Gun Defenses and Disarms

I recently participated in a discussion regarding gun defenses, which started from a video by Polenar Tactical regarding how little it takes to cause a handgun’s slide to not function correctly.  It surprised me that many people didn’t know how easy it is to cause the slide of a semi-auto to not cycle correctly.  Merely putting a thumb on the rear of the slide is enough to stop the slide, and no, it doesn’t hurt your hand at all.

It led into a discussion about (after off-lining the gun) what to do when defending against a firearm:  perform a disarm at distance, use the body to control the gun, or enter while jamming.  For awhile at the beginning, there was some discussion as we all attempted to make sure we understood exactly what the other person meant by phrases like “jam the gun” or “use the body to control the gun.”  (Which was good, actually, because sometimes in discussions like that people don’t bother to make sure they are all talking about the same thing, and it goes downhill from there.)

It caught my attention a bit during the discussion about whether or not it was a good idea to close with the attacker and jam the gun, primarily because in my experience (which is limited to observations of training and force-on-force evolutions, not people actually being shot because having a large amount of experience at this is something I don’t want to gather) whether or not the defender should close is often highly based on the relative sizes of the attacker and defender.

Another way of saying that is if the attacker is bigger than you, closing with him isn’t a good idea unless you have no other choice.

Now–opinions vary on this.  Other people in the discussion had closing/jamming being their primary reaction.  (My response was “I bet you are a pretty big guy” because that would be an excellent choice for a big guy, though not necessarily for others.)

Here’s a little video showing the various conceptual choices you have regarding gun defenses.  In general, you can offline the gun and move outside, move inside, or you can offline the gun upward.  After that, you can perform a disarm/attack at distance, you can use your body to control the gun at distance, or you can close/jam the attacker.  Effectively, pretty much every gun defense (that doesn’t include weapons) is one of those things.

The video doesn’t include what to do after those points, and it definitely doesn’t include information about how to offline the gun in the first place.  You want to know how to get the attacker to miss the fact that you are removing yourself from harm’s way?  How to mis-align the attacker’s weapon so you don’t get shot?  Take a class.  Making it clear how to do that in public seems a great way to educate attackers, and I don’t really see a need for that.

The point of the video is to understand the common choices of entry, and then the pros and cons of the various followup ideas that are possible from that point–and there are certainly strengths and weaknesses for each.

In the video, I didn’t discuss at all what you can do with weapons of your own–such as having a gun and the ability to draw it quickly one handed for close-range shooting or having a quick-access blade for close-quarter work–because that changes things significantly.  It doesn’t make “not getting shot immediately” any easier, nor does it automatically make you safe or let you “win” if you think about it in that fashion.

But it does give you more choices.  For example, if you are moving in close to jam the gun, stopping the other person quickly isn’t easy to do, and you BOTH are effectively equal in terms of capabilities at that range, depending on your relative size.  If, however, you have a knife in hand, ANY strike you do can be significant. (That isn’t the same as debilitating, though.) Similarly, if you are able to jam the other person and simultaneously draw your own firearm and place shots into the attacker, that’s a big deal.

In those last two cases, size isn’t nearly as important a factor as it would be if you didn’t have a self-defense tool (read:  weapon) available to you.

There’s a lot of gun disarm/gun defense videos out there.  Many are pretty cool looking, some have solid technique.  Unfortunately, many are also pure nonsense in terms of actual effectiveness, much of which is because the technique itself is Hollywood-style crap that looks good but only works against someone who isn’t actually resisting.

