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Firearm: The Ultimate Tool for Home Defense

May 18, 2008
No hardware is as effective as a gun in securing your household. It has the reach, accuracy, and lethality in neutralizing an intruder or a group of intruders. Furthermore, it can be utilized either defensively or offensively, depending on the circumstances. Unlike passive devices such as alarms in which burglars or home invaders can leave the premise unscathed at their leisure, "active" deterrence such as impact, edge, and projectile weapons can force a perpetrator to leave in a hurry and out of harm's way. Whatever mystique and sensationalism Hollywood has portrayed guns in the minds of viewers, in reality they are just tools to accomplish certain tasks. Their effectiveness depend on the type of firearm, the skill of the user, and the surrounding area.

The sheer variety of guns in today's market can certainly overwhelm a novice would-be buyer. The home dweller must choose the right weapon since the parameter is confined to defending the household. A pistol instead of a rifle or shotgun is more appropriate in smaller or cramped dwellings. Moreover, a short gun is harder to grab and affords the defender a one-handed grip of the weapon, freeing the other hand to do other tasks such as opening doors, moving furniture, or controlling an assailant.

Also, a handgun is more maneuverable and faster to deploy than wielding a long gun. Heed to this lesson of survival as experienced by Israeli commandos during the Yom Kippur War when they successfully raided Egyptian posts. Using the element of surprise and wielding the famous Uzi submachine gun, the commandos overran the Egyptian regulars carrying the standard AK-47 rifle. Although the Uzi fired a smaller caliber bullet than the AK, it is more compact and lighter, making it a faster weapon to aim and fire. Whoever shoots first and hits gets to live another day to fight. Additionally, a pistol is stealthier, less easily spotted, when the defender rounds corners of walls. This tactic is called "slicing the pie" in law enforcement terms.

Numerous gun magazine articles have been published in regard to which pistol is "better," the revolver or semiautomatic handgun. In my humble opinion after years of firing both types, either one is appropriate depending on what you use it for. A revolver is more than adequate for home defense since it is simpler to operate, easier to clean, more reliable, and requires less maintenance. Although the cylinder might only hold 5 or 6 rounds usually, FBI studies indicate in most gun battles, combatants shoot a total of 2 to 4 rounds at a distance between 5 to 10 feet apart. Besides, speed loaders are commercially available if you need to reload your revolver quickly.

One such revolver that is close to ideal is the Ruger SP101 in stainless steel with a 3 inch barrel. Ruger revolvers are designed to be more rugged than their comparable Smith & Wesson revolvers. Fitted with a Hogue grip, the SP101 handles more solidly. Its weight helps in handling the recoil of a .38 caliber bullet, even with the +P and +P+ types. Furthermore, its size can accommodate both male and female shooters. I feel more confident in shooting a target more accurately with my Ruger SP101 stainless steel revolver with a 2.25 barrel than my Smith & Wesson stainless steel Airweight with a 2 inch barrel.

Semiautomatics, on the other hand, look flashier and possess more firepower in their magazines, from 7 to as much as 30 bullets. However, they require more skill to shoot, need more maintenance, have more moving parts to strip and clean, and are more prone to malfunction. Most malfunctions come in the form of jams, mainly either "stove pipe" or "double feed." Although, most major brands of semi autos such as Sig Sauer, HK, Glock, and Beretta are ultra reliable, as long as you feed them good quality ammunition, and easy to disassemble. If you own or plan to own a semiautomatic, make sure that you practice enough to be proficient in its use and maintenance.

Not one type of handgun dominates the other. Choosing the "right" pistol depends on your preference, its feel, balance, handling, and shootability.

Another topic of concern regarding handguns is the minimal caliber necessary to neutralize an assailant. Volumes of articles have been written about this subject area. We are talking about an average citizen defending the household, not a trained covert assassin or a field operative. Field agents from Mossad are trained to covertly assassinate their targets with a silenced .22 or .25 caliber pistol, which are way underpowered in the hands of an average citizen.

