BEST SELF-DEFENSE HANDGUN AND CALIBER
By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis CPP
August 23, 2020
© August 2020 – All Rights Reserved
REVOLVER OR SEMI-AUT0
As a former Drug Enforcement Special Agent and U.S. Army Military Veteran, during the Vietnam War, I’ve had the personal opportunity and experience of being in a vast array of combat situations (gun fights) as well as simulated gunfights and with a variety of weapons – both Military and Law Enforcement issued. In the Army, I was issued an M14 Select-Fire Assault Rifle as well as an M16 Select-Fire Assault Rifle. The M14 fired the 7.62 X 51 NATO round and the M16 fired the 5.56 X 45 NATO. The actual definition of an assault rifle differs from the false identity and moniker the news media defines an assault rifle. The look-a-like variant, or the AR15 style is actually a semi-auto (only) rifle and is styled after the M16 Military Assault Rifle. . However, the Military Assault Rifle is capable of two specific functions the look-a-like variant isn’t. With the flip of a select-fire-switch, it can operate as a semi-auto firing weapon, which requires a single trigger pull to fire each round, or as a fully automatic firing weapon which requires a single pull of the trigger pull to sustain continuous automatic rapid firing.
In civilian use: Fully automatic weapons are illegal, except when a tax stamp is obtained from the ATF. After the Army, I joined a Drug Enforcement Group and was issued a standard Smith and Wesson Double Action Model 10 38 Special Service Revolver and an Ithaca 12 gauge 5 shot pump shotgun . In that era, the only semi-auto pistol available to the law enforcement professional was the Smith and Wesson Model 39 Single-Stack 9MM and the single action - single stack 1911 style 45 semi-auto pistol. However, both were prohibited for law enforcement use as were the 9MM and 45 ACP calibers they were chambered in. Another reason the Smith & Wesson Model 39 was prohibited was due to its constant jamming issues. The Smith 39 was designated as the “jam-o-matic” by the law enforcement community.
In the late 1970’s law enforcement relaxed their attitude on caliber variations and firearms styles. Instead of just one firearm style and one caliber, the selection was expanded to include the 9MM, 45 ACP and 38 Special calibers. The firearms of choice included the standard double action revolver chambered in the 38 Special cartridge, the double action Sig 226 semi-auto in 9MM and the 1911 style semi-auto chambered for the time tested 45 ACP and 9MM cartridges. The drawback to the 1911 style semi-auto is that is had to be carried cocked and locked which means the hammer had to be cocked with the safety on. Prior to carry, each officer was required to qualify with the weapon and caliber, of choice, on the Practical Police Pistol Course which included firing 100 rounds of approved duty ammo.
BEST COMBAT WEAPON: SEMI-AUTO OR DOUBLE ACTION REVOLVER
First-of-all, pick a firearm that correctly fits your hand size. Second, pick a handgun that capable of performing the desired task it’s purchased for. For all practical self-defense and combat situations, the double action revolver is the best choice, from a myriad factors. 1) the double action revolver is a simple weapon consisting of a frame, a cylinder holding 5 or 6 centerfire cartridges, a hammer or hammerless design, and a trigger. With each pull of the trigger the cylinder rotates and loads a new cartridge to a new firing position. For more accurate shooting, the hammer can be cocked prior to each firing. When the hammer is cocked, it eliminates the movement of the revolver which is experienced when the trigger (only), i.e., double action mode is used to fire the weapon, and 2) because it’s simple and virtually fail safe, there’s no safety to disengage before firing, no failure to feed or failure to eject jams which are experienced with semi-auto’s, and all the shooter has to do is draw the weapon, acquire the target, and pull the trigger.
Alone, this simplicity takes all of the guess work out of an already stressful situation. Remember, the decision to shoot or not to shoot is measured in milliseconds and not minutes or hours. Therefore, with the semi-auto the novice is handicapped in gunfight by trying to fumble around and feel for the safety to disengage it. A normal gunfight is over in 2 seconds or less – from start to finish. Time wasted trying to ready your weapon for firing, can mean the difference in surviving or death. The only drawback to a revolver is: It’s limited to 5 or 6 shots. However, the individuals purchasing a revolver only for self-defense purposes won’t find this much of a handicap. Speed loaders can be purchased, enabling the shooter to rapidly reload the firearm.
For the record, revolvers are also made in the single action design, which requires the manual cocking of the hammer before a new cartridge is fired. When the hammer is cocked, the cylinder rotates to a new firing position. However, by modern standards, this type of action is antiquated and isn’t usable or practicable for all types of combat situations encountered during a self-defense experience.
