Warning: Preppers Don’t Buy A Firearm for Self-Defense Until you Read This…

By Rey – – this is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

This article is going to buy me a lot of hate. I know that delving into this topic is controversial and some of my recommendations will go against the established dogma. I will not only make a recommendation, but give you my reasoning behind it. Perhaps I can save some reader a lot of money, hassle and disappointment. Before you continue reading, I want you to make a decision. I want you to visualize yourself killing another human being. Now visualize a loved one bleeding to death in your arms.

Make a choice which one would you prefer. The purpose of a firearm is to kill another being. Yes, I know, you are supposed to say that you are only trying to stop a threat. I know of no better way to stop a threat than to kill it. If you cannot make that decision now, in relative safety, you will not be able to make that decision in an emergency. The most important decision you must make when using a firearm to defend your life is to pull the trigger.

First, why buy a firearm? You are probably considering purchasing your first firearm for the same reason most of us have firearms, personal protection. But personal protection is too broad a term. Let’s narrow this down a bit. Ask yourself, who or what do you need protection from? Who are you trying to protect? Where will you be when you need to use deadly force? These questions, which seem a logical starting point, are seldom asked before choosing a weapon. But, weapons are tools, and tools fit specific needs, so we need to define your specific needs before we can choose the tool.

Will the primary location you will need protection be at home or a place of business? Or perhaps during your commute? Or all of the above? If at home, will you be able to barricade yourself and not move or do you have little ones you need to go get in the middle of the night? If at work, do you stay stationary behind a counter or desk or do you roam your place of business? Are you even allowed to carry a firearm to defend yourself at your job?

You need to create a scenario and play thru all these questions before you decide what firearm to purchase. Do not make the mistake of taking the advice of any “expert”, me included, before you work thru your specific needs.

Now that you have created a scenario and determined the most likely threats, let me give you an example of a typical situation. You live is a fairly safe neighborhood but are concerned with a break in. You have a couple of little ones and their bedrooms are across the house or some distance from the master bedroom. You commute to work on what you consider safe streets and are not allowed to possess a firearm at work. Still, the possibility exists of work place violence and you do not want to become a victim. With this scenario in mind, here are some sensible options. I recommend you purchase them in this order.

First, you would purchase a handgun. I know, I know, most “experts”, including our former VP recommend a shotgun. The shotgun, a wonderful weapon we will get back to, is the wrong tool for your scenario. You need a weapon that you can take with you, down the hall, and open doors, grab kids and return to your bedroom or safe space with. You cannot, without extensive training, employ a shotgun in this scenario. Don’t believe me. Grab a baseball bat and carry it as you would a shotgun. Move from your bedroom to your kid’s rooms. Now open the door, grab a sleeping child and carry him/her back to your bedroom while keeping the “shotgun” oriented towards a potential avenue of approach. Not easy, is it? Now think of trying to do this when first waking up to a breaking window or door with a squirming toddler in tow. Next try it holding a handgun proxy, a banana will do. See the difference? A handgun is better tool for offensive (meaning moving towards a threat) operations than a shotgun. Now think of a carjacking scenario. Take said baseball bat and hide it in your car. Can you access the shotgun from the driver’s seat? Can you carry the “shotgun” from your home to your car every morning along your briefcase, coffee cup, laptop bag and whatever else you carry?

What handgun should you buy? A semi-automatic pistol. I am a fan of Glocks and carry one daily but, you may find another handgun that best fits your hands. Forget revolvers. Yes, a revolver requires less muscle memory to operate than a pistol. But a revolver will give you 6 rounds before needing to be fed again. You are not likely to be carrying extra rounds when you carry your revolver and it takes forever to reload a revolver during a high stress situation. A Glock gives you 17 rounds before needing a reload. It is better to have 17 rounds than 6. But revolvers are dependable you heard said. Sure, so are modern semi-automatics. My Glock goes bang every time I pull the trigger.

Next, let’s talk caliber. Understand that there is no such thing as “stopping power”. A .45 will not blow a hole the size of a watermelon on a human torso or remove extremities. You will probably not stop a threat with a single round. You stop a threat by causing shock and blood loss. Shock is caused by hitting the central nervous system (CNS) and blood loss is caused by the number and size of holes you put on your target and what veins, arteries and internal organs you puncture. A CNS hit requires you hit the spine or brain. You will not, unless you are very lucky or extremely well trained, hit the CNS. What you need is to put as many holes as you can in the torso area to cause as much blood loss as possible as fast as possible. The difference in diameter between a modern 9mm and .45 caliber, and everything in between, is negligible for practical purposes. Yes, I know I am killing sacred cows here but, a modern 9mm jacketed hollow point (JHP), 124 grain Speer gold dot, expands to .62 inches while a 230 grain .45 caliber from the same manufacturer expands to .74 inches. So, a bit over 1/2 an inch hole vs. a bit under ¾ of an inch hole. Big difference, right? Not really when you consider that your intention is to create as much blood loss as possible and the holes are very similar. Much more critical factors are, how well does it fit your hand, how well can you control the firearm while using it, how many rounds before reload and how much will it cost you to train with it.

The best way to know how well a firearm will fit your hand is to hold one. Go to your local gun shop and ask. Believe me, they will be happy to let you handle as many handguns as you wish. Handle the handguns. Try to operate the controls, operate the safety and magazine release. See what fits your hand. Pick a handgun that fits, between 9mm and .45 caliber. Second, consider handling.

Find a range where they rent firearms or a friend that will let you try different calibers. Shoot your preferred firearm and see if it fits you. Only you can decide. Next, consider cost.

A 9mm JHP round costs about 66 cents as of this writing. A .45 caliber round, from the same manufacturer, runs about 98 cents. Significant difference if you plan to train regularly. A 9mm full metal jacket (FMJ) round, what you will normally use for training, runs about 27 cents while a similar .45 from the same manufacturer runs about 48 cents a round. So, you will spend about twice as much to train with a .45 than to train with a 9mm. Things to consider.

Now that you picked your handgun, what next?

Accessories

First, before you even leave the gun shop, buy a holster. A quality holster is a safety device. It covers the trigger while the handgun is not in use preventing negligent discharges. A holster will also allow you to secure your weapon on your body while dealing with events that require both hands such as providing first aid or removing obstacles. Which holster? Start with a Kydex outside the waist band holster. There are many manufacturers, prices and styles but a Kydex holster will secure your weapon, protect it and is easier to re-holster on a Kydex holster vs leather.

Next, I would highly recommend you purchase a gun mounted light. You need to be able to identify your target before you pull the trigger. Firing at a shadow or a silhouette illuminated by ambient light is a recipe for disaster. Get a light. There are many quality choices out there, you just want one that will attach to your weapon and provide both momentary and constant light. You will also do well to pick one that uses standard batteries (AA or AAA) and not some $15 a battery light that requires a special order to get a replacement. A decent light should provide over 100 lumens and cost around $50 retail.

Continuing with accessories, here is one not many people consider, body armor. Bad guys, unlike paper targets, shoot back. You need body armor to survive incoming fire. With the low prices and easy availability today, there is no reason not to buy body armor. Body armor comes in both soft ballistic armor and rigid plates. Both have their place in your bag of tricks but, you will get the best overall protection from rigid plates rated to at least IIIA. In this category you will find two basic options, steel and ceramics. Steel is cheaper, more durable against multiple impacts and weather variances and thinner than ceramics. But, steel is heavier. For at home wear, steel is a better choice. For professional day to day wear, such as security, ceramics are better.

Soft ballistic armor, on the other hand, is much more comfortable, lighter and thinner than rigid plates. Soft ballistic armor is more expensive and, should you get shot, will stop the projectile from penetrating your torso but will do nothing about the impact force from the projectile. In other words, you will get hurt but will not be killed. The photo on the right is a laparoscopy of a police officer’s chest cavity after being shot while wearing soft body armor. The officer recovered but, you can see that the projectile did cause damage to muscle tissue and broke a rib.  Rigid armor does not flex so the impact is better distributed thru your torso reducing the overall impact trauma. I wear steel armor from AR500. Very well priced and excellent protection. No, I don’t work or receive compensation from them, I just like their products.

