Pulling The Trigger

A comment left on this essay has prompted me to bore the crap out of you with yet more verbiage!  Talk about recycling!

In the previous post, I mentioned that one of my students chose a Kel-Tec P-3AT for her private defensive arm.  This is a handgun chambered for the popular .380 ACP cartridge, and yet is designed to be as small and light as possible.

kel tec 380 in the palm of a hand

It seems that reader LBD was kind enough to ask a few questions about the P-3AT, as well as share some of her concerns.

How much do these generally cost?

The P-3AT retails somewhere around $300 USD.  You might be able to find one for a few dollars more, or your local gun store might mark it up a bit.  I wouldn’t buy one if it was more than $350 USD myself, but you might not have a choice if you happen to live in a place where there are lots of gun control laws on the books.  This tends to drive the price up in an unreasonable way.

I have a KelTec P11, and I can’t use it because the trigger pull is too far for my hand. I’m a woman, but I’m not tiny, but somehow I can’t get the trigger to pull back all the way with one pull. Does this gun have an easier trigger pull because of its small size?

The gun that LBD currently owns is this one, which is very similar to the P-3AT except that it is a bit larger, a bit heavier, and chambered for the more potent 9mm Parabellum cartridge.  A picture is below.

kel tec p11

That isn’t the same hand in both pictures, but they seem to be pretty close in size.  Note how the P11 is large enough to jut past the bottom of the hand, while the P-3AT in the first picture does not?  That is because the larger gun is about one inch higher from top to bottom, and about half an inch longer from the back of the slide to the muzzle.

So the gun LBD owns not only fires a more powerful round, it is larger and heavier as well.  But she is having trouble pulling the trigger all the way to the rear so the gun will go bang.  Why would that be so?

Continue reading

Inappropriate Questions

I discussed one of my students with you, my gentle readers, on these pages last year.  Let me refresh your memory.

She had moved away from home to attend college, the first time she was on her own.

young woman with textbook

(Not the young lady in question.)

She acquired a boyfriend, which turned out to be a mistake as he became physically abusive.  This encounter was more dangerous for her than it would be for most, as she is an extremely small and slight young woman.


She wasn’t permanently damaged, as she merely suffered a split lip and two black eyes.  Still, violent crime is violent crime.  No one said you had to be gravely injured in order to request my help.

But she didn’t, at least not at first.  It wasn’t until she awoke shivering in the winter cold, her bedroom window open and her valuables missing from the apartment, that she decided to seek me out.

I did the usual, upgrading the barriers to entry at her place by installing window bars and new locks.  Then it was time for the firearms training.

She said that she was ready, and even seemed enthusiastic.  But she had the worst startle reflex that I have ever seen!  Every time a gun went off at the shooting range, she would jump so violently that her feet would leave the floor!

startled cat

I wasn’t too inclined to spend the time needed to get her over this psychological hurdle, but the comments some of you left here convinced me to persevere.  It took much longer than it normally does, and I had to use training methods that normally aren’t part of my class, but eventually she managed to calm down enough to become an adequate shooter.  She received the documents she needed to apply for a CCW license, and we parted ways.

That would normally be the end of it, but I received a call from her very recently.  It seems that she has not improved when it comes to choosing quality boyfriends, but the outcome was much different from the last time a significant other attempted to lay violent hands upon her.

Continue reading

Shooting Blind

knirirr was kind enough to ask my opinion about the news that the state of Iowa allows the blind to successfully apply for a license to carry a concealed firearm.

blind man on his way to work

Can this possibly be true?  Those completely without sight allowed by the state government to carry ranged weapons for their defense?

At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea myself.  And then I read about Warren Wethington, the sheriff of Cedar County in Iowa.

Sheriff Wethington points out that the word “blind” is applied to people who still have the power of sight, just not at the level considered average.  Under normal lighting levels, many of them have the ability to make out shapes within ten feet, and determine whether or not it is a threat.  This is similar to the ability that those who enjoy average sight have in low light or foggy conditions.

And yet, even though the ability to see what is around them deteriorates when the lights go dim, no one is suggesting that those with average sight should disarm when the Sun goes down.  So why should anyone demand that the visually impaired be denied the ability to defend themselves?

One of the reasons that I defer to Sheriff Wethington’s opinion in this matter is due to the fact that his daughter is visually impaired, and he taught her how to safely and effectively use firearms for her own defense.

sheriff wthington with his daughter 1

(Picture source.)

sheriff wthington with his daughter 2

(Picture source.)

Continue reading

Armed Citizens Are Safe Citizens

Is the title of this post accurate?  Are armed people safer?

Those who favor gun control laws insist that this is simply not so.   The chances of getting caught up in a robbery, mugging, or terrorist attack are just the same for those carrying concealed handguns as it is for those who are not.

