Good Questions

Some good questions to my security post of this morning, so let’s take a look:

  • I’m curious as to what you use as a training load equivalent?

I don’t for the higher powered 45 loads. How I address this, is nearly every pistol (as opposed to revolver) that I have is a S&W M&P: I have M&P40s, M&P9s, M&P45s, a Shield 380EZ, several Shield pluses, as well as Shields in 9mm, .380, .40S&W, and .45ACP. I also have a few Glock 19s and 19 clones, but I rarely shoot them and can’t remember ever carrying one.

Having the same models as carry pieces simplifies the manual of arms, makes repairs easy as they all look the same on the inside, and makes switching firearms and calibers smoother and easier. I know that full power loads don’t shoot the same, but it’s close enough for what I am doing here. I can still do A-zone shots quickly and effectively out to 15 or 20 yards with little effort, and that is all I am concerned with.

  • IDK if I’d go to a full size .45 tho, a single stack 9mm is very svelte, easy to carry, and similar capacity. A subcompact .40 a bit thicker, but smaller than the .45 and similar power/effect.
  • Open carry is legal in Florida on your own property. But wear a light cover garment anyway; they don’t need to know until it’s time for them to know, and you’re still “legal” if you step into the street.
  • It wouldn’t hurt to have a Glock 19-26 ish type pistol concealed appendix ish.

All handguns are a tradeoff. They have low power, not as much firepower as a long gun like an AR-10 or an AR-15, and not as much punch as say, a shotgun. We carry handguns because we aren’t sure whether or not we will need one, but it is useful to have one just in case. When I am at home, I have more freedom to carry a large handgun, hence the double stack .45.

One firearm on me at a time is all I need, especially when at home. All I need is something to bridge the gap that exists between me and a long gun. Remember, you carry a handgun in case you might be in a gun fight. If you KNOW you will be in a gun fight, endeavor to not be there. If that is impossible, bring a long gun, and bring a friend with a long gun, if possible.

When working on my property but outside, I just wear a baggy t-shirt and pull it over my OWB holster (a DeSantis Speed Scabbard that I used to use back when I was an IDPA competitor. A funny story about that below the divider)

When I am away from home, I avoid areas where I am likely to need a firearm, but just in case, I carry a pistol or revolver that is easy to carry and easy to conceal. Think a Smith and Wesson Shield, Shield plus, or J frame revolver. My EDC is usually a Shield plus (they hold 13 rounds of 9mm), or a J frame .38 loaded with wadcutters.

  • Have you made realistic plans for the “temporary” removal of your firearms after a “Good Shoot”?

I have caches of firearms. I have guns in safes. I’m not opening or revealing either to the cops.

I have a Tshirt that says “DeSantis, Concealment Perfected” on it that I bought some years ago. One of my wife’s coworkers saw me while I was wearing it out with her and some coworkers at an event. She told me that seeing DeSantis’ name on a shirt was a trigger for her because he was an evil fascist. I told her not to worry, that the shirt had absolutely nothing to do with the Governor, it was a brand of holsters that I liked carrying my pistols in, “and in fact I am carrying a handgun in one of their holsters now.”

She practically ran out of the venue and hasn’t spoken to my wife since. My wife says that she didn’t like the woman anyhow, but that saying what I said was hunting over bait, even if it was funny.

How Much Ammo?

Once you pick your flavor of ammo as we did earlier this week, how much of it should we have on hand? Some people say that the most handgun ammunition that you need on hand is 250 or 500 rounds. That’s ridiculous. I have more than that in any given caliber.

For starters, there are two types of ammo: range ammo and war shots. PewPew Tactical recommends 500 rounds as a starting point, with 150 of those rounds being war shots. I still think that’s low. So what do I consider to be a good amount of ammo?

For range ammo, I buy in bulk because it’s cheaper, meaning in 1,000 round cases. If I find a good deal, I snap it up. That’s how I scored 9mm FMJ for 15 cents a round back in January of 2020, when I got 2,000 rounds for $300. Of course, that was pre-COVID. Good luck getting 9mm at that price now.

