I came across a post on a site I am unfamiliar with “Anti Media” one ways to avoid becoming a “gun violence” statistic and it actually made some good points (link).
For example, the number one recommendation was to not commit suicide. While this is someone trite it is still true. Most gun related deaths in the US, about 63%, are from suicide. Now, will banning firearms prevent suicide?
I had a relative in the house for a while who was at risk for suicide. I was particularly careful with my firearms during that time frame. During one conversation with her I tried to get her to turn over a knife she had in her purse. She looked at me for a minute and then explained all the different things within the house that she could use to kill herself; kitchen knives, medications, household chemicals, the pool, ropes, cable, chains, taking a dive off the roof, the motorcycle in the garage, etc. She told me those were just the ones she could think of and there were probably more…
Other top suggestions included:
Don’t join a gang
Don’t deal in illegal drugs
Avoid dangerous people like criminals and abusive people
One of my personal favorites was to avoid gun free zones since nearly all mass shootings have occurred in gun free zones…
I came across a great “class review” by Greg Ellifritz of the Optimal Snubby Skills class taught by Ed Lovette (link). While Greg didn’t get into too much detail on the skills taught in the class, he did share some of Ed’s findings from his research on the topic of defensive gun uses by civilians. That last qualifier is key. So many times instructors and writers tend to make recommendations on tactics and gear based on the experiences of law enforcement or military personnel. While there is good information to be had from those groups there is a lot that would not apply as well.
For example, I consistently hear of the need to carry a full-sized service weapon with multiple reloads. I have been told that if I am not carrying “at least a Glock 19 with three extra magazines I am not really serious about ensuring the safety or myself and those I love.”
While that may be true for law enforcement or the military it doesn’t really hold up to what Ed Lovette’s research shows in researching civilian self-defense encounters:
An average of three shots were fired in each incident and Ed did not find a single incident when the defender reloaded his weapon during the conflict.
So, in no case did the defender have to reload…
But what about multiple attackers?
Most attacks…were perpetrated by a single, young, male offender who was unknown to the defender.
How about caliber?
The most common gun used by the defender was a .38 revolver.
So, far from being outdated and antiquated, the humble .38 Special is the most common caliber used in defensive gun uses.
I have been told I should not carry a snubbie because they are inaccurate at long distances.
I am not a great shooter but I can do this out to 20 yards (60 feet) with a snubbie. However, Mr. Lovette’s research found that most attacks occurred within 10 feet.
How about the saying that if you aren’t trained as a super secret ninja squirrel your don’t stand a chance (or that only people with such training should have guns)?
It was rare that the defender had any formal training, used cover, or employed any less lethal alternatives before shooting.
Here are some of Ed’s other findings:
The most frequent location for the confrontation was inside the defender’s own home
The majority of attacks occurred between the hours of sunset until 3:00 am.
Physical contact between the defender and attacker before the gunfight was relatively rare, but exceptionally violent when it did occur.
The attacker’s most common response after being shot was to stop the attack and run away.
Almost all shots fired were done so in the standing position.
Now, I am not saying people shouldn’t get training, carry more than a .38 revolver or learn to get off the X, use cover etc. every edge helps in a fight. What I am saying is that if that is not for you then that is fine too.
For me, mastering the basics (draw stroke, marksmanship, and weapons handling) is good enough. Most of the time a five shot revolver in .38 Special is good enough for me. Others may be comfortable with less or would prefer more and that’s OK too.
While I love my .38 Special revolvers I don’t like the cost of feeding them. Reloading helps to reduce that cost but it is still not what you might call cheap. To help reduce the practice costs I purchased an LCR in .22 LR a few years back but that plan had a few bugs in it. The .22 doesn’t help train recoil management, the trigger is significantly heavier than the centerfire Rugers and, to be honesty, I can’t see the little holes I make in the paper at any distance so it is a pain to improve my accuracy.
Ruger offers the LCR in 9mm. The trigger pull is the same as the other centerfire LCRs. 9mm is cheap compared to .38 Special and makes holes big enough that I can see them at reasonable distances. I assumed the recoil would be similar but I would need to get one to the range and test them side my side to determine that.
That’s exactly what I had an opportunity to do this weekend.
Side by side the two Rugers are like twins in (almost) every way. There are two main differences between these two LCRs; the 9mm is a few ounces heavier (17.2 vs 13.5) and it sports the standard Hogue Tamer grips. My .38 has a set of CT Laser installed which are thinner than the Hogue grips. The extra weight of the 9mm and larger grips do seem to make this LCR feel a little bulkier than its .38 Special twin.
First things first, recoil.
I don’t know if it is the extra weight of the revolver or the excellent (for taming recoil) Hogue grips or (most likely) a combination of the two but the 9mm offers noticeable less felt recoil than the .38 Special. There is still enough recoil there to be a good for practicing recoil management but it is definitely less. I was using 115 grain FMJ loads in the 9mm and 158 Grain JHPs in the .38 Special and using hotter +P rounds in the 9mm may increase the recoil level just as shooting some light loads in the the .38 Special would bring it down a bit. Regardless, that was a big surprise.
