Monday, January 13, 2014

Basic Firearms for Individuals

I've written my thoughts on what sort of firearms a household should have before, and covered my ideas about good choices at different price points in a defensive firearm.  After a range visit with an experienced shooter and a relatively new shooter today, I wanted to offer suggestions about ideal firearm options each person should have.

Rather than dive right in to the firearms, I'll first talk about capability.  What capability should people have?  If we first identify the capability it will be easier to select good choices.  In my mind, each able bodied person should have:
- A firearm suitable for concealed carry
- A firearm suitable for frequent practice
- A firearm suitable for home defense against multiple attackers

That's the basics.  Depending on your situation there may be other capability you want to include.  If you live on some acreage you may also want to include a precision rifle in that list.  If you live in an area where you can open carry then a service pistol would be a good choice in place of or in addition to a concealed carry firearm.  Notice I didn't list a hunting firearm.  Hunting is a hobby, and in a pinch other firearms can be used for effective hunting of small and large game.  So what sort of guns will meet the above capability?

The concealed carry gun is easy- this is going to be a handgun.  This is the firearm you will use the most.  You may not shoot it the most, but it's the gun you'll have on you more than any other.  Selecting something of good quality is important.  Even if you think the US is in decline and there will be roving bandits in the street you will need to defend yourself from, having a concealed firearm is a good idea.  I mean, if there are roving bandits you probably want something else too, but you'll still want a quality concealable firearm.

What exactly this firearm is depends on you- your build, your training, your budget, even your climate.  Personally I have a few choices for concealed carry based on the season.  If I'm running about in shorts and no shirt my options are not as varied as when I'm wearing two or three layers and a jacket.  There are lots of places to find advice on what the right concealed carry gun is, including this blog, so I won't go into that here.

Next we have a firearm suitable for frequent practice.  For most people this will be a 22.  Sure, if you are extra wealthy or a competition shooter you'll burn through a thousand rounds or more of centerfire pistol  each month.  For the rest of us that have a more limited budget and a 22 allows you to greatly increase the time you can spend practicing for your dollar.  As well, if you are a new shooter, it will allow you to hone your skills without picking up bad habits.

Practice is important.  Shooting handguns is a skill and an exercise.  You need to put in the time to develop the skill and then practice frequently enough to maintain your form.  I often liken it to skating or yoga or golf.  You can take the time to learn what you need to do and get pretty good, but if you then only do it twice a year the results aren't going to be very satisfactory.   22's rock for keeping in good shooting shape.

Lastly you should have a gun that is suitable for the worst day of your life, a day when you have to defend yourself or your family from attackers.  Hopefully you will never have this day, but if you are unlucky enough to experience it, having the right tool and training is the difference between life and death.  It's a very serious concept.  Today it's quite unlikely you would need to do this, but the risk of not being prepared is quite grave.

If you read this blog you know I'm an advocate of rifles for home defense, particularly pistol caliber carbines or intermediate power rifles.  They are enough gun for the job and will actually do a better job not overpenetrating than most centerfire handguns or shotguns.  An AR-15 with the right ammo penetrates fewer interior walls than most centerfire handgun rounds and shotgun slugs or buckshot, plus it's more likely to stop your attackers from continuing their attack.

Finding the right rifle for this purpose is dependent on your build, training and budget.  Something short and light is often better.  Something that you are comfortable using is key.  Something you can attach a light to is quite handy.  There are lots of resources on what to look for in a defensive rifle, you should do research and try out some different options.

Once you have the basics covered it's reasonable to branch out.  Shotguns can be very useful for certain applications but are generally niche tools.  The same applies for long range precision rifles.  They are very useful for their application, but their application is not as wide ranging as a defensive rifle.

Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.  Stay safe out there!

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