Choosing A Defensive Handgun-Part 1 | Concealed Onlne Reviews

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Let’s start with a few home truths:

  1. All Firearms can kill you period. People often conveniently overlook this fact when touting their favorite hand cannon.
  2. Only hits count in a gun fight. A hit with a .22 is 100% more effective than a miss with a .44 magnum.
  3. You have a better than 50% chance of surviving being shot with a Handgun. Handguns are notoriously inefficient at killing for several reasons. Low velocity, small munitions and difficulty in accurate shot placement under stress or without continuous proper training. Another factor is of course improvements in medical techniques, technology and response time. Given the option LE will reach for their Shotgun or Rifle as would most Military personnel.
  4. There is only one Best Handgun for Self-defense. It’s the Largest Caliber Handgun that Youcan :
  • Confidently
  • Safely
  • Quickly
  • Accurately
  • Place Multiple Hits on the Target

In order to find the handgun best suited to your defensive needs and capabilities there are several factors we need to consider. There are specific criteria for Concealed guns that do not apply to home defense guns and I will cover them separately at the end. Let’s start with some general guidelines.

  1. Fit and Ergonomics You must be able to grip the gun correctly and your finger should be able to correctly activate the trigger with that grip. You should be able to comfortably locate and manipulate all the guns controls. With Practice you can overcome minor deficiencies in fit and ergonomics, however if fit and ergonomics are seriously wrong you will not enjoy shooting the gun and therefore wont practice with it rendering it useless.
  2. Price and Budget. With handguns, like most things in life you get what you pay for. Prices range from around $200 – $3000+. What you should remember is that you are trusting your life to this gun, It will be in constant use so will incur wear and it has to be 100% reliable even in adverse conditions. Will that cheap gun fulfil those criteria? Probably not. But, if that is all you can afford it is better than no gun. At the other end of the scale do I want to subject my beautiful custom, finely tuned, precision made Kimber to the rigors of constant re-holstering, dirt, grime and wear of constant training? Maybe not. Fortunately the middle ground is full of quality proven duty type firearms in a variety of action types from multiple manufacturers. A good quality daily use firearm can be obtained for around $500-$800. You also need to consider the cost of ammunition when budgeting. As a rule of thumb, the larger the caliber the more expensive the ammunition.
  3. Size/Weight/Recoil/Caliber. Whenever we fire a gun the cartridge generates a force equal and opposite to the force being applied to the bullet. The bigger the Caliber the greater the force. This force is absorbed partially by the gun itself the rest is absorbed by us. The portion we absorb is called Felt Recoil. If we keep caliber the same, then reduce the weight/size of the gun, less force is absorbed by the gun due to its reduced mass. Therefore we must absorb more force, greater Felt Recoil. More recoil makes guns harder to control inhibiting fast follow up shots. Also smaller guns have shorter sightlines making them harder to shoot accurately and shorter barrels which reduce muzzle velocity/bullet energy.
  4. Double Action Revolver/Semi-Automatic. Both are effective Defensive Handguns with pros and cons. Revolvers are simple to use reliable and not prone to user induced malfunctions. They take some serious practice to shoot rapidly and accurately due to their heavy double action triggers. They generally hold between 4-8 rounds depending on frame size and caliber. With practice and a speed loader they can be reloaded reasonably quickly. Semi-Automatics are typically easier to shoot fast and accurately due to shorter lighter trigger pulls. They are however prone to user induced malfunctions and care must be taken when selecting Hollow Point ammunition as some are finicky about which brands they will feed reliably. They generally have a much greater ammunition capacity than revolvers (up to 17 or more) and are easier to reload quickly.
  5. Manufacturer. Who makes the gun you buy is important for several reasons. Warranty is important on a gun you will use hard and often. Availability of parts and ease of repair are also considerations. By staying with main stream manufacturers you will have less down time for a broken gun than if you bought that cool exotic hand cannon that has to be sent overseas for repair as nobody here has a clue how to fix it and even if they do it takes weeks to get parts.
  6. Concealed Carry Considerations.
  • Slim. Thin guns are easier to conceal so consider a single stack magazine for Semi-Autos. With Revolvers Reducing Cylinder capacity is a common way to slim down the gun.
  • Shorter. Most concealable firearms have shorter barrels and grips to aid in concealment.
  • Smooth. Ideally sights and controls should have rounded edges or be recessed to prevent snagging on clothing and gear.