And on the subject of surviving a firefight, the next accessory is an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). The IFAK was developed based on combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your IFAK should be a pouch attached to your ballistic armor or in an easily accessible location. At a minimum, your IFAK should contain:

  • A tourniquet. There are two available commercially that are worth having, the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT-T) and the SOF-T. They are both under $50 each and are the premier combat tourniquets. As a minimum go on YouTube and learn how to use them.
  • A Sharpie pen. Used to mark the patient with the time the tourniquet was applied and any other treatment or injuries you want the EMS to find.
  • Clotting gauze. Ideally Celox or QuickClot brand. Clotting gauze contains chemicals that will force clotting and stop medium bleeds.
  • A nasopharyngeal airway. This is a rubber tube that is inserted into a nostril to keep an open airway in case of face trauma. Buy the kit with the lubricant.
  • ARS Needle Decompression Kit. This needle is to resolve a case of tension pneumothorax or collapsed lung. You need to get training in using this needle but it is a critical lifesaving tool.
  • Chest seal. This is for sucking chest wounds. In case of an upper torso bullet hole it will become very difficult for the patient to breath. A chest seal is a piece of plastic that is placed over the bullet wound and it burps air pockets in the chest cavity while providing a seal to permit an inhale.

Last on the accessory list is hearing protection, as a minimum or a suppressor as ideal. If you have never fired a weapon indoors without hearing protection, don’t. It is much louder than you would think. Although under stress you will not hear the shot as badly, it is still deafening and you need your hearing in a combat scenario. Purchase an electronic noise cancelling headset designed for shooting. This way you can still hear before and after the shot. Foam ear plugs will not work, you need electronic muffs. The problem is that this only provides protection for your hearing. What about the little ones? Getting ripped out of bed is bad enough but, once you open fire, it will become traumatic. Imagine trying to fight with a squirming toddler in your hands. That is why I recommend a sound suppressor. Contrary to popular belief sound suppressors are legal in the US. That may not be true in your State, check the local laws. A sound suppressor will not only protect your hearing but your loved one’s as well. These days a good sound suppressor could run you under $400 plus the $200 tax stamp. There are much more expensive suppressors but you don’t need a titanium suppressor rated for full auto fire. A $400 aluminum suppressor works just fine for your needs.

Training

Find a trainer that will teach beyond your basic concealed carry license trainer. Yes, you need to know the legalities behind using your handgun but, you really need to go beyond basic range training. You need situational training. Not just how to fire your weapon and hit targets but how to fight with your weapon. There are many quality trainers in the US. A place like Gunsight Academy or Suarez International will be well worth the expense. Call or write the different training sites. Find out what each class teaches and how many instructors per student. Ask about instructor’s experience in real life situations. You will spend about $500 to $1500 per class and it is worth every penny. The amount of money you save on ammo later by focusing your training vs just shooting steel will make up the cost of the class. This class by no means ends your training. You must continue training on a regular basis. Expect to spend 4-5 hours a month minimum training. Of course, this training is not all range training. You will need to dry fire rehearse scenarios and responses. As an example; start from your bed with a cleared weapon and go thru all the steps needed to secure against different intrusions. Ask yourself, what if? Front door or side door? Window? Then rehearse to those scenarios. Include your family in the rehearsals so they know what is happening and how to respond. Purchase snap caps (inert rounds designed for training) and go thru loading, moving, firing and reloading. You should spend tenfold the time on dry firing than live firing. Live firing is needed for target engagement but dry firing rehearsals are about fighting with your gun.

Take a combat first aid class. You need to learn how to keep someone alive while the paramedics are on their way. A single day class that deals with combat trauma injuries should be sufficient. Do not waste your money on the local Red Cross class. Yes, they are wonderful skills to know if someone chokes on a chicken bone or falls down the stairs but, you are looking for battle field trauma training. Different skill set.

Shotguns

So, what about the shotgun? Ah yes, the shotgun. The shotgun is a defensive weapon. It is the weapon you hold while barricaded behind strong cover and aim towards the door. It is the weapon you get back to after you secure your little ones. If you live in a state where you cannot take a firearm with you (recommend you move) and you have no reason why leave your bedroom, a shotgun should be your first weapon.

With a shotgun, all of the above recommendations apply with a few changes. First, to dispel some myths. No, racking a shotgun will not stop a bad guy. Your shotgun should be loaded with an empty chamber while at home. As soon as you secure your shotgun rake the slide and proceed to your covered position. This covered position should give you line of sight to the door but not be directly in front of the door. Once you arrive to your covered position, aim your shotgun waist high at the locked door and take it off safe. Yes, a shotgun needs to be aimed. In general, a shotgun spreads pellets about an inch per foot. If it is 15 feet to your door, the shot pattern will be a bit larger than a dinner plate. You have to aim. Then dial 911 and wait. It is not your job to go hunting for the bad guy. Let someone else catch those bullets.

What shotgun should you buy? I prefer a Mossberg with the safety on top, easier to take off and return to safe. Something like a Mossberg 930 SPX or the Mossberg SA-20 tactical. You want a full stock. No macho pistol grips, they are terrible to fire. You need a side saddle ammo holder. This provides you with extra rounds for a fast reload. You want a light. Same as with the pistol. And you need a sling to shoulder your weapon in case you need to move with your little ones or provide first aid. Like with the pistol, you will need to go to a gun shop and to the range. Although the basic recommendation is usually the 12 gauge, it may not be right for you. Persons with smaller frames may need to go with a 20 gauge youth model.

Let’s talk about ammunition. On a 12 gauge a #00 buck shell will fire 9 .33 caliber (a bit smaller than the 9mm) pellets from a standard-length shell. 00 buck or #1 buck are both acceptable defensive loads. Do not go for reduced recoil loads outside of training. You want full penetration of your target. While 3 inch shells increase power and recoil without adding any more holes to your target. Stick to 2 ¾ inch shells.

Scenario

You wake up to banging on your front door. You don’t know who is banging but it sounds violent. You and your wife don body armor (you did buy one for her, right?) and you grab your gun, turn on the gun light and proceed down the hallway, with your wife holding on to your body armor with one hand. You arrive at your little one’s room, walk past the door while still covering the possible avenue of approach and your wife grabs the sleeping ones. Once she is pass you she makes physical contact with you and tells you “clear”. You place your strong shoulder against the wall and back up, following your wife, to the reinforced corner in your bedroom, locking the door behind you, that you have selected to defend from. You holster your handgun, grab your shotgun, lock a round in the chamber, take it off safe and aim waist high towards the door. In the meantime, your wife grabs the pre-printed cue card and cell phone, dials 911 and reads the pre-scripted report to the 911 dispatcher. This pre-printed cue card may say something like this:

“My name is _________, I am at 123 willow drive, some town, some state. My call back number is 555-123-4567. Someone is trying to break into my home. I am in the NW bedroom upstairs, behind a locked door with my husband and our two children. We are armed but barricaded in the bedroom. Please send assistance.”

Further Reading

Prizes For This Round (Ends on June 7, 2017) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize a $999 value:

  1. Numanna Organic Family Pack Bucket a $399 value from LPC Survival Ltd.
  2. CampingSurvival Gear Pack a $400 value from Camping Survival.com.
  3. A $200 gift certificate of prepper books from Prepper Press.

Second Prize a $650+ value:

  1. A case of .308 ammo or $300 off Ammo selection of your choice from LuckyGunner.
  2. A Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill with the Masa/Nut Butter Auger, Drill Bit Attachment, and Bicycle Sprocket Kit a $325 value from ChefBrad.com

Third Prize a $310+ value:

  1. $300 gift certificate from GunMag Warehouse.
  2. A copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How

Comments

  1. mom of three says:

    Amen, I agree 2 thumbs up!!! You nail this artical out of the ball park..

    • Thanks. I hope it helps someone. I have been having this same conversation with multiple people, on line and in person, for years. I figured it may help.

  2. You speak much wisdom here. I cannot disagree with anything you say, except when it comes to the 9mm./.40/.45 dogma. I agree that today’s 9mm ammo is much better than it was when I was first exposed to it. I have confidence in my .45 ammo and that is why I use it. I believe you need to have confidence in whatever you use, be it firearms, edged weapons, or even cooking equipment. I come from the old school of 12ga, 30-06, and .45ACP. (yeah, REAL old school I know) but those are what I know best and what I am very confident using. If you are new to the use of firearms you now have so many choices it sometimes boggles the mind. I thank you for this article and it will be a great help to the vast majority of readers.

