There’s a number of things that get passed around about firearms, even among shooters, that bear some consideration. Some of them truly deserve their own articles, but meantime, here’s a few that I hear and see pretty regularly passed around on the range, in gun stores, on forums, and in articles and videos.
Brandishing A Gun Scares Off Bad Guys
I tend to brush off legalities of self-defense, because if I’m pulling a gun, it’s the potential of life or death anyway and I’m willing to face repercussions – as well as potential retribution attempts from the deceased’s family/friends/community.
However, for those who like the “flash it” theory of scaring off would-be thieves or possible assailants, do be aware that in some jurisdictions, it’s illegal. In some, without actual threat of violence predicating it, it’s considered assault with a deadly weapon.
As far as the sound of a pump gun or facing a gaping maw sending bad guys running in fear … don’t count on it.
Before we pull a gun, we need to be ready to use it. If it’s not worth killing or dying over – killing, because “shoot to wound” is another fallacy – that gun needs to stay in our holster, vehicle, closet, etc.
When we pull a gun, or even print or gesture a willingness to shoot, we have just escalated the level of violence.
This puts whoever we’re facing in a high-level threat situation. There are three responses to threats: Fight, Flight, & Freeze.
Only one of those three actually leads to a result we want if we’re trying to scare our bad guy into leaving.
Not myth. Not supposition. Not conjecture. Not projecting. For-real 100% documented solid fact: “Fight” is a common response when people feel threatened, whether they “deserve it” or not.
It’s why higher-level defensive shooting training actually includes retention and disarming tactics. It’s also why the upper-level daily gun-toting professionals spend so much time learning to de-escalate a situation, and avoid escalations in threat – even in the military.
There’s not really much statistical chance you actually land on the loaded cartridge in Russian Roulette. Most of us still wouldn’t risk it.
Don’t risk it by counting on a show of force dispelling trouble, either.
Pulling or intentionally drawing attention to a firearm should be a last resort.
It should never be done with the expectation that it will scare somebody away and that will be that, all done, no bloodshed or screaming today.
If you’re not willing to kill or be killed, and willing to expose family and bystanders to crossfire, right then, over whatever the (possible) offense is, leave it be.
(Same goes for loading a gun with rock salt, powder bombs, bean bags, blanks, rubber bullets/shot, etc. We have to be able and willing to back it up, or we need to leave it alone.)
Preppers Must Get A Battle Rifle … and, Soon/Early
Only if you’re planning to ride into battle. Even then, only if the most-likely scenarios are already covered.
For many, a defensive pistol is likely to be more practical and thus a higher priority. We’re more likely to have it on us, every day or End of Days, because it’s lighter, smaller, and easier to carry and work while carrying.
If it’s not on us when we need it, whatever we’re doing, wherever we are, we might as well spend the money and skills development elsewhere.
A shotgun is another practical option, every day or End of Days, for home defense, walking into the wilds if that’s the plan, urban combat, property defense, and a wide range of hunting possibilities even with a shorty designed for working corners and close quarters.
If we do feel like a battle rifle is a biggie, try to get one with the accuracy to cross purpose into hunting, whether it’s new high-speed poly or an old surplus we can hack and chop to 1/2 or 2/3 the weight.
Some of the hunting rifles (and surplus bolt guns) have reasonable conversions to detachable mags and extended mags, and can fill a lot of the battle rifle roles if we really want to go that road.
Women & Small People Should Get 20-gauge Shotguns
Not necessarily. A shotgun’s action type and weight, the specific model and even era/age of that model, and the shell(s) loaded are going to play equal or bigger roles in experienced recoil.
My 1960-1970’s and 2010 break-action 20-gauges feel the exact same as my 12-gauge 1931 Model 97 and 1980’s 870 and my nephew’s 2015 Maverick. My 12-gauge 1990’s-2000’s Nova shoots lighter than any of them for bird shot, but with goose, buck, or slug loads – big grrrr-girl or not – oh, ow.
