What is an efficient handgun, and why is it important in self defense?

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Last Wednesday we talked about inefficient handguns, namely the Beretta 92 (and variants.) It wasn’t that I was picking on the Beretta, you understand, only that (as I explained) I’d gotten an email about that specific gun. Also, as I pointed out in the article, the Beretta was hardly alone; the older S&W autos were very similar in operation and deficiencies, yet for some reason they don’t have nearly the vocal following!

Let’s start today by talking about efficiency as applied ...

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The Beretta Model 92: why is it an inefficient defensive handgun?

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Someone sent me a kind email the other day asking about something I’d mentioned on The Gun Nation podcast last week: why did I single out the Beretta 92 (his gun) as being ‘inefficient’, and what do I mean by an ‘efficient’ gun? It wasn’t because I dislike the Beretta specifically; there are a lot of similar guns out there which are inefficient too. The Beretta was just the first one that popped into my mind!

What makes an efficient handgun? ...

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Reviews of Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, I interview Gila Hayes, and more!

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Renowned trainer Tiger McKee recently wrote a very nice review of my revolver books (Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver and my new Defensive Revolver Fundamentals) for The Tactical Wire. This is pretty exciting to me, as he is one of the most direct descendants of Jeff Cooper and is a proponent of both the 1911 pistol and of the “Modern Technique” — all of which, as you’re probably aware, are ...

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CCW: Some more thoughts on the appendix position for concealed carry.

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The appendix carry position (so named because the gun is on the front of your body, between your navel and the point of your hip; roughly on top of your appendix if you’re a right-hander) has gotten quite popular in recent years. That popularity has made it the subject of both scorn and praise, with some believing it’s the work of Beelzebub himself and others opining that it’s the best thing since a bunch of duck hunters in Louisiana decided ...

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Don’t do stupid things, and don’t talk to the media. And never do both at the same time!

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From Toledo, OH comes the story of a homeowner who did something stupid: she took her .357 and confronted a petty thief who her boyfriend reportedly caught stealing a bicycle from her front porch. Why is this stupid? Because the thief’s actions did not rise to the level that justifies the threat of lethal force.

In general, lethal force can only be used when the defender is in immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm through the ...

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Book Review: Concealed Carry For Women by Gila Hayes

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I recently received (courtesy of the author) a copy of the new book “Concealed Carry For Women” by Gila Hayes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I assisted Gila with some pictures for this book and there is at least one picture of me inside. I’ve also known her for many years and consider her a friend, which is not a word I use frivolously. Even if I didn’t know her, however, I believe my review would ...

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Is your defensive shooting stance really something you can choose?

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RECOIL Magazine, as you may have heard, is back in big way with all new management and a revised attitude. Though they tout themselves as a “gun lifestyle” magazine, that doesn’t seem to limit them to mere fluff; a recent article from Aaron Cowan, titled “History and the Fighting Stance III: what Burroughs found”, is a good example.

Cowan makes the case that a shooting stance when faced with a surprise lethal threat is a matter of instinct; ...

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It’s official: Defensive Revolver Fundamentals has been released!

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DRF book cover_small

My latest book, Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, officially launched yesterday! The Outdoor Wire carried the press release, saying “In his new book, Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, Cunningham makes an informed and convincing case for the revolver as a personal defense firearm.”

This is the book I’ve wanted to write for some time. It distills everything I’ve learned about defensive shooting up to this point, focusing ...

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Defensive training, religious fervor – and you: why deification is bad for self defense.

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I’ll admit to not fully understanding religious zealotry, despite having studied it fairly extensively. In most major religions you can find sects who seek to fix their beliefs and observances at some arbitrary point in time, and from then on never change (or, at least, try their hardest to not change.) This leaves me to wonder: what makes their arbitrary point in time better than someone else’s arbitrary point? On that very question is built sectarian warfare, as even a ...

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“I can’t afford to get good training.” True?