    • I understand what you mean about old school. My first professional handgun was a 1911. If you feel confident and comfortable with the round/handgun combo, by all means, carry that one. My intent was to dispel the notion that only a .45 cal will stop a man or that a single round from your custom made .50AE handgun will stop a man. As long as you penetrate deep enough to cause internal trauma and provide enough holes for fast blood loss shock, anything above a 9mm works fine.

      • Sarah Querry says:

        Morning from SEATTLE,WA. I just bough a “Leather Concealed Carry Cross Body Gun Purse” FOR my “SUBCOMPACK V10 45 ACP! MY body well not let me carry it in my back! I love it + the MAGS WELL fit my LEEFILD converted to 45 ACP

  3. Very thorough post. What people don’t think about is what happens if they actually kill someone. I don’t mean now, in peacetime with law enforcement agencies. I mean in the aftermath of a collapse and now you are faced with one or more bodies laying at your front door.

    Most likely they will be diseased in some way and it would be a matter of hours before they begin to contaminate the area. How do you dispose of them? How do you make sure that they cannot pollute your area.

    How do you deal with it psychologically or emotionally. What if your significant other does not share your belief that it was necessary?

    There are many questions that need to be answered when someone chooses the way of the gun for protection…

    • All very good questions. I don’t have the answers but, I can suggest a few ideas. Even in the most diseased ridden hellhole, like most areas in Yemen or Mogadishu a few years ago, every dead body was someone’s family member. There is a good possibility that the family comes claim the body for burial. Even if they don’t, we humans are culturally adept to forming communities. The lone wolf in the desert scenario is just fantasy. Even if you are mostly self sufficient there will be things that you need that you will trade for. Things like medical services or a breeding hog will be needed from time to time. I suspect that mortuary services will become available for a fee. At least that was true of every town and village in the old west.

      • Continuing the above comment, how you deal with it emotionally will vary from person to person. Most people have a hard time, emotionally, when they kill. Armed forces spend an incredible amount of money and time to indoctrinate soldiers to adapt to this issue and still, many do not adapt well. A loving family, friends and community can help alleviate the shock. At the end, everyone accepts, adapts and deals with this reality.
        The alternative is your own family dealing with your death.

        • Jesse Mathewson says:

          First great article! As you obviously know, there is no one way fits all. I like that you made that clear and concise.

          (Glock 19/non armor wearing (armor owning) dude/ who loves his 10.5″ sbr AR supressed for close work/ again, Everyone must decide for themselves)

          As far as emotions, I will only say that those who consciously understand that taking a life is both the most efficient method of stopping a violent dangerous threat and is always potentially possible though unlike hollywood not always the case, stand a far better chance of emotionally gaining an edge in the daily fight following a battle. I have no regrets with actions taken in my past, and my sleepless nights and ptsd are not from taking of life but rather, lack thereof in most cases/physical pain built year after year from old injuries.)

          Great article! Absolutely great article!

          Whether one agree or disagree, it is well written, and consise in approach.

          • Thank you for addressing the emotional side. Some of us have minimal or no emotional scarring from taking a life. Everyone is different. The important part is to make a conscious decision to do so now and then to train enough repetitions it becomes muscle memory. Those who would be scarred by taking a life at least still have a life and do not have to regret the death of a loved one.

            Are you running 5.56 on that SBR?

  4. Excellent points Rey

  5. Another article where the “expert” assumes that everyone has the time, money, desire and ability to train constantly. That’s all well and good but, for someone who’s just going to buy a gun for home defense and throw it in a drawer a revolver still makes the most sense. Just aim and pull the trigger. No safeties, no worries about jams or tap-rack-bang drills. No wondering if you chambered a round when you put it in the drawer 5-10-20 years ago. There is a place for every weapon regardless of how the “experts” feel about them.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Novice, while I am certain the author is aware of yahoos who buy a firearm and dont read the instructions let alone know how to use it- revolvers are still sadly last pick, unless you believe in single barreled shotguns and flintlocks as well…;) no reason to get mean 🙂

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Jesse I worked at a friends gun shop off and on since the 1980’s to about 2009. And I can assure there are loads of yahoos who buy a firearm and 1 box of ammo and go home and put it in a dresser.

        Often when times get tough and they need money they bring the gun (and the 1 box of ammo with no rounds missing) back to sell it.

        The money to buy ammo, buy range time keeps them from learning how to use the gun. I often told people on a budget that a 22 is a better choice if they are tight on extra cash because at least they could buy ammo and shoot the gun. A 9 MM, 357 Mag or 45 Auto does no good if the gun never gets practiced with.

        A 22 revolver (9 shot) and a 10-22 rifle (25 shot) would work as a good combo for a person with little money and or a fear of guns.

        And yes people (as in mostly woman) are afraid of a semi-auto handgun and will NEVER put time into learning how it works when it scares the heck out of them. This is where the revolver comes into play.

        I still like revolvers and don’t feel under gunned using one, but then I shoot a lot and can hit things. I hunt with a single action 32 Mag revolver and do quite well with it. It’s not my first choice home defense gun, but no one would want to be on the business end of it.

        It’s way more common then you think for people to never fire a single bullet out of a gun they bought.

        • Chuck,

          I hunt with a single action 32 Mag revolver

          I assume you mean small game, LOL.
          I hunt deer with a single shot Thompson Center contender with a scoped .357 magnum barrel. My shotguns and muzzleloader just got too danged heavy.

    • Novice,

      That’s all well and good but, for someone who’s just going to buy a gun for home defense and throw it in a drawer a revolver still makes the most sense. Just aim and pull the trigger. No safeties, no worries about jams or tap-rack-bang drills

      Oh if it were really that easy. Training is important; but, practice is essential.
      When you just aim, unless you have a magic gun, or have practiced enough to be proficient, you may be in for a really rude awakening.
      And if it’s a single action revolver and you didn’t practice cocking or a double action and you now find your aged arthritic hands can no longer pull the trigger, then what do you do?
      Well, at least your nom de plume shows your knowledge level

    • Novice, thank you for your input. Do you, personally, depend on a revolver in your drawer for your protection?
      I am aware that there are people for whom personal protection with a deadly weapon is an after thought. They believe that just owning a firearm is all the protection they need. It is kind of like someone buying a fire extinguisher and never checking it or never taking any other safety measures to prevent a fire because they own a fire extinguisher. You and I can not help them by buying into their illusion. If you feel a need to help someone that will not help themselves, by all means, bless you for your efforts. I will not personally accept the notion that if someone is too lazy/busy/careless/indoctrinated to actually learn how to protect their lives in dangerous times that accepting their placebo revolver will somehow magically keep them safe is helping them.
      But, to each his own.
      As to your points on the reliability of a handgun, All good points. I have not experienced any non ammo caused malfunctions with my Glock. Although I do train with it regularly so it gets more regular use and maintenance than a drawer revolver.

      • No. I carry a semi-auto because I DO have the time and money to practice regularly and I enjoy doing it. Not everyone is in my situation though. For them, the revolver may be the best choice. That’s my whole point. Just restating the same Glock-snob, one size fits all,nonsense doesn’t help those who are not in that boat.

  6. anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing that a lot of good common sense device. Remember that HITS are more effective than just making noise (though getting shot at and ducking for cover is scary and may cause the perp to switch to Plan B and scoot!). So practice for pie plate accuracy at across the room distances as quickly as possible.

    If shotgun recoil from 12 is too much, then drop down to 20. You lose a lot of versatility of finding appropriate shells, but its reality.

  7. Good article.
    I would add 2 things.
    1) Duct tape to the first aid kit.
    2) Positioning of shotgun shells in the caddy. One up forward the rest upsidedown to load in the bottom.

  8. Only thing I would quibble on is shotgun loads. First, you do get more pellets in a 3″ than a 2 3/4″ (you have to look at the weight of shot, not the weight of powder), and secondly, the #4 buck is probably a better choice for anti-personnel. I think the pellets are about .19 or .20, but there are about twice as many of them in a given shell as there would be from 00 buckshot. Each pellet from a #4 buck has sufficient mass and velocity to penetrate even heavy winter clothes, but more importantly, the pattern density is nearly twice that of a 00 buckshot. Even an errant shot is still going to dump a lot of lead into your target, and create a lot more wounds than the 00 buckshot will.

    YMMV, but I learned those lessons as a Houston cop way back when.

