So You Are Interested in Buying a Pistol For Self-Defense !
For many years I was a NRA certified rifle, pistol and home defense instructor. I was also a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Hunter Education Instructor for over 25 years. During this time I also ran a full-time gunsmith/gunsales shop from 1974 up until 1995 being factory warranty for 8 major firearms manufacturers for the last 8 years. During this time I was the largest gunsmith shop on the US West Coast. After seeing novice people come into my gunshop looking for a handgun for self-defense, many who had no idea of what would be best for them, from that, I was instrumental in setting up a ladies firearms class after we had numerous break-ins and home invasions in the local area.
One thing we saw a lot of was a husband or male friend would come in with a lady and pick out HIS idea of a defensive firearm FOR HER. In may cases this was a large caliber semi-automatic, that the lady could not even handle safely. Yes, it may have been fine and good for him, but not a good choice for her. Plus for a newbie, I do not like to see a firearm that has so many safeties, that just trying to remember which did what, could be an issue if needed for ASAP defense. Target practice would have been a different story. In many cases our suggestion at that time was usually a small 38 S&W Special caliber revolver. These were easy to inspect for being loaded, and ready to go the instant you picked it up. And with light target loads was a joy to shoot. I might add that this was before the era of the new generation of compact, economical, DEPENDABLE, light weight 380 caliber semi-automatics were being made.
We (the local County Sheriff at that time, a lawyer and other NRA Certified instructor volunteers) used the NRA's home defense course program as a guideline and then we could issue a certificate of completion for those enrolled. We ran this class 2 nights a week for 2 weeks and then a 1/2 day on Saturday for range shooting. Over a span of 5 or 6 years we put over 700 persons through our classes. This class was so popular that we changed the title (restructured for both men and women) then got a lot of husbands and wives and also interested men who attended.
Now please do not take everything I am going to cover here as legal in every state of our great USA. As there are so many overlapping laws (State and Federal) that even some Law Enforcement have conflicting views of the same law. At times, law Enforcement would more than likely prefer to see you back off of a confrontation, and then call them. But what if the situation escalates?
I am not a lawyer, but will try to give some basics of the NRA course that we taught 20 to 25 years ago, along with personally information gained from reliable sources. However the legal things should not have changed that much. The main thing to keep in mind if you find yourself in a situation where you feel that you may have to use a firearm, would your use of it be REASONABLE and NECCESSARY in the eyes of the law, and would it stand up in front of a jury?
Things to Think About Before Selecting a Firearm ; Here your NUMBER ONE priority after buying your firearm is SAFETY, both in using it, AND in secured storage of it. This safety when using it may be to yourself, your family or any bystander. You really need some professional instruction on this issue. OK, your husband, wife, father or father-in-law has owned guns all their life and should know how to handle them safely, but are they good at being able to give sound and UNDERSTANDABLE instruction the first time around? If misunderstood, there may not be a second time. I'm not trying to put anyone down here, but if YOU have never handled a firearm before, and they have not been exposed to teaching firearm safety, it may be a bit intimidating to both you and them. And a mistake, or something overlooked on on either side could de disastrous. This type of instruction can be, and has been done many many times, and that is how the vast majority of new gun owners learn. However if not done with some discretion by starting out with a smaller caliber and getting the newbie beyond their anxieties and to find out that this may be fun, even additive, you as an instructor may have done more irreparable damage than good if done wrong initially.
DO NOT have a newbie female especially (for YOUR amusement) fire your 44 Magnum at all, but bring them along with smaller calibers to start with, (22RF preferably) then up to the chosen defense caliber.
There are a few simple rules. (1) Treat ALL guns as if they were loaded (2) Never point a gun at anything you do not intend to annihilate. (3) When ever you pick up, or are handed a firearm, YOU check it for being loaded, and or safe, no matter that the other person had just done that 2 minutes before. (4) Never place your finger on the trigger UNTIL you are ready to shoot. (5) Be sure of your target AND BEYOND it. (6) Wear eye and ear protection when practicing.
In selecting a defense firearm, you will encounter so many thoughts from others as to style and caliber, (some good and others not so good) . Each may well have merit, but everyone has his/her own needs, be that physical constraints, or preconceived ideas which may originate from previous firearms used/owned, as compared to someone who has never even picked up a handgun before. And not all that is good or bad, however do not let modern technology and manufacture keep you from exploring the modern style of firearms, most of which are smaller, lighter and safer than those designed and made 100 or even 20 years ago. Also try not to think that a higher priced firearm may be better in your instance. Do you really need all the extra frills that a dedicated competition combat shooter appreciates? Functionality is your prime concern here.
My thoughts for a defense firearm are, select as large a caliber as you can reasonably handle. After re-reading this article I found that I was not very specific in caliber selection for the newbie. So here goes a quick recommendation for Self Defense. For semi-autos, starting on the lowest power end, 380ACP, 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, 45 ACP. For revolvers 38 S&W Special or 357 S&W Magnum. Some say the 380 is marginal in defensive usage, but here is a link to a very extensive ballistic gelatin penetration/expansion test for all of the above semi-auto ammo listed above. Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition Ballistics Test. CLICK on the YELLOW link bar.
GENERALLY, the larger the caliber, the more "knock down power" on the receiving (bullet) end. And again generally, the larger caliber usually means a larger/heavier gun, which could be a problem if you plan on carrying it concealed. So there may be some trade-offs here. Some being the light higher powered pistol will also have more recoil, which for the untrained, could relate to inaccurate shooting because of "flinching" when the crucial time came. FLINCHING in this aspect is anticipating the shot, either the noise or recoil OR BOTH. When this happens you WILL jerk, trying to involuntarily compensate for the recoil, which could be conducive to missing the target. Some people may even close their eyes in anticipation of the shot. Again, not that good for accuracy.
The reason for this selecting a large caliber, in today's world, you have no idea of what drugs that the person you may be facing, has, or is currently using. To the average person who is not street wise, this can be a VERY FAST and rude awakening, because you have no way of knowing how drugs effect peoples minds and physical superpowers. They may not be able to even carry on a short coherent conversation because of their condition, so be ever so vigilant, SUSPECT EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE until you are out of the area and the confrontation is defused. If you get in a situation where there you may be confronted by more than one of these perpetrators, DO NOT EVER let anyone get BEHIND or even close BESIDE you. One may distract you from the front, while the other waylays you from behind. Keep your back to a wall or something, if if two of you have your partner at your back.
The above being considered, if you do have to use your firearm, those on drugs can be hit MULTIPLE times even with a large caliber bullet that has a lot of energy (knock down power) and they may not even feel or know how badly they are hit. Essentially the Walking Dead. Remember these drugs are essentially HIGH POTENCY PAIN pills. You may have shot an assailant in a well placed shot and they keep right on coming because of this. Therefore the thoughts of many who have been in these situations, is use a large caliber pistol with rapidly expanding bullets and when you fire one shot, do not stop and admire your marksmanship, but fire 2 or MORE shots (3 or 4 would not be out of line) in rapid succession at "Center of Mass", (the center of the chest). Do not shoot to simply wound them, as this could be disastrous to you, as in all probability you may even miss them completely, which just wastes precious ammo.
I knew one detective who was in on a recovery of a ransomed 10 year old child. They had the location identified, (on a boat moored in a boat basin), at countdown time, there were many plain clothes officers cleaning/painting vessels or busying themselves nearby. My friend was the one who did the actual confrontation on/in the boat and was using the new at that time a S&W model 59 9mm. The next morning he was called into his captains office and was met with "Why did you shoot him 5 times". The response was "My gun jammed".
If the perpetrator does go down, still be ever vigilant. Real life is not like shown on TV. If a weapon of any kind would be within their reach, kick it away from them.
Pistol Selection ; Before we get too far along here, probably for those unfamiliar with firearms, there needs to be some discussion on caliber of a firearm. Basically caliber is designated by barrel/bullet diameter in inches OR millimeters. And many times the number is rounded upward (making it sound larger and more powerful). Again for defense, the larger and subsequently heavier bullet, equals more energy which will have more knockdown power.
A 22RF can have a bullet diameter of .224", where a 25 ACP has a bullet dia. of .251", a 32 ACP would be .312" or 7.65mm. The 380 ACP is a little out of character here pushing a .354" and with a European designation of 9mm Kurtz or (Short), having a shorter case than described below in the 9mm Luger.
Moving up the ladder a 9mm Parabellum, but usually just called the 9mm Luger (named for the pistol which that caliber was first used in and designed in Europe) where the metric system is common and sometimes using 9 X 19 as it's designation) with a bullet of .355". Now comes a sneaker, the 38 S&W Special, which in reality seems to be a carryover from the early cap and ball revolver days of the Civil War where these guns were later converted to metallic cartridges, which actually uses near a 36 caliber bullet of .357". Then along came the 357 S&W Magnum which uses the same barrel and cartridge case as the 38 Spl, (only a longer case so it could not be used in a weaker 38 frame gun), which also has a bullet of .357". This allows usage of the lighter loaded 38 Spl. cartridge to be shot for practice in a 357 Mag. revolver. Moving up the ladder a 40 S&W uses a ------ bullet and the 45ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) uses a bullet of .452". I hope this somewhat clarifies things.
First you need to decide what style a pistol may be best for you. Do not let the counterperson/salesman push off on you a gun that does not fit you or your needs. Do not feel bad if you get bad VIBS, so simply thank them, then seek other advice. Do not make snap a judgment on cosmetics of how it looks, but will it do what you really need AND can handle? If possible try to use (shoot) more than one before you lay out your cash. Find a shooting range that rents pistols if there is one anywhere nearby. Or Find a friend or co-worker and go to a firing range on a week end. How does each different firearm feel in your hand when shooting. Do not get talked into buying a large caliber handgun that you can not handle. But remember to go back the the store that treated you well.
For the newbie, try not to buy one from a Gun Show UNLESS you are more of a gun expert than he is. Not that they are all shysters, but unless it is a new gun, gunshows have been known as a place to dispose of guns that are defective. And if so how do you contact him again if he is not a regular there.
Handguns for protection come in the two general types, Semi-Automatic (many times called just autos) or Revolvers. However there are another one or two that MAY be considered for the experienced shooter, which will be covered later.
Ideally you will practice often enough to become fully acquainted with your new friend. However in reality because of other obligations, this does not happen as often as it should. Many of us are so busy that our defense gun goes for months, or even longer without being touched unless a situation close to home gives us an awakening call. This being the case, it may be best to pick a firearm that is simple to load and operate without having to take even a slight refresher course each time you pick it up. The best would be one that when loaded is safe, but should be able to be fired by simply picking it up, point and fire, with minimal secondary manipulations. This type of firearm is pretty common now (2016) and made by numerous manufacturers. Many semi-auto frames are made of aluminum or Polymer for lightness and ease of manufacturing which lowers cost.
