Home » Defensive Tactics » Recent Articles:

Best Caliber Handgun for Self-Defense

July 20, 2010 Defensive Tactics, Firearm and Caliber Advice Comments Off

Question:  I am wondering what would be the most effective handgun to carry in an apocalyptic, doomsday type scenario. I’ve read the .45 has the best knockdown power, the .357 has the best metal penetrating ability, and the 9mm would be the most common ammunition around.  I’m fairly sure that each of the above calibers would find it’s place..it’s just that I can’t afford all three.  Which one might you choose in a doomsday situation?  I’ve read the Army in Iraq has gone to or is going to go from 9mm to .45.  This has stemmed from sometimes having to fire several shots to stop or kill the target.  The .357 would seem to be handy if one had to shoot a target through metal.  Can one find a load, (powder grains), or bullet configuration,(hollow point, etc.), in a .357 caliber that would give enhanced metal piercing ability along with the stopping power of a .45 caliber?  I’m just a little confused and would appreciate any advice to assist in my making a good choice.

Answer: In the scenario you describe, simply having a firearm and lots of ammo is the most essential thing.  I typically do not get into caliber discussions since they are mostly ‘religious’ in nature.  Some people have the opinion that the .45 caliber is the only way to go.  Others are more open minded about the effectiveness of calibers like the 9mm.

To specifically answer your questions, I’ll try and give you some background on the various calibers and what considerations are involved.  First, I would probably take the .357 off the table completely.  You did not say if you were thinking about .357 in a revolver or semi-auto, but the answer is still the same.  A semi-auto pistol chambered for a .357 SIG cartridge is a handful in terms of recoil.  Many people have a difficult time shooting the caliber accurately.  The bullet size and weight is roughly comparable to the 9mm.  The 9mm is approximately .354 caliber, so the bullet diameters are essentially the same.  The weight of both projectiles in terms of grains is approximately 124 gr.  The different is the pressure that the cartridges are loaded to.  A .357 SIG at 124 gr. has a muzzle velocity of approximately 1450 fps.  The 9mm with the same bullet weight travels approximately 1150 -1200 fps.  The additional velocity is what gives the .357 its greater penetrating power.

In my opinion, having fired both calibers extensively, you are better off with the 9mm as it is more controllable, ammunition is much more available and in a doomsday scenario such as the one you describe, 9mm ammo will be much easier to come by.

The .45 ACP also has a proven record of being effective against a human target.  Typically, the .45 uses a 230 gr. bullet and has a muzzle velocity of approximately 850 fps.  It is a bigger bullet, but it is traveling much more slowly.  What make it effective is that it makes a pretty large hole in whatever it hits.  Larger hole = more damage to tissue and more bleeding.

However, if you compare the relative energy delivered, the average 9mm 124 gr. bullet delivers about 382 ft/lbs of energy vs. 352 ft/lbs of energy for the .45 caliber 230 gr. bullet.  In terms of energy delivered, the difference between the two is pretty much a wash.  The penetration of the 9mm will likely be better since it has a higher velocity.  Better penetration=more damage to important organs that are deeper in the body.

The 9mm is very controllable as it does not have as much felt recoil as the .45 ACP.  For some people this is an issue.  In my view, the biggest factor in gunshot wound effectiveness is shot placement.  As you can see, as in so many other things, caliber selection is a series of trade-offs.  Each caliber has some advantages.  You need to decide which are more important to you.

In terms of the Army switching calibers in Iraq, think for a moment about the issue relative to the restrictions placed on the military.  Geneva Convention rules require that the military use ‘full metal jacket’ or ‘ball’ ammo.  They are not permitted to use “jacketed hollow points” or other defensive ammo.  This makes a big difference in the ability of the 9mm vs. .45 ACP to wound.  A 9mm JHP round typically expands to an average of .62 to .64 inches in diameter.  A typical .45 ACP JHP round expands to .74 inches in diameter.  The difference between the two is approximately .12 inches or about 1/8″.  If you look at the size of holes being punched by ball ammo, it is .354 inches for the 9mm vs .45 inches.  When penetration is not an issue, the bigger hole is better.

