Friday, March 30, 2012

Gun advice for the newbe -4

Shotguns and Rifles

First, Shotguns

Some people will wonder why I wrote my first three articles almost entirely on handguns. What about using a shotgun for home defense? Well, mostly, I don't have much experience with shotguns, though I have some experience with rifles.

There are some things I do understand fairly well though, and I will go over them in this article.

Pro's and Con's

As a home defense weapon, the shotgun has some advantages, and some disadvantages.

In general shotgun more effective than a handgun, from 10ft up to, maybe, 100 feet. Closer than 10 feet, there is too much chance of the invader getting a hand on the barrel, which because of its length, makes a good handle for the bad guy to control the weapon's aim. Beyond about 100 feet, the shot tends to lose too much energy, and spread out too much. (And that is for a 12 gauge, for smaller shotguns, the distance is less, for a 410, it is about 60 feet.).

It takes about as much familiarization training, but only about half as much range time to be proficient with a shotgun. But, since most people think all you have to do is point and shoot, training tends to get even more neglected than it does with a handgun.


Use buckshot and buckshot only.

Oh, yes, I have heard it all. Rock salt. Bird Shot. Dimes. Slugs. The first three are too lite to be effective, and the last one is too hard to aim. For home defense use buckshot, and buckshot only. Pretty much any buckshot will do, though I prefer #4, since you get more pellets, and they are just heavy enough to do the job. You will want the hottest and heaviest load your gun will take (if you have a lightweight gun) and that you can handle (if you are not too big, yourself).

Now, if will you need to deal with snakes, small animals, game animals, you will need different loads. The lightest birdshot load (commonly used for trap and skeet shooting, aka clay pigeons) will deal with even a big snake. And from twice as far as the best snakeshot load in a handgun.


Just as with a hand gun, you need to handle this weapon every three days for a couple months to insure you are familiar with its operation and to get accustomed to the weight of it in your hands. You will need to make at least two trips to the range, to get accustomed to aiming it, and the recoil it creates, when fired.


Just as with a handgun, you will need a locked container or rack to store it. Everything else I said about handgun safety, prove if it is loaded or not, do not believe in trigger locks, store in a safe, etc, all apply to a shotgun.


Rifles are generally used for long distances and/or game bigger than a human. They are generally not used for home defense, though they can be. They have some of the same problems as a shotgun, requiring a larger storage container and having the problem that a bad guy within 10 feet has a possibility of getting an hand on the barrel. In addition, walls, with the exception of brick, offer little resistance to rifle bullets. Therefore bullets, even after passing through the bad guy, will likely penetrate the outside wall of the house.

Outdoors, things are different. If you have to defend a farm or ranch, or if you are hunting any kind of game, a rifle is definitely a good weapon to have. There is simply too much variety for me to cover everything in this area, so to learn more about rifles and rifle cartridges, I suggest starting with the following readings.

Rifle Cartridges - Reader's Choice
Bullet Guide 1
Rifle Cartridges

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gun advice for the newbe -3

Training and Storage and Carry

One of the most overlooked and a very important aspect of becoming armed is training. If you don't hit the bad guy, you generally won't stop the bad guy. Training is also important for safety. Each and every lesson, The First Step in picking up or handling a weapon is to determine if it is loaded.

I recommend a person new to shooting handle their weapon about once every 3 days for a month or so. Check to see if it is loaded, and look at how each of the components function. If you haven't already had some experience with guns, have someone you trust give you lessons. On an automatic, pick up and hold the weapon and operate the safety at least 300 times in the first few months you own it. Make it a habit to know what position the safety is in.

How you hold and grip the weapon is extremely important. Your finger should never be on the trigger, unless you are ready to shoot. Get in the habit of picking up the weapon with your finger along the side of the frame. Get in the habit of holding it with both hands. It takes about 300 repetitions to build a habit, so if you pick up and hold your weapon 5 times every 3 days, that will be about 300 times in about two months.