    • Thank you Brian. I have not tested the #4 buck, will do so next shotgun training session. In selecting a new ammunition I go to the butcher shop and buy a pork shoulder, picnic cut, and shoot at it with the intended load. This gives me a good idea of penetration and damage thru muscle and bone. I don’t use ballistic gel. Although ballistic gel is the standard, humans are not made from gel.

      • Rey,
        We’ve had good success with ballistic wax. You mix equal amounts (by weight) of petroleum jelly and paraffin, and perhaps throw in a few crayons for color. Do this in a double boiler and pour it into a container. We’ve used old bread pans or just hastily made cardboard. Chill until ready to use. The stuff is a bit sticky; but, the wound cavity doesn’t close back up like gel, and you can cross section the result to see the tracks. You can then just melt it down and reuse it.

    • Brian,
      I really need to talk to you. You mentioned you were a Houston cop, way back when. I have a buddy who was an attorney with the HPOA. I lost touch with him when I was getting a divorce, way back when. I’d love to find out if you can help me reconnect with this guy. Just click on my name and that’s my email address. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

  9. Robert Polans says:

    I didn’t buy my weapons mainly for protection, although that is one of the reasons. There is also hunting while game still exists. This will REALLY bring me flames, we are in a civil war now along with ISIS being another enemy. My home is a fortress with trip wires and snares. I was a sniper so I’m partial to long guns. Lewis and Clark had a good idea, they didn’t use bullets, well they fired bullets but from air rifles. The ones now are light years ahead of theirs.I saw nothing to hate, you do have to be careful now. Snowflakes can piss me off, but I know not to shoot. Muslims, well maybe.

  10. Over all a very good article. A few things to consider, though:
    IF you are involved in a shooting where you have, indeed, shot someone…try to be the first one to call the police and let them know…never, ever say you shot to kill, just say you shot to stop only…have your weapon on the ground and unloaded when the police arrive…do NOT go into any detail about the shooting with the police except that you feared for your life or your family’s, unless your lawyer is present…
    Unfortunately, our “legal” system is pretty much rigged against you…even if your shooting is justified and law enforcement will use any and all statements you make against you…so get a lawyer before you start answering a bunch of questions…just give enough information so they get the general idea about what happened and leave the detailed account to your lawyer.

    • Ah, great point about the lawyer! I had forgotten that point. If you can not afford to keep a lawyer on retainer, find one that will sell you an hour of his time helping you prepare a 911 cue card and a police interaction cue card. A local criminal lawyer can best counsel you on what to say on the (recorded and a court record) 911 call and what to say to police. I also read a great idea a few years ago. It was related to traffic stops but, it applies in this case. This service retained lawyers in your area willing to have a video call (skype, Whatsapp, Facetime) with the police officer thru your phone in case of a traffic stop. Perhaps having a lawyer willing to Facetime in your behalf would be a good idea. Will have to ask.

  11. Contrarian says:

    Good article.

    I have already had to answer the question: can I kill this person. The guy in my face was not going to leave it alone. A conscious decision that this person in front of you must die in order for you to live is a difficult one to make. I had only a knife, so the strike had to be planned.

    Thankfully the situation ended just before the actual deed. Still, it is a difficult decision to make.

  12. Working Counter Terrorism and Diplomatic Protection for the DoD, we had great training. We were trained at SERE school, Snipe School and yes I have my HAWK lol. We also trade at Brag as well as a few other places. I noticed even with all my training, the first time you take down a threat will change your life. I liked the way the article brought out the reality of Taking Down a Threat. I’ve met people in my travels that think it’s nothing to pull a trigger and take another person’s Life. The truth is, it’s the hardest split second decision you will ever make in your Life. Just know that the decision to use lethal force has repercussions as well. I’m not trying to make everyone feel that’s it’s not easy to own a wepon, just know exactly what you’re getting into. Loved the article keep them coming, Semper FI

    • Texas Gun Slinger says:

      Amen brother! I retired from an agency that was all about anti-terrorism. Spent two tours in “Nam and many years as a police officer before getting brain fade and joining the agency. (Sarcasm?) Anyway, it was hard to hear fellow agents talk about shooting someone and not having any feelings of their own? I ended up teaching a “Morality class” along with a shrink to my fellow agents. That opened some eyes.

  13. Rob Polans says:

    Semper Fi brother, yeah there were a few with the attitude ‘killing is nothing.’ To me the weirdest thing about it was the military wanted to bargain about what price I should charge for each kill. Hell I was taking a guy out of his life, or even worse he may have a family home. I won’t just shoot blindly, if they threaten my wife or any family okay.

  14. Valid points and a reasonable argument, but definitely lacking in regards to handgun selection.

    Just because a revolver is limited to six rounds does not negate either its practicality nor effectiveness. Slow loading? I don’t think so. Being a competitive shooter, I’ve returned to using my six-guns for physical reasons and can say with authority that I can reload my six shooters as quickly as I could my XDs. As for string times, the difference between semi-auto and six shooter is so short as to be moot. If I get into a gun fight and have to reload either weapon, I’m doing so from behind cover, not standing in the open acting like a bullet magnet.

    But, to each their own. I shoot revolvers now because I have to, and I sure don’t mind the difference.

    As for the shotgun… a 570 is OK. So is a 700. Or a 560, as the one sitting in my cabinet. But, pinch come to shove, I’m grabbing my rifle before a shotgun. Too, I’m not the kind who considers a shotgun all that much as a defensive tool, but rather for birds. Had I no other choice, of course I’d use it: it’ll do fine if I have to room to maneuver (as you point out).

    All in all, not a terrible post, but certainly (as we all are) opinionated and a bit helpful. (I love these ‘which is best gun?’ posts– so ripe for argument.) 😀

    • Good points. I agree that in your case, a competitive shooter with a physical reason to use a revolver, a revolver is the best option. You train often enough to reload quickly ( although reloading your 6 shooter twice before I empty my magazine is, by definition, slower) and have a physical reason that makes the revolver preferable. Some readers of this blog may have legal reasons (California) preventing them from owning a standard capacity magazine. The average reader would not have those restrictions. Would you not agree that in the vast majority of cases, the pistol makes more sense than the revolver?

  15. This is a great article and for these reasons it is why I bought a 9mm instead of .40 or .45. However I have one problem with this article. You recommend having an attached light. I disagree! As a former(retired) law enforcement officer I would never have a light attached to my gun because that gives the criminal a target to shoot at. They will shoot at the light first. Don’t follow the TV cops routine, it will kill you. Learn to shoot very accurately with either the left or right hand. Always hold the flashlight away from you at arms length if possible, or set it on a table and shoot from the dark area in the room. Make your first shot count because that will reveal your true position.
    The most important point that I can make is to be absolutely sure you want to KILL someone. You can not take it back and try again. There is NO RESET!

    • Larry, you bring up some of what I have been taught. The flashlight becomes a target. Keep it away from your body. That is exactly what I was taught as well as when firing a shot gun or a rifle, fire then move. The muzzle flash locates you. We were taught to fire and then roll to the next position. But as far as the first shot make it county, I was taught “shoot the threat down”. The old joke about the cop who put 17 rounds in the assailant and was asked by the lawyer why he shot the man 17 times. The cop said, I ran out of rounds. That has a lot of truth to it. Shoot the threat down, don’t stop until the threat is eliminated.
      At a very early age, my grandfather, a retired Chief Petty officer out of the WWI navy, taught me that a weapon is not to threaten with. If you are forced to pick up a gun, you are forced to pull the trigger. It’s something not to be taken lightly. So much for the macho type pulling up their shirt showing their overflowing flab and their concealed handgun in a false show of force. Good way to end up dead. The other guy may not be joking.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        MD it’s kinda hard, but I will not start the flashlight debate (of a year ago or more) that we had.

        I’m being a good boy and letting it go and not going to engage it again.

        But it does seem others share my view, maybe there are more internet commandos here then we think.

        • Chuck Findlay,

          I remember that “debate” and I’m still right lol. You need to be able to identify your target at night. People have shot their loved ones in the dark thinking that they were an intruder and the best way to identify a potential threat is with a tactical light (or good night vision) and you have to remember that just because you have a light doesn’t mean that you should to go around shining it all of the time, but it’s there if you need to use it. Having a light beats shooting your teenage son that’s sneaking back in the house at 3 in the morning or something similar. Every police department, federal agency and military teaches the use of tactical lights because it’s a needed skill unless you prefer shooting at sounds and shadows in the darkness.

