Straight Shooter

Nov 302011


The person who is most surprised in this situation is probably the person who will lose. Make sure you have the element of surprise on your side.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure your friends and family, your work colleagues and your fellow sports team or congregation members are the nicest in the world.  Heck, I’m sure you could trust them with your life.

Actually, scrub that last sentence.

Which brings me to the point of this article.  The future is uncertain.  Today’s friend is sometimes tomorrow’s foe.  Or today’s friend remains tomorrow’s friend too, but happens to share something personal about you with someone else you don’t know and might not care to tell your closest secrets to.  And that person tells another person, while getting the story slightly wrong in the process.  And so on and so on, and before you know it, all of Facebook believes they know something about you which is either something you for sure don’t want to share, or is something totally wrong and different from the truth.

One of the reasons we choose to carry concealed, even in states that allow open carry, is so we have the benefit of surprise.  Think in particular of Nevada – anyone, from any state, can open carry in NV, but if you want to have not just a firearm but also the benefit of surprise, and so you want to conceal your firearm, then you need a permit, and NV is a bit tough at issuing permits (you even need to pass a range test as well as sit an exam on knowledge too) and doesn’t recognize a lot of permits from other states (tip – get an easier to obtain AZ permit which NV does recognize).

I’m as big a supporter of the Second Amendment as there is, but I almost never open carry.  Open carry gives the bad guy a head’s up and an advantage.  You don’t know who in the crowd might be a bad guy, but all of a sudden, all the bad guys around you know who you are.  And your gun may focus their attention on you rather than make them pass you by.

Or, even worse, some drunken jerk decides to pick a fight with you, based on seeing you having a gun, and ends up backing you into a corner, both figuratively and perhaps literally too, daring you to shoot him, and threatening you with negative consequences if you don’t.  Sounds ridiculous, right?  But it does happen.

Visible handguns are magnets that irresistibly draw bad guys and idiots to you.  To say nothing of ill-informed police officers who might not fully appreciate your right to open carry, and exposing you to claims of being threatened by other citizens – ‘Officer, the man looked at me threateningly and then moved his hand to his gun suggestively, and I was in fear of my life’.

Don’t open carry, okay?

But, back to the topic of the moment.  There’s one thing even worse than open carry.  That is concealed carry where you think other people around you don’t know you have a firearm, but in actuality, they do know.  At least, when open carrying, you know the other guy knows and you plan your behavior from that understanding.  But if you are carrying concealed, you base your actions on the assumption that people around you don’t know you’re carrying concealed.  If that assumption is incorrect, all sorts of unexpected (and bad) consequences may occur.

How to prevent this?  Easy.  Don’t tell anyone you ever carry a concealed weapon.  Don’t even tell your spouse, your siblings, your children or your parents.  And don’t ever tell anyone how you carry it concealed, either.

If people know you support concealed carry rights, and if they know you have a concealed weapons permit, they’ll probably wonder, and might even outright ask you questions on the topic.  Don’t tell them if/when you are carrying, and don’t also tell people if you are not carrying.  Be like the US Navy was, back in the ‘good old days’ when our ships may or may not have been carrying nuclear weapons – refuse to confirm or deny the presence of a pistol on your person.

If the topic comes up, you should go vague and say something like ‘Yes, I like to keep a gun reasonably accessible to where I am on occasions when it is convenient or appropriate to do so’.

I know some people who occasionally carry concealed places where they shouldn’t.  If no-one else knows, that’s usually not a problem.  Maybe they are just rushing into the post office to drop a letter in the mailbox, or maybe they are briefly in a bar, or school zone, or in a mall with ‘No Firearms’ signs posted, or whatever/wherever.

But if you sometimes do this, and all your friends know you are carrying, then you can guess what happens.  Maybe you go to the Post Office with a friend, and when you get there and are waiting in line, your friend sees a sign advising that all weapons are forbidden inside (and outside too) the federal building.  He turns to you and in a big loud voice says ‘Hey, Bill – see that sign?  Does that apply to your .44 Magnum revolver you’ve got under your jacket?’  What happens after that doesn’t bear thinking about.

Or word gets out uncontrollably to other people, with who knows what consequence.  You’d told a friend, and then one day you meet him somewhere socially, and after you part, he turns to the people he is with and says ‘See that guy I was just talking to?  He’s got a Glock pistol under his shirt – if you look carefully, you can see the clips of his inside-the-waistband holster on his belt – see’.  He points at you, and half a dozen people all turn and stare at your belt.   Then one of them comes up to you, while you’re talking to someone else, and says ‘I’ve just gotta ask, is that really a Glock you’ve got under your shirt?  Joe said those clips on your belt are from its holster.’