I also recommend you do not chamber a round in an auto, until you have taken it to the range at least once. Also, any round you chamber and then remove from the chamber is no longer fit to be considered for defense, but should be taken to the range next time you go and practice. Repeatedly chambering the same round will damage it. If you do not know where some good ranges are, this site might provide an answer.

Most ranges charge about $15 per person to shoot, and about $1 per target. There is a lot of variation from one range to another, so the price could be a little less, or could be double.

Your first goals at the range are to shoot enough ammo to insure the weapon works flawlessly, and enough to get the feel of the weapon's recoil. If you can choose your practice distance, practice at the longest distance you might shoot inside your house.

You don't have to be the most accurate shot in the world, but you should be able to hit the upper half of a man's chest (about an 8 inch target) reliably. Plan on shooting 50 to 100 rounds each time you go to the range.

A word here about the 357. Great gun, but the 357 personal defense ammo has a LOT of recoil, and I have seen 220 pound men in good physical shape have trouble with it. Also, the 357 ammo uses a slightly harder primer, so if you choose that ammo, you need to fire at least 50 to insure the weapon functions reliably. All in all, unless you are really serious, I don't recommend the 357 magnum ammo, even though I recommend the 357 gun.

On your second or third trips to the range, you may want to practice double tap (shooting the same target two or three times) and multiple engagements. The thing you want to prevent is seizing up even for a moment, or stopping to see the effect, after the first shot.

How much or how often you need to practice does depend on how much responsibility you have. Will your family, or even you neighbors be depending on you? If so, that means more training is in order.

SnapCaps are dummy bullets, designed to be placed in a gun while dry fired, or stacked with other ammo in a magazine, so as to simulate a misfire. Their primary use is to be used to prevent damage to the weapon when the weapon is dry fired during practice, but as so many weapons now (be certain to consult the manufacture's paperwork on this matter) can be dry fired without damage, the main use I have seen for these is to add one at random to the ammo the shooter is firing. This does two things. It reveals if the shooter is "flinching" when they pull the trigger (which will kill accuracy) and it allows the shooter to practice what to do in the case of a misfire.


Along with the importance of safety when handling a weapon is safe and secure storage. About the last thing you want is for that weapon to be used, in someone else's hand, to harm someone. Since 87% of burglaries happen when no one is home (see note below), if you own a gun, you simply must own a safe of some sort. The particular type or design isn't important, with one notable exception, and a couple of things that some people simply overlook.

First and foremost, do not use one of the small lock boxes that are designed expressly to keep documents safe in a fire. Besides the fact that these safes are not hard to pry open, they use an insulation that is impregnated with water, and tend to build up humidity inside.

Next most important is that the safe must be easy for you to open and difficult for a thief to either open or take with him. For this reason, I do not recommend trigger locks (gun can be taken somewhere and the lock removed), and I do not recommend dial locks (too hard to operate at night). And the safe (unless it is extraordinarily heavy) needs to be nailed or screwed down to prevent a thief from simply walking away with it. I also am not convinced of the reliability of biometric locks.

There are many good safes on the market, and many people have one already have one, so I won't go into much detail, but there are a couple things to remember. A safe loses about half its security if the thief already knows it is there when he enters a home, and many thieves have already been in the home they intend to steal from, though maybe no further inside than the front room (that magazine salesman who spent 20 minutes pitching to you last month, or that alarm company representative trying to tell you how bad crime is getting). So your safe shouldn't be visible to the casual visitor. Also, you should be able to open it and remove your gun quietly in the night. This means using sound deadening material on the safe walls and practicing a couple of times.

Carrying a weapon

While the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to possess and carry weapons, the governments in most cities and several states do not recognize the Constitution, and therefore it is imperative you learn the laws concerning carrying and even transporting a weapon in your location.

One good thing, though, has come from the fight between those who insist on following the Constitution and those who insist on depriving people of their liberty, and that is gun safety courses, usually in connection with getting a concealed carry permit. The most important things these courses teach are when to shoot, or not shoot, and the laws concerning deadly force in your location.