A semi-automatic uses a ammunition magazine that is usually slid up and locked inside the grip housing. All semi-automatics will have a metal slide (that could encompass the barrel) that moves back and forth that is activated by heavy spring. With the loaded magazine locked in place, the slide needs to be retracted, (pulled back by you) far enough for it to pick up a live round from the loaded and inserted magazine, then the slide needs to be released rapidly so the large spring inside will pick up this live round and feed it into the barrel, locking the barrel and slide in place as it goes forward, so then the gun can be fired. Upon firing, the bullet then exits the barrel before the slide moves rearward under recoil to automatically pick up the second round from the magazine.
Usually standard size semi-automatics have a larger grip that some women find too large to hold onto comfortably. This would be more so if that particular firearm used a double stack column magazine (wider but more rounds) than a single stack magazine. Also some of this type can have numerous safety devices that need to be deactivated in order for the firearm to be able to fire. Some safeties being manual while others are automatic when you grip the pistol and/or squeeze the trigger.
Some have external hammers that also may or may not need to be in the right position to either be safe or to fire. Some are single action and others double action style which if the gun is a single action hammer gun, you will have to manually cock the hammer before you can fire the FIRST SHOT, (upon recoil from the first or succeeding shots the hammer will stay cocked). These type usually have a nice easy trigger pull. The double action hammer gun from the normal carry position with the hammer down (like the single action), you have to pull the trigger a bit harder to cock the hammer and then keep pulling for the gun to fire. This requires a lot more energy to pull this style a trigger. Once you fire the first shot, these guns act the same as the single action where the trigger pull is less because the slide moving rearward to eject the empty case also has cocked the hammer and will fire in this mode until you empty the magazine of ammo. However to make the gun safe again to carry, you will need to "let down the hammer" (explained later), which to the uninitiated can be a challenge because of the chance of an AD (Accidental Discharge).
OK, now I probably have you really confused, but please bear with me. However I would be remiss if I just skimmed over the important stuff above, leaving you in the dark on some very important overlooked issues. And it is hard to pack a 20 hour or so class of personal instruction into the few pages that you see here and still keep you interested enough to continue reading. So you may want to skim over this above section and go back later.
One bad thing about a semi-auto for a or older or small lady, is that to initially load the firearm, you have to pull the slide rearward (all the way back so it will pick up a live round out of the magazine). This can prove to be difficult for some small people or those with little arm strength, or older persons who may have Arthritis in their hands/arms.
And many small pocket semi-automatics could be prone to jamming (not ejecting the fired round OR not feeding a new round into the barrel) if not held rigidly, (called Limp Wristing) or when using ammo not compatible with your gun. Once the gun has jammed, you can not fire it until the problem is cleared. And some of these semi-autos are very dependant on certain brands or types of ammunition in this sense. In the photos below you will notice finger grooves at the rear of the slide, these are there to facilitate grasping the rear of the slide when loading the 1st round OR unloading a round in the chamber. This is not meant to sway your ideas away from the semi-auto as remedies are available (hold it tighter) or choose the proper ammo.
The one IMPORTANT thing when using a semi-auto is to remember that to unload it, FIRST point the firearm in a SAFE DIRECTION, NEXT remove the loaded magazine, then if there is a manual safety, place it on FIRE, tip the gun on it's right side and pull the slide rearward, allowing the live round in the chamber to fall out into your hand. Now you will be able to see an empty chamber and no loaded magazine in the gun. Then and only then, is it unloaded.
Also, especially the smaller semi-autos can be finicky at feeding live ammo into the barrel at times, by this it could be failure to feed the first round out of the magazine. When this happens it is usually operator error. What could be happening is is when you pull the slide back to load a new round into the barrel, you may be inadvertently starting to help it go forward, but in reality you need to pull it all the way back, then slightly release your grip allowing the slide to slip out of your fingers, giving it full force of the spring to push the slide forward. This would be true if you were initially loading the gun by inserting a loaded magazine, pulling the slide back and letting it go to load the first round in the chamber, then many will remove the magazine and load another round in the magazine so that the gun is LOADED, AND has a full magazine. Or the same situation could also be when you are changing loaded clips after firing and emptying the first one, which after firing the last round most guns will lock the slide rearward on the last shot. Here after replacing a new or reloaded loaded magazine into the gun, it is very simple to depress the slide lock, allowing the slide to slam forward under the full potential of the recoil spring's power.
To load, fill the magazine with proper ammo, slide it up into the grip area and lock it in place (which can be pretty much automatic on all guns by pushing it upward as far as it will go). Now pointing it in a safe direction, pull the slide rearward and let it go so that it will slam forward quickly, picking up a round out of the top of the magazine and forcing it into the barrel. It is now ready to fire. If it has a exposed hammer as the 1911 shown below on the left, you will usually want to LET IT DOWN to the safe position, which is accomplished by holding onto the gun tightly with one hand, with the other hand place your thumb in front of the hammer, pull the trigger with the other finger as in firing, letting the hammer down slowly against your thumb , then with the other hand let the hammer down as you remove your thumb. On this 1911 style (IF YOU HAVE THE PROPER HOLSTER) you may want to carry it in Condition One, which is cocked AND with the safety on. The proper holster in this case would be one that has a strap that goes tight against the rear of the slide, but in front of the hammer (blocking it) and held in place by a snap that can be released upon drawing the pistol. Then to fire, push the safety lever down.
If it has a manual safety, push that into the SAFE position. This could vary slightly depending on the firearm.
|Here is a standard size 1911 style single action semi-auto with an external hammer||This is the newer polymer frame, double action semi-auto, enclosed hammer, compact version|
Then comes the revolver. These come in the same single action and double action style as the semi autos. However we will not discuss the single action here for defense, (we are way past the wild west gunfighters here). So the double action revolver for defense is usually a short barreled 5 or 6 shot 38 S&W Special or 357 Magnum. However there is one common smaller caliber that can be quite effective for self defense in a revolver that may be overlooked by most salespersons, (AND INSTRUCTORS) and that is the 22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire), however the selection of this caliber in a small revolver may be limited as not many are made. And you will not find this caliber in a semi-auto compact.
On these double action revolvers, the cylinder (the part that holds the ammo) swings out to the side so the ammo can be loaded. This cylinder will usually accommodate from 5 to 6 cartridges, depending on the size of the gun. Once the cylinder is loaded with cartridges, it is then pressed inward, locking it to the frame of the gun with the cylinder aligned with the barrel. With this gun loaded and the cylinder then snapped in place, essentially then all you need to do is pull the trigger, and keep pulling until you have fired all the cartridges as the cylinder automatically rotates with each pull of the trigger. There is no real safety as on a semi-auto, other than the hammer, which in Double Action (DA) defense mode only operates when you pull the trigger. All the modern guns (at least for the last 40 years) will have a hammer block so that if a loaded gun is dropped, it will not fire.
Most revolvers will have a exposed hammer, and after you quit firing double action, the hammer will stay forward in the safe position. Most of these pistols can also be fired in a single action mode by cocking the hammer (whereby the trigger pull is lighter), however and if you decide to not fire, you will need to "let the hammer down" to make it safe similar to explained for the semni-autos. For self defense, I see NO NEED to cock the hammer as in a single action style Bullseye target shooting. A few of these pistols are made in a double action only hammerless style with no hammer exposed or if it is, there is no spur that you can manipulate. These are designed for normal use as a concealed defense firearm.
By nature of the gun, the stocks or "grips" of a revolver can be made in different shapes that can be a more hand fitting style than any semi-auto (remember the semi-auto has the magazine inside the grip). In my many years as a gunsmith/dealer, I have found that more handguns are being traded/sold because the owner can not hit the target well. Many times the reason is that they did not do enough looking/feeling of different firearms (or listened well to a seemingly good salesperson) before they bought one and the grip does not fit their hand. Some guns can be fitted with aftermarket grips, that are designed for better gripping by many different configurations of owners.
The good thing on revolvers is that if one round does not fire (for whatever reason), just pull the trigger again to rotate a new round up in line with the barrel.
Many of these small concealable revolvers will be available in a 38 Smith & Wesson Special caliber, which ammo can be had loaded anywhere from light target loads up to an efficient defense load. Now comes a confusing thing, you will also encounter a slightly larger pistol in 357 Magnum caliber. This 357 caliber is simply a longer 38 S&W Special cartridge case, with more power. However a revolver in this caliber has the ability to fire either the shorter 38 S&W Special OR the 357 Magnum rounds interchangeably. Firing the 357 ammo, it will have more noise and recoil, along with considerably more knockdown power. This could be something that can be used by both a husband AND wife, depending on the ammo it was fed.
Barrel length ; Since we will be looking for a more concealable firearm here, barrel length becomes an issue. For revolvers, barrel length will usually be 2", 3" or 4". For semi-autos, remember they need a strong recoil spring which is enclosed in the slide, so depending on caliber, usually from 3 1/2" to 4 1/2" or maybe 5" would be seen.
In the photos below, the Colt
Single Action Army on the left is not now considered a good defense gun as it was during the
taming of the old west, however it was the best available at that time, and
modern manufacturing has changed the firearms industry considerably today.
|Here is a western style Colt Single Action Army revolver||This is the Ruger SP101, a double action revolver, hammer style, in stainless steel|
Now for the other style that I promised. Shown below is a photo of an American Derringer, which is a tip-up barreled, two shot pistol. These are very compact and you have to cock the hammer before firing each shot. They do have a built in hammer block safety. They are made in a multitude of calibers from 22RF up, however holding onto one of these if firing anything near a full power 357 Magnum is an experience that you may soon want to forget. Frames are made in alloy steel, stainless steel or aluminum alloy. In calibers 357 Magnum or larger (yes they even make it in 410 shotgun cartridge, but with larger grips), where here you could take 4 of your close buddies to the range and shoot all day, then come back with 30 rounds left out of a box of 50 cartridges.
These little guns are a joy to pack and can be
concealed about anywhere, and in calibers of a 38 S&W Special category they are an effective
defense round (if using the right ammo), plus being not that bad to shoot as far as recoil using their
skimpy grip. However one drawback is by the design of the gun, the trigger
pull is heavier than most, (which however adds to safety). But when needed
in a close-up defense situation, this would be of
little consequence. Give
|Here is a American Derringer over/under, 2 shot|
Other Considerations ; Question #1, will you be carrying this firearm on your person when you are out and about, or will it be left in the home for protection there? If at home, then size does not really matter. Obviously a large 357 or even 44 magnum revolver, or full size 45 ACP has enough power to stop a druggy, but it is not easily carried concealed unless you are a 350# person and wear loose clothes. Even a medium frame 9mm may just be too large for some people to carry all the time, and if you tire if carrying it, how do you know which time to leave it in the vault?
