A Simple Primer on Guns for Self-Defense

While the name of this blog is Gold Goats ‘n Guns, I rarely talk about guns, if at all.  And with good reason, it’s a subject that ensures vigorous debate without any practical conclusions.

I just read a very good, albeit long-winded, article by The Saker on the right gun for self-defense.  And, as always, The Saker makes a number of very good points as to why one should consider a revolver over a semi-automatic for self-defense.

I’m not going to bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, that when I’m asked by people on this subject, I say something similar to what he did in his article.  For the untrained (or even minimally-trained) revolvers are simply easier to operate, maintain and learn how to use.

And I point them in that direction first.  But, beyond that, what I always say to every person who asks the question, “What gun should I buy?”

I always answer the same way.  The one that feels right to you.  There are literally thousands of handguns on the market.  They come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, calibers, etc.  Walking into a full-service gun shop for the first time can be a daunting experience.

My First Gun Shop

I remember when I walked into Pickett Weaponry in Newberry, Fl for the first time like it was yesterday.  I came in with all of these notions of what I wanted to buy.  I’d spent months reading gun magazines and articles on line.

When I get into a new subject I go deep into it.  It’s just the way I am.  I think the clinical term is ‘obsessive-compulsive’ but, hey, I’m no doctor so salt that diagnosis to taste.

That said, I’d heard all of the expert opinions, had been swayed by all the gun porn in the magazines and all of that.  So, when I walked into Pickett’s on the recommendation of my shooting guru, Dave, whose advice, friendship and tutelage was invaluable, I thought I had it all figured out.

I had my sights set on a $1200 Para-Ordnance 1911.  And I picked it up and didn’t like it.

But it took me a few minutes to realize this.  The Mr. Pickett behind the counter (this was a family-owned operation) was very patient with me and could see that I was struggling.   So, he began doing what he was good at, helping me make a decision.

And I spent the next hour asking for and picking up a few dozen handguns.  From Berettas to Sig-Sauers to Taurus Revolvers.  Once it started I couldn’t stop.  But, early on in the process he made the suggestion that was like magic.

He handed me my gun to try.  It was a CZ-85 combat in Dual-Tone (satin nickel/blue).  I picked it up and that was that.  I spent more time trying things out but I kept coming back to the CZ.

CZ-85 Combat — Mine has a Nickel-Boron coating on the slide now

I hadn’t heard of CZ, but I should have.  Everything about the gun was perfect.  It fit my hand perfectly, had ambidextrous controls since I’m left-handed and a nose that lifts right to the target.

I took it to the range and immediately out-shot my friend Dave immediately.  Love meet boy.

But, that’s me.  The ergonomics of the CZ-75 platform are perfect for me.  It’s a full-frame 9mm.  It carries 15 shots plus one in the chamber.  I shoot Winchester White Box 147gr JHP ammo.  It’s cheap, feeds well, hits hard and is easy on my bad left shoulder.

It’s not a carry gun, unless I lived in the Old West with it on my hip.  I live in Florida and don’t have a CCW permit.  My house is rural and chose its location to minimize the threat of home invasion.

Comfort Trumps Tactics

Look, The Saker is right, most of us will never be in a situation where we will ever have to shoot our guns in anger.  Most of the shooting I do now involves my .22 bolt action rifle and vermin in Camille’s garden.

But what’s important about your gun selection is that you find something that makes you want to shoot it.  I love taking out my CZ and murdering paper, cans, clay targets and watermelons.  It’s fun.

The gun is amazing and a testament to the Czech designers who, in my opinion, perfected John Browning’s Hi-Power.  But, that’s a different discussion.

Because something that you don’t shy away from is a gun that you will be more likely to be accurate with.  As The Saker makes clear in his article, more often than not, just brandishing your gun will be enough to diffuse the situation.  So, most of the verbiage about stopping power of various calibers is irrelevant.

What he didn’t address in his piece is the natural variation between people.  Small women versus large men, for example.  Short-barreled .357 magnum revolvers, like he recommends, are overpowered for most people.  I agree with him that .357 magnum is a brilliant cartridge, it’s simply not all there is, however.

Self-defense is a mindset.  Be prepared to use whatever force is necessary to extricate yourself from the situation.  And the first rule of self-defense is having enough situational awareness not to put yourself in harm’s way where you’ll need to defend yourself.

But, once you cross that psychological Rubicon then everything is simply a means to an end.  And that end is your safety and that of those you swear to protect.  If that means running away from a confrontation, do so.

In martial arts we train repetition to build muscle memory and reaction time to offset panic.

We learn what it feels like to get punched in the face and how to deal with it.

We also train to find out what our ‘go-to’ combinations are.

The same thing goes for owning a gun.  You have to be comfortable with all aspects of it.  Always treat it as if it is loaded and practice.  Get used to how it recoils, how loud it is.  Shoot it with ear protection and every once in a while without.

But, most importantly, accept the responsibility of what it means to own a gun, and what that means.  That’s the biggest hurdle most of us face.  But, once that decision is made, don’t waste time with guns that don’t meet your needs.  And the most important need is the gun that makes you feel secure.

 

 

3 thoughts on “A Simple Primer on Guns for Self-Defense

  1. As a former LEO (and ex-military), I favor revolvers for my wife — a .22 — and it’s point and shoot. Much more effective. I’ve had many types of rifles, handguns and other weapons, over my career(s), but what always struck me as telling was the number of times .38’s (before we ditched them) did not stop the assailants. 38 rounds barely penetrated the skin — and the bad guys kept coming. We switched to .357’s and after that a series of bigger pistols. But for home/personal protection, it’s hard to beat a .22. Deadly. Oh, and a little yapper dog to wake you up.

    • Yeah, I don’t like .38 except for plinking. My dad was NYPD with a .38 revolver. He always said he felt naked with it.

      I have a .38 pistol in the safe as a last resort. At my house I have 4 Maremma livestock guardians. And I know the bark that says, “Hey, strange person coming”

      We are well protected.

      And the lever gun is my go to for that. It’s barreled in .44 mag. I want one in .357 mag.

      .22LR? hollow points? Which revolver? how big a barrel? 3″ 4″?

  2. I’ve probably said enough already. Let’s just say I am well protected and hollow-point .22’s don’t penetrate or bounce inside skulls very well. Almost any .22 (long round or otherwise), in almost any revolver/pistol, works for me. Sometimes the big guns, especially when the bad guys hear you rack a round in your Mossberg, are good too. As a side note: those little Derringer style .22’s work wonders and they are easy to conceal — a bonus feature if you visit NYC, if you catch my drift.

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