being a gun shot wound.

              As for cars your right, LE and military is taught if you take cover behind a vehicle do so behind the engine block. It offers the best protection.

              Thanks for mentioning the flying 5 to 10 feet back when getting shot. I didn’t fly when I got shot, never seen anyone fly when getting shot ever.

            • Some studies have shown a large number of rounds that ‘skipped’ off the hood, roof or trunk thus creating an area of rounds/shrapenal about waist high 4 to 10 feet back, behind the car. I’m with Cliff I’d rather use it for concealment to relocate back to a ditch or more substantial cover that would offer some true protection. If I HAD to use a car, the engine block would be the only place i would feel even remotely protected and only if no one started slinging lead UNDER the car.

          • Methan, I am not a fan of full auto coming out of rifles, even in short bursts it isn’t accurate (SMG is different and is accurate).
            I don’t believe in spray and pray as well, aim at what you shoot and soot at what you aim. In my time in the military and combat, never once did we feel we had to go to 3 round burst because we could put more accurate rounds down range and that’s what the M249 and M60/M240G handled that.

            Suppressive fire and spray and pray are two different things completely. Suppressive fire is controlled aimed firing on the “target” while troops are moving in on the “target” to close in reducing the odds of getting shot keeping the “targets” head down.
            Spray and pray is indiscriminate fire not really aiming or really knowing your target.

            I agree TV and movies are the worst place to learn, we used to have drinking games on base and ship where we took a shot when someone in a movie or tv show had “unlimited ammo” shooting more rounds than capacity, shooting rambo/chuck norris style, “gangsta aim”, hiring the “double action click” on a glock or pistol with the slide locked back etc. Don’t do anything you see on the A-Team either lol

            • Thanks for the comments Jarhead. You seem to have more experience full auto than I do and I take your point on surpressive fire. My only experience with a full auto rifle was a USN M-14 with bipod, one mag with 15rnds. After the first wild burst it was no trouble keeping 3rnd bursts in a 9″ circle at 100yds. Thankyou USN reserves. I just saw that DA Glock click earlier this week. I have friends in the “business” in Hollywood. They (not my friends) seem to take a perverse pleasure in getting it wrong. As for the A-Team (TV), they used Ruger Mini-14s after the first season. Considering ammo expended/hits ratio, I never considered it a good advertesment.

            • Methan, I am a huge fan of the M14, I did two West Pac deployments on “Gator Freighters” and fondly remember the Chief or Senior Chief out with his M14 on shark watch during man overboard drills or swims in the Indian Ocean when they opened the well deck.
              Good times!

  9. I have both a 12 and 20 ga and most of my hunting is bird hunting(dove/quail) and I prefer to shoot the 20 ga. If I have to lug a gun and ammo around all day the 20 is lighter and I can sight on birds quicker, and I can carry more ammo for the weight. I always take more birds than my buddies with the 12 ga. Now if I am duck hunting I prefer the bigger load due to non toxic shot. Do not have a youth model for home defense but you make a lot of good points and will start looking for one at the gun shows.

    • riverrider says:

      g, you could just shorten the stock and get a shorter(legal) barrel for the one you have. jas.

    • George. They quit making lead shot years ago. Almost kinda like lead base paint.(phased out a long time ago) Unless maybe there is an exception for your state which I doubt.

      • Lead shot is still used in many rounds for ‘upland game’ hunting. Steel, Bismuth, Antimony, etc, rounds are just mandatory for waterfowl-migratory birds. (For all waterfowl, my preference is #2 steel, but that’s just me. Used to be #2 was just big enough for geese and overkill on ducks.)
        That isn’t to say the tree huggers are happy about it, though.

  10. Cliff,

    Thank you for this informative post. I am just starting to learn about guns. I have taken the CCW class, and got a 9 mm for Christmas. It is going to take a lot of practice for me to become proficient. Thank you again for this excellent article.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      For the lucky folks who received a similar Christmas present, think about getting the book “Bullseyes Don’t Shoot Back”.

      M.D. has a link to the publisher, Paladin Press.

      • Overkill750 says:

        Just remember that practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. So spend the money and time to get the best instruction that you can. It will literally save your life and cost you less in the long run( you will not have to un-learn bad habits ).

  11. Cliff,
    All in all a good clear article, but I would like to add some information and a word of caution.

    I also use a Blackhawk Serpa with the positive release for my S&W .30 Spl J-Frame and have had no problems with it. That series has however gotten a bad reputation from too many people who have tried to use it in a crunch situation (whether involving a bad guy or simply a timed competition) and many range officers have banned the holster from ranges they control, especially during these timed and stressful events. Generally what happens is that someone who has not had enough practice with the holster, will attempt to draw the handgun without hitting the release. When the gun will not release, they finally remember the release button which is in line with the trigger, at which point they mash the release button, the gun comes free of the holster, and the finger continues on to the trigger, resulting in an AD/ND. As a general rule, if you are going to use one of these holsters, practice drawing from it with an unloaded gun until you can smoothly draw with light pressure on the release. Another thing we have had our students do, which seems to help is the purchase a strip of adhesive backed sandpaper (sold as stair tread tape or skateboard tape), cut a piece to fit the release button, and attach it there. The rough feeling sandpaper gives the shooter a tactile cue that helps them to remember to use the release. Here is a video with some more detailed explanations and demonstrations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDpxVG9XFJc

    I see various discussions about the Hi Point firearms being anything from junk to great little guns. In fact, both of these opinions have some truth to them. I live only about 30-50 miles from the three plants that make these firearms, and have seen and played with them for more than 20 years. 20 years ago they were inexpensive and rather crude. A friend has an early one made completely of steel and it is rather heavy and clunky. In short, their early models left a lot to be desired, but again keep in mind that this was 20+ years ago. The firearms that I see them making today, are much improved in both design, materials, and construction and IMO are a worthy addition to an inexpensive complement of firearms.

    The 9mm, both from the firearms and ammunition perspective has come a long way from the old German Luger firing ball ammo. With the advent of polymer frames and large capacity magazines, along with ammunition specifically design for self defense, I think that this cartridge often gets a bad rap. You state that you don’t want to kill a person, but then discuss why you need the larger caliber cartridge because the 9mm is somehow inadequate. I also never intend to kill someone, but a firearm holding something between 15 to 20 +1 rounds, and a few spare loaded magazines, should with some practice yield a more than adequate defensive tool.

    And finally on the subject of training and practice. Keep in mind that only “perfect” practice makes perfect, and in my experience the only way to practice perfect is to be taught how to perform a skill correctly in the first place. The next time you get some extra money, instead of looking for the next firearm or bulk ammunition purchase, take a look at getting some additional training, which will in the long term allow you to make that practice count more towards being secure with your defensive tools.

    Again, I’m not really criticizing, just clarifying and still think this article makes a lot of good points.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Ohio Prepper,
      Very good points and thanks for the clarification. My statement about not wanting to kill someone applies in this case to a home invader. I’d have a really hard time living with myself if I killed a teenager out on a lark. If I’m out in my vehicle or in the mall, then I shoot to kill. I practice double tap with my Glock all the time. If you are trying to do harm to me, take my vehicle or threaten my family then all bets are off and you’re taking the dirt nap. Facing a home invader is really a very different situation. I’ll give them every chance to leave and I really don’t want to shoot to kill. I can replace the TV and if it’s a mistake they’ll spend some time in the hospital but probably make it.
      I like the serpa retention system and it’s on my carry holster and I practice with it a lot. If my pants are on then I’m carrying. I spend a lot of time at the ranges and have paid quite a bit of money for professional instruction. I learned some bad habits in the military both my the 9mm and with the M-16. It took a lot of work to convert my combat shooting style to a more civilized day to day carry and react. That additional training has more than paid for itself.

      I was probably harsh with my comments about the 9mm. Just a person preference, just like I don’t like the Taurus Judge with it’s .410 or .45 long colt loads. They initially advertised them with someone discharging them from inside a car. That’s a fast way to go Deaf. The Judge has it’s place but just not on my person or in my gun safe.

      The early Hi-Points were cheap and a lot like the stuff that came out of Argentina and other far off places. The weapon they make now is really good for what it is. It’s not something you can carry concealed unless you are a much bigger man than I am or wear a Mua-Mua (spelling, meaning a big Hawaiian shirt). The ones I have live in happy places in my gun safes. I don’t take them to the range anymore since they are not my go-to stuff.

      I have competed at the range in speed and accuracy competition. I don’t win very often, especially against the young 20ish guys who have much sharper reflexes than I have at 61. But, I do give them a run for their money.

      Nothing replaces being comfortable with what ever gun you use as a go-to. Nothing makes you comfortable with that weapon like practice. I’m speaking of practicing loaded and unloaded, all the various jams that can occur. Taking it apart, cleaning it, putting it back together and then making sure it works (nothing makes you feel more foolish than to go to the range after you’ve cleaned your gun and found that you’ve left a part out). It’s a good way to get killed. Don’t pull your weapon unless you are willing to use it. Don’t pull it to threaten or scare, pull it to use and be ready to use. If the appearance of your handgun doesn’t change your attackers demeanor within a millisecond then you are going to have to shoot. Shoot I have, shoot I may again although I’d much rather put holes in targets than people. I was tried in the military and exposed to a lot of shooting styles and was taught what works in a combat situation. That doesn’t always work in a regular face to face situation. Training and training with a trainer that can tell you when you do things wrong or can help retrain your hand to do something differently is worth the time and money, just like you say.
      One of the toughest things to learn is to shoot and then advance on your attacker and continue to shoot and advance until you are sure the attack has been neutralized. It’s not fun to be 2 feet away from someone and get the blood and bits spattered back on you but if that is what it takes then you have to learn how to do it. When you shoot someone, it’s not like in the movies where they grab their shoulder and fall down, they scream, they bleed that wet their pants, they defecate, their body has just been invaded by a high speed piece of metal and it hurts and hurts bad. If they are high on crack they may still be standing and not doing those things and that’s when you have to keep advancing and shooting until the threat is gone. Killing a person is really serious business. It’s a lot different when you are in a uniform and they are in a different uniform and they are trying to kill you at the same time you are trying to kill them. In a battle line you don’t always know if your bullet was the one that just killed the guy on the other side and you can sleep a little bit better. Protecting yourself from a force of arms, when what you want to do is roll up in a fetal ball and cry for your mother and wet your pants, is tough because you have to put that aside and do what you are there to do. It will change you. It really is a big deal.