So either you buy two, or do some serious thinking as to what tradeoff you are willing to give or take. You will notice I did not list a 22LR, however, under the perfect conditions this caliber may do the job, IF YOU ARE VERY VERY LUCKY and have the ability to fire lots of ammo, but by then the actual threat has most likely passed, or you are deceased. It could be better than doing nothing, or throwing rocks, but remember, druggies are on dope/high potency pain-pills which usually relates to not feeling pain, so with a small caliber gun, you may do mortal damage, but they may not know it at the time and could do great bodily to you in before they even slow down.
Now do not let the style of pistol be the only determining factor in your decision making. Size and weight also play a huge part of the formula. I have a 1911 stainless steel Officer's Compact 45 ACP, that is a small sweet semi-auto pistol, however it is so heavy that it is pretty well worthless as a concealed carry firearm. So it stays in my bedroom. I have made up another, same size, that has become my "Packing Gun" but this one is a aluminum alloy frame, (making it lighter) and in 9mm caliber, (smaller ammo, less weight for more rounds than the 45 in the same size gun).
As for actual calibers, there are a lot to choose from. The normally accepted defense calibers would be (starting at the low power end) a 380 ACP, 38 S&W Special, 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, 45 ACP. You will notice I have left of quite a few calibers, not that these are not good or effective, but for other reasons I will explain later. Just selecting a acceptable caliber is meaningless UNLESS you purchase an appropriate DEFENSE ammo to go along with your new pistol. And sometimes if times are scary, or WTSHTF and the public gets scared, where the not so popular ammo (possibly even the popular) may become scarce to obtain. When you purchase ammo, and find one brand that your gun likes (feeds/functions and is accurate), purchase a few extra boxes. Remember ammunition is kind of like toilet paper, you do not buy it by the round (sheet) as you need it. And ammo usually come in boxes of 50, however some now do come in 1/2 boxes because of increased cost.
Finally ANY defense gun has to be 110% reliable, as if it jams, you can not call TIME OUT in the middle of a gunfight. This means you will need to do practicing with the ammo you will be carrying in it. Also for most semi-autos, some may need to be "broke in". This means there could be some minor machining imperfections that need to be lubricated or worn down, which could take up to a couple of boxes or so of ammo ran through it to get it purring.
And lastly, Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you. Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arms length.
Drugs and Gangs ; Most all the home invasions, burglaries or thefts can be connected to drugs in some way. This is connected to gangs who are also the distributors. It can be a vicious circle, the drugs created addiction, which, creates the need for more drugs, and the usual source is theft by pawning, Craig's List or ultimately into garage sales.
1970s --most encountered was Powdered Cocaine
1980s -- " " " Crack Cocaine
1990s -- " " " Meth (early on made in homemade labs). Now made in a very high pure quality called ICE by Mexican cartels
2000s -- " " " Prescription Drugs, many times by smoking 80mg Oxicodin, but FDA changed the formula so anything over 30mg could not be powdered
2009 -- " " " Heroin (black tar heroine) a crude compound smelling like vinegar. Later the imported product is of very high quality and called GunPowder. It is so powerful that those that used the black tar quantities of gunpowder will overdose.
Currently 2016 the trend is moving to the theft of marijuana by attacking retail stores, customers leaving, or warehousing/manufacturing locations. Even some ex US Army rangers have formed a business of protecting these locations.
A suggestion here, if in your younger years you were inclined to decorate your skin with tattoos, when you now go out and about into strange territory, it may be beneficial to your health to cover them up. There could be a chance that your decorations may be now taken to be gang associated. And if you are escorting your wife out of a restaurant in a new town to you, while on vacation, you or she, may unknowingly become a target.
Have a Plan ; If you do not have a plan, when under stress, your brain will freeze and 10 seconds will seem like hours. The worst thing you can do is PANIC. A close second worst is to get PISSED at the burglar and retaliate by shooting him as he is running away. Jail time for you.
Practice & Defense ; There are many shooting clubs or rifle/pistol ranges around the country. And for more information a lot of internet sites that can be a wealth of information. One Being this one. Here is another well written article on Home Defense.
Preparation, Yours ; Here in Washington State, we have a "Stand Your Ground" law. Basically what this means is if you are in a location where you are legally entitled to be, if a situation arises where you may become involved in a confrontation, you do not have to turn and run. In cases like this, even if you have a current Concealed Pistol Permit that is valid in your state, you have the right to use your concealed pistol if the confrontation escalates and you fear for your life, where you feel your or the life of your companion is in danger. However sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. And do not go looking for action where you can prove to the world that you are in charge. Stay away from alleys in the bad part of town.
Do not go out and purchase a pistol, fire a few rounds out of it and consider yourself competent. Pistol marksmanship is not like learning to ride a bike. OK, you have now gotten used to how your new pistol functions and it begins to feel like it is at home in your hands. You do not have time to attend a firearms class, so you have read a lot of internet writings or books. This may or may not be good, as do you totally understand what was meant by the writer? Remember some internet information may not be totally creditable. Here, I will try to be impartial and explain some of the things you can, and can not do, along with what you have to do to mentally prepare yourself in case you do have to pull and use a pistol in self defense.
As mentioned above, it is very advisable for you to take some training, both in becoming familiar with your new tool, but also in the legalities in the new area to you where you might soon be treading. One class I recently attended is taught by Chris Walker of Accuracy Northwest LLC . This man has currently over 25 years in Law Enforcement and offers 4 hour classes at Cabelas, Lacey Washington once a month. He calls it "Firearm and Personal Safety Seminar" and has a well structured class presentation. This is not a preliminary firearms or a hands on handling class, but he does deal with safety and leans more toward well rounded legal understandings.
Yes, IF you, in your own mind AT THAT TIME, feel your life is threatened or great bodily harm is present, you can use the firearm for self defense for you, your wife, children, parents, etc., even someone who just happens to be in the wrong place. However DO NOT be a "Good Samaritan" and intervene in a confrontation unless you are CERTAIN the person/persons who you have sided with is not the perpetrator. You could be walking into a swamp full of alligators with both the perpetrator and the law. Again sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
If you get in a situation where there is a threat to you, and if it de-escalates, where the bad guy turns to retreat, he/she is no longer a threat to you, YOU CAN NOT SHOOT HIM IN THE BACK even if he is running away stealing your TV or driving your vehicle. And your getting MAD to where you loose control because he stole your property could get you prison time. Monetary values can not be associated with a Deathly Force situation. You can not even shoot to wound him, and remember the justification for pulling a gun is nullified if he is retreating. Many of these thugs know that, and many times COUNT ON IT.
Home Security ; Most bad guys do not want a confrontation, so they work in a team of 2 or 3, having a get a way vehicle, lookout and the invader. The usual vehicle of choice could be a beat-up dark Honda Accord with no hubcaps and could have a Vote for Hillary bumper sticker. The reason for no hubcaps is those have already been pawned. They will case any prospective target, so if you see any strange vehicle in your neighborhood for any period of time, that does not fit your location, call 911. They may even park nearby and use binoculars to inspect farther away targets. Many of the lookouts are juveniles and repeat offenders who stay in touch by radios or cell phones prior to and during these invasions. Lately the trend has been theft of delivered packages by UPS or Fed X. They simply follow the delivery truck, make a second pass around , sending one goon up the sidewalk, grab the package and retreat within 30 seconds.
It may be good to install a security camera system, and one of the best is called the "25/7system" These can be connected to your cell phone, where your system connects to your cell phone when tripped by a sensor. You will be able to monitor the camera, or multiple cameras, call 911 or even talk to the perpetrators. Have cameras in at least some of the rooms.
Daylight invasions usually happen between 8AM and 3PM because most homeowners are at work during that time. Residential invasions can be in either a Personal Property burglary or a Personal Robbery. There is a difference. A burglary is an invasion when no one is present. A robbery is if the home is occupied. Robbery is defined as the using of force, or the threat of force to take property.
Guard dogs are OK, but the large aggressive type can be a liability if they bite a person.
Best to have metal front/rear doors that open outward, which makes it a lot harder for a "kick the door down type invasion".
If your residence has an attached garage and you leave your garage door opener in the vehicle, if your vehicle is stolen, the perpetrator now has access to your home. Many of the electric garage door openers may use the same wireless frequency. Sometimes when a crook steals a vehicle they simply drive by any street slowly and push the button until a garage door opens.
And a NRA sticker on your home or vehicle is an open invitation for a burglary, where they are looking for firearms and you have just done advertisement for them.
Keep serial numbers of everything you own, otherwise Law Enforcement has their hands tied without positive Identification. There are lots of 46" TVs along with 14' white boats on a blue trailer and a 25hp outboard motor out there. Keep this information off-site if possible, and stored on a thumb drive.
If you go on vacation, leave a vehicle parked in the driveway. Have a neighbor move it every couple of days and keep your mail picked up. If it has snowed, have the neighbor walk onto your porch, to the car, shovel parts of the sidewalk to make it look like you are still at home. Have a timer on a light inside the house so it goes on at dark and off at about midnight as if someone was home.
It is best to install a gun vault that is FULL SIZE and bolted to the floor. However you might consider having a dedicated dim flashlight nearby so that you can see to punch the code or dial the combination at any time of the day or night without having to turn a room light on, or if the power goes off.
There are two aspects of Home Invasion. (1) A home invasion is if they come into a home not knowing anyone is there, (2) if they come in on purpose to take something, knowing someone is there, where it would be usually they are targeting for a specific reason.
If you are home and hear someone trying to or may be inside, call 911, let them know someone is in your home but do not know the circumstances at this time. If things start escalating, set the phone down but put it on speaker phone, as the 911 system has a very powerful system and can still communicate or hear what is transpiring and it is RECORDED. If you have a cell phone, you could also take it with you in the house and also call 911 on it to keep them advised.
If you or someone in your home is incapacitated and uses a "Life Alert" where the button is attached to a necklace 24 hours a day, that would also be a great method of notifying someone. Push the alert button and communicate directly with their operator, who comes onto a loudspeaker in your home, and can hear very well (so can the intruder). Have them also call 911.
Here is a HOME DEFENSE VIDEO that is put on by Personal Defense Network that is long but very informational, giving lots of information. This gives many scenarios that may save your life and lots of other related information.
Mental Preparation ; Some may believe that they will just use the firearm to scare the perpetrator off. DO NOT count on this happening. If you, in any way come across as if you are not committed and confident (even though you are shaking in your boots) the bad guy/gal in all likelihood will take the firearm away from you and even use it on you. Many law enforcement officers die every year by the hands of someone who took their gun away from them as they were trying to give that person the benefit of any doubt. You will notice I also mentioned GAL here, yes there are bad ladies out there also.
Another thing, are you mentally aware/conditioned of just what you may be exposed to after you have shot this perpetrator? Some people may not be able to accept this. Therefore it is advisable to really consider, is this something you can handle mentally, even given the circumstances they are the bad guy, and you are protecting your life or that of loved ones? If not the suggestion is to get a boating Freon PWC horn, or pepper spray.
