Which Caliber Should I Choose For My First Self Defense Handgun?

I want to show you something.  Take a look at the picture below.

(Click pic for larger.)

What the heck is that?  A picture of 87 different calibers. All handgun cartridges.  Except for a few exceptions, you would need a different gun to shoot each cartridge.  And it is hardly an exhaustive list.

Anyone just starting out with armed self defense might just despair of ever getting it right.  All these different calibers!  All these different gun designs!  Which one to choose?  Guns are expensive, costing about as much as a major appliance like a washing machine.  A lot of people only have enough money for one gun, so they have to get something that will work on the first go without any hidden problems.  Which is pretty much what people think when they buy a washing machine.

Don’t panic, we can get through this.  All we have to do is narrow the list.  What we need to do is concentrate on handgun calibers that are proven to be effective in a self defense role, and that are popular.

Why only popular calibers?  Because that means there are plenty of choices in ammunition and gun options.  More choices means it is easier to find something that suits your particular needs, and competition between manufacturers keeps the price down.  Best to start with boring and effective.  You can get something exotic and exciting after gaining some experience.

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Clean Your Shotgun Bore With A Shotgun Shell

I just received a heads up about a new product on the market from long time reader Greg.  (Thanks, Greg!)    It appears to be a shotgun shell loaded with cotton wadding and, perhaps, a solid disk of wax.  Load a shell, fire it in your shotgun, and the bore inside the barrel is buffed nice and clean.

The product is offered by a company named Huntego, which you might have guessed by the picture above.  These shells were reviewed by The Firearm Blog back in 2017, and they certainly seem to think they work.  Of course, there is no reason why they shouldn’t.

The idea of using a projectile to clean the bore of a firearm is certainly nothing new.  It was a subject of some interest back when black powder was being used as a propellant.

(Picture source.)

See all that white smoke?  That is propellant residue, and it coats any gun that uses black powder with every shot fired.  If one is using traditional black powder, it doesn’t take too many bangs before the inside of the barrel starts to get heavily encrusted.  This shrinks the bore size, making it difficult to ram a bullet down the muzzle.

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Confirming My Bias

Get involved in any martial art and there is an endless debate as to which is the best.

KarateKrav MagaBoxing?  If you think differently than me, you’re wrong!!!

The main criteria is what someone is good at.  Boxing champion thinks karate is foppish prancing about.  Karate black belt thinks Krav Maga is just rolling around and yelling at people.  Krav Maga black belt thinks boxing is an exercise program for incompetents who can’t handle the stresses of Krav Maga.  And so on.

What about people who agree that armed self defense is a good thing?  What do they have to argue about?  Mainly the gear.

Sure, we all say that it is best to have a firearm at the ready when a violent criminal attacks from the shadows.  But what firearm?  Revolver?   Autoloader?  What manufacturer?  Glock?  Colt?  Smith & Wesson?  The chances to have unreasonably vicious discussions about reasonable personal choice are endless!

The one subject about armed self defense that seems to get everyone really riled up is caliber choice.  Which caliber is the best to end a violent criminal attack?  Everyone has an opinion, and no one is willing to listen to opposing views.

What is my personal opinion?  That anything at least as powerful as a .380 ACP is necessary to be effective, and after that shot placement is the most telling factor in armed self defense.  After learning how to accurately shoot under the stress of terrifying aggression, and if you equip yourself with a .380 ACP or larger multi-shot handgun, then you’ll do just about as well as with any equipment.

Below is a Youtube video from someone who is interested in prepping, or choosing the stuff you will carry when the world comes apart in order to keep yourself alive.  He uses a large study of real-world shootings.  You can object to his data or his conclusions, but I think he makes a good case.

Why did I link to the video here?  Mainly because it perfectly reaffirms my own conclusions.  And always remember that anyone who disagrees, no matter how logically, is just plain wrong!!

(Just kidding.)

Spritz Spritz, Bang Bang

One of the things I always tell my students is that hand-to-hand self defense options require a high level of physical fitness.

The race may not be won by the swift, nor the fight by the strong, but that is the way to bet.

The best way to think of a hand-to-hand conflict where weapons are not present is that it is an energy exchange.  The aggressor is trying to force the victim to submit by dumping kinetic energy in to his target.  He does this by punching and kicking the victim.  The victim is trying to either resist the attack by throwing their own punches and kicks, or by running away.

The person who is larger and stronger has the decided advantage, not only because their attacks will have more kinetic energy but also because their bodies will have more mass to absorb the blows of their opponent.

Learning a martial art is useful, but only up to a point.

All practical martial arts will provide a framework to make your blows more efficient, as well as encourage vigorous work outs to improve fitness levels.  They are operating systems for self defense, as it were, and I encouraged all of my students that were capable to take up the martial arts of their choice.  Even so, age or injury and the size of an opponent will nullify even the best of these systems.  Physics are physics, and we all have to live within the rules.

And so we come to the subject of this essay: less-lethal weapons.

Batons and defensive sprays such as tear gas or pepper spray are portrayed in moves and on TV as some sort of fight ending wonder weapons.  Spray a little irritating liquid in the face of your attacker, or strike them with your baton, and down they go in a quivering heap!

Below is a very short video of part of an actual riot that took place in Portland on June 30, 2018.

(I didn’t edit this video, just using it for illustrative purposes.)
The person with the baton attacked an unarmed opponent, but that person was significantly larger and in better condition.  Combine that with a disregard for getting bruised and the outcome was never really in doubt.  One could say that the baton armed aggressor chose….poorly.

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I Dunno, There Seems To Be An Awful Lot Of Hate On Display

It has been a couple of weeks, but lets talk about 30-year-old Kino Jimenez.

Looks pretty tough.  Obviously exercises a bit, and is proud of the results.

He was arrested in 2016, and again in 2017.  I can’t find any information on why he was arrested, which probably means Mr. Jimenez had a lawyer smart enough to request that the record be sealed.  I did find the 2017 mugshot, though.

A real charmer, I’d say!

Mr. Jimenez was eating at a fast food burger restaurant early morning July 3, 2018 when he saw two underage teenagers who were also enjoying a late night bite.  Every kid was no older than 16 years old.  One of them was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, a baseball cap displaying the campaign slogan of President Trump.  Mr. Jimenez decided to take action.

Please be aware that the following video is not safe for work due to foul language.

Lots of aggression, lots of hate.  It appears to me that Mr. Jimenez was just looking for an excuse to throw a punch.  If so, then the kids at that table were smart to take the abuse without protesting too much.

Mr. Jimenez was identified through social media, and the police arrested him on a felony charge of Theft of Person.  This is normally a misdemeanor if the property taken is less than $100.00 USD, but it can lead to a felony charge under certain circumstances.  Texas Penal Code 31.03(e)(4)(D) states that the crime is  “a state jail felony if: (D) the value of the property stolen is less than $2,500 and the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of any grade of theft;...”

Okay, so he was charged with a felony this time around, but we have no concrete information as to why.  I’m sure that the prosecutor has his reasons as to why stealing a $20.00 baseball cap prompted a felony charge.

Here is the latest mugshot taken of Mr. Jimenez.

What happened to the hairy-scary guy?  Dunno!

I wrote this post because I am rather puzzled.  Why isn’t the Justice Department pursuing charges of a hate crime?

I am not too happy with the whole hate crime concept myself, as I think any group the victim belongs to should not increase the severity of the punishment.  But if violent people are getting extra punishment because they choose their victims because they belong to a certain race or social group, shouldn’t the same criteria be applied to Leftists who attack children because they are wearing a hat with a political slogan?