For starters, .22lr comes in bricks of 500 rounds. I own a few .22 firearms, both pistols and rifles. You will seldom see me with less than a couple of thousand rounds of .22 lying about. Of course, there is really no such thing as a “war shot” with .22lr. A brick of .22 will cost you about $30 at today’s prices, making it the cheapest way to shoot. It’s also great for squirrels and rats. That’s why I keep a bunch on hand.

When it comes to range ammo, I try to stock a minimum of 500 rounds per caliber. For the high use calibers of 9mm and .45, I find that 1,000 rounds on hand is a minimum.

For defensive handguns, we need to consider war shots. For semi-autos, I try to keep a minimum of 500 war shots per handgun. For revolvers, 150 war shots per handgun. So if I have a pair of 9mm handguns, that’s 1,000 rounds.

When we get into 5.56mm and 7.62x51mm, we get into a whole different ballgame. For the AR, all I stock in 5.56mm is Green Tips. I don’t do different war shots and range ammo, because I want my war shots to perform identically to my range ammo. For that reason, I try to keep a minimum of 5,000 rounds on hand of 5.56mm.

Likewise for the 7.62x51mm, but my round count there is lower simply because it is more expensive and takes up more room. So I want my minimum there to be no less than 2,500 rounds. With the 7.62, I look for nothing but the 147 grain. That way, every round is similar in performance to every other round.

For shotguns, all I have are 12 gauges. I stock 250 defense rounds in buckshot and slug, and 250 rounds of #7 shot (for hunting).

Toss in a few smoke grenades and a couple of pepper grenades, and the fire marshal’s office will shit themselves if they ever find out about that stash.

So as you can see, that means a lot of ammo on hand. We are talking about more than 20,000 rounds of ammo. I didn’t get there by buying it all at once. I just buy ammo on a regular schedule, buy a case at a time when I do buy, and try to get more than I shoot. Eventually, you get a decent stockpile.

Mailbag: Magazine Questions

Oldvet50 asks:

How long can you safely store a loaded mag before the spring weakens and causes misfires?

The answer to that depends on the magazine manufacturer. Cheaper magazine manufacturers, especially ones with polymer feed lips, are more prone to failure. Not of the spring, but of the magazine itself. Scorpion had a well documented issue with that. It turns out that the factory Scorpion magazines would dry out when left in a dehumidified safe for long periods. That’s why the Scorpion PMAG is a better choice than the factory one.

With a quality magazine, the answer to that is decades. Magpul themselves claim that they have had magazines fully loaded for eight years, and they still function.

The damage is done by compression and decompression of the spring. The more cycles that a spring goes through, the more it weakens it. I wouldn’t worry, however. It takes thousands of cycles to wear out a spring. Still, I think of magazines as consumable items, which is why I have so many of them.

SmileyFtW asks:

Why the waste of space with the foam? Load the cans tight for maximum capacity I would think. Same stuff in one can; label the can and move on. If one can is to be an assortment, say so on the can and ID the contents so it is obvious to what each one is

That was actually what I was doing up until now. What I got was cans that either contained a bunch of different mags in the same can, or the can wasn’t full. Example. Let’s say that I have a bunch of Smith and Wesson magazines:

  • 12 magazines for a Shield 9mm
  • 8 magazines for a Shield 40S&W
  • 6 magazines for a Shield Plus
  • 30 magazines for an M&P9 9mm
  • 12 magazines for an M&P9C 9mm compact
  • 12 Magazines for an M&P40 .40S&W

That’s 80 magazines. They will likely fit into one caliber can, but they aren’t cross compatible. The worst part is that some will fit in the handgun, but not function. For example, an M&P9 magazine will fit in the M&P40, but you don’t want to attempt to fire it like that. So with this system, good luck finding the right magazine in a hurry.

Another reason for padding them is preventing damage. One of the biggest reasons for malfunctions in a quality handgun (that isn’t a 1911) is a damaged magazine. My carry guns are life saving equipment, as far as I am concerned. The number one quality that I need in a carry gun is reliability. I need to know that it will go ‘bang’ every time I squeeze the trigger. Since quality handgun magazines cost anywhere from $35 to $60 each, having 100 magazines is a significant investment. By padding my magazines, I am protecting them and my investment. I lower the chances of malfunction which will, at best cost me some range time and money replacing it, and at worst will cause a malfunction during a firefight.

