Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How Much Gun Do You Need?

How much is enough?  This is a debate that will rage until the 2nd coming, and perhaps even after that. My opinion is probably not going to convince anyone against their will, but I would like to share some facts and theory that has informed my opinion and maybe help you make up your mind if you are considering a defensive handgun purchase.  In general I'll suggest that you carry as much gun as you can use effectively.  Here are some guidelines

Semi-Auto Pistol vs. Revolver
The first and foremost consideration is your level of skill. Automatics offer higher magazine capacity and are faster to reload.  But they are also more prone to malfunction, require more use of fine motor skills.  If you are comfortable with the skill of arms and training to shoot your chosen semi-auto will be an ongoing part of your life, then I'd definitely go with the semi-auto.  In the unlikely event that I'm ever in a gun fight I want to have as many rounds to fire as possible without having to worry about reloading.  On the other hand, many people don't like guns, are scared of them, and may purchase one "just in case."  If you are in that category and will have little if any training and experience with your handgun then I suggest that you stick with a small revolver.

Why?  In a recent analysis of incidents involving the use of defensive firearms by civilians showed that the average number of rounds fired by the defender was 2, those that fired more seemed to fire until empty, and the immediate reaction of most attackers was to immediately flee or die upon being shot. So most of the time your small j-frame revolver will serve you just fine.  Again I don't want to train for "most of the time" and so I choose to carry a full size automatic, but I can do that because I have spent the time to become intimately familiar with its operation and am comfortable deploying it in high stress situations.

If you are not going to put in the time on the range, stick with the revolver.

What is the Best Caliber for Personal Defense?
This is an easy one.  The largest caliber you can shoot accurately, and carry comfortably.  The FBI released a massive study done on shooting incidents in the US both law enforcement and civilian.  Their analysis showed conclusively that the most significant predictor of lethality was shot placement, not caliber.  Essentially what this means is that if you put rounds on target in vital areas of the body it doesn't matter much what size hole you poke.  If you put hot lead into your attackers central nervous system or heart they are going down regardless of whether you were shooting a .380 FMJ or 10MM JHP.

Larger calibers will have more kick for sure, but this added kick also effects your ability to fire accurate follow up shots.  For rounds that miss the CNS but still impact center mass obviously more damage is better, therefore a lager caliber expanding round is desirable, but not at the expense of accuracy.

Accuracy Trumps Caliber

So in the end how much gun you need is determined by how much training you are willing to do with that gun. You should carry as much gun as you have earned the ability to carry. Remember your gun is only as good as you are!

For a detailed analysis of some of these statistics check out this article at The Thinking Gunfighter

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Fatal Flaw in All Self-Defense Tools

When thinking about self-defense people often think of martial arts, handguns, pepper spray, tasers, and a host of other ways to defend themselves.  Each of these have self-defense applications to be sure; but each of these have a seriously fatal flaw in common.  In order to effectively use any technique, or deploy any tool you must first have awareness of the attack in time to mount a response.

The lack of a proper mindset the number one reason why most of the self defense techniques and tools are completely ineffective. If your assailant's first attack takes you completely by surprise, the chances are good that you may not be in a position to use your pepper spray, or draw your handgun.  Awareness is the most important thing you can have for self-defense.  If you think about it most people today go through their daily life mostly unaware of what is going on around them.  They are sending text messages, talking on their bluetooth headset, thinking about the meeting they just left, or just daydreaming.  Simple laziness is often to blame. Constantly assessing your environment and the people in it takes work and dedication. Doing it without looking like a paranoid freak takes practice. Since there are a million things in this world that compete for our attention it is often easier to just let the world around us fade to gray, ignore the background noise and focus our minds on something else.

But distraction is not the only barrier to real situational awareness.  The other is FEAR.  For the average person really starting to look at their environment from a personal security standpoint can be terrifying. They may see danger around every corner, and begin to picture every stranger as someone to be feared.  This can be even more true if the reason they are finally opening their eyes is because they were recently a victim of an attack.  Since the driving factors in human behaviour are often seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, many people soon slip back to playing ostrich.  They put their blinders on ignore the world around them and go back to their distraction of choice.

This is where all of those self-defense techniques and tools can begin to be useful.  When a person is confident in their ability to defend themselves that fear is tempered.  Fear is a necessary part of our survival instincts, it should help us evaluate risks and make good decisions.  But without confidence in our abilities and the tools we choose to utilize that fear can rise to an unhealthy level and prevent us from practicing good sitational awareness.  So take your Krav Maga, women's self-defense, defensive shooting classes, Tasers, Pepper Sprays and the like and get proficient.  Master your tools whatever they are but don't let over confidence in your tools lull you into a sense of security.  Practice your observation and evaluation skills every day.  Be aware of your surroundings so that you won't be caught completely by surprise.