Caliber Considerations for CCW

Beretta 92FS

Beretta 92FS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post comes to you from Dave Windham again. Dave’s knowledge and experience with concealed carry, firearms implementation and associated equipment is a valuable asset.

What’s in your pants???

Did that get your attention? Good, now please read on so that you understand the question.  I’m really exhausted of (primarily men) purchasing the largest caliber gun possible because it’s the manly thing to do while ignoring the basics of firearm handling and simple logic. They ignore the simple fact that despite their manliness, they may not be able to effectively control a large bore handgun. I’ve seen people purchase guns that don’t even fit their hand so that they have a “45” as opposed to any other caliber handgun.

Let me start by saying I don’t advocate or consider mouse guns an option. I don’t even like these mini guns as back up weapons. Personally a .38 +p or .380 is about as small as I feel is an effective caliber in any gun fight and many folks in the industry agree. What I am addressing is 9mm, through 45ACP. Many novice or inexperienced shooters just don’t consider 9mm as being a good round in a gun fight and think that bigger is always better. Let’s look at the evidence, and you make up your mind.

The chart above shows the penetration of the handgun rounds that we are discussing, while the page linked to next shows the expansion of the said rounds upon penetration.  Please note that manufacture and bullet type, weight, etc. do cause dramatic changes in these findings.  Do your own research or study the research of professionals to make your own choice and reach your own conclusions.

As you can see, there isn’t a clear and simple “best round” or “magic bullet”.  With different manufacturers or slightly different bullet styles the results are almost identical from 9mm all the way up to 45 ACP.  With this knowledge there are several other factors that you need to consider.

The first factor is what really happens in a gun fight. A real life gun fight isn’t anywhere close to static marksmanship practice on a range or even competition shooting. Your body goes through all sorts of changes when lead starts flying in your direction. Your heart rate rises, your motor skills are significantly decreased, and your vision is greatly affected.  Now ask yourself, do you want a smaller amount of ammunition and all the recoil you can handle or do you want something easily controlled that you are a very good marksman with?

To get the feeling of what it feels like to be in a critical incident, try this. Run around the block twice in all your gear, fully clothed in the middle of summer, then drop and do 25 push-ups and then 25 sit ups. Now stand, draw your weapon and engage multiple targets at multiple ranges running between cover and concealment points. Make sure you have to reload so that you make a magazine change and experience all aspects of your loss of motor skills. If you can, even induce a feeding malfunction during this drill.

Ok, so now that you know that your 3 inch groups at 10yrds on the range don’t amount to a hill of beans in real life you now have to consider what really ends a gunfight. Almost all accounts of these incidents and personal accounts from police and military personnel, as well as personal experience I know that hydraulic failure is what normally ends the fight. That’s just a nice way of saying the aggressor has bled out and can no longer function.  Do you really think that .12 of an inch in expansionor a fraction of an inch in penetration is going to make a huge difference?  The truth is that it really doesn’t. What’s far more important is shot placement.

In my opinion having a gun that I can make extremely quick follow up shots with, and that carries several more rounds only makes sense. Both I and my wife carry full sized duty style weapons in 9mm. She carries a bone stock M&P Pro with a 4.25in barrel and I carry a slightly customized Beretta 92fs that was once my duty weapon with two police departments. I have 20 rounds on tap while she has 17 rounds at the ready if needed. Now you may ask, is it concealable? The answer is hell yes. It’s all about holster choice and clothing choice. I’ll discuss some of my holsters in a post at a later date.

The point of this is to make you think. Why do you carry what you carry? Is it the best choice or a compromise? Could you be more effective with a different gun? Your life truly depends on your choices for your ccw defensive firearm, so take the time to do some research and make solid decisions.   Happy training and be safe!

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Musings on Current Events and Concealed Carry

English: Taken by Paul F. Maul, an original ph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a guest post from a very good friend of mine, Dave Windham. Dave has spent his entire adult life in the company of firearms much like myself. He is a former law enforcement officer and corrections officer and he and I worked together in some of the worst spots in central North Carolina without the luxury of backup.

Let me start by saying that I am in no way an attorney, nor do I claim any legal expertise in any area of the law. I’m not attempting to provide any legal advice or tell you what you should legally do or not do.  I am strictly writing this as a citizen that carries a firearm regularly and attempting to convey some concerns that I have as well as my personal observations and opinions.

Having said that, the Brew haha surrounding the Zimmerman incident and subsequent trial has raised a lot of questions and concerns with those who conceal carry on a regular basis. I personally have carried regularly since the age of 21 and I’m now pushing the big four-O. Some of that was while on duty as a police officer, corrections officer or as an armed guard. The majority of the time I carried off duty and I continue to do so.