      • Cliff,
        More good points AND I concur with you on the Judge (and the Governor). If you carry 45 LC in it then it is a decent defensive tool, but too many folks carry the .410 and think of it as a small shotgun. There have been several tests using the same .410 ammunition in both the Judge and a real shotgun (read as much longer barrel) and the handgun doesn’t perform nearly as well as the shotgun. In the end you have to pick what you can both afford and physically handle, get training, and then all of the perfect practice you can muster.

      • I have serpa holsters for all of my handguns in which they make them for and am very pleased with them on all accounts. Had not heard of them being banned in some locales, but he sandpaper solutions seems like a sound one although it seems to me that if you have the index finger extended in the proper draw position it would be a no brainer.
        Cliff, I have one question regarding all the ‘pancake’ holsters you have seen ‘ripped’ off of peoples’ pants – do you mean paddle holsters? Most pancake hosters are secured on the belt just like any other and I don;t understand why they would be any more easily taken than any other – could you please clarify?
        Thansk for sharing.

        • Mactex,
          I concur on the paddle holsters. With the exception of the Serpa I use for a small J-Frame, all of my holsters are paddle holsters and I’ve had no problem with them.
          If you look at the video I posted above you will see a demonstration of the failure modes for the Serpa plus the video mentions Gun Sight, Front Sight, and Vickers as some of the training facilities that prohibit the Serpa.

          • I checked it out and see what you mean. I own a campground in the SW and carry a sideare pretty much 24/7. I have been carrying serpa since they first came out and I never had any problems with guick retrieval. Now I have not done competitions, but do practice at least bi-weekly. However I do not carry with forward cant – not how I learned – so perhaps that is the difference. The fact that the gentleman in the video praises it at thigh lenghtm but not waist does tent to negate this ‘hand size’ argument a bit, but it is a good point. That’s why they have horse races – if everyone agreed the world would be a boring place indeed.
            On a side note, I would like to commend everyone who particapated in this forum for being gentlemen(ladies) – too often of late these things break down into personal squabbles and fights which serve no good purposes. One of the things I fought for was the right to everyone having their own opinion – “I may not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
            Happy New Years to all and God Bless America!!

        • Cliff in Douglasville says:

          Yes I misspoke, I was referring to paddle holsters. When I first started carrying that was my preferred holster since it was so east to put on and take off until my nephew (he’s an LEO) saw my shirt ride up and he walked over and ripped the holster and pistol off the waist band leaving the paddle inside my pants and my gun in his hand. After that we looked at a lot of you tube videos and saw the same thing. Then I chatted with some of his workmates and while I got a lot of my information second hand and I have not physically “seen” all that many ripped off, I believe the stories I’ve been told by reliable sources and I’ve had my ripped off, luckily by someone that was going to pull it out and shoot me before I could get to my ankle holster.
          But, you are right, paddle not pancake. (at my age my fingers don’t always type what my mind tells them to as you can see from the many typos in what I write.) As an old drill sergeant used to tell me, listen to what I mean and not what I say and you’ll be fine.

  12. I take issue with the concept of NOT shooting an intruder with intent to kill. If you are going to shoot someone, you had damn well be comfortable with the fact that you may kill him, whether you intend to or not. You may nick an artery, or he may have blood clotting issues, or whatever.

    Also, coming from a guy on a very tight budget, I’d suggest guns that you can afford to shoot, as well as buy. I have an inexpensive .22 revolver. The gun was affordable, and the ammo is only a couple of cents a round. It makes little to no sense to own a gun that you can’t afford to feed. This particular gun has a 6.5 inch barrel, and it has some weight, so it is a bit hard to conceal, but I live in a state that allows open carry, so I don’t really care. Some of you may question the usefulness of a .22 pistol. I understand why you would, but I also understand that it’s better than no gun. (Btw, I’ve also noted a tendency for semi-auto .22 handguns to jam, which is why mine is a revolver.) Another thing that I like about the .22 pistol is that I can feed the same ammo to a .22 rifle. There is much to be said for getting your ammo as standardized as possible.

    And back to the subject of weight, the heavier the gun, the less recoil. If you think that you’ll have issues with recoil, I’d avoid those air-weight guns. My sister has a stupidly light pistol, and also has carpal tunnel problems, so the recoil keeps her from shooting. Personally, I find that silly.

    My home defense shotgun is a pump action 12-guage. Between the weight and the great butt-pad, I find that bird-shot is quite comfortable to shoot. I find the bird-shot preferable for home defense purposes because of the wider spread pattern. If the first shot doesn’t stop them, it will stun them long enough for a second one. I have nothing against a 20-guage, mind you, but if you can handle a 12-guage, you may as well get that one.

  13. The Hi-Point is a heavy pistol but you really can’t beat the price. Compared to a Beretta 92, buying a Hi-Point is like having a 75% off coupon or getting in on a “buy 1 get 3 free sale”. Personally, I like the Ruger P89 for its balance of price, quality, and power; but I would have no hesitation to keep a few Hi-Points on hand as loaners. They are certainly more accurate than some of the pocket pistols I’ve shot over the years.

    When choosing weapon calibers I considered a lot of things (e.g. versatility, availability, affordability, compatibility, etc). All said and done, I went with .22, 9mm, .223, and 12ga for my firearms. Other calibers certainly have their use and benefits but I prefer to keep it simple. I have different brands of firearms but they all of my primary pistols use 9mm, all my rifles use .223, all my shotguns use 12ga, and all of my secondary pistols and secondary rifles use .22. I don’t have much need for a deer rifle at the moment, but I could see that changing one day. Until then, I’m most content having only 4 kinds of ammo on my shelf. I could see adding 1-2 additional calibers if the right firearm came into my possession (e.g. deer rifle), but I so like keeping it simple in the meantime.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      I carried a 9mm Glock 19 as a duty weapon and never felt under armed. The new rounds are not those tested in the old FBI study. There are many potent stoppers among the modern 9mm ammo choices. Besides, as I enter geezer hood (losing some upper body strength) I can stay on target easier and be more accurate in rapid fire CQB mode.
      I’m trying to reduce my arsenal too. Like the only 4 types of ammo thing. I’m working on it. Took 3 months and shock therapy to part with my old Springfield A1 slab side though!

      • Cliff in Douglasville says:

        While I collect guns and have many, it’s a hobby and a way of life. My daughter asked me today, “dad, the news says that anyone with more than a few weeks worth of food is a home grown terrorist and anyone who has a lot of guns and ammo is a home grown terrorist and if you are missing a finger (I’m not) you are a home grown terrorist”. I just said “sweetie, I’m not a terrorist, I have food put up because I won’t see you and your mom go hungry, I’m OCD with the things I collect so I have a lot of guns and a gun without ammo is a club and I don’t mess around with explosives so I’m not missing a finger or two, but the thing that Homeland Security and the White House fear the most are older guys like me and guys who spent a lot of time being in or still in the service. We know what to do and how to harm people and have all or most of us have done that stuff at one time or another. They fear us because we follow orders but we also have a moral compass and ethics that were part of the training we received and the world really doesn’t want to wake up facing a bunch of older pissed off guys what whatever we choose to arm ourselves with”. That seemed to satisfy her that dad isn’t a terrorist, no matter what slant the TV tries to put on people. We love our country, we love our families and we never forget our training.

        • Cliff:
          There was also something while my right hand was raised about “all enemies foreign and domestic” while swearing to defend the Constitution of the United States…. (I took that oath twice, once enlisted, once as an officer.) Thanks for your service and telling things as they are. Cos

      • Dan, as a fellow ‘geezer hood’ neophyte, I know what you mean. It is dificult to part with those old favorites – you have my condolences. It was the same for me going from my Moss 590 20″ 12 ga. to a 500 20 ga., but I have so much more control and second shot is right on the money. Better to change and adapt than be in denial and suffer the consquences.

    • I still believe that you should always go with the best if your going to bet your life on it. You can always find quality “used”.
      If you must go under $200 then a Bulgarian Makarov or Czeck Cz-83 are reliable. You can Upgrade later. You can get good deals on rifles and shotguns, used or from large discount stores.
      You can get anything you want for fun or collecting, but do you want to bet your LIFE on a Hipoint? You can also go with a secondary calibre to start. Nothing wrong with a 20ga to start.

  14. I too have a junior model 20 gauge shotgun. Not for any other reason than the fact that I am pretty short and it is easier for me to handle a smaller size gun. My 870 Remington 20 gauge was a gift to me and it is my go to gun when I am at home. I have a 3 year old daughter so I have struggled with how to balance accessibility in event of an intruder and how to keep it out of reach of my child. Our other guns are locked in the gun safe with the ammo kept in a separate safe. I just finished my corner cabinet designed specifically for my junior model shotgun that is next to the front door leading up to the stairs. This way I am hidden from site while reaching for my home security and it is out of reach of my daughter.
    My husband prefers his .45 or his 12 gauge, but both are always locked up in the safe. He can sleep through anything though, so I feel that it will be my job to react and make sound judgments if an intruder came at night. Any other time, when he is up and awake, I will let him take the lead.
    Great article, I will make sure my husband reads this when he gets home.

    • The purpose designed corner cabinet is a cool idea. However, from what you described, it sounds like if you hear an intruder in the night, you will have to exit your bedroom and go downstairs unarmed, in order to reach your shotgun. I’m not quite sure that this is wise. Perhaps you may want to pull your husbands .45 out of the safe at night; the last thing you want is an assailant between you and your gun.

  15. SurvivorDan says:

    Nice article Cliff. Lots of sound practical advice.
    I’m sure some will pick here and there over extraneous minutiae but the overall content is excellent. I use a 12gauge 870 Remington for any bump in the night forays. I would also prefer the 2o but I utilize my department approved personal shotgun (hate the rust buckets in the armory) for liability issues if I have to wax some unfortunate intruder.
    The only thing that kinda bugs me is that I use a police low recoil OO buck load to avoid over-penetration but I want the nine relatively large pellets going down range and not bird shot. {though I have seen the tunneling effect cause by #8 in close quarters in cadavers) And I admire your attitude of not wishing to take a life and therefore starting with a light load. I may sound hypocritical as I have been known to ramble on about using less-than-lethal. But if I have a less-than-lethal weapon it is not when I hear a bump-in-the-night. Strictly lethal then.
    In my experience, it is often the first shot of a gunfight that determines a positive or negative result though an average of three shots are typically fired by the successful defender. Decades ago while working for the DOD I was shot by a .22 at contact distance. Yeah it still hurt a lot but the attacker expired before he could put more rounds into me. I know the villain wasn’t using a lt load out of humanitarian reasons but the results would have been the same.
    I believe Ohio Prepper is alluding to that same fact that any load in your 20 gauge should be potent. More potentially lethal than the #8. Especially the first round out of the pipe. None of us wants to kill anyone but as you clearly know, you do shoot to stop. And that stop may turn out to be fatal.
    That all said I would HATE to get hit with #8 at close range! And as my wife read your article she is now clamoring for a little 20 gauge! Thanks a lot buddy…..lol.
    All around very well written general discussion of defensive weapons.

