The A's, B's and C's of Handgun Knowledge

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It has been proposed that if “A is equal to B, and B is equal to C, then C must be equal to A”

It has also been learned that the handgun is not the best tool for self-defense. A rifle or shotgun are much more effective; hence, we have soldiers issued rifles and only officers and/or specialized troops are issued handguns.


The Sherriff was asked by a woman, “Sherriff, why are you wearing your pistol to this council meeting? Are you expecting trouble?

The Sherriff responded, “No Ma’am, I am not expecting trouble. If I were, I would have brought my rifle.”

I have also heard it stated, “I carry a handgun, so I can fight my way back to my rifle.”


The reality of life dictates that in most self-defense situations the handgun and not the rifle or shotgun will be the tool used in 90% of self-defense scenarios. This is because most folks are unable to carry a long gun while performing their daily duties and the handgun is so portable.


History has also repeatedly proven the relative ineffectiveness of small diameter/light recoiling handgun calibers. A caliber is referenced by the number of thousandths of an inch the bore or projectile (bullet) is in diameter (i.e. “50 caliber” is .500 inches). Generally speaking, the larger the projectile, the heavier the projectile and the greater the “punch” delivered by the bullet.


The United States became involved with the Moro Insurrection beginning in 1899. We had just adopted the 38 caliber New Army Long Colt cartage and Smith and Wesson revolver as issued equipment. It was soon discovered that the new cartridge, even after delivering multiple hits, was unable to stop the determined and narcotic filled Moro warriors. They continued to kill US soldiers with short swords and spears even after being struck repeatedly in the torso. A desperate plea went out to the United States Ordinance Department to reissue the venerable 45 Long Colt to provide that needed one-shot-stop. The 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge and Browning’s Model 1911 pistol were direct results of this hard-won knowledge.


Back to my original statement regarding A’s, B’s and C’s.


Current talk about calibers and platforms has come full circle and once again we see numerous articles circulating in the firearm’s press that with new projectile developments, the 9mm Luger cartridge is now the ballistic equivalent to the 45ACP. We also see articles in those same publications stating that the newest 380ACP (9mm Kurz or Short) ammunition is now the ballistic equivalent to the 9mm Luger.

Using logical extrapolation based on the expressed equation above, we could then logically assume the 9mm Short is the ballistic equivalent of the 45 ACP!


Two things that immediately come to mind:

  1. If the newest generation of ammunition is all that good and/or improved, one can only imagine the improved performance of the 45 ACP using these technologies.
  2. It would seem to me highly irresponsible to preach this specious theory of equivalence to the beginning shooter interested in self-defense. Imagine the disappointment of our Nimrod, attempting to repel the attack of a large bad guy only to find he has merely aggravated his attacker!

It would seem that in firearms, just like politics and journalism, every generation forgets the lessons learned from the previous generation and then makes the same mistakes as their grandparents.


Communism does not work.

Small caliber/light recoiling handgun calibers are unreliable man-stoppers.