Honestly, I don’t think you would go wrong with either a .45 or a 9mm.  One other thing I like about the 9mm vs. the .45 is the magazine capacity.  For just about any semi-auto pistol, the 9mm has close to twice the capacity of the same gun in .45 caliber.  In the Glock 17 the ammo capacity is 17 rounds while the average full size 1911 only holds 9 rounds.  You can get a Glock 21 that will hold 13 rounds of .45 ACP though.

My personal handgun of choice is the Glock 23.  It is chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge.  While not nearly as popular as either 9mm or .45 ACP, the .40 S&W is a respectable compromise.  It pushes a 180 gr. bullet to a muzzle velocity of around 1100 fps delivering around 490 ft/lbs of energy.  That is a lot more energy than either the .45 ACP or 9mm.  It also punches a bigger hole than the 9mm, averaging about .68 inches.  It does have a hefty recoil, but if you can learn to control it, it is a powerful defensive round.  Interestingly, you can also purchase a .357 SIG barrel that will simply drop into the Glock 23 allowing you to shoot either caliber by swapping out the barrel.  Glock 23 magazines are interchangeable for both .40 and .357 SIG cartridges.

I hope I have given you some food for thought here…bottom line, if I had to choose one gun in a doomsday scenario, ammo will be the issue and for that reason I would probably go with the 9mm.  If you can plan ahead and acquire enough ammo to eliminate availability as an issue, I’d consider the .40 S&W…big bullet, higher velocity and greater energy delivered than either the 9mm or the .45 ACP.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (47 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +42 (from 52 votes)

New Arizona Law Passed to Clarify "Defensive Display" of a Firearm…

Yesterday, Governor Jan Brewer signed a new law that clarifies what constitutes a legal “defensive display” of a firearm.  This new law takes effect on September 30, 2009.

The law states that the “Defensive Display” of a firearm by a person is justified “when and to the extent that a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force.”

The law does not apply to the following circumstances:

  • When a person intentionally provokes another person to use or attempt to use unlawful physical force.
  • Uses a firearm during the commission of a ‘serious offense’ or ‘violent crime’ as defined by State law.

In addition, “Defensive Display” is not required prior to the either the threat of or the actual use of physical force, if the use of force would be justified.  In plain English, if you are justified in using physical or deadly force, you are not required to make a ‘Defensive Display” prior to the using either physical or deadly force.

For the purpose of this law “Defensive Display of a Firearm” includes:

  • Verbally informing another person that you possess or have a firearm available.
  • Exposing or displaying a firearm in a manner that a reasonable person would understand was meant to protect oneself against another’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical or deadly force.
  • Placing your hand on a firearm while the firearm is contained in a pocket, purse or other form of containment or transport.

This law is an extremely important development that broadens the legal protection and extends the options of someone that carries a firearm for the purpose of self defense.  Prior to these clarifications, the above acts could have potentially constituted aggravated assault on the part of a person attempting to legally defend themselves from a legitimate threat.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Carrying a "1911 style" Semi Automatic Pistol while "Cocked and Locked"…

Question:  I recently purchased a Springfield Armory 1911 Mil Spec. My intended use for it is the defense of my family while on remote desert trips. I took your excellent CCW class and I’m very experienced in gun safety, but this is my first 1911.  The internet blogs are full of conflicting opinions about the safest way to holster-carry a .45 of this type. The “Lock and Load” (hammer at full cock) faction point out that there are trigger, grip and manual safeties so this is plenty safe. Opponents of ‘Lock and Load” recommend a full magazine below an empty chamber, saying that there’s usually plenty of time to work the slide to arm the pistol. I would very much appreciate your comments about this.

Answer: If you are planning on carrying a 1911 style pistol, it can be safely carried in “cocked and locked” or what is typically referred to as “Condition 1″.  There are a couple of things to consider.

First you should insure that your holster completely covers the trigger and retains the gun well.

Second, you will need to make sure that you practice disengaging the thumb safety as you draw so that it will be automatic.  The biggest issue I see for 1911 shooters is that they don’t practice disengaging the safety which will most likely cause them to forget to disengage it under stress.  This can obviously have catastrophic consequences in a potential gunfight situation.