          Rules
          Use only when necessary.
          Use it extremely sparingly.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb1QMqk_wmU

        • Chucklin’ here, Chuck–

          I think I remember that discussion, if not even throwing in a couple of quarters into the pot. I’ll stick by those, and now will assert that I don’t think utilizing a lazer sight on a handgun (any gun, for that matter) that is going to be used for night time self defense. Reasons for not are very similar to those for not using a gun mounted flashlight/strobelight.

          According to Feebie stats, the great majority of gunfights take place on dark streets on dark nights with spit-being-a-viable-weapon-distances. With that being the case, even within the confines of a home, point shooting is a tactic that everyone should master prior to attempting target shooting accuracy.

          But hey, that’s just my thinking. Whadda I know, huh? 😉

          • JSW,
            I’ve been a point shooter for decades, and with my recent vision issues, point shooting is essential and pretty much all I now do.
            I can’t always hit the 10 ring; but, from defensive distances I can hit center mass with no problems.

            • I am not jumping into the flashlight debate. It’s a moot point. The point shooting debate, I’ll jump into with both feet. “Center of the blur”. If you don’t train to do that, then you have no business carrying a firearm. I don’t care what your eye-sight is. When the time comes, it will be dark, raining, and you’re probably going to be suffering from a head wound. “Center of the blur” is really the best case scenario you cold hope for.

              • axelsteve says:

                Sirius
                I do not follow the flashlight attached to a gun for self defense. Kinda the same reason that I do not use a bipod on a rifle. I do not want to ruin the balance of a rifle and I think the flashlight is more things to catch up on your holster and etc. That is just me though.

        • Chuck,
          I think the flashlight debate has been over for quite a while, since very high quality, long lasting, and very bright LED flashlights have gotten amazingly inexpensive.
          Like the guns, carry and practice with something to at least get comfortable with it.
          One of my recent most amazing acquisitions is a very versatile and bright headlamp I purchased at Rural King for $5.00.
          It uses the COB (Chip On Board) mounting technology that allows LED chips to be packed more densely and still stay cool when run at their limits. Amazing amount of light.

      • oren,

        So much for the macho type pulling up their shirt showing their overflowing flab and their concealed handgun in a false show of force.

        I think you forgot to mention, then pulling the gun and holding it sideways to be cool, LOL.

  16. Sorry but I stopped reading right at the point you said forget revolvers. JMHO but that actually shows a lack of understanding that means I wouldn’t bother with your advise. Some people my wife being one will never be comfortable with an auto and so carries a wheel gun. My 86 year old father can no longer rack the slide on an auto ans so again carries a wheel gun. Personally I have never liked Glocks and carry at different times Either a ppks or a S&W MP. The best gun for you may be the one you carry but that doesn’t mean its the best for everyone if it did then they would only make one brand and model of handgun. The best gun for everyone to carry is the one they feel comfortable with and will practice with.

    • axelsteve says:

      I also did not like the revolver comment either. I also do not bow down to the god of the 9mm or how light the 9mm compared to the 45 or the cheaper cost of ammo. Whenever I read that I think I have read that @*%& before. For light and cheap ammo there is 22 lr. If I have to defend myself there is the 45 and 357.I do not mind spending money to prolong my life. Another thing living In California a 17 round mag is not legal so that makes the 45 and 357 mag look better.Other than that It was a good article.

      • Steve,
        I’m a fellow Californian. Let’s talk about magazine capacity. I have never emptied a magazine into a person. And yes, I’ve had to pull on people before.

        Frankly, the best gun is the one you can hit the target with. I don’t care if it’s a Glock, a revolver, a shotgun, a rifle, or a hammer. If you have to use it, USE IT. Just make sure you do it with as little violence as possible. The repercussions of what you decide to do will follow you for the rest of your life. Trust me on that one.

  17. Chuck Findlay says:

    Good things to think about in the article.

    Other then…

    One thing that every 9-mm fan says is that modern 9 MM ammo expands very well and how well it compares to a 45 Auto 230 grain ball ammo.

    It does compare well to 45 ball ammo. But then they seem to then make the assumption that the 45 Auto ammo is stuck back in the 1970’s and has not undergone any of the refinements all other modern loads did for just about every handgun round made today.

    You can’t intelligently compare a modern 9 MM defense round to a 1970’s or older 45 ball ammo. People do this comparison to shore up how well the 9 MM does against the 45 Auto.

    I think it’s done for one of 2 reasons, first a 9 MM fan wants to feel his 9 MM is as good as a 45. And second it is from not applying a fair comparison to both rounds not understanding that the 9 MM has undergone modern ammo development to get it to work better. Is this intentional oversight (looking at things with a biased eye favoring the 9 MM over the 45) done with intent or just not smart enough to understand ammo development is going on with all rounds???

    How about comparing a 9 MM 115-grain ball ammo round to a 45 Auto 230-grain ball round and seeing how well both do. Or compare modern defense ammo for both rounds.

    Your comparison is flawed when you alter the test results to favor one round over the other by not looking at the same type of bullet being used in both guns.

    Compare them all you want, but do so by using the same type of ammo in both guns to give an honest result.

    PS: I have both 9 MM and 45 Autos and don’t favor one over the other; both will do the home defense roll well. I like both rounds and can hit what I aim at with both quite well.

    I just would like to see an honest comparison of them.

    • “a modern 9mm jacketed hollow point (JHP), 124 grain Speer gold dot, expands to .62 inches while a 230 grain .45 caliber from the same manufacturer expands to .74 inches.”

      I did compare two rounds from the same manufacturer. YMMV, but, when deciding what pistol caliber to carry, there are many more factors beyond the diameter of a fully expanded projectile and should include magazine capacity, ability to control the weapon and training costs. Not that the size of the hole doesn’t matter. A 25mm HEI-T will kill faster than a 9mm. We are comparing 7-8 .73″ holes vs 17-18 .62″ holes before a reload.

      • TJMadison says:

        In my case [FNH FX] it’s a comparison of 15-16 .73″ holes vs 17-18 .62″ holes before reload 😉 Not arguing your reasoning, mind you; merely noting that there are options.
        Shot placement has always been more of a concern [for myself] than caliber, but as you state cost is a definite factor as well.

      • Amen!

      • axelsteve says:

        my grandpa fought in ww1 and carried a 06 and a 45 and he made it back home. My dads older brother fought in ww2 and carried a 45 and a 06. He also made it home alive. Why mess with possative results?

        • axelsteve says:

          A coworker last week had a couple of bags of garbage in the back of his truck. He was awoken to the sound of a bear eating the trash in the back of his truck. That is when you want a broad heavy bullet to take care of things.

          • This scenario also goes back to that handgun theory. I live in an area where bears are common. When out hiking i carry a Rugar black hawk in .45 long colt with 320 grain bear loads. Not gonna stop that 500 lb black bear with a 9mm round. Short of a desert eagle 50 cal I don’t know of any auto that will including my .45 M&P. Of course there may be some out there as I fully agree I don’t know everything but while some folks say you can use this brand or this load ect My answer is always or I can just use the Black hawk.

    • I dunno about comparing ball ammo to anything but targets and low-cost plinking. If carrying a weapon for self defense, stay away from the ball ammo and get some $2 per shot self defense ammo that will expand or explode (frangible) without going through the target.

      • Agreed on the difference between training ammunition and defensive ammunition. I compared costs for both. I was only trying to show one more factor in your decision making process. If you choose a .45 caliber, be prepared to spend about twice as much for training as you do for a 9mm.
        I tested some frangible ammunition against a pork shoulder and was sadly disappointed. The $2 a round frangible only penetrated a couple of inches and failed to break bone. I load Speer gold dot ammo for daily carry. They have given me the most consistent and devastating wound channels from all other brands.

        • Rey,
          When you state:

          I load Speer gold dot ammo for daily carry. They have given me the most consistent and devastating wound channels from all other brands.

          Do you mean you purchase factory ammunition with that bullet, or you use your own reloads with that bullet?
          Why I ask is that in our classes we teach to never use reloads for self defense, and this comes from our lawyers over the years. If you do end up in a self defense situation, and the prosecutor or defense attorney in a civil suit finds out you reload, they will try to convince the gun ignorant jury that like Dr. Frankenstein, you work late in your shop, fabricating those evil killer cartridges. This information comes not only from several attorneys; but, from actual cases. Best defensive ammunition might be what your local LEOs carry, since that gives you a good solid reason for carrying it if legal battles ensue.