Louis E Weeks Added Jun 13, 2018 - 7:20pm
Well, interesting claims but I do not believe you made you case on any of those points other than the large caliber that is 100% correct.
The most common exchange of gunfire for civilians is inside 15 feet, so you do not need accuracy or high velocity rounds to hit the potential target.  The average number of bullets fired is 3 per side, so you do not need high capacity magazines.
So you have only a short window of time to shoot, a short distance to shoot, and only have about 3 rounds to do your best to eliminate whatever target you may be shooting at.
So what is the purpose of a bullet?
Some may say to poke holes in the target, but that is only part true.  The real goal is to disperse the energy of the bullet into the body of the target, some call this stopping power but can you imagine how much good it does if the bullet is moving so fast it passes through the body instead of stopping?
If you fire a standard .223 round (popular long gun in civilian hands) at a person 15 feet away you will definitely poke a hole in them, but the bullet traveling around 3,000 feet per second (depending on what grain round you are firing) it will hardly even notice the person you shot at as it passes through and keeps going.
Now lets consider if you were shooting a 10 mm round traveling at around 1400 feet per second and it is a hollow point round designed to spread out when it hits the body and more efficiently disperse it's kinetic energy into the body of the person you are shooting at?
Traveling at less than half the speed it is less likely to travel through your intended target, hollow point spread more likely to help the bullet stop inside the target and apply true stopping force.
So the handgun in most common civilian gun related incidents would almost always be the better option.
And consider if you were in that situation asking the "bad guy" to hold on a second while you open your trunk to retrieve your rifle could also not turn out very well, lol.
Now shotguns would be a nice choice in that situation, the energy from several pellets hitting the body has immense stopping power and at 15 feet you will not miss even if you are half blind.  But you also have a similar problem with portability and welding that weapon if there is any kind of obstacles around you.
So this all depends on the kind of shooting you will be doing.  If the intent of the weapon is self defense then you want large, slow moving rounds and this is where the writer got it right, I carry the Springfield .45ACP.  Very easy for concealed carry, 5 rounds in the magazine but you can top load one in the chamber if you want as I do so if you can't deal with whatever you want to deal with after 6 rounds of .45ACP, you should not be carrying a gun in the first place, lol.
Leroy Added Jun 13, 2018 - 8:48pm
I largely agree with your response, Louis, but it is more complicated than that.  A head shot is about the only shot that will stop someone instantly and most any caliber will do.  A headshot is a low probability shot.  Less recoil might make you more accurate.  If you don't hit the target, it can't stop the attacker.  A 357 magnum penetrates deep and expands and has a high likelihood of death, but the attacker might not feel as much pain and keep coming at you.  The recoil might make you miss.  A 44 magnum is difficult to handle but might do more damage.  A 9mm might inflict more pain, although the depth of penetration is lacking.  Pain and fear are most likely the mechanisms to stop the attacker.
I don't carry a gun in public.  If I did, I might choose something different.  For home defense, I go back and forth between a 9mm and a 357 magnum.  With the 357, I have a six round capacity.  If I have to reload, I am screwed.   I've pretty much settled on the 9mm.  It has a 13 round capacity, including one in the chamber.  It is easy to carry a spare magazine.  Unless I am standing in the hallway and the attacker is charging me with a knife, I don't need to knock him backward.  But, several well-placed shots might serve this purpose.  Will little recoil, my aim is good.  A barrage of bullets will likely scare off the attacker and inflict sufficient pain to discourage him if hit.
I think most everyone would agree that JHP are the most effective type of bullet.
Leroy Added Jun 13, 2018 - 8:53pm
"Well, interesting claims but I do not believe you made you case on any of those points other than the large caliber that is 100% correct."
As far as the potential "punch" available, it is a matter of mass and velocity.
Pardero Added Jun 13, 2018 - 11:03pm
J. Kurt Schreiber,
This is a controversial subject, that I touched on, in an article that I have never bothered to submit. You are a capable writer with good knowledge, but I go along with Leroy.
As I handgun enthusiast, I have both 9mm and .45. I agree with Leroy, but only as long as high quality hollowpoints are used in the 9mm, exclusively. Full metal jacket is only for practice, though in a 'survival' situation, the high penetration ability of  9mm FMJ could have applications. 
I use some 'old school' Winchester Silvertips in .45, that have exceptional stopping power, but the greater capacity of the 9 gives it a big edge. One of my 9s, stoked with hollowpoints, is going to accomplish much more, than just annoy, some miscreant intent on killing me.
The whole 9 vs .45 argument is much like comparing a lifted 4x4 with highly offset rims, to a standard 4x4. They will both get you to where you are going, depending on the skills of the drivers.
.380 or 9mm 'short' is a whole nother argument. The pistols lack a locked breach, and have vicious recoil for such minimal power. The cartridge actually has no good reason for existence, as compact 9s are superior in every respect. .32 Auto is pleasant to shoot, and easier to find an accurate and reliable pistol. My hideout or 'belly' gun is a .32, loaded with Silvertips, for those reasons.
As far as  40S&W, I have absolutely no use for the cartridge, and would favor .45 or 9 over it.
Pardero Added Jun 13, 2018 - 11:12pm
Louis E Weeks Added Jun 14, 2018 - 12:13am
@ Leroy - At home my choice is my new Mossberg Shockwave shotgun using the short 1-3/4 minishells I added a flashlight and laser pointer and it is the ultimate in home defense, although I have several long guns to include a couple AR 15 versions but if not my shotgun I would choose my MP5.  Long guns inside closed spaces is not a good idea, takes too much time to swing that long weapon around, out in the open maybe, but not on the interior of a home type of environment and many SWAT teams also prefer shorter weapons over longer weapons.
Yes the headshot is the only truly guaranteed stop, but If I put three .45ACPs into someone center mass, they will not be in any shape to harm anyone, and at home with my shotgun, three shells delivering 7 #4 buckshot into someone center mass is going to stop them.  But I have 9 rounds total so I can follow up with a few extra if needed, lol.
But all this is just theory for those of us who practice with our firearms, if you do not have some muscle memory to rely on during such a stressful encounter, it may not matter what you have.
All that said for a less proficient homeowner I would recommend wheel guns, less to go wrong and again the average exchange is three rounds each so just having 6 possible shots will still be  fine in most cases and if they practice with speed loaders it is actually pretty fast to reload.
And I do like me some Hydra Shok ammo, lol.