When looking at gun defenses, bear in mind:

  • If the offline doesn’t work, you are dead.  It has to work against a resisting attacker.  The cool-looking gun strip at the end means nothing if you’ve already been shot in the face getting your hands on the gun.
  • If the technique is a distance disarm using arm strength that won’t work against someone who resists and can move, then it isn’t a good technique.
  • If the technique is a body-on-body gun jam that requires you to incapacitate the attacker while jamming the gun, then body size WILL make a difference unless you are lucky or catch the opponent by surprise.  (Because after that point in time your attacker has just as much chance to making a debilitating strike as you do at that range.)
  • If the guy teaching the technique won’t ever show you what it looks like versus an active attacker using a gas AirSoft gun and face/throat protection (or something similar, even a laser designator), he doesn’t think it’s any good either.
  • Different techniques are most effective for different people.  All techniques will not work equally for everyone.  Make sure you understand which ones fit your strengths best–and which ones you only try if you HAVE to do so.

Take this picture shown below, for example.  This is a promo picture from a certain training school/organization specifically for a gun defense seminar–and yet, looking at it (as a static picture, maybe a video would be better but I doubt it) it seems to violate several important things.  The direction of the gun is not controlled–the attacker can turn their wrist fairly easily as you can’t clamp very hard that way.  If the elbow strike by the defender is not significant, then the attacker is not particularly off-balance and the situation will effectively be on an even footing–except he has a gun that you don’t control, and he does.

What is stopping the attacker from simply turning his hand and shooting you?  Even by mistake?

What is stopping the attacker from simply turning his hand and shooting you? Even by mistake?

I realize that the picture makes it look as it the attackers are off-balance, but that is completely a function of the elbow strike.  If the elbow strike doesn’t work, is blocked, jammed, or off-target, the off-balance will not happen from that technique.  Stepping in, binding the arm but not the weapon, and relying on a striking technique to stop the attacker sufficiently so that even by mistake he doesn’t turn the gun into you and fire is just NOT A GOOD IDEA.

How about this picture?

Yes, because gun attacks look exactly like this.

Yes, because gun attacks look exactly like this.

Oddly enough, even though this picture by itself contains much contrived “let’s make it easy on the instructor by being completely non-realistic” derp, the YouTube video it comes from is actually not bad, and is one of the few I’ve seen that does a good job of describing how to make an upward offline technique work.  However, it still is a low-percentage technique for offlining in the first place–even though it LOOKS like it works really well in the video, it only looks good  because the gun is pointed so high in the first place that merely hunching the head down is sufficient to take it offline, and apparently no attacker ever pulls the gun downward by jerking the trigger.  (I’ll also note that the technique as taught piece-by-piece isn’t the technique the instructor uses at speed.)

Practicing versus a partner who is just holding the gun out is necessary in the beginning, as you need to practice the specifics of the technique in the beginning.  However, once that is solid, a GOOD instructor will have the students start training with increasing levels of resistance–and perhaps set up verbal interactions also.  However, since many schools/instructors don’t do this, many students are convinced that their techniques will work even if they have been taught poor technique.   As I said, if the guy teaching the technique won’t ever demonstrate it in a force-on-force situation where there is an actual consequence for failure (and gas AirSoft guns STING like you wouldn’t believe), then that’s a Bad Sign.

Force-on-force testing is a wonderful thing.  Failing a force-on-force test doesn’t automatically mean the technique is bad—nothing is foolproof, and you may well be doing it wrong.  However, if someone can easily shoot the instructor repeatedly, well…

….quit listening to that instructor.  He’s going to get you killed.

What Gun?

I don’t care what gun you buy.  Really, I don’t.

—Well, I DO, but I’m only going to bother making suggestions or talking with you about it if you are going to 1) actually listen and act on my advice, and 2) plan on having your firearm be more than a talisman held to ward off evil things.

Lately, I’ve seen all sort of people asking some version of the extremely common question:  “What gun should I get for self-defense/carry/home defense?”  Variations on this also include “What gun should I suggest for my friend…” and “What gun is BEST for….”

Gun1After which, you get the common answers of “revolver, because reliable” or “.380, because less recoil” or “.45, because stopping power.”  (Though my favorite is “Jiminez, because you don’t need to spend that much–you’ll only shoot it a couple of times.”)  A couple of groups I’m in have a lot of these conversations happening.