If you have went this far into preparing to defend your self, you need to also to put in a lot of mental preparation. By this, I mean, you WILL have to mentally prepare yourself to the fact that YOU WILL DEFEND yourself at a moments notice, and that being, that if the chips are down and the confrontation is exploding, that YOU WILL pull the trigger on your firearm. You have to PRE-PROGRAM YOUR BRAIN to do this, because if you have not, and you are convinced that you will just scare the perpetrator off by showing the gun or firing a warning shot, IF things turn for the worst, IT WILL HAPPEN VERY VERY FAST, and you WILL NOT have enough time in that 1/2 a second's notice to DE-PROGRAM the brain and to then to manage to pull the trigger on the bad guy in time to protect yourself. Here mere fractions of seconds may mean the difference between life and death, YOURS.
If you just shoot to wound OR if that is what happens as you are shooting to stop them, some hardened criminals take that as a signal to really take you down, showing their warped mind.
If this chain of events takes place, and you survive, afterwards, you may have nightmares and go through a lot of "What Ifs" for a long time. This would not be considered out of line at all. Law Enforcement also goes through this even though they have been trained along this line. They even may have to have psychiatrically therapy afterwards for a while. You as a private citizen are not immune to the same needs.
Firearm Safety ; When in the act of shooting, the trigger finger is ALWAYS indexed along the side of the firearm UNTIL the front sight is aligned onto the target (NO EXCEPTIONS). No finger on the trigger as you draw it from the holster, otherwise you could experience an embarrassing or even a very painful situation.
Tactical Flashlight ; A tactical flashlight when used at close range at night can be very effective whereby the perpetrator could be temporarily blinded. When using a one of these flashlights in conjunction with a pistol, hold it in the off hand and cross under the shooting hand, placing both hands back to back. This gives you the benefit of having the light even with or possibly ahead of your pistol, along with some support for your gun hand.
The better tactical flashlights come in Lumens of from 600 to 1200 and priced from $50 to $230. The more economical ones usually use three AAA batteries but the run time could be about 1/2rd of the other special, or even rechargeable batteries. But how often will you use it for more than just a few seconds on high power and if just looking for something, you can use the lower power setting, further saving the batteries. And these alkaline batteries are economical and readily available.
Most will have at least 3 light functions, High, Low, and Flash. Others may offer High, Medium, Low, Flash and SOS. A suggestion is to buy "Made in USA" instead of cheap imports when it comes to possible life or death situations. Some come in a barrel size of 1" that can be mounted on long gun forearm using a standard rail mount.
And I have read that these high powered flashlights are not prohibited from airline carry on. However I have not verified this.
Range Time ; Well, so you have made your choice and laid down the cash. If you are not that familiar with handguns, (or it is a different make or model than you are familiar with) you may want the salesperson to explain it's operation to you. If you do not understand, ASK, as now is the time, instead of after you have a AD (Accidental Discharge). Now you need to get acquainted with your new friend. Take it out of the box along with the instructions. Read these over and over while comparing the nomenclature (names) to parts of your gun. Get familiar with it's function (EMPTY of course) and do it alone so that you do not get distracted.
Sign up or go to a range where you can get an
instructor to get you going in the right direction from the start.
There is a difference in sight alignment for target shooting as compared to combat or tactical shooting. The main thing target pistols have is adjustable sights, where tactical combat sights do not adjust and are usually made to be nearly point of aim with most combat ammo. Target shooters have time and want to see a a clearer image, and use a sight picture often called a “6 o’clock” hold, which aligns the sights at the base of the bullseye, sometimes calling it as the “pumpkin on a post” method where the sights are adjusted for the distance set by the competition regulations. Here the gun will be adjusted to shoot high by 1/2 of the bullseye.
Only you can adjust your own sights, as each of us grip our guns differently or may tend to twist it when pulling the trigger or in anticipation of the shot.
Combat shooters usually want their pistol to shoot to point of aim, which will normally be used at a closer distance as in the RH photo below.
|Here you see the preferred sight picture in Bullseye target shooting assimilated by the "Pumpkin on the Post" hold||This is the preferred sight picture of a tactical shooter, only here, in my mind the gun is held slightly too high to be "Center of Mass" as seen in the target shown in the next lower photo|
You will need to do a lot of practicing, and dry firing without ammo in the gun which is beneficial (and cheaper) to newcomers to get the feel of the trigger pull. Bullseye match type single handed target practice is usually shot at 50' and may train you to to get used to your firearm and learn to shoot somewhat accurately. My suggestion would be to start at a closer distance, like maybe the 7 yards or 21'. My suggestion also is to do a two handed hold for all your defensive shooting. Think about it, if you get into a confrontation, this Stand Up "Dueling Position" would NOT BE VERY PRACTICAL as mentioned below. Also you may practice shooting and then immediately moving sideways to give you better tactical positioning.
The sights on pistols will usually be a square notch rear and a flat topped post front sight. The objective is to align the front sight within the "ears" of the rear. Some defense sights have dots, one on the front sight, with two on the rear, one on each side, so you simply try to align all three in a horizontal line. Some could have colored luminous dots. Focus on your front sight, so it’s crisp and clear. Your chosen target could be a bit blurry and that’s OK. You want all of your focus on the front sight, while the target may be slightly blurred (depending on your age and eyesight). Let this front sight self align within the rear sight ears or dots. Your sight picture will move around a bit as no one can hold a handgun perfectly still. This is OK and normal, but with practice should improve.
Slowly PRESS the trigger as smoothly as possible while the sight is in the vicinity of your target. You’ll notice I say “press” instead of “pull” and that’s deliberate, as a PULL usually leads to you involuntarily jerking the trigger in anticipation of the gun going off. As you practice, you be able to hold your gun more steady and the sights will move around less on target as your muscle tone improves. The goal here is to complete the full trigger press until the gun’s action releases – without moving the sights off target and you not knowing the exact point of the gun firing. Just accept the little bit of wobble.
Those of you who will be using a double action pistol will notice a heavier trigger pull than when using a single action described above. This is because you will be cocking the hammer (at least partly), in this case the trigger needs to be pulled considerably more of a distance before it lets off and fires. Here it is usually the case that you will in pulling it that far that you have a tendency to also rotate the pistol in your wrist, (being hard for the beginner to not squeeze the whole hand). When this happens a right handed shooter will normally shoot low and to the left. This can be compensated for by doing dry firing and learning the gun, by rapidly pulling the trigger about 80%, then shift into the more squeezing mode for the final firing.
Certain newer generation semi-autos which use a striker/(firing pin) are designed so that the striker does not go all the way forward as on the older models, but is caught midway, this allows a double action pistol to have a lesser trigger pull. It is still safe in that if it was accidently jarred off (dropped), it does not have enough energy to fire the round. Therefore many of these are manufactured without a manual safety.
One thing to consider is that if using a semi-auto, the slide has to move rearward AND again forward to make this type of firearm function. They are designed to be held rigidly. There is a situation called "Limp wrist" shooting, whereby the pistol will not cycle properly. If you do not hold it in a fashion where the gun moves rearward on it's own at firing, you have probably not locked your elbow. This allows the whole pistol to move under recoil, where the pistol's slide is the only thing that can move to operate properly. Do not confuse the pistol rising under recoil with vertical rearward movement.
Now do not get disheartened by my somewhat negative elaborations above, as each gun could have it's idiosyncrasies, but that is where practice comes in. Get to know your gun.
|Here is a typical Bullseye target||This simulates a body size target with the red aiming point at the "CENTER OF MASS"|
Dry Fire Practice ; Actual range time is indeed crucial, BUT it can be expensive and may of us are so busy that we find it put on the back burner and never seem to make it often enough. OK, dry fire it, that means with an UNLOADED firearm, practice pointing it at an object and pulling the trigger. On modern guns this should not be detrimental to the gun itself. Pick out a target, point and pull. Get used to how the trigger releases and try to be able to "CALL" your shot. This means where was the sight picture at the instant the hammer fell? This is cheap and can be done almost anywhere at home. Only be sure it is unloaded if you try to shoot the bad guy on the TV screen.
Once you get the feel of things, then move into a combat situation. By this I mean, move into Combat Type Shooting, rapidly pull the pistol from the holster point and shoot, even from different angles or positions, (time yourself) then possibly go to instinctive shooting, (only point and shoot, but not aiming).
Here you can also practice your breathing. It is not mentioned above , but in all normal shooting, breath control is taught. This being, take a deep breath, hold it, then let out slowly as you are aiming and trigger pull. You have more control and the chance of a better sight picture as you press the trigger. HOWEVER in this tactical combat shooting, it would not be practical, but if you practice doing it, before long you should be doing it without actually trying. Every little bit can help in the long run.
Stance ; The steadiest standing pistol shooting position is a two handed hold, with the gun hand PUSHING forward, the other hand formed by wrapping the fingers around the gun hand AND PULLING rearward, making a strong triangle (as seen in the top right hand header photo). Normally some people find that what works best for them could be many different versions from facing straight forward, (Isosceles) to pivoted slightly off to the side facing more away from the gun hand, (Weaver stance)however this may limit your rotation in the opposite direction if needed. Most shooters find it is imperative to have the gun arm locked at the elbow (as seen in the photos below), which increases stability and more accurate shooting. There are numerous varying forms of this method, but you should get the idea.
Many also use a slight crouch which could help steady you and also presents a smaller target for the perpetrator. But all of these require proper stance with good footing so that you could swivel either way without changing footing.
Your body position is only as good as your footing, feet wide but comfortable and a well balanced body. In the RH photo below the slight squat, also would put you into the position where you could move more rapidly if the situation escalated and you had to take cover than from a straight full upright with legs locked position.
The stronger your hold means a steadier position which should equal more accurate shooting. It also lends itself to "Instinctive" shooting.
|Here is a normal Bullseye target one handed stance||This slightly squatting stance is sometimes associated with tactical combat shooting|
None of this cowboy dueling BS in the street at high noon. Remember, the #1 rule in a gunfight is shoot first, #2 is shoot straight and #3 would be --There Are No Rules --.
Pepper Spray ;
This is an alternate and for some people it may be the
right choice under your circumstances. However do not make your first
attempt at using one of these the critical one, nor use it with the wind
blowing toward you if you can help it.
Something Else ; Here is another item that you may consider. You will see many older or somewhat crippled people using a walking cane. This could also become a good defense weapon, not as good as a firearm, but it could do a lot of damage if used right. Here I would not choose the commercial short one handed canes, but one that would be long enough to use two hands on with a 5' length being a good start. Take a walk in the woods and find a small tree, somewhat straight and about 1" in diameter.
In use, I think that NOT using it like a baseball bat would be preferable, as your opponent can predict your move, (at least initially). From a walking position, a QUICK two handed sharp jab to the abdomen could double them up, then the baseball bat to the head/upper body.
Just be very careful to not let them get it away from you.