As I intend this article for those who have little or no prior training in firearms, I won't go into how to clear your house once an intruder has been inside. My primary advice is that if you don't have to, don't. Arm yourself, call 911, and then back off into a concealed position and wait it out. If the intruder grabs your TV and runs, let them go. A firearm is to defend your life, and generally not to defend your property.

While accidental shootings are fairly rare (see note below), absolute insistence on safety as a part of training is important, as zero is the only acceptable number of accidental shootings. That is why I stress the importance of verifying whether it is loaded when you pick it up, and locking it up when not needed.

Note: I ran across a good article discussing the myths promoted by the anti gun lobby. The Linkquotes below are from page 2 of that article.

"Then there is the argument that more private gun ownership will lead to more accidents because the average citizen isn’t sufficiently trained to use a weapon defensively. While gun accidents do occur, the Cato study indicates that they are the most overstated risks. There were 535 accidental firearms deaths in 2006 within a population of almost 300 million people. Although every lost life is tragic, the proportion is not particularly startling.

On the other hand, Newsweek has reported that law-abiding American citizens using guns in self-defense during 2003 shot and killed two and one-half times as many criminals as police did, and with fewer than one-fifth as many incidents as police where an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal (2% versus 11%).

Finally, on the subject of public safety, just how well have gun bans worked in other countries? Take the number of home break-ins while residents are present as an indication. In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, nearly half of all burglaries occur when residents are present. But in the U.S. where many households are armed, only about 13% happen when someone is home."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gun advice for the newbe -2


There are several basic types of ammunition (ammo) for handguns. In fact, there is so many different kinds of ammo, by so many different manufactures, and each having people who swear by them, that it is a very complicated part of becoming armed. As I spent far too much time researching ammo, this article is designed to cut through all the BS and give the new shooter a basic knowledge of what he needs to feed his (or her) firearm. It should also help cut down the tendency to have a hodgepodge of ammo sitting next to the gun in the home.

For us, they can be divided into four major categories.

1. Practice ammo
2. Personal Defense ammo
3. Shot, for birds, snakes, or rats.
4. Exotic ammo

Then there are a couple categories for Rifles and Shotguns
5. Various Shotgun Shells
6. Hunting Rifle ammo
I may deal with these in a later article.

1. For practice ammo, cost is the main consideration. Generally many of us think of full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo, but I haven't found cheap FMJ ammo for the 38 or 357. There is also "Metal Case" or "Total Metal Jacket" ammo, as in the "Lawman" series of ammo. This is meant for indoor ranges, or any other range that is concerned with lead from regular ammo.

With the 38 or 357, (or pretty much any gun other than the 9mm for that matter) you will just have to make do with whatever you can find. Typically, Winchester White Box (WWB) 38+P Personal Defense ammo gives you the most for your money. I have seen this in both FMJ and JHP (personal defense), but the JHP is much more common. Generally I can find them in boxes of 50 for about $22. If you can find something in bulk from a well known manufacturer, and can pick up two or three hundred rounds, that would be better. If you decide you are really serious about learning, You could look into buying a case (a case is almost always 10 boxes) of ammo, which would save a few dollars, in the long run.

For the 9mm, it has the advantage of being the choice weapon of the US military, and many police departments. It is also the most popular caliber among all other shooters, all of which is to say a LOT of 9mm ammo is produced. Bulk packages of 100 ($24) and 250 ($59) rounds of 9mm FMJ ammo are commonly found in sporting goods stores and gun supply stores. Since most people (amateurs on a budget) shoot 60 to 100 rounds each time they go to the range, three trips to the range will require about 200 rounds.

2. Personal defense ammo.

By far, the most common form of personal defense ammo is some kind of jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammo, since the (typical or average) effectiveness of JHP ammo is about twice that of FMJ ammo. There are, however at least 20 different kinds of JHP ammo, and because of this, the bulk of my research time (way too much time) on guns and ammunition over the past two years has been investigating the various kinds of ammo, its cost and its effectiveness.

A good rule of thumb is: any good JHP ammo is good ammo, as long as it feeds and shoots reliably in your weapon. Really good ammo is marginally better (maybe 20% more effective) than middle of the road ammo, but might cost twice as much. And once you move beyond the average, there is all sorts of arguments as to what is the "best" personal defense ammo.