So I was thinking more about your concern for stopping someone with something other than a headshot.  I once participated in testing of a shotgun fired beanbag and it was very informative.  I wore a vest and helmet and let them fire the beanbag into my chest from about 10 feet away and let me assure you, even wearing a vest there was a lot of stopping power involved and it knocked me down as a relatively large man.
Get that energy into the body, that is your best chance and in my opinion, high velocity rifle rounds is not going to accomplish this for most shooting situations civilians would face. 
Dave Volek Added Jun 14, 2018 - 12:58am
Another aspect is continual training and practice. Skills get rusty if not used often
And then there's process of taking lessons from the firing range and applying them to real life situations which don't occur very often. I wonder how many people can effectively make that transition. 
In Robert Heinlein's "Tunnel in the Sky", a survivalist training course sends students to new planets to survive. The protaganist, Rod, refuses to take a firearm of any kind for he believes it will alter his thinking too much and expose him to more danger. 
Leroy Added Jun 14, 2018 - 7:34am
I met a Nam vet at the gun range one day.  He was an interesting character.  He told me that his "old lady" warned him to never come home drunk again.  He did and she unloaded thirteen 22 cal rounds into him.  He showed me the scars. 
I learned two things.  A 22 cal round is ineffective for self-defense but it an effective cure for some drinking problems.  He doesn't come home drunk anymore.
Pardero Added Jun 14, 2018 - 9:15am
Dave Volek,
That is a good story, but I can't imagine very many people making the same choice, in these times. 
Of course, the thief would have gotten away with the firearm, too, in the story, making the protagonist's decision seem sounder.
Years ago, I worked with a guy who had an unusual scar, nearly centered in his forehead. He was at too great a distance for the .22 to penetrate his skull. It wasn't fired by his wife, but rather a thug.
Leroy Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:02am
Pardero, in another story, two guys got into an argument on the golf course.  One shot the other between the eyes with a 22 cal round.  The bullet exited the lower part of the guy's body.  They say a 22 cal can cause a lot of destruction as it winds through the body, but, in this case, the guy fully recovered.
"The protaganist, Rod, refuses to take a firearm of any kind for he believes it will alter his thinking too much and expose him to more danger."
Sounds like Sheriff Taylor.  It is one reason why I don't do concealed carry.  It might embolden me to get into a situation where I needed to use a gun--or have one used against me.  I've been in one traffic situation that if I had had a gun, I probably would have pulled it out.  I think the guy thought I had a gun.  I was holding a 3 D-Cell MagLite but not in full view.
Pardero Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:20am
Although this state allows concealed carry without any documentation, I very rarely carry one on my person. I usually don a holster and pack when I am going to shoot some targets. I do have one in my backpack, and often another stashed in a vehicle, though not easily accessed. 
If I was in a higher crime area, I might consider carrying regularly.
I was in a parking lot, when an engaged trucker charged the truck and jumped on the step. He saw me raise the tire thumper, and reconsidered. In that particular case, I was glad that it was a tire thumper and not a pistol.
Louis E Weeks Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:47am
I carry every day and pretty much everywhere I go but I am also well trained and have trained others for over 30 years.  I shot my masters over 20 years ago as well.  I do believe that if a person is going to carry they should train with their chosen weapon extensively and they also should take a shoot/don't shoot course.  The people I help with their concealed carry classes and training go through a combat course a few times as well so they can get some experience running and using cover and making snap decisions of when to shoot under stress.
A story from one of my students:
She was in a parking lot and was grabbed by two men and they were dragging her to a van when she was able to draw her concealed weapon (Purse holster) and discharge two rounds into the ground.  Her attackers fled and she was safe.  Part of my training with her was to not stop till you are safe so she instantly jumped into her car and sped away to the police station before she broke down in tears.
I learned two important facts from that day.  That training is the most important factor in not being a victim, and that a lot of gun related preservations of life are not in Government databases.  Her defensive use of a firearm is not recorded in any official Government database.  Nobody was hurt and she was safe so even though the only reason she is alive today is her concealed firearm and her training, that fact is not represented by our Government or policy makers.
She now helps me train other women in our self-defense classes.  We cover a wide variety of techniques and tools other than firearms but the most powerful one is awareness of your surroundings.  It is so easy to be distracted by your life and stress and not see the danger watching you and looking to turn you into a victim.
One of the things she talks about with our class is how many other women did these men watch and consider abducting before they settles on her?  What was it about her that made them choose her?  Was it anything to do with her behavior as she walked through the parking lot?
No gun, she would be raped and most likely killed, you think she and her circles are anti-2nd amendment?
Dave Volek Added Jun 14, 2018 - 11:24am
I think Louis' story is quite interesting. There needs to be more formal study in this regard. And most likely, both sides of the debate are going to cover up data they don't like.
Does having a firearm cause people to make more riskier decisions than normal? For example, if a burglar is in the house, what are the stats to compare staying upstairs and quiet versus confronting that burglar with a firearm? When we get this kind of knowledge we just might make a better societal decision, both individually and as a society. I can't answer this question without some numbers.
We could argue that if 20% of the population have a firearm and know how to use it in an emergency, burglars would be less likely to engage in their trade knowing that they don't which houses have effective firearms. So maybe that 20% is a great deterrent for the other 80%.
But burglars are not of the same mindset as the rest of us. If they really thought ahead of where their actions could take them, they would just get a job. Most burglars are unable to make these life connections. They wouldn't care of 20% of homes have firearms. In fact, they might use this information to bring in their own weapon to their burglary jobs to defend themselves.
It is a confusing world.
Louis E Weeks Added Jun 14, 2018 - 11:43am
@ Dave - Well we do not have "official" numbers but we can look to many indicators to help us consider this idea.
For example, I can look up the story if you need me to but there was a story about a man shooting a robber at his neighbors home, it was huge and sparked a lot of debate over laws making that legal.  But a follow up story said crime greatly reduced in that area after the shooting.  
