Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Cliff Notes version: Why I prefer the shotgun

Over the years my advocacy for the shotgun, contending that the shotgun is a generally better self-defense weapon than a rifle or a carbine, has filled a number of blog posts. Some of those posts go into detail about pattern size and density, danger radius, and assorted, related minutiae. This time I simply give the topic a once-over. I have not succeeded in convincing very many shooters that you really are better defended with a riot gun than with a modern type of rifle, for all the details I have offered. I don't know that the quick overview will do any better, but here goes.


I prefer a shotgun for my personal and home defense long gun. I consider it the best fight stopper at short range. Nearly all justifiable self-defense shootings are at short range.

I do not think very much can be said against the effectiveness of 12 gauge buckshot loads. They are deficient in just one respect; they will not go through even the lightest body armor. They do, though, allow you to target, and reliably hit, the unarmored parts of the assailant. That is a good enough solution. Advances in body armor mean that some rifle loads that were surefire armor piercers some years back may not work on today's new and improved armor.  I have seen some of the experimental ideas going into the next generation of body armor. You can expect rifle-stopping ability in vests that are lighter and far more comfortable than ever before. The shotgun, though, remains a good way to attack gaps in any armor. I have heard of just one event, the North Hollywood shootout, in which the criminals had equipped themselves with head-to-toe armor that they had improvised for the occasion. They lost anyway, and the fashion did not catch on.

If you feel you need an armor piercing load for the 12 gauge, look into the pointed steel, model AP-20 slugs offered by DDupleks for law enforcement use. You may need connections to get them, but there is at this time no US law against possessing them, and they appear to do as much as is possible toward increasing the penetrating ability of the shotgun. As with most rifle loads, there are some armors that will leave you stymied, but that is in the nature of the game as we now must play it. Armor technology has taken a big leap forward while projectile technology has remained nearly stagnant. The DDupleks slug is simply an adaptation of the conical point steel bullet, which was seen at least as far back as WWII.

An ammunition advance that is indeed significant is the tight patterning buckshot shells using a specialty wad sold by Federal as the FliteControl wad and by Hornady as the VersaTite. These shells throw patterns half the size of conventional shells when fired from cylinder bored or IC barrels. While a pattern that tight is frequently not what you want, it is a very useful option if you need to extend your shotgun's effective range. I keep regular buckshot shells on hand and also a small supply of the tight-patterning stuff. Usually the conventional shells are more suitable but the ability to simply push in different shells to produce much smaller patterns is a good option, better in many cases than switching to slugs, for slugs give up the shotgun's principal advantage, which is firing multiple projectiles.

I think some gunwriters have expended far too much ink, and concern, over the scenario in which some of your buckshot misses the target and sails downrange, creating a hazard. You should be aware that it is likely to happen, but not unduly panicked at the prospect. Most shots fired in anger miss, whatever the weapon, with pistol bullets being particularly likely to go astray, so you need to confirm downrange-safe whatever weapon you're firing. You never miss? Yeah, tell me another. The stress of a live fire "two-way range" has a way of messing with your cool execution of practiced skills. In other words, it is not that you should be unconcerned with the cone of danger your shotgun produces, but you should be concerned about a cone-shaped danger zone also if you have a rifle or, especially, a pistol. Misses are a fact, or more precisely, a probability bordering on certainty. Look carefully downrange to confirm Rule Four, whatever you're armed with.  On a slightly encouraging note, the absolute danger radius of buckshot is less that of pistol bullets and far less than that of rifle bullets.

All in all, the shotgun seems to me to offer the best armament for the most likely defense scenarios, which are all at short range, and are likely also to feature targets in motion and often happen in poor light. The shotgun's hit probability is higher than any other small arm's, its effectiveness is indisputable, and its fearsome reputation precedes it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

GLOCK is promoting the Four Rules: Good for them.

As readers know, I push the Gunsite Four Rules whenever I get the chance. Glock is on the same bandwagon now. Welcome aboard to them. Avoiding accidents is in everyone's interest.

If they feel they must rephrase Rule One, I would say "Treat every gun as a loaded gun!" is better phrasing than what they went with, but hey, it's the thought that counts.

GLOCK Safety Pledge | #FollowTheFour | GLOCK USA:

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Media misrepresenting Trump? Surprise, surprise!

Quoted from The media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville | TheHill:
Has the media ever so deliberately and consistently misinterpreted what a president said?
It certainly seems as if the media finally found its proof that President Trump is a racist. ABC News’ coverage was all too typical:

Trump quickly blamed both sides for the conflict, adding that there were "very fine people" among both the protesters — which included white supremacists and white nationalists — and the counterprotesters.
"I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said today. "You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides," he added.

With wall-to-wall news coverage repeating this misreading of Trump’s statement, it’s not too surprising that politicians from both parties quickly condemned the “very fine people” comment. NBC’s headline read: “Democratic, Republican Lawmakers Decry Trump’s Latest Charlottesville Remarks.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich attacked Trump: “This is terrible. The President of the United States needs to condemn these kinds of hate groups. The president has to totally condemn this."
Does anyone even listen to comments anymore before commenting on them?
I'll answer that last question. The press people, at least, do not listen, they stop their ears, they will not take in anything that does not reflect badly on Trump. The article quotes an exchange at a press conference:
Trump: “And you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. “OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.” 
Reporter: “You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? (inaudible) understand what you're saying.”
Trump: “No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. . ."
Trump has said, as clearly as anyone could have, that not everyone opposed to tearing down old statues is a neo-Nazi, and not everyone in the antifa thing is an angel, which is just what a leader of all the people should say. And it drives the leftists nuts!