  16. templar knight says:

    Good article, Cliff. I love the Mini-14, have two of them, but they are in no way as accurate as my AR platform rifles, at least in my experience. I can as easily spray and pray with my Minis as I can with my ARs, so I don’t consider that to be an issue. My two ARs are basically set up with a Trijicon sight and a forward pistol grip. I have nothing else other than a flash hider, which one needs on a Mini as well, the flash signature of which is very bright. I plan on using 10-22s for suppressive fire if I were ever to need it, as I don’t have nearly enough ammo in anything but .22lr for that purpose.

    Cliff, I would rather have a Glock than a Hi-Point. That’s my personal preference, and I don’t care to get in an argument with anyone over which one is better. I don’t have any first-hand experience with Hi-Points, but I have 4 Glocks, none of which has ever failed to fire when I pulled the trigger. And that is over a 5 year period and includes thousands of rounds. I have two Colt 1911s which are reliable as well, but they have both failed to function on a rare occasion. Neither has failed since I had their throats worked on, so I assume I have that problem solved.

    As with anything else, do the research and choose your pistol wisely, but I wouldn’t care to risk my life trying to save a few dollars. Glocks can be found on the used market for around $400, sometimes less. I also have a Remington Youth Model 20 ga. that belongs to my youngest son that resides in my bedroom closet, ready and willing. I have it loaded with three #4 buckshot followed by two OOs. You’re a humanitarian, Cliff, I’m not. Thanks for the article.

    • I think the new ones have a flash hider built in at this point ( at least the Mini 30 does )

    • TK, I’m with you. I used the AC556 when at MSG school, the embassies used them over the M16, never understood and the M16/AR is a superior rifle, but its based on training and not black rifle ego, just that I wasn’t as comfortable with them Mini 14 as the M16/AR. I worked the extra hours to afford the AR. I think of the A-Tean when I put spray and pray and Mini 14 in the same sentence lol.

      I’m considering picking up a second 10-22, for my nephew.

      I agree, I will take my Glock or 1911 over other pistols and its based on range time. I shot the hi-point in 9mm and it was ok but I stick with what I know and what I like.

  17. Thanks for this discertation. Very Informative. I bought a 20ga specificly for Home protection, with an eye toward not blowing the family across streets front door apart as well. I have absolutely no problem with extreme prejudice termination. I have a .22 9 shot revolver H&R for in the small of the back concealed carry and if I want to feel macho I carry my Ruger .44 super blackhawk in a bianchi shoulder holster. The problem is that I am not dirty harry and find it hard to control for 6 rapid shots. Not to mentionit is louder than heck.

    Thanks for info on Hi-Point, there is a shop within 5 miles that sells them. I am thinking a 9mm pistol and carbine for the wife. She loves to target shoot and the interchangabilty is attractive for her as well as me.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Carl: 44 Super Blackhawk for daily carry? That is macho, amigo. This little old man carries a Ruger Blackhawk 45LC only for hiking and hunting back-up. Tried my son’s 44magnum. Yikes!

      “Eh? Whadidyasay? Well, I wasn’t trying to hit the target son.”

      You got some fire power there in that hand cannon.

      • Survivor Dan. I have 60 rounds of good 45 lc brass.They are free plus shipping if you want them. Steve

      • bubba in ca says:

        sHOOT 44 SPECIAL IN YOUR bLACKHAWK 44 and you have the best of both worlds. 44 special is available in HD loads, altho you will probably have to go online to buy it.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:


      Best advice I can give you on the hi-points is to go to a range that has rental guns. They usually rent one of everything they sell. Try it out on the range with a couple of boxes of bullets before you buy it and take it home and find out you don’t like it. Gun rental is pretty cheap, lane charges at an indoor range are pretty cheap, targets are cheap, give it a try, try out as many as you can stand until you find the one that feels right in your hands. (practice shooting with both your left and right hands, it can open your eyes to what you can do when firing from the weak side, you may be better than you thought.

      • thanks Cliff. By the way I am assuming that you are in Douglasville Georgia? Say hi to my son when he pass’s on his way to work at the naval air station. He is being transfered back to NAS oceana VA.

        • Cliff in Douglasville says:


          Yep, I’m in Douglasville, Georgia. Tell your son I said thanks for his service. We got to Dobbins Air Force Base which shares space with NAS and Lockheed when we need new IDs and stuff like that. Be very proud of your son and if I meet him some day I’d love to shake his hand and say thanks for what he’s doing.

          • Cliff. I surely will pass on your thanks. We went to his promotion ceremony to Chief back in 2003. I can tell you that grown men do chokeup and shed a tear at those ceremony’s. It was the proudest day of my life

  18. Great write up and interesting, I also have in depth weapons and was raised to handle all guns this way. How many unloaded guns have killed people, that is what they say, but it was not loaded. If you shoot and practice even a sling shot is deadly and a 22 will kill.

  19. Cliff C:
    A very well done article. Thank You.
    I am also an old shooter. Your safety instructions are spot on! The AR platform is unbeatable for folks who spent years sleeping with them. As for defensive pistols, I trained my family with .357 Smiths using .38 Special until they were very capable. We now have a 2 year old grandson visiting, so NOTHING is outside the safe until he goes home.
    I bought a German Shepherd so nothing could go bump in the night in my house. (First level defense.) Happy New Year. Cos

  20. SurvivorDan says:

    Well if we are going to discuss relatively inexpensive but decent handguns, I like the CZs. Shoot well with good functionality and reliability. Well made and everyone I know that has a few, likes them with few complaints. J&G in Prescott always has a nice supply of them at good prices. Recently they had a special on the slightly used .380s at $149! I don’t have any as I prefer to spend a little more on Glocks and Ruger revolvers but as someone else said…… doesn’t hurt to have inexpensive hand-out weapons for trusted companions.

    • Survivor, a great handy .380 is the Bersa. I have owned mine since 97 and shoots well. I paid $129 for it, don’t know what they are going for now but the grip is a bit ticker than most compact pistols for a more comfortable grip and shooting.

  21. thanks cliff.don’t necessarily agree with all you wrote, but i can tell you put a lot of effort and time unto doing the article. it’s good basic info and thank you my friend for doing what i can’t.

  22. I have the Mini – 30 that uses the 7.62x.39 round . I love it , its small , light and dirt simple . I got it for backpacking and it fills that role very well . I also have a WW2 Garand , so the Mini 30 action was very familiar to me . I did put an acustrut on it and it did help . I have no complaints about the gun , its good for what it is . I did get a few boxes of Cor-Bon hunter for it , they are high energy hot loads and the gun doesn’t seem to be very picky about ammo .

    • I don’t know if anybody else has this weapon , but I prefer the 20 rd magazines over the 30 rd , the extra length of the 30 mag seemed to be a handeling hinderance with this rifle .

      • SurvivorDan says:

        More rounds in the mag isn’t always more better. If I’m not expecting to be in a combat zone, I prefer the twenty rounders even with my AR. Lower profile when I’m prone. I think all the cells of my body burrow downward into the dirt when being fired upon while having little cover. And if I’m firing supported over the top of some cover I like being an inch or so lower. I hate gettin shot…..

        • Prep Now [ so.fl.] says:

          I use 20 rd mags in the AR as well. Lighter for the lady ya know.

          • The advantage the AR has is the configuration and pistol grip that make the larger capacity mags less of a pain . The magazine is the only thing that sticks out on a mini 14/30 . Another reason I like it is its clean that way but you do notice things like that when handeling it .

        • Survivor Dan, agreed! While the majority of my AR mags are 30 round mags, I have 10 and 20 round mags as well. The 10 round mags I use exclusively for 45 grain ammo for varmit hunting and 20 round mags for match grade ammo for shots at 500 to 600 yards.

          It simplifies what goes where and cuts down time on my cheat sheet math on scope adjustments on the scope.

          • Jarhead, that is an excellent idea – to seperate by mag size. Either way you don’t need as many rounds, but can easily tell contents by mag size for purpose in a rush. Thanks!

            • Mactex, it does help. I have an AR and an M4 lower with a 16″ flat top with flip up iron sights and soon an EO tech sight, I have a 20″ M16A2 upper and a 24″ flat top target/varmit barrel for precision shots.
              My drag bag has individual pockets for two 10 round, two 20 round and one 30 round mags that I had someone sew in for me near the front when laying in the prone for easy access.

      • templar knight says:

        The same holds true for the Mini-14 as well, TR. I was at a gun show in Shreveport, La. a few years ago, and picked up a 40 rd. clip for my Mini which makes it the dumbest looking gun ever. What can I say? LOL.

        • templar knight says:

          I said clip, I meant magazine.

          • LOL i can just picture a 40 , ya that would look strange ……….. but a small drum would look very cool , with that one it would kinda look like that WW2 soviet smg .

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Well then, how about those new 60 and 100 rd mags from Surefire for the AR15? Not a drum but a big fat stick. Maybe for combat scenarios……

          • Yeah, the 12 round stick mag for my Saiga 12 is ridiculous!
            I went with the 12 round drum and have had no problems although some what akward to carry spare – does make a wicked looking package, tho’…heh-heh

  23. The Prepper says:

    Great post! I firmly believe training is the key here. The combative pistol class I took with Tom Givens last year was extremely enlightening. Now I’m trying to take classes with as many people as I can afford.

  24. A combloc surplus gun like a Makarov would be a better purchase for someone on a budget than a Hi Point. I had a Hi Point for a while but learned that they are not trustworthy.

    • I just took a winchester model 190 to a relative to borrow and I found out that he recently got a nice 67a winchester.He wound up buying the 190 outright and now he has 2 winchesters.Kinda nice how things work out. I did not really want to sell it but a relative has it now.