          • OP,
            You bring up a great point regarding factory ammo vs. reloads. Those “durn” lawyers will turn a split second decision into a very costly legal battle. One that NONE of us ever, EVER, wants to be in.

            Somebody was talking about the price of ammunition, I have only one (1) thing to say… How much is your life worth? How much is your wife’s life worth? How much are your children’s lives worth?

            Honestly, if I could pull two bucks out of my pocket… a bunch of quarters, who cares? Would it be worth it to walk my granddaughter down the isle? Would it be worth it to see my son graduate from college? Would it be worth it to tell my boss to “F-off” and not get fired for insubordination?

            You bet. And I damn sure would pay two bucks to do any one of those things. Seriously!!!??? 50 or 75 bucks for a box of quality ammunition that is legally defensible in court, and you guys are arguing about pennies.

            I’m done talking now. I’m getting too agitated. This discussion clearly hit a nerve.

          • I carry factory loads. I find them to be consistent and reliable. Don’t need surprises during a deadly force engagement.

      • JSW,
        $2.00 per round?
        I use Hornady critical defense in 9mm & .380 auto and frangible in .380 auto and don’t think any of these were more than about $1.00 per round.
        Also, don’t forget to practice with those expensive rounds at least once a year and replace them with new.

        • OP- I was being a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ with the cost, in making an attempt to show the difference between the types of ammo. Point is just to not be skimpy when buying ammo to save your life. In a similar vein, many legal-types recommend to not utilize reloaded ammo, no matter how well it’s produced, due to the court’s likelihood to consider home-grown as being ‘made especially to kill someone’ (which makes me go ‘Duh!’ with any ammo). Rather, best idea is to carry what local police carry.

          A 25 round box of Federal Power Ball runs about $25, which is what I’m carrying.

  18. I have many automatics but my wife can’t rack the slide on any of them, so now I have little 38’s and big 38-357 mags and 686 7 shot and a 327-357 mag 8 shot she could use. I am fortunate to be able to afford what ever I need. the important thing is we have what we need to protect ourselves. though I have the weapons of choice I don’t know that she would be able to pull the trigger on another human, but hopefully I will always be their to pull the trigger for her and my family.

  19. Robert Babb says:

    Given my age, I have read many articles along these lines, attended survival schools etc, etc but I think this is the best of all I have read or heard. Like what one of my survival instructors related to me is what you have at that time and the one that works best for you.
    Exce3llent work
    RDB

  20. Chloe in Maine says:

    Well Stated… Well thought out…
    My real life scenario… April 2009
    I was upstairs at my desk when I heard some noise downstairs… it was minutes after midnight… from my seat I could see out my bedroom door down the hall to the top of the stairs. I thought to myself how funny I didn’t notice my sister go downstairs … 30 seconds later more noise… concerned that my Sis could be having a diabetic incident I decided to go check. As I stepped to the hall I turned back and grabbed my .40 S&W… I got downstairs, turned right, took two paces to the living room, drew back the doorway curtain and there was the silhouette of a very large person. He took a step towards me I stepped back , back to the wall, only way to turn was upstairs. I yelled “HIT THE FLOOR NOW M****F**** OR DIE.” I yelled it again and he did… I then yelled “SIS CALL 911 I GOT SOMEONE AT GUN POINT. “ Sis came down phone in hand 45 in other, ran past me down the side hall to the other door turned on the light and there he was… Sis was telling police everything and he jumped up and tried to run. He was on my Sis in an instant so I didn’t take the shot so as to not hit her. She split his head open with the butt of the gun and he dropped. Looking out the window … four cruisers and an ambulance were out front… I made my way to the door leaving my gun on the table telling the officers coming in it was on the table and pointed the way… they secured the scene… The Supervisor said “I would have shot him, you had every right to… I’m glad you didn’t… it saved a lot of paperwork”
    The whole thing took 3 minutes… felt like 3 hours…
    The next night the police came back and presented Sis and I Commemorative Department Coins for doing everything right. They listened to the 911 call which was open during the whole endeavor. They chuckled as I apologized for the 3 dozen MF’s I called that guy yelling at him…
    To finalize this… when he backed me to the wall, had he taken one more step, I would not have hesitated to triple tap.
    He saved his life by hitting the floor.
    I’ve asked myself hundreds of times if it would have bothered me had I shot him… and I keep coming up with “NO”

    • Chloe,

      I’ve asked myself hundreds of times if it would have bothered me had I shot him… and I keep coming up with “NO”

      Once you have training and mindset, quite often the circumstances dictate what happens and our feelings both during and after the incident.
      I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve often gotten a lump in my throat as I was squeezing the trigger to take down a deer, since I was taking the life of another living thing , and no mosquitoes and bacteria don’t count.
      I have on a few occasions taken a destructive or predator animal such as a raccoon or coyote with no such feelings, and while I never hope to experience firing at another human, like your scenario, I think I would not have a problem, since he was the would be predator and I only the counter predator, doing what I was forced to do.

  21. First of all on shotguns, our former VP is a certifiable idiot.
    I carry one of several firearms in a Kydex paddle holster, and under the right circumstance I will shoot another person, and if they die, then it will simply be their way of committing suicide, since I didn’t go out hunting them.
    When you say shoot to kill, I don’t know what you mean, and in a pre SHTF situation, even that statement if you’re involved in a shooting incident will get you in trouble. If you sincerely believe you are in imminent danger of death or severe bodily harm, you may shoot to stop the attack, period. How many shots that takes and the final outcome may end in that result; but, that should never be at least the openly expressed intent.
    If you are getting a gun mounted light, then you best get it before you get the holster, or better yet, learn to use the light and the gun independently. My P95PR has a rail on the bottom of the barrel and slide, and getting a holster to fit it even without a light is tough enough.
    Body armor, unless you plan to wear it everywhere including to bed, best to keep your situational awareness running full time and always be looking for places of exit, cover,
    and concealment.
    A shot in the center of the chest with soft armor can stop the heart and kill you, so it’s best to avoid being shot in the first place, and sometimes armor makes people braver than they should be.
    Your first aid kit has all of the standard components you might need; but, then again, if you are the one shot and are alone, it may do you no good. Again, best to keep SA and a tuned OODA loop and avoid being shot in the first place.
    Electronic hearing protection has gotten very inexpensive; but, the suppressor will set you back $500+ and perhaps a 9-12 month wait for the tax stamp. There are discussions in congress about removing suppressors from the NFA list, and that would make this all easier.

    Find a trainer that will teach beyond your basic concealed carry license trainer.

    . Amen!! I’ve been training people for more than 25 years, and unfortunately, too many people want the least expensive, shortest time involved training that will get them the training required for their Ohio CHL, and although it saddens me a bit, that, at least here, is reality. Once they have the license, only god knows how much if any they continue to practice.
    I pretty much agree completely with your discussion of shotgun, including the SA-20 Tactical, which is the last gun we, actually the DW, purchased. Great minds really do think alike, LOL.
    No little ones here for more than 15 years and we have numerous cordless landline and cell phones around the house; plus, direct radio communication to the sheriff’s dispatcher if need be.
    Your preprinted speech for 911 is good; but, I would add one more item. Take a spare house key and place it on a large, easy to see keyfob and keep it handy. When your local law enforcement gets to the house, tell the 911 dispatcher you’ll be tossing the key out of a window and describe the window. If they have a key they can come in, clear the house, and then give you instructions. If they don’t have the key, they will probably do the same thing; but, you’ll now be replacing one or more doors.
    All in all an excellent article.

