Awhile back, we talked about 2 incidents in NYC where it took NYPD 84 rounds to stop an attacker.
FBI statistics say that it takes an AVERAGE of between 2.4 and 2.9 rounds to stop an attacker, depending on caliber, but that’s 2.4-2.9 HITS. You might not always make good hits in a dynamic self-defense situation and your attacker may not have gotten the memo that they’re supposed to stop after being hit 3 times.
Another example that didn’t involve the NYPD is from Stokie, IL. Sergeant Timothy Gramins was attempting to question a suspect when the suspect began firing at him while he was still sitting in his car. During the 56 second shootout, Gramins fired 33 rounds of .45ACP hollowpoints. 14 hit. 6 were considered fatal hits, hitting the suspect’s heart, right lung, left lung, liver, diaphragm, and kidney, but the suspect kept shooting until Gramins was able to put a round in the suspect’s brain and stop the threat. This was a case where the bad guy didn’t get the memo about how he was supposed to respond when he got shot in the chest repeatedly. Sergeant Gramins wouldn’t have fared too well with only 5 rounds.
You can go both ways with the argument of what size gun to carry. Some people say that you should carry a full size gun with several spare magazines in case you run into big trouble. As a SEAL friend told me a few weeks ago when we were doing drills…”Big boys carry big boy guns.” I don’t do that, but I understand the logic…I just don’t know if it applies to most civilian defenders.
On the small gun side, the common argument is that “if I can’t solve the problem with 5 rounds, it’s just not my day. Anyhow, the average attacker is stopped with 3 hits.”
Our officer who hit his attacker 14 times in a minute kind of exposes the reality of depending on averages in a gunfight.
That gets us back to the question, what size gun should you carry?
Simply put, it’s a balance between comfort, practicality, and threat level.
Most people opt for the not-too-hot and not-too-cold option of a compact. It’s easier for most people to conceal than a full-size pistol, is easier for most people to shoot than a subcompact, and it’s right in-between on how much ammo it will hold.
A lot of people argue that a full size gun is too hard to conceal. Normally, I’d be inclined to agree with that statement, but some people can pull it off…like “Tiny Dude.”
Tiny Dude (Little Dude’s brother) is still operational, ferreting out ISIS sympathizers on the playground scene, so we’ve blocked out his face to keep his identity protected.
On the other end of the spectrum, many shooters argue that a subcompact is too hard to control…and they can be. The springs are stiffer and the short grip can make the recoil feel harsher.
In general, here are the easiest to hardest semi-automatic center fire defensive handgun calibers to quickly and accurately put multiple rounds on target:
- 10mm and .357 sig
The difference between calibers is amplified as you go from a larger gun to a smaller one.
If you’ve got big hands, a sub-compact might not work as well for you. Personally, I’ve got almost freakishly small hands, so that’s not a problem for me. People with bigger hands can still use a sub-compact if they use a Hogue, Pachmayer, or similar grip sleeve or use a .45 or 10mm sub-compact, which have larger grips.
I’ve found over the years that the best carry position for me is 3 o’clock (on my right hip). Appendix is faster, but it’s not comfortable when I sit and/or my leg pushes the pistol up. 4-5 o’clock doesn’t work with the seats in my truck and doesn’t stay concealed well for me. Cross-draw works very well for me, but it would double the amount of time I have to practice my drawstroke.
If you’ve got a belly or hips, you’re probably going to need to move the gun around back to the 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock position, go with a shoulder holster, or off-body carry.
As it is, my everyday concealed drawstroke with an in-waistband holster at 3 o’clock is almost exactly the same as my competition drawstroke and my outside-waistband holster drawstroke. The main difference is getting through cover to my gun.
One shortcoming of the 3 o’clock position for concealment is that the butt of the gun sticks out to the rear. I’m narrow from front to back and that means that a full size pistol is very visible when I bend over and that my shirt rides up and catches on the butt of the gun when I sit down.