SEMI-AUTOS – SINGLE AND DOUBLE ACTION
Semi-auto pistols are designed in four varieties: Single Action, Double Action, Hammer Fired, and Striker Fired. However, each firearm type shares the same commonality, e.g., they are of the John Browning blowback design, except when it’s gas operated, and they all can jam.
Single Action Hammer Fired: This semi-auto is designed after the 1911 or John Browning style, where the hammer has to be cocked prior to firing the first round. Thereafter, each firing is accomplished with a single trigger pull until the magazine is empty.
Double Action Hammer Fired. This semi-auto is capable of two firing sequences. The first is: The trigger is completely pulled to fire the first shot, which automatically cocks and releases the hammer reading the firearm for the next shot. Thereafter, the firearm is capable of firing with each trigger pull.
Double Action – Single Action Capability. This semi-auto is capable of firing in the foregoing sequence as well as cocking the pistols hammer prior to firing the first round. After the first shot, the pistol is capable of firing with each trigger pull, until the magazine is empty.
Striker Fired Semi-Auto Pistol. The striker fired pistol is a hammerless design and was developed by Glock Firearms. A spring surrounds the firing pin. When the the pistols slide is moved rearward, the firing pin spring is partially cocked. When the pistols trigger is pulled it cocks the firing pin spring the rest of the way and releases the firing pin to strike the cartridge primer. The problem with the striker fired semi-auto is: Overtime, the firing pin spring becomes weak with normal use and has to be replaced to make the firearm reliable, or the shooter will experience light primer strikes and can make the firearm nonfunctional. However, this requires thousands of rounds through the auto, before this becomes an issue.
Semi-Auto Reliability Issues. The main issue with the semi-auto pistol is reliability. A failure to feed or a failure to eject a fired round will result in the semi-auto becoming inoperable. This is the last thing you need in a close-quarter gunfight. In order to clear the jam, the user has to rack the slide back on the firearm, clear the jam, and chamber a new round before the weapon is again, fully functional. Most semi-auto jams are related to the ammunition design used in a specific model firearm, the barrel feed ramp, as well as the magazine itself. A jamming issue could be something as simple as a weak magazine spring. Also, the semi-auto can become an issue with senior Americans and women who has weak hand strength and grip. This will cause the user to have a difficult time – loading, unloading, and clearing a jam when necessary.
AMMUNITION CALIBERS AND REQUIRED FIRING CAPACITY
Picking a firearm, a firearm caliber, and the number of rounds the firearm is capable of holding and firing is an individual choice. Some new firearm purchasers may think they need a semi-auto capable of firing 6 to 17 times. Others may opt for a 5 or 6 shot revolver. However, it doesn’t matter which firearm an individual chooses as long as the individual can become proficient in loading, unloading, clearing a jam, and shooting the firearm with proficiency and accuracy under a variety of conditions. Another factor to consider is confidence. The shooter must have absolute confidence in the firearm and caliber he or she opts to carry or have at home for self-defense purposes. However, when it comes to recoil sensitive shooters - the caliber is a specific matter of concern.
It’s a handicap for the first-time firearm purchaser to select a firearm he or she isn’t capable of shooting and operating proficiently. Why pick a 45 ACP semi-auto when you’re only capable of shooting a 22 caliber handgun proficiently. For the first-time firearms purchaser, it’s better to locate a firing range that rents handguns, in various calibers, and try them out prior to making your final decision. Another handicap, is determined whether or not a firearm owner has picked a caliber that he or she will not be able to afford to purchase ammo for, in order to practice with and become proficient with.
FBI GUNFIGHT STATISTICS
FBI statistics indicate, the usual distance for a gunfight is 7 – 10 feet. PMA statistics suggests the average distance, at around 20 feet. This makes sense, as distance will favor the person with the most training. In a very stressful situation, the shooter which is able to control their emotions and has the most shooting experience has the best opportunity to survive a close quarter gunfight. The last thing the inexperienced shooter should be faced with is fumbling around trying to get the safety off while an assailant is advancing or shooting at you.
After purchasing your firearm, the first thing the new firearms owner should do is to enroll in a gun safety course and learn how to operate and store your firearm safely. If your intention is to apply for a concealed carry license, the second thing you should do is enroll in a firearms course with a certified firearms instructor.
As the old saying, “It’s better to own a firearm, know how to use it, and never need it than it is not to own a firearm and one day need one”
“UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP EM BETWEEN THE BRIDLE”