Washington State Jury Instructions for "Stand Your Ground" ; "It is lawful for a person who is in a place where that person has a right to be and has reasonable grounds for believing that he is being attacked to stand his ground and defend against such attack by use of lawful force. The law does not impose a duty to retreat".
Self Defense ; Defense of Deadly Force is defined as the intentional application of force thru the use of a firearm which is reasonably likely to cause death or serious bodily harm. You can respond with equal force. BUT to use Deadly Force in this situation, the threat has to be IMMINENT AND IMMEDIATE. Once the threat is over, your use of force has to end.
Who started the fight? Did you the defendant, try to deescalate or evade the situation? If you have to shoot to protect yourself or others, once the threat has been eliminated, you can not still continue firing because your Self Defense will have then be turned into Murder.
Do not in any way advance on the perpetrator, as in Law Enforcement's eyes, this could be seeing the sides of the issue change and you then could be perceived as the aggressor/perpetrator.
As mentioned, do not fire a warning shot. Number one, the legal justification to pull a firearm on another person, whether you fire a shot in the air or into the perpetrator is the same. Do not waste time or ammo.
Do not let the perpetrator get close, even a determined person with a knife at 7 yards or 21' (which is the FBI's danger zone distance) which is too close as they can be on you before you can pull and fire (1 1/2 seconds) unless you can read minds and know what he will be doing next. Many confrontations will be with the perpetrator/perpetrators not using a firearm but some other form of being able to inflict GREAT BODILY HARM. Here their ability to do so is governed by how close they are to you and if they have Martial Arts training (which you have no way of knowing).
If the situation happens where the perpetrator does have a firearm and is a longer distance, try to buy time, get behind cover and let things play out. If you can find some sort of protection, this puts you in a way better situation. Also consider this, most crooks/druggies do not have a legal gun or take a firearms course, OR even do practice shooting. Most of their guns would have been stolen, or acquired the stolen gun through drug trades and they usually live in a metropolitan area where if they did practice, someone would become suspicious and the crooks surly do not want law enforcement finding them with a stolen gun. Therefore, in your favor, they may not be good shots, but you could be the unlucky one that time.
If things start escalating, it would be wise to have the firearm concealed in your hand or sleeve, inside a shirt or your jacket pocket, or on it while in the holster, ready to go, even to the point of pre-firing while it is still in the pocket if things escalate rapidly. However be aware that if you do this with a semi-automatic, that it may well not have room in the pocket for the slide to retract far enough to eject the empty and may not reload a 2nd round, which would incapacitate your firearm.
Legally there are a few things you need to take into consideration. Are you really in danger? By this, say if you are in your house and the perpetrator is standing in your lawn with a baseball bat, he/she poses no real threat to you AT THAT TIME. However if they move onto your porch, the threat increases. But if you can close the door, it decreases. However if you and them were in the yard in equal surroundings, that again changes things. Do they have the ability (closeness and means) to do great bodily harm to you ?? Can you retreat?
Disparity of Force could be, age/size difference can also enter into the situation. If you are are small older person and or have a physical disability and the perpetrator is a large young person, where you have no equalization other than your friend Mr. Colt or Smith & Wesson, the law takes (or should) take that into consideration, especially a jury. The are you alone and they are many?
And all bullet holes have to enter from the front part of the body. It would be highly unlikely that the perpetrator would be advancing with his back to you and be a threat at the same time. If they turn and move away, the threat to you has now greatly diminished. However do not let your guard down as they may be using the retreat as a trick, where they may use the time to pull a gun and then spin around when you think it is over, OR even to where they may have an accomplice move in from behind you. Try to have something at your back that they/their buddies can not get to.
And since you do not know the mental/physical condition of the perpetrator (very possibly high on drugs), do not fire one shot and stop to admire your marksmanship. Fire multiple times, may not be inappropriate. However never fire all the rounds in your firearm. Maybe this guy has a friend in the dark behind him. Shoot for "Center of Mass" which is the largest upper part of the upper body, namely heart/lung area. Do not even consider to shoot only to wound. If you did, that may be the signal for them to really put the pressure on and over-run you. For one, you will not have time to aim as if you were shooting a paper target. Therefore it might behoove you to practice doing instinctive shooting, point and fire. Now remember you are at a close range, otherwise you are NOT in danger. This instinctive shooting may sound out of line, but with practice you will be surprised at how effective you can be at close range. And in a defensive situation the distance will normally be less than 10', remember, they are usually not a threat much beyond that distance (depending on the circumstances).
I used to practice this with a 22 pistol, in the winter from a footbridge across a creek at my parent's place, shooting specks of foam or leaves flowing down the creek with the current, but either almost directly above them or with a high clay bank beyond for safety's sake. This gives you an instant recognition of the bullet's impact location. I got so good at it, that I then went to instinctive shooting (no sighting, but more of a combat style). First off you need to get to know your firearm, and how you hold/grip it the same every time. You can practice somewhat by pointing your finger, but not holding it high in line with your eyes as you were looking down a sights as if target practice. Your impact area will usually be pretty on for right or left, just your elevation will need to be learned. This is an instance where the modern laser sights would be very helpful.
Speaking of laser sights, I have a friend who has a motion defector on his driveway. One night about 2AM, it went off. His bedroom is upstairs, when going to the window he sees a large person sneaking up near the house. His pistol has a laser sight, he laid the gun on the window sill, pointed the beam on the ground in front of the intruder, and walked the beam up on to the body. He is still laughing at the speed the intruder disappeared.
I know of one firearms course where the chief instructor brags about their teaching "low light shooting". To me that is somewhat of a sales gimmick. One of your primary objectives would be to FIRST identify your target. If you can not identify YOUR target (and his means of attacking you) in low light, then your grounds for self defense diminishes very rapidly. Is this perpetrator in your home is a drunken neighbor or relative looking for a place to bunk for the night? In a low light situation, how can you know? Criminals or dopeies WILL NOT be waving a skull and crossbones flag as they come to you as compared to a relative with his American flag. Even if they did, could you discern one flag from the other in dim light.
One thing also in a low light situation, is if you can have a VERY powerful flashlight, hold the handgun in one hand, supported by the other which has the flashlight directed at the bad guy. When it is turned on from a dark room, where you can IMMEDIATELEY point it at his eyes, you will temporarily blind him, giving you a chance to observe and make a more informed decision as what to do. You, being behind the light will not be effected anywhere near as bad as he will be. BUT, if there is more than one, this will give the other intruder a location where you are for them to shoot at. Give some-take some.
I have another friend who years ago worked night shift for Boeing in Seattle. His wife was well versed in firearms handling. One night he got off early, came home, unlocked the door with his key and proceeded to raid the refrigerator. In the still of the night, he, as well as those of us who are familiar with Colt 1911s had no trouble identifying the cocking of his wife's Colt that she kept in the bedroom. Next time, he made it a point to slam the door, step on the cat's tail, and holler very loud, "Honey, I'm Home".
Where things can get a little hairy is the unknown. By this, maybe it is dim light on a dark street, and you can not see well enough to be sure the possible perpetrator has a weapon (either knife, firearm or baseball bat), but they are acting weird and threatening you. Even though the state that you live in may be a "Stand Your Ground" state, retreat if possible behind something until the confrontation is defused or escalated in which case you will have to make a better judgment call. Remember your flashlight.
Or there is a small gang approaching you, making demands. You will have to make some fast decisions. If it appears they have some form of armament, either knives or firearms, it would be foolhardy to try to push the issue. Some recommend that you carry a second wallet with no ID and nominal cash in it, throw it on the ground near but far enough away from them that they have to move away from you to get it, then YOU RUN the opposite direction. However if showdown time comes, Be first, Be fast, Be accurate, Be right. There are no fair play rules in a gunfight, except come out alive.
You CAN NOT, WILL NOT, SHALL NOT use Lethal Force to PROTECT PROPERTY.
Civil consequences could be possible afterwards.
Important to Remember ; The one most important thing to remember if you get in a confrontation and have to use your firearm for protection, is that YOU DID NOT SHOOT TO KILL THAT SCUM BAG, YOU HOWEVER SHOT TO STOP HIM/HER FROM DOING THE DASTARDLY DEED THAT YOU PERCEIVED THEM BEING ABOUT TO DO, AND YOU HAD NO CHOICE IN ORDER TO SAVE YOUR OR THE LIVES OF THOSE NEAR YOU AT THAT TIME. This is essentially what you need to tell the Law Enforcement (in a condensed version) and what you say if you are called into court and have to testify in your own behalf. Your intent was to STOP them, if in doing this, it meant they did not survive, not your worry at the time, but you accomplished your initial legal purpose. By adding the word KILL, you have indicated intent.
Am I making a point here to practice using you firearm? And you need to practice in what you perceive to be a practical/tactical situation. You do not want anything to foul things up even like as simple thing like forgetting to unsnap the holster strap if it has one, or having your shirt tucked in over the pistol. Also practice pulling your firearm with your weak hand. You might be down on the ground and laying on your strong arm or have been shot, incapacitating that arm. And if for some insane reason, you are carrying a 1911 with the hammer down, remember that for the first shot you will have to cock it after you pull it from the holster because once you have it in play, cocking the hammer my just loose you valuable time and put you in a very disadvantaged situation.
Concealed Carry Permit ; First off, as of December 2016 there is NO NATIONAL Concealed Carry Permit recognition in the US, however Donald Trump has said in his electoral proposals that he is for one. So maybe there is hope.
That currently means you will need to do some research to find a state that offers permits TO NON-RESIDENTS, which allows reciprocity carry to be honored by as many other states as possible. Here in Washington State, apparently the legal language governing our CCP issuance does not cut it for most other states. The one somewhat close State that seems to be pretty universally honored is Utah. The word is that you still have to have a permit from your home state of residence, but you can ALSO attend a Utah class and pay (usually $75), and if you pass, will be issued that permit, which is honored in about all but a few states on the east coast. There seems to be at least one certified instructor who occasionally teaches these classes at Cabela's in Lacey Washington.
For a web link to a site that illustrates a reciprocity map of the United States CLICK HERE.
Carrying Concealed ; First off, if you are going to carry a self defense firearm, you would be DUMB if you were not carrying it loaded and ready to function at a moment's notice. If your concern is safety, then may need to re-evaluate your gun, the holster, your method of carry OR all of them.
If you intend to carry a concealed forearm, by all means apply and get a Concealed Carry Permit (License) from your local law enforcement. Currently (9-2016) there are 560,000 CCPs in Washington State. And last count there are 14.5 million lawful CCPs in the United States, plus another few million in the 10 states that do not require a CCP to carry concealed.