From an accuracy perspective, there was nothing different in the groupings I was able to see with the two revolvers. Which is what I would expect, however, with that said my own accuracy was suffering that day. On top of that I was on an outdoor range with a fixed distance to the target and no ability to check the targets after each string of fire. I doubt there will be much, if any difference between the two but I was not able to confirm it that day.
I am not a fan of carrying semi-auto calibers in revolvers for self-defense purposes. Moon clips can bend easily and lock up the revolver if they do. But, to be honest, the combination of lighter recoil and the speed of reloading with moon clips had me rethinking whether this would be a training gun or if it should become my new carry piece. The 9mm rounds can be chambered without the moon clips and I have heard some folks who carry this way to avoid the risks associated with the moon clips so I decided to give it a try.
The other risk of a semi-auto cartridge in a revolver is bullet-jump also called crimp-jump. In a email blast to his subscriber the legendary John Farnam described the issue like this:
When a revolver fires, remaining cartridges in the cylinder (yet to be fired) are subjected to significant G-forces as the pistol recoils. Sometimes, it is enough to persuade an yet-unfired bullet to migrate forward far enough to protrude from the front of the cylinder, preventing the cylinder from rotating normally, and thus preventing the revolver from firing.
This is the reason revolver rounds like .38 Special and .357 Magnum have a very clear and heavy crimp on the case, to hold the projectile firmly in place. For the most part, rounds designed for semi-auto pistols don’t have such a crimp and this can be a problem as the email points out:
However, with the advent of small, light revolvers chambered for 9mm, the problem is, once again, rearing its ugly head as a major issue, as most 9mm ammunition does not come with any kind of bullet-holding crimp.
In fact, on many boxes of currently-produced, high-performance 9mm ammunition, manufacturers have printed the warning, “Not for Use in Revolvers,” because they calculate bullet-jump will be a problem in some guns.
While I did not experience this issue at all when using moon clips the first time I tried loading the rounds directly, without the moon clips, I didn’t get two shots in before experiencing it. Not only did the bullet block cylinder rotation by poking out of the front of the cylinder but the case backed out of the cylinder enough to block rotation as well. I wish I could have gotten a photo of the failure but I was too busy trying to figure out of I could fix the problem and finish the test. It took some time and the creative use of a laser bore sight but I was able to get everything removed and the gun back in service.
The malfunction occurred with Blazer Brass ammunition from CCI. I had no other issues with this ammo before or after. It could have been a defective round. It could be that the spring steel moon clips help prevent this from happening. Regardless this revolver, will be relegated to training duty for quite some time and possible forever.
Several years ago I had another LCR in 9mm. I was so excited about the concept that I bought one of the very first ones manufactured. Unfortunately, it shaved rounds, even after a trip back to the factory. I did not see any indication of this in the LCR I was testing but again, based on the layout of the outdoor range I probably would not even if it is doing so.
All in all, whether I would ever bet my life on it as a carry gun, the 9mm LCR is a great shooting little revolver. It will be much cheaper to practice with than my .38 Specials. Has enough recoil to help practice recoil management and makes big enough holes that I can use it to practice accuracy at longer distances. Which are all the things I would ask of it.
A couple of weeks ago I shared my thoughts on calibers that many in the self-defense and preparedness communities would not consider “good enough” titled Don’t Carry That Round It Will Just Make ‘Em Mad.” I think the self-defense community and, to a lesser degree, the preparedness communities are full of this type of attitude. Before the flood, I had about thirty days of food on hand (for the extended family) but there are those in the preparedness community that would say anything less than a year is not even worth the time. I carry a revolver for self-defense most of the time. Many in the self-defense community scoff at revolvers. Unless, they say, you are packing a full-sized service pistol with 17+ rounds on tap, two spare mags for reloads and a backup gun you are not serious about defending yourself.
Now don’t get me wrong, if that is what they think they need to protect their lives and the lives of their families more power too them. That is what they have decided is “good enough.” There are others who feel even that isn’t enough and there are a lot of folks out there that think that a five shot revolver is enough.
This extends beyond the hardware one chooses to pack. This same principal applies to training as well. There are those who feel that they need to train to rappel out of helicopters, transition between rifles and pistols on the move and perform sub-second reloads while hanging upside down and blindfolded. The want to be trained to the same skill set (though they will never reach the same skill level) as US Navy SEALs. For me, good enough means a clean, quick draw and be able to hit my target (100% of the time) within about 7 yards. Oh, and I want to be familiar enough with my weapons of choice that I achieve what is sometimes called unconscious competence. Basically that means being able to draw, aim, fire and reload my weapon without conscious thought. For me, that is good enough.
Am I good enough or well equipped enough for a patrol in the sandbox? Nope.