According to gun experts, the minimal "stopping power" of a handgun should be in the .38 caliber and 9mm range. One shot from these calibers in the mass center mass area would be able to stop a perpetrator a little above 80% of the time. The effectiveness of these bullets can be enhanced by having hollow points which they expand upon impact, thereby creating a bigger wound channel and increasing the traumatic effect to the body.

Of course, the bigger caliber handgun you can handle, such as the .45 ACP, .45 Colt, and .44 caliber, the stopping power of your gun increases. The Sig Sauer P220 is a prime example of a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol with sufficient stopping power, smooth recoil, even balance, and proper handling. Be careful when handling magnum rounds such as the .357 and .44 magnums since they tend to over penetrate the human body and solid barriers; so, always look beyond the target since your bullets might hit innocent bystanders.

The only time a firearm can be termed deadly is when it is in the hands of a master gun fighter. This is analogous to a sword in the hands of an expert Samurai warrior. I again emphasize that both of these weapons are just tools of the trade that can be wielded with deadly efficiency when expertly handled. As my well respected and liked former defensive tactics instructor bore into my head and the heads of my fellow recruits about 2 decades ago, "practice is the mother of perfection." No amount of practice is enough to achieve perfection in modern combat shooting or any martial art for that matter.

There is a big difference between target shooting and combat shooting. Also, conventional techniques in combat shooting might not be sufficient in neutralizing today's bad guys since some are better armed than regular police officers, wear body armor, and display sophisticated team tactics.

Miyamoto Musashi, one of Japan's greatest swordsman in the 16th century, developed the "School of Two Swords" in which he wielded 2 swords, unheard of at the time, to annihilate about a dozen opponents in a challenge using the element of surprise, strength, speed, and superior techniques. The same principle can be applied to combat hand gunning in which the practitioner draws 2 weapons simultaneously to shoot multiple targets. Furthermore, being able to shoot on target with either hand in different positions and angles while moving tactically to avoid incoming fire will greatly enhance your survival when encountering a real armed threat. This is way different than shooting at a solitary and static target using a two-handed grip and standing in a Weaver or triangular stance.

Additionally, point shooting as compared to aimed fire is, in my opinion, a more sound technique. This skill is achieved when the shooter is able to look at the target and point the gun at that target without aiming with gun sights, hitting the target at a specific location. This is advantageous since you are looking at the threat with a wider angle, using your peripheral vision at its maximum to spot any other threats and thereby eliminating "tunnel vision." In summary, you will have better feel of your hostile environment. Cutting down reaction time in fractions of a second is another advantage by acquiring and hitting the target first, eliminating the time needed to line up your sights.

Any form of combat is fluid and dynamic; so, dominance in the playing field of life and death can only be achieved through aggressiveness and ferocity.

Using the surrounding area to your advantage is a tactical plus. A home dweller knows the layout of the structure; so, that person can readily use "cover and concealment" in confronting a home invader. Cover means getting behind a barrier rigid enough, such as a concrete or stone wall, to stop or deflect bullets. Concealment is defined as being hidden and not seen by the perpetrator. Applying both principles significantly tips the balance of survival against a criminal who is usually unfamiliar with the territory.

Whether you decide to lie in wait at a defensible location or stalk whoever is breaking in to your home, utilize the techniques of stealth by breathing and moving silently, minimize body movements by shifting your eyes instead of your head, and melt in the shadows. Be the predator instead of the prey. An excellent preparedness program is to play scenarios in your mind on how many ways a criminal can violate your household and how to deal with them accordingly. After the mental part comes the physical portion of the preparedness drills by practicing those scenarios. So, when a real incident occurs, you are able to handle almost any situation.

Successfully defending your "castle" requires an offensive or combative mindset since your life and the lives of your loved ones will depend on it.
About the Author
A conservative American with a background in law enforcement, martial arts, engineering, and information systems. An array of self-defense devices, child and home protection, and surveillance equipment are available at www.striker701.com .
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