What happens next depends on the function you’re at and the other people in the room.  Let’s hope the people around you when the unwelcome other guy comes up and blurts out his nonsense aren’t gun hating people you were trying to impress!  Even gun neutral people will start to look at you a bit strangely, and wonder what color of paranoid to ascribe to you.

And that’s not all.  Maybe one of the temporary staff hired to cater the event overhears the discussion, and tells his not so nice friends to watch out for you as you leave the function.  They jump you, take your gun, your wallet, and hopefully leave you unharmed in the process (but maybe not).  Your gun has made you a target and a victim, rather than what it was intended to do – protect you.

Maybe you work in a slightly risky environment, and maybe some bad guys are researching your place of work with a view to doing something bad to it.  If their research causes them to learn that you’re probably armed, you’ve suddenly gone to the top of their target list when they invade the building.

Maybe a former girlfriend invents an untrue allegation about you threatening her with your pistol, and describes to the police both where/how you carry the gun and what it looks like.  That’s a lot more credible than an empty claim ‘well, yes, he threatened me with his gun, but I’m not sure where it came from, where he put it afterwards, and I don’t remember even if it was shiny mirror finish, pink, or dull black.

Not to boast, but I’ve dated women and bedded them regularly while always carrying, and they never knew I had a gun.  It is possible, if you’re careful and discreet, to prevent even people who know you extremely intimately in other respects from knowing if/when/where you have a gun.

I’ve regularly carried in every sort of business and personal situation, and no-one has ever known.  I don’t even talk about it with my wife – she knows not to ask or enquire.  And my children don’t know about it either.

That’s the way it should be for you, too.  If you’re the sort of person who feels the need to boast about carrying concealed, then you know what – you’re not really the sort of person who should be carrying concealed in the first place.  Feeling the need to boast is only one small step removed from then ‘brandishing’ the gun in public to ‘solve’ an argument.

The only person who should ever know about your concealed firearm is the bad guy, fractions of a second before he either has a sudden and profound change of plan, or, if he continues with his evil plan, fractions of a second before he gets a series of very nasty surprises in the center of his chest.

Oct 112011

Disney have edited this scene, changing the shotgun into a broom

A seven minute Mickey Mouse cartoon, originally released back in 1938, had Mickey Mouse grabbing a double barreled shotgun from a wall rack in his bedroom to protect himself against what Mickey believed to be a dangerous escaped criminal (in actual fact, it turned out only to be a parrot).

The cartoon is light-hearted and fun, as were all Disney cartoons back then.

But in a recent re-release, Disney have edited out the shotgun, and replaced it with a broom instead (details here).

This is the same Disney that, through its wholly owned ABC network subsidiary, thinks nothing of bombarding all viewers, including children, with adult themes of sexuality, drug taking, immorality and violence (and, yes, even guns).

But apparently a cartoon shotgun in a Mickey Mouse short from 1938 is too harmful to expose to viewers?

Where are these people’s heads, other than up their you-know-whats?  Which is the more offensive – their censoring and substituting the cartoon shotgun, or the appalling imagery and storylines they foist on viewers most of the rest of the time?

Their inconsistency is extraordinary.  Shame on Disney.

Oct 112011

Are New York's women shoppers now expected to wear burqa like clothing to reduce their chance of being raped?

So what is the best way to protect yourself against rape?  Some people might suggest learning a form of self defense.  Others may advocate pepper spray, or a shock/stun gun device.  Still other people suggest carrying a pistol and learning how to use it.  Then of course there are the delicate souls who advocate a whistle or some other nonviolent means of simply calling attention to your plight.

New York’s finest has a new suggestion to women in an area currently suffering from a spate of rape attacks.  Their advice is not to wear skirts or shorts, because those sorts of clothing are the types of clothing other rape victims had been wearing when they were attacked (see this article).

Applying the same logic, perhaps the police should also suggest the women go panty-less and bra-less too, because presumably other rape victims also had panties and bras on.  🙂

The police stopped short of recommending a full Muslim style burqa, but that was probably what they would most advocate.

Now what’s wrong with this?

Is our land of the free now reduced to a state where women are told not to ‘dress provocatively’ but rather to drape themselves in formless garb to minimize their risk of rape?

Isn’t this one step from the rapist defense of ‘Well, she was asking for it by wearing clothes like that’?

Are our police admitting they can not protect citizens from one of the most unpleasant forms of violent assault possible?

Oh – let’s not forget one more thing.  In New York, carrying a concealed handgun is almost completely impossible.  The city takes away the ability of weaker women to defend themselves against stronger men, and at the same time attempts to shift the blame/burden onto women if/when they are raped.

Handguns truly are the great equalizer, and the most democratic of devices.  They make all people equal – big or small, male or female, strong or weak, and no matter what their racial origin may be.

Democracies allow handguns.  Tyrannies seek to control and restrict them.  Which do you think New York is?

