Picking a Self-Defense Weapon
Back when I was deciding upon what weapon to carry as my standard sidearm I did my research, I looked into revolvers, versus semi-automatic pistols, versus single/double-shot pistols. I looked into pepper spray, batons, and tasers.
Ultimately, with the help of my brother (a deputy with Salt Lake County Sherriff’s Department), I decided upon a semi-automatic pistol.
Deciding whether to open- or concealed-carry
Next, I had to decide whether to open-carry or concealed-carry. Open-carry was certainly easier, and not-illegal except in certain areas, but I’d get a lot of strange looks. Getting a Concealed Firearm Permit would make things easier: I could open-carry if I wanted to (even in some of those “off-limits” places like within 500-feet of a school), or carry with my firearm concealed, and I could do either fully-loaded rather than “legally unloaded” without a permit.
What caliber should I carry?
My next decision was “what caliber should I carry?” Again, my brother helped out. Being a many-year veteran of the force, I asked what he carried. His choice of sidearm isn’t dictated by the department (as some police departments do), so he picked a .45 Sig Sauer. Why? “Because you can’t get a handgun in .50!” (Today you can, but not back then.) I asked him to explain, he showed me his LEO textbook, specifically a page that showed a “perp” that, at autopsy, had 40+ 9mm rounds and 3 shotgun-blasts before he was “no longer a threat.”
The problem with criminals, he said, is so often they’re on drugs (as this guy was), or insane, or drunk, and they just keep coming and coming. What you want to do is to render them “no longer a threat” in as few shots as possible.
His advice, in “a perfect world,” would be to carry a “short barreled” (aka “sawed-off”) shotgun with a pistol grip. That’s not legal, however, so law abiding citizens are forced to pick a less effective self-defense weapon, whereas criminals can use it because they (by definition) don’t abide by the law. So, a pistol is the next-best thing.
The best way to “knock them down” with a pistol is with a large caliber slug. A .45 slug will “hit you like a sledge hammer,” it only takes a couple of those to drop someone even if they are on drugs.
Well, that certainly makes sense. I don’t want to kill anyone (in fact, the thought of even killing animals for food makes me sick to my stomach), so if that dreadful day ever comes where I am forced to defend the life of myself or my family, I want to do it with as few shots as is necessary. Factor in that in a shoot-out only a small percentage of fired rounds actually hit their mark, you want to ensure that each round that hits its mark has as much stopping power as possible.
The trade-off with large caliber handguns is the recoil. This affects accuracy and next-shot target acquisition time. The larger the recoil, the more control you must be able to exert.
What make/model firearm should I carry?
This one is easy: the one that you feel most comfortable with. Your choice should be a reliable, quality-made tool.
You should be able to hit a target with a tight cluster from 5 yards (or more), and be able to do so as quickly as possible, and as reliably as possible. If you’re going to conceal, it should be easy and “comfortable” to do so.
Other than those considerations, the sky is the limit. I picked a Glock Model 30, a sub-compact .45 with a capacity of 10+1 (or 9+1 if you use their shorter magazine). It’s a bit thick (the rounds are double-stacked in the magazine), but it’s not too thick to be able to easily conceal.
Of course you want to pick a good holster to carry it in as well.
Is a Glock Safe to Carry?
The question that I kept running into everywhere was “is a Glock safe to carry?” What? Why wouldn’t it be? The hesitation has been basically: “because they don’t have safeties.”
It’s a myth that Glock’s don’t have safeties — they have three:
- A drop safety (the pistol can physically NEVER go off simply by being dropped),
- a firing pin safety (physically blocks the firing pin from entering the firing pin chamber), and
- the trigger safety (the trigger cannot be pulled unless you first press the trigger safety).
The misconception is that since there is no “traditional” safety, that the firearm must be less safe. That’s not true. It’s one of the safest guns on the market (in my opinion). To disengage the Glock’s safeties, all one has to do is squeeze the trigger. That’s the way a gun is supposed to work, isn’t it?
The USCCA has this to say on the matter:
If you think about it- hundreds of thousands of cops carry GLOCK pistols… hundreds of thousands of citizens carry GLOCK pistols- and I have never heard of someone having their GLOCK pistol fire when they didn’t specifically pull the trigger.
The bottom line is this: If you want a GLOCK to go off- all you have to do is press the trigger. If you don’t want a GLOCK pistol to go off- all you have to do is don’t press the trigger.
The Glock website concurs with this sentiment:
Every use of a firearm exposes users to tremendous psychological strain. Learned patterns are easily forgotten in such borderline situations, and complex operating elements become a deadly trap.
GLOCK offers the best solution to this problem: “Safe Action”! One operating element – one rule. Finger away from the trigger, three pistol safeties are active. Pull the trigger, the safeties are deactivated and the pistol is fired.
Consequently the user can fully concentrate on his tactical tasks in the decisive moment.
That said, I’ve been successfully (and safely) carrying my Glock (open or concealed) for almost 10 years without incident. I’ve dropped it once with a round in the chamber, it did what it was supposed to and didn’t discharge.
While you’re here…
In these trying political and economic times, we need to rely on each other more than ever. If you aren’t already a USCCA member, won’t you consider joining?
If you are a member- that is awesome. I salute you, and over 20,000 fellow gun toting Americans and USCCA members salute you as well.
Learn more about a USCCA membership here.