      • Rob in Ontario says:

        Axelsteve I have a 190 my father gave to me many years ago for christmas- it has a tasco scope – I love it would hate to see it go

    • Maks are great. So are the PA63 & R61. Just stay away from the Chicom Maks. AKs too fore that matter. The used Chicom SKSs were made for their army and are OK. The new production made for the US market are junk.

  25. Shooting to injure in Mo. is against the law, can get you in trouble..If your in fear of your life better shoot to kill not to send someone to the hospital..Otherwise don’t shoot..Thats why i would prefer a heavier shot in the 20ga..just sayin

  26. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    Makes me uncomfortable discussing guns on an open forum, so I won’t. But I will say, great info – thanks Cliff.

  27. I don’t start my bump in the night check with a gun. I know all about knife to a gun fight, but my son and his GF go to night school so no telling what time they wind up going to bed. Their room is at the front of the house so no way to shoot from my room without their room taking fire. I clear my hall with Sai and night vison monocular. First to even get to the front door there’s a little matter of a mastiff mix and his girlfriend a rottie mix. There’s a 5 1/2 foot fence betwwen front and back yard that merely slows the big boy. For an intruder to make it to the hall all hell has already broken loose. From the hall to the great room I pick up a hidden NAA .22 WMR with a Laserlyte loaded with subsonic 60 grain Aguilas. Through the kitchen to clear the laundry room still in the dark. The Aguila SSS will not penetrate the adobe walls so danger to the neighbors is nill. Thats just me YMMV. As for my choice for SHTF 9s 357s with Lee field loaders for refills, .22s a high standard GB and an AMT 25/.22, a 700BDL in 06, 7.7 and 303 back ups. a SxS 28gauge/20gauge Stoeger Uplander, Maverick 88 in 12. No auto MBR either semi or full, in that roll is a .357 Rossi 92 lever action carbine. Dies and boxes of bullets to reload everything. Even an old Lee field loader for 20gauge, to reload 12 my smallest is a Lee Loadall, the quickest is the MEC progressive. Then there’s the BPs; a Howdah 20 gauge pistol, 3 1858 NMAs with cylinder conversions to .45lc and .45acp. a ROA, and 2 .22 NAA super companions, a couple of 50s and a Tap-O-Cap for making primers. Sulfer, Saltpeter, and charcoal in goodly amounts. Lead and molds of course. The currant cost of an 1858 NMA replica from Italy is $189, caps run about $5 or $6/100, .454 round balls $16/100. A starter kit of usefull things is $60. A can of powder $15-$20. So a back up that can be fed [amm0] with 18th century tech, can be had [w/ammo] for roughly $300. A BP gun is slow to reload and has other drawbacks, but a single action .45 that can be kept running in harsh conditions is worthy of consideration. Then there’s the whole walk up to counter pay and leave with the stuff no federal red tape, or forms. Some local laws treat them the same as modern guns, but here [AZ] I can even get them sent UPS.

  28. Thomas The Tinker says:

    Training training training oh my yes. Training is the best way to find the answer to “did I buy the iron that …I.. can actually put to its intended use?”

    Just a reminder to the Pack that live with in a days drive of West Union, Ohio…… Tac-shotgun training in July! …. You’d think I was a fan the way I do go on about it. There are three of us going and two more on the hook but gotta scare up the plane tickets from Oregon. 2 days, Sat, 9a.m. till o dark 30, Sun, 9a.m. till the last one makes it outta the live fire jungle trail and back to the class room. With your permission MD…. for complete class information please refer to TDIOhio.com see schedule and applications.

    The offer still floats MD!

  29. Where can I get a Ruger 10/22 for $160 – $170 like the article says? At that price, I need to buy 2 or 3 of them.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      I bought 3 in like new shape (gently used) with scope at the local pawn shop for $160 each. Took them all apart, replaced any worn parts (not many), put them back together and they will drive tack. I don’t mind a few scuffs on the hardware since there are guns to take into the woods and bring home some squirrels and rabbits. I just upgraded the magazines to the new Ruger 25 shot version and I like it a lot better than the 10 round magazine, but when I hunted I usually carried 3 or 4 extra with me already loaded so it was a quick change out.
      There is also a big gun store down in Cobb County, Georgia, called Adventure Outdoors. They sell used stuff that they have checked out and gone through at good prices. I’ve probably bought 1 used gun for every 2 new ones I buy and have been happy with all the purchases. Check around for a used 10/22, if it’s in good shape it’s a bargain.
      By the way, Adventure Outdoors had 10/22s (new ones) for right at $175 plus tax for the holidays.

    • Another good .22 carbine that is pretty cheap now ( they dont make them anymore ) is the Win. 190 , its simple , reliable , takes any type of rounds from short to long rifle ( not sure about magnum ) pretty accurate and mine never jammed on rapid fire . Holds a decent amount of ammo .

  30. Let’s Talk about [weird] Guns

    Bought a 50 cal. cva electra muzzleloader from Sportsmans guide. This is not your grandpappys smokepole. With a modern 1:28 twist barrel this will not fire ball very well. Made for Sabot and pelletized powder. 150 yd shots all day long. Takes about 30 seconds for a reload, think I can get that down to 20. PowerBelt sabot bullets ain’t cheap but easy to load. A 350gr bullet with 100gr of Pyrodex pellets will give a muzzle velocity of 2000fps. In 50 cal thats pushin’ some lead! The electronic ignition is instantaneous and (so far) flawless . Shoots fine in the rain as long as none gets down the barrel. Unlike a traditional muzzleloader, this can be reloaded in the rain too. Plan to take deer with this in the spring (farm kill).

    Why have a muzzleloader? Well after the DL wins his 2nd term, he will be free to fully implement his New Socialist Order and round up the registered firearms from all you terrorists (and your hoarded food too). I will at least have something to hunt with as I evade and escape into the Oregon jungle.
    Seriously, any cartridge rifle is better than any blackpowder rifle. They only real reason to have one would be for recreational shooting or using it to improve your stalking skills for real hunting season.

    The modern inline muzzleloader has little in common with a Dan’l Boone squirrel gun, this electra even more so, making your own powder or melting lead for ball would be almost useless with these. A niche weapon, but one that is still useful for hunting, and could surely be used for self-defense – at least once!

    • That is why if you can , its important to cache guns and other things . Burial tubes , etc . Was suggested by another reader that burying tubes under rusted out junk cars and other things helps make them proof against ground penetrating radar . Also if you are fortunate enough to live in a forested location , placing a deadfall log on top of the tube will also null out that radar

      • I make artificial habitats for a living , this is for zoos , natural history museums , aquariums etc. , Been doing this work for 20 years and I can tell you that if done correctly , a person can be standing on it and have no idea its not real . We use industrial materials but there are products you can get at Lowe’s and HD that will do the same thing . If anybody wants , I will be happy to share some things I know about DIY building of things like burial tubes that look like dead fall branches , etc . Be aware they are not light weight , but that may also be a good thing . Be also aware that you or somebody you can trust MUST have some creative ability or this will fool no one . MD can forward any requests if anybody is interested .

  31. Cliff:

    Nice article. I too have been “playing” with guns for a very long time and have a supportive wife who tolerated my collection until our focus changed toward preparedness and already have many options to choose from.
    I also have a couple of youth 20 ga shotguns. Both because I prefer shorter weapons and my wife is small of stature. I also like #4 buck, but at $30+ /box I have decided that I will have to reload (I already do pistol and rifle).
    The Glock is also our “standard” sidearm although I really like the feel of a 1911, so there’s always one around somewhere.
    Thanks for taking the time to share!

  32. James Nelson says:

    IMHO bird shot in a defensive shotgun is a very bad idea. It is not a reliable stopper at 20 feet or 12 feet. You can get a nasty surface wound from it, but if the perp(s) are wearing a leather coat or a Carhart jacket your penetration is about zero. I strongly disagree with shooting to wound or scare. If the situation requires shooting then you had better be sure you stop the situation. If you don’t need lethal force you do not have a legal right to shoot in most jurisdictions.
    Any load in any gun except for the 5.56 that won’t penetrate several layers of drywall, will not give sufficient penetration on a person or animal. The light 5.56 bullet will breakup in drywall and still give highly effective wounding in a person. I prefer shotguns over ARs for home defense though.
    I see a lot of wishful thinking about less than lethal home defense and scaring away bad guys. If it works, great, if it doesn’t you’ll be toast. I don’t know any reputable self defense trainer who teaches any of these things. People who haven’t been through the experience have all kinds of ideas about what will happen and how they will react. Having successfully warded off a home invasion, in a decent neighborhood on a sunny spring afternoon, I tell you that you have no idea how fast things will happen and how little time you will have to think through your response. You will do what you have trained and visualized on automatic pilot.
    That #8 birdshot or .22lr might scare away a single bad guy who isn’t that motivated. In the case of more than one invader or someone who is crazy or doped up, you may have signed your death warrant and left your family defenseless. As per Clint Smith et. al., you don’t prepare for the best case situation, but the worst. As preppers we should already know this.
    If your home defense plan consists of just you being armed and carrying the battle to the invader in true manly warrior fashion, you are decreasing your chances of success. My GF has her own guns including her own youth model 870 20 gauge loaded with #3 buck and a handgun and a flashlight and the training on how to use these things. If things do happen we have our own backup. Everyone in the house who is of responsible age should be capable of defending themselves and others.
    I have been shooting for about 50 years and still shoot regularly, I own a considerable number of guns. This does not translate to the knowledge of how to defend myself or my home, that is a whole different subject.

  33. Cliff in Douglasville says:

    I really appreciate all the folks that have taken time to read my little missive and give feedback. Feedback is really important and it helps a lot to get a lot of different views. I’m old so I get to make the rules my collection follows.

    I have shot black powder and enjoyed it. Not my first choice but it’s a fun thing to mess around with.

    One thing about the DL confiscating the registered guns. Go for it if he really thinks he needs to do it. There are more unregistered guns in Georgia than guns that have gone through the system. There is paperwork on a lot of my guns. There are many people I know who buy at gunshows and buy person to person, not dealer to person so there is no paper trail. They are trying hard to close that loophole but there are already thousands of weapons out there that there is no record of.

