One of the constant problems I come across during my charity self defense course is how students are convinced that they know the basics of gun handling through video games and movies.
(Please click picture for full sized version.)
This usually crops up in that the student is convinced they are an expert shot before they ever pick up a firearm for the first time. After all, they see their media heroes wielding a handgun with one hand and never missing, even though the actor never takes time to steady their aim. Isn’t that reality?
Although it hasn’t come up too often, some of my students were fans of video games. These people always want to carry a bunch of guns.
There is a real world precedent, as those who like small revolvers will often carry a spare. This is more to allow them to increase their ready firepower than to have guns ready in case different threats pop up.
A journalist conducted a little social experiment earlier this year in London, England. She instructed her young daughters to look lost and scared, and then placed them in the path of busy shoppers. Over 600 adults walked by the waifs, avoiding contact of any kind. TV cameras recorded the shameful display.
The main reason why adults in the UK refused to even consider helping a distressed child in public is said to be due to pedophile hysteria, or an extreme prejudice against adults who interact with children. It would appear that even the most innocent and helpful of actions are seen only as overtures of a sexual predator to recruit new victims.
This sort of hypervigilance, and rush to condemn innocent adults, has been a problem in the United Kingdom for decades. Adults, particularly males, have been extremely reluctant to approach children that clearly needed help because of fear of arrest. This extreme prejudice has resulted in some unintended consequences beyond the preventible deaths of children, as males have avoided professions where they have to interact with children for fear of being branded a sexual predator.
I have always wanted to travel, particularly the United Kingdom. One of the questions I have puzzled over is what to do if I came across a child in distress, should I ever get the funds together to make the trip. My response has always been to do what I would do if I was at home in the US, and strive to protect and aid the child in whatever way I could while summoning help from the proper authorities. If this meant that I was to spend some time in a jail cell for my actions, then that would be fine with me!
But then news of a town in Great Britain named Rotherham started to hit the airwaves. At least 1400 children were the victims of sexual abused over a 17 year period, and the police knew about it! They just turned a blind eye, sometimes even arresting parents who were trying to save their children from such vile crimes.
So does this mean the pedophile panic in the UK was all a sham, and they actually welcome sexual predators who victimize children? Or is it just in Rotherham?
Any way you look at it, there are some mixed signals being sent.
Our good friend knirirr has been kind enough to pass along this news article. It seems that police in the United Kingdom have seen 110 “accidental discharges” in the past 3 years.
Regular visitors to this site know that there is no such thing as an “accidental discharge“. There are only four simple rules required to safely handle a firearm, and someone has to be stupid enough to have ignored at least one of them in order for the gun to go off unexpectedly.
What is really amazing is that the police were called upon to use their guns in the line of duty only 29 times during the same time period! So the police in the UK let loose an unaimed round in a random direction about four times more often than they shoot to save innocent lives. Absolutely amazing.
The article also mentions that Police Constable Ian Terry was killed during a training exercise. Pc Terry was sitting in an unmoving car, playing the part of a fleeing robbery suspect. A fellow officer was supposed to shoot out a tire with a “gas round” but instead shot Pc Terry at extremely close range, resulting in his death.
In the United States, such a news story about such poorly trained police officers would generate national outrage. There would be protests, the situation would be discussed at all levels of government, and the news media would be desperately digging up past shooting incidents in order to generate outrage and ratings. I can’t seem to find anything similar in the UK. I suppose they find these conditions to be tolerable.
There are two reasons why I don’t expect to get a job in the UK to train their police officers.
Firstly, although I have some experience in training military personnel in the use of handguns, I have never had any police officers as students. There are plenty of people in the US who have such experience, however, and it would make sense to hire someone with a proven track record.
Secondly, it would be political suicide for any politician in the United Kingdom to even suggest that the country needed to hire someone from America to train their police. The media in the UK is full of news stories and editorials that condemn the culture in the United States as being savage and violent, so it would be seen as a confession of complete incompetence if they hired someone from here in such a delicate position.
I don’t see this as being an acceptable state of affairs, but I don’t see it changing any time soon.
Besides the image above, there is also an excellent video and article.
There are a few handguns which are marketed as being perfect for self defense, but which don’t catch on in that role. One of these is the Taurus Judge.
This strange looking handgun is actually a tiny shotgun, one chambered for the .410 bore. Besides being the smallest and weakest shotgun ammo you are likely to find in your friendly neighborhood gun store, the .410 is also the only popular shotgun which is known by its diameter instead of the gauge. That is probably for the best.
The .410 shells most widely available for sale are loaded with bird shot, which are teensy tiny pellets designed to kill very small animals without tearing up the carcass too much. Limited numbers of people have purchased this type of handgun for concealed carry in recent years, and it is now possible to occasionally find ammunition which is loaded with more potent buckshot. Even so, such defensive ammunition is far from common.
