Guns by the Numbers, not Mythology

In the last couple weeks I’ve had a great number of conversations circulating around the topic of good carry guns and how to win and survive a violent encounter. There are a great deal of nearly mythic attributes that a great many people assign to firearms and other defensive tools and I want to make a general address here that sums up a conversation I’ve had about 50 different variations of recently.

Let’s do some Myth Busting.

1. I’m not planning to get into a gunfight so I don’t need a *Insert Modern Duty Sized Semi-Auto*

Let’s start here. You’re lying. Yes you are planning to get into a gunfight that is the reason why you are trying to pick up a defensive handgun for home or concealed carry. Now you are not deliberately seeking out a gunfight or other confrontation, I understand that, but you are deliberately planning your response to an attack and are therefore “planning to get into a gunfight”.

The second part of this argument, dismissing a certain category of defensive firearm as excessive, centers around the assumption of not needing a large number of rounds to win the encounter. Maybe true, maybe not

Let’s use some numbers now. From PoliceOne’s Force Science Institute using Baltimore County and LAC (considered by the study to be well trained and competent LE organizations) lets look at accuracy over 350 incidents.

Daylight, close quarters shooting against one hostile: 64%

Impaired lighting, close quarters shooting against one hostile: 40-45%

Average number of rounds fired against one hostile: 3.6/3 to 4

Impaired lighting shooting incidents: 77%

So using comparative logic a trained individual carrying a firearm who has to use it in defense can expect about 3 of 5 shots to hit the threat in “perfect” conditions with rapid declination in accuracy to below 10% as conditions worsen and complications arise.

So that five shot snub-nose or six shot .380 ACP is realistically only an effective response to a single close range threat. The presence of a second or greater number of threats significantly increases the potential dangers with a lower capacity firearm. You’re now relying on their reaction to flee when you engage over your ability to continue to effectively engage.

Now this does not mean drop your J-Frame and grab a 33rd mag and a Glock 9mm. It is to be illustrative of the realistic capabilities of your carry firearm regardless of what that carry firearm is. While those five shots of .38 SPL is an impressive force multiplier in a J-Frame, it is still only five shots and plan accordingly.

2. She needs a laser/I need a laser/a laser will make it easier so I don’t have to aim/laser will scare the bad people off

These are extensions of a couple of biases and a result of good advertisement.

She needs a laser = She can’t aim like a normal person because she’s a woman. It sounds a lot more ridiculous when you put it like that. She can train and learn just like everyone else, probably quicker.

I need a laser = With the notable exception of having eyesight issues that a bright green or red dot can overcome, no you don’t. A laser is not an auto aim, it isn’t even an effective crutch for poor aiming technique.

A laser will make it easier so I don’t have to aim = It is a battery operated electronic that can and has failed because it is attached to something that shakes violently every time you fire. Also batteries run out, and most people don’t pay attention to that until they’re dead (the battery, hopefully not you). That laser is going to move with every single movement of your body, every twitch of your wrist, arm, shoulder, chest, legs, etc. It does not stay steadily and menacingly in the chest of a threat, it will flit here and there and your cat will chase it.

A laser will scare the bad people off = This is an extension of the “magic talisman” theory of self defense. Relying solely on the presence of the defensive tool and not your own skills and plan to get yourself to safety and win a fight. Hollywood has established this troupe and loves to use it. Laser sight makers like to slide parallel to that Hollywood stereotype because it sells sights, that’s just advertising nothing malicious. But reality being what it is the presence of a laser on a firearm won’t deter, to any greater degree, an in progress attack than the visible presence of a firearm already did or didn’t.

Now that I’ve ragged on lasers enough go ahead and use them, just use them properly. A laser on a pistol, rifle, or shotgun can be a force multiplicative tool. When practiced with properly they can make aiming faster and more effective, especially in adverse lighting. They can blind a threat and cause disorientation. When properly maintained they are very reliable. But, just as with that little comfortable carry gun, be very realistic about the capabilities and limitations of your tools… Next

3. She needs a small lady’s gun.


Full frame firearms are easier to shoot: Fact

This does not change with gender: Fact

Small frame firearms are only good at one thing, being small. They trade ease of shooting, good sights, good triggers, and sizable controls for a greater concealment factor and convenience. This convenience is purposely designed to make it easy and more likely that you will carry. It is a trade off.

The only time a smaller frame firearm will fit properly is on particularly small hands in which case it is a properly sized firearm for control. This is also a gender neutral fact.

When picking a small framed firearm be certain it fits objective criteria and not picked based on notional conceptions.

4. Brand Myopia

Now for the most subjective of all but it is a great disservice to shooters, new shooters especially. The most recent iteration I heard went thus…

“Glock? No, f*ck that I won’t use a throw away gun.”

To pull just one objective counter here, Glock is currently authorized as the sidearm for USSOCOM, procured for  Naval Surface Warfare (SEALs) and MARSOC (Marine Raiders). Two elite military direct action units would not pick a throw away gun.

Now this little fight seems to crop up between different brands and is usually the byproduct of hearsay, conjecture, and personal bias. There are absolutely different levels of quality on firearms, but the category of firearms that routinely competes with highest marks for police and military contracts should be given their objective due. To believe otherwise is naive.

Do not be naive.

End the Mythology.

Source Article from

248 Shooter
Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.