    Now, if the DL were to ever go the way Ferdinand Marcos did in the Philippines in 1973 then we could have a serious problem. Mr. Marcos declared martial law, set curfews, and had barrels set out on every street corner. The order was, if you had a gun it had to be in the barrel, no compensation or anything, and anyone caught with a gun after, I think, 7 or 10 days was an automatic death sentence. I saw some beautiful World War II era guns that were left behind by our troops and also by the Japanese when they held the island. They all ended up in the barrel and the barrels were dumped in the ocean after being filled with concrete. So, that’s a positive incentive that can be used to get all the guns out. I don’t know how many people died defying the order but the public executions were pretty powerful teaching tools.

    But, when the SHTF, and the DL decides to take up the guns, there are people who won’t go quitely into the night but will stand up. If you take my guns, don’t believe for a second that as long as I’m still breathing that I won’t find a way to fight back. I have a bow and plenty of arrows, and I can fight my way with it to a pistol and with that pistol I can fight my way to a rifle and with that rifle I’m back in business ricky-tick. At that point I know I’m living on borrowed time but it’s my time and my choice on how to spend it.

    Never let anyone think that the American spirit is weak, or that the people won’t stand up for what is right. Yes, there are sheeple and they may lay down but a good solid kick in the butt may get them going again. It only takes a few good leaders to get other people to follow.

    Continue prepping. Don’t sweat the gun stuff. It’s good discussion. Myself and my family are prepping for tornadoes and such. Down in Georgia I live in tornado alley. It used to be a few miles north of here but over the years it has drifted down this way. We do fine since we sit down in a hollow and I have a shelter (built using FEMA free plans with some modifications) and I have everything we need to weather the storms. I can modify my plans for a lot of different contingencies. I have taken the step to let my family know where the silver is, what guns to use, where all the ammo and extra food is and should I die (always a possibility at my age and with so many miles on me) that they can continue on. They have been trained, they are equipped and I’m sure that they will make me proud when they go on without me.

    • “At that point I know I’ll be living on borrowed time but it’s my time and my choice on how I will spend it”. Very well said Cliff, might I add. “Caution to those that get between me and my loved ones or my freedom. At that moment, I will not hesitate to take them out as I go down”.

  34. Every so often up here in the NW someone gets charged by a Grizzly bear while they are bird hunting. So far I have not heard of a single charging bear that was shot with bird shot at close range that was not stopped / killed. I am in no way suggesting that anyone hunt big game with bird shot, much less Grizzly bears, I am just stating the facts to point out that bird shot is a good stopper at close range if you are concerned about the over penetration of buck shot pellets on dry wall.

    I carry a Taurus Judge in the woods often and sold my .44 mag because I like the Judge so much. I have shot many grouse with it using #9 410 shells (these pattern the best in mine) and it is quicker than shooting their heads off with a bullet like I used to do. It is plenty for predator protection with the 260 grain Buffalo Bore at @ 1400 fps and the 225 grain Cor Bon DPX @ 1050 fps is good when around pavement / people. Mine will not stabilize bullets heavier than 265 grains. The Winchester self defense .410 loads work well & group very well in this gun if you like the idea of 3 discs and a number of buck shot. I have friends who poke fun at the Taurus Judge as a “gimmick”, but they are really flexible & fun. People used to say the same thing about he Leatherman multi tool & look who has the last laugh on that one!

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Lloyd P: that’s interesting about the grizzly stopping with birdshot. Working homicide scenes, I have seen the tunneling wounds that birdshot makes when applied at very, very close range. Contact or near contact. One shot stoppers and fatal. So I don’t doubt that it could stop a grizzly. But I really, really don’t want to get that close to an armed assailant or a grizzly! In fact I’ll view my grizzlies in the zoo thank you.
      Hey the Judge got bad reviews for inaccuracy when it first came out. Have they fixed the problem or is it just a matter of finding the right loads for it?

      • I’m not advocating bird shot as the best for self defense or Grizzly hunting, as noted, but I wanted to give some realistic perspective. There are situations where it is applicable & others where it may be what is available so it can work.

        I don’t know about the reviews, I just shoot the Judge & have found what works in mine. I have also shot the S&W Governor a bit & like it. It has the additional flexibility of being able to shoot .45 ACP ammo which is cheaper than most .45 Colt if you don’t hand load – it still handles the .45 Colt and .410 shotgun loads. There are also more options for self defense with .45 ACP , but not as many for big game. I have used my Judge on big game in North America and in Africa with very good results. As noted my Judge will not stabilize bullets much over 265 grains, heavier than that and they begin to tumble & some will hit the target sideways, and the accuracy goes out the window. With the loads that it likes I get about 2 inch groups at 25 yards free hand.

  35. Nicely done article, Cliff. Well thought out and presented.
    Like many others though, my personal ideas for weapons won’t exactly match yours but the principles you set down are universal.
    Home defense – If I’m asleep and suddenly am awakened by someone breaking in, I want a weapon by my side that is extremely simple and, for me, a pump shotgun does not fill that bill. I just can’t imagine being shocked by the noise, trying to clear my head, bed sheets being thrown everywhere and still being clear enough to rack a shell into a pump shotgun’s chamber, aim and fire. To me there is just too much that could go wrong – short stroking, sheets being caught, etc. My preference is for a short barreled 12-gauge double (Savage 311) instead – pull a trigger and it goes bang.
    As a back-up, I have a 45acp revolver (S&W N-frame) in the night stand drawer – again, simple mechanics for use when I may not be at my clearest. But my home is very small and someone breaking in would be in my face almost immediately so my choices reflect that.
    Once I’m up and fully awake though, it’s a different matter. That’s when a 12-gauge pump (Winchester model 12) or semi-auto (High Standard) come into their own.
    Concealed Carry – 1911 in small of back holster / derringer in pocket.
    Main rifles – M1a, Mauser bolt action
    I long ago paired down my firearms to .308, 12-gauge, .45acp and .22lr but keep different weapons within those calibers. Handguns – double barrel derringer, revolver, semi-auto. Shotguns – double, pump, semi-auto. Rifles – falling block, bolt action and semi-auto.
    Each has its own place and its own failings but the combos give me the security to believe something will work no matter what.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      K Fields,
      Thanks for the comments. While I have not pared down my collection because it is just that, a collection, I still stock heaviest and most indepth in the calibers that will be my go-to. Primarily 12 gauge, 16 gauge (got a sweet double barrel hammerless and get the ammo when I find it), 20 gauge, bird, buck and slug, .223, [email protected], .45ACP, .38 special and .357 mag and .44 mag and my all time favorite fall back gun is a 30-30 Marlin lever action. It came to me used at a nice price and story is that it has taken more than its fair share of the small deer we have in Georgia. Everything else has ammo but not deeply stored like my main guns.

      A few years back I had a FFL (Curio and Relic) that let me buy a lot of pistols and long guns through the mail (mostly military surplus from Century Arms and a few other places) and I could buy at gun shows things that met the requirements of my license with no paperwork except handing over a signed copy of my license to the seller. There was paperwork involved. During the 5 or so years I did I bought a lot of guns and a lot of surplus ammo at dealer pricing. The UPS guy got to the point where he hated me since Aim Surplus and Century would sometimes put 5 or 6 rifles in the same cardboard shipping box and the boxes got heavy. I spent a lot of time with Mausers and had my fill of SKS’s, French Military rifles (almost new, only dropped once in Vietnam), and the various Chinese and other stuff that used to be US milsurp and was left behind and then reimported (now it’s pretty much legislated out of existence and the same will be try for surplus ammo soon too). Bottom line is that I lived them, I spent time with them, I worked on them, I shot them and then they cycled to the safe to be replaced by my next “gotta have”. When my license expired I sent in my “bound book” for storage in the archives and quit getting circulars and stopped stocking up on Mosin and all that other stuff. It’s nice, it’s fun to shoot, it’s really loud for the most part, but I have a hard time staying in love with a rifle with a grenade launcher permanently attached to the front end. I liked the Enfields for a few months but then went on to something else. It’s bad being a collector who obsesses over things like matching numbers and arsenal refinished stuff and having to have each variety of each of the rifles or pistols that I wanted but I’m getting over that. I don’t need to get everything I see that looks neat. I don’t need a lot of web gear and stipper clips and stuff like that. Some of it still follows me home but I need to join guns anonymous or something like that where I can go and say “hey, I’m Cliff and I’m a gunaholic” But, and I’m sorry that I drone on and on, the same thing happens when I go to the survival store, one case of #10 cans isn’t enough, when I order from LDS it has to 5 or 10 cases, nothing in between, and while I’m trained and continue to train on my gunmanship and on the various ways to prepare freeze dried foods and dehydrated food and trying to work out how the water bath canner works, you should see me first aid supplies. Alas, while I’ve got a lot of stuff I only have my basic first aid/cpr training and no advanced training in that area. I have the stuff to stop the bleeding, I have the stuff to suture a wound but folks might be better off to tend to themselves than to let me near them with the first aid kit. I know my limitations but don’t acknowledge my limits. Dang, I think I’m a prepper.

      • Cliff – I know the “gunaholic” feeling, I’m the same way with guitars – certainly don’t need more but sometimes I just see one and can’t pass it by.
        Consolidating my firearms was tough but, at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do.

      • Cliff, I agree on the collecting addiction. During the 90s I was buying military surplus and civilian versions of what I thought I may come across on the battlefield to increase my odds. I owned AK, FAL, SKS, Hi-power, Mosin, SVD etc. and shot many of my friends firearms I couldn’t afford to increase my knowledge.
        I have since sold the FAL, Hi-Power, Mosin, SVD and many others to consolidate calibers as well as times of hardships one here and there as well as helping my sister when her husband lost his job.

        • Well, what did you end up with? Not everyone can actually try out all those you mentioned and then pick so I am curious as to what, IYO, were the best to hang on to for a SHTF situation? I still have both an AR/.223 & MAK90/7.62×39 and am hard pressed to go one or the other
          exclusively; ended up with both 20 & 12 ga; both 9mm & .45.
          The easy choice was the Parker Hale Safari Deluxe .308 that drove tacks for my Dad in ’62 and does for me now, 50years later. I won’t even start on sidearms…

          • Mactex; Withot knowing the quality of your ARs I can only say I am leary of the quality of any Chinese firearm. Makarovs, Nagants, SKSs and AKs all seem to preform better from any other source. The only exception to this seems to be Chinese SKSs that were manufactured for, and issued to, the Chinese military. The quality seems much better than those made for the American Civilian market. Also, Chinese arms tend not to have parts interchangebility with Warsaw Pact manufacture without fitting.