Third, despite what some might say, in my experience you will absolutely not have time to work the slide and arm the pistol.  It is very frustrating for me to find these ‘arm chair firearms experts’ telling people stuff that could literally get them killed.  When confronted with a lethal force situation, you will literally have a couple of seconds to reach.  When you consider that even practiced shooters require 1.5 – 2 seconds to get their gun out of the holster and on target, having to rack the slide and chamber a round will add .5 seconds to the draw at a minimum.  Now you are talking about a reaction time of 2-3 seconds to get your gun into play.  By that time, you may find that the gunfight is over because the bad guy had the advantage of starting first.  Remember, you are reacting to some sort of ‘triggering event’ that caused you to reach for your gun.  You can also lose the tactical advantage as racking the slide will make noise.  If your potential adversary is not yet aware of you, they likely will be after you rack your slide.  The sound is pretty unmistakable.

Carrying “cocked and locked” is definitely the way to go in my opinion.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Defensive Display of a Firearm…

Question:  At what point does it become “legal” to prepare to defend yourself (draw your weapon to the low ready position)?  What would be some examples?  For instance, someone pounds on your door at 3am can I go to the door with my weapon in hand.

Answer: I need to qualify things before I answer this question.  First, as stated in the disclaimer on this site, I am not an attorney and do not give legal advice.  I am simply providing my own opinions based on my understanding of the relevant Arizona law.

The question that is really being asked here is “when am I justified in using a threat of lethal force to defend myself?”.  Any defensive display of a firearm implies readiness to use lethal force.  In order do this, a person must be in a situation where the use of lethal force would be ‘justified’.  In Arizona, the threat of lethal force or use of lethal force is only justified in situations where there is an immediate and illegal threat that could result in the serious injury, permanently disabling injury or death of a person or persons involved in the situation.  Additionally, the threat or use of lethal force would be appropriate when an individual is being threatened with a deadly weapon.

Overall the entire question of justification is extremely complex from a legal perspective.  A person is generally considered to be ‘justified’ in a particular action when a reasonable person or persons, placed in the same set of circumstances would either act in a similar manner or would believe that the actions taken were reasonable and appropriate in light of the circumstances.  Clearly the possible scenarios are limitless.  Other factors that create ‘disparity of force’ can come into play as well.  These are factors like the number of attackers, their size, sex, age and the presence of any physical disability on the part of the person being threatened.  If a single individual were being threaten by multiple persons, the threat might be more serious than if that person was only being threated by a single individual.  Similarly, physical size or sex could also change the balance and correspondingly change the level of threat.  Under certain circumstances, personally observing some serious criminal acts can also justifiy the threat of or the use of lethal force.  For example, if someone personally observes a murder, they could use lethal force against the person committing the crime and would very likely be justified.

Regarding the questioner’s specific examples, let me first state that a ‘low ready’ position is a ‘range ready’ from my perspective.  If I am in a potentially deadly situation, I am more of what might be called a ‘contact ready’ type person.  In contact ready, the gun is pointed at the potential target, but slightly lowered to allow full view of the hands of the potential target.  In low ready, the gun is pointed at the ground.  If there is a true lethal threat that has justified my drawing a firearm, I am going to be pointed at the target, not the ground.

To address the example of the ‘Pounding on the door at 3:00am’, here’s what I would do.  If my family is all home and tucked in, there is no way I am going to the door.  The first thing I am going to do get to my shotgun.  If I don’t have a shotgun, then a rifle.  If I don’t have a shotgun or rifle, then I will get a handgun.  Shotguns and rifles in a proper caliber are ‘one shot stops’.  Handguns are not.  I would also have a flashlight on the nightstand and keep the lights in the house turned out.  No sense making an easy target of yourself if they break in or can see you through the windows.