When you have narrowed down your choices to three or four contenders go and rent them and shoot them. Far better to spend an extra $100 bucks trying them out, than find you hate that $800 gun you just bought.

In part 2 at the risk of hundreds of emails I will share some thoughts on caliber for Self-Defense.

Concealed Online Reviews – End the Debate: Revolver or Semi-Auto? Which Works Better for Concealed Carry?

There are 15 people right now at your local gun shop. Step in and ask them if you should concealed carry with a revolver or a semi-auto and you’ll get 15 different opinions.

Well here’s another opinion for you: To end the revolver vs. semi-auto debate, you need to consider your concealed carry needs, your shooting style, and a few other factors those 15 guys at your local range aren’t even thinking about.

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Sure, there are already 1,000 opinions out there on forums, blogs, and in magazines…

Isn’t it time to analyze your style, needs, and goals and come up with your own opinion? Keep reading to learn more…

Let’s Talk Reliability and Concealed Carry

If you’ve been reading about revolvers already you’ve heard quite a bit about “second strike capability.”

So, if you’re firing a revolver and you have a misfire, you can just pull the trigger again.

Revolvers allow you to make this second strike. Your trigger pull advances the next cartridge.

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Die-hard proponents of revolvers for concealed carry will tell you “semi-automatics don’t have second strike capability.” You know what? It’s true. A few semi-automatics allow you to pull the trigger again to re-strike the same cartridge…but that’s not even the same, is it?

But here’s the thing…

You’re going to have to look hard to find a pistol you’re willing to actually buy for concealed carry that you can’t rely on.

Think about it! Out of all the brands you’ve been looking at…

Revolvers, semi-autos, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Taurus, Colt, the list goes on…

There are few pistols from major manufacturers available today that you can call “unreliable.”

On top of that, when  loaded with the ammo you’ll use in a life-or-death situation (that’s right, the premium stuff, not low-quality home-reloaded from the hobbyist down the street with second-rate powder), you’re very unlikely to experience failure.

When you pull the trigger, it’s likely your premium self-defense ammo will fire in any modern pistol. “Second strike capable” or not, reliability in this regard is a wash.

Now what’s out of the way, let’s talk about what’s really important…

Think Recoil, Not Reliability

So you pick a revolver because of reliability…

Now you have something else to face: Recoil.

When you fire a revolver, the hammer drops, the bullet leaves the barrel and nothing else moves. All of the force from the bullet you just fired needs to go somewhere. And it heads right back into your hands.

Heavy revolvers help reduce this recoil. Most of the revolvers you’ll concealed carry don’t (simply because they are smaller and lighter).

Semi-autos are built to dissipate the force of a bulleting being fired.

Some of the force from every bullet leaving the chamber is used to move the slide back. Pressure bleeds off and moves the barrel. The motion of the gun itself and the design of semi-automatics draw away the force and pressure of firing your pistol.

What does this mean?

Pick a caliber and a pistol weight and a semi-auto will feel like it recoils less.

When seconds matter and help is minutes away, you’ll want less recoil to keep your rounds on target.

Capacity is Another Consideration

This one is short…

You can fit more rounds in most semi-automatics.

Higher capacity without reloading (and faster reloading time) is paramount to nearly everything else in life or death situations.

You’ll be trained to carry concealed, you’ll be prepared to fire (hopefully), and even then, in most “must shoot situations” not all of your rounds will make it to target.

Studies show that most of the time simply having a weapon, firing a single round, and hitting your target just once will protect you and your family. Armed assiliants are rarely prepared for bystanders who are carrying concealed.