            • I got this Norinco in ’98 in prep for Y2K and have probably run a mnmum of 2,5000 rounds thru it with out any issues. It is the only ak type I have owned, although I have shot a bunch of other folks’, and can’t deny they do seem to vary a great deal. I got hold of a Bushnell holographic red dot sight very similiar to EOTEC except power source, and have it mounted on the Mak 90 since ’06 and it shoots up to my abilities.
              My go-to AR is a Bushmster Carbon-15 to which I have added a Bushmaster retrofit piston kit to as well as EOTECH 512, AA. I have no complaints with it either, although I only have about 1,250 rds since piston kit retrofit. My main concern is hands and knees mud, no time to sleep, much less maintian weapon, catch as catch can – I know the Mak will always – always – go bang. Some old habits die hard. As you can tell, 80% of my range/shooting time go to handguns, as I carry daily. Both the AR and the AK have trijicon iron sights as back up to holos. I think both are terrific weapons, one is more suited for hard core use – at least what I put it though- than the other, and could ususally more easily be ‘rigged’ to work in a real bind. If I had support and back up, with support lines established, give me the AR. Sorry so long -winded. :{)

          • Mactex, I kept my Chinese SKS which was my first firearm. Bought it for $79 at a Gunshop it was a gift for graduating boot camp. I still have it and love it; having dropped wild pigs, deer, coyotes, a couple feral dogs and even some rattle snakes. I modified the stock to fit my hand, sanded it down and camo it to the terrain I’m in, have a 4X scope, a buffer for the recoil and it like many people say is like a 30-30 but has many more advantages, I have the permanent 10 rounder on it but have 30 round mags for it. I stock soft point as well as Russian steel and Czech brass ammo. I prefer the Czech.

            I own an AR and M4 platform and have a 24″ varmit/target grade barrel for tack driving.
            An MAK 90 and SKS
            Mossberg 590 and Remington 870 (have the 870 set up as a combat shotgun but remove the tube extension and short barrel and have a 24″ and 28″ barrel for hunting/trap and a rifled barrel for slugs with a scope mounted for hunting with slugs.
            Mark II Ruger, 10-22 and AR7 for my .22s
            1911, Ruger P90 and G21 .45ACP
            Bersa 380. Great little gun shoots like a Walther
            With exception of the 380 which is my pocket pistol and I once owned an M12 but it was junk.

            I consolidated to 5 calibers and refuse to add another. I feel secure that what I have will handle anything. When people ask about bear whick I run into mostly black bear where I camp and fish I remind them I carry slugs in the 12 Gauge and I’m very confident in my .45 will stop a bear if needed.

            I sold many off to help family and have no regrets. The 308 is a great round but the rifles I enjoy are heavy and bulky (I have carried SAWs, M60 M16A2/M203 and M82A1 as well as an AT4 so I think I am qualified to say what I’m comfortable with. That said, if I add another caliber it would be 308 in a M21 or M14 SOCOM platform and a 308 sniper grade rifle in 308. I have to own 2 for each caliber to justify spending. On a budget I do suggest the Mossin Nagant, I have hit targets out to 500 yards but those were Russian and the carbine version I’ve hit out at 200 to 300 yards iron sights no problem.

            • I don;t know why, but I had though you were older, but from the weapons you qualified on I see you are at least a little younger than I, you lucky dog! We have a lot of guns in common – of those listed I have 8 of the same, and if the model on the glock were a couple down, the ruger a 22/45 or 89, would add three more. I wondered when you said that you got your first gun – a sks – for $79 I know that had to be early 90’s or so and I missed that boat – got the Mak 90 instead (payed alot more, too!). It sounds like you have got all bases covered to me. I’ve never dealt with rifled shotgun barrels, so answer this for me – a freind gave me 50 or so rounds of the 20ga Accutip Sabot rounds from his deseased uncle. I see they are only for rifled barrels, but what kind of accuracy and performance will I get using them in a Moss 500 20 ga 21 inch barrel (smooth of course). Will they work out to 60 – 70 yards for me accurately? 40 – 50?

  36. Ah, Wal-mart. The best place to get something cheap. I like your taste Cliff C.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:


      I was in Walmart this evening. Looks like they did not fare very well over the holiday. They are continuing to pull down their number of stock items, rearrange shelving and make aisle wider to give the impression of a still full store. I went for deer corn since the guy I usually get it from is on vacation all this week. Got a 40 pound bag. Looked at their ammo and they have very good prices on what I need at the moment. I prefer to go to the big gun shop to buy bulk or go over to Georgia Arms (within 15 miles of here to buy their “canned heat” but they too are vacationing.
      The weapons I’ve gotten from Walmart are the same ones I see most other places. Just not a big selection. Because they are china mart doesn’t make all their stuff not worthy of buying. I can get the same Coleman fuel and small propane canisters there cheaper than I can at any of the local sporting goods super store. I believe in paying the least I have to.

      When I want another gun I’ll check out what they have on sale but I’ve only bought a few long guns from them. Next I hit the pawn shops. With a good light and the ability to look down the bore of any weapon I’m shopping for is pretty easy. I can work all the parts and pieces and if I like it, I buy it and if it’s a piece of crap it stays in the store. Then there is the super store, Adventure Outdoors with a whole lot of just about any type of pistol, rifle, shotgun, bow, crossbow that you could want both in new and used trade ins. Again, check the bore on the used ones, check the wear, compare the prices between new and used and then buy appropriately. Gather in ammo when they have it on sale.
      I’m still in the spirit of the holidays so I’m sure what you wrote wasn’t meant to be a jab but more of a comment on my ability to shop in a lot of different places and to get what I want at good prices.
      May you have the Happiest of New Years and do as the rest of us are hopefully doing, prepping, praying, and finding some time for playing too.

  37. Sister Judi says:

    wow,so much info,very confusing for someone just begining to learn about guns and home safety.I will get the book recommended and I will practice practice etc.Can anyone suggest a trainner in North Fl. to give me classes.I would like to take up target shooting as a hobby and be prepared if the shtf.Thanks for a great article and any info anyone can provide on gun training.I just took the CWC.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Sister Judi,

      If there is a range in your town or close by, check with them. Most offer a variety of courses from basic handling to house cleaning. My local range runs some 4 to 6 hour classes on specialized tactics and situations but also have basic training. I took the basic training class quite a few years back and found I had a lot of bad habits that were hard to break when pulling my pistol from the holster and coming on target. The ways I learned in the military are not necessarily the best ways to approach a day to day situation. The guys at the range watched me, pointed out where I was weak and where I needed to change completely then watched me through rote practice until the muscle memory was in place and the new style was the new habit.
      Also, check with your local police. The often offer an intro to guns and it never hurts to go and sit through a class again and then spend some time on their range.
      Good luck, be careful, practice and practice being careful.

  38. bubba in ca says:

    You are right on the 20 ga shotgun for hd. Bump it up to no. 2 or 3 buckshot and you have the stopping power for closeup/in the house. Buy 2 0r 3 , same model, for the whole family.

    You are also right in pointing out that you are a collector and therefore have far more guns than Joe Blow and Family need for HD.

    I did the pistol calibre carbine thing, as did many PDs. They don`t pan out–for the same weight and sometimes less cost you can get a.223 or 7.62 X 39.

  39. Uncle Charlie says:

    I guess I ‘m a gunaholic too. I just bought another 6.5 Carcano and a couple more 7×57 Mausers (1893 and 1895) over the holidays. Of course these are military guns which you can get even cheaper if they’ve been sporterized. They were just so cheap, I couldn’t pass them up and they will handle any man or beast that I will run into in the Southeast. I did not pick them up for survival purposes (they’re just fun to shoot) but they would work for that as well. The 6.5×52 will take medium large game out to 250 yards and the 7×75 will harvest out even farther and can even be used for elk (and sometimes elephants). Commercial ammo is available, but it helps to reload. I always carry a Ruger LCP in my shirt pocket. It’s so light that you forget it’s there. But I also keep a Ruger GP100 in 357mag nearby as well a couple of HiPoint carbines in the closet 9mm+P and .40 S&W. The 16″ barrels extend the velocity and the reach of these handgun cartridges significantly and should be used within the confines of your house or place of work for “self defense” purposes before TSHTF. I keep most of the heavy duty stuff at my hidey-hole unless I’m working on it.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Uncle Charlie,
      I remember a time when the Sears and Roebuck catalog has a section with guns that you could order for delivery to the catalog pickup stores. For several years they were selling Mausers and then selling custom stocks that were direct screw on replacement of the old furniture. They never, to my knowledge, did anything about bending the bolt so putting a scope on one back then was a real chore.
      Gads, I miss that Christmas wish book…….

  40. You should recheck your GA gun law. It’s not a concealed carry permit, it’s a Georgia Weapons License that allows you to carry concealed and carry openly. Also, where in the law does it say you can’t carry into a bank? And you can carry at the airport, just can’t go through the inspection points into the restricted areas.

  41. Cliff in Douglasville says:

    I stand corrected on the name of the permit, it’s a Georgia Firearms Permit. I can’t quote you chapter and verse on not carrying in a bank. I do know the law about the post office and you can not legally carry in the airport. That has been up and down the courts quite a few times and the last ruling was there was no carry in the Atlanta airport, but I believe it’s OK if you have your weapon in your checked baggage and let them know ahead of time so they don’t freak out when they x-ray or rifle through your suitcase. I will go back and check “Geogia Carry” but I’m relatively certain that the suit against the air port over not being able to carry on airport property was settled in favor of the air port. Seems silly to me since if I’m carrying concealed and not going to go through security and get on a plane, what does it matter? I hate to leave my pistol in the car in the parking lot but I’m not going down to that part of town without carrying something.
    Thanks for the clarification and correction.
    I consider my permit a $5 discount on every gun I buy since when you have that you don’t have to be called in for a background check. The new permit, I believe is now up to 76 dollars, way up from the, I think it was, about 26 to magistrate court and another 20 to digital fingerprint place. I think the big jump was in the cost of the finger printing and back ground check.

  42. Cliff in Douglasville says:

    OK, just checked Georgia Carry.org and found that as of December 2010 you can carry in the airport as long as you don’t enter the sterile areas. Haven’t found the info on the banks as yet. Permission to carry in a house of worship is still held up in the courts. Kennesaw’s requirement for a firearm and ammo in any domicile is being challenged hard.
    So, RD, thanks very much for bringing me back up to speed on where I can and can’t carry. I also saw that you can carry in restaurants that serve booze. And people wonder why I sit in a corner with my back to the wall when we go out to eat…….

