Random thoughts from flyover country

Thursday, October 30

For those who have decided they want a gun, what should they get ?

On Michelle Malkin's blog yesterday, a poster was asking for recommendations on a handgun. I recommended a medium-frame 3 or 4 inch barreled revolver chambered for a .38 Special or .357 Magnum cartridge. In these days of high-capacity 9mm and .40 S&W semiautomatics and "pocket rockets," to use one of the gun control crowd's favorite terms, why in the world would I suggest something that would have been at home in a police officer's holster in the 1970s?

Let's make some assumptions:

1. The handgun must be usable for a man, a woman, or even an adolescent. The person asking for a recommendation was female, but it's really immaterial. Another family member might need to be able to use it.

2. The handgun must not be punishing to shoot. If it hurts to shoot, the users will not practice with it and thus will not develop the skill necessary to use it effectively.

3. The handgun must be reasonably effective in stopping a threat.

How does the old "police revolver" stack up?

1. A revolver is simple to operate. You aim the gun at the target, pull the trigger, and it goes bang. You can see if it's loaded by looking at it, and you can load or unload it quickly and easily. There is no slide to pull back to load or clear the chamber, and you can't forget to drop the magazine.

2. With a .38 Special steel-frame revolver recoil, even with good defensive ammunition, is not a problem for most folks. On the other hand, a .357 Magnum steel-frame revolver can be a handful with full-house magnum ammunition with heavy recoil and muzzle blast/flash. I'd recommend starting with lower pressure .38 Special ammunition and moving up to more powerful ammunition until you reach your recoil/blast/flash tolerance. I'd recommend practicing with lower-power ammunition and saving your defensive ammunition for the piece de resistance of your practice sessions.

3. As far as "stopping power" goes, no handgun is a "death ray." However, the .357 Magnum handgun loaded with 125 jacketed hollow point (JHP) full-power ammunition is the standard by which all others are measured. Using lower-powered ammo reduces stopping power, but may increase accuracy, and bullet placement is one of the top three things that determine effectiveness, given a minimum power level. The other two are placement and placement. There is nothing wrong with the effectiveness of any .38 Special defensive load, so my recommendation will provide an adequate level of protection provided you practice enough to establish competency and accuracy.

I'm going to wind this up with a short discussion of bullet types that I consider effective enough for defensive ammunition. You want either a lead semi-wadcutter hollow point of 158 grains in weight or a jacketed hollow point in 110 grains to 135 grains for the .38 Special. For the .357 Magnum, you want a 110 to 125 grain JHP. I'll get more detailed with specific recommendations for ammunition in a follow-on post.

Finally, if you aren't familiar with firearms, or especially if you aren't familiar with handguns, I'd recommend getting training from a competent instructor.


Tuesday, October 14

In the event of riots...

...what will you do?

I know, you're all wondering why I'm bringing up something that seems so far away timewise. It's been years since the "Days of Rage" in Chicago, the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the riots that followed the California state court acquittals of the police officers accused of using excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King. What could I possibly be thinking, right?

Two scenarios:

1. Senator Obama loses the Presidential Election. His supporters, enraged by a perception that the election was "stolen," riot.

2. Senator Obama wins the Presidential Election. His supporters, emboldened by a perception that they won the election and deserve the spoils, riot, looting and attacking anyone they perceive to be a "McCain cracker."

"Not possible!" you say. "The One wouldn't allow it!"

Really? You need to read the posts of the wingnuts on the left-wing blogs and get back to me. In the meantime, check out the following:




Now, back to the riots -

How do you prepare, and what do you do when they start?

Preparation requires having a plan. Cowering in your bedroom under the covers may be your plan, but it doesn't appeal to me. We're talking about planning to survive the riots with your life, your property, and your dignity/sacred honor intact, so we plan. Actually, we have two plans: one if you and your family is home, and another if you're scattered to the four winds. A contingency for the second one is if you have to leave your home to retrieve/rescue a family member.

Let's make a list of essentials needed to execute these plans. Remember, riots are deadly things.

First, we need a secure place for the family. A safe room might be great for tornadoes and hurricanes, but it won't be worth a tinker's dam if someone is intent on burning your house down around it. A storm shelter might be good option if it has a secure, hidden entrance, or two. We don't want to get trapped inside one while folks pour gasoline down the air vents. That pretty much means that we must secure the house. (I'm not going to discuss apartments, because by their nature they cannot be secured.) A brick-sheathed house is better than a frame house; a concrete block house is better than a brick-sheathed house; a solid brick house is better than a concrete block house, and a poured concrete house is better than just about anything else. However, it's a bit late to be looking for a new house. (See why planning is important?) Therefore, we'll need something to block the doors and windows from unwanted entry and to stop bullets. That means sandbags or furniture (several layers of either one).