Sep 282011
Xray of drill bit through head

A drill bit suddenly plunged through your eye socket could ruin your whole day

I was watching a Sylvester Stallone movie last night – D-Tox.  I didn’t much like the movie, but there was one bit in it that struck a chord, and had me reaching for the keyboard to write this note now.

The thing that resonated was how the bad guy overpowered his victims.  He would go to their home and ring the door bell.  The victim would go to the front door and look through the peephole to see who was outside (conveniently for the movie’s plot line, all the victims had peep holes in their doors).

As soon as the bad guy saw them getting close and peering through the peep hole, then Whammo!  He had a power drill with a big long drill bit in his hand; he brought it up and plunged it through the peephole glass and into the victim’s eye.  The bad guy would then crash through the door and overpower the victim, who was disoriented and grievously incapacitated from just having had a power drill bit stuck through their eye.

Sheesh!  How do they think these things up?

Well, yes.  I’m not sure that would work in real life.  For one thing, it would be hard and time consuming for the drill bit to get a purchase on the smooth exterior glass; it would slip and slide and by the time it had drilled through and gone forward, almost certainly the victim-to-be would have had a reflex duck back/flinch response, such as any sensible person does without thinking when something sharp and pointy zooms in towards one’s eye.  But it sure made for some gruesome scenes in the movie.

On the other hand, don’t chuckle in a superior way after reading this far, and then move on to the next blog entry.  Please keep reading.

A power drill might be way too slow, and too uncertain a weapon to attack a person through a door with, but think some more about the peep hole.  You’ve almost surely looked through both sides of one at some time or another, and in particular, think about what you see from looking through it from the outside.

Yes, you don’t see much, but you can see light and darkness, and you can see movement, and you can sense when a person has approached the door, and you for sure know pretty exactly where their head is, don’t you.  To put it another way, the peep hole is like the 10 ring in a classic bulls-eye target.  Whatever you want to do, do to the peephole or just to the right of it (most people are right eye dominant) and you can be sure of causing maximum damage to the person on the other side of the door.

Furthermore, even if the door is a solid core door, the peephole is not solid anything.  So that’s another reason to shoot through the peephole – because you’re not only certain of a vulnerable part of the person being right behind it, but you’re also certain of being able to get your round through the door on on to its intended target.

Oh – my earlier description about being able to get some vague impression of what is inside the room by looking through the peephole from the outside?  Some peephole manufacturers have ‘wised up’ and so they add a little privacy flap on the inside of the peephole assembly.  For the person to look out the door, they first have to lift up the flap.  This, we are told, gives the people inside the dwelling or hotel room or whatever more privacy.

But – hello!  For the bad guy, it tells him exactly when to unload into the target.  Wait until you see the flap lift up – an unmistakable sign that someone has just positioned themselves behind the peephole.

Okay, enough of thinking like a bad guy!  Now think like the good guy again, please.  🙂

Knowing what you now know, do you really want to put a peep hole in your front door?

What’s that?  Someone is still undecided?  Okay, enough of movie make-believe.  How about this story then, from the real world, of a person being deliberately shot through their peephole.  Now are you convinced?

So what to do instead of having a peephole in your door – and what to do if you already have one?

Let’s answer the questions in reverse order.  If you already have a peephole, cement some blocking material over the inside end of it so that it is completely inoperable and that no light or anything else passes from inside to outside the door.

So how to communicate with the person at your door before opening it?

In an earlier article, we recommended a Logitech (or any other) video surveillance system – ideally with infra-red assist for night vision.  Supplement that with a low tech intercom, with your control unit being away from the door, and you have all you need to speak to and see the person calling on you.

Remember – do not open your door unless you know who is outside the door and who else is in the general vicinity, and you are satisfied there is no way they can be a threat to you.

And now that you’ve read this, please do two more things.  First, act on it.  Put in place a system that allows you to safely monitor your entranceway area.  Second, impress upon everyone else in your household that they must follow the same steps you do.

Sep 092011

It may not be who you see, it may who you don't see that poses the bigger threat

We’ve written before about home invasions – click the link to go to our earlier article on the same topic.  It is a topic that needs to be repeated and reinforced in your awareness, because most of us are instinctively friendly, welcoming and trusting.

Here’s a story of how a 17 year old boy had two women knock on his door and ask if they could go in to retrieve a cell phone they’d allegedly left there during a party the previous night.  As soon as he assented, three masked and armed men appeared and forced their way into the house.

The learning point on this occasion is that the threat was not visible.  The two girls probably looked harmless, and what 17 yr old boy wouldn’t be charmed by a couple of girls wanting to come into his house!  But the distraction of the two girls allowed three men, previously obscured from view, to overpower him, to strike him over the head with a pistol, and to rob his house.