    First of all on shotguns, our former VP is a certifiable idiot.
    I carry one of several firearms in a Kydex paddle holster, and under the right circumstance I will shoot another person, and if they die, then it will simply be their way of committing suicide, since I didn’t go out hunting them.
    When you say shoot to kill, I don’t know what you mean, and in a pre SHTF situation, even that statement if you’re involved in a shooting incident will get you in trouble. If you sincerely believe you are in imminent danger of death or severe bodily harm, you may shoot to stop the attack, period. How many shots that takes and the final outcome may end in that result; but, that should never be at least the openly expressed intent.
    If you are getting a gun mounted light, then you best get it before you get the holster, or better yet, learn to use the light and the gun independently. My P95PR has a rail on the bottom of the barrel and slide, and getting a holster to fit it even without a light is tough enough.
    Body armor, unless you plan to wear it everywhere including to bed, best to keep your situational awareness running full time and always be looking for places of exit, cover,
    and concealment.
    A shot in the center of the chest with soft armor can stop the heart and kill you, so it’s best to avoid being shot in the first place, and sometimes armor makes people braver than they should be.
    Your first aid kit has all of the standard components you might need; but, then again, if you are the one shot and are alone, it may do you no good. Again, best to keep SA and a tuned OODA loop and avoid being shot in the first place.
    Electronic hearing protection has gotten very inexpensive; but, the suppressor will set you back $500+ and perhaps a 9-12 month wait for the tax stamp. There are discussions in congress about removing suppressors from the NFA list, and that would make this all easier.

    Find a trainer that will teach beyond your basic concealed carry license trainer.

    . Amen!! I’ve been training people for more than 25 years, and unfortunately, too many people want the least expensive, shortest time involved training that will get them the training required for their Ohio CHL, and although it saddens me a bit, that, at least here, is reality. Once they have the license, only god knows how much if any they continue to practice.
    I pretty much agree completely with your discussion of shotgun, including the SA-20 Tactical, which is the last gun we, actually the DW, purchased. Great minds really do think alike, LOL.
    No little ones here for more than 15 years and we have numerous cordless landline and cell phones around the house; plus, direct radio communication to the sheriff’s dispatcher if need be.
    Your preprinted speech for 911 is good; but, I would add one more item. Take a spare house key and place it on a large, easy to see keyfob and keep it handy. When your local law enforcement gets to the house, tell the 911 dispatcher you’ll be tossing the key out of a window and describe the window. If they have a key they can come in, clear the house, and then give you instructions. If they don’t have the key, they will probably do the same thing; but, you’ll now be replacing one or more doors.
    All in all an excellent article.

  22. GardenNut says:

    I’m a little confused by the revolver hate in this article.

    Forget revolvers. Yes, a revolver requires less muscle memory to operate than a pistol. But a revolver will give you 6 rounds before needing to be fed again.

    I have used 8 shot and 10 shot cylinder revolvers and find them to be perfectly functioning guns that put the bullets where they need to go. Certain states and cities have capacity bans that cap out at 10 for handguns. I believe there are currently 9 states with such high-capacity bans in the US.

    Additionally revolvers keep the spent brass contained, which is a plus in my book. They fit my hand well and can be dirt cheap to practice with. Current price for 22lr ammo is 6-8¢ a round. 357 runs fifty cents to a dollar last I checked.

    Honestly, they’re guns. They shoot things. I’d advise anyone to try both semi-autos and revolvers before buying to find out their own personal preference.

    • GardenNut,
      I also would not write off revolvers. Depending on the situation I carry one of several semi autos or revolvers. Assuming you can handle the higher trigger pull weight in double action mode, they are a bit simpler. When a semi auto goes click instead of bang, you typically have a drill to go through to clear the firearm depending on the malfunction. Generally on a revolver you simply pull the trigger again.
      I’ve heard some say that only 5 or 6 rounds may not be enough, in which case even 15-20 may not be enough, since you may be in a situation over your head.
      Bottom line is that any gun is better than no gun, and the gun that you can afford, fits you, and you will carry, beats the perfect gun left home in the safe.

  23. Government Mule says:

    Regarding “stopping power” vs. caliber:
    More important than size of round is speed of round.
    Speed = energy. When a round enters flesh and stops, its speed (energy) is transferred to the surrounding flesh/organs in shock waves. The faster the round, the greater the shockwaves, therefore the greater damage to tissue/organs.
    This was told to me personally by a forensic firearms scientist who had read the study.

    • Yes and no. Please allow me to explain. Muscle tissue is elastic. Even though energy is transferred from a faster travelling projectile, the release of this energy does not directly correlates to the amount of tissue injury in similar cartridges. The amount of energy required to exceed muscle elasticity is not found in typical pistol rounds.
      A pistol round is not a rifle round. Pistol rounds and rifle rounds are not the same because, even though the diameter of the projectile is similar, the velocity of the round is so dissimilar that more damage is done by a rifle velocity projectile than a similar size weight pistol projectile. As an example, a 9mm pistol round, travelling at around 1250 ft/sec will not cause as much damage as a 7mm Remington travelling at around 2500 ft/sec even though the 7mm is smaller than the 9mm pistol projectile. Similarly, a .22lr travelling around 1000 ft/sec will not cause as much damage as a .223 Remington travelling around 3500 ft/sec.

      In case tl;dr, the projectile velocity only enters the equation when talking about rifle rounds. Pistol rounds all move at “similar” velocity so the enhanced effect is negligible.

      The phrase “stopping power” is an irritant to me personally. It gives the impression that a magical combination of projectile size, velocity and weight will somehow stop an aggressor. A 22lr penetrating the eye and shredding the brain will kill you faster than a .50AE that hits your leg. I discussed this above but, unless you hit the heart, spine or brain, you will not instantly stop an aggressor. You must induce enough blood loss trauma to cause shock and death. That is accomplished faster by putting many holes, penetrating deep enough, into critical tissue (veins, arteries, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc.)

    • Government Mule,
      Speed or velocity is important from the physics perspective, since energy is equivalent to MV squared, and the faster the projectile the more the energy on an exponential basis. Additionally the cross sectional density comes into play.
      However, unless you hit a vital nerve segment or a major artery, the trauma can take a while to stop an attacker. If you have the skill, taking out knees or ankles and causing mechanical damage can slow someone down, or even the lowly .22 fired multiple times into the face and the eyes will pretty much stop someone cold.
      The key to all of this is to know your tools and practice until you are proficient. If you can proficiently do a magazine change quickly with your eyes closed, then your probably in the ball park of where you need to be, since you need to keep your eyes on the target while manipulating any controls, lest you look away, look back, and they are gone.

    • “This was told to me personally by a forensic firearms scientist who had read the study.”

      What study?

  24. “Before you continue reading, I want you to make a decision. I want you to visualize yourself killing another human being. Now visualize a loved one bleeding to death in your arms.”
    These lines jumped out at me. My thought as I read them “holding your loved one bleeding to death in your arms” was not because the intruder had shot them, but because I had shot them.
    I was happy to see in your scenario that you and your wife gathered up your loved ones and barricaded yourself, you knew where they were – behind you. I would hope no one reading this would shoot randomly within their homes (we all know bullets can go through bodies and walls and doors and into a neighbours house) and would see and know who they’re shooting before they shoot. Thank you for the great article, I can see alot of thought went into it. I’d take a morality class if it was available.

  25. And the debate rages on. One “expert” touts what he owns, his tactics, and hs thoughts on personal defense. Then the argument begins as others who think of themselves as experts tout their own thoughts on the subject.
    Rey makes some good points, but others who disagree with some of his observations do also.
    My advice to one who is looking for information as he contemplates preparation for self/home defense is to glean articles such as this for possible info for your plans, but understand, your final prep will be your own, the one that fits you.
    I have extensive background with weapons. They are a passion for me. My arms room is a testament to that passion. The rest of my family? Not so much. For this reason, all my readily accessible home defense weapons operate the same when it comes to put them into action. This means revolvers or long double action trigger semi-auto’s with no safeties. Even to the point of purchasing a Taurus (Braztech), a brand I’m not particularly fond of, circuit judge 45/410 for the family to go to. It is simplicity for them, shortening their learning curve on the range (yes, I have my own). I even had to re-spring the Taurus (not to mention a complete action job to correct the shoddy work from done at the factory causing it to lock up every 3-4 rounds) to lighten the trigger pull for my wife’s arthritic hands.
    In my experience, setting up a home defense system requires catering to the lowest common denominator of those who may have to use the weapons. Physical abilities or disabilities vary and one size must fit all in some cases

  26. TPSnodgrass says:

    Excellent article! I would recommend that staying ON the line if at all possible with 911 dispatch is great, because everything on YOUR end is recorded. Makes your version of the events even stronger, if needed.
    I have both 9mm and .45ACP pistols and revolvers in .357, and use all three calibers as needed. In certain hostile-to-the-Constitution states like my native state of California, I feel very comfortable with either one of my revolvers or one of my 1911 pistols. After 27 years of law enforcement in Southern California, I never ever heard any surviving suspect/thug who was shot by law enforcement, would be victims or other thugs complain that he/she was “only shot with a .22 …”or whatever caliber.
    Our protection is up to each of us, again, excellent article.

