A problem with firearms and self defense topics is there’s a profusion of ‘experts’ but very little factual basis to many of their opinions.
So, wherever possible, we prefer to ‘let the facts do the talking’ rather than listen to ‘experts’.
Here’s a thought provoking story of a police sergeant in Skokie, IL. One day he unexpectedly found himself going at it, mano a mano, in a shootout with a fleeing felon. He had no backup, the encounter suddenly started, and lasted 56 seconds, all at very close range (most gunfights are of short duration and at almost ‘bad breath’ distance).
By the end of the encounter, 54 shots had been fired – 21 by the felon, 33 by the police sergeant. Probably more would have been fired by both participants, but they were each running low on ammo.
The felon missed with all 21 of his shots. The sergeant did extremely well, getting 17 of his shots on target. The officer was also a master firearms trainer and a sniper with his local SWAT team, so clearly had firearms skills and experience way above the average police officer.
There are several points that this real life story makes. See if you picked up on them.
First, note the massive expenditure of rounds by both parties (and remember they’d have shot more if they had more to shoot). The point here is that it took a highly skilled police sergeant 33 shots to stop his opponent. If he’d not had this much ammo for his duty weapon, the outcome of the encounter could have been tragically different.
So – how much ammunition do you carry with you? Are you prepared for a fire-fight where it takes you 33 or more rounds to fight off a single attacker? What if there are two guys you are defending yourself against? Do you have more than 66 rounds?
Second, note that the bad guy missed with all 21 of his shots, and the police sergeant ‘only’ got half his on target (which is at least twice as good as the average police officer, and we’ll wager, much better than the average civilian).
This points to the need to be able to shoot both accurately and repeatedly at your opponent(s). In other words, a five shot snub nosed wheelgun ain’t gonna be much good.
Third, count the number of times the bad guy was hit. After being hit 14 times, including six hits that are considered fatal, he was still pressing his attack. It was only after the sergeant got three (not one or two, but three!) head shots did the fight seep out of the bad guy; and even so, the bad guy lived for some time afterwards and only eventually died in hospital.
If you think you just need to get one or perhaps two shots on target when a bad guy is attacking you, think again. This bad guy soaked up 14 rounds and continued to fight, and only stopped after taking three more shots to the head.
When you’re defending yourself in an extreme situation like this, you don’t have time to pause and judge the effect of each shot you’ve fired. You need to just keep shooting as rapidly as you can until the other guy ceases to be a threat.
There’s a fourth point that you would be well advised to focus on as well. Nothing seems to provoke more controversy than the subject of what is the ‘best’ caliber to use with a pistol. Did you notice the caliber the police sergeant was using – the caliber so puny that it took 17 hits – nine of them ‘fatal’ hits – to get the bad guy out of the fight?
It was the hallowed sainted .45 ACP! And probably a high quality hollow point type of bullet. Yes – all you people who brashly boast about how your .45 ACP chambered pistol will solve any problem you might encounter with a single shot, need to think about the implications of this very carefully. The facts don’t lie, and the bad guy wasn’t on PCP or any other drug that can sometimes give a person more ‘stamina’ when taking fire. The first 14 hits (six of them theoretically fatal) didn’t stop the bad guy at all.
It is perhaps unsurprising to read, at the end of the story, that the sergeant no longer carries a 13 round Glock 21 in .45 ACP. Instead he carries a 17 round Glock 17, chambered in 9mm. The police sergeant now realizes that the caliber of round really doesn’t make any difference at all – surviving and winning a gun fight is all about getting as many good hits on the other guy as possible, no matter what caliber of round you are using.
Oh yes, and the police sergeant will not be caught out a second time with insufficient ammo. He now carries 145 rounds of 9mm with him.
He actually did two good things by trading his .45 for a 9mm. Not only can he more conveniently carry more ammo, and shoot more between mag changes, but he now has a compatible primary and backup pistol. Both are chambered for 9mm, and both can use the same magazines that he has with him.
It took a brush with death for this police sergeant to improve his game. Save yourself a similar situation, and learn from his experience.