Even if the boy had been armed and had his firearm in his hand, the sudden appearance of three masked men probably would have resulted in them overpowering him before he had a chance to react, respond, and decide on a course of action.

Vital learning point – just because you have a gun on your belt or even in your hand, you are not invulnerable to threats.  You need to retain a defensive mindset, no matter what type of weapons you have on you or close to you.

If your front door area is designed so that there are corners or other things that would allow for someone to hide, unseen, very close to the front door, you will need to have some type of security so that you are not risking yourself to these potentially unseen dangers every time you open your door.

Either do not open your door until you’ve established the bona fides of the person outside, and/or have security cameras that allow you to see, from inside, everything and everyone in the proximity of your front door.

One more thing.  What happens if, as in this situation, you are suddenly forced to defend yourself against three attackers?  Tell me again how you’re going to do that with a five or six shot revolver?  Like it or not, the higher magazine capacity of a semi-auto pistol makes it almost mandatory that you choose a semi-auto, not a revolver.  Because bad guys, just like rats and wolves, hunt in packs.

You need to prepare to defend yourself not against a single attacker, but against multiple attackers, and five or six rounds is barely enough to hopefully take care of one bad guy, a struggle with two, and definitely insufficient for three or more.

Sep 052011
Fire Dept of New York Ambulance

The chances are you'll survive a bullet wound

The bad news is that if you get in a gun fight, you’ve got about a 50% chance of being hit by the other guy’s shooting (okay, there are so many variables at work as to make that a more or less meaningless statistic, but the bottom line is that you’re as likely to cop a round of incoming as not if you start shooting at someone who is shooting back at you).

The good news is that you’re not likely to die, at least if you get hit only once, assuming it not to be a ‘lucky’ shot (or should that be ‘unlucky’ shot?) and further assuming that you get competent medical treatment not long after.

This also assumes you’re both firing ordinary pistol bullets at each other.  If the other guy has a high powered rifle, then all bets are off.  Rifle wounds are massively more lethal than pistol wounds, and with a rifle being inherently more accurate to start with, if the other guy has a rifle and looks like he knows what to do with it, then you should think hard and long about your options before starting a firefight.

This immediately past weekend, from Saturday morning through Monday evening, has seen 42 gun shot victims in New York City – an amazing statistic when you consider it has pretty much the strictest gun control laws of the entire country.  What are people doing with guns in NYC?  Don’t they know it is illegal?

Mayor Bloomberg’s response is totally predictable.  The solution to 42 shootings in a single weekend is, he says, more gun control.  Yup.  He’s already made owning guns close to illegal and carrying guns totally illegal, and shooting people is illegal too.  So when these laws prove to be totally useless and completely ignored by criminals, his solution is to make them double illegal.

That will change nothing.  Indeed, it would be interesting to know how many lives New York’s current gun laws have saved – my guess is that the laws have cost lives rather than saved them, based on what has happened in almost the entire rest of the country, where there is an inarguable correlation between more permissive gun laws and fewer gun crimes and indeed, fewer crimes of violence in general – see our earlier discussion on this point.

Oh – be very afraid.  Not only does Mayor Bloomberg want to throw more stupidity at the hapless citizens of NYC, but he is calling for more federal restrictions on gun ownership too.  Yup.  NYC has a gun crime problem that is pretty much unique to NYC, so the mayor’s solution is to ask for gun restrictions in other states thousands of miles away; to make them more like NYC.  Here’s some news, Mayor Mike – if we wanted to live in a NYC type environment, we’d already be there.

It is hard to know which is the more breathtaking – his arrogance or his stupidity.  Both are regrettable.

But, ooops, getting sidetracked there.  The main topic of this post is not New York’s crazy dysfunctional gun laws, or the venally stupid politicians who create them, and neither is it to ponder on what strange chemical there must be in the city’s drinking water that causes NY’s citizens to vote for such politicians and to support such clearly wrong-headed policies.

Nope, we’re here to talk about gunshot wound survivability.

So, of these 42 people shot, including some people shot more than once, guess how many people were killed?  It will have to be a bit of a WAG (wild a**ed guess) because we don’t know how many were shot by pistols and how many by rifles or shotguns (it seems that most if not all were from pistols), but go ahead and have a guess.

What do you think?  30?  20?  10?  How many were killed?

The real answer is one.  Yes, 42 people shot, and only one killed.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Getting shot is no laughing matter, and even if you’re not killed, you might spend extended time in hospital, followed by months or years in physical therapy, and possibly lose the use of a limb or a sense permanently.  You definitely don’t want to get shot, and it is no laughing matter if you are shot.  Furthermore, the best sense I can get is that normally you’re looking at closer to a 20% mortality rate from pistol wounds – the 2.5% mortality rate in NYC this past weekend is much lower than normal.