That’s also why I number my magazines. I know which ones have malfunctions. Note that number 2 and 5 are both missing in this picture. It’s because they are currently loaded and ‘in use’ by one of my handguns.

It’s a simple numbering system. If it starts with a 9, it’s a magazine that will fit the S&W9. If it ends in a “c” it’s for the M&P9C. This makes sense in my mind, because the compact can accept the full sized mags (but not vice-versa). The magazine numbers that start with a ‘G’ are for the Glock 19. (That’s the only model of Glock that I have, thanks to Project Gaston)

A similar code works, with the M&PShield Plus mag numbers all starting with ‘P’, the 45 magazines starting with ’45’, etc. I have a spreadsheet* that I use to track magazines, ammo, firearms, and firearm spare parts.

*I also keep a list of spare parts on hand: springs, firing pins, sights, and other fiddly bits. That’s why I have so many M&Ps: common spares, and the best spare part is simply having a spare pistol. Not only that, but I also know how to detail strip and troubleshoot the M&P series very well, which simplifies repairs. The Glock is easy to do the same with, but I generally don’t like the way that the Glock fits my hand. I’m still learning all of the ins and outs of the AR system.

SB Tactical Gets Pwned

A company that makes pistol braces gets its customer database breached. There are four possibilities here:

  1. ATF was doing a little illegal sneak and peek so they know whose dogs to shoot
  2. ATF had one of their partner informants do it for them
  3. A freelance SJW is planning on outing everyone
  4. Criminals are just doing what they do

I am betting that the incident is either 2, above. Some lefty is going to anonymously notify the ATF that they have a list of lawbreaking owners of SBRs. Since the new rule outlawing unregistered pistol braces was published today, you have 120 days to register your (now) SBR or become a felon. Isn’t that a sweet little coincidence?

The miscreants got away with each user’s credit card number, expiration date, CCV code, cardholder name, address, phone number, and email address. If you have ever done business with SB tactical, you should consider all of that information as being compromised and in the possession of people who mean to steal your money, your life, or your freedom.

We know that the feds are now enlisting people in the private sector to do their unconstitutional dirty work. It can’t be too much longer before the informers are everywhere and people become vzyali.

On a side note, as of today I will no longer be in possession of a pistol brace equipped firearm. I am not registering shit.

Dry Firing

One of the people who comments here made the comment that no shooter should ever dry fire a firearm. I would say that if you are not making dry fire a part of your training regimen, you are missing out on an important training tool that will make your trigger control much better.

It isn’t just me who says that. The shooting instructors at the Sig Sauer academy recommend it:

“The key to shooting is manipulating that trigger to the rear without adding movement to that front sight,” says SIG SAUER Academy instructor Allison Glassick. “That’s the secret to shooting.”

For beginners, the blast and recoil of a live round often causes a natural human reaction to flinch or anticipate the shot which can disrupt their grip and trigger manipulation. But taking away those live fire distractions and working through some drills with an empty handgun can pay dividends when it’s time to head to the range.

“The bang inevitably will disrupt my senses and my ability to focus in on what’s important—that slow, deliberate process of pulling the trigger from front to rear while managing that sight alignment,” says SIG SAUER Academy instructor Justin Christopher. “The best possible way to train your body how to do this is without any bullets in the gun.”

Even the people at the US Concealed Carry Association recommend it, as long as it is done in a safe manner. When I dry fire, I make sure that there is no live ammunition in the same room. That way, you are less likely to have an ND (I learned that one the hard way- I once shot my dresser when dry firing) because you aren’t tempted to load and then pull a trigger on a loaded firearm. From the USCCA, dry fire safety rules:

1 No interruptions! Turn the ringer off the phone and make sure the front door is locked. If you are interrupted, start again from the beginning rather than picking up where you think you left off.

2 Unload your gun.

3 Check that the gun is unloaded. Use both your eyes and your fingertips. Lock the action open and then run your pinky into the empty chamber to be sure it’s really empty. If you have a revolver, run your finger across each hole in the cylinder. Count the empty holes to be sure you touched them all.

4 Remove all ammunition. Get it out of the room and out of sight. I even go so far as to lock the door to the room where the ammunition is kept so that it takes several deliberate steps to get the ammunition back together with the gun.