The perception of danger certainly does decrease criminal activity, this is why many establishments hire off duty police as security in some areas.  I have been out of the training circles for a few years now but back when I was helping to train officers even the Federal use of force matrix included "officer presence" was considered a type of force.   The officer and his weapon being visible was a threat of potential force and as such had a deterrent effect.
We can look at other trends as well.  Consider the fact most people who live in rural areas are assumed to be gun owners and at the same time you rarely hear about robberies and home invasions in rural areas.
You ever hear about a mass shooting at a Rodeo or Nascar race?  
Dave Volek Added Jun 14, 2018 - 12:38pm
As I said, it is a confusing world.
I have a cousin who worked as a professional in the school bus industry for many years. He was often asked: "Why are there no seat belts in school buses?" He always answered: "Because of all the crash tests the industry has done over the decades, the best way to protect children from typical school bus accidents is through lots of padding, not seat belts." Many people are not satisfied with this answer. 
In other words, they disregard the data on school bus safety. They have made up their own mind.
Your anecdotal stories are nice, but there are also situations where a burglar was confronted and the homeowner lost the battle. Had the homeowner stayed upstairs, the outcome would have been different. We really can't take one or two stories as proof that a certain action is better than another action.
It would be nice to conduct a sociological study of outcomes of people who have firearms in their homes against those who do not. We would probably need to monitor 50,000 of each group and watch for 10 years. It would be expensive. And then we would have to consider that many sociologists have a left bias, so we would need to run several studies to confirm a trend.
And as you have hinted, crime is different everywhere you go. We would probably need a study in the inner city, the suburbs, and rural areas--as the stats could be very different. More expense!
It seems America is going to arm its schools (or some of them). Even though I disagree, we are now undergoing a social experiment that is worthy of analysis. My hypothesis is that there will be more firearm accidents in schools, and the frequency of school shootings will not decrease. After 10 years of data, we should be able to confirm or disconfirm my hypothesis. From there we would make better decisions--again both as individuals or as a society.
If we don't collect the data, then we are only making guesses.
By the way, most rural people in Alberta have firearms in their homes. And we still have rural crime. Burglars do come in to steal tools, ATVs, livestock trailers, small tractors, and cows. Stuff difficult to trace. Gun ownership does not seem to be much of a deterrent.
It is a lot of work for a rural burglar to case a farm, wait for the right time, then fence the goods. To me, it would easier to get a job. But people in crime don't think normally.
Louis E Weeks Added Jun 14, 2018 - 1:14pm
@ Dave - But as I pointed out, if you do not actually shoot someone, there is no data to collect.  Sometimes we have to make decisions based on the information we can see.  Limited sure.
Your assertion that the homeowner that was hurt trying to fight a burglar would have been safe if he just hid upstairs is an assumption, there is no way for you to know for sure they would be safe hiding.  Lots of burglaries ended up with the residents raped and murdered too. 
But the question each of us has to also consider is, do we always want to live as cattle relying on the generosity of the criminals to let us live or die based on their choices instead of our own?
Some can live on their knees, some can't.  Part of the debate is if Government should force people to live on their knees?
As far as your Canada example, you are talking a completely different mindset and culture and feelings to weapons in Canada and just because some farms in Canada have guns, do those same farmers share the kind of willingness to shoot criminals that American rural people show?
This mindset of willingness to use weapons against humans is also part of the larger picture.
I tell people this: Gun ownership is not a guarantee of safety or protection, it is just one more chance.  One more chance you can't have otherwise.  But that extra chance still depends on you, it is the human being that must act or not act.
Pardero Added Jun 14, 2018 - 1:37pm
Dave Volek,
Statistics do show that accidental discharge numbers increase with increased firearms ownership, but not by percentage.
Statistics show that violent crime has decreased in right to carry states, though it wasn't under controlled conditions, as you described. Whether the decreases are due to wary would-be criminals, or other factors, is being debated. The incessant shootouts, that were predicted by gun grabbers, never materialized.
Highly regulated states have the highest rate of murder by firearms. If the whole country was highly regulated, the firearms would flow from Mexico. If we can't stop an illegal alien with a backpack full of drugs, how will we stop one with a duffelbag full of guns?
The people that would be affected by increased restrictions, are not the problem. Criminals would be unaffected. It would take a hundred years for such a massive supply of firearms to be affected by restrictions. 
We have entered a new wild west. Danger abounds, and one must be capable of self defense.
We are all far more likely to be killed by an auto accident or lightning, than an accidental discharge. I can live with those chances. If I was to be attacked by a criminal determined to kill me, a firearm gives me a chance, and that is all I really ask for. I am not the perfect pacifist enough to give up my life, as a violent criminal goes on his merry way to hurt more people. We all have a civic duty and responsibility to defend ourselves, and help in the apprehension of violent criminals. Just because we hire professionals, who specialize in law enforcement, does not relieve us of our responsibilities. The police derive their authority and powers from the people, not the state. If the people can't be trusted to responsibly exercise deadly force, neither can the police.
Louis E Weeks Added Jun 14, 2018 - 2:12pm
@ Pardero - Good post and many good points.  
Most of the gun related murders in America are conducted by criminals who do not have a legal right to possess a firearm, but the majority of new laws some want concentrate on legal gun ownership, not the problem of criminal gun ownership.
We currently import over 300 metric tons of illegal cocaine every year, what makes these people believe that once we create a new market, that we would not have all the guns criminals need available just like cocaine, pot, Heroin, and let's go back in the past and point to alcohol, America has a horrible record on banning things and those banned things creating criminal empires that end up hurting America greatly.
Pardero Added Jun 14, 2018 - 2:38pm
Louis E Weeks,
Excellent points. That is a valuable comment that could stand alone as a fine article. 
300 tons of cocaine! If it was 300 tons of pistols, liberals might actually have a problem with it.
Louis E Weeks Added Jun 14, 2018 - 2:48pm
