Saturday, March 05, 2005

What Kind of Handgun? Lindsay asks what kind of handgun do the experts recommend for self-defense. My reading to this point indicates that there are several opinions. I think, though, that this quote from Chris Bird's The Concealed Handgun Manual is a good place to start:

"Like many things in life, a handgun is a compromise. It is the least-effective firearm for self defense. Except at very close quarters-at arm's length-shotguns and rifles are much more effective in stopping a drug-hyped robber or rapist intent on making you pay for his lack of social skills. A handgun is the hardest firearm to shoot accurately, and, even when you hit what you are shooting at, your target doesn't vaporize in a red mist like on television."

(I would heartily recommend Chris Rice's book. Its in its fourth edition, and I found it to be very informative and well written.)

But Rice does not necessarily recommend carrying around a shotgun or even using that weapon as the main weapon for home-defense. Basically, he seems to say that you acquire the biggest gun you can shoot accurately under the circumstances. By "biggest gun" he would mean that gun that has the most powerful stopping power. If you live out on a farm and can see the bad guy coming from afar, then you would use a deer rifle with a scope, provided you could shoot it accurately. But if you are traveling on MetroRail in a business suit, then you would probably pack a S&W Model 340 Airlite Sc in a .357 Magnum caliber with a high impact round that will flatten out quickly when it hits flesh so as not to completely penetrate and hit people behind the bad person. Its a tiny gun, that is light to carry, and, therefore, kicks like a mule. It is no fun to shoot at a gun range. But by being light and tiny, one is more likely to carry it. And in a confrontation where someone is about to do you mortal harm, one doesn't notice the kick because of what the adrenilin is doing to your body as you acquire the target.

The handgun I mention is a revolver. There are good arguments for a semi-automatic. But for beginners, the revolver appears to be the gun of choice. Plus, it can lay on the shelf for years and be picked up and used immediately, according to what I have read, where a semi-automatic (also called an "automatic") requires care and feeding to prevent a jam. On the other hand, the S&W I mention has only five rounds. The automatic has a clip with more than that in it, and it is much easier to reload if you have a spare clip. On the other, other hand, if you can't take care of the situation with five rounds at close quarters, its probably too late.

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