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Choosing A Defensive Handgun
[quote name='MichaelForrest' post='88927' date='Sep 29 2006, 10:24 AM']Ok, So technicly the agressor might be dead but but my object was to stop the threat. I'm a defender / protector and not a killer. Right?



This is correct, as ddennis so eloquently pointed out. <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> If it helps, here is a quick and dirty explanation.

When faced with a violent, life threatening assault, you want to stop the aggression.

What you want is an IMMEDIATE incapacitation. In order to get that, you would probably have to put a bullet into the central nervous system (CNS), either in the brain, or upper spinal column (spine in the neck).

As you personally know from your training, that is NOT an easy target to hit. It is easy to miss, even if the target is perfectly still. The best you can hope for, in most cases, is a RAPID incapacitation.

Thus, the doctrine is to shoot twice into the center of the mass (COM) most readily available. If the guy is standing up, shooting at you, that would be the thorax. If he is kneeling behind cover with only his knee sticking out, that might be the target.

You can get two hits in COM much faster than you can thread the needle, and hit the CNS.

If the two hits COM do not stop him, you are into a Failure To Stop drill, and then the CNS (ocular cavity) is the target of choice.

Two hits COM is a standard response in law enforcement training, followed by some kind of CNS hit, if necessary. I think it would be very poor advice to deviate from that. In other words, trying to wound him, shoot the gun out of his hand (like in the movies!), etc.

The point is that you are not deliberately trying to kill the aggressor, which would be punitive on your part. You only want to stop him from killing you or someone else.

COM hits do NOT automatically result in the death of the person!! Neither do CNS hits, although it is probably rare that the person does not die from that wound.

That is not the issue. The issue is your intention. Are you trying to "punish" him for attacking you, or are you stopping his actions, in fear of your life?

It is NOT splitting hairs, and it is not a philosophical discussion.



[quote name='Eric Stoskopf' post='1633' date='Apr 14 2004, 10:02 AM']Choosing a defensive handgun.

Posted By: Bill Hay - Registered User

Posts: 2780

Posted At: (2/6/03 8:20 am)

Reply | Edit | Del All

The last couple of threads got me thinking....

So I decided to do a little something different here... Here is a list of the factors I think are important in choosing a defensive pistol. IMHO & YMMV, of course.

The popular gun press rages with articles and arguments over the features of different guns. They must write about something, to make a living, but it is all just flack in the air. You need some perspective...

The gun is only the launching platform for the bullet. The bullet does the work, not the gun. Launching the bullet is very important, however... So the gun must be 100% reliable, no exceptions. None. A gun that goes bang MOST of the time is just not acceptable. After that...

"Hitability" is #1... This means getting the gun out of the holster (presentation) the fastest, having the grip always the same, the sights are automatically looking at the target w/o adjustment, and the trigger allows the shot to break w/o disturbing the sight alignment. "Only hits count! You cannot miss fast enough to win a gun fight." The handgun that you can HIT with is the one you should rely on.

Caliber is second. Once the hits are assured (by choosing the proper platform to shoot) then the bigger the hole the better... A perfect hit with a 9 mm is superior to a miss with a .45. The caliber argument rages, but the implied assumption is always that the bullet always hits the adversary, in the right place. (HA!) For peripheral hits, or hits that just miss a vital structure, then the bigger the better, obviously. So... if you cannot hit with a .45, and can with a 9 mm... Well, refer to rule #1... Another way of saying it is, once you have determined the GUN you shoot the best, get it in the largest CALIBER you can shoot, and still get hits...

Ease of manipulations. Semi-autos with double action triggers, the safety on the slide, sharp edges, etc. belong on the used gun dealer's tables at gun shows... A dehorned 1911, or a Glock, should be your guide. Manipulations also include the ability to clear malfunctions, speed reload, etc.

Coolness factor. Appearance, finish, brand name, bragability, money spent on it, and shit like that.


Eric: You are right on! One thing I would like to add is the critical necessity to learn and practice the correct grip of a handgun until it becomes an automatic reflex. This is critical because the correct grip restores one's natural "pointing reflex" and, with practice, helps to ensure a first hit. When I teach instinct shooting, I require my students to do it my way. Here's the technique.

With a revolver.

1. The shooting hand must be truly behind the gun. The thumb of that hand is pressed against the rear of the cylinder shroud. If you use a two handed grip, the second thumb rests over the top of the shooting hand thumb and you cock the hammer for single action with the off hand thumb.

2. Only the tip of the trigger finger contacts the trigger and the rest of that finger is clear of the gun.

3. If you have this right, you can lower the revolver to your side, then crane your head and look down over the point of your shoulder. You should be looking down the length of your arm, down the top of your forearm and wrist, splitting the web formed by your thumb and forefinger, and on down exactly in line with the barrel and both sights.

4. When this grip is right, you can look in any direction, pick a target, whip up the gun and point at that targert, and you will be right on. Your sights will be aligned on the target and you won't have to adjust.

5. The thumb on the cylinder shroud also aids in another important way. It ensures the correct grip as just described and also controls the recoil of powerful handguns. The thumb is the strongest part of the hand and properly placed it distributes the recoil, reduces muzzle kick, and totally prevents the second finger from getting bruised by the rear of the trigger guard. The thumb/cylinder shroud grip makes your hand and arm a unit. I can and do shoot 44 mags by the hundreds in a session with absolutely no problems with recoil and no after effects. I actually have difficulty when shooting a ported handgun. Since my grip style prevents most muzzle climb, the porting tends to drive me down and I'll shoot way low. I had to replace the factory ported barrel on my Springfield V-16 .45 for that reason. The darned porting drove me down and I had to raise the rear sight to the max to compensate. Ungood.

With an auto.

1. The shooting hand is fully behind the gun as described for revolvers and as high up on the grip as possible. However, the thumb projects out to the side and front. A thumb in the way of an auto slide means a mangled thumb!

2. Only the tip of the trigger finger is on the trigger and the rest of that finger had no contact with the gun.

3. The over the shoulder check is the same. When you look you should be able to look down your arm and right on down through the gun sights.

4. For two handed shooting, the off hand is cupped with the shooting hand and the off hand thumb is entwined over the shooting hand thumb with both clear of the gun.

I know this type of grip will seem awkward and clumsy at first but it quickly become automatic especially when you try it and see the advantages. When I draw from a holster, I automatically assume this grip as the firearm comes out and into my hand.

With both dry and live firing practic, you can can quickly learn to consisently hit center mass of a human sized target on the first fast shot out to 50 feet or more. This instinct techinque is also invaluable at night. Your stereo hearing will pinpoint a close sound with surprising accuracy. You look toward that sound, present your gun using the correct grip, and you're on target.

One final note. To use the thumb on shroud technique correctly means some folks may have to revert to normal grips from the oversized and/or cushioned grips they've put on to soften recoil. You won't need the the fat grips anymore.
PS: I have also heard it said that you should demand of the responding officers that they arrested the perp. Repeatedly. This must and will be written in their report. It indicates that it was not your overt attempt to kill someone, just to stop them. It also indicates that you are the victim and not the perp. This will come up in court, and it will be a good thing for the jury to hear.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

--C.S. Lewis

At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities.

--Lord Acton

The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own folly is to fill the world with fools.

--Herbert Spencer

Fusion Center operatives are nothing short of collaborators in the death of Freedom

--Robert E. Gleason

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