(This is the second post on an important topic – please also see our earlier post here – How Much Ammo Do You Carry?)
In our earlier post on how much ammo you should carry with you (which you really should read first) we suggest you should have at least one spare magazine and at least a moderately high capacity semi-auto. In other words, hopefully at least 10 rounds in the gun and another 10 rounds in a spare magazine.
Notice we are talking about semi-autos, not revolvers. This was an assumption in the previous article that needs some explaining.
The Problem with Carrying a Revolver
Sure, we love revolvers as much as anyone else, and sometimes every carry one, too. But a revolver – especially for concealed carry – probably has no more than five or six rounds in its chamber. We say you need to plan on anywhere from maybe three or four rounds per bad guy if you are very lucky, and up to maybe eight or more rounds if you’re not so lucky. So in your ‘worst case’ scenario planning, that means you need to plan for being able to get at least eight rounds downrange, per bad guy, in a hurry.
(A quick side-bar comment : Recommended strategy for multiple adversaries is usually to fire one shot at each target first (more or less from greatest and most immediate threat to least – but still deadly – threat), then return back and add extra shots as needed to stop the threats. So when we’re saying ‘eight or more rounds per bad guy’ we’re not suggesting to fix on just one bad guy and get as many rounds as needed his way before switching to the next bad guy – you’re going to want to share your favors out on a more even basis than that!)
A wheel gun has five or six rounds. After you’ve emptied your chamber, you’re then in a world of hurt. Sure, maybe you have a speed reloader, or a Bianchi strip reloader, but how long will it take you to reload in a high stress situation like this? Reloading a revolver includes using micro-motor skills that are hard when you’re full of adrenalin and trembling both from the adrenalin and the animal fear that will be overwhelming you. Reloading a semi-auto is vastly simpler in all respects and easier to do in a stress situation.
In Front Sight’s skills testing, they allow 7.0 seconds to reload a revolver, compared to 2.4 seconds for a semi-auto. Those extra 4.5 seconds are almost literally life and death in a gun fight. In 4.5 seconds, a bad guy can run almost 50 yards – hopefully away from you, but if he is charging towards you, then you’ve got big problems well before you’ve got your revolver running again.
Bottom line for revolvers : They are a good, simple, and reliable weapon, but most effective against only a single adversary. If you’re facing multiple adversaries, you need a semi-auto that both has more rounds in its magazine to start with and a faster reload time if (when) you need to reload.
How Many Adversaries to Expect
Which leads to the second part of this article. How many bad guys do you need to plan on attacking you? That’s a bit like asking ‘How long is a piece of string’ – the answer could vary anywhere from one to one hundred. The earlier article linked to a story about two people being attacked by a gang of 30, and that is probably as close to a worst case scenario as you never need to consider.
At the low end, it is realistic to expect a minimum of two bad guys. Particularly in situations where bad guys are going out with the intention of carrying out some type of violent crime, they will want the odds in their favor, and so are much more likely to bring a partner or two than if they were doing some empty house breaking and entering, or simple car prowling. So you should plan for at least two bad guys as a minimum.
But what about the maximum number you should realistically plan for? In partial answer, let’s look at another newspaper story, this time about how some small towns in what is (was!) otherwise peaceful idyllic rural Washington state are being terrorized by gangs.
There’s a lot to worry about how gangs are migrating out of the big cities and into smaller rural towns, where there is not the matching concentration of police to combat them, and you might wonder ‘What are gangs doing in rural Washington?’ Here’s a hint – based on the names of the gangs, they seem to be exclusively Mexican gangs (a fact which the liberal newspaper can’t quite bring itself to feature as a main story point).
The relevant part of this newspaper article is the quote ‘…these packs of eight or 10 of them’. Apparently, at least in eastern Washington, gang members like to congregate in packs of 8 – 10.
So what would you do if you found yourself confronted by a murderous gang of 8 – 10 gang members? Other than run away as fast as you can, of course! Do you have enough ammo for a shoot-out with 8 – 10 gang members? That could see you needing 100 rounds or more, in a situation where your prime objective would be to find cover, call for help, and then wait up to an hour for some deputies to get to you, firing only when necessary to keep the bad guys from rushing you.
Say you have a pistol with a 16 round magazine. That would mean carrying five loaded spare magazines in addition to the one in your pistol. It probably isn’t realistic to carry this much spare ammo. But while 100 rounds is more than most people could conveniently keep on their person, the chances are you can probably carry one more magazine than you currently do. And you probably should, too.
Realistically, your odds of surviving a gunfight against ten adversaries are very low, so perhaps it is unrealistic to prepare for something you’re unlikely to survive. On a happier note, not every gang member is always armed, and when rounds start coming inbound, not all gang members will adopt an aggressive posture and fight back.
But it is also quite probably true that your adversaries have been under fire before, and may have also not only been receiving incoming but been shooting back in turn. They might be more experienced in fire fights than you, and most of all, you’re fighting a battle on their terms. They rather than you have decided if, when, and how to initiate the conflict, while you’re compelled to be reactive rather than pro-active, because with that many potential adversaries, you need to have a defensive posture that reduces the chance of any escalation of conflict.
Here’s another measure. Have you ever seen a group of motorcycle gang members drive down the highway? There’s usually more than two of them driving together, isn’t there. Maybe four, maybe more. And sometimes with passengers on the back of each bike, too. Get into a ‘road rage’ incident with them and you could again find yourself with half a dozen adversaries, all eager to do extreme harm to you.
My point is simple. An encounter – outside your home – where you end up needing to resort to deadly force is more likely to involve multiple adversaries than just a single assailant. Stopping the first guy will just enrage the second, third, and other guys all the more, and your ability to ‘project power’ and control a situation is massively reduced with a small little gun that everyone knows holds only a few rounds, especially if it is a revolver which everyone also knows will take a long time to reload.
While of course any gun is better than no gun, and a concealable pistol is a necessary compromise between effectiveness and convenience, try to select a pistol that has hopefully at least a ten round capacity (if it is .45 caliber, then fewer rounds are okay) and try to carry two (or more) spare magazines with you.