From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Headsup to gun carriers in GA
Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2008 16:26:33 -0500
As is usual when someone asks this question, the thread has degenerated into the
typical "mine's bigger than yours" BS. Unfortunate, as it diverts away from some
core principles of armed self-defense.
My advice will be a bit different, advice based on experience. I'm a certified
firearms instructor who has trained at least a couple hundred people. Even better,
I've been able to follow up on a few, some of whom have had to use a firearm in self
defense. And I'm perhaps the only one in this group who has actually pulled the
trigger on someone in a civilian self-defense situation (not war and not law
Before you even think about a gun, you need to do some soul searching and figure out
if you are capable of killing someone. If the answer isn't "Hell yes" then you don't
need a gun. If you have to think about the consequences of killing someone in a
self-defense situation, that hesitation can get you killed. A firearm escalates the
confrontation far beyond what it was before. If you're not willing to pull the
trigger without remorse or thought then you run the high risk of getting shot
yourself, perhaps with your own gun after it is taken away from you.
My teaching partner and I do some demos in our classes to demonstrate the problem.
One demonstration involves giving a student a blank-firing gun, instructing him to
point it at me or my partner with his finger on the trigger while we're standing
about 6 feet away. The student is further instructed to pull the trigger whenever
he/she feels sufficiently threatened to legally shoot.
We'll either stand there for a minute talking trash or perhaps move around a little.
Then we take the gun away from the student. In over 9 cases out of 10, the student
doesn't get off a shot. Neither of us has any marshal training. Just a couple of
As the aggressor, I have almost total control. I control the timing and I have the
initiative. I KNOW what I'm going to do. The student/victim has to discern my
intent, decide that he's in mortal danger and then initiate the trigger pull. That
takes far too long. Add in time spent considering the moral dimensions and you're
goose is cooked.
The problem is, in most jurisdictions, it is illegal to "brandish a firearm" (unless
you're on your own property) in a confrontation. That is, if the situation isn't
grave enough to use deadly force then it isn't grave enough to display the gun.
Therefore if you want to stay clear of the law, you have to keep the gun concealed
until the instant you've decided to shoot. This is another situation where the bad
guy has the initiative. He's already doing something criminal so he doesn't worry
about a brandishing charge.
In our class we teach the "7-11 rule". Easy to remember because of the C-stores by
that name. The rule is, go on full alert (hand on gun, safety off if applicable,
finger on the trigger, ready to shoot) when an assailant gets within 11 feet. Pull
the trigger when he gets within 7. If you let the guy get any closer then even if
you shoot him, he may still hurt you. If you don't shoot then you may be disarmed
and perhaps killed with your own weapon.
This is the main reason that I recommend small revolvers for day-to-day carry guns.
One can be on full alert with his/her hand in his pants or her purse and yet not have
to show the weapon. The revolver can be fired - multiple times if necessary - from
the pants pocket or purse. And modern double-action revolvers can be fired from the
carry condition - hammer down on a loaded chamber - no need to fiddle with safeties
or worry about the slide getting caught in clothing. Just pull the trigger.
My day-to-day carry weapon is this little jewel:
This little revolver is light enough to be carried in the pants pocket without
imprinting (presenting the identifiable outline of a gun) and without pulling down
the pants. The little holster can be clipped to a purse pocket with the handle grip
within easy reach (how my ex carries hers.) More importantly, it can be cocked and
fired from within the pocket or purse. If you feel threatened you can reach in your
purse, cock the thing and hold it at the ready without ever withdrawing your hand
from the purse. If the threat passes, simply lower the hammer and go on - no harm
done and no brandishment. If the threat continues then either fire through the purse
or pull it out and fire.
I didn't select this weapon lightly. I tested it extensively including firing into
pieces of meat and ballistic gelatin. It penetrates at least as well as a .380 which
is good enough for me.
When I'm in a high risk environment (Atlanta inside the beltway, for example) then I
The J frame (small) Model 340PD Revolver
Several features are worth mentioning. The Scandium metal frame and titanium
cylinder makes a gun that weighs less than a pound unloaded, about a pound and a half
fully loaded. Light enough to also pants- or purse-carry. The shrouded hammer
means that it won't catch on fabric or purse material when being drawn. It also
means that the weapon can be fired from the pants or purse without anything
interfering with the hammer.
Being that light, the full load .357 magnum has a pretty sharp kick. It doesn't
bother me but others who have shot my gun don't like it. It can be downloaded with
..38 special cartridges if desired.
While quite expensive (street price is about $800), this gun has everything I want in
a self-defense gun. It's the one that I used against a home invader a few weeks ago.
If I expect trouble, as when I ride along with a friend who does repos, then I carry
a .45 in a shoulder holster. Far too much gun for day to day use.
The most important feature of a self-defense gun is that it always be with you. No
matter how powerful or accurate, a gun laying at home in your dresser drawer because
it's too big and heavy to carry does you no good.
That's worth repeating. If your gun is at home it isn't protecting you.