5 Choose a safe backstop. A backstop is anything that will reliably stop a bullet from the most powerful load that your gun is capable of firing. Never dry-fire without a solid backstop.

6 Place a target in front of your backstop. To avoid a “just one more” mishap, do not dry-fire directly at anything that will remain in the room. Use a target that will be taken down when you are done.

7 Double-check that the gun is still unloaded.

8 Mental shift to practice. Say to yourself, “This is practice. I have checked and double-checked the gun. Ammunition is not present. This is only practice.” Say it out loud, and if you find yourself wondering if it’s really true, go back and check again.

9 Dry fire. Ten to 15 minutes is as much dry-fire practice as most people can safely handle. If your mind begins to wander, stop immediately. That’s a sign that you are not paying attention to what you are doing — an important red flag.

10 Take the target down immediately — before leaving the room and before reloading the gun. Never leave the target up after you are done practicing. As you take the target down, say aloud, “Practice is over. No more dry fire. Practice is over.” This helps you make the important mental shift back to the real world and prevents the infamous “just one more” mishap.

11 Put your gun in the safe or if you are unwilling to lock your defense gun away for an hour or two, at least get yourself out of the practice room. Stay out of that area until your conditioning to pull the trigger there has been replaced by conscious thought.

12 Reload out loud. When do you reload the gun, say aloud, “This gun is loaded. It will fire if I pull the trigger. This gun is loaded.” Say it three times and say it out loud. This allows you to think, speak and hear that the gun is no longer in dry-fire condition.

If you want to do it on the cheap, balance a coin on your front sight. Pull the trigger without losing the coin. It’s a good way to learn to pull the trigger without moving your point of aim. Once you see the improvement, you can try a training system like MantisX.

Once you are proficient with dry fire from a prepared stance, you can advance to trying it while drawing.

In summary, dry fire is an important part of my firearms training. Maybe you should make it a part of yours.

It Gets Worse

On the Brevard county deputy ND homicide. He pointed the gun at the other deputy and pulled the trigger. When it didn’t go bang, he racked the slide and did it again. The second time he pulled the trigger, the pistol functioned as designed.

One thing that makes it worse is what the Sheriff got from the entire event:

he still believed the firearm was unloaded but should have known the magazine containing ammunition was possibly in the firearm by the weight of the gun,

Just like the Baldwin shooting, the shooter in this case deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I would also suggest that the entire Sheriff’s department be forced to undergo a 4 hour firearm safety refresher course. This incident is a sure sign that training is lacking and attention to firearm safety is not being taken seriously.


Yesterday was shotguns. Continuing the series on defensive firearms, we explore carbines. I’m going to use this definition for carbines as opposed to rifles: A carbine is a a compact, short-barreled rifle that has a barrel length of less than 20 inches.

Most self defense shootings happen at a range of less than 7 yards. For that reason, it’s my opinion that rifles are not effective as self defense weapons, because they are too long to be wielded in close quarters. However, if you were to tell me that I could only pick one firearm to own for all purposes for the remainder of my life, I would go with a carbine. They are the Swiss Army knives of firearms.

Carbines have rifle-level muzzle energy, good accuracy out to a hundred meters or more, and can be effectively used inside of a building or from inside of a vehicle. The most popular of all of these in the US today (by a fair margin) is the AR patterned carbine- the M4gery. Parts and accessories are widely available. You can still even roll your own with an 80 percent lower, and they are relatively easy to repair and maintain. Lightweight, low recoil versions in .223 or 5.56mm are handled well by both women and children. Ammunition is light enough that a large amount can be carried.

I build my ARs with a 1:8 twist rate. That way, the rifling is optimized for bullet weights of 55, 62, or 77 grains, giving me a fair amount of latitude on ammunition selection. If I am planning on using the AR mostly in close quarters, I mount a holographic sight on it, like an EOTech. Those are good sights out to 100 yards or so and are fast to use. If I am anticipating medium to long range work, then there are other options like an LPVO or ACOGs.