If you are carrying a concealed firearm, be sure the holster is conducive to fast deployment of the firearm. Be sure to try to find a GOOD concealed carry holster, and NOT a flimsy rag. Practice getting your gun into play with no hitches. You want to wear clothes and have a holster that totally CONCEALS THE PISTOL IN ALL SITUATIONS, as some people, even store security can get very nervous and wrongfully sound an alarm whereby you may be mistaken for the bad guy if your firearm is accidently seen. And some store office staff (whom the security officer would have called) may not really understand the store security's situation and MAY become very excited and NOT communicate well when making a 911 call, whereby you, the good guy with a gun can become a "bad guy with a gun" and skittery Law Enforcement starts shooting in light of all the school/store/cop shootings. If in a crowd of any size and Security says "Put Your Hands Up", unless they have identified themselves to YOU, how do you know who they are referring to? Concealed is just that, you want to go about your business with no one having any idea that you are "Packing Heat".
You may get involved in discussions with those that with the modern "Open Carry" laws now pushed in some states, who say show your 2nd Amendment Rights or may say that bad guys will be intimidated by your open carry and pass you by, WELL THINK AGAIN, as it may just be that they need your gun, and will physically take you down first, using surprise. Or Law Enforcement may be called out against you by well meaning persons and you will have a lot of explaining to do and in all probability be detained, (even in hand cuffs) as some Law Enforcements do not like open carry so could be trying to intimidate you/us.
In any fight, surprise is VERY IMPORTANT, (remember Pearl Harbor). The first shot gives a distinct advantage. I learned at very early age " There is no such thing as a "Fair Fist Fight" and that also applies to a "Fair Gun Fight". If You must fight -- You Must Win -- by ANY means available. BUT be sure you are within your right to do so. Remember your PLAN.
Holsters ; You have come this far, now just how are you going to carry this firearm? A holster may appear to be nothing more than the platform in which you carry your concealed firearm, but your holster is every bit as important as the firearm you carry. Carrying it in your pants pocket is not smart, as it WILL show AND will be damned SLOW in getting it out and into play ASAP. In a regular jacket pocket could allow it to drop out if you are not careful. Most Law Enforcement officers will be carrying differently than you or I as theirs are exposed and usually on their hip. What ever your choose has to be secure, in that if you have to run, or lean over at the grocery store to pick up a low item, that it does not fall out. There are many different holster types or methods of carrying concealed and so many manufacturers, BUT you can spend a lot of money doing a trial and error thing, and the sales brochures are convincing, kind like owning boats, -- "The best one is the one the other guy has".
The typical outside the pants is not one of them. Concealed can range from inside the pants, either in front, in the small of the back or cross-draw. Then there is a shoulder holster. Some jackets also have special compartments that can carry a firearm. There is also an ankle holster. Then do not pass over a fanny pack, some of these are made with a readily accessible Velcro enclosed pouch, and for women, there are purses that have special compartments (Velcro opening from the front) that offer fast access, or Bra holsters that fit small handguns. However if you are inclined to carry more than one style of firearm, it would be conducive to have continuity in where and how you carry so that you do not have to stop and think, as it has to be natural to you and not something different each week.
One of the most popular is the "Small of the Back" holster, but UNLESS you wear long tailed shirts outside the pants, when you stoop over, the gun WILL MORE THAN LIKELY show at times, which is not a good thing in a crowded supermarket or shopping mall.
One that I like is the cross-draw either inside or outside the pants (depending on your belly size) front side holster. This means as a right handed shooter you carry it on your left partial side/front. The cross draw puts the gun in a readily accessible, natural reach, while being secure and yet out of sight if you select the right clothes. However finding one of these holsters on the shelf in all the configurations may be hard to find and may have to be special made as it is not that common A cross-draw would also be pretty compatible if you had to wear a shoulder holster, placing the pistol very close to the same location only higher/lower.
You also want a SECURE holster, as it is rather embarrassing to have a gun fall out onto a floor in the middle of a shopping mall, (Been there-Done that ONCE). That was one my fastest moves ever, in that I recovered it before anyone saw what it was (I hope). I was wearing a special made vest that had a UNIVERSAL elastic holster sewn inside. I spent a lot of money for that vest, but have not worn it since, until I modify the internal holster part of it. The manufacturer had a good idea but he must of have never wore it with a real gun in it.
There are a few types of securement, (1) spring type putting force on the pistol. (2) strap type (a) the strap goes over and snapped on the outside, which requires concentrated effort to un snap (b) the snap on the inside where you activate it with your thumb, making a much faster system (c) Velcro securment. (3) a plunger type that locks the gun in at the front of the trigger guard. This is activated by pushing in with the trigger finger at the moment of withdrawal. (4) fitted holsters where the leather is molded around a plastic replica of the gun.
Holsters originally were made of leather, now you can see them made of a ballistic Nylon fabric or molded plastic.
Clothes ; If you are carrying concealed, you may have to dress differently than you may have before. And this is more important if you are a slim person. This could mean wearing a loose fitting vest or jacket. Or even just a shirt/jacket. Some vests are made with a longer section on the rear, mainly to protect your back in colder weather, this is good if you are carrying in a waist type "Small Of The Back" holster. Whatever you choose, access to your holster/pistol is paramount, paralleling the importance of concealing it. Or as mentioned above, a fanny pack designed for pistol carry. This puts it in plain view but yet readily accessible with some having ready accessibility by simply pulling a cord to unzip or pop the Velcro open.
Concealed in a Vehicle ; If you do carry on your person and/or in a vehicle, what do you do, if stopped by a law enforcement officer for a traffic infraction? Number one, in most states now IF you have a Concealed Carry Permit, with the modern computer system law enforcement uses, the officer WILL know when he runs your vehicle license plate number that if you are the owner, that you have CCP. It may be to your best interest that beforehand that you locate your CCP and drivers license back to back in your wallet. And in the interim between being pulled over and the officer coming to your door, get your drivers license AND your CCP out so that when asked, you can hand BOTH together to the officer. Sit still with BOTH hands on the steering wheel, in plain view of the officer. If asked if you have your firearm, tell them where it is located (RH hip pocket, LH cross-draw, or in the center console).
Let them, at that point dictate what they want you to do. THEY WILL BE IN CHARGE, FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. They will probably ask you to exit the vehicle, put your hands on the roof and allow THEM to retrieve the firearm. Some may remove it and run the serial numbers verifying whether it is stolen or not, then unload it and give it back to you. AND YOU HAD BETTER HOPE IT IS NOT STOLEN. The conditions of the stop, whether it is downtown Seattle or a rural highway near Dryad, your age and how you are dressed, along with how you handle the situation may somewhat dictate the outcome of this encounter. Yes, profiling does exist, so does instinct, as this is what makes a cop a good cop. Remember with the recent cop shootings, they are extremely concerned about their own life. But in all probability anyone who has passed all the Concealed Carry requirements will usually be in the upper 5% of the population's good guys and I would hope that Law Enforcement recognizes that. The Law Enforcement that I would personally be more concerned about would be a rookie who had more book/classroom learning than one on the beat with life experience learning.
Now if you do not have a CCP, and insist on having a pistol in your vehicle, OTHER RULES APPLY. In most states it is ILLEGAL to have a loaded firearm in your vehicle. This could be covered even by hunting regulations. Usually if you have it UNLOADED and LOCKED away separate from the ammo , you will get by, unless you are in some of the anti-gun states. But if both the firearm and the ammo are readily available, you may be in trouble. If you do have it loaded and readily available with no CCP, you had better hope that the reason for your traffic stop was minor enough that the officer did not have ANY reason to search the vehicle. AND if you, or ANYONE in your vehicle happened to have any previous felony convictions, again DEEP DO-DO will be ahead for ALL involved. Loaded long guns also are a no-no. You might consider pepper spray instead, which can also be restricted in some states, but at least should not rank as high a violation charge.
Another issue of having/leaving a firearm in a vehicle, is IF it is broken into, that would be a prize that they would highly want to grab. Now you have lost your firearm and a criminal is armed. Remember to write down all you serial numbers.
Ammunition ; Just because you have laid out the cash and purchased a handgun, this does not mean if you buy the cheapest ammo that it is going to perform as a good defense round. Military type ammo (by international law) CAN NOT be hollow pointed and is normally labeled Full Metal Case/Jacket (FMC or FMJ). It is fine to use this for practice, but DO NOT under any circumstance even consider using it for actual personal defense. The military has to use it as that is the reason for shooting the enemy is to wound them, putting them in a hospital, which uses many support personnel. In your instance, it's not your worry to really care about their condition afterwards, and there are no rules for self defense ammo, as your objective is to be able to STOP them from doing what you perceive at that time, which is Great Bodily Harm to you.
Remember, your intent is to STOP this person, and to do it rather rapidly, (like ASAP if possible) here you need a lot of shocking power. You want a mean, expanding bullet, (usually a Hollow Point style). Bullets may be named many different names depending on the sales department's ideas of the manufacturer. No matter what they are called, you want a bullet that expands quickly as compared to the military style FMC that just punches a hole through. This bullet to be effective defensively, has to utilize most of it's energy inside your perpetrator to do an effective job, where multiple wounds are better in a personal defense instance. The FBI tests on bullet penetration AND expansion has established a recommended distance of penetration to be in the 12"range in ballistic gelatin, which means the desired effect of the bullet remain inside the body of the bad guy. Just penetration without expansion is not a desired quality if you want to stop someone (remember you need expansion also). Some brands of ammo/bullets perform differently than others, giving the shooter options.
So before you lay down your cash for your handgun, also look at what is available in ammunition. In times of the public being skittery, some ammo could be scarce and unavailable or if it is available, can be expensive. That situation should also be taken into accounting when selecting your pistol. Any firearm is just a expensive paper weight without ammo.
|Here is an illustration of what the expansion can be expected from a Jacketed Hollow Point controlled expansion bullet|
If you are carrying a revolver, the power of the loaded cartridge can vary from light to heavy with no consequences to the functioning of the firearm. NOT SO WITH A SEMI-AUTO. Since a Semi-Auto relies on a large spring to operate the function of the firearm, ammunition has to be loaded to the proper power, balanced to this spring. If loaded too LOW power, the slide may not be retracted far enough to eject the fired round AND at the same time even of it did eject, may not pick up the new live round out of the magazine, thereby JAMMING the action, incapacitating it until you can clear it (WAIT - TIME OUT, YAH). If the load is loaded too HOT, it probably will cycle, but be so powerful that the firearm's useful life could be greatly diminished, and at the same time not be pleasant to shoot.
You will notice in the paragraph below describing many of the bullets will have different bullet weights as seen in the photo below. Here the factory has adjusted the bullet weight to the powder charge to meet the established guidelines for power for that cartridge so that any of these rounds SHOULD function in any firearm of that designated caliber.
In the photo below you will see different calibers and or brands and or bullet configurations. There re 5 different calibers starting on the left, a 44 Remington Magnum, (2) 45 ACP, 10 9mm (Parabellum) Luger, which can be representative of about all pistol ammo available, a 38 S&W Special and a 357 S&W Magnum.