Now, a little about the names you will be hearing when reading here, or other places or discussing ammo with others.

For the powder charge, there are basically four levels of powder charge for a 38 or 357.
1. 38 Special - the lightest load.
2. 38 special +P or just 38+P is about 50% more powerful. This has been the most common load for 40 years.
3. 38+P+ somewhat more powerful than +P, but there is no exact standard. Usually about 20% more than +P. While this one will fit in a 38, firing it in a 38 may damage the weapon, therefore it is uncommon and you might never see it.
4. 357 Magnum is about 50% more powerful than 38+P. Since firing it from a 38 would seriously damage the weapon, it is about 1/4 inch longer than the 38 round, and therefore will not fit in the lighter weapon. (I highly recommend you read the section on training before buying 357 magnum ammo)

For the 9mm, the only two loads are standard and +P loads, +P having about 15% more power.

OK, so much for the powder charge, the other half of ammo is the bullet. As I have stated before, the JHP is the central figure here. The whole point of this is that they tend to spread out (expand) when they hit, making a 38 caliber round hit like a 45 caliber round, and tend to carry less energy when exiting out the back side of the target. Now, JHP's of 30 years ago were pretty much untested, and maybe they would expand, or maybe they wouldn't. Today's bullets expand much more reliably.

Bullet weight, measured in grains, is somewhat important, but only in that at the extremes it will reduce the effectiveness. In 38+P loads, 110 to 135 grain is common, and up to 148 grain acceptable. In 357 loads, the weight can rise to 158 grain. In 9mm (whether +P or not), 115 to 125 grain is common, with up to 147 grain acceptable. The heavier bullets perform a little better at longer ranges. Not usually an issue in home defense. Be aware they also kick a little harder.

There are a few good articles on the Web that discuss various personal defense ammo, here is one of the best. Mostly aimed at police or paramilitary, much of this article is not really of interest to the home defense crowd.

Before moving on to other types of ammo, just a few notes on types of ammo and some acronyms you might run across. Presented in somewhat of a logical order.

Historically the 38 Special Winchester USA 125gr +P Jacketed Hollow Point (aka, WWB) was, I think, one of the oldest of the "modern" ammo, some 70 years ago, designed as an upgrade to the rather anemic 38 Special with a solid lead bullet.

Guard Dog rounds are an Expanding Full Metal Jacket round, useful (only) in places where Hollow Point ammo has been declared illegal. Similar to a Jacketed Soft Point, which does basically the same thing.

Hydra-Shok was to be an improvement to standard JHP that would expand faster and further, but it didn't work as well as expected (worked well, just not as well as expected), possibly due to clothing or other barriers between the gun and the skin.

XTP and its cousin DPX are designed to penetrate deeper than standard JHP ammo.

Bonded rounds and "solid copper" rounds (which are still hollow point) removed the tendency for the brass jacket to shed as the bullet passes through a leather jacket.

Hornady Critical Defense added a soft plastic plug in the hollow point dramatically reducing the tendency clog with cloth as it passes through a jacket and then not expand. (Which doesn't happen very often with normal hollow points)

HST stands for Hydra-Shok Two or hi-shok-two and may be replacing the older Hydra-shok. HST's are the super expanding line of ammo. They usually expand to over double their original size. They are newer, and I haven't actually seen any performance tests yet.

All of these are considered top of the line right now, but it is easy to double the price of the ammo to get only marginal improvement: Remington Golden Saber, Speer Gold Dot, Federal HST, Winchester Ranger (PDX1), Hornady TAP/Critical Defense.

All of these rounds work well. Some better under certain circumstances, some better under other. I presented them in order, in which I would rate them, with some reservation, from least to best.

My advise is to find a brand and type you think will be happy with, shoot at least 100 rounds of it (or 20 rounds for a revolver) to insure it will fire reliably, and then stick with it, ignoring all those who will swear by some other ammo.