I choose to compromise firepower in return for a gun that is always with me. A gun
that is so unobtrusive that I seldom think about it. It has become just another part
of my "pants load" along with my wallet, keys, change and pocket knife.
Since you're brand new to firearms, I highly suggest finding a range where they rent
guns and offer instruction. There you can shoot a wide variety of guns AND get some
basic instruction on firearm safety. Check your yellow pages.
OK, enough about the weapon. Back to mental prep. I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy
of Massad Ayoob's "In the Gravest Extreme". Massad is an expert in self-defense. The
book talks a little about technique but the bulk of the book is about the mental and
legal aspects of armed self-defense. I consider it to be mandatory reading for
anyone considering carrying a weapon.
The next aspect is training. I don't mean going to the range and shooting holes in
paper. I mean tactical training. Training in (simulated) actual situations. Shoot
houses, vehicles, etc. Massad teaches an excellent course, as do many others. I
suggest contacting your local independent (NOT a big box store) gun dealer to ask
about tactical training. Many gun clubs offer that training. A major advantage of
Massad's course is that once you take it, if you ever do have to shoot someone and
find yourself in legal trouble, he'll testify as a nationally recognized expert
witness on your behalf.
There is a saying in the military, "you do what you drill". That is, when confronted
with a high stress situation where your lizard brain takes over, you do what you've
practiced. If you've always practiced taking careful aim at a bullseye then that's
likely how you'll behave in a pinch. OTOH, if you've trained in self-defense
tactics, you'll respond in kind.
One last point before I close. Going armed is part of a lifestyle that affects many
other behaviors. You quickly learn to keep your mouth shut and to go out of your way
to avoid trouble. There's truth to that old saying that "an armed society is a
polite society". If you're one of those who just can't help mouthing off then its
best not to go armed. Lots of things to think about before you buy that first gun.
On Tue, 08 Jan 2008 18:44:42 -0500, email@example.com wrote:
>I've been trying to find some information about carrying a concealed
>weapon. I've looked through old posts and found some information. In
>light of what happened to the young woman in Georgia last week, I've
>decided that I will carry and ask for forgiveness if I have to use it.
>I've been on the AT trail many times--like everything else--it has
>become a place where you have to be aware of what is around you. Such a
>shame. I don't fear four legged animals, but I do fear the two legged.
>I don't want to take much of your time. I'm not a large person, but I
>would say I'm fairly strong for my size. What would be the most
>effective weapon for me to use--maybe it's a taser, though I'm not
>looking to just "stun" someone. I'm going to take a run out to Bass Pro
>Shops to see what they advise. In the meantime, I'd like your advice.
>I'll try to sit back and watch responses. I know, by the way, that
>whatever I'll need training on whatever I purchase. TIA for your
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Headsup to gun carriers in GA
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 09:40:46 -0500
On Wed, 09 Jan 2008 19:05:52 -0500, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
>In article <email@example.com>,
> Neon John <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> We'll either stand there for a minute talking trash or perhaps move
>> around a little. Then we take the gun away from the student. In over 9
>> cases out of 10, the student doesn't get off a shot. Neither of us has
>> any marshal training. Just a couple of typical guys.
>Do you think that maybe the student is not sufficiently threatened
>because it is a training exercise? If you were a stranger in the woods,
>she might react differently.
It all depends. The situation I try to discourage with this drill is the TV scenario
where the good guy holds the bad guy at gunpoint while they swap insults, etc.
Doesn't work that way in real life. If you encounter someone with some street
smarts, he'll know that he can likely disarm you as you let your guard down.
The other thing I try to discourage is brandishing the gun to try to scare someone
off with no real intent to shoot. If it's your boyfriend who's beating on you then
it might work. OTOH, if it doesn't work then you spend additional time realizing "oh
sh*t, I really do gotta shoot" and by that time he can be on you.
My first recommendation is to run like hell if you can. It's not as satisfying as
blowing the guy away but it's a lot less complicated for everyone concerned. There's
an ex-NYC cop who teaches armed self defense and who is excellent. Sorry, his name
eludes me. He is a strong advocate of the run-like-hell tactic and teaches several
techniques to make it work.
If you're being mugged, for example, take the small wad of "mugger bait*" cash that
you've prepared ahead of time, show it to him and then fling it far away while you
run the other way. The mugger has to decide between pursuing you and getting the
cash. Almost always he goes for the cash. Meanwhile, your main stash of cash is
secure, you're safe and you don't have all those messy police forms to fill out like
you would after a shooting.
* Mugger bait is one or two $20 bills wrapped around enough cut up paper to make a
hefty wad and held folded with a rubber band. Your actual cash is in a separate wad.
Similar technique if you're being 'jacked. Toss the keys to your car one way and run
If run-like-hell doesn't ultimately end the confrontation then at least it gives you
time and distance in which to prepare your armed defense. You're much better off
behind cover aiming a shot at the perp than you are trying to shoot it out face to
One thing I've heard more than once from students who have subsequently had to use a
firearm in self-defense (whether shots were fired or not), especially if they didn't
go ahead and take a full tactical course, is that much time was wasted while the
realization that "this is really happening to me, right here, right now" took shape
in their minds.