@ Pardero - Thanks and let's remember that as you said, the criminals will get what they want and need, the only question is if our Government will let law abiding citizens have what we need to protect ourselves?
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 14, 2018 - 5:15pm
I read from a reliable source that the FBI likes (for field work) candidates who have experienced combat and have been fired at and have fired back. While most shootouts occur at fifteen feet or less, but because of all of the adrenaline pumping, many people who have not faced such stress before are very poor shots. They miss a lot, even at close range, and the adrenaline-filled criminals also do not feel the bullet because of their excited condition. The FBI also likes people who have successfully shot animals in big-game hunting. I will tell you now that I dropped a deer at somewhere around 275 yards out. He never heard the gun go off. I penetrated his left shoulder, this left lung, his heart, his right lung, his right shoulder and out the other side. I was using a Winchester Model 70 with a 130 grain Winchester Silver Tip.
 As explained, the .45 ACP was designed to stop people, and from what I hear it does just that. I have been told that soldiers in our current areas of conflict assignments started using .45s and they didn’t have the problem of having to shoot attackers more than once. The .45 was designed to stop people, and the slow muzzle velocity also helps cause a lot of damage.
Pardero Added Jun 14, 2018 - 5:40pm
Jeff Jackson,
.45 is a great defensive cartridge. 44 Special in revolvers is good, too, and underrated.
I keep an H&K compact .45, loaded with Silvertips, next to the bed. I consider one of my 9s for most other situations.
I don't reload in that 130 grain bullet weight. Maybe it is a .270. Winchester Silvertips are good bullets. I had an amazingly accurate .250 Savage, that I sold when Winchester quit loading for it. Some people love obsolescent cartridges, but I like to find my calibers on the shelf at the hardware store, even though I reload. I tried with many powders, bullets, and seating depths, but could not surpass the accuracy of those Silvertips.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 14, 2018 - 6:02pm
Yes, I guess I forgot to say it was a .270. Very accurate, and very effective, out to well over 400 yards I am told.
Dave Volek Added Jun 15, 2018 - 2:56pm
Louis & Padero
Good insights. I shall digest them.
Rusty Smith Added Jun 16, 2018 - 1:31am
 J. Kurt Schreiber Guns are just tools and "self defense" is a pretty broad category where no one gun is all around best suited for every situation.  As Louis mentioned most gunfights involve people at very close range, so close in fact that the barrel length on a rifle or shotgun would usually be longer than is easy to use in those close quarters.  There is a reason why swat assault teams don't use long guns, and it's not because they don't know as much about what's best as you do.  They practice in tight quarters combat and know what works best for them and it's very short fully automatic weapons you can't buy.  They are slightly longer than most pistols.
They might also be aware of the statistics about gunfights.  As things turn out very strangely and contrary to what I'd have guessed, the caliber of the gun you use has very little effect on the average outcome of a gunfight.  That's right, if you have a 12 gauge semi auto, or just a 22 pistol, your likely outcome in a gunfight are usually just about the same.  
In reality bad guys rarely want to be involved in a gunfight, they prefer unarmed victims to the point that the vast majority turn tail and run the second a potential victim fires a shot from any gun.  Yup, they realize their potential victim might shoot them and they almost always run away.  That happens most of the time.  
For those that don't run immediately most do or try to if they get shot and it doesn't seem to matter where or what the caliber the gun is they are shot with.  Obviously if they get hit with a 44 in the chest, they don't run far, but that scenario is relatively rare because most victims aren't in any hurry to be in a gunfight either, and most don't jump up where they can be shot at and aim carefully, they fire quickly at a moving target, usually miss and scare them away.
Now about your belief that a shotgun or rifle is best for self defense, I'd say only if you have room to use it effectively and in your house is probably not the optimal distance or situation.  Out in the open I'll take one every time, and not an AR AK, I'll take a good ol hunting rifle that is deadly accurate at 300 yards and has enough punch at that distance to go thought most police vests, but in my house... never.
A plain ol Colt 911 has more rounds than most gunfights involve, can be reloaded in seconds, and doesn't have the reputation for killing people on the other side of a wall.  Yup, if I miss I'm a whole lot less likely to kill someone like my kids in another room, but if I don't miss a 45 is going to hurt about as much as most other good sized guns.
Shotguns are very deadly but their shot spread is only a few inches across most rooms.  Many people buy them believing they can point it in the right direction and if they miss by a few feet it won't matter.  It doesn't work that way, and a shogun at close range will go though a wall and kill a kid on the other side.
Thanks but no thanks, the best home defense gun that I can buy will never be a shotgun or rifle.  I'm not a sheriff not likely to ever have to fight it out with someone barricaded inside a house, while I'm hiding behind buildings or vehicles hundred feet or more away.  Threats to me will usually want something from me they intend to take from me in person, or from inside my house, a few feet away from me.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 16, 2018 - 6:53am
Gun Control where I grew up, is being able to hit your target even while under fire. 
The discussion started early on and the correct term is the "Wound Cavity" for the damage inflicted by the round as it passes through. 
I love my .44 magnum with a 240 grain FMJ with a factory serrated tip designed to shred on impact ... but if there are multiple targets, I would use my .45 instead as I can bring it to bear on additional targets much quicker than I can the .44. 
Happiness is having the right round no matter what scene unfolds before you! 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 16, 2018 - 11:36am
Ward Tipton I save my 44 mag for brown bear country, and even then now prefer 12 gauge slugs.  Unless I reload the 44 real light I've got to have a good grip on it or it might jump out of my hand, but I can pick up my 911 and shoot it without having a good grip because it's kick is so much lighter.  I think that makes it a much better close quarters self defense gun.
I have noticed my 357 blackhawk also kicks so much less that I can hold it loosely but it might still kill someone in another room so I'd prefer the 911-45 cal.  I also have a 911 in 9mm, but prefer the 45.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 16, 2018 - 10:19pm
I did notice another error in facts here I will point out only briefly and likely as a sidenote. The 1911A1 .45 ACP was actually modeled based on the 1903 .32 ACP.
The only bear I ever killed, I killed with a .44 special with the same rounds I used in the mag but "only" coming out at about 1240 FPS ... though it would still pierce military grade kevlar ... and for the record, the only reason I killed the bear was in self defense ... my Pa used to make me eat bear when I was a kid and I never did grow fond of it, so seemed pointless to hunt them. 
