One of my major frustrations with the majority of my students s the high regard they hold for handguns, and the lack of interest they displayed for long guns.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of good things I can say about handguns. The only problem is that comparable long guns are much, much more powerful than their handgun counterparts. Handguns are the perfect size for go anywhere emergency defense tools. A carefully chosen long gun is perfect for just about everything else.
But why would that be? How much more powerful are long guns when compared to handguns, anyway?
The rifle is chambered for the .30-06 Springfield round, while the handgun is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. This means the rifle produces about 2,800 ft/lbs of muzzle energy, while the handgun delivers a mere 350 ft/lbs.
There are a great many factors that contribute to the effectiveness of firearms, of course, just as there are a great many loads available for every popular cartridge which changes the performance of the gun. But comparing muzzle energy is a fairly reliable quick-and-dirty method, and it is very clear that this particular long gun far outclasses that handgun.
Okay, so what about the present day? New weapons have replaced the old and boring guns that are pictured above. What are the standard infantry weapons of today, and how do they stack up?
The rifle is chambered for the 5.56 NATO round, which produces something around 1,600 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. (guy in the comments points out that the muzzle energy is 1300 ft/lbs. Thanks for the heads up, guy!)
The handgun is chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, which delivers about 420 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. Once again, the rifle leaves the handgun in the dust.
Are there handguns which approach the performance of battle rifles? Sure, you bet! The larger Magnum calibers will do that. But the vast majority of students were not interested in such large and expensive guns, opting for something similar to the handguns listed above.
I also haven’t mentioned shotguns, which certainly are long guns.
This website gives the lowdown on the muzzle energy produced by the various shotgun gauges, stating that the popular 12 gauge delivers around 2,500 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. I cannot swear to the accuracy of the numbers listed as I have not tested shotguns to find the exact data, but it certainly sounds about right.
So while handguns are essential for concealed carry, why did my students concerned about home defense turn their nose up at long guns? Mainly because movies and TV almost always show their favorite characters using handguns against the bad guys.
So I might have the skills and experience but I don’t have the glamour, ad glamour wins every time.