Then I am going to call 911 and tell them to send the police because someone is breaking into my home.  I would get my family members to an easily defended location in the house and wait for the police to show up.  This is why I teach my students to have a home plan to escape, evade or defend.  Without a pre-defined plan, you will be improvising and that is not the best situation to be in.  If you don’t have a solid core wood door with a deadbolt on the entrance to your bedroom, you are not going to have a defensible place to wait for the police.  Give the 911 operator your cell phone number and tell them to call you when the police are on the scene or stay on the line with 911 until the police arrive.  Bear in mind that if you are talking on a landline, those could easily be disabled from outside your home.  I keep my cell phone on the nightstand for that reason.

It is a really bad idea to go to the door or even worse, open the door.  You have no idea of what is outside.  In a recent home invasion in my area, there were two men with shotguns in addition to the guy banging on the door asking for “help”.  Most civilians are NOT trained to engage multiple possible targets in a dynamic gunfight or to clear a residence where there might be burglar hiding.  Trying to do either of these things without proper training and assistance from a partner will most likely get you killed.

Currently there is a law that has been introduced into the Arizona legislature that would broaden the number and types of situations where ‘defensive display’ of a firearm would be permitted, but for now, if there is no justification for the use of lethal force, there can be no ‘defensive display’ of lethal force.

Please bear in mind that the question is quite complex and there is only so much I can go into in a written answer here.  If you don’t have it already, I strongly recommend the “Arizona Gun Owner’s Guide” by Alan Korwin as a more complete resource that includes both the relevant Arizona statutes and some really good scenarios for your consideration.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Using a Firearm in Self-Defense Against a Dog Attack…

Question:  I was walking to the mailbox this morning to get the mail when a neighbor’s dog lunged, snarled and tried to bite me.  Why I was not carrying is a question that I cannot answer.  I was complacent being at home and that will now change.  I got away when the neighbor’s family came out to see what was going on and retrieved the dog.  I was at the edge of my property but still on it.  Does Arizona law allow me to shoot the animal if I feel like it will bite me?  The neighbor said the kids left the front door open and the dog got out.

Answer:

Regarding your neighbors dog and the situation you describe, the law basically is this:

Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3107, a person who discharges a firearm within or into the limits of any municipality is guilty of a class 6 felony.

This offense has several exceptions that permit you to discharge a firearm inside city limits under certain limited circumstances.  The one that specifically applies to your question is Section 9 of which states that you can use a firearm:

“In self-defense or defense of another against an animal attack if a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force against the animal is immediately necessary and reasonable under the circumstances to protect oneself or the other person.”

The key phrase is ‘if a reasonable person would believe’.  In order for those six words to apply for many, the dog would have to have a history of being vicious.  Many dogs are territorial by nature and suspicious of strangers.  They will approach and bark loudly and may attempt to bite if sufficiently frightened or provoked.  Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there that would say there are other things you could do to drive the dog off without shooting it.

You didn’t say how large the dog was or fill me in on any previous experiences with the dog which are other factors that might be taken into consideration.  If the dog was very large and could potentially knock a person over in an attack or had a history of repeated attacks against you or others, the level of justification could change fairly dramatically.   Overall, I would say that unless there is a history of attacks by this dog, I’d probably suggest pepper spray vs. a firearm.  It would have the desired effect of causing the dog to break off the attack and would not result in the dog’s death or the neighbor’s lasting hatred (although they will be upset at you having pepper sprayed their dog, not only due to the dog being sprayed, but it will also be unpleasant for them to clean up the dog).

It also keeps you out of a class 6 felony charge if the judge decides that there was not enough of a threat to justify your use of a firearm.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Justification for the Use of Force in Self Defense

Question:  I noticed you said in a previous post that if someone swung at you, you have the right to use force to defend yourself.  What if one or more people grab you and make you fear for your safety by threatening to harm you in a non-lethal way?  Do you have the right to strike them or defend yourself from them before they strike you?

Answer:  Before I answer the question, let me reset the stage for readers that might not be familiar with my previous post.  In order to use any type of force in self defense, a person must be under a credible threat of force or a perpetrator must either use force or attempt to use force against you.  Words alone, no matter how nasty, provocative or threatening are not ever a justification for the use of force.

The level of force you can use against another must be reasonable and measured based on the circumstances of the threat.  The purpose of your use of force is to stop the threat or use of force against you.  Once the threat has ended, your use of force must end as well.  If you continue to use force in the absence of a threat, you run the risk of becoming the ‘aggressor’ and potentially turning the tables against yourself.