And almost all answers to questions of this type are nonsense, from people who have no idea what they are talking about with respect to firearms (though they are completely well-meaning!) who also don’t understand anything about ballistics, violence, and self-defense.

If someone gives an answer before anyone asks the following questions, then those answers are nonsense that may not be even remotely relevant:

  1. Is this for daily carry, range practice, or home defense?
  2. What experience do you have with guns?  With rifles, shotguns, or handguns?
  3. Are you actually going to practice with this?

There are of course more questions needed if you really want to help someone choose a good firearm for their situation–but if no one has asked even those basic three, then no one has any idea what they should suggest which means that their suggestions ONLY relate to what THEY happen to like no matter how much those suggestions are completely inappropriate for the situation.

So if you ask me–sure, we can have a conversation about finding an appropriate firearm for your needs and requirements that is reliable and accurate for you to use competently under stress.  I am happy to talk guns, and am fine with helping you choose one that fits your needs as well as possible.

hipoint0But if you aren’t going to practice with it, or don’t plan on actually following my advice because you actually just want validation of your own choice (most likely based on cosmetic details and marketing hype)—we don’t need to actually talk about it.  Sure, go buy that Judge.  Or that Jiminez.  Or that Hi-Point.  Whatever. If you have it on you and can get it out in time during a self-defense situation, and it goes bang at least once, it really won’t matter which one you have.  All guns will be equally poor choices for you. You’ll be equally as unlikely to hit anything no matter what gun you have, and many self-defense situations end with just showing the firearm or after the first (defensive) shot.  So you’ll have a chance at getting equally lucky with your defensive actions no matter what gun you decided to buy.

People ACTUALLY interested in self-defense wouldn’t rely on that, of course.  But those people would practice and make good choices with respect to equipment.  If you aren’t one of those, and plan on having your firearm-shaped talisman simply create a magic bubble that doesn’t allow evil near you…

…buy whatever you want.  I can’t help you. So I don’t care what gun you get.  (If I did care, all it would do is frustrate me because you aren’t actually interested in being able to defend yourself.  You think that the gun will do that for you, and I can’t help that type of thinking.)

So I don’t care what gun you buy.


I have to include the Dynamic Pie Concepts Ultimate Hi-Point video, because it is brilliant.

What do you need to CCW?

The difference between NEED and WANT is that need means “required.”  Wants are not required.

So what do you NEED if you want to CCW?

Not much, really.  Gun, ammo and appropriate carrier, holster–that’s the equipment.  Your state’s version of a permit.  Some type of clothing that’ll cover the gun.

And that’s it.  That’s all you need to carry a concealed firearm.  You have a right to self-defense, you have a right to use appropriate tools for self-defense—and that’s all you need.

This, however, is completely separate from whether or not that will 1) help keep you and your loved ones safe, and 2) keep you out of jail or civil court due to your actions.

If you want those things (or at least, a better chance of doing those two things), then you are going to want more than what you merely need.

Think you already know how to use a gun?  Okay—how do you know?*  Have you actually rated yourself in terms of pistol skills, using common drills and metrics?  How’s your safety practice?  What’s your skill level on draw speed and accuracy?

Think you already know how to defend yourself?  How do you know?*  Have you studied self-defense tactics?  Gotten training in effective choices?  Can you protect your loved ones in your home and outside?  Do you know how to recognize incipient violence, and how to de-escalate?  Do you know appropriate choices to handle violence?  Where did you get that information?  Have you ever had stress-based training?  Scenario training, force-on-force practice?

Think you know the laws regarding use of force and self-defense? How do you know?*  Can you recognize lethal force situations?  Can you recognize when lethal force is NOT a legal choice?  Do you have other response choices available to you, or are your choices either “gun” or “nothing”?

There is a lot more to carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense than simply “having a gun on you.”  Sure, that’s really all you need.

