Use-of-Force Myths: how many of these do you believe?

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The archives over at Force Science News continue to fascinate. Issue #68 deals with several myths about the use of deadly force, myths that a large percentage of the population (regardless of their level of firearms knowledge) believe. The whole article is interesting, but it’s the first myth – that of the Demonstrative Bullet – that is most immediately useful.

The article discusses the myth from the standpoint of those who judge an incident after ...

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Can you make good lethal force decisions – and would your peers agree?

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The March issue of Force Science News contained a very interesting article about how police and private citizens differ in their views of “justified” shootings.

While some may see the article as having application to law enforcement only, they would be wrong – it is well worth reading because it deals with differences in perception of a critical incident, differences which are not necessarily “cops vs. civilians” but more like “trained vs. untrained.”

Private citizens are both more critical ...

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Yes, I’m repeating myself: women are people, too. How about the people in the gun industry treat them like they are?

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I’ve written about this before, but it’s getting worse. All across this country are people standing behind gun counters who need to be taught that women are people, too.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve run into a woman who was sold (as opposed to deciding to buy) a revolver for self defense. Now it should be pretty clear to even the densest web denizen that this ...

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Guns are not magic wands, and yours won’t always scare the bad guy off.

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There is a perception amongst a large percentage of the gun-toting public that guns are magic wands: one shot and the bad guy flies backward, landing in an unconscious heap at the bottom of a wall or tree.

Think I’m exaggerating? Spend a few minutes at a gun counter sometime. Random samples would tend to support the supposition that the majority of people carrying guns get their information from Hollywood, not Paulden.

This incident from east ...

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Illustrating the concept of energy dump in defensive ammunition. Or not.

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A reader sent me this link to an old Richard Davis “Second Chance” video. The video has Davis shooting a fellow – who is wearing one of Davis’ vests, of course – with a .308 rifle and himself with a .44 magnum revolver. The reader’s comment was “if this doesn’t show an energy dump, I don’t know what it shows.”

I agree. With the second part of the statement, at least. Going back to our Continue Reading →

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The “Holster of the Week” Club and negative outcomes.

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Last week I promised a story. I heard this from “the horse’s mouth”, and if you knew this particular horse the story would not surprise you…

Anyhow, I happen to know a fellow (I’ll call him “Ted”) who, back in the ’70s, was a Detective in a very large eastern police department. He had just been promoted from patrol, which meant that for the first time in his career he got to dress in plainclothes.

Ted and his more experienced partner were ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 9

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Stick with what works.

You’ve all heard of the “Gun of the Week” club, right? That’s the term used to describe an “enthusiast”, the guy (gals are too smart to engage in such nonsense) who carries or competes with a different gun every time he goes out. (Closely related is the “Holster of the Week” club. I’ll post an amusing story about that, soon.)

There is also the “Bullet of the Week” club. Some folks read the gun magazines assiduously, loading up ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 8

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“So, smarty pants – what the best self-defense caliber?”

I receive many emails asking, in essence, what the “best” self-defense caliber might be. (Those emails, in fact, have served as the motivation behind this series.) The correspondents are probably expecting sage advice, the wisdom of years, a sort of Ballistic Oracle. What they get is a non-committal “it depends!”

If you take nothing else from this series, take this: there is no such thing as “best” – there is only “suitability for ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 7

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There Is No Such Thing as a Magic Bullet

What does that mean, you ask?

One of the last bastions of the snake oil salesman is in the field of ammunition promotion. Claims that would make Professor Harold Hill blush are the norm, and are repeated in gunstores, shooting ranges, and deer camps across the country. They sometimes even make their way into magazines and the internet – though the latter’s instant exchange of information has helped to quell the worst of ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 6

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“What would I want with a reputation? That’s a good way to get yourself killed!”

– Jason McCullough, as played by James Garner, in “Support Your Local Sheriff” (my favorite movie of all time!)

What about “reputation”? Some cartridges or loadings have reputations for better effectiveness than others. Sometimes that’s valid, but other times it may not be.

Let’s take the mighty .357 Magnum, one of my favorite cartridges. The 125 grain semi-jacketed hollowpoint loads have the reputation of being superbly effective; ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 5

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More energy can be a good thing – as long as it actually does something useful.

Last time we discussed the concept of the hollowpoint as a way to increase the frontal diameter of the bullet in the target. I also introduced the idea that it takes energy to expand the bullet, energy that is also needed to push the projectile into something that it needs to reach.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If we want the bullet ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 4

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The bullet is more important than the caliber.

We know that our bullet needs to do damage to whatever important thing it manages to find. How, exactly, is that going to occur? It just so happens that most animal tissue (including that of the violent felon who has just attacked you) is remarkably elastic, and consequently difficult to damage. Most tissues have a tendency to “close up” around puncture wounds, in the same way that they close up after a hypodermic ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 3

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Once it gets there, it has to do work.

In today’s installment, we’re going to look at the second of the Twin Tasks:

2) The bullet has to do rapid and significant damage to that thing when it arrives.

It may not be self evident, but kinetic (moving) energy is either used or conserved (stored.) In the case of a bullet, it starts being used simply by fighting the friction caused by traveling through the air. Unless it encounters a target, the bullet ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 2

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If it doesn’t get somewhere, it can’t do something.

OK, so we know about the Twin Tasks, the two things that a bullet has to do in order to stop an attacker:

1) It has to get to something the body finds immediately important, and
2) It has to do rapid and significant damage to that thing when it arrives.

Today we’ll be taking a look at Task #1: getting to something important.

Let’s start by pointing out that the user of the bullet ...

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Self defense, stopping power, and caliber: Part 1 of a series.

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I’ve gotten a bunch of emails recently regarding the choice of an appropriate self-defense handgun caliber and/or bullet. Around this one topic swirls more misinformation – and outright inanity – than any other I can think of. And now, here’s mine!

What follows is a layman’s understanding, backed by research of available literature and years of hunting and shooting experience, of the practical mechanics of wound ballistics. It is not intended to be a complete and exhaustive study of the subject. ...

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A different (and old) approach to the backup revolver.

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A gentleman wrote in asking about small backup revolvers – that is, a revolver to carry as a backup to a primary revolver.

I know that many people carry their primary gun on their hip, with a lightweight (aluminum, titanium, scandium) wheelgun in an ankle holster, and I know a couple of folks who carry a S&W “J” frame in a front pants pocket as a second gun.

This is not what the writer had in mind, though. He was thinking of ...

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The case for the double action only revolver.

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I endorse the practice of rendering defensive revolvers double action only (DAO.) Many people ask why, and I thought I’d give you my thoughts on the matter.

Let’s start with the usual argument for retaining single action capability, which I call the “Walter Mitty scenario”: the mythical need for making precise long range head shots. Let’s face it, folks – this just never happens in real life!

However, let’s say that you’re having a Jack Bauer kind of day ...

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Yes, there are people who still think warning shots are a good idea. Don’t be one of them.

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Xavier Thoughts chronicles the story of an elderly gentleman who, using his gun, confronted a burglar in his home. The outcome was that the perp got sent to jail. Great, right? Well, maybe not. This may get ugly when the inevitable civil suit is filed.

You see, the perp was injured because the homeowner fired an unaimed “warning shot” which fragmented and struck the intruder. As if that wasn’t bad enough in these litigious times, the gentleman couldn’t ...

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