There are also many factors that can enter into the use of force equation.  These things generally fall under a concept called ‘Disparity of Force’.  Some of the factors that enter into a ‘disparity of force’ situation can include:

  • Age – if there is a substantial age different between the victim and the perpetrator, additional force may be appropriate to provide a force multiplier to the disadvantaged person.  For example, a man in his 60′s might need to use additional force to effectively eliminate a threat from another man in his 30′s.
  • Numbers – if there are multiple perpetrators that are threatening or using force against a single individual, then that individual might need to use an enhanced level of force to end the threat.
  • Physical Disability – if the person being threatened is disabled to the extent that they cannot run away or effectively defend themselves against a threat, again, additional force may be appropriate to eliminate the threat.
  • Size – if there is a significant size difference between a person being threatened and the person doing the threatening, that might be justification for using a higher level of force to end the threat.
  • Sex – if a woman is being attacked by a man, regardless of the size or age of either party, the law generally permits a woman to use an enhanced level of force to defend herself, up to and including lethal force,  if she is in reasonable fear of sexual assault or serious injury.

Disparity of force issues are not limited to these factors alone.  Many other factors or combination of factors may come into play in the court making a determination of whether or not a particular use of force was justified or not.  You must understand that there is no ‘bright line’ here.  This is a gray area where the factors involved will be considered by a judge or jury in their determination of whether your actions were ‘reasonable’ in light of the circumstances and were appropriate to the level of threat experienced.

Now, to specifically answer your question.  If someone grabs you without your permission, you are being assaulted.  Simple assault in Arizona is defined as:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or
  2. Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or
  3. Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.

If someone commits assault under the conditions described under item 1, they are committing a Class 1 Misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail term of 6 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

If someone commits assault under the conditions described under item 2, they are committing a Class 2 Misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail term of 4 months and a fine of up to $750.

If someone commits assault under the conditions described under item 3, they are committing a Class 3 Misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail term of 30 days and a fine of up to $500.

You do have the right to defend yourself using a threat of force or physical force if necessary, but nothing you described would allow you to use anything greater than physical force unless you believed that you were in danger of serious injury, permanent disabling injury or death.  My guess is that people that do as you described are trying to intimidate you or are bullies that enjoy making other people afraid.

If you are not trained in some type of self-defense skill, any resistance on your part is likely to result in escalation which could result in potentially much more serious consequences for you.  You might want to consider carrying some non-lethal defensive device.  My choice would probably be a high quality pepper spray from either Fox Labs or ASP.  They make key chain devices that when deployed, can make it very unpleasant for your assailants.  Pepper spray will effectively disable an attacker for 30-45 minutes, giving you plenty of time to get to safety and call 911.

My first recommendation is to not put yourself in the situation if you can avoid it.  If possible, just remove yourself from the vicinity.  Get in your car and drive away or if you are on foot, walk or even run away if necessary.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of bad situations that result from men letting their testosterone dictate their actions in a confrontation.  You can also try to control your anger and de-escalate the situation.  I have used this technique with great success myself many times.

If you cannot leave and cannot de-escalate, do anything you can to attract the attention of any onlookers or witnesses.  Scream or call for help and get on your cell phone and call 911.  Tell them to send the police immediately and give your location.  If your attackers are bullies, they will probably not hang around for long.  If they don’t leave and continue to press the attack, this might be the time to consider using your pepper spray on them.

If they do attempt to harm you in any way and you know who they are, you should call the police and press assault charges.

One final note:  If at anytime you feel that you are in real danger of being seriously injured or killed, or the perpetrators have taken up a weapon or ‘dangerous instruments’ like a stick, bat, rock, bottle or anything similar, the simple assault has moved to an aggravated assault which is a felony.  At this point, unless you are armed, your primary objective should be to get away at all costs.  Even if you are injured while getting away, it is better than trying to fight your way out and be more seriously injured or killed.  Get to a place with lots of people and call 911.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Safety Ammo for Apartments or Multi-Family Dwellings

A questioner writes:  “I recently purchased a 9mm Kahr PM9 for concealed carry and home defense. I live in an apartment and would like to get ammunition that will not put others in the complex in danger. I am looking at Mag-Safe but have read mixed reviews about the functioning in autos. Thank you for your time.”