However, whatever the mortality risk actually is – 2% or 20%, there are two very important lessons from this.

First, if you do get shot, don’t give up.  You’re not yet dead; you’ll probably live, and you’ve not yet lost the fight.  Keep your gun running, and stay in the fight.  Willpower, the drive to survive, and the essential need to triumph can keep you going; whereas a lack of willpower that causes you to give up as soon as you’ve been slightly wounded will definitely see you lose.

Expect to be wounded.  Mentally prepare yourself for it, and accept it when it happens, and stay in the fight.

Second, flip the scenario around.  Your opponent can also stay in the fight, even after soaking up one, two, three, four or more rounds (there have been cases of bad guys taking over ten rounds and staying active for some minutes).  Especially if the bad guy is high on some sort of drugs that alter his body chemistry and pain/injury response, he might not even notice the impact of the bullets and may keep on at you until he bleeds out or you land a kill shot that severs a vital artery or nerve.

Don’t stop to see what happens after firing one or two shots.  As long as the bad guy is on his feet and closing the distance on you, keep sending rounds at him.  Shoot him until the deadly threat he poses to you has ended.  This might be when he drops his gun and sinks to his knees, ten feet away, with his hands clearly visible and empty.  It might be when he turns and runs away.  But as long as he is advancing on you, and as long as the circumstances that caused you to need to use deadly force remain present, then he is still just as much a threat as before you hit him the first, second, and subsequent times.

Even seriously wounded people can still pull the trigger of the gun in their hand.  Even seriously wounded people can throw themselves on top of you and plunge a knife through your throat, your eyes, or your ribcage and heart.

There’s a reason the police don’t just shoot once at a bad guy.  Don’t go berserk and pepper him with 50 rounds, but don’t stint on the firepower either until he ceases to be a credible deadly threat.

Here’s a link to the article that counted 42 gun shot injuries.  Here’s a link to an article giving more details about eight of the casualties.

Update : The count is now up to 46 shootings, with two more hours of the day still to go before the end of the holiday weekend.  But still only one death.  Way to go, Mayor Mike.  Good job on that gun control thing you’ve got going there.

Aug 172011


Testing a shotgun's penetration into drywall (from

It is the easiest thing in the world to open a gun store.  All it takes is money.  Sure, you have to fill out some BATF forms, and all that sort of stuff too, but there’s no exam you need to pass, there’s no formal ‘gun expert’ qualification you need to obtain before you start influencing people and helping them to make decisions that literally may make the difference between life and death – for them, for attackers, and for innocent other people in the general vicinity.

And if there is no qualification required to become a gun shop owner, there is also, of course, no qualification required to become a gun shop employee.

Depending on your perspective, this may or may not be a good thing.  While the right to sell arms is closely related to the right to bear arms, I’ve heard more nonsense spoken in gun shops – and on both sides of the counter – than just about anywhere else, other than at a Presidential press conference.  Here’s a case in point.

Are Shotguns Better than Pistols for Home Defense

Here’s an interesting article that reports on a rush of shotgun sales after a terrible home invasion in the exclusive upscale area of North Branford, CT.  Apparently – and unsurprisingly – neighbors in the vicinity rushed to buy a self/home defense weapon after learning of the home invasion.  Surprisingly though, most of these people bought shotguns, for two reasons.

The first reason is that to buy a pistol in Connecticut, you first need to attend 8 hours of classes and then wait anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks for your pistol permit to be approved.  Buying a shotgun has a mere 2 week waiting period, or – if you buy a hunting license at the same time – you can walk out the store with your shotgun with no delay at all (just the standard phone check with NICS).

My guess is that all of a sudden, North Branford had a surge of interest in, ahem, ‘hunting’.

But, now for the second reason.  They were badly advised.  Read what gun store owner Andy Piscitelle says in the article :

The former English teacher says that when it comes to home defense, “We recommend shotguns.”  This because the shot isn’t likely to go through walls and with the shorter (18.5-inch) barrel, the home defense shotgun “allows you to maneuver quickly and through doorways.”

Is any part of this true?  Are shotguns a good choice for home defense?  Does shot from a shotgun penetrate walls or not?  And with an 18.5″ barrel, can you maneuver quickly and through doorways?

Let’s answer these questions in reverse order.

First, by law, a shotgun must have a minimum barrel length of 18″, and – for the purpose of maneuverability, perhaps more important is the related law that the overall length of the shotgun must be at least 26″.  Now compare that with a pistol, which can have as little as a 2″ barrel, and an overall length of perhaps 4″.

There’s no comparison in terms of which is the more easily carried weapon in corridors and through doorways.  Plus the pistol is lighter and easier to move around – if you go through a doorway or around a corner with a shotgun you can’t have it held out ‘ready to fire’ (for fear of someone hiding on the other side of the doorway/corner grabbing it from you) whereas you can have a pistol much more ‘ready to fire’ and able to be protected as you go through the ‘fatal funnel’ of the doorway/corner and more quickly brought on target as/after you pass through it.