Another mention is what I referred to as my “skirmish rifle.” Using the definition of carbine from above, the rifle that I built to this spec is a carbine. It’s on an AR10 receiver and chambered for .308 with an 18 inch barrel. Weighing in at only 7.65 pounds without a scope, it is lighter than many of my AR15’s. It shoots like a dream with a LPVO scope on it, I am getting 3 inch groups at 100 yards. Not bad from an 18 inch barrel. The bonus is that, being .308, it will defeat most body armor, especially at close range.

I once owned an M-1 carbine. I am sorry I got rid of it, because it was fun to shoot.

I am going to also include my Scorpion EVO in this category, even though the ATF says it’s a pistol. Mostly because it shares with carbines the disadvantage of being too large to conceal. Pistol caliber carbines, even though they are less powerful than their rifle caliber brethren, share many of the attributes of other carbines. I regularly mount a suppressor on mine, and when firing it with subsonic ammunition like 147grain hollowpoints, it’s report is about as loud as dropping a large book on the floor. Sure, there is less power at those muzzle velocities, but I have the 32 round magazines for it, so I plan on making up for that with fast, accurate follow on hits. Three or four headshots with 147grain 9mm hollowpoints will do a number on a home invader.

Of course, the disadvantage to any long gun in a self defense situation is that it cannot be concealed and is difficult to carry everywhere. Still, if I had to be in a gunfight, I would not feel undergunned with a carbine and a couple of magazines.

These posts are not intended to be a complete discussion of all of the merits, but are intended to be food for thought. There aren’t enough pixels on the Internet to completely discuss every facet of every type of defensive firearm.


This began as a single post, but quickly became too long for one post. So let’s make it a series.

Yesterday’s post talked about stopping power and how it is a myth. Today I want to tackle the topic of what you should be using for self defense. Remember that a bullet is simply a means of transferring energy from gunpowder to target.

Lets start with shotguns.

Shotguns are a great self defense weapon for short to medium range, say 10 to 50 feet. They aren’t the cone of doom that many people think they are-the rule for shotgun patterning is that you usually get about 1 inch of spread for every yard from the target. So at 50 feet, you get a 16 inch pattern. In the distances involved inside of an average house, say 21 feet, you are looking at a pattern that is only about 7 inches.

In shotguns, the most effective self defense loads are not birdshot, as many people claim. The problem with lighter shot is that it frequently doesn’t penetrate. To me, the lightest shot that is suitable for self defense work is number four shot. So let’s take a look:

  • Number 4 buck has 20 grain pellets that are 0.24″ in diameter travelling at ~1300 feet per second.
  • #0 shot has 49 grain pellets that are 0.32″ in diameter and travelling at ~1200 feet per second.
  • #00 shot has 70 grain pellets that are 0.36″ in diameter and travelling at ~1100 feet per second.

My opinion, #0 buck is the best for home defense, especially when being fired from a 12ga with a 3″ chamber. Why?

Remember that our goal is to cause one of three things: a hit to the CNS, massive and rapid blood loss, or disabling shots. #0 buck offers enough penetration to reach vital organs, and 15 of them means having a high enough pellet count to punch lots of holes in the vascular system.

If you are going to consider slugs, I think that a rifle or a pistol caliber carbine is a better choice. We will talk about this in a later post.

The main disadvantages to shotguns are that they are long and difficult to work in tight spaces, and are not precise in the event that you need to shoot at targets that are located in close proximity to non-threats unless you are using slugs.

I prefer pump actions, but I can easily imagine the pure shock and awe of firing a semi-auto magazine fed 12 gauge. I will admit that I don’t own a mag fed semi-auto shotgun, but I have thought about it from time to time. Still, for home defense, a shotgun is a great choice for home defense, but I would not use a break open in that role. I would go with either a pump action or a semi-auto.

Where I tackle a sacred cow

Stopping power is a myth. There, I said it. Every time there is a shooting, some yahoo comes forward to talk about how this gun or that one would be better because stopping power…

It’s bullshit. There are only four ways to stop a determined attacker:

  • A catastrophic hit to the brain or spinal cord (CNS)
  • Lower his blood pressure to the point where his brain is incapable of operating
  • A ‘mission kill’ where his body is so damaged that it can’t continue the attack (for example: damage his pelvic girdle so an attacker armed with a melee weapon can’t close the distance)
  • Convince him that he is out of the fight

Hitting the brain or spinal cord will usually end an attack. A hit to the head that misses the brain will not work. I can think of seeing at least three shootings from my years as a street medic where a bullet hit a person in the head, but didn’t penetrate into the brain. One of them was a suicide attempt. A good example of a head hit NOT taking someone out of the fight is Navy SEAL Matt Axelson. He took a bullet to the head that left his brain matter exposed, yet continued the fight.