This was a great question.  It is an excellent issue to consider if you live in a multi-family dwelling or apartment complex.  The questioner was being a very responsible person to be making sure that they minimized the opportunity for ‘collateral damage’ should they have to use a handgun for personal defense at home.

Mag-Safe and other frangible rounds will essentially break up on contact with any hard surface.  The Mag-Safe rounds in particular have a pellet core in the 9mm configuration and will not penetrate sheet-rock.  Most other frangible rounds have an epoxy core and again will not penetrate any hard surface that you might fire at.

Glaser Safety Slugs are another variety of ammo that is designed to avoid over penetration.  Glaser uses a jacketed round that contains a tightly packed lead shot projectile.  Again, the issue here is that in many cases the projectile does not achieve enough penetration to do significant damage to your intended target.  Thus, the lack of stopping power tends to defeat the purpose of using a gun against your bad guy.

There are a couple of versions of Glaser rounds that supposedly have different penetration characteristics.  The ‘blue’ version is supposed to penetrate a soft target 5-7 inches where the ‘silver’ version is supposedly good for between 8-10 inches of penetration.  These tests are done using ‘ballistic gelatin’.  Last time I checked, ballistic gelatin does not wear heavy clothing or hide behind walls, doors, furniture or other objects, so I would take these penetration numbers with a grain of salt.

There is a potential for reliability issues with this type of ammo when used in a semi-automatic pistol.  It is generally not a ‘feed’ issue but a ‘cycle’ issue.  Many of these rounds are not powerful enough to reliably cycle a semi-automatic pistol.   I have used frangible ammo extensively during training exercises in shoot houses and in my personal experience, this has been an issue for certain weapons and calibers.

I would suggest a couple of things right off the bat.  First, if you do use something like Mag-Safe or any other ‘frangible’ ammo, I’d strongly suggest that you do not use it for concealed carry when you are ‘out in the world’.

Using frangible or pre-fragmented ammo is great if you are concerned about penetration in your home, but lousy if you need to shoot through a hollow core door, heavy concealment, a car door or something else that your bad guy is hiding behind.

The Federal Air Marshals did some testing with frangible ammo a few years back.  It is instructive that they now all carry standard hollow point defensive ammo and do not carry frangible ammunition.

If you are really concerned about over-penetration at home, I’d probably suggest having two different magazines.  Load one with a frangible round and put that one in the gun when at home.  Load the other one with a high quality defensive round and use that one when ‘out in the world’.

One last thing to consider…if you are shooting a high quality defensive round and hit your intended target, you should not have to worry about over-penetration putting your neighbors at risk.  It is only an issue if you ‘miss’.  With good marksmanship and situational awareness, you may not really need the frangible ammo at all…

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Concealed Carry Inside the Waistband without a Holster

Question: “I carry a modern double-action semi-automatic with a 13lb DA pull/6lb SA pull and decocker. I have lots of belt holsters for this gun but have found over the last several years that they are too bulky for CCW in the summertime in Phoenix. I have gotten very comfortable with behind the strongside hip carry using a Wilderness Instructor’s belt on jeans and shorts and can easily cover this with a T-shirt. In this day and age of pagers and cellphones, people don’t think twice when they see a belt-mounted bulge. Here’s where my question lies; I carry inside the waistband with no holster.I have heard the rhetoric from instructors about using a quality IWB holster for a consistent grasp during the draw, I’ve found this method both discrete and fast during dry fire exercises. Do you have an opinion on this particular carry method? Another question is, does AZ State Law have any stipulations that I CCW using a formal holster?”Answer:Here’s my thoughts on your question…I’m assuming when you carry “inside the waistband, no holster” that you carry in Double Action mode, hammer down with the safety on. The only concerns are really about covering the trigger to avoid any accidental discharge of the firearm if the trigger were fouled. If we were talking about a Glock, I might feel differently and would not recommend carry without a holster. However, with your Double Action trigger and a 13 lb. pull you are probably reasonably safe.The other things to think about…will the gun stay in your pants if you have to move quickly or abruptly (like to run away from a ‘Bad Guy’ or run to cover). Another thing on the plus side, if you are in a situation where you have to ‘relocate’ your firearm to avoid discovery of the fact that you are armed, ( by a Bad Guy, for example) you will not have an empty holster on your belt to give you away.There is no legal prohibition in Arizona regarding carrying without a holster. The only real issue is a safety issue…a holstered gun is a safe gun and cannot be accidentally fired. If you have a gun in your waistband with no holster, you could have an accidental discharge in a very ‘uncomfortable’ spot. Short version, unless you are a highly trained shooter or a covert operative carrying in a deep cover situation, this is something best avoided.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Carrying a firearm in a vehicle…