3. Shot, for birds, snakes, or rats.

Most calibers of handguns ammo can be gotten with a shot load. Whether called snakeshot, birdshot, or ratshot, it is pretty much the same thing. They use fairly small shot, and because the shot isn't very heavy, it won't penetrate more than an inch or two. That is fine for snakes, or rats, which generally have quite a bit to loose when shot with such a load. If you shoot a bad guy with ratshot, it will only make him mad.

Even when shooting snakes or rats with pistol loads, you have to be aware of its limitations. Standing a pistol shell next to a 20 gauge shotgun shell will provide an immediate contrast in size. Also, the rifling in the barrel, which makes a bullet fly straight, causes the shot load to spread out fast. About an inch or so for every foot. That limits the effective range of a 38 or 9mm shot shell to about 6 feet. Beyond that, most of the shot will miss the snake.

Also, be aware that, while an automatic might eject the shell from a shot-shell, it most certainly not feed them reliably, so don't mix shot and defense loads in any magazine. If you want to mix loads (something only for advanced shooters) that include shot shells, you need a revolver.

Most shot-shells are sold in boxes of ten. You need to shoot at least one or two, and keep the rest. You might want to find someone with the same caliber weapon and split a box.

4. Exotic ammo

There are several varieties of specialty or exotic ammo. I want to touch on a couple of the ones that might, at first, appeal to someone new to personal defense.

Limited Recoil or Controlled Recoil ammo is fairly similar to normal ammo, but with a lighter bullet than standard. In addition to not being very well suited to personal defense, it tends to not cycle an automatic hand gun reliably.

Frangible, prefragmented or safety slugs are made up of fragments basically glued together or in shot capsules that will remain intact until they strike an object, then they act like a shot-shell. Glaser is probably the most recognized name. They tend to be on the light side, 80 - 96 grains, and so may not be reliable in an automatic. In addition, they are less effective than a regular JHP round. Also, they cost $1.50 - $2 each, making it an expensive ammo that may not perform well.

Oddly, at least one manufacture of this kind of exotic ammo names and advertises its ammo in such a way as to make a beginner believe it is more effective than standard ammo. It is not. My best advice is: stay away from exotic ammo.

Something similar to ammo is the Snapcap. Snapcaps are not really ammo but are a training aid, and I'll deal with them under "training"

In Conclusion

You will generally need at least two kinds of ammo. Your practice ammo should be based almost entirely on cost per round. Buy enough for at least three trips to the range. Your primary defense ammo should be a trade off between cost and performance, but at least in the beginning, cost should be the main factor. Shoot at least a box of it through your gun to insure it works reliably in your particular gun. Then begin stocking up on it until your gut says you have enough. You may want to get some shot shells, if you live an an area where snakes or rats (and I mean the 2 pound variety, not mice) are frequent.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gun advice for the newbe -1

Choosing a hand gun

This article is a spinoff from an article I read, telling gun owners what kind of gun NOT to buy for a survival gun. It occurred to me that a great many well meaning, but naive, people might not have a gun at all. While the relative calm of the 19th and 20th centuries made this responsibility less obvious, the days are coming that we need to take this responsibility more seriously. In the fierce days ahead, not having a gun is going to become more and more irresponsible.

Note: Biblical Reference Luke 24:35-38 (Young's Literal Translation)
And he said to them, 'When I sent you without bag, and scrip, and sandals, did ye lack anything?' and they said, 'Nothing.' Then said he to them, 'But, now, he who is having a bag, let him take it up, and in like manner also a scrip; and he who is not having, let him sell his garment, and buy a sword, for I say to you, that yet this that hath been written it behoveth to be fulfilled in me: And with lawless ones he was reckoned, for also the things concerning me have an end.' And they said, 'Sir, lo, here are two swords;' and he said to them, 'It is sufficient.'

The original article that got me thinking on this subject is:
Five Guns Not to Buy as Survival Firearms Monday, April 4, 2011

But becoming responsibly armed is not just a matter of going out and getting a gun. I see it as a process of acquiring the weapon, ammunition, and the know how to use them safely and effectively. This series of articles won't tell you exactly what gun to buy, but will point out factors to narrow the search. You will still need to shop around, look at a lot of different models and see how they fit in your hand.