Am I good enough or well equipped enough to defend myself and those I love when we go to the grocery store in our suburban neighborhood? I believe so.
Am I prepared to survive a “nuclear winter” or the total collapse of Western civilization? Nope. (Although I have a better head start than 99% of the people out there.)
Am I prepared for a non-catastrophic economic downturn? Yep
Hurricane? Yep (As long as the folks in charge of the dams upstream from us pay attention to the weather reports.)
Job loss? Yep, getting there.
Retirement? Getting there.
Now that I have reached a level I consider “good enough” I don’t quit trying for a bit better but at the same time I can afford to spend a little more time enjoying the here and now.
What about you? What do you consider “good enough?”
While our elected officials continue to violate the Constitution, their oaths of office and their campaign promises we may all be faced with these being the only tools left to defend our homes and loved ones. It might make some sense to pick up a few now, while you can and start learning how to use them.
Talk about “Gray Man,” my five year old Honda Civic looks like a hundred thousand other Honda Civics out there. It is even gray in color, the most popular color in that model run. There are no bumper stickers. There is nothing to indicate that I like guns, am into hunting or preparedness, nothing to indicate my political beliefs. Wonderful Wife’s vehicle is even older. It doesn’t quite fit in around the neighborhood since it is a little too old and worn out. In a poorer part of town no one would give it a second look. No stickers of any sort on it either.
I see cars and trucks all the time with stickers advertising the owner’s political beliefs and I wonder how well that would play should they be caught in a mob/riot somewhere around town. I see cars and trucks plastered with the names, sport of choice, school, jersey number and names of the kids whose parents own the vehicles. No risk of someone use that information for nefarious purposes. “Hey little Billy, get in the car. Your Mom sent me to get you. Nichole was hurt in basketball practice and she wants me to bring you up to the hospital.” “Hi, is this Nichole’s mom? This is coach Smith at the middle school. Yeah, she’s fine she just forgot her uniform fee. She’ll still be able to play in the big game if you could just give me a credit card number to charge it to.” What could go wrong with plastering that all over your car?
I see cars and trucks all the time plastered with stickers for gun manufacturers, ammo makers, and hunting gear. What better way to says “break into this vehicle first” that advertising your expensive hobbies and possessions? After all what petty thief wouldn’t love to graduate to armed robbery by taking the Glock out of someone’s glove box? AllOutdoor.com was shocked, shocked I say that vehicles with such stickers were intentionally targeted by thieves (link).
A sign out front that says “protected by Smith & Wesson” actually translates in criminal as “break in after I leave home to get some guns.”
Some of these same folks sporting these signs stickers and signs warn me I should blog about preparedness because it breaks Operational Security (OpSec)…yet they are driving gun store billboards around town.
It is a free country. Make your own choices about what you advertise around your home, on your vehicle and on your person. I have made mine.
Take care and God bless.
P.S. I am not perfect, there are a couple of “non-gray man” choices I have made. I carry a “tacticool” molle covered man bag with the stuff I don’t want to cram into my cargo pockets. There is a morale patch on the bag that says “In God We Trust.” If the sun is bright I am usually wearing a khaki ball cap with the American or Texas flag embroidered on it to keep the sun from burning my bald head.
His response was well worth the click and the read but his basic response was:
The S&W 642 and Ruger LCR .38 Special have become the default purchases for people who want to carry a snub. They work for some people but not everyone.
More importantly, he shared a critical test to determine whether you have what it takes to carry a snubbie for self-defense:
A baseline go/no go test would be whether the person can make 5 hits out of 5 shots into a 12 inch circle at 7 yards in 15 seconds and then repeat it successfully 3 more times for a total of four separate strings. That’s the test for the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Defensive Pistol I Pro-Marksman Course of Fire.
Since I carry a snubbie much of the time I decided I should try out the good professor’s recommendation and see if I had what it takes. I tried the test with my new Colt Cobra, with the LCR I carry on a regular basis and with the Smith & Wesson 442 I used to carry regularly. It wasn’t pretty but with every one of those revolvers I passed the test…every time. I generally made the shots in around 10 seconds.
Surprisingly, the LCR was the worst grouping of the three. I did a bit better with the Colt and amazingly the 442 with the crappy whiteout covered blade front sight gave me the best group of all…
Using the laser to guide my aim instead of the front sight I fared just about as well with LCR as with the 442.
I’ll have to think on those results for a bit.
Now here is where the good professor goes off the rails where it some to conventional thinking:
The truth is that the .32 S&W Long is a far better choice for the beginning revolver shooter than the .38 Special.
Considering my recent experiences with a Smith & Wesson Model 30 chambered in this cartridge (link) I have to say I concur (not that someone like Claude Warner needs my approval). That is a very easy round to shoot and the near lack of recoil makes it a great starting place for beginners. It is also interesting that I just share my thoughts on smaller calibers (link) a little bit ago.
Hope you find this information useful. Try out the drill and let me know how it goes!