Pardero Added Jun 16, 2018 - 10:58pm
Ward Tipton,
Some months back, a company man got mauled by a bear. Mostly tore up his face. I don't get in the woods much, but it made me think about a bear gun.
I don't have a hog leg, and am unlikely to buy one. I was thinking maybe a Marlin Guide Gun. Then, I remembered a thread I had read on a shooting website. Guys were discussing an authoritative article that showed .308 has far more energy than 45-70
A brother gave me a SOCOM 16 a few years ago. Fun to shoot, but doesn't seem to fill any imagined tactical niche. Would it be nuts to sling that SOCOM 16 to go pick huckleberries? A bit heavy and thicker than a lever gun, but fairly compact. 
Do you think a SOCOM 16 could be a decent bear defense gun? Nowadays, you got people hunting big game with 6.5 Creedmoor ARs. Tbe SOCOM 16  wouldn't even raise eyebrows.  I could check that it will cycle reliably with 165gr Nosler Partitions or similar. I have only shot surplus and Korean FMJ 150s in it.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 16, 2018 - 11:11pm
I only killed the bear because I had no choice, and in my particular case, a long-rifle would have been difficult to get around in time. Had there been a hill, I would have just done a boot and scoot down the hill and allowed Boo Boo to tip heel over head in pursuit, but that was not an option. I stopped and remained still, but it insisted on poking at me with his paws and I was ... not comfortable with that. Another similar encounter saw a wildcat leaping out of a tree seeking to unseat me from my horse, and again, the long-rifle would have been difficult to manage in such a rapid defensive maneuver. To answer your question honestly would be impossible as it would imply I would know the entire scenario before it unfolded. 
In a more simple answer, I would say that the .308 is decidedly capable of taking down a bear, but it depends still on shot placement. I would however, keep a .44 special or even a .45 as a backup for Justin ... just in case. 
Ward Tipton Added Jun 16, 2018 - 11:14pm
PS Hog Legs are great for plinking at the range, but I would not recommend one for very many real world scenarios. It is difficult to engage numerous targets and even trying to clear that much barrel of the leather surrounding it would likely cause very uncomfortable delays in response time. Despite popular Hollywood misconceptions, the average gunfighter used a .36 Navy Colt with a six inch barrel, though often cut down to four to allow for a quicker removal from the holster. Reaction times do matter. (Yeah, my dad was the quickdraw shooter, not me but ... I have been to enough competitions and know enough of my history to realize some of the common fallacies) 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 17, 2018 - 8:18pm
Pardero I have a lever action Browning 308 which I might consider for hunting bears but never use it as as a self defense bear gun, and have even stopped carrying my 44 mag in favor of a pump shotgun that costs less and is the more popular anti bear gun carried in places like Alaska,  Shotguns beat out all other anti bear guns at least when it comes to popularity, probably because they are relatively inexpensive and time proven.  There are also non lethal loads for scaring bears away, for shotguns, that are not available for rifles.
Unlike Ward I've never had to shoot a bear for self defence and haven't even shot them when I was given a free bear tag with my dear tag.  I just don't have much desire to eat one and a big bear skin is too big for any of my walls at home.
A 12 gauge 3 inch mag with a 1 oz slug delivers over 2,500 ft lbs of energy at close range, which is a lot more then the 45-70 and not much different than the 308.
 If you're like me you don't want to hunt bears, so long range performance which the 308 does provide is not as important as what it does 30 feet away and the shotgun slug does just fine there.  
If I was hunting Alaskan Browns, I'd much rather have something like a 338, and shoot from a very safe distance, but that's a completely different game and you a well sighted in 338 isn't easy to whip around at close range like a pump shotgun or even a double barrel. 
Ward Tipton Added Jun 17, 2018 - 9:45pm
@ Dave Volek
Heaven forbid it were to happen, but if your home was broken into, would you prefer an opportunity to defend you (and your family if you have one) or prefer that your teenage daughter just hide in her room hoping the criminal element do not make it that far? 
As for me, I would much prefer to make a stand. Mind you, ankle biter dogs are great too as they will make enough of a racket to wake the dead so that you are also awake enough to be effective in your defense against home intruders. 
If anyone is interested, try comparing the gun laws and the crime statistics for Kennesaw, Georgia ... actually a suburb of Atlanta, not some proverbial "hick town" and Chicago or New York or Baltimore or New Orleans or Now York City or LA or any other progressive paradise with strict anti-gun laws where largely, only the criminal element is armed ... and if you have the time, search the neighborhoods where the crime rates are the highest. 
An armed society is a polite society. 
Interesting trivial fact: Russia was one of the most widely and well-armed societies until 1917 and the required registration of all firearms ... October did indeed turn blood red that year, thus the term Red October. 
Ward Tipton Added Jun 17, 2018 - 9:47pm
PS Funny as it sounds; I always sucked with a shotgun and fared much better with a sidearm, though I make my own ammo so I also keep my sidearm loaded, sometimes with alternated rounds, with ammo specific to the needs of the scenario I am in. 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 17, 2018 - 11:16pm
Ward Tipton all my shooting friends and I have been loading since we were kids and I've got multiple single and progressive presses and carbide for most calibers, even many I don't yet own.  Funny how we can all afford all the equipment but can't afford not to reload.  My first reloading press was a RCBS and my powder measures, (I still have), were that stupid row of powder measures I think we all had at one time.  Of course it helped that I bought over half my equipment second hand.  I'm not pleased how expensive components like jacketed bullets have become, or how few places sell things like powder where I live.  I think they are trying to render some of my guns useless by making the ammunition and components impossible for me to purchase without driving 100 miles.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 17, 2018 - 11:20pm
I would recommend building a machine shop as well ;) 
I never understood all the hoopla about 3D printers when anyone with a decent machine shop can produce actions all day long! 
Pardero Added Jun 17, 2018 - 11:23pm
Ward Tipton,
I am kind of a sidearm fan, and already have the .45. I will be packing it. Thanks for your input.
Pardero Added Jun 17, 2018 - 11:32pm
Rusty Smith,
I hadn't considered a 12 gauge! That would be handier than the .308, and more versatile.
I have a 20 for sage grouse, but do need a 12 gauge. I will save the SOCOM 16 for plinking, or a zombie apocalypse. I did not know the Alaskans favored shotguns for that purpose. They would certainly know. 