There are really four or five questions that need to be answered

Question 1 - What is your budget?

For this article, it is assumed you don't have thousands of extra dollars to invest in guns, so most of the focus is on getting effective weapons (and learning how to shoot them) for not too much money. So quite a bit of the following advise is economically driven. Still, you can count on the cost being a few hundred dollars, at best, and it will take about a year, or more, to accomplish what I am writing about.

The following process mirrors, somewhat, what myself and some of the people I know went through over the past few years, so it is mostly a baseline, and you might be able to do better.

As a baseline, a good automatic handgun will cost around $200 or more, and a good revolver will cost around $300 or so. You will be needing at least $100 worth of ammunition and will probably need to spend about $100 or so, on going to the range. If you opt for a concealed carry permit, expect that to cost more than another $100. So the very least you will need to budget is $500, and I recommend budgeting $800 to $1000.

Question 2 - What is your previous experience?

Some of this does depend on just how new you are to shooting. Never shot? Never played with BB guns? You might want to go through a couple of preliminary steps. Have someone you trust show you how to shoot. Mostly, you want them to show you how to handle the weapon, hold it, aim it etc. The correct grip is very important. You can use a borrowed 22 to go to the range for this, just buy a box of "standard velocity" 22 ammo. Or whatever ammo is recommended by whoever loaned you the gun. Ammo in this caliber only costs 3 to 5 cents a round, so a couple hundred rounds is not too hard on the budget.

Safety is always the most important thing, and anyone new to guns must be taught how to know if a gun is loaded, and how the safety works. The first thing you must do, any time you pick up a gun, or if a gun is handed to you, is determine if the gun is loaded. Always consider it loaded until proven otherwise.

Question 3 - Do you have good grip strength?

What kind of a gun you buy will, of a necessity, depend on how much grip strength you have. Automatics are almost always a better choice, as they carry more ammo, and cost less. But you have to have enough grip strength to chamber a round easily. I know at least three people who cannot easily chamber a round in an automatic pistol. For those who cannot easily chamber a round in an automatic, a revolver (or wheel gun) is the correct gun to buy.

There is also a matter of simplicity. For those who find an automatic too complicated, a revolver may be the answer, though I recommend finishing this article and getting some training on an auto before making that decision.

Question 4 - How big of a gun do you need?

I ask this somewhat rhetorically, as I only recommend a couple of different calibers. (Of course, there is frame size to consider, for those whose hand is either very small or very large. But I am not addressing that, here)

For those who choose an automatic, I recommend a 9mm. If you find a really good deal on a 380, 40S&W, or a 45, you could go with one of those, but ammo will cost more, and in the case of the 380, it isn't as effective a weapon, so more range time will be in order.

For those who need a revolver, my first choice is, without a doubt, the 357. There are a few reasons for this choice. First, it is a very common revolver, firing fairly common ammunition. Second, it can also fire 38+P ammunition, which is, in fact, the most common revolver ammunition. The 357 JHP is one of the most effective handgun cartridges normally available, rivaling, even, the 44 Magnum. The less powerful 38+P is still very effective, and easier to control. It is just about equal to a 9mm cartridge.

Again, if you get a really good deal, a 44 or 38 is acceptable, but will limit your ammunition choices, and your ammunition could be considerably more expensive.

A couple of articles illustrate why I insist that a person not buy an underpowered gun.

One, from Waco TX, is somewhat humorous (note that the first news story contains a factual error, as the man had a collapsed lung, therefore the shot was fairly square, not a "grazing" wound).
Net-News Story
Same story from TV station

Police said the 41-year-old man, whose name was not released, attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle. Afterward he evidently changed his mind and drove himself to the fire station to request medical assistance. He suffered a collapse lung, but is expected to recover, police said.

Not Nearly So Nice Story don't read the full version of this one unless you have a strong stomach.
Sammie Foust had never fired a gun in her life. She aimed for the man's center of mass and pulled the trigger. It sounded like a little cap pistol. There was no recoil, no blood. She figured the gun had misfired.