Oh – one more comment about this claim.  The last thing you ever want to do when there are intruders in your house is go looking for them.  The only time you’d leave your bedroom would be if you needed to go fetch other people (such as children) so that you’re all huddled together in a defensive location, awaiting the police.  So, hopefully, most of the time you won’t even need to think about how easy it is to maneuver around the house with any sort of weapon.

Second, shot penetration.  It was unclear if Mr Piscitelle actually said that shot will not penetrate walls – his comments aren’t in quotes, so I contacted the reporter who wrote the article and asked for clarification.  He confirmed this was indeed Mr Piscitelle’s claim.  Piscitelle’s assertion is total nonsense.  Indeed, you only have to think about this for the briefest of seconds to realize the nonsense of the claim.  Let’s do both a ‘thought experiment’ and a real life experiment.

Thought experiment.  Would an 00 buckshot ball, about the same size as a 9mm bullet, and traveling at the same speed, penetrate more, less, or about the same through walls as a 9mm bullet?  Obvious guess – kinda, sorta, the same.  Two rounds, of similar size, weight, speed and reasonably similar shape, will probably have similar penetrative powers.

Actual experiment.  Please visit this extremely good website’s page that shows real world testing of shot penetration into dry wall (the image with this article is taken from their testing).  The results of their testing – expect the shot to go through not just one or two, but half a dozen walls!

So – are shotguns a good choice for home defense?  They’re bulkier and heavier and harder to maneuver than a pistol, and can shoot through as many as six walls.

There are two additional considerations – unstated in this article – to also consider.

The first is that firing a single shotgun round is like firing a machine gun – you get multiple ‘bullets’ all leaving the shotgun at the same time.  This adds greatly to the stopping power of the shotgun (if they all land effectively on the attacker).  But – don’t be caught out here.

At typical home defense ranges – 10 ft to 20 ft – the shot will not spread out much.  Maybe you’ll have, at the most, the shot within a tight 4″ or so circle at the end of about 20 feet (depending on the barrel length and choke – shorter barrels with a cylinder bore are best).  This really doesn’t make much difference in terms of accuracy requirements than firing a single round at a time from a pistol.  It doesn’t make you invincible and doesn’t mean you don’t have to aim.

The second is that there is, however, one unique feature of a pump action shotgun that no pistol can ever match.  There’s no more intimidating sound, in the quiet of the middle of the night, or at any other time, than suddenly hearing a shotgun being racked and made ready to do some business.  The ability of a shotgun to intimidate is a major plus factor, and may prevent you from ever needing to actually use it.

So, back on topic.  Don’t believe everything a gun store employee or owner tells you; and if he tells you a shotgun is safe to fire indoors without worrying about over-penetration and rounds going through walls and into other rooms (or even other houses) then you know that he’s full of, ummm, shot.

Lastly, I’m appalled to see that Mr Piscitelle is an NRA certified training counselor (this is a senior level certification – a person who is rated to train trainers in how to teach NRA courses).  How is it possible that a training counselor can be so ignorant?  I’m writing to ask the NRA about this and will let you know.

Aug 022011
A selection of pistol bullets

L to R = .22 LR, .32 ACP, .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 5.7x28

(This is part two of a three part series.  Please also visit ‘Choosing a Lightweight, Small, Concealable Sub-Compact or Pocket Pistol‘ and ‘How to Best Carry Concealed a Sub-Compact Pocket Pistol‘.)

If you’re getting some type of pocket pistol, you generally have a choice between .32 ACP and .380 ACP.  But there are plenty of other options too – there are still pistols available with smaller calibers – the .25 Auto and even various types of .22 LR cartridges are sometimes featured in sub-compact pistols.

And you can get 9mm pistols that are only a little bigger than some of the .380 Auto chambered pistols.  Then you might think to yourself that if you’ve gone a little bigger, up to a 9mm caliber pistol, it is only another relatively small step to .40 S&W, and so on and so on beyond that.

Where to start and where to stop?

How Underpowered is Too Underpowered?  How Powerful is Too Powerful?

If you have to set cut-offs for too big and too small, then let’s arbitrarily set them as anything less than .32 ACP is too small and anything bigger than .380 ACP is too big.

But this is just for the sake of simplicity.  Any gun of any caliber is better than no gun at all, and bigger is usually better than smaller (assuming the gun remains controllable without too much recoil).

Here’s a heart warming story of a woman who killed an attacker with a single shot from a .22 caliber derringer she had hidden in her bra – and judging by the picture of the attacker, he was a big man.  However, being able to incapacitate an attacker with a single .22 round is extremely unusual, and you’d be very well advised not to rely on such an underpowered round for your own future safety.