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Serendipity, that’s what it’s called. A recent poll on Facebook asked about the biggest hurdle people face in getting defensive shooting training. I expected the number one reason to be ammunition supplies, but that barely rated for most people. Time? That was a bigger one, but it paled in comparison to the number one obstacle: money.

Not surprising, given the cost of training these days. Ammo is expensive, equipment is expensive, travel and lodging is expensive, and that’s before factoring in ...

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Can you – or should you? Decision making during a lethal force incident.

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One of the chapters in my upcoming book deals with the legalities of shooting someone in self defense, and in it I make the point that there are perhaps situations where you could, legally, shoot someone – but might not need to do so. I think it’s an important distinction.

Many of my students ask when they’re allowed to use deadly force, and while knowing the legalities of what you can and can’t do is vital** I believe ...

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Not many people in this business will tell you the truth. This guy does.

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Over the weekend Rory Miller (if you don’t know who he is, check out his author page on Amazon) put an interesting post on his blog. You should go read it before continuing here.

Back already? Did you read all of the article? (Promise?)

Miller makes a number of good points in his article, but there are two that I think are incredibly important in terms of defensive shooting training. First, that no one has had ...

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Are all gunwriters idiots?

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That’s a loaded question. (Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist the pun.)

That’s a question I ask every time I read yet another ridiculous article. Convoluted (or completely absent) logic, factual errors, reliance on outdated or inappropriately applied data are all issues with far too many writers. The “old days” weren’t much better, either; I can find articles from some of the past luminaries in the gunwriting game which aren’t exactly paragons of research or fact. They were, however, far more ...

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How did you spend your weekend? I spent mine teaching! Here’s what I learned.

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Father’s Day weekend is usually a bad time to schedule a class, but we did it anyway. Back in the old days when I ran shooting matches at our club, Father’s Day weekend always had the lowest participation. Mother’s Day weekend, however, usually had a very good turnout. This was consistent over a period of six years; I’d have expected the opposite, and to this day have no rational explanation for the phenomenon.

The students who did show up provided me ...

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“A hit with a .22 is better than a miss from a .45” – how true is that?

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An interesting confluence occurred last week: I got an email from a fellow asking about the .380ACP as a defensive cartridge, and this rather myopic article on the .22 Magnum rimfire came out in American Rifleman.

As a teacher of defensive shooting it’s my job to make my students as proficient as I possibly can. Part of that job is helping them to pick a gun/cartridge which allows them to make the bad guy go away using the least ...

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If it’s not relevant, why are you doing it?

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I’ve written before of the need to match the training you get and the equipment you use to the life you actually lead, not the life you fantasize about leading.

What does this mean? It means that if you’re training with a full-sized tricked-out autoloader on the weekends, but the majority of your waking hours are spent with a 5-shot revolver in a pocket holster, your training isn’t going to be congruent with your expected use. Training done under such false ...

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Determining how and what we train.

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A question from a student in the class I taught last weekend brought up an interesting dichotomy in the defensive shooting world: what we prepare for often doesn’t match what we actually face. Many people prepare for social violence, but actually face asocial violence. The difference between the two affects how and what we train.

Social violence is that which occurs between people engaged in a ritualized struggle for status or prestige; it can also be applied to groups vying for ...

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I spent my weekend teaching, and what I learned from doing so.

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I’m tired. I always am after teaching a class, but it’s a good tired. Knowing that my students emerged from two days of training with relevant, evidence-based defensive shooting skills is a wonderful feeling.

One of the interesting things that came out of this class was a confirmation of the need to consider the student when we teach sighted fire, and by that I mean how we use our sights when we need to use them. In this class I had ...

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Reactions to a recent article: coming to terms with not being armed all the time.

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Most of the interaction we have here happen in the comments, but some folks prefer to send emails expressing their thoughts. Some of them are interesting enough to talk about.