That was extremely fortunate for a college student named Christopher Moeller. He was shot four times by an assailant wielding a Taurus Judge, at a range of about 25 feet. All four rounds seem to have been solid hits, but the young man survived due to the fact that the criminal had loaded his gun with bird shot. Even so, he almost didn’t make it due to blood loss.
What is my take on the Judge? There are certainly smaller and lighter revolvers that fill the role of an emergency defensive arm, and some of those smaller and lighter guns are chambered for extremely potent calibers. Add in the fact that all of those other calibers are easier to find in the gun store, and usually have a lower price tag, and I would have to say that the Taurus Judge is a solution in search of a problem.
Ask any person from the United States who is involved with the shooting sports and they will tell you that the very first Magnum handgun put into general production is the .357 Magnum revolver.
The three-fifty-seven has long been admired, and for good reason. It is an extremely powerful handgun, certainly powerful enough to harvest all but the largest game in North America. So far as self defense goes, it has a proven track record of effectiveness. One could do worse when choosing a caliber to fit a wide variety of roles.
But there is a problem with the claim that the .357 Magnum, introduced in 1934, was the first handgun of its type to be manufactured in great numbers. That honor goes to the Russian military handgun most commonly known as the Tokarev, which was issued to the troops beginning in 1931.
Also known by the official name as the TT-30, this military handgun was developed to replace the rather odd revolver that the Russian armed forces had been relying upon since 1895. It is certainly emblematic of Soviet design philosophy in that it is robust, powerful, ugly as sin, and uncomfortable to use.
The TT-30 was chambered for the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge, a bottleneck design that was loaded to some very high pressures.
The most powerful loadings offered by the Soviet war machine launched a teensy tiny .30 bullet at a blistering 1600 fps, which is just as fast as some of the modern defensive loads available for the .357 Magnum. Such high velocity, with such a small bullet, meant that penetration is extremely good. The bottleneck design also has another advantage in that it is very friendly to autoloading mechanisms, with the chances of fail-to-feed jams much less likely than with straight wall cartridges. The gun itself is well designed for ruggedness, with the improved TT-33 withstanding extreme abuse during WWII and still functioning.
But that pretty much is all the good points for the design I can find, as there are some serious drawbacks to the gun as well.
There was no trigger block safety or safety catch in the original design, making the gun unsafe to carry with a round in the chamber. Magazines had a tendency to drop free without warning if there were damaged in any way. The sights were very dark, and hard to make out in anything other than well lit conditions. The simple grips, as well as the squared off beavertail, meant that many shooters find it to be uncomfortable when firing.
But there is one overriding advantage, and that is the very low price asked for fully functional versions on the surplus handgun market. One can find a perfectly good gun for about 20% to 30% of what it would take to buy a shiny new .357 Magnum from one of the better known manufacturers.
Can I recommend a Tokarev for concealed carry? Not really, as the lack of what I consider to be adequate safety features in original models from Communist countries gives me pause. Guns imported into the United States are required to have a trigger block safety installed, but crappy workmanship in the extra parts means that many collectors disassemble their guns and return the guns to their original condition in the interest of improving reliability. In other words, you won’t know if you bought a gun which can safely be carried with a round in the chamber unless you know how to pull it apart and check to make sure the extra parts have been correctly installed.
The reason why I am mentioning this particular gun is because a Tokarev might just be the perfect handgun for those looking to enjoy the vast wilderness areas in North America. They are rugged enough to be reliable in extreme conditions, as well as have the punch to deter most aggressive animals. The small bullet is a concern, but it shouldn’t be a problem as long as bears or moose are avoided. If you should find that your Tokarev has developed some rusty spots while you were backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, who cares? Just sand it down and apply some oil. It looked like a piece of Soviet era crap before you left, the shiny spots just lend it some character.
Ed Harris was kind enough to share his experiences with the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round, and he also sent us some pictures! Thanks, Ed!
“What did the groups look like?”
If my faulty long term memory serves, the first round looked something like this.
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The target was two feet across, and set 35 feet or so from the firing line. The center hole was made by the projectile with the traditional bullet shape, and the other four by the light wadcutters. I didn’t actually hit the exact center of the target, of course, or even the ten ring. But I figured you would forgive me a little poetic license in the interest of clarity.
I can’t say what the pattern looked like for any of the subsequent 49 rounds, as I was just firing at the paper to get rid of them. There were more holes than paper hanging downrange by the time I was done, so at least we know that ammo like this does a bang up job of tearing apart targets!
One would think that the lighter bullets would tend to rise above the point of aim, not fall below. So why did things turn out this way? Dunno. Maybe it has something to do with the turbulence caused by the projectile out in front.