Many students are curious about the laws concerning carrying a firearm in a vehicle. Since Arizona permits “open carry” of a firearm, you can legally carry a firearm in any permitted location, as long as the firearm is in plain view.

This includes your vehicle.As long as a casual observer can see you have an unconcealed firearm, you are not violating any the law.

If you want to conceal the firearm in your vehicle, the easiest way is to get your AZ CCW permit. Then you can legally conceal your firearm in your vehicle.

If you don’t have an AZ CCW permit, your firearm can still be concealed, but it should be at least two steps removed from your immediate access. What this means is that you cannot have immediate access to the firearm.

For example, if you put your firearm in the glove box, it is only one step removed from immediate access…you can open the glove box and grab your gun. If you have your gun in a case or holster and then put it in the glove box, it is two steps removed(you have to open the glove box and remove it from the holster or case).

If you wish to conceal a firearm in your vehicle, my recommendation is to get your Arizona CCW permit…then you will not have any issues. Otherwise, you may be subject tothe court’s interpretation of whether or not you had ‘immediate access’.

Some have also asked about ways to safely have immediate access to your firearm without having to put it in the glove box, console or map pocket of your car. There are at least two holster manufacturers that I know of that sell holster systems that allow you to mount a holster in your vehicle.

Generally this is done by bolting the mount under the dashboard or in some other appropriate location. When you get into your vehicle, you can place your gun in the mounted holster giving you easier access to it.

Believe me when I say that this can be a real issue for a lot of people. Depending on where you wear your holster, you might have difficultly reaching it quickly when seated in thevehicle with your seat belt fastened. You can draw from a seated position in the car, but it is difficult and requires practice to do quickly.

Without proper training,drawing from a seated position in a vehicle can be dangerous to both yourself and other occupants of the vehicle. Holster mounts eliminate this as an issue. If you want to get more information about holster mounts youcan visit http://www.sidearmor.net or http://www.fobusholster.com

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

How good a shot do I need to be before I carry a concealed weapon?

October 22, 2007 Defensive Tactics, Firearms Training Comments Off

I’ve received a number of questions from students regarding what they can do to improve their handgun marksmanship.  In response, I thought I would put together a series of posts that deal with the level of accuracy that you should reasonably achieve before you can realistically expect to defend yourself with a handgun and then how do you develop  that level of accuracy in your shooting.

As a starting assumption for this discussion, I will be talking about “Combat Accuracy”.  Combat accuracy is the level of accuracy that you would need in order to incapacitate your attacker should you find yourself in a lethal confrontation.  This is vastly different from the “target accuracy” one would be trying to achieve in a competition when shooting for score.

There are some significant differences in the two situations.  First, if you are engaged in lethal combat with a handgun, there is a high probability that:

1. you will be moving…

2. your adversary will be moving…

3. the distance between you and your adversary will be unknown or variable…

4. environmental conditions may be less than ideal… (darkness, rain, etc.)

5. there may be multiple adversaries…

6. there may be innocent bystanders…

7. your adversary will likely be shooting at you…

8. your ‘fight or flight’ autonomic reaction will be kicking in big time…

All of these factors will conspire to steal your shooting accuracy.  Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize their impact.