On the recent topic of not carrying all the time (which I should have called “everyone does, but very few will admit to it”), I got quite a few emails thanking me for expressing a non-macho point of view. Glad to do it, though it’s not so much anti-macho as it is ...

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Protecting yourself after an injury.

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In most areas of the country, it’s generally held that you may use lethal force to protect yourself if you are in immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily injury. One of the factors which can contribute to that perceived danger is known as “disparity of force”; that is, a marked difference in the ability of the parties involved to inflict injury.

If your attacker is much larger than you, or if he’s much stronger, or if he ...

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Defensive training in context: even dinosaurs like the FBI evolve!

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A story in USA Today a few weeks ago is potentially good news for defensive shooting training in the private sector: the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently overhauled their own training protocols. (Please go read the article – it’s surprisingly good.)

The FBI went back through 17 years of data and analyzed the kinds of gunfights their agents faced. They concluded their training, which historically emphasized long distance marksmanship, wasn’t applicable to the threats their agents were actually ...

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Practical responses to school attacks.

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Since the horrific school murders last week it’s become clear that our collective responses to these attacks is insufficient. The reports I’ve read indicated that it took police 20 minutes from the initial call to arrive; that’s a lot of time for a madman to be loose in a victim-rich environment – no matter what he’s armed with.

While the national debate rages about gun bans and mental health records, there are some logical, plausible, no-nonsense things that we can do ...

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When will the silly defensive shooting techniques stop?

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After my article on not falling for a technique simply because someone of authority promotes it, a reader sent me an alert about an article in the Shooting Times Personal Defense 2012 magazine. The article is titled “Fight With A .380” by one J. Guthrie. (Had I written this article, I’d probably be embarrassed to use my full name too. You’ll see why.)

Mr. Guthrie bases much of his article on conversations with Ed ...

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My new PDN article: sight-seeing!

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I’ve got another new article up at the Personal Defense Network, and those of you who are pushing 40 (or pulling 50) will be particularly interested. It’s called “I Can’t See My Sights!”

It’s the distillation of all the things I’ve learned over the past few years about how to adapt to vision changes, particularly those related to the march of time. If you have contrast or color blindness issues, or if you wear bifocals, this article will ...

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Defensive handgun choices.

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Well, it appears my editor over at Personal Defense Network finally did some actual work! Rob Pincus wrote a great article about choosing a defensive handgun, and why you should look for certain characteristics.

I’m gratified to see the defensive shooting world coming to some of these same realizations. While there are some folks out there who are still stuck with outdated beliefs, like the .45ACP being the “ultimate” defensive cartridge despite the lack of corroborating objective data, ...

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Over-react much? Comical training responses to the Aurora theater attack.

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Over at the Schneier On Security blog, Bruce Schneier talks about the concept of risk in relation to the Aurora movie theater attack. I found his analysis interesting, inasmuch as gunnies everywhere are talking about how they’d respond to such an event — and how they’re changing their preparations, “just in case.”

Some of the blogs, Facebook posts, and some forum discussions I’ve seen in the wake of the Aurora shooting are almost comical. There are people who suggest ...

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Evidence in the Trayvon Martin case – and how it affects you.

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The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network (of which you should be a member) has published an interesting look at the Martin/Zimmerman case in their June newsletter. The Florida courts, as their law requires, released all of the evidence related to the case a couple of weeks ago. In his article, Marty Hayes looks at a portion of that released evidence and makes some observations which might be useful to those who carry a firearm ...

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An opportunity for a discussion: the short-barreled 1911 pistol sucks.

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Over the weekend Rob Pincus – never one to shy away from a firestorm (I was going to say another kind of storm, but this is a family-friendly blog) – posted a video on YouTube. In it, he details the failure of yet another compact 1911-pattern pistol and expresses his disdain for the breed in general.

The online response was immediate and predictable. Many people agreed with Rob, but a very vocal portion of the shooting ...

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