But it shouldn’t be all you want.


HowDoYouKnow*Notice how often I’m asking “how do you know?”  I’ve found that many, many people who say “I’m a good shot” or “I know how to defend myself” are just guessing–they really don’t know.  They’ve never gotten training in self-defense, they’ve never tested themselves objectively–they actually have NO IDEA.  Luckily for them, most of them will never get attacked, especially with a lethal level of force, so they’ll never have to find out that their abilities just aren’t that good.  It will mean that people around them will have to put up with them acting like skilled experts, though, even though they aren’t. Hm.  I think I may need to write about this more in a later post.


Edited to add, due to a NUMBER of messages I’ve gotten  (5.  So far.)  :  Yes, I know the graphic is logically incorrect.  Quite so, actually!   What makes it funny is how people understand exactly what it means (very clearly) even though what it SAYS makes no logical sense.  (And it is so clear, even though it is obviously wrong, that many people miss the fact that it is wrong.)

And yeah, I didn’t make it clear that I knew that, and no one knows my sense of humor, so of course people think that I can’t read Venn diagrams.  Fine, fine.  {sigh}

Edited to add more, because I got to thinking about why this diagram makes so much sense to people, even though it is logically possible.  (You can’t know and not-know something at the same time..):

If you treat it from a statement case, instead of a meaning case, it really IS logically consistent.  After all, if there is something you know and you don’t know, either:

1) you don’t know you know it, or
2) you know that you don’t know it

This diagram picks only one of those to go with.   (The first one.)

In terms of meaning, then yeah, logically you can’t know and not-know something.

You could think of it in terms of operators, instead of cases:  This circle contains a group of things.  The operation is that we know this group of things.  This other circle’s operation is that we DON’T know this group of things.  If an item is in both circles, it depends on which operation we apply first:

We don’t know this thing, and we know it.  (don’t know operates first)
We know this thing, but we don’t know it.  (know operates first)

“Know” of course also meaning realize.  (We realize that we don’t know this thing.  We don’t realize that we do know this thing.)

That probably is why this diagram is so clear to people, even though from a meaning perspective it is impossible.  From an operation or status perspective, it makes perfect sense.

SouthNarc ECQC, realism, and effective practice…

A several weekends back I attended SouthNarc’s ECQC course, held over in Council Bluffs, IA.

Obligatory plug:  If you are interested in close-quarters practice, solid realistic technique, purposeful directed instruction, and some serious force-on-force practice, you should take ECQC from Craig Douglas.  I could go on, but pretty much everyone who has taken his class has raved about it so you don’t need another AAR saying the same things.  So, short form:  It’s a really good class.  If close-quarters is something you are interested in, take it.

So, here’s the real reason for this post:  How can you get practice to be realistic without sending people to the hospital?  How can people get effective practice in a realistic fashion, when attempting to learn about weapons?

In the class, after one particular evolution in which I shot a couple of guys and then ended up being landed on by two attackers, Craig asked me:  “So, why did you draw your gun at [point A] in the scenario?  You didn’t point it at the guy, but you drew it.  Why didn’t you just hit him?  You’ve got all that Hapkido experience—why the gun?  Surely you know enough hand-to-hand self-defense?”

At the time, demonstrating that adrenaline and stress indeed makes fools of all us, I blathered out something about the situation, and how I didn’t want to close with a guy bigger than I am because “all that experience” means that I know one good hit can finish everything, and there were two guys—but thinking upon it later, that isn’t REALLY why I didn’t do it.  What I said was true—but wasn’t the actual reason.  I just couldn’t articulate it at the time.

I was in evolutions in which I could have used physical striking techniques seven different times during that class.  I almost never did, however, even though I certainly had plenty of opportunities.  Why not?

