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Let’s face it, when we talk about carrying concealed what we’re really talking about is defending our lives and the lives of our families. We are talking about the possibility of being engaged in a gunfight or some other type of deadly force scenario that includes the possibility of killing our attacker. Let’s not mince words here, some people who act like animals need killing. That statement may not be said in your NRA concealed carry class, it may not be politically correct, and it may be offensive to some, but it happens to be the truth. If you can’t accept that fact, forget self defense and go out and marry someone who can protect you. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss the use of the handgun in the role of a personal defense tool and some things we need to consider. Let’s discuss the rules of a gunfight.

1. Have a gun!

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S&W Model 10-7 with vintage Bianchi Speed Grips

The first thing to consider is that you need a handgun, because it is better to have one and not need it, than need one and not have one.
If you make a solid investment in a decent concealed carry handgun and never have to use it for personal defense, great! The key is to be prepared for what could happen. Just as we buy fire extinguishers to prepare ourselves in case of the tragic event of a house fire, so too, we buy firearms in case of the tragic event of a home invasion or the need to defend our families and ourselves outside of the home.

2. Make sure your handgun is loaded!

If you’re going to carry concealed or use a handgun for home defense, why would you ever entertain the idea of keeping the darn thing unloaded or carrying a handgun with the chamber empty? A firearm meant for personal or home defense that is kept unloaded is nothing more than an expensive club. Granted, measures must be taken to keep the firearm out of the hands of unauthorized persons such as children, guests and visitors. But keeping a home defense gun unloaded or carrying with the chamber empty is not a solution or an answer to your concerns pertaining to firearm safety. There are many great products available today that will allow you to keep your loaded firearm secure from unauthorized use while still allowing quick access to the firearm when needed. There is absolutely no reason why your defensive firearm cannot be kept loaded and ready for use. The loudest sound in the world is hearing a click when your gun should go bang.

3. Bigger bullets are better?

One would think that bigger bullets are better bullets. But, as a general rule firearms that fire bigger bullets have greater felt recoil. Like it or not, recoil affects accuracy. The less you train and practice with your handgun the more recoil will affect your ability to place accurate shots on target. So, if you cannot control the recoil of pistol, for whatever reason, be it a medical reason or just lack of training or practice, you may want to take the proper steps to correct that situation. If you are consistently throwing rounds off target, each of those rounds is a potential liability for you.

4. More bullets are better.

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Paul Gomez

Let’s face it folks, all handguns suck when it comes to the ability to stop a human attacker. This is simply a fact of life. Sure, there are instances of one shot stops, but they can never to be counted on. Rifles and shotguns have a much greater chance of stopping an aggressor on the first shot than pistols do.
So why do we carry handguns? Well, it’s pretty hard to conceal a rifle or shotgun and they are a lot more cumbersome to lug around. We carry handguns simply because they are easy to conceal, easier to transport and faster to deploy if they are needed in a hurry. The trade-off is that we often have to fire multiple rounds to stop an assailant. Since we train to shoot until the threat stops, and that will mean hitting the threat with multiple rounds. I like round capacity over bullet diameter. That doesn’t mean that I’m a spray and pray guy, quite the contrary. I still have to do my part in getting rounds where they need to go.
The design of defensive ammunition has come a long way in recent times. These days the difference in terminal performance of any of the major pistol calibers is negligible.
A handgun chambered in 9mm will hold more ammo than a handgun chambered in .40 S&W or .45 ACP in the same size package and in my experience, most people can shoot handguns chambered in 9mm more accurately when shooting multiple rounds.
I believe it was the late great Paul Gomez who said, “All pistols do is poke holes. Some poke bigger and deeper holes than others. But holes in hearts, brains and spines are holes in hearts, brains and spines no matter what caliber makes them”.
Some people will remain in a state of denial when considering the following statement, but the truth is the truth. With modern bonded bullets, 9mm expands and penetrates more than deep enough to hit any of the vital organs and does damage to body tissue on par with larger calibers such as the .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Let me repeat it. With modern bonded bullets, 9mm expands and penetrates more than deep enough to hit any of the vital organs and does damage to body tissue on par with larger calibers such as the .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The reason it can take fewer shots to stop a threat with a larger caliber handgun is a matter not of “knock down power”(I absolutely loathe that term) but a function of time. When you are firing multiple shots it simply takes longer to get back on target when using handguns with more felt recoil. So, it makes sense that with a handgun chambered in 9mm I can shoot the bad guy 5 times in the same time as it takes to shoot him with 3 or 4 rounds from a handgun chambered in .40 S&W or .45 ACP. G19 (2)Since all handguns suck at the issue of stopping a threat and in most cases it will take multiple rounds to do so, then time comes in as a factor. We are able get more smaller rounds out than big rounds in the same amount of time.

5. Mindset

Regardless of what gun you have, you must be mentally prepared to use it. Let’s be brutally honest. Shooting someone is about the most violent action that you can take against another person. Shooting another human being is a conscious decision that no sane person really wants to have to make. However, reality dictates that there is evil in the world and sometimes as good people we must turn to violence to save the lives of ourselves and others. If you own a gun for the purpose of home defense or personal protection you must be willing to kill another person in order to save innocent lives. If you have a problem with that, either morally, psychologically, or philosophically then you have no business owning a firearm for personal defense. Most law abiding people are not natural born killers and that is what separates us from criminals and thugs. However, through proper training you can develop the mindset needed to defend yourself and others should the need arise.

6. The Will to Prevail.

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Stony Farm Defense Force on Force Class

In any situation in which your life is threatened you must maintain the will to live. Let’s face it, if you are defending your life, chances are that you were attacked initially and are now reacting to try to fend off the attack. So there is a good chance that in any self defense situation that you will be wounded or injured from the outset. Even so, you must continue to fight to the best of your ability in order to prevail. Notice how I did not mention the word survive. To survive is no great feat, it merely means that you have the ability to breathe and that’s about it. Instead of surviving you must prevail and to prevail you must get it into your mind as quickly as possible that no matter what happens you will never ever give up. Giving up is a luxury that only your attacker has. For you to give up means the possible death (or worse) of not only yourself, but possibly of your spouse and children as well. You absolutely must keep on fighting until the attack is stopped and the assailant is incapacitated or you are dead.

I’ll close by saying that if you are one of those people who are stuck in a my pistol is better than your pistol attitude, your priorities are not where they should be.
You should be concentrating on getting PROPER TRAINING. It doesn’t matter if you grew up hunting or go out and plink soda cans every weekend. That’s not training.
Find yourself a good defensive shooting instructor and make an investment of a few hundred dollars that could be the most important investment you will ever make.

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