We'll need food and water for how ever many members we have in our family for at least a week with additional supplies for unexpected guests (people stranded at our house). We don't want to try to go grocery shopping in the middle of looting season. In the event of power failure we'll need a way to cook, heat, and light the house. That means gas stoves, lanterns, heaters, flashlights, generators, and fuel and batteries. Batteries and the generator will also be needed for a minimum of a good AM/FM radio and a police scanner.

The next need is a way to defend your house and stuff. Ladies and gentlemen, there isn't any way around this: we're talking about guns..., and more. That means at least one rifle or shotgun per able-bodied, responsible member of our family; at least one handgun, ditto; and sufficient ammunition. (You'll have to decide what "sufficient" means.) I would really like to have some concertina/razor wire stashed in our garage as well, but it's almost impossible to get. Ironically, some of the most effective defensive long guns for the price are former Warsaw-pact weapons: SKS carbines, semi-automatic AK-47s, Mosin-Nagant rifles and carbines (M38/M44), and Makarov 9mm handguns. At least people who might riot know what they look like and the damage they can do. A decent repeating shotgun can be had new for well under 200 dollars (Maverick 12 gauge pump by Mossberg) and with slugs, buckshot, or duck hunting shells can be devastatingly effective. Just about any decent quality handgun, or even "bargain" handguns will do.

As in the "Rodney King riots," a show of force, or willingness to use force, can prevent rioters from approaching an otherwise unprotected area. The Korean shopkeepers kept their businesses safe by being seen armed on the roofs and around them. I recommend coordinating with our neighbors, if possible, to defend our neighborhood, our street, our block. This sort of effort prevented looters from going into some neighborhoods in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The important thing is that we must be prepared to use those guns to defend ourselves and our families. I'm not talking about shots over rioters heads or in the dirt at their feet. We must be prepared to shoot to stop any threat. That means holding center mass of the target. We'll discuss this again.

If we are away from home, we and our families must be prepared to reach a place of safety and/or home. This means we must have emergency supplies in our vehicle and the means to defend ourselves. Our family members should also have the same sort of supplies and armaments. Water, blankets, jacket, rain gear, first aid kit are bare minimum requirements. Handguns, either carried legally concealed, or secured in our vehicle, are most portable, but , if we have a secure way to store them in our vehicle, a compact long gun such as a "coach gun"-type shotgun, a lever action carbine, or an SKS or M-1 Carbine would be an excellent choice. For the vehicle or concealed carry, we will, ideally, have a decent quality handgun, but the important thing is to have a gun of adequate caliber. If all we can afford is a HiPoint 9mm, that's what we go with.

Before we head to our house, we need to get as much information as we can about where the riots are taking place and what the traffic is like. We take a route that avoids riot areas as much as we can, and we do not stop if someone attempt to block our path or run us off the road. We don't get out of our vehicle as long as it is operational. If rioters try to get us to stop by running out in front of us, well, that's their problem. I need to address something else, right now. We can't be trying to do this in one of those tiny little cars. If that's all we have, we stay put or go way out of our way to get home if we can get there without going any where near the riots. We need to have, at the very least, a mid-size car, SUV, or pickup truck, and we need to ensure we always have at least a half tank of gas. This is a case where bigger is better. Remember Reginald Denny? He was driving a 14 wheel dump truck with a load of sand, but he stopped and was dragged from his cab. To be fair, he didn't have a radio in the truck, so he didn't know about the riots, but we don't go anywhere with our doors unlocked, do we? We don't get out of our vehicle to try to reason with anyone. We are in a two-ton vehicle, and we will use it.

If we can go straight home, that's what we do. If a family member is in a secure place we may need to leave him/her there until order is restored or it's safe to retrieve him/her. If that family member is in an insecure place and can't get to his/her vehicle safely, we may have to do an extraction. We stick to major streets, and we don't stop until we get to the family member's location. Then, we do a stop-and-go, even if we have to drive right up to the door. If someone shows a gun in a threatening manner, we get down, go, and prepare to return fire. If someone points a gun, we shoot.

Over dramatic? Maybe, but my family and I will not be victims. Racist? Not at all. I don't care what color someone is if they are trying to harm me or my family. The important thing is to have a plan.