Your Two Main Choices – .32 ACP and .380 ACP

The .32 ACP tends to have a round weighing 65 – 71 grains, a velocity of 925 – 900 ft/sec and 123 – 128 ft lbf of energy (the velocity and energy figures assume a 4″ barrel – your pocket pistol will have a much shorter barrel, so will develop less velocity and energy).

The .380 ACP tends to have a round weighing 85 – 95 grains, a velocity of 1050 – 955 ft/sec, and 193 – 220 ft lbf of energy (with a 3.75″ barrel).

As you can see from these stats, the larger .380 is almost 50% heavier, 10% faster, and has 60% more energy.  It is definitely a superior round.

But why stop there?  If you upgrade further to a 9mm chambered pistol, you will have rounds weighing 115 – 147 grains, traveling at 990 – 1430 ft/sec, and with 320 – 520 ft lbf of energy (the upper numbers being +P+ loaded cartridges).  That’s twice the weight and three times the power of the .32 ACP, and 30% or more weight compared to the .380 ACP and about twice its power.

And then, of course, there’s .40 S&W and .45 ACP and so on and so on.  Where to stop? (Answer = A .50 BMG caliber Barrett rifle, firing a 650 – 800 grain bullet out of a 35″ barrel at about 3,000 ft/sec and with up to 15,000 ft lbf of energy!)

A rifle weighing 30lbs or more and 4 ft long is clearly not concealable.  So let’s return to reality, and remember that our prime consideration here is a pistol you will always carry that is ultra-concealable.  You are sacrificing some power and magazine capacity in return for smaller size, lighter weight, and greater concealability.  The issue is simply how far you should go on this sacrificial scale.

To look at the lower end of the energy scale, a .25 Auto round weighs about 35 – 50 grains, travels at 760 – 900 fps, and generates about 63 – 66 ft lbf (these figures from a 2″ barrel).  It is massively slower, lighter, and less powerful than even the .32 ACP.

In case you wonder, a .22 LR is in some respects more powerful than the .25 Auto.  Although the bullets are smaller (30 – 40 grain), they are faster (1000 – 1400 fps) and have more energy (100 – 150 ft lbf).

For the truly small pocket pistols, you probably should limit yourself to .380 ACP.  Try and skip the .32 ACP because there’s not really any extra advantage in terms of size/weight to justify the reduction in ‘stopping power’ between the .380 and .32 rounds, and don’t get a too small and light pistol in a heavier caliber.

If you really want 9mm or bigger/better (and good for you if you do) then get a ‘proper’ sized pistol to go with it so you’ve a more stable and accurate firing platform to work with.

(This was part two of a three part series.  Please also visit ‘Choosing a Lightweight, Small, Concealable Sub-Compact or Pocket Pistol‘ and ‘How to Best Carry Concealed a Sub-Compact Pocket Pistol‘.)

Aug 022011
Pocket Holsters for a Ruger LCR (l) and Seecamp (r)

Pocket Holsters for a Ruger LCR (l) and Seecamp (r)

(This is part three of a three part series on sub-compact pocket pistols.  Please also visit  ‘Choosing a Lightweight, Small, Concealable Sub-Compact or Pocket Pistol‘ and ‘Which Caliber to Choose for a Sub-Compact Pocket Pistol‘.)

There’s one main reason to choose a sub-compact small caliber pistol instead of a full size larger caliber pistol.  The ability to comfortably carry it in an ultra-concealed manner.  (A second possibility is using it as your backup gun if you are carrying two pistols with you.  And for a third reason, read on down to the section on the time/surprise advantage you can get with a pocket pistol.)

The rationale for the sub-compact is that it is better to have a less than ideal weapon conveniently on your person when you unexpectedly need it, than to have a full size optimized weapon – but not with you.  So in such cases, the ability to carry the sub-compact is of over-riding importance.

You can use all the regular methods of carry with a small pistol, of course.  Inside the waistband, ankle, shoulder, whatever.  But there’s one additional carry option that is probably your best choice, especially for men.  Where better to carry a ‘pocket pistol’ than in your pocket!

Yes, you should consider carrying a pocket pistol in your pocket.  You want to get a pocket ‘holster’ – this mainly acts to disguise the outline of the pistol, so that instead of looking like a pistol in your pocket, it looks like something flat and rectangular.

It also provides a bit of protection around the trigger, and by flattening out the barrel, lessens the stress on the bottom of your pocket.  You’ll still wear through pockets at an accelerated rate, but if you’re like me, and buy trousers at Walmart for $15 – $20 a pair, that’s no big deal, and it is probably cheaper/easier to simply buy more pairs of trousers than to repair pockets that you’ve worn through.