For two reasons:

1) People were wearing cups, and FIST helmets.  That’s it for protection.  And I had NO idea of their level of training (or ability to take falls).  As such, I could either perform techniques (non-breaking and non-throwing ones) that actually hurt but didn’t damage such as kicks/knees to the thigh or strikes to the solar plexus/abdomen, or strikes to the armored areas (head and groin)—or I could throw those same techniques but pull them so they were on target, but didn’t do damage.  (Technically, I could hit any point in between those two extremes, but the effect on my training partners would be either one or the other.)

I didn’t want to hurt my training partners, and I wasn’t sure of the interaction level limits—I’ve been in minimal-padding-but-full-contact sparring sessions that hurt a lot before, but I didn’t think that everyone there had signed up for that sort of thing.

So that pretty much left pulling my techniques—performing them, but pulling them so the person struck knew they’d been hit, but weren’t actually damaged.  However, the second reason would make that ineffective…

2) People weren’t reacting realistically.  I saw people get louder, mouthier, and then attack in the face of a pointed gun numerous times–and I expect that’s not how reality actually goes, for the most part.  Considering also that people did not react to being shot (which does happen in reality sometimes), lighting someone up with 6 rounds then not having to worry about them anymore WASN’T an option.  Which ALSO meant that people taking strikes were pretty much ignoring them.

So—why didn’t I simply flatten the first guy in my evolution?  Because all that would have happened would be that either I would have hurt the guy, or he’d have ignored my strikes and since I would have closed the distance it would immediately have meant an entangled situation with someone bigger than I was—who had a friend coming along soon.  And my gun would have been in my holster, while I was entangled.

And if you can’t hammer on someone in an entangled situation, you have to grapple your way out.  As people who’ve tried it know, handling two people larger than you in a grappling-only situation is pretty much a solidly losing proposition.

So how do you have realistic practice at this?  How can you practice realistic weapons work ALONG with realistic empty-hand work in scenario training?

  1. Have everyone wear armor so they can strike full contact?  People will just shrug off the impact since they weren’t hurt, and move on. That doesn’t really fix anything other than people will be able to actually strike with power.
  2. Have everyone just suck it up and take the bruises?  There aren’t going to be many people able to do that training for very long—and many people won’t even try.  Like I said, I did seven of these events in the ECQC class—I’m pretty sure that given full-contact with no padding, after the second or third event I’d have been unable to continue in any useful fashion.  I’m good, but when two people land on you, if they can start whaling away you are in trouble.
  3. Have people not wear padding, and tell them they all need to react “realistically” to good strikes?  …have you ever tried to do that?  It is really hard to do, particularly if you have a group of people who have NOT specialized in unarmed combat practice. Most people simply do not know what “realistic” looks like.  (And most males vastly overestimate their ability to take hits.)

I should note here that I’m not bagging on SouthNarc’s class—-I really appreciated the way the class was designed and taught.  His class was really, really good and I say that as someone who has specialized in teaching for quite a few years, which means I’m REALLY critical of instructors and their teaching methodologies.  (I’m also happy to see that what I’ve been teaching in my CQ courses is solidly in accord with the concepts, techniques, and practice of one of the acknowledged experts in the field.)

Each evolution really could be thought of as a series of interactions, not just one event:

  • First, the verbal/nonverbal interaction, movement, and positioning,
  • Second, the initial assault/attack (by whoever—sometimes it was intelligent for the defender to strike first) and the consequent results of whether or not the weapon could be deployed usefully due to positioning,
  • Third, the entanglement that inevitably occurs if the situation continues as the attackers WILL close the distance (you can’t escape or get away) and the defender’s attempts to keep their weapon or render it nonfunctional by anyone else along with keeping themselves alive.

Each evolution is going to get to point three, almost invariably.  That isn’t a failure of points one and two—it is just going to happen because the damage is going to be ignored.  Points one and two can still be discussed and critiqued on their own.  But you ARE going to reach point three.

