I'd decided that the so-called "AR pistol" was a "never happen" for me. Then, after some consideration, the absolute seemed to vanish. The sample in the photo was too heavy, but a lighter gun could be an asset in a personal defense plan.
I've noticed an abundance of 'absolutes' recently – largely in social media, though some in personal conversations. 'Absolutes' are flat statements of fact, meant to apply 100% of the time. In terms of the self-defense/tactical shooting venues, we've had "facts" stated from the earliest time I can remember. Many, if not all, have had exceptions.
The only real absolute it seems is the existence of variables.
The one to consider is training: you absolutely must
be trained or you're going to lose the fight. Aside from the fact that it ought to be true, the data simply don't support the position. As far back as there being maybe 16 states with some form of permitted concealed carry – nearly all of those being of the "arbitrary denial" type (thanks, Stephen Wenger), we still had cops and most of the cops were loath to carry a gun off-duty. Most existed in the state of "it'll never happen to me" even on the job. Agencies seldom did more than have people qualify on "some mickey-mouse accuracy test" (h/t to Clive Shepherd). In spite of a lack of what we'd call 'real training,' cops were winning overwhelmingly when they had any chance at all. Still, the "it'll never happen to me" virus was around.
"1911 pistols are unreliable." Ask yourself, compared to what? Understand what you're doing with the gun, what its role is and your skill at maintaining the piece are all additional considerations.
I remember a case in the late 1970s when we had an officer reporting he'd been shot at. That was a big deal in our little town and the officers thereabouts seemed to get tense. I saw a veteran of many years show up the first day after the event. His normal carry gear was a four-inch Colt Python backed by a double dump pouch (a leather affair that, if you broke the snap, six rounds were supposed to fall out in your hand so you could reload the cylinder). Seldom did all the rounds come out and, it seemed, people would drop one or two rounds fumbling around – and that was on the range).
This day I first noticed a pair of HKS speedloaders in a pouch on his belt – I knew he'd had them but never had used them before. And, for the first time since I'd know him, he was wearing armor.
This guy was no coward either. I'd seen him walk into a room in the hospital after a man armed with a shotgun. He talked the guy out. Say what you will, but I have a lot of respect for the old boy.
Soon after, we determined that it was a bogus shooting and the body armor went away.
"It'll never happen to me."
"Revolvers are obsolete and no good for defense." For some people, they remain a top choice. For someone who works at shooting skill, they can be an asset in learning trigger control. Their day has not yet passed.
Cops tended to show up at qualification but didn't pick up their primers or have the shift loaders load ammo for them (We got a thousand primers a year. The outfit supplied the Star reloader, a loader operator on each shift. You provided the slugs and brass and the powder was gratis.) I'd happily trade guys out of their primers and got to be one of the loader operators, loading 3,000 or so rounds a year just at the department in addition to what I loaded at home.
Still, those cops tended to win fights against some pretty nasty characters. Same with armed citizens – people who'd bought a pistol, fired six rounds and dropped the gun in a sock drawer seemed to do well against violent felons – when they could get to the gun.
The data may change over time, but it seems the armed citizen seems to win over violent criminal offenders overwhelmingly. Now that the no-longer federally sanctioned War on Terror has come home to roost, it may not work out that way in future. We'll see.
Next on the list is the type of gun or make of gun that gets the absolute statement of fact, the real truth: "If it's not X
, you'll die." Yeah, okay. That's kind of like the "cheap, easily concealed handgun is no good, a widow-maker, etc." You'll find that it's (1) being aware there's a serious problem, (2) willingness to deal with that problem and (3) having a tool to assist in the process that makes all the difference.
Yeah, that 1911-pattern pistol won't work over a 300-1,000 round class (until it does, which seems to happen). As Ken Hackathorn pointed out in an interview, that data set is irrelevant anyway – he carries 22 rounds of .45 with a 1911. It has
to work for that many rounds, after which it becomes an impact weapon. It was the same with "Glocks just blow up," "M&Ps are no good," and other such silliness.
Sure, you should buy and use a gun you can maintain and keep to factory specifications. The 1911 isn't for everyone no more than a traditional double action or a striker fired gun or a revolver. Here's the deal: you find your place and make it work. It could be that a real service style handgun with a high round count service life could be your thing. It may not for whatever reason.
Same with caliber. If I had a nickel for every time the caliber nonsense arose, I'd kick Warren Buffett out of his old Nebraska home and turn it into a museum. The round has to work – reliably fire, extract/eject, reset the firing device, feed up and lock into place. After that, it needs to predictably hit to the sights. Penetration is good too. Expansion? That's angels dancing upon the heads of pins.
I don't care about 9mm vs. .45, .38 vs. 9mm or any of that. It lacks relevance in the real world.
It is critical to have the right size ammo for the gun you carry. That makes a difference.
Revolvers aren't relevant to self-defense? Yes, that's another absolute. They aren't until they are and that's when they're employed. We all know that capacity is limited and if you get a stoppage with a wheel gun that is not related to simply running out of ammo, you're in serious trouble. I carry a revolver nearly every single day – as it backs up another gun, a compact version of a service pistol. Even the service pistol can break, quit running or get taken from me.
Simply stated, when someone rattles off a statement of absolutes, think critically. Don't just buy it because it's a strong statement. Strong statements sound good, but they are often shaky and don't respond well to being pushed.
-- Rich Grassi