Starting from the left, (1) 44 Remington Magnum 240 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point. (2) 45 ACP Speer 230 gr. Gold Dot Jacketed Hollow Point, (3) 45 ACP Remington 230 gr. Full Metal Jacket (military style) practice ammo, (4) a 40 S&W Federal Hydra-Shok 180 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point, (5) 9mm Winchester Super X, 147 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point subsonic, (6) 9mm Winchester 117 gr. Black Talon Jacketed Hollow Point, (7) 9mm Remington 124 gr. Golden Sabre Jacketed Hollow Point (8) 9mm Winchester 120 gr. Silver Tip Jacketed Hollow Point, (9) 9mm Reloaded Speer 115 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point, (10) 9mm Reloaded 147 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point, (11) 9mm Reloaded Hornady 115 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point, (12) 9mm Federal 147 gr. Full Metal Jacket flat point, (13) 9mm Norinco (Chinese) 124 gr. Full Metal Jacket (military style) practice ammo. (14) 9mm 3-D remanufactured 125 gr. lead Round Nose. (15) 38 S&W Special 125 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (16) 357 S&W Magnum 158 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point.
You will notice that as the caliber gets larger, the bullet weight gets heavier, which essentially increases shock and knock down power. That is why the word is pick as large a caliber as you can reasonable handle AND conceal.
Initially just looking at the Hollow Point ammo seen in the photo below, they all have pretty much the same frontal appearance, however each manufacturer may have a slightly different design or configuration, therefore being able to identify one manufacturer's product after it has been dumped out of the box may by impossible for the untrained eye. The idea behind the hollow point is "controlled expansion", which means the frontal part is designed to open up, creating devastation upon impact, while at the same time designed for the rear section to remain intact afterwards, at the same time giving penetration. This is in comparison to the full metal jacket bullets that simply punch a hole in and out and not transmitting enough shock to put your assailant down ASAP.
You may also notice that about all of the bullets in the ammo designed for semi-automatics have a somewhat similar overall shape (other than the nose) as the Full Metal Jacket (military style) that this firearm was originally designed for to facilitate reliable feeding from the magazine into the barrel's chamber. Also some of the cartridge cases may be brass colored, while others could be nickel plated brass. This is depending on the manufacturer, and is of little significance.
|Here we see 5 different calibers & numerous different brands or styles of bullets|
|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16|
Some ammo design can be different. Any ammunition that the bullet travels faster than the speed of sound will make more noise and in certain situations some firearms can be fitted with a noise suppressor (after paying a Federal Tax of $200), which when using this ammo the noise level is considerably lower. However suppressors are large and bulky, and not conducive to being concealed. (#5 above) Is a subsonic (slower speed) and loaded with a heavier bullet to achieve the knockdown power it lost by pushing a slower bullet. But WITHOUT the suppressor, this heavier bullet has been designed to deliver optimum penetration, while still maintaining good accuracy at shorter distances with lower recoil an low muzzle flash. Thereby it could be a good choice for women IF it functions reliably in her firearm.
Afterthought to Selecting a Firearm in Light of Mass Shootings/Riots ; In recent months where the mass shootings and or subsequent rioting, my thoughts have changed somewhat depending on where you live. It seems that small rural towns have so far been except from this sort of violence, maybe the drinking water is better there, but you never know.
All my previous writings were focused on defending yourself as in a mugging/robbery with basically a single attacker. But given the crazy situations we see now days, it would be hard to make any predictions on where the next violent crazy person would pop up. AGAIN, if you get in a confrontation, back away and/or try to defuse it. Even if you are carrying a firearm, try to not bring it into play unless you have poop dripping down your pants legs. But what if you happen to be in a wrong place and a mass shooter has taken a handful of crazy pills and doing his/her devilish thing? How do you react?
Me personally, I think that I would go along with the herd until I would get the chance, and then do it swiftly AND accurately. And in this case don't stop until your gun is empty. However this will call for you being a more accurate shooter than if in close combat. Extend your range practice out to 50' or even more, then be sure AND deliberate if that time comes.
You may well be saving numerous innocent lives, yours included. But do not be surprised if this type of shooter is wearing body armor, which could be a game changer, thereby forcing you to shoot for a sideways body shot or the head.
Now what about being caught in a riot with lots of angry, mindless Bumbleheads? Never having been in one, I am not sure what I would do other than try to disappear away from the crowd. One person with a gun against hundreds of out of control animals would be suicide, unless you are a GOOD poker player and some other gun toter (or more) joins forces with you, but again, are you a gambler?
However in a situation like this, I would feel a LOT better if I had a firearm with a large enough knockdown power AND SPARE loaded magazines. This then pretty well eliminates smallish revolvers and ANY semi-auto in a caliber less than 9mm Luger or the 40 S&W. OK, there are numerous semi-small semi-automatic lightweight guns on the market now in the 9mm and 40 S&W. 45 ACP would be a good caliber also, but as mentioned above, the extra weight involved even for a midsized gun for the average person would pretty well preclude that caliber. The 9mm with hollow point expanding + P (extra power) ammo would be minimal here with the 40 S&W being preferred. A note here -- 40 S&W seems to be the caliber of choice of most US law enforcement AND Federal agents, does that tell you something? This cartridge is basically an overgrown 9mm Luger, (using a longer and larger dia. case but shorter heavier bullet so that the overall cartridge length is the same) so it can be engineered to fit into the smaller 9mm semi-auto frame with slight modifications.
My personal packing gun that my son and I have put together is a lightweight 1911 compact 9mm made up on a aluminum frame and integral ramped barrel (for better feeding with large hollow-point ammo) which has a capacity of 7 + 1 and with a standard length magazine with a capacity of 10 as a spare. This gem weighs in at 27 oz loaded compared to my same sized loaded bedside partner in 45 ACP of 44 oz. My 9mm ammo is Remington Golden Sabre 124 grain hollow point. My old standby, a Colt Cobra 2" barreled 6 shot aluminum alloy frame revolver loaded, weighs in at 19 oz. However this 9mm compact is thinner and seems to conceal better either if being carried in a holster or the inside front pocket of my vest, plus it has more rounds of ammo readily available in the magazine. And the opportunity of carrying a spare loaded magazine for quick reloading can be reassuring.
With all the Cop shootings lately, it is beyond my comprehension how we have become so deranged of a society. If these Bumbleheads are so doped up or screwed up in their thinking (NON-THINKING) process that if any small thing could go wrong for them could they even consider taking down a cop, don't they understand that the rest of the agency will hunt them down FOREVER. And if they don't think anything about shooting a cop, what about you and I, if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or have what they think they deserve, DO NOT take ANY STRANGER for granted. SUSPECT EVERYONE. YAH I know, poor deprived non-humans. Maybe I had better stop right here as this is not the place for me to get on a soapbox. Guns don't kill people -- CRAZY people kill people.
Time has come for many of us to do some serious considerations as to how we would handle situations like this before we happen to get involved. When it happens, there would be no dress rehearsal. Having a well thought out plan (HELL have 2 or 3 plans) would be imperative. Do not leave things to chance.
Take Care of Your Firearm ; Guns have two enemies, RUST and POLITICIANS. OK, you have taken a lot of time and money to get to where you decided to buy a defensive firearm, depending on how you carry it or where it is stored, could create a environment where it needs to be inspected and cleaned/oiled periodically, or oftener. If it is being carried concealed on your body, are you one who sweats a lot? Do you have enough salt in your system that your fingerprints will show rust after awhile? Did it get rained on? Any of these could all cause RUST. Is it kept in your handbag? It could accumulate lint/debris that eventually could create problems in the operation of it when needed.
You really need to purchase a gun cleaning kit and occasionally (depending on the conditions) inspect it AND clean/oil it for it's protection. Conditions here could be if you live in a wet or humid area, guns will be made mostly of metal that can rust. YES, even the stainless steel used in making guns can rust under the wrong conditions.
This is also a good chance to learn the operation of your new purchase, BUT be sure it is unloaded first. You do not have to tear it down completely and this would not be recommended for the novice, but do a simple inspection of the inside of the barrel for obstructions, wipe it down with an oily cloth. If it's a semi-auto remove the magazine and occasionally remove the ammo from it, being sure no debris has collected inside it which could cause miss-feeding of the ammo.
Let me give you a personal experience here. A single mom, professional lady that I know purchased a good condition small used 2" barreled 38 S&W Special revolver for personal protection because of what situation was going on around her at that time. She and her college age daughter (who also bought a similar pistol) did take some firearm training after purchasing them. However because of her busy business, I doubt that she did much handling or practice after that. I know that her daughter did however.
A year or so after her situation became defused, I was asked to look at her pistol as "the pushy thingy" went missing. Finally when I got the gun a couple of years after the first notice, WOW. The cylinder release latch was what was missing. Deep RUST over many parts of it to where it had to be disassembled in order to even open the cylinder because of internal rusting, the cylinder was empty of cartridges AND BAD RUST was inside most of the chambers. In order to get it to even begin to operate, most internal parts had to be removed and wire wheel brushed removing the rust, then oiled. The barrel had so much lint and debris that you could not see any rifling, but after running a cleaning brush through the barrel, more large rust spots were obvious. The whole gun had to be completely dismantled, cleaned, and the outside polished to remove the external rust and the complete pistol reblued. The only salvation for the major internal parts was that the hammer and trigger were chrome plated which survived unharmed. This much rust does not happen overnight in a normal home environment. I have no clue as to where she kept it or why it was in the condition it was in. But in it's condition when I got it, even if it was loaded, it would have been totally useless because all the internals were seized up. I'm not trying to run her down in any way, but it seems to me she may have had a false sense of security just because she owned it ?
Use of a Shotgun For Home Defense ; Most of the above information is directed at personal concealed carry of handguns, however home defense can also cover usage of shotguns. Most of these will be "Riot Gun Type", or shotguns with the barrel no shorter than 18" (Federal Law). Pump shotguns in 20 or 12 gauge are the normal ones used. The reason for a pump is that since you are not constricted by Federal hunting regulations which require only 2 rounds in the magazine, you can have 5 or 6, even 8 on some special length magazine guns. The shot charge normally used would be birdshot which throws upwards to 200 lead pellets and is pretty lethal at close ranges similar to inside a house. Also this birdshot does not penetrate house walls well, making it safer for apartment dwellers. Others may suggested using buckshot which normally will have from 9 to 15 larger pellets and is used by Law Enforcement, and for deer at longer distances up to 50 yards. However I suggest using the first 2 or 3 to be birdshot, with the buckshot as a follow up/backup rounds if the gun has that capacity.
For normal in home usage with a pump shotgun, the chamber of the barrel is left empty, but the magazine is loaded fully. The safety is OFF, (and ready to fire) so the gun is unloaded but safe in this unloaded condition. Now all you need to do to activate it is to push the release lever at the front, or rear, of the trigger guard and at the same time "Rack" (pull back and then push forward) the pump handle. This rearward operation feeds a round of ammo out of the magazine and the forward operation then feeds it into the chamber of the barrel, ready to go. HOWEVER it is IMPORTANT to do this rapidly to ensure the round of ammo will feed from the magazine and into the barrel's chamber and locks the breech. It is not advisable for a novice to try to doing it slow and quietly as you may get a malfunction.