In my case, if I HAD gone physical with my attacker early on during point 1 (moving myself into point 2), we simply would have reached point 3 much sooner because he would have ignored my strikes and simply grabbed me–and I knew it, and wanted to maintain my distance and weapon advantage.

So how do you fix the “realism” part so that people actually use BOTH their weapons techniques AND their empty-hand practice in a realistic fashion?  Or at least get around this particular realism problem?

In a general-enrollment class, I don’t think you can.  In some specialized classes with people who understand those parts due to experience, perhaps.  But other than that, I think to make it work you would have to have dedicated attackers wearing armor who know how to react realistically—and that just isn’t going to happen in a majority of classes.

So: Craig—there WAS a reason why I didn’t just hit that guy when we did the two-on-one when I was the defender.  I didn’t want to accidentally hurt him (I really like sweeping the leg and low kicks, and that probably would have been bad) and I didn’t want to pull my punches just so I could immediately be grabbed and tackled, either.

In real life….?  I don’t know.  I’ve not been in that situation.  I’d like to THINK that I’d have been able to leave the situation prior to that point, but if not—dropping the first guy HARD before the second guy came up would have been a solid option, and for the most part, yes, I do think I am sufficiently trained to manage that.

Even if he was bigger than me.  🙂

9mm vs .45 — which really IS better?

Yes, I’m diving into the “9mm vs .45” war.  No, I don’t care that you have a preference.  (I don’t care in that it doesn’t matter to me, though obviously it should matter to you.)  Yes, I realize that many people will immediately hate me no matter what I’m going to say next.

Before I jump in, though, here’s my question to you:  Do you know what current research says about ballistic effectiveness when comparing modern self-defense rounds between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP?

If the answer is “No” then your opinion is useless, whether it happens to be right or wrong.  You see, here’s the deal:  Your ignorant opinion (ignorance:  lack of knowledge, which is not the same as stupidity) is simply not as valid as someone else’s knowledgeable opinion.  This doesn’t mean that you might not be right, and the other person can’t be wrong—but it DOES mean that if you start by saying “Well, I don’t know much about it, but I think…” —-then the rest of your sentence really should be— “….that I should shut up and learn about the subject before I express my opinion.”  If you happen to be right in your opinion, it is purely due to luck, since you have already admitted you don’t know what you are talking about.

Do you have a caliber preference in terms of self-defense round?  Probably.  Is that preference based on “feel,” personal expectations, personal experience, opinions heard on the internet, opinions heard from friends, or wide-scale research data?

Because while you are welcome to go with whatever your preference is, the only reason list above that is valid for reliable results is the last one—wide-scale research data.  How it “feels” doesn’t tell you anything.  Personal expectations based on what?   Personal experience—well, once you’ve shot 1000 people with varying rounds for comparison purposes, get back to me.  Opinions heard on the internet or from friends?  Please.  I’ve heard people advocating disassembling a handgun one-handed and putting the parts in a bag on the dashboard while coming to a stop on the highway when pulled over by the state patrol in order to make the LEO more comfortable with the firearm.

(No, I’m not kidding about that.  I wish I was.)

So why should you listen to my opinion?  Because I’m right?  How about because I’m telling you not to take my opinion as gospel, and instead telling you to look at what the research says, and what it means.



I realize that is actually considered sacrilege to the “.45acp is God’s Own Round” crowd and the “9mm capacity makes all the difference” crowd and the “.40 is the best of both worlds” crowd.  (Not to mention what the 10mm Manly Man are like on this topic.)  And yet—opinions based on lack of fact mean nothing.

Oh, good lord, I forgot the .357Sig fanatics.  Yeah, them too.


I’m bringing this up because I have a friend who carries a Glock 30 in .45acp all the time.   He likes to shoot IDPA matches, but realizes that particular gun is non-optimal for the IDPA game for all that IDPA touts itself as being for “real concealed carry” training.  In SSP or CDP he is at a “compact gun” disadvantage, and in SSP he is at a serious recoil disadvantage.