Punch enough holes in someone’s vasculature, and they will lose blood pressure to the point where the brain is no longer being supplied with oxygen, and the person is rendered unconscious. Even a lucky shot with a small caliber like a .32 is capable of doing this- say if it hits the aortic arch and causes a transection. Sometimes it takes several hits. I have seen people take multiple hits to the torso from a .223 and stay in the fight.

A mission kill is where you damage a person’s body severely enough that they physically can’t continue the fight. Say, a hit to the pelvic girdle preventing someone from chasing you down. An excellent example of this was Kyle Rittenhouse shooting Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm. The hit not only rendered that arm as incapable of firing shots, but also made it impossible for that arm to release the handgun it was holding.

Then there is simply convincing someone that they are done. This is a well documented phenomenon where a person will be shot, and the wound is far from incapacitating, but the person simply lies down and is out of the fight.

There are people out there, however that still insist in the magical properties of this caliber or that bullet. Bullets are simple tools. They are a tool that delivers the chemical energy stored in the gunpowder to the target in the form of kinetic energy. The force with which a bullet hits the target is equal to the force that’s directed back into the shooter. It’s one of Newton’s laws- every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Any bullet that has enough power to “knock down” the target will do the same to the shooter. It is at this point that many will point to Marshall and Sanow’s work, and I will admit that I was a follower and believer in this study when it first came out.

The Marshall and Sanow “study” was fatally and egregiously flawed. The most basic flaw was “selection bias” in that the study excluded any shooting where it took more than one shot to halt the attack. So if I have a situation where I shoot someone and he doesn’t go down, so I shoot him three more times before he does, that shooting would be excluded from the study, even though that shooting demonstrated a complete failure to stop the attack.

What a bullet does is simple: the chemical energy in the gunpowder is converted to kinetic energy that is transferred to the bullet. That energy is then transferred to whatever that bullet strikes. If the object struck is a person, then physiology takes over from physics there. The damage done is dictated by how much energy was transferred to the targeted person, and what body parts of that person where targeted.

So there are a couple of things that are important in stopping an attack: the amount of energy transferred, and what part of the body that it is transferred to. Suffice it to say, you want a bullet to have enough energy to damage the body system that it strikes, and that means you want it to penetrate far enough to transfer that energy into something physiologically important. You don’t want a bullet bouncing off of the grizzly’s skull or getting stuck in a denim jacket. It does not do any good if that happens. You also don’t want that bullet to over penetrate. What ever energy that bullet has left after passing through the target is useless in stopping the target from doing things that you don’t want them doing.

You also want to work on shot placement. Hitting a right handed shooter in the left arm isn’t going to do you a bit of good.

Buy yourself a gun that you can shoot well, then spend time practicing. Load it with some high quality defensive ammunition, make sure the firearm functions well with that ammo, then practice.

Why? Because you want to keep shooting until the attack is over. That means if you have to shoot him to slide lock to stop the attack, then shoot him to slide lock. Make sure that you can hit a person-sized target 100% of the time at 10 yards, rapid fire WHILE UNDER STRESS. Make sure that you can hit a person sized target 80 percent of the time at 20 yards while under stress. Sounds easy, but studies show that shooting to this level is rare while experiencing the stress of an actual gunfight.

If you do carry a handgun, use a .38/9mm or larger if you can. If you can’t carry something that large, carrying any firearm is better than not carrying one at all.

Put good quality defensive ammo in it. Don’t worry about finding the perfect latest and greatest ammo, but do get something that is modern as well as being accurate and reliable with your chosen firearm.

Practice. A lot. At least 100 rounds per quarter at a minimum. Shooting is a perishable skill. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

To all of you 10mm or .45ACP fans: If you really believe in stopping power, then provide the physics or physiological basis for stopping power. How does it work, what causes it, why do you think your caliber is different from all of the others?