The medical examiner concluded the first shot had entered his mouth, the second his heart, the third and fourth bullets his abdomen and groin. He had taken nearly an hour to bleed to death.

The results of shooting someone with a small caliber weapon are unpredictable. In all likelihood, the results will not be immediate. But they could still very easily bleed to death later. This is the intimidation factor of a small caliber weapon, that the person will suffer serious injury and might die.

But there is a vast difference between what a robber might use to intimidate someone he doesn't think will be armed, and what a person should use to defend his or her home. The first one chooses to intimidate, the second has little choice, but to fight.

When faced with a situation where you must fight, your objective isn't that, sometime later, they might die. The objective is that they will immediately not be able to carry through with the attack.

Barrel length issues.

The length of the barrel in a handgun is quite important. Shorter barrel length might make it easier to conceal, if that should ever become an objective, but a shorter barrel length will work against you in many other ways. It generally takes between 2 and 3 inches of barrel length before the powder charge is completely burned. After that, while the gasses in the barrel are getting cooler and losing pressure, the bullet is gaining energy. So a shorter barrel means more flash and a louder bang, but a less effective bullet. And the flash and bang usually work against the shooter, making follow up shots less effective and harder to aim. As the barrel length drops below 3 inches, the powder charge doesn't complete burning, so this effect is exaggerated.

Over the past several years, substantial number of tests on compact pistols of interest have been done. Some of the results are here.

One note stands out. For the 38 snubby, "There seems to be no JHP bullet cartridge that is capable of providing a reasonable balance of adequate penetration and reliable expansion. " This is with a 2 inch barrel. It puts the 38 snubby in the same category as the 22. As in, not appropriate for home defense.

As the barrel gets longer, not only does the bullet become more effective, but it gets easier to aim the weapon accurately. Somewhere, out beyond 4 inches, takes longer to aim the weapon because the weight of the barrel slows down how fast you can bring it to aiming point, but the trade off is accuracy to a greater distance, though this is not usually an issue with home defense.

Therefore it is best to look for a weapon with a barrel between 3 and 5 inches in length.

Conclusion and afterward.

So, here, we have covered the first four basic questions that need to be answered before buying a gun, and took a brief look at one issue that isn't really a question. The next article will be about storage, carry, and about types of ammunition. Followed by one on shotguns and rifles, where we will be looking at another question or two. And lastly one about training

Sunday, March 11, 2012

General Update

There isn't much to report this month in economics. Things are going much the same as they were last month. Slow growth in the economy, in all sectors of the US economy. But the government continues to spend like a drunken sailor on shore leave and both the government and the people are sliding further into debt, keeping us on a course to follow Greece into financial meltdown in a few years.

In spite of all the liberals have done, the economy is gaining, even if it is at a snails pace (200,000 is neutral).

Payrolls in U.S. Climb 227,000
Employers in the U.S. boosted payrolls more than forecast in February, capping the best six- month streak of job growth since 2006 and sending stocks higher.

The 227,000 increase followed a revised 284,000 gain in January that was bigger than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington.

The following, also, is actually good news for our economy.
The participation rate, which indicates the share of working-age people in the labor force, rose to 63.9 percent from 63.7 percent.

Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, rose 233,000 in February after a revised gain of 285,000 the prior month that made it the biggest increase since February 2006. They were projected to climb by 225,000. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 31,000 after a revised 52,000 gain.

Still, at this rate, it will take something over 10 years to fully recover our employment, and 10 years will not make a scratch on our debts.

Moody's has cut Greece's credit rating again, citing a risk of default despite a recent debt write-off deal. Moody's cut Greece's rating to "C" from "Ca", the lowest level on its scale. The firm said on Friday: "Today's rating decision was prompted by the recently announced debt exchange proposals for Greece, which imply expected losses to investors in excess of 70%."

I will have an article on Smartcards and Biometrics in a few more days. This took longer to research and, while I did learn quite a bit, I have less to report than I expected.