He asked me about switching to a 9mm for IDPA, and I asked him (since I knew he carried his G30) if he wanted IDPA to be for trigger time with his carry gun, or instead wanted to work on winning matches.  After all, while trigger time is always good, the grip on a full-size 9mm Glock is different from the grip on a G30, and if he wanted to work with both, it was going to take even more practice.  So, did he want to mazimize his SD practice and also play at IDPA, or did he want to practice with two guns, work on SD, and work on IDPA at the same time?  He decided that was really the question, and started thinking about it.

(I realize that at this time, the people who carry 5 different guns and rotate them out weekly or have the “you should be able to handle EVERY gun!” attitude will be wondering why this is a problem.  For you folks, never mind.)

Back to what my friend was thinking about:  When I thought about it, I really wondered if that really was the right question.  What if, instead, the real question is:  are you completely wedded to the idea of a .45acp for self-defense?

You know what current research says about modern self-defense rounds in 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP?  It says that 1) all are marginal in effectiveness, 2) reliable physiological stops only occur due to disruption of the central nervous system (CNS), 3) those calibers work equally well (or rather, equally badly) for shots placed in the CNS, and 4) all calibers (including .22) work equally well for psychological stops.  Oh:  5) Heavier bullets (in pistols) work slightly better to defeat intermediate barriers, if your lifestyle happens to be such that you often have to shoot through doors and windshields.

(How many .45/.40 folks just said, “Well yeah, see, mine is better” I wonder?)

How often DO you want to be able to shoot through intermediate barriers?  (Unless you have a job that potentially requires it, of course.)  Don’t people who think about normal citizen self-defense usually worry about the exact opposite?

So here’s the thing:  unless you have a job that requires you to have slightly better than pretty bad barrier penetration, there is no effective difference between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP.  For physiological stops, they are all very bad unless you get a precise CNS hit, whereupon they all work equally well.  For psychological stops, they all work as equally well as a .22 LR out of a Beretta Bobcat.

So truthfully, my suggestion to my friend?  Think about carrying a G17 or a G19 instead of that G30, and use a G17 or a G34 in competition.  The grip, trigger, and recoil will all be similar, you’ll have more rounds for self-defense (without giving up much of anything in effectiveness), and you’ll be more competitive in IDPA all at the same time.

That isn’t to say that everyone should carry a 9mm.  You should carry whatever you like!  This merely is my solution to my friend’s problem, and YOU may not have this problem.  You may just like the feel of a 1911 in .45acp better plus you think JMB was the last True Prophet.  Or you may like the .40 because muzzle blast, recoil, AND capacity should all be maximized simultaneously.  Or maybe you like 9mm because…..well, there’s probably a reason out there somewhere to like 9mm.

Pick what you like.  But 1) don’t base your decision on some supposed “advantage” to one caliber in terms of effectiveness—there isn’t one, and 2) don’t let your personal preference get in the way of making the most logical choice for all the reasons you might need a gun.

And quit telling me that your caliber is better than the others for random nonsense reasons that have no basis in reality.


(No, I haven’t forgotten about the “How to Learn To Shoot” series—part IIA will be coming relatively soon.)

“What would you do if…”

How often have you seen the phrase “What would you do if…” in a defensive tactics forum, shooting forum, or martial arts forum?  I’m pretty sure your answer is “pretty often.”

How many times have you seen people immediately give specific, detailed answers about how they would competently handle the threat/attacker/situation?

Unfortunately, I bet the answer to that is also “pretty often.”

Why is that unfortunate?  Because most of those “what if” questions give few details, and as such, there is no way to give a definitive, solid answer.  Which means that all of the people who did so either 1) added lots and lots of details in their own minds to an open-ended question so that they could give an answer where they could use their skills (making me wonder how realistic they are in terms of their own skills) or 2) don’t know what they are talking about in terms of actual self-defense.