The most important thing that you can do is practice your shooting technique.  You can do this using live fire exercises and dry fire exercises, but you MUST practice.  Skill at arms is highly perishable.  If you haven’t picked up your pistol in 6 months, how can you reasonably expect to shoot accurately?  If you haven’t received good fundamental handgun training, how do you expect to be able to shoot effectively in a gunfight?  The short answer is that you cannot expect to be accurate and effective if you do not prepare.  You will not ‘rise to the occasion’.  You will default to your lowest level of skill…

Short version, if you are a beginner or even a decent shooter that hasn’t be practicing…you will be lucky to survive and it will have very little to do with anything you did.   On the other hand, with good training and practice, you will not just survive…instead you will likely prevail against your adversary and stand a much better chance of getting out of the situation without serious injury.

In the next several posts, I will discuss what skills you should master in order to achieve true ‘combat accuracy’ with a handgun in a potentially lethal confrontation.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Featured Content:

We are back after quite a long break…

May 16, 2013

Hello to all of our readers! After a long hiatus, we will be updating the site again.  Look for lots of new content to be added over the coming weeks.  We will also be updating older posts to reflect the current Arizona CCW laws. Thanks for your patience. Doug Little, Owner and Director of Training [...]

What did the “Campus Concealed Carry” bill really say and why did the Governor veto it?

May 5, 2011

Senate Bill 1467 was a very simply bill.  It would have simply amended the existing ARS statute 13-2911 with a single substantive paragraph.  The paragraph would have preserved the rights of the governing board of an educational institution to adopt rules to preserve public order on that institutions property which would govern the conduct of [...]

Governor Brewer Signs Multiple New Firearms Laws in Arizona.

May 5, 2011

Governor Jan Brewer signed a total of six new firearms related laws in the days following the end of the current session of the Arizona Legislature.  While some of the most controversial laws, specifically the Firearms Omnibus Bill and Campus Concealed Carry bills were vetoed by Governor Brewer, below you can find a synopsis of [...]

U.S. House of Representatives Considering National Right to Carry Reciprocity Bill…

May 4, 2011

Urge Your Representative To Cosponsor H.R. 822, The National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act Of 2011 Friday, April 08, 2011 Congressmen Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) have introduced vital legislation that will enable millions of permit holders to exercise their right to self-defense while traveling outside their home states. There are now only [...]

Problems with Interstate Firearms Transfers

July 20, 2010

Question:  I have bought a gun from an individual through Gunsamerica.( Gunsamerica is the broker).  I, the buyer live in Tennessee. The seller lives in Ohio.  I sent him a copy of the a local dealer’s FLL and a check for the gun. The local dealer requested a copy of the seller’s drivers license.   The [...]

Best Caliber Handgun for Self-Defense

July 20, 2010

Question:  I am wondering what would be the most effective handgun to carry in an apocalyptic, doomsday type scenario. I’ve read the .45 has the best knockdown power, the .357 has the best metal penetrating ability, and the 9mm would be the most common ammunition around.  I’m fairly sure that each of the above calibers [...]

Felony Conviction and Federal Home Protection Act

July 20, 2010

Question:  I am a felon and had to do a prison sentence.  My house was broke into twice while I was in bed asleep and both times I fled the home for my safety.  The police are telling me there is no true way to protect myself inside my home and that felons cannot possess [...]

Arizona Constitutional Carry About to Become Law…

April 15, 2010

A bill that would eliminate the requirement for Arizona residents to have a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon in Arizona has passed both houses of the Arizona Legislature and is awaiting Governor Jan Brewer’s signature before it becomes law.  If signed by the governor, the new law would take effect 90 days [...]

Open Carry in a Vehicle in Arizona

March 25, 2010

Question:  I am coming from out of state and was wondering if it was legal for me to open carry in the state even though I don’t have an Arizona CCW permit.  My other question is can I open carry in a car or does the handgun have to be cased and loaded? Answer:  You [...]

Felony Conviction and Firearms Possession…

March 8, 2010

Question:  I was convicted of a felony in 1998.  Can I legally possess a firearm? Answer: Since you didn’t tell me where you lived, I will have to assume that you are in Arizona.  Unless you have had your felony conviction set aside, you cannot legally possess a firearm.  Since it has been a very [...]