When you are forced to use your weapon in self defence, some of the many things that will be called into question after any use of a firearm are { 1) type of weapon used, 2) the caliber of the weapon used, 3) state of carry, 4) features of the firearm used, 5) training of the user of the firearm, etc.} This is by no means all encompassing, but it’s a good foundation of what you can expect to be questioned by a prosecutor or attorney in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Let’s start with the type of weapon you carry. Most of us that carry concealed tend to carry smaller firearms of smaller calibers so that they are easily hidden and you have the maximum amount of ammunition.  I personally don’t subscribe to this logic as I carry a full sized duty gun chambered in 9mm with a twenty one round capacity. If you carry a larger caliber or one with a ton of ammunition on board, expect to be questioned on why. Study up on past shootings from both civilian and law enforcement. You need to have a well thought out and researched answer. Your choice of firearm doesn’t need to be arbitrary and ignorance is never a defense.

Patronen: 9mm LUGER; 7,62 TOKAREV ; .357 SIG; ...

Patronen: 9mm LUGER; 7,62 TOKAREV ; .357 SIG; 10mm AUTO; .40 S&W; .45 GAP; .50 AE; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now let’s talk a little about the caliber of your chosen weapon.  If you decide on an oddball or large caliber it will definitely be called into question. In other words if you carry a 10mm Glock, .38 Super, 7.62 Tokarev, .50GI,  or 1911, people will ask why. Worse yet, if you carry a revolver in .44 Mag, expect to be called “Dirty Harry”. I personally like any of these choices for any type of carry. They are great stopping rounds that were developed to do just that, stop an aggressor. That is the goal in a life and death situation after all. Again, just be willing to explain why you carry said caliber. I personally carry a 9mm, and I do so for a couple reasons.  First, it is a very well-known caliber that doesn’t set off alarm bells if I have to use my gun. Second, it is a great round for stopping an opponent (modern ballistic testing has proven 9mm, .40S&W, .357 Sig, and .45ACP to be almost equal). This isn’t the movies, and people don’t fly off their feet in real life when they are shot. I read a recent article where a suspect was hit in almost every vital organ with .45ACP and continued to fight and he actually emptied multiple magazines of ammunition after being hit. There is no magical caliber, so don’t put yourself at risk legally under the assumption that your chosen oddball caliber will save your life over another effective round.  If you dare to be different, then be able to articulate your choice to do so and have good reasoning behind it.

Thirdly, the state of you gun will be called into question as well.  Do you carry a 1911 style gun that is cocked and locked? Do you carry with a round in the chamber and the safety off?  Does your gun even have an external safety? The correct way to carry any 1911 variant is with one in the chamber and the hammer back and thumb safety engaged.  The entire firearms training community advocates carrying your gun with a round in the chamber, and many modern firearms don’t even come equipped an external safety. It doesn’t matter how you carry or what you carry, you need to know why and you need to be able to explain why to a person that has never touched or seen a gun before in their entire life.  The media or ignorant will see you as gun happy and ready to kill because your 1911 was cocked and ready or because there was a round in the chamber. There is a huge divide between those that own guns and those that do not. If you aren’t educated then you have no chance to defend yourself in a legal manner. The way you carry your weapon should be backed by training and the person or business that trained you needs to be willing to testify on your behalf as an expert if needed.  This is one of the many reasons that training is so important. If you don’t receive professional training then you are leaning on your own opinions.  Your opinions will never stand up in a court room, because you are the accused!

When I say features of your weapon, I mean additions or custom work that has been done to your carry gun. I’m referring to optics, custom finishes, contouring or chopping of the grip, trigger guard indexing or anything else that makes you carry gun look like a professional race gun or something from Star Trek.  This even extends to the internal parts. If you’ve had trigger work done and now have a “hair trigger”, then you’ll have some difficult explaining to do. The external work just isn’t easily understood by non-gun types so, yet again have a reason and be able to explain why. You and I know that the holographic sight installed on your M&P helps you find your target and fire accurately, and that the work done to the grip makes the gun an extension of your arm, and so on and so forth. You have good reasons, but you need to find a happy medium that is easily explainable if needed.  Don’t go all Captain Kirk and hope people get it, they won’t.

Finally we should address training. Shooting in your backyard is NOT training. Get training, and I mean real training from a real instructor. The level of training in the concealed carry classes is laughable.  The basic training for most law enforcement and military is barely passable as training. If you are falling back on, “I can it a tin can 9 out of ten times” I hope you enjoy your cell block. The other thing that I touched on earlier is that a true firearms instructor can testify on your behalf and will have connections in the gun community that you don’t.

The bottom line is that carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. With every passing day you come closer to having to use that gun on your hip or in your purse. Don’t carry a gun blindly with no plan. Talk to an attorney, have a plan in case you do need to actually use that weapon you carry to protect yourself.  Lord willing you will never need to pull the trigger, but if you do your life will never be the same. Stack the odds in your favor so that you come out relatively unscathed after a critical incident.  You will be treated as a murder suspect, accept that. You may even spend some time in jail until you can be bailed out, you need to accept that too. You are going to be treated guilty until proven innocent, get over it! You are alive!!

Do your part to be responsible, know what you can and can’t do, and know what is just plain smart. I hope this made you think a bit and if you need to make changes then do so quickly. You may need to use that gun very soon. This world isn’t getting any better. As for now stay safe, train and have a good un’.


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