But at the end of the day would you rather be prepared to reload quickly? Armed with a magazine of 10 rounds you can reload in under 2 seconds? Or do you want to fire 5 or 6 and end up stuck reloading a revolver?

But What About Complexity?

Revolvers are easier to fire.

They are simple, with no-frills operation.

Put rounds in, close the cylinder, pull the trigger. Rinse and repeat.

Semi-automatic pistols have more steps. Insert mag, rack the slide, safety, shoot…

Revolver fans love simplicity. There’s less to go wrong and (importantly for some) fewer steps to “learn.”

But if you’re carrying concealed, you’re going to be training anyway, right?

How Do You Choose?

Here’s the bottom line…

Semi-Automatics give you more rounds, less recoil, and improved reloading time. Do you need to worry about duds and second strike capability? Maybe.

Deputy Sheriff Bob Beanblossom, rangemaster, gives instruction during the shooting portion of the Tipton Co. Handgun Permit class on March 30, 2013.

Are revolvers easier to operate? You bet.

At the end of the day you need to choose the concealed carry pistol YOU feel most comfortable with. That’s how we can all end the revolver vs. semi-auto debate.

Concealed Carry Training: Does Immersion Training Create Better Shooters?

There are only two primary types of firearms training: Episodic or Immersion training.

Deciding which training style will work best for you and your goals is the first step you should take before applying for a concealed carry permit. During the many state application processes, you’ll need to discuss your training, philosophy, and the approach you’ll take to hone your shooting skills.

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You can choose either type, but we wanted to ask: Does one style of training produce better shooters?

Can You Learn On Your Own? Episodic Concealed Carry Training Explained  

Episodic training is often self-directed.

You’ll learn from training videos, text, online shooting courses, or even online concealed carry classes. Then, once you’re on the range, you’ll apply what you’ve learned while shooting.

If you can subjectively monitor your form and critically judge your performance, episodic training may be for you.

Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to analyze your own performance.

One of the traps you fall into if you decide on episodic training without instructor supervision is failing to learn new information or forgetting to reinforce basic fundamentals.

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When you learn and shoot on your own, it’s easy to “fall into a rut,” plateau, and develop difficult to overcome bad habits. This is the reason why many shooters and instructors believe immersion training is much more effective.

Does Immersion Training Really Build Better Shooters?

Immersion training has multiple benefits over self-directed or even instructor-based episodic shooting.

Normally, immersion training takes place over an entire day or multiple days and you’ll work aggressively on your skills under the supervision of an instructor who closely watches your technique and form.

Immersion training keeps you from falling into bad habits, forces you to constantly focus on proper form, and pushes you to progress faster.

Fast progress under the watchful eye of a certified instructor is one of the reasons many states require concealed carry courses before you can even file an application.

In Just 12 Hours You Can Rapidly Progress as a Shooter…

But here’s the big problem with immersion training…

When you pile all of your training into a single day or a short 2-3 day span, you’re much more likely to forget everything you’ve learned.

Immersion training is great for learning new drills, techniques, and honing in on fundamentals, but one of the most important principles of practice for any skill is that short, more frequent sessions are much more effective than long sessions spread father apart.

So, What Type of Training is Better for Concealed Carry?

In my experience, you should always start with professional instruction before moving on to shooting on your own.

Usually this means beginning with an instructor at a one day or multi-day session before moving on to practice on your own several times a week. After a period of self-directed episodic practice to reinforce what you’ve learned, you go back to an immersive session.

But Immersion Training is Expensive and Time Consuming, Is There a Better Way?

To avoid the cost of immersive in-person training, you can find NRA-certified online concealed carry courses recognized by multiple states to meet the requirements to apply for a CCW.

Several online concealed carry classrooms allow you to receive direct feedback from instructors. You can actually upload shooting sessions and get guidance on what you’re doing right and wrong.

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This modern take on traditional training can be just as effective as in-person concealed carry training.

If you don’t have time for 12 hour per day immersion shooting sessions, you may want to consider working with certified shooting coaches and instructors online.