Some people try to fix this by canting/tipping their pistol forward. This absolutely works to make concealment easier, but it changes the angle that you have to grip your pistol and draw your pistol, and slows down your drawstroke. For most people, most of the time, it’s not a good idea to cant your pistol at the 3 o’clock position. 4 o’clock—yes. 5 o’clock—yes. 3 o’clock—no.
In the summer, I almost always carry a Glock 26 in a belly-band type holster. It holds 10+1 in the chamber and I carry a 17 round backup mag in the holster next to the pistol.
In the winter, I carry a Glock 26 in an in-waistband holster that puts the grip up higher. Ironically, this makes my draw is faster in the winter with a coat, heavy shirt, and undershirt than it is in the summer with just a t-shirt and the belly band. I carry my spare mag in my left front pocket with a flashlight and nothing else.
A quick note here…many instructors say that you should ONLY have the spare mag in whatever pocket you’re carrying it in, and that it’s especially dangerous to keep a flashlight and your mag in the same pocket. The reason why is that you could pull out your flashlight and try to put it in the magwell.
I agree with that 100% because I’ve seen it happen to other people multiple times.
BUT, the reality for me (and possibly for you) is that I use my everyday carry flashlight every day and I want it handy…both for utility purposes and for defensive purposes and I don’t always live in a perfect fantasy world where I get to wear pants with 8-10 pockets.
Reloading from the front pocket in a stressful situation is already a slow, cumbersome process. I’m willing to risk delaying my reload (that may or may not happen at some point in my life) in exchange for having fast access to my flashlight multiple times per day, every day, between now and then.
I haven’t drawn my pistol to defend myself in the last 12 months, but I HAVE used my flashlight more than once to keep sketchy situations from escalating using tactics and techniques from the defensive flashlight and situational awareness course, AvoidDeterDefend.
In situations where it’s impractical to carry either the Glock or the revolver, I carry a North American Arms pocket .22 revolver. It’s barely a gun, but it’s slightly better than nothing.
In cases where I’ve been working with people who have had an active threat, I have carried a concealed sub-gun in addition to my handgun(s). MANY sub-guns and rifle caliber pistols can be easily concealed under a light jacket, but it’s not practical for most situations.
So, what’s the right size gun? Whatever size you will carry the most often and can shoot the best. The “best” gun doesn’t do you a bit of good if it’s at home in your safe when you need it, and the most powerful caliber won’t do you any good if you can’t make quick, accurate followup shots. And don’t get the gun that your husband/friend/instructor says works for them unless it also works best for you. Try as many as you can, and go with the gun and carry method that you are most effective with.
Whatever you decide on and whatever you do, please practice. You get head knowledge and experience from studying and taking live training, but head knowledge on it’s own won’t do you a bit of good in a fight. The only thing that will help you in a fight is conditioned responses that you develop through high quality practice done on a regular basis.
It doesn’t have to be an hour at a time or even a half hour at a time. 5-15 minutes per day of high quality practice will have a dramatic effect on your ability to shoot and to shoot under stress.
That’s why I keep encouraging you to get and use our training products…they’ll help you take the head knowledge that you learned in your live training classes and turn them into conditioned responses that you can depend on in a fight. For many people, that could easily mean the difference between success and failure in a gunfight.
The most effective at-home training that we offer for visual learners is the Concealed Carry Masters DVD Course. It’s 9.5 hours on DVD that includes classroom instruction, follow along dry fire drills (think of a workout DVD…with a pistol) and live fire demonstrations. It costs less than 500 rounds of remanufactured 9mm and you can get it >HERE<
If you learn best by reading, then the 30-10 Pistol at-home course is for you. It’s part of the training that’s used by select Marine special operations teams as well as numerous government agencies as part of their pre-deployment training process. It costs less than 250 rounds of remanufactured 9mm and you can get it >HERE<
These are both incredible values, but the fastest, most affordable, and highest leverage at-home firearms training tools to help develop conditioned responses that you can depend on in a life or death situation is the Dry Fire Training Cards + 21 Day Alpha Shooter combo that you can get >HERE<.
Questions? Comments? Sound off by commenting below.