I am taking both your advice. A pistol and a 12 gauge. Thanks for the help.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 17, 2018 - 11:44pm
Sage grouse? Arh? 
Back home in West (By God) Virginia, grouse were among the hardest thing for me to hit with a shotgun. When I worked as a hunting and fishing guide out in Wyoming, we called the sage grouse "Stupid Chickens" ... to give you an indication, I killed more with a slingshot than I did with firearms. Some of the best and easiest camp meat available ... and fine eating too! Now you are just teasing me to make me hungry! What I would give for a grouse or a groundhog today! 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 18, 2018 - 11:45am
Ward Tipton I've never had a machine shop at home but many of the companies I worked for did and at times I was in charge of them.  I made one single shot gun just for fun, (rimfire).  I can do a lot with a lathe, mill and surface grinder.
About 4 months ago I was in a large city police department pre deployment briefing, and the captain shared the latest story about how they had confiscated a cache of guns that included several "Ghost Guns".  Everyone was horrified, they included some AR's and by the reaction from the officers I'm pretty sure most there thought those guns were illegal.  Since it's completely legal to make your own gun and there is no registration requirement if you do, I can't see why they were all so excited.  
Rusty Smith Added Jun 18, 2018 - 2:20pm
Pardero a 20 gauge with a slug is almost as deadly as a 12 gauge, the penetration doesn't change at all only the size of the entry hole.  Slugs for 12 and 20 gauge are both sufficient at close range.  There is a significant advantage to 3 inch shell, presuming your gun accepts them.  I know someone who killed a black bear with a 410, head shot at less than 10 feet, it can be done.
The 20 is definitely a step under when it comes to stopping power and more easily deflected by brush but I would still recommend the 12 gauge for what it sounds like you want, knock down power at very close ranges, for emergency use only.
The 308 has more penetration but they aren't cheap, and 12 gauge shotguns are one of the less expensive options that are time proven.  The 308 also weighs about 2 lbs more and they are generally not as much of a bang around gun.  
Ward Tipton Added Jun 19, 2018 - 1:16am
A .410 sawed down to no less than eighteen and one-fourth of an inch barrel with a .44 slug? 
Pardero Added Jun 19, 2018 - 1:28am
Ward Tipton,
Grouse are tasty. I like pheasant, too, but they are not found in the wild here. Your "stupid chickens" must be among the dumbest of birds. Domestic turkeys are similar in stupidity.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 19, 2018 - 1:34am
Turkeys will actually stare up at the rain long enough to drown themselves ... and Ben Franklin would have had that as the Official Bird of our Nation? 
Then again, looking around at people today ... maybe it was rather fitting and appropriate? 
Pardero Added Jun 19, 2018 - 1:37am
Rusty Smith,
I am sold on the 3 inch 12 gauge. Unvle Mikes probably makes a barrel band swivel, and I would want to be able to sling it.
I am reminded of the AK47 stamped receiver kits I used to see at gun shows. The Soviets had trouble with their stamped and riveted receivers, and that is the reason for the machined receivers. I can't imagine a kitchen table gunsmith making a receiver and adding a parts kit, but the stamped receiver kits sold well. 
Ward Tipton,
I had a Cobray .45/.410 derringer for years, until I traded it. It was awkward with limited utility. One of those Judge .410 revolvers would be interesting. 
I always wanted a .410 pistol as shown in Road Warrior.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 19, 2018 - 1:41am
Try researching Numrich Arms sometime, one of my favorite candy stores. 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 19, 2018 - 11:19am
Pardero I love guns but would be remiss if I didn't make sure you carry bear spray when you are in nasty bear country lie Alaska.  
The track record for successfully detering bear attacks is much much better with bear spray than a gun and with bear spray you don't risk arrest for killing the poor bear.  
I think both have their place.  Bear spray is best for deterring an attack, but if a bear is in the process of chomping down on someone you care about a gun is the best way to stop them with the least risk to you.  If they have already attacked someone right in front of you and you shoot them to end the attack,  you are far less likely to go to jail than if you use the gun to stop a charging bear.
Luther Wu Added Jun 20, 2018 - 2:20am
Don't forget to wear those little bells on your cap, in Grizz country.
That way, the bear has a better chance of hearing you coming, so no surprises. You can always tell when you are in Grizzly country, by examining the bear scat, to see if it's a big Brownie,or just a Black Bear. The Grizzly scat will be the pile with bells in it, that smells like bear spray. Oh, and if you carry a big ol' pistol, just in case, be sure to file off the front sight. It's easier to take when that bear shoves it...
Luther Wu Added Jun 20, 2018 - 2:22am
Ward Tipton says:
"Turkeys will actually stare up at the rain long enough to drown themselves ... and Ben Franklin would have had that as the Official Bird of our Nation? 
Then again, looking around at people today ... maybe it was rather fitting and appropriate?"
That's pretty funny.
Domesticated turkeys really are that dumb. Their wild ancestors are canny and elusive, a different critter altogether. A popular agriculture series on YT shows a turkey farmer explaining the difficulties of dealing with those birds who've had all the brains bred out of 'em. He opined that young turkeys must be convinced that their purpose is to die, because that's all they'll do if left on their own. They have to put chicks in with the turkey hatchlings, just to teach the turkeys how to eat.
As far as wild turkeys go, there's an old saying that "a deer thinks every hunter's a stump and a turkey thinks every stump's a hunter."
Get your kicks on Rt. .30-06
Pardero Added Jun 20, 2018 - 2:58am
Thank you, Ward Tipton.
Thank you, Rusty Smith.
I will take all those precautions. I didn't used to worry. I may have been lucky all these years, but that man's torn up face has me concerned.
Luther Wu,
With all the gear I will be packing, I'll sound like a bunch of cans tied to the newlywed's bumper. Knowing my luck, that will attract him. 
I was thinking that a skunk dance could discourage a bear, if he wasn't particularly bright. Only a few retarded dogs are dumb enough to fool with a skunk. The down side is that the bear may consider it disrespectful. I better stick to the bear spray, followed by lead spray.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 20, 2018 - 8:40am
Skunks taste just like they smell ... few retarded dogs? Where does that leave me? :/
Bear Spray is not something I have any experience with. Will it work with Kodiaks?  Grizz? 
C'mon ... somebody has got to check out Numrich Arms ... it is awesome. 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 20, 2018 - 10:55am
Pardero some bears eat skunks so skunk spray may not be as effective as you might imagine.  
Bears also are attracted to bear spray, they like to rub in it and get the scent on their fur, so don't make the mistake of thinking it's good bear repellent.  It's only effective on their eyes and nose.
Rusty Smith Added Jun 20, 2018 - 11:01am