I’ve played on other people’s much more expensive auto loaders 12-gauges that feel like total whispers even with those goose and buck loads and slugs, and others that are so light they go back to the “hell no” of the Nova and ’97.
The tradeoff in shell variety, pellets-per-shell, range, and sourcing easy-to-upgrade platforms outweighs the differences for most adults.
We can have stocks fitted with pads, weigh stocks with lead shot or fishing weights, and choose lower-recoil shells to reduce experienced recoil. There are some particularly slim, petite people who would still do better with a child’s model in 20-ga., but if it’s at all manageable, the 12-gauge is a better choice.
(This lady breaks down action selection really well here http://norcalcazadora.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-to-choose-shotgun-for-hunting.html, and is also a proponent of 12’s for women, which she details elsewhere.)
Revolvers Are Safer/Better For Self-Defense Carry Than Semi-autos
There’s numerous arguments to this theme.
One is that because you have to cock the hammer of a revolver, it’s less likely to be fired accidentally/prematurely – as opposed to “just” pulling the trigger for a pistol.
I assume the ones who propose such have never heard of double-action revolvers or considered the possibility of an exposed/external hammer being cocked by a scuffle or by clothing or hands in the draw phase.
(A gun is a gun is a gun and should be handled and treated with respect – if only two rules are followed, there would never be an accidental shooting.)
A second is that a revolver is faster/easier to deploy in self-defense because you have to work the slide of a semi-auto.
That threw me for a while. Turns out, it stems from an apparently not-uncommon resistance to holstering a pistol that is ready to fire. That’s a training and familiarity issue, and ignores the many CCW/W&C civilians, security guards, cops, and military who do it daily with no issues.
It also ignores the possibility of holstering a ready-to-use double-action revolver.
If you’re not ready (read: comfortable enough) to carry hot, you’re not ready to carry in public, period. Train to build the confidence in safe handling.
There’s also a few that stem from the likelihood of mechanical failures, particularly in cold weather.
Since Arctic Circle cops and military keep semi-autos working in some seriously gnarly conditions, we can pretty well write off the latter.
The former is, actually, more of a risk. The more moving parts something has, the more likely it is to have a failure in one of those parts.
On the other hand, if your firearm is (reasonably) clean, checked for wear – just like we should be checking springs and pins in our revolvers – and you’re using the usual ammo (1911s, .22LRs), you should be okay.
It’s only “more” of a risk, not “risky”. We also risk more driving to work in the fog and super bright days than “normal” days, and buying supermarket greens instead of growing our own.
*I in no way hate revolvers and think they actually have some specific better-best circumstances … just not safety or reliability vs. semis.
These are just a few of the most common and most persistent “truths” that get passed around.
One of my other absolute favorites is that modern revolvers should still sit on an empty chamber (there’s a safety bar to prevent dropping/slapping causing the hammer to send the firing pin forward). The newly spreading insistence that every gun should “fit” each shooter is another head-scratcher, given how many of us own a standard-stock 10/22s, served with fixed-stock rifles (and still do), and swap or inherited firearms that perform well.
I also love the apparent belief that at household distances shotguns never miss, and the near-on “one shot one kill” mental image so many ascribe to combat and defensive situations (versus police hit rates of <50% and the averages of 10 K to 250 K shots fired per each enemy KIA in various modern war eras and guerrilla actions).
There are plenty of others out there. I’d rather not get into the political-oriented idiocies or caliber debates, but if you have a favorite myth that involves ownership, use, and safety, feel free to throw it in the comments.
It won’t step on my toes at all – I’d far rather have mistruths dispelled than have them linger.
If you have a question about some truth that gets passed around about firearms, throw that in the ring, too. You are almost assuredly not the only one with that question.
And I promise you, bottom of my heart, from behind the counter and standing in front of classes, unless you start with “but I…” and get “Red Dawn” and “Call of Duty” in the same sentence, it is not even in the running for the most ridiculous legitimate question ever heard. Promise.
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