Pocket holsters usually have some sort of grip or anti-slip on them so that when you grab your pistol and pull it from your pocket, the holster (at least in theory, although not always in practice) stays behind.  But don’t worry about it; if the holster stays with the gun, you can shoot your first shot through it and it won’t make any difference at all.

Pocket holsters are not only very concealable, they are also better than any other type of holster for unobstrusively preparing to draw.  With most types of holsters, if a person reaches to put their hand on their weapon, it is 99% obvious – especially to a bad guy who is trying to decide if the person is a vulnerable target – what they are doing.  But what is suspicious or unusual about a person who has his hands in his pockets?  Nothing at all.

Indeed, you could even manage a draw in an extreme case if a mugger surprises you on the street and demands your wallet.  Hand over your wallet and drop it, then say ‘Oh, I’ve got a bill fold too’ or something like that, reach in your pocket while the bad guy is distracted, and either take out (or shoot through the pocket) your pistol.  (Note – it is seldom appropriate to shoot a mugger unless you’re convinced he/they are not going to simply let you go after taking your money.)  (Second note – this may work if the guy has a knife, I’m not sure I’d want to try it if he had a gun pointed directly at me!)

The Time and Tactical (Surprise) Advantage of a Pocket Pistol

Which leads to an unexpected benefit of pocket pistols that you can uniquely experience with them and no other type of carry weapon.

This is the ability to have your hand already wrapped around your pistol and ready to take it out of your pocket, a capability that gives you an extra margin of perhaps 0.5 – 1 second over the time it would take you to suddenly reach for your pistol, get a good firing grip, and then remove it from wherever it is being carried.  If you’ve a clutzy shoulder holster, or something with a retention/snap, or (perhaps worst of all) an ankle holster, your time advantage lengthens even more.

What can you do with even as small as ‘only’ 0.5 seconds of advantage?  Well, put it this way – in that same 0.5 seconds, the bad guy can get maybe 10 ft – 15 ft closer to you.  In that same 0.5 seconds, you can possibly fire two more rounds at him, and stop him sooner and further away.  In that same 0.5 seconds, you’ve seized the initiative and the other guy is now having to react to you and your control of the situation, rather than you having to react to him.

More likely, your time advantage is even more than 0.5 seconds – more like 1 second, giving you even more of an edge.

But be careful – ‘Wild West’ rules sort of apply even in this modern age – the other guy has to draw first, or, in modern parlance, has to become a real lethal threat.  You can’t shoot someone because you think they’re going to become a threat; you can only do so when they have become a real threat and when you have no other alternative (such as running away).

This time and surprise advantage is so great that it can win a battle for you.  When I’m carrying both a regular pistol in a regular rig and a pocket pistol in my pocket, if I feel threatened, I stick my hands in my pockets and look casual, calm, and unaware (hoping to de-escalate the situation rather than prematurely responding to what might not be a threat), while actually being the total opposite.  If it becomes necessary, I’ll use the time/surprise advantage of my pocket pistol to triage any threat that may eventuate, then switch to my main gun for the real work to finish the job.

This switching of pistols might be in the form of a ‘New York reload’ – ie, empty the pocket pistol’s magazine at the threat(s) then rather than reload it, draw the main gun for the rest of the job.  Or it could be, if attempting to control a situation that might not call for lethal force, rapidly presenting the pocket pistol, swapping it to my support hand, then presenting the main pistol with my firing hand and pocketing the smaller pistol at that point.  If a bad guy is surprised to see someone he thought to be a helpless victim suddenly present one pistol from nowhere, imagine his laundry bill when you then pull a second bigger pistol and point that at him authoritatively too!

So, here’s a key factor in choosing your pocket pistol.  You want it to be small enough to truly fit in your pocket.  You’ll discover that not all pockets are the same size – some trousers have deeper pockets than others, so choose an appropriate pair of trousers then test out guns complete with their appropriate pocket holsters before selecting the pistol you buy.

Worst case scenario, you might have to buy two or three pocket holsters if the gun store doesn’t have holsters available for you to try with their pistols.  But the pocket holsters are generally ambidextrous, and there are only a few sizes that between them fit almost all pocket pistols, and they’re not tremendously expensive, so it is a small and necessary investment in researching a pocket pistol.

In my case, my Seecamp fits in every pocket I have, even tailored suit trousers.  I consider my PPK too heavy, so rarely put it in a pocket, but will carry my Ruger LCR .38 SPL revolver (just under 16 ounces loaded with five rounds) and find it fits in many but not all casual trouser pockets but not in dress type trousers.

(This was part three of a three part series on sub-compact pocket pistols.  Please also visit  ‘Choosing a Lightweight, Small, Concealable Sub-Compact or Pocket Pistol‘ and ‘Which Caliber to Choose for a Sub-Compact Pocket Pistol‘.)