Or most likely both 1 and 2.

Self-defense, as a concept, is very straightforward.  Self-defense, as a set of principles, is very simple.  Self-defense, as a set of techniques, is very basic.

Self-defense, as a set of choices in an unknown situation, is extremely variable.  Yes, there are a few situations in which your reactions should be cut-and-dried.  (Example:  someone tries to force you into a car to take you someplace different.  This is a “fight immediately” trigger.)  However, most situations are highly dependent on a large number of variables.

Some basic modifiers (and in this case, confounders) with regard to decision-making:

1) are you alone, or is there someone else with you, like a spouse or a dependent?
2) what routes of egress are there in the given situation?
3) what level of threat is being presented?
4) is the threat presented directly, or indirectly (to a group including you, as opposed to specifically at you)?
5) what level of force is being presented?  (not only for legal use of force responses, but also for decisions on reaction type based on threat level)
6) what physical condition are you in?
7) what encumbrances do you have?  (are your arms full?)
8) how immediate is the threat?
9) what defensive tools are available to you?  (not merely what are you carrying, but what are the surroundings like?)
10) what is the nature of the threat to you?  (junkie in withdrawal needing juice now versus a gang of teenagers out for a “lark” versus drunken ex-boyfriend—even if they all have the same weapons, that doesn’t mean your reaction is going to be the  same for each case, particularly due to the type of actions they will present.)

….this list could go on and on and on.

Which is why it is so important to have a solid understanding of the concept of self-defense.  And a clear set of self-defense principles.  And a good, practiced set of broad-based techniques.  Because if you have those, often the choices you will need to make will be clear.  However, if you aren’t “at that time,” the chances that a random question on a discussion forum will have enough details to make said choices obvious is—-small.

And if you think the answer to “What would you do if you are being mugged?” is “I’m going to explode off the X while acquiring my firearm and shooting them to the ground until the threat is stopped, then check my 360 after which I’ll tac-load to survive this dynamic critical incident”  —-then you REALLY need to go to to a class that teaches you about realistic self-defense.

Recently, MissMichella over on the NFOA forums (in this thread:,10374.msg72925.html#msg72925 ) asked the following three questions:

1.  If you were in a business and someone was committing armed robbery, what would you do?
2.  If you were told to get in a stranger’s vehicle…and you could tell they had some evil intentions, what would you do?
3.  If you were mugged while armed, what would you do?

I was extremely glad to see that with the exception of question #2, most people’s answers were effectively “it depends.”  In the cases where people gave more specific answers, they almost always carefully added specifics of details that affected their decisions—but still left it mostly open-ended with a “it depends” tacked to the end.

As for me:  If I were in a business and someone was committing armed robbery, what would I do?

Depends.  Is it my business?  How many other people are in the store?  How many armed robbers are there?  Is there anyone with me?  Is the armed robber paying attention to only the cashier?  Is the armed robber actually pointing the weapon at anyone?  Have they already shot someone?  Have they threatened to kill anyone more than “give me the money?”    Can I simply slip out the back/side/front doors?  What are my egress points?  Is there any cover near?  Are the robbers paying any attention to me?  Who is in the line of fire?  Where will misses go (from either side)?  Is the cashier simply going to hand over the money, and the robbers are fairly calm and might just leave?  Am I being directly threatened?  Is my life in immediate danger?  If the cashier doesn’t pay, will my life move to being in immediate danger?  How am I armed?  What weapons are available?  How much attention are they paying specifically to me, and how much time would I have to access and use a weapon?  Can I just leave?  Move away from the situation?

Give me a specific situation, and I’ll answer the question—because discussing choices about these things IS important.  (And that’s why I think that scenario training is so important when learning self-defense.)

But only ask me a short question like the above, and I’ll need more details before I’ll be able to say anything.  And if YOU think you can answer the above question with a simple “I’ll just do THIS!” answer, you really need to take some different self-defense training.