    • No problem, the law is still not where it should be, but it is a whole lot better than it was. We now have a list of specific places that we can’t carry: Govt. Building (courthouse,jail,prison,etc.) School property, Place of worship, nuclear power plant. Banks are not on the list as they are not govt. property. I carry into my bank every week with never a second glance. You can now even drink a beer while at that restaurant while carrying, even go into a bar with owner’s permission. Lots has changed. I don’t like that you can’t carry into church, hope that gets changed next. There is new legislation being discussed to allow it. Thanks for doing your part to help keep our rights.

      • Cliff in Douglasville says:

        After the shooting in a church last year where the shooter had to be brought down by people carrying and security, the minister I talk to now and then said “I don’t care if the flock is carrying concealed in my church, someone should always be ready to save the sheep from the wolves if they get in the pen”. Then he said if something happened it had to be divine intervention and he had no idea where all that expended brass came from.

  43. Rob in Ontario says:

    I am envious of you folks in the US – here we can’t have the same type of guns for home defence– hand guns are resricted and of course no military semi auto weapons– so I have a old double barrel 12ga or a Mossberg 500 12ga I would use – I am hard of hearing and my first line of defence are my two golden retreivers- I know they are not a mean dog but I just need them to bark for that extra few seconds it take me to get ready

  44. Harold Dean says:

    Well here I go again trying to get into trouble with the big guys. I only have 22 caliber firearms. A Marlin carbine that I have a number of the nickle plated ten round magazines for. They all will feed all ten rounds through the Marlin with no problems and the only thing I use is CCI Mini Mags through that weapon. It is my just in case weapon. My wife and I both are dead zero shots with it out to a hundred yards. Farther, we neither one can see effectively being up in years. I have a Charter Arm Pathfinder with a six inch barrel that does the brunt of the work since I can use it with everything, cb caps, shorts, birdshot, longs, long rifle, hollow point or solid. It is a one shot ground hog, rabbit, squirrel etc killer, even the surprised fox last year that stood for several seconds before it dropped dead. My home defense gun is a Smith and Wesson old model 63 and after I found Aquila was loading a round with a 67 grain slug, I purchased a brick of it and proceeded to experiment. It isn’t worth a damn at long ranges unless you have a rifle with a very slow twist since it will tend to tumble past thirty yards if fired from the Marlin. It is dirty and needs to be cleaned promptly and thoroughly. The model 63 is stainless so I don’t have nearly as much to clean or need to do it instantly. After a lot of testing, I am convinced that even if you are drugged up and have kicked my door open in the middle of the night, my reflexes are still good enough and my vision at night is much better than the daylight, I can effectively place a couple of those rounds in a kill position and after much practice, the difference between the knock down ability of the 67 grain solid slug versus the 40 grain hollow point is incredible. So accordingly since I am not going to be declaring war on the golden horde nor try defending a remote thirty acre retreat but hunkering down and staying hidden, I will go down in a blaze of fire if found and outgunned. What the hell at seventy two, I have had all the excitement I need in life anyway and if I go, I will go with a fight. That is my personal epithet I want on my gravestone anyway, that I went down fighting.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Harold Dean,
      At the end of the day, when the SHTF, I hope that when they find my body they find only expended brass because I don’t plan to go down until my last shot is fired. I’m 61, not too far behind you and without my glasses and hearing aids I’m not much good over 30 or 40 feet in imaging a good shot on the target. With my glasses I’ve still got the skill (if not the quickness) that I developed in my teens.
      Someone recently asked me what I would do if the TDL came and took away my guns. The answer is easy, I’ll make a knife or a bow and arrow and with those I’ll get a pistol and with the pistol I’ll get a rifle and with the rifle I can get anything that is not nailed down. Hell hath no fury like an old man on a mission.

      • Harold Dean says:

        Cliff, I think we see eye to eye. During my service years I fired everything up to a 106 recoilless rifle so I don’t need to experiment with anything. I have fired it all from childhood on, 28, 31, 36 and 44 caliber muzzle loaders, trapdoor 45-70 springfields, 45-90 sharps, 30-40 side box Krags along with all of the service weapons of our allies. I have had over the years practically everything from a Winchester 86 in 405 to my longtime favorite a Remington 714 in 300 Magnum, not the H & H but the smaller one and it had a box magazine along with the stripper clip notches on the receiver so it could readilly be loaded without dumping the magazine. My shotguns over the years tended to stay with the 410 double barrel that I handloaded all of my ammunition for until the last brass case died on me. I have shot a charging bull with it with a rifled slug and I had the second barrel in him that had #4 shot just to empty it and ready it for instant reload with both deer slugs. The single one killed him and save my Dad from something not so nice. Since my brother traded my 410 off while I was absent in Korea getting shot at, I kept Dad’s old 20 guage Iver JOhnson which was a match for my 410 until I got to the point where the choice between a days hunting and a session with the rubber hoses had me almost voting for the rubber hoses. The 22’s have served me well all of my life from my first Stevens Crack Shot with a shot out bore to my present Marlin 995 and over the years the revolvers have changed from a Ruger 22 and Colt 22 single actions, the Colt with the 22 magnum cylinder option to the point that i prefer the swing out cylinder versions. The S&W model 63 was a gift from a brother in law to my wife and the Charter Arms I picked up for 16 bucks at the same time that I bought ten of the Marlins for 10 bucks each. They had all been thoroughly soaked in a warehouse fire sprinkler accident and were insurance write offs. I had bought 6 of the 6 inch barrel Pathfinders and the 10 marlins and disassembled them, dried them out thoroughly with heat lamps and relubed them with a high cling moly lube and dried the wood stocks out on the Marlins and reoiled them with linseed oil starting with the inside with all metal parts removed and the stocks heated up to open the pores to accept the oil. I only have one of each left over the years and I thoroughly proficient with them. The Pathfinder gets the brunt of the work anymore from slaughtering cattle and hogs for the local Amish to my varmint control. I have found over the years that the plastic sabot shot shell works very very well in that six inch barrel, mediocre in the four inch Smith and is a no go in the Marlin since it won’t extract due to not enough pressure. It equally well performs with bb, cb caps, shorts, longs, long rifles and unlike the Marlin does not seem to care what is fired out of it. At twenty five yards which is the distance from the kitchen window (my firing port) to the garage wall where I have my backstop of railroad ties, the impact area is well withing a three inch circle with anything fired from it. I guess I will only defend any threat between me and the garage quite well and will go down in a blaze of fire and be careful about picking up the empties since I have learned how to booby trap even a fire 22 case. Harold

        • Harold Dean⁠, the recoiless rifle is one of the things I wish I could have fired, it was out of service by the time I came in.

        • Cliff in Douglasville says:

          Harold Dean,

          Thanks a lot for your note and observations. I started rifle/shotgun shooting with a youth model 20 gauge single shot when I was 11. When I was about 7 dad let me have the old JC Higgins 9 shot 22 revolver (to extract the empty case you line it up with the loading slot then push it out from the other end with an allen wrench). It was no frills but a lot of targets and snakes bit the dust when I had it. Later he let me start to use his .22 which was a bolt action from Sears, that had a 5 round magazine and a hooded front sight. A lot of mistletoe fell to that rifle (made some good money selling the stuff around Christmas time). I moved on up and started collecting as soon as I was 16 and able to drive myself to the hardware store where I picked up a lot of foreign military surplus and ammo really cheap. Back then you could buy rifles though the mail with no records being kept.
          When I went off to the Air Force in 1970 I left my core collection at home and would sometimes bring something in when I was on leave between changes of station and what ever I picked up while on leave. Luckily I invested in a good safe and had them locked up and I took the keys. Later on I would bring stuff in and it piled up in the closets. My sister got married and her husband was a big shooter and hunter and any of the guns he found in the closet, dad gave to him along with things from my childhood like Lionel trains and lead casting sets and stuff like that. So, when I retired I retrieved what was left, brought them to my new home and have been adding to the collection ever since. When dad died I got his .410 single shot breech action that was made for 2 1/2 inch shells and he had it bored out to take 2 3/4 inch but I don’t shoot it anymore. I also got his .22 from his youth, looked almost like a prehistoric “cricket” single shot, bolt action and a shot out barrel and I think he only shot shorts in it. I also got back from my sister, when my brother in law died, a $2 pistol that my grandmother had. It’s a really cheap .22 revolver that said “use .22 shorts only” and when I got it back it was in horrible shape. I can’t bring myself to take it out and destroy it but it’ll never shoot again. Anyway, I digress again and again but when BIL died his boys went through his gun safe and split my guns so I have been buying them back from them a couple at a time but in cleaning out I found everything from one of my first coin collections to comics I’d had, my trains and even control line airplanes I used to fly. He got all the good stuff and it was all worn out by the time I got it back. No biggie though since it’s just stuff.
          In the 20 years since I retired I’ve accumulated a whole lot of guns. I jump from thing to thing, bring it home, get good with it and then go out and buy something different and the cycle continues and the gun safes bulge. I dread a day that I hope never comes when I have to tell the fire department how much ammo is stored downstairs.
          Sounds to me like you are dedicated to your craft and anything that gets in range will lay really still. I’ve never thought about anyone booby trapping brass so maybe I’ll quit policing after everyone else leaves in case it cost me a finger or something.
          Take care of yourself and keep on prepping. I may be old but I still have a lot of fight left in me and I’m betting you are the same. I learned a lot of really savage ambush and bobby trap stuff during the early 70s and I’d be loathe to put any of it around the place but no telling what we have to do when we really have to do it.
          Take care and enjoy the New Year!!

  45. Cliff, great article! I am an AR fan over the Mini-14 due to options and accessories but to each their own. You drove the point home about what works for you and within your means and viable options. The firearm you own is better than not having one at all.

    I don’t own a 20 gauge but have enjoyed shooting them over the years quail hunting and it is a viable home defense shotgun and the lower recoil is great for those with shoulder injuries or can’t handle recoil. Low recoil ammo is a good option.

    For pistols/revolvers, I prefer proven firearms that have been put through the rigors of law enforcement, military and testing at the range with friends firearms before spending money. I’d rather save for a bit longer to get something I know works, easy access to parts and not an oddball caliber.