That's where training kicks in. My little course is pretty basic. I teach students
how to handle a gun safely and the basics of self-defense and the lawyer I use
teaches the legal side. That's enough for the nervous housewife who lives in a gated
community in Marietta, Ga where the chance of actually having to use the gun is close
to nil. But people who live where there is any risk at all of confrontation really
need more. That's where the full tactical course comes in.
>Depending upon where I am, it will be in a pocket, fanny pack, or purse.
>I like knowing that I could reach in and be ready to defend myself
>without having to use valuable seconds to get it out.
Good. My ex bought one of the purse/holsters. Kinda expensive at almost $400 but
worth it. It's built like a regular purse except that on one end is a pouch into
which is built a holster. It's designed so that one can reach in and hold the gun in
the ready-to-fire grip without having to withdraw it. And since only friction from a
spring clip held the pistol in place, she could withdraw it practically instantly if
necessary. When she got that purse she upgraded from the NAA mini-revolver to a
titanium Airlite similar to the Scandium one I pointed out. The scandium one wasn't
>Why different guns for different environments? Dumb question?
Not a dumb question at all. Any self-defense weapon is a tradeoff. On one hand we'd
like to have that sawed-off shotgun with the 8 round magazine with us at all times.
That's pretty much the ultimate in self-defense firepower. It's not particularly
practical, however, anywhere other than beside your bed.
Most daily activities simply don't permit carrying a full size gun, especially for
ladies who don't usually wear baggy clothing. So you choose the most weapon that you
can conveniently and CONSISTENTLY carry. You also choose the weapon that is
consistent with the perceived threat.
I know that the risk of confrontation in my day to day life when I'm minding my own
business is next to nil. That little NAA mini-revolver is adequate to address that
minimal risk. It is also small and light enough that I have NO temptation to leave
it at home "just this once".
If I have to be on the streets of Atlanta at night, OTOH, the risk is much greater. I
carry the S&W revolver because it's much more powerful than the .22 mag. In that
environment I know (from studying actual crimes) that there is a heightened risk of
encountering more than one perp at a time. Punks get brave when they group together.
I'm a lot more likely to get a one shot stop with the .357 which means I have shots
left for the others.
That .357, even at only 1 pound, is larger and heavier than I like to carry and thus
it WILL get left at home on occasion. Murphy says that this occasion will be when I
need it most. Ergo the NAA .22 mag.
>> OK, enough about the weapon. Back to mental prep. I HIGHLY recommend
>> getting a copy of Massad Ayoob's "In the Gravest Extreme". Massad is
>> an expert in self-defense. The book talks a little about technique but
>> the bulk of the book is about the mental and legal aspects of armed
>> self-defense. I consider it to be mandatory reading for anyone
>> considering carrying a weapon.
>I just bought it on Amazon
><snipped very good information and advice>
>John, this has been a most helpful and thoughtful post. I will take
>everything you've said into consideration. I agree, completely, that
>there is no sense in buying a gun unless I learn to use it in situations
>other than target practice. Thank you for taking the time to post.
You're most welcome.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Headsup to gun carriers in GA
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 09:55:50 -0500
On Thu, 10 Jan 2008 10:21:54 -0500, email@example.com wrote:
>>I didn't select this weapon lightly. I tested it extensively including firing into
>>pieces of meat and ballistic gelatin. It penetrates at least as well as a .380 which
>>is good enough for me.
>What is your response to Ayoob's somewhat regular comments in
>Backwoods Home that a 22 shouldn't generally be considered as a self
>defense weapon except by those who have no other option because of
>Not to say that a 22 revolver isn't a good farm gun, as Ayoob has also
>mentioned, or that you might have physical issues, but my question
>relates more to my thought that you would go for standard firepower.
>While it might penetrate, do you feel it has a similar stopping impact
>as a larger caliber?
That question comes up a lot. Several comments. First, a .22 mag is a much
different critter than a .22 long rifle. It is a competent, if not outstanding
Second, I have to stress again the concept that a weapon laying on your dresser at
home is worthless in an encounter. I'm a realist. I know neither I nor most people
will consistently carry a full sized weapon. It isn't practical or even possible in
many instances. Who's going to try to pack a .45ACP in a shoulder holster to work?
Third, I have to assess the risk and make the tradeoff. The risk of a confrontation
in my day-to-day waking, walking around life is almost nonexistent. The little NAA
..22mag addresses that risk to my satisfaction. It CAN kill and CAN stop an attack.
It may take more than one shot but that's OK because that's what I practice.
The risk is higher in my car and higher still at home at night. My choice of weapons
reflects that. There's a .45 or .357, depending on what I'm in the mood for, in my
car and a 12 gauge pump beside my bed. The .357 is usually beside one door.
It really comes down to situations where the decision is between the NAA and no
weapon at all.