Luther Wu one of my dads friends raised domestic turkeys for a while and your can relax, they never drown in the rain by staring up with their beaks open.
However they are easily frightened even by things as stupid as a plane flying overhead, and sometimes do kill each other in mass stampedes trying to get away from the stupidest things.
Rusty Smith Added Jun 20, 2018 - 11:16am
Ward Tipton bear spray is the most effective deterrent for all bears, including Kodiak, Grizz and Polar Bears.  You can't kill or injure them with bear spray like you can with a gun but there is something about the spray that puts enough doubt in their mind to scare them off almost all the time, (statistically).  
A gun can kill them but most pistols can't shoot through a bear's skull even if you are lucky enough to be that good a shot, and body shots even with big pistols don't usually drop one in their tracks.  Many wounded bears don't realize they are mortally wounded until they have had plenty of time to tear into you especially if you shot them head on in a charge.  I've seen many bears shot just behind the shoulder run for 50 yards or more before they bleed out.  If you body shoot a charging bear at 10 yards there is no way it's not going to make it to you before it dies.  If people shot every bear that acted aggressively at 35 yards, we'd have few bears left.
Fact is that if you freeze and do nothing else most bears will stop their attack a few feet away.  We know that from all the reports where that happens because they aren't armed.  Bear spray blows a big cloud of irritating stuff at them and I think the surprise scares them off a bit.
A gunshot might scare them off too, but if you hit them or scare a moma bear, that also might trigger her defensive instincts because you have just switched from a potential threat to a verified one she might feel she HAS TO do something about.
Pardero Added Jun 20, 2018 - 4:03pm
Ward Tipton,
I am off to Numrich Arms!
I am thinking that not only do I need bear spray, but also companions, all of them slower runners than I am.
Pardero Added Jun 20, 2018 - 4:04pm
Rusty Smith 
I will remember to use bear spray on the eyes and nose only.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 21, 2018 - 8:14am
Rusty, I had actually stopped and lay prone on the ground. However, when the paw came down on the back of my head and the claws began pressing down on the back of my neck, I rolled over and put two rounds through the throat seeking to break the spine which I managed to do. I would never be so foolish as to shoot a bear through the skull ... or a wild boar for that matter as they have a sloped and double-skull. Likewise, I have seen a deer with better than half his heart shot out, still manage to run more than three quarter miles into the dense brush. Breaking the spine was the specific reason for the shot I took as the intention was instant paralysis to end the attack before it began. 
There is a stuffed bear in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in downtown Jackson ... or used to be at least ... where the guy it attacked actually reached into its mouth and crushed his throat from the inside. If I ever get back to Boo Boo country, I will remember the bear spray, but mind you, I will still keep that little .44 pug primed and charged ... figuratively speaking. 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 21, 2018 - 11:19am
Ward Tipton as I've mentioned to others I love guns so I do carry them but I'm also a realist and know the bear spray does a better job of keeping me safe... sad but true. 
I no longer have much macho left in me but the little I have enjoys carrying the gun far more than the spray.  Spray feels like wuss material, a 44 mag like a real man toy, but I'd rather be a live wuss than a dead macho man, even if the bear dies a minute or two after it kills me.   
People who see me carrying my 44 mag are usually impressed and when I load hot it is quite a hand cannon, but these days I'd rather carry my 12 gauge pump with 3 inch slugs.  It's far more deadly at close range than the 44, but not nearly as impressive.  
Ward Tipton Added Jun 21, 2018 - 11:41pm
My .44 pug was easily concealed in the woods, one of the reasons I preferred it. Mind you, with my own loads, I could depend on its accuracy ... store bought ... not so much ... at least not to any degree I was comfortable with. I just do not have enough experience with bear spray to be able to speak accurately and honestly, though I will keep it in mind ... and on hand should I get back into Boo Boo territory ... or even Kodiak country for that matter. I just have always sucked with a shotgun ... cannot really say why. 
Rusty Smith Added Jun 22, 2018 - 11:26am
Ward Tipton I've never had to shoot a bear or spray one but have followed the statistical data carefully and that is why I've become convinced bear spray is the safest.  
I've spent plenty of time around bears, even walked right past them a few feet away in the woods, (in the evening and not on purpose), and gone to sleep with one watching me from about 35 feet away at the edge of my campfire.  That one walked around my sleeping bag after I fell asleep but never touched me. 
I also had a black bear try to scare me away from my food near a campfire and I stood my ground, and locked it up in a bear locker with him 3 feet away.  It was in a large campground and I figured if he was in the habit of touching people he'd already be dead, and even if he jumped me, what he really wanted was the food and wouldn't be interested in hurting me.  Right after I put the food away I shined a 1 million candle power spotlight in his eyes and he ran away, right into another campsite where I heard screams.  Seconds later 2 rangers showed up and I pointed where he went, they followed and about a minute later shot and killed him with a shotgun.  Later on I found out that bear had been chasing other people away from their food and was even attracted by the sound of people trying to scare him or her away by doing things like banging  pots and pans away.  They also killed a Momma and cub after they started hanging around trails and chasing hikers away from their packs after the cub tackled a small child wearing a pack in an attempt find food.  I'm sure it was only time before that happened again and Momma flattened an adult trying to save theri kid.
My 44 is a Super Blackhawk and I think it's most accurate with mild loads, but when I was carrying it for bear protection I always kept hot loads in it.  I haven't noticed a difference in accuracy between store bought and my handloads that might make me feel unsafe around bears, largely because I won't pull the trigger until a bear is very close anyway, I know they usually stop their charge 10 to 20 yards away.  At 30 feet my own accuracy is far less than the bullet error.
The only charging animal I ever almost shot was a big buck with a great rack.  It just got chased by a big dog and was pissed, I showed up and it charged me from about 35 yards and I drew down on it with my 357.  It stopped about 10 yards away but I remember wondering if anyone would believe me if I had shot him and claimed self defense?  It wasn't season, and I didn't have a tag.
I do have very good reloading equipment and my loads are pretty consistent but when I load pistol I don't go nuts, I have many boxes with different brass and couldn't really tell you which shoot slightly high or low, or by how much.  I only get that nuts when I shoot rifles.

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