    With many debating the validity of the 9mm, while I no longer own one, I believe it is a good caliber, affordable, with modern hollow points ammo it can and does perform. I’ve seen the 9mm kill, I’ve seen it wound. I’ve seen the same results with .40, .45, 7.62×39 and .22LR. Ballistics isn’t 100% and there are many factors involved why some live and some die. With training and practice shot placement will make up for it.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Jarhead 03,
      While I started the article kind of down on the 9mm, not trashing it, just not interested in it, after reading all the discussions and postings about it I had to go out and give it a chance. I fired 4 different 9mm handguns at the range today. Not sure what is coming home with me. The think I like the best is that it doesn’t print as large on my pull over shirt as my Glock in .40 S&W. I’m kind of a big boy so there is no room to carry in the waistband (barely enough room for me in these pants) but a slimmer profile on the belt might work and I can always carry something on my ankle if the 9 isn’t getting it done.
      Anyway, there will be one or two in the gun safe on Saturday. I plan to put a couple of hours in on Sunday at the range and see how it works out for me. I’m going to take the Ruger .44 magnum with me just in case I start giggling about no recoil so I can remind myself what real recoil is.

  46. Cliff –
    I swear, we must be ‘brothers from another mother’, if not twins. I was born in the same state you reside in back at the middle of the last century and it sounds like you’ve been reading my mail or living my life one. That makes you a sound judge of character, intelligent, well read and educated – a gentleman and a scholar – and no doubt, just as good looking as I am. And, of course, just as humble and unassuming as I.
    Thanks for all the info.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Could very well be true. I popped into the world in 1950 so we could be related.
      I am pretty well read, I believe a good judge of character, a late in life scholar, having gone back to college in 1989 after dropping out in 1969 and being older than the instructor and most of the staff, and I always try to be a gentleman especially with the ladies. I often police their brass at the range and they seldom ask for it back.
      You’re a good man!
      Thanks for being here and sharing.

      • This is getting all ‘Twilight Zone-y’ now – I dropped out in 70s, went back in mid 80’s. The State Univ I went made it mandatory that if you were over 30 and returning to school after 5 years absence you HAD to meet with the counselor to discuss ‘transition’ – everyone but you had gotten younger! They were trying to recognize anyone having ‘adjustment ‘problems and provide support. Funny how much more you learn without a beer can or bong in your hand…haha ;{)

        • Cliff in Douglasville says:

          For sure. I had to meet with the counselor and take placement test and stuff when I went back. The funny part was that in the late 60s I was struggling with the classes and always wanting to be somewhere else and when I went back I was a sponge, ended up with a 4.0 average and the deans list. Big difference was that I wanted to be there and I wanted to learn what they had to teach. Where before I was just there because that was what was expected of me.
          I’d post a picture of me but you might think you are looking in the mirror and pass out or worse……

  47. the only thing i can add as a preper on a sever budget a flashlight/laser combo is a grate investment in ones ability to tel frend from fow it s also a grate confadence boster i got mine for under 50 at sportsmans giude,now for a speedfeed stock and a shortbarrel and the old m500 will be just perfect.

    • Nnyready, be careful with depending on lasers especially cheaper versions. When firing weapons with excessive recoil the laser will not stay zeroed on target after so many rounds. Also training in marksmanship supersedes the laser. The two together work great but when they fail its your marksmanship skills you will depend on. Its nice to have a long and short barrel for the shotgun. Have you considered a tube extension for when you have the short barrel on?

      • At my job I wear a sidearm 10-12 hours a day doing all kind of things. I got my first Crimsn Trace in ’95 and have 9 of them on weapons currently. Even on my 12 ga.s I have never had a problem with then losing their zero regardless of what I fired – and I alwyas check. Lasermax make dependable ones as well, but not as convienent as the Crimson Trace system. Lasers, if used properly and you TRAIN PROPERLY can be an invaluble tool. However, you have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of looking for the laser on the target instead of looking at you sights. I train 70%30% – iron sights/laser – and although I have yet to have a laser fail on me for ANY REASON my iron sights are my go to sights. I change out the power source yearly and do a through check quarterly. Keeping in mind the FBI stats that over 75% of self defense shootings take place in low light situations a laser can be a life saver. As Jarhead correctly pointed out – you normally get what you pay for with lasers. Still, don’t stake your life on ANY technology until you have tested it well yourself. (I make no statement – pro/con – regarding any other lasers than those I mentioned – I have simply not had the chance to use & evaluate them and cannot therefore speak to their quality.)

        • Mac, well said, when the Marines first started testing laser sights for regular infantry, they advised all potential contractors “remember who you are trying to sell them to, they will mistreat them, abuse them and break them” half the contractors backed out.

          Laser sights are secondary and sometimes third (point shooting at close range where only the front sight is used) and its training that supersedes all. I take friends out with all the fancy bells and whistles and some with the cheap bells and whistles. When I show them the weaknesses of their add on’s the get sad spending all that money. I save my money and OT money and anything I add on is only time tested by the military and fed/state/local LE so I know what I’m buying. I’m currently saving for the EO Tech optics for my M4, no Walmart or Chinese made optics here. I don’t compromise. I don’t have any laser systems on my firearms at the moment but have considered the surefire system for my G21. Doubtful on my M4/AR platform for now.

          • One thing that a lot of people miss on having lasers is for the training aspect alone. Dry firing can be an invalualbe tool and even more so when you can watch the red dot and see if it moves or not when trigger pulled. I think that it is in area of ‘point shooting’ that the laser really shines. Once again, according to FBI stats, self defense shots take palce at less that 11 feet over 75% of the time (based on the cases studied) – and that is where point shooting happens. Once you know you can count on your instinct AND count on YOUR laser, it makes for a much more confident shot with there are innocents anywhere near. The grip activated Crimson Trace units are TOUGH & hold up well. For my Berreta 92 I got the water ‘proof’ military one (it was my first) and it is still working like a swiss clock (have been using it at least weekly for going on 7years now). On my shotguns I have the small Laser Max ‘matchbox’ units with remote pressure switch and they are on the nose as far as the waepons are effective. Thing people seem to forget is that 1)the iron sites are always there to fall back on & 2) for shots where you can aim(with laser) and still stay behind cover they take a lot of pressure off of the shot and increase hits. I do have to say that ‘just seeing’ the laser will make a perp surrender is hogwash -unless it is smoky or you aim in their eye, they just don’t see it.

  48. Cliff, Douglassville PA?

  49. I think too much is made about the “ideal” gun. There are so many variables as to make this impossible. Thus my recomendations. Stick with what has a long, proven record for preformance and reliability.
    A good indicator is what the police use. In handguns that usually means Glock, Sig, and S&W. M-1911 clones have the advantage of easily obtained parts. Shotguns, Remington 870s & Mossberg 500/590s. Rifles, Remington 700s, Savage 110s preferably with iron sights. Battle rifles are tougher. AR-15/M-16s have the advantage of lots of available parts. Most 308s and the M-1 have the same advantage as they are now surplus. Some things like .22s and air guns are good to have. Stick with quality. And practice, practice, practice. A miss is as good as a mile. Do they still say that?

    • Agreed, and there is no rule/law saying you can’t hunt with tactical fire arms, just make sure you are within guidelines and rules of the law. I have springs and wood dowels for 3 rounds for the shot guns and have a insert for 5 rounds max in my SKS when hunting and I have the 10 round mags when hunting varmit with the AR platform with the 24″ barrel, it doesn’t give the stigma that an M4 or AR15 does.

  50. Cliff in Douglasville says:

    Sorry, I missed your post. I’m in Douglasville, Georgia. If you are ever down around this way and a purple 1923 Ford T Bucket goes by as fast as heck and as loud as heck with an old, fat, bald guy driving, wave cause that’s probably me.

  51. I have attempted to respond to Jarhead 03 and others. So its not that I’m being rude but my server no longer seems to ENTER on Reply.

    • Methan, have you tried rebooting or switching the web browser? If you ever have a question and I don’t respond you can click my name and I have responded to peoples questions that way. I just got a promotion at work so I haven’t been on as much as I would like. GF says I’m on here more than facebook lol I told here people are more interesting with the topics since my friends (with a few exceptions) don’t prep.

      • Jarhead – Excuse me butting in here, but as neophyte online, I am scared to death of FB and avoid at any chance, probably due to my paranoid nature and imagination considering all the way info can be handled, processed, stirred and shaken and used to my (possible) detrement. Do you think an average browser, occasional commentor, runs the same risks and should I just get over it and use FB like everyone else? This is a sincere question. I opened a ‘site’ on FB a few months ago when first on line but have avoided on second thought. Now old class mates are knocking… Anyone?

  52. Great post, Cliff;

    I have a Hi Point JHP .45 ACP for my home defense gun its load with critical defense ammo. You are right when the trigger is pulled it goes bang. My friend has a sign on his door that say’s Forget the dog, beware of owner. I was in the service and trained on the .45, so this is what I’m used to. I like your thought on the 20 gauge shotgun, I usually keep that one locked up. What you said make a whole lot of sense. Home safety first.

  53. Uncle Charlie says:

    I have Hi-Points in 9mm, .40 cal and .45 ACP. They all go bang with no problem. They are heavy guns which helps with the recoil not to mention they make a pretty good weapon empty due to their heft. I also have the Hi-Pont carbines in 9mm and .40 cal. I haven’t decided to get one in .45 ACP, yet. The carbines have a 16″ barrel and are fairly light but have no noticeable recoil which makes them easier to use for the average person who, unlike Steve, is not trained in the use of the heavier calibers. All 3 caliber have much greater stopping power coming out of the carbine barrels. Both the pistols and carbines are rated for +P ammunition. These are about the cheapest “good” guns you can get and currently run $135. The pistols have been widely criticized for mis-feeding but I have never had a problem with them. The break-in period is between 100-220 rounds. If you have problems after that, contact the manufacturer. The carbines are generally well received. They both have a life time warranty.

    • Uncle Charlie, one issue with the .45 in a carbine rifle is that it looses velocity pretty fast compared to the 9mm round. I was looking to by a .45 upper for the AR and when I saw the drastic loss of velocity I opted against it.
      When I looked at the velocity compared to an M3 grease gun, pistol and tommy gun it looked as if the longer the barrel, the heavy 230 grain bullet just slowed down too much for my taste. I’d stick to the 9mm and 40 due to the velocity and range unless you are looking at the 45 carbine to be an up close gun, then I’d say go for it.

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