In older times just this "Racking" noise would convince an intruder that he/she forgot something outside the house and make a hasty escape. However now many of these newer human predators have no clue as to what this noise is, and through rage, socialization or drugs, they can be frequently incapable of feeling fear or compassion. Under these conditions, making that distinctive noise will not likely deter an attacker. However lead will.
Now, again get well acquainted with your shotgun. As mentioned above, leave the safety OFF (READY TO FIRE) especially if there could be others in the home other than you. By this I mean safeties on firearms can be located in different locations on different makes of guns, some being a cross-bolt type located IN the front OR rear of the trigger guard. You want something that there is no doubt as to it's position and you do not have to fumble around trying to remember, therefore the Mossberg 500 series as shown below is a winner here as their safety is a push forward to fire type, located on top of the rear receiver, where either a Right Handed OR left Handed person has no problem of telling at a glance OR a FEEL if it is off or on.
|Here is a typical home defense Mossberg model 500 12ga pump shotgun, with a standard magazine that handles 5 rounds|
Post Shooting Protocol ; Well, you have called 911, the confrontation is over, the perpetrator is down and Law Enforcement has arrived.
Identify yourself to the officers, (the 911 operator will have taken your ID and clothes you are wearing) so they will have some idea that you are the caller or homeowner. You will be subject to numerous questions and commands. Remember most Law Enforcement are used to dealing with criminals and hopefully returning home at the end of their shift alive, to achieve this they have become engrained to suspect EVERYONE until proven otherwise.
(1) OBEY all commands, which could be identify yourself, a short description of the events and possible other information, etc.
(2) DO NOT STILL BE HOLDING THE GUN WHEN THEY ARRIVE. Lay it down inside the house in a safe location, as you last used it.
(3) You and everyone (except kids and elderly persons) WILL be called outside and handcuffed. At this point Law Enforcement does not clearly have a picture of the circumstances, so until then, everyone is a suspect. Even the evidently dead bad guy will also be cuffed, because they are not sure at this point.
(4) There will be a house search conducted by LE.
(5) You will be read your Miranda rights.
(6) Again COOPERATE, as you may be separated from others and placed in a patrol car.
(7) Reiterate the account of happenings. This may be numerous times to different LE personnel.
(8) Request a Attorney if it seems appropriate.
** To be arrested, there has to be Probable Cause for (A) interrogation of Assault, (B) interrogation of Homicide
* It may be a wise move to do some prior research and have the phone number of your chosen criminal lawyer in your wallet AND cell phone ahead of time.
Prosecutors WILL Examine ; There are three elements that need to be present in order for a prosecution to be issued.
(1) Jeopardy - Does the assailant have exposure to inflict death or injury. ???????? Wrong place at wrong time?
(2) Opportunity - Does the assailant have the opportunity to carry out the imminent assault? Is he close enough?
(3) Means - Does the assailant have the means to inflict death or physical injury by means of a weapon, size difference between victim or assailant?
Each of the 3 cases will be viewed individually and ALL HAVE TO BE THERE
Justification ; If you are in a situation where it is close to WTSHTF and YOU HAVE TO THINK about whether pulling the trigger is the right thing to do, MAYBE it is NOT JUSTIFIED. In other words, when you realize that there is no other way out as you perceive it at that time and instance, where you have no choice, -- well, I will leave it up to you to decide then -- as YOU will be the one explaining it to a jury. REASONABLE and NECCESSARY would be the question??
After it Appears to be Over ; OK, you have survived, Law Enforcement has investigated, you are interviewed for an extended period and numerous times, and you begin to breathe a sight of relief. Don't get over confident even if you are sent home. The Prosecuting Attorney will look over the reports and they may see something in a different light.
Another thing to be informed on is that even if you walked free from a criminal prosecution situation, that does not prevent a civil lawsuit from being filed against you. If the scumbag survived, OR the deceased's family could file a "wrongful death" case against you, is not impossible in today's world. Therefore, what in your eyes may be justified, to others may not be, so be very careful and think out a plan well ahead of time as the consequences could be far reaching. Keep your mouth shut and your fingers tighter, don't enlighten the world afterwards, DO BLAB ON FACEBOOK ANY OF THE DETAILS, try to keep a low public exposure for a while no matter the outcome.
If you have to hire an attorney, the price for defending yourself could be upwards to $100,000. If you are in a situation where you carry concealed in public a lot of the time and have to be in shabby locations, you may consider purchasing firearms defense insurance. One of those companies is LISTED HERE. There are lawyers, and then there are lawyers, some understanding your situation while the others may be totally oblivious, so choose wisely.
Theft Prevention ; If you are selling an item on Craig's List, always meet offsite at a public area (Wal-Mart parking lot). Do not talk too much, keep mum when it comes to your possessions as teens may overhear or pass information on unintentionally. If you have a large screen TV, place it in a family room or somewhere it can not be readily seen at night from a passerby on a road. At the holiday time, do not put high end large packaging visible from the road. Keep windows and doors locked all the time. As an extra deterrent have wedges placed inside under outer doors so it binds on entry, OR chains like motels use. Have outer aluminum lockable door screens in use as just the noise of trying to unlock them may also be somewhat of a deterrent. Thieves do not like to make noise which attracts too much attention.
Do not sell drugs, as will expose you/your residence to that breed of predator and you will become a target.
Personal property theft can not be treated as a threat to your health or well being, so you may need to resort to other methods other than a firearm. However a confrontation with a armed invader by an unarmed homeowner could be devastating. This again could be a place for a laser beam sight, which can be a deterrent in itself. BUT, did you seek out the invader, or let them come to you??
Your Responsibility ; You are the person responsible for YOUR firearm. This should not be taken lightly. When carrying a pistol, the safest place for it is ON YOUR PERSON, not left under a car seat or on top of, or in the top drawer of a dresser under your clothes. For home defense here is a article that has How To information on where to "HIDE" a gun in your bedroom.
I will be the first to admit that when I am packing concealed, which is most of the time now, (at my age of 80 and my deteriorated physical condition along with my invalid wife) that I may not observe the "NO FIREARMS signs" (except when I know that I will be going thru a metal detector). If I go about my business and no one suspects that I am carrying a pistol, no problem. However if I am stopped and searched, about all security can do is ask me to leave peacefully and escort me out. Depending on the location, they may take my firearm (which I should get back) and may write me up and possibly press charges, I am OK with that as I took my chances but I was not defenseless, and that either I, or my holster were what gave me away, my mistake.
I ALWAYS wear a vest of some kind (except hot summer days) and ones with an inside vest pocket large enough for a small pistol (located on the LH side as I am right handed). I know another guy who is his own boss, always wears military type pants that have lots of side pockets,(which for his line of work fits him well) and for him, a small Ruger 380ACP semi-auto is the ticket. I also know another business owner who makes night bank deposits, who always carries a 380 in his pants front pocket inside a thin holster.
Consider this -- if you are in a large store checkout line or attending a theater event, and you are properly carrying your pistol concealed, no one should ever know. The other people near you are safer because of you, if a crazy person/animal with a gun comes in and starts shooting. And you will never know if someone else in that same line may also be "packing". If you play your cards right because of the element of surprise, maybe you can save many lives before Law Enforcement can get there.
At home, always put your firearm in a safe location, (some say lock it in a gun vault) OR wear it on yourself there also. OK, it will make a difference if your home has kids around as compared to older people or people living alone. But the ultimate goal is for YOUR firearm to be in a safe and secure location at all times, AND YET READILY AVAILABLE TO YOU. This may sound contradicting and would be impossible if it was locked inside a gun vault. Where and how you store it will be your ultimate decision and you may have to come up with a compromise. Consider all these options well, as they may also change with time/conditions (like when the grandkids, or that sticky fingered nephew comes over).
Here is one idea of hiding your friend in plain sight. QuickSafes RFID Hidden Compartment Safes. http://quicksafes.com/
One word of advise, NEVER SHOW YOUR GUN COLLECTIONS TO ANYONE. As possibly down the road even the friend/relative who you did show to, happens to mention that he saw a neat gun of yours in the presents of others, who may just have a friend who soon becomes interested, where by strangers to you, could soon target your home. On this same light, if you are a hunter, try not to have that trophy deer mounted and in your living room, where that salesman, or appliance repairman knows (or has reason to believe) that you had to have a means of taking this animal, (which to the average person or criminal would mean you owned a gun) that could be of value to him. And remember the average hunter probably has more than one gun.
I am too old/overweight to fight and too disabled to run. And I have in the past been guilty of violating the "No Gun Zone" AKA "Free Kill Zone" because my business was in one of these RESTRICTED Areas. I'm an old man, but at 80 I would still prefer to be Judged by 12 than Carried by six.
It was once said, an Armed Society is (or should be) a Polite Society. But there will always be some deranged/stupid people out there that even Duct Tape can not fix.
The Secret Service's 2010 Guide for Spotting Concealed Weapons
Characteristics of those "Packing"
The U.S. Secret Service released a report in 2010 titled "Characteristics of the Armed Individual." The report is a combination of amusing tidbits and useful information-some tips are both-to help law enforcement personnel determine if a person is carrying a concealed weapon. "Macho feeling" is one of the listed "Body Movements" to look out for, for example.
The first thing you want to do is determine if the suspect is right or left handed by watching how they perform certain actions, such as writing or lighting a cigarette. The report says that many perpetrators will periodically touch or adjust their weapon, both consciously and subconsciously, giving themselves away.
The majority of Americans, about 88 percent, are right handed, so it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the right side of a suspect first-and check their waist band.
The majority of those right-handed people that carry handguns illegally carry them in the right front waist band, loose (no holster).
WHY? • They see it in the movies. • It's the "cool" thing to do. • That is where it is the most secure and accessible if not in a holster.
As silly as this sounds, it's probably true. People who buy guns illegally are likely to get their information about them from peers and movies, rather than an instructor or mentor.
This guide points out that a good way to tell if someone is packing heat is to check out their clothing. If they're wearing a big baggy coat in the middle of the summer, that might be cause for suspicion. Guns are also heavy, - even lighter sidearms are about two pounds. The weight can cause parts of clothing to sag noticeably or force a suspect to constantly readjust their clothes.
The Secret Service's "Characteristics of the Armed Individual" could prove useful in a dangerous situation someday. And if not, it's still an entertaining read-and a good reminder that if you're ever around an important political figure, keep the "macho feeling look" to a minimum.
Source: Public Intelligence via Outdoor Hub
Copyright © 2014 - 2017 LeeRoy Wisner All Rights Reserved
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Originated 06-26-2014, Last updated 01-18-2017
I wish to thank Officer Chris Walker for allowing me to incorporate some of my notes from his class into this article