Read all of John Lott's article at the link above. It is clear that the press is in hit-piece mode and can't seem to find their way out of the awful nightmare they have concocted, in which Trump is a devil.

It is by now clear that the press pack is in full cry after Trump and bending the record out of shape is okay, in the minds of the reporters and editors involved. It looks to me like the news people have gone crazy. There is something really dysfunctional going on in how Trump news is reported, as if through a lens that presumes him to be an ogre, a fool, a lunatic. Editorialists and celebrities have at least stopped saying Trump is Hitler, so perhaps such people actually possess a learning curve--are just slow to climb it.

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Shooting the snubnose -- three how-to tips

The snubnosed double action revolver is my favorite type of concealed carry gun. It's durable, simple to operate and, if it is given periodic function checks, highly reliable.

Here are my top three tips for shooting the snubnosed revolver--a gun widely acknowledged to be a handful to shoot. Using the right techniques will make it behave.

  • Crush grip

I suggest you squeeze the handle of your snubnose as hard as you can. This has several good results. It keeps the gun from jumping so much in your grasp--for snubnose recoil is brisk. It prevents the gun from shifting in your grasp as you perform the long and heavy trigger pull needed to fire the weapon. It also keeps you from hitting poorly due to tightening your grip momentarily, in anticipation of recoil, because if you are already squeezing as hard as you can, you cannot make that mistake!

  • Deliberate trigger

You do not want to dawdle when a shot needs to be fired. But an even, steady rearward sweep of the trigger, followed by relaxing the pressure to allow the trigger to swing fully forward, is what is needed to get hits in a hurry, and that calls for a deliberate, steady trigger stroke and release.

What is to be avoided is hurriedly mashing the trigger, for that has the result of making the shot fly just anywhere--and most likely not where you need it to go. "Take your time because you don't have time to miss" is a maxim worth remembering.

The problem with "prepping the trigger," in which you pull the trigger most of the way, pause just before the gun fires, then carefully squeeze off the shot the rest of the way, is that it entails a pause.

  • Shark sights

Most uses of a defensive sidearm are at close range. Yet it is still possible to miss, so it is best to aim. How to do that in a hurry?  I think the shark method is a good balance of speed and half-decent short range accuracy.

Raise your revolver until it is very slightly below eye level, so that you see the front sight standing up above the rear sight--rather like a shark's fin is visible above the water. Aim with only the front sight, as you would use a shotgun's bead. When firing using the front sight alone, I find the shots strike slightly high, so the answer is to aim slightly low to compensate.

If you have plenty of time you can refine this coarse sight picture by raising the gun slightly or ducking your head slightly, so that you see the front sight centered in the rear notch. That is quick to do once you have acquired the front sight in your vision, with the rear sight beneath it.

Off to the range

The above three-ingredient formula will tame the snubnose. All it takes is practice. It is purely a myth that the snubnose is good only for a few yards and is wildly inaccurate. Many people shoot it inaccurately, but that is only because they do not know better. Range practice using the above principles will soon yield decent groups at 15 yards, and continued practice will only improve your results.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Two tomahawk techniques and some further thoughts

My previous post about the tomahawk's use drew several responses, none of them showing any clear indication that the commenters had read the article. Apparently they were here to leave links to their own enterprises.

Undaunted, I here make note of something I've noticed since I posted about my tomahawk method. The moves would be useful if you were armed with a kukri or a hawkbill knife. They would, moreover, adapt quite naturally to some improvised and makeshift weapons including hammers, entrenching tools, kitchen cleavers and wooden clubs.

As I implied in the former post, it is all right if you add techniques to the method if you see that as an improvement. If you add things, though, I suggest you keep and rely on the two basic techniques I describe, using them as the core of your enlarged method. Downward tierce and inward carte are very sound and reliable techniques.

Both techniques, as I do them, begin and end in the saber 3rd guard (tierce) and, when used in continuous moulinets, pass repeatedly through that position. The moment at which the hand returns to guard 3 is when you can switch the railroad track, as it were, and transition from a tierce to a carte moulinet, or carte to tierce.

Logic suggests that you think, therefore, of 3rd as your ready or en garde position, as well as the position to which your hand returns at the conclusion of each technique and, simultaneously, as the beginning of the technique that follows.

 (Picture links lead to ads on Amazon.)

Today's yuk

Via JR24 on The High Road

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SIG P320: progress marches on.

I'm sure you've heard all about the SIG fiasco from other sources. What I find interesting is that, despite changes in technology, and dissimilar mechanisms, the SIG 320 is prone to the same failure mode as the Colt Single Action Army pistol of 1873. If dropped rearward at an obtuse angle, either is prone to fire on impact. Plus ça change, mes amis, plus ça change.

Something I find interesting is that this matter was reported from the grass roots, from the gun enthusiasts and amateurs. So I count this as a victory of freedom of speech, of amateurism in its best sense, and of the Internet. The company will retrofit all affected pistols free of charge. That, surely, was not something they expected but I think it is very good of them to fix the problem on their dime.

If someone or other is spared the consequence of being clumsy and dropping his pistol and taking a bullet behind the ear, then the Internet has justified its existence.