  27. tommy2rs says:

    Both times I had to stop an intruder I used the same shotgun, 1 round of buckshot center mass each time. That shotgun still lives in a rack on the wall by the headboard.

    .22 LR AK-22s used in Holey Artisan Bakery Attack
    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/02/10/22-lr-ak-22s-used-holey-artisan-bakery-attack/
    “Everyone doubts the diminutive .22 LR cartridge, but in this case it took over 100 security forces to overcome six .22 LR armed terrorists.”

  28. Crusty Rusty says:

    Pretty descent advice. I grew up behind a revolver (pretty shocking for a 31 year old kid! but my world view and philosophies are probably closer to those of us a decade older, shall we say the “anti millennial” millennial. Ha!) and honestly trust a revolver a bit more than an auto. Sure my wife and I own several autos and love m. But if you were to take both types, load m to the hilt “for bar” (bear for those of you who aren’t western type mountain men) and stuff m in your nasty sock (wife’s purse- gum, ink, lint…….) for 5 years, which do you think would bangity bang? As an aside, we live in bear country, and I have this gut feeling that my odds of needing a self defense weapon of the magnum persuasion are about equal. As far as our autos go, we get guns with rails for a reason. As the gun shop owner who sold me my very first handguns (at the ripe old age of 21) told me, “Son, you can have all the fancy night sights and lasers in the world, but if you can’t see your target, them sights ain’t worth a damn.” Discipline is the key. My favorite gun is the one I can get my hands on, as long as she goes bang!

    • Crusty Rusty says:

      I do hafta mention – my bear defense gun (454 casull) is NOT my go-to gun for home defense! We LOVE our xd, 1911s (both in 45 and in 9mm) our 357 and our scatter guns. As long as it bangs…

  29. The notion that a revolver-armed person carries no spare ammo is silly. Some perhaps don’t, but many do. For instance, I generally carry 5 speedloader and speed strip reloads, for a total of 27 reload rounds. The author’s assertion that YOU won’t carry any is unjustified. YOU get to decide that. And live or die with that decision. Neither he nor I will be there to tell you you’re doing it wrong.

    The claim that a shotgun is not a good offensive weapon is likewise silly. It’s FAR more effective than most any handgun, whether used offensively or defensively, within its range. I use a shotgun offensively more that all other weapons combined. It’s very hard to beat at closer ranges. That doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice to carry around, as the author indicated. The reason handguns are popular is for times when long guns are cumbersome or unavailable. Like Clint Smith says, the purpose of a handgun is to fight your way to a long gun.

    I’ve never seen a shotgun that spread its pellets 1″ per foot of range. More like 1″ per YARD of range. Probably less spread with buckshot than with birdshot.

    The recommendation against reduced recoil shotgun loads is likewise erroneous. Assuming you’re using buckshot, the reduced recoil loads were mostly designed to get better patterns, which is what you want. Also, reduced recoil does not equate to less penetration, assuming the same pellets. You might want to read up on why some loads left out a buckshot pellet, using 8 instead of 9.

    Be careful what you believe. It just might get you killed.

  30. Great article. I agree with everything said. As to the 9/45 discussion, I own both, I shoot both, but I carry the 9.

  31. Well Armed Rancher says:

    Good article overall but a couple of points.
    -the pistol/light/holster need to all work together. Limited combinations are readily available. Suppressors are great but try to find a holster for one
    – a hand held light is a requirement and is augmented by not replacement hybrid the pistol mounted light
    – a carbine wasn’t much but is much more useful than a shotgun Especially a suppressed SBR.

  32. Ok, let me make an overall comment here since some missed the first part of my article while homing in on the 9mm/45 revolver/pistol friction points. Please note that at the very beginning I stated that you must ask yourself what would your scenario look like. If you live in an area where bear are likely then, by all means a revolver with .45LC, 44Mag or 454 Casull would be a much more appropriate weapon than a Glock 19. Similarly if you live in a state that restricts you from owning full capacity magazines the number of rounds before a reload become less important than handling and ammunition cost.

    A second point. A firearm is a tool. It is a tool designed to kill. When your life or the life of your loved ones are in peril and you have access to a firearm, it is the best available tool. If you live in countries where subjects are not legally permitted a firearm then a different. less effective tool may be needed.

    Like any tool, a firearm requires training to wield well. Every story I hear of a person having their firearm taken from them by the hostile, or of a negligent discharge resulting in a death or serious injury it’s usually from a gun owner who did not train with his/her firearm. Owning a firearm is not, in and of itself, a life saving move. TRAINING with a firearm is as important as having a firearm.
    More important than caliber, type or brand is:
    Owning a firearm, you can not use one if you do not own one.
    Training with your firearm, you will not use it effectively if you do not train with it.
    Carrying your firearm, a firearm in your night stand is useless if you are caught in the back alley by a hostile.

    If you take nothing else from this article, please take this:
    Analyse potential threats to you;
    Buy the right tool for your situation;
    Train with the tool as if your life depended on it, it does.

  33. I generally agree with the advice given in the article, since I am viewing it as advice and not commandments. Many of the suggestions (don’t use a revolver ot shotgun for home defense) has a lot to do with personal preference and individual circumstances, ie, can’t aim a shotgun and hold a toddler at the same time. Take the toddler issue out if the scenario, and it’s not a big deal.

    Personally, I used to have a shotgun as home defense, but it is pretty unweilding, and limited rounds even with the side saddle. If you don’t have time to put on hearing protection, you ain’t gonna hear squat after you fire the first round.

    I also kept a round in the chamber. No kids, wife won’t go near a gun, so no need to rack a round and give away my position and firepower.

    My bedside gun is a Glock .40, with built in laser and mounted surefire light. I would use the light sparingly, and away from my body if I have to scan an area. Ideally, as one gentleman commented, have a second light for searching, and you can also roll it into the room. Did that a few times when I was a cop, when I didn’t like how exposed I was.

    If my wife ever came around to learning and carrying a gun, it would most likely be a revolver, just for the simplicity and less likely hood in her mind of a AD.

    I have the AR500 body armor, just for me, wife will be huddled with the puppies, and electrical hearing protection, no suppressor, wish I had the money for that. (Please no lecture on how valuable my family is, I’ve got open heart surgery to pay for).

    As far as calibers, to each his own. I’m leaning toward .40 because 9mm just makes me a little nervous that it will not take out the threat, the .45 doesn’t hold as many rounds. I was a cop for 29 years, including swat, so although I have confidence in my shot placement, I’ve been in enough situations to know it’s not like on TV. Gimme lots of big bullits.

    I have a variety of calibers at hand, and different uses for each. I’m not saying one is better than another.

    If my threat is more than one intruder, like a home invasion robbery (which will be commonplace when the SHTF) I’m ready with a AR15 pistol with 60 round drum, two more next to it, light and laser. I don’t have many neighbors around me, and I’ve given the consequences of collateral damage.
    Very good article, I enjoyed it, and you got a lot of feedback, which is a positive reflection of your writing abilities. Well done.

  34. Opinonated Survivor says:

    Semi-automatics malfunction if they are not held securely when fired. Revolvers are limited to 6 shots, but they are far more reliable. Speed loaders area available that allow loading 6 rounds in 2 seconds. Caliber should first and foremost be what you can hit the target with. Virtually all studies have come to the same conclusion – shot placement = 90% of the effectiveness of a round against a human. Go to a range with a friend, rent or borrow handguns get what you can handle.

    Get a can of strong pepper spray (OC). Your wife, child and not warrior types are more likely to give an attacker their gun than to shoot them. OC cannot kill. Added bonus if they shoot you by mistake, or themselves, everyone lives. In Canada studies have shown that OC is more effective at stopping black bear attacks than high power rifles.

    Preparation is critical. But the patron Saint of survival has wisely said “A man has got to know his limitations.” If you are not practicing with what you have – forget it, sell the weapon and go buy yourself a last meal. Pistols require a minimum of 1 practice session every month. Owning a gun is very serious business – don’t let your family shoot themselves or each other.

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