About SD Carry

As a young boy in Texas, I grew up with guns. They were basic tools, much like my grandfather's mitre box or pipe wrench, there to perform specific tasks when called upon. I was taught gun safety by virtually every male adult in my family. I spent eight years in the US Navy operating and maintaing various guns from .30 caliber to 5" rifles.

After a few years as a moderator on a popular gun forum, I learned that there is much disinformation, prejudice and plain ignorance about guns posted constantly on the internet.

This blog is dedicated to sharing worthwhile information about the increasing acceptance and practice of legal concealed carry in our country. There is much mis-information and wild opinion about this topic among its practitioners and the public in general. The moral, social and legal responsibilities of concealed carry are immense and must be understood and practiced by all who legally carry a gun.

There is also a vast amount of practical and useful information about carrying and the weapons themselves and I hope to be able to share some of that here. Your comments are welcome, but will be moderated by me before appearing on this blog.

Stay safe.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Reliability and Risk

One of the big questions about legal concealed carry for self defense is which gun will be the most reliable. Which will be most likely to go "bang" if you have to pull the trigger. Many people would say that a double-barrel shotgun is the best answer, but when you have to factor in other considerations the picture becomes much more complicated.

You cannot easily conceal a double-barrel shotgun for every day carry. Nor would most people want to. Given that a legal concealed carrier will desire to keep his or her gun concealed from others, yet have it readily accessible when needed, comfortable to carry so it isn't left at home, and reliabile so that it works when needed, the question of what to carry and how becomes thorny indeed.

Probably the most popular handgun for concealed carry is some version of the semi-automatic pistol, usually a center fire caliber since these have more power than a rimfire gun. Two questions follow on from that.

One, which caliber should I carry?

Two, what size gun?

Both questions are important and both have their adherents. You will find that many people consider anything less than a .45 caliber handgun to be next to useless for self defense. Their argument usually relies on what they call "stopping power", i.e., the ability of a bullet to generate enough energy into a target to "stop" that target from further action. There remains much debate about the idea of "stopping power" in the knowledgeable gun community.

The idea that one can shoot a full sized adult with a .45 caliber bullet and knock that person down is pretty far fetched. It might work sometimes, but mostly it probably won't for various reasons. The person shot is too cranked up on adrenalin or other stimulants to be much affected. Big animals, shot with large caliber rifle bullets will often not realize they are "dead" and continue to charge or run, as the case may be, for a relatively long period after being shot. So, a big bullet is no surety of "stopping power".

Also, one must be able to actually hit the target. If you miss, it doesn't much matter what caliber of bullet you use.

You will find that most law enforcement and military handgun applications have moved away from the big .45 caliber guns to smaller calibers, the 9 mm being the world-wide favorite at this moment. There are variations of course: .40 caliber, .38 special for certain applications, etc. But this shows that the idea of "stopping power" being the most important is no longer in favor.

Modern ammunition loads that are designed for self defense are very effective in sizes from .380 auto, considered the minimum self defense caliber by many, up through the larger calibers. This is important because the effectiveness of a self defense round is not restricted to caliber and power. The design of the bullet and it's characteristics relative to particular handguns is very important. For example, a well designed .380 auto self defense round, like the Hornady Critical Defense round, may have as much, or more, effect on an adult assailant as a basic .45 caliber full metal jacket bullet fired from a short-barreled .45 pistol. This is certainly true if the .380 bullet is better placed into the target than the .45 round.

Besides these factors, a person carrying for self defense must also consider size and weight of the handgun. Most people will not lug around a two-pound pistol every day, even though their intentions are good to start with. Gun manufacturers have recognized this and responded with a slew of "compact" handguns, both semi-autos and revolvers. The overall aim is to combine what the buying public will consider sufficient "power" with compact size and lighter weight in order to arrive at a perfect carry pistol. Such a gun does not exist, given that everyone has their own idea of perfect. However, there are now many more options to choose from for a daily carry handgun.

It is almost a truism that the best self defense gun is the one you have with you when you need it. No matter if you favor a full size model 1911 .45 semi-auto loaded with outstanding self defense ammunition. If it is home in the safe, or locked in the car because it's become a real pain to carry all day, it is for all real purposes useless as a self defense weapon. I think this is the fundamental reason behind the amazing sales of Ruger's little LCP (Light Compact Pistol). They seem to be selling them as fast as they can make them. They are small, light and very effective when loaded with modern .380 self defense ammunition. Even though many gun "writers" term them derisively as "mouse guns", a great many average people (and many knowledgeable gun owners) are buying and carrying them for self defense. I've yet to meet a person who snorts at these "mouse guns" who will volunteer to be shot with one. That says something.

With the success of the LCP and the LCR (the .38 Special and .357 magnum revolver versions of "light and compact") from Ruger, the market has responded by producing an increasing number and models of "light and compact" for concealed carry. There are many options now.

Perhaps a more crucial question of having a gun with you when you need it, is the one of reliability. If you pull out your compact semi-auto pistol and pull the trigger and it doesn't go "bang", things can turn ugly really fast. No one wants to have a gun that won't work.

The internet gun communications - sites and forums mainly - are rife with tales of malfunctioning guns. If one read solely these and did not put this talk into perspective, you would think a semi-automatic pistol was a fragile beast liable to malfunction at any time. Since most of the worlds police and military depend upon semi-automatic sidearms, this is manifestly not the case. But, it is true that at some times, some guns (probably all guns) will fail. The question is, can you depend upon a certain brand and type of gun to be reliable enough to trust for every day carry?

This question will require a lot of thought and research. My internet forum members will continue to be a great help with this question and I'll give it some deep thought as well. After all, I am personally very interested in this question.

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