That is true so far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.  People who are armed against the chance of violent criminal attack might have the same chance to be singled out as a victim, but they also have the means to fight back.  When faced with a person intent on murder, those who carry firearms have a chance to survive.  Those without are nothing more than screaming meat.

criminal with knife

I am detailing these extremely obvious facts because of this news article from ABC.  The Secretary General for Interpol has publicly stated that there are only two reasonable methods for the general public to be protected from terrorist attack.

The first is to have a secure perimeter around … well, everything!  This means police, armed security agents, metal detectors, bomb sniffing dogs, X-ray machines, and physical searches of everyone who attempts to cross the line.

police checkpoint

turkish security forces during attack dog exercise

This is fine so far as a few high value targets are concerned, but no one can do this everywhere.  No country has the manpower, the resources, the money to do this for all places where more than three people congregate.  So the only other option is to allow average, law abiding citizens to have the means to defend themselves.  This means laws favoring and supporting average citizens carrying concealed firearms for their protection.

This, of course, is something that people like myself have been saying for decades.  Hardly surprising, considering that I am a firearms instructor myself who hails from the Land of the 2nd Amendment.  It might seem odd that the Secretary General for Interpol is saying the same thing, until you realize that he is a fellow American.

(Hat tip to Glenn.)


I have never been a police officer of any description, but I did have a brief career in law enforcement.  My job was to take and process fingerprints.

blue fingerprint impression

One day, a male prisoner was brought in.  He was of average height, thin but for a small pot belly.  I noticed right away that his hands were big and scarred, and he had the ropy muscles that you find on guys who make their living by doing real work.  Even though he was cuffed and on his way to jail, he was joking and smiling.

The escorting officers, however, were grim as death.  There were also more cops than usual for a single suspect.  That told me right away that the prisoner was a special case.

Standard procedure was followed.  The suspect was locked to the floor via an ankle cuff, his hands were freed, and two officers stood within arms reach in case of need.  Recognizing that something was up, I was meticulous.  Two sets of fingerprints, and two sets of palm prints for the latent print examiner.  I made sure that they were all perfect and unsmeared.

When it was done one officer grabbed the wrists of the prisoner from behind and yanked them up, forcing the suspect to bend from the waist.   While the other officer moved in to lock down the handcuffs, the prisoner looked up at me.  With a winning smile and full eye contact, he doled out some of his own special wisdom.

Do you know what people are?  They are nothing more than bags of meat with screams inside!

Continue reading

An Englishman Visits The Shooting Range

Most of my regular readers are familiar with knirirr, a citizen of the United Kingdom who is also interested in martial history.

united kingdom flag

stone circle in the uk

Alas!  Part of this interest runs into firearms, a hobby which is very sternly frowned upon in knirirr’s native land.

This isn’t to say that all types of firearms are completely banned in the UK, just that most are.  In fact, knirirr has been pursuing his interests in a perfectly legal manner by acquiring a black powder revolver.  I am not certain as to the make and model, but I believe the basic design is this one.

Walker Colt

(Picture source.)

But, even so, there are restrictions and requirements of which I am only dimly aware.  For example, knirirr once mentioned in passing that he was only able to fire 30 rounds per month.  I am not at all sure why this is so, and I am hoping that he will see fit to educate me in the comments.

And so it went for many years, until he recently revealed that his employer was going to send him to the United States for a few days.  His time would mostly not be his own, but he would be able to pay for one extra night at the hotel.  Perhaps I could help out a bit by arranging for a little trigger time with a modern handgun?

You all know me by now.  How could I not do my best?  In fact, I immediately wondered why we should stop with a simple visit to the range.  There are many places in the US which offer courses for more advanced training, but they won’t bother with teaching the basics.  If our friend from across the Pond could take the NRA Basic Pistol course, then it would kill two birds with one trip.  Not only would he be able to make some noise with a modern handgun, but he would also complete the prerequisites for more involved training in case he ever found himself cast up on our shores in the future!

nra basic pistol textbook

But there were a few problems that seemed insurmountable.  You see, the two places that knirirr was going to visit are amongst the most hostile to private firearm ownership in general, and handguns specifically.  These two cities were Chicago and Boston.

Continue reading

Terrible Moment In Oregon

I just viewed a dramatic video which depicts a fatal shootout during a routine traffic stop.

The footage shows a motorist who refuses to follow the instructions of the state trooper who had pulled him over for speeding.  Instead, the suspect pulls a handgun and starts blazing away.  The law enforcement officer was struck in the side, and is expected to make a full recovery.  The suspect who fired the first shot suffered a fatal wound to the chest, and died a half mile down the road.

There are a few things that seem to happen in the video which I found to be of interest.

The first is that the suspect was holding his handgun in a standard two-handed combat grip.


(Picture source.)

He draws his weapon, and manages to fire what seems to me to be three rounds.  The state trooper is returning fire at this time, and the suspect twists to his right as the fatal bullet enters his chest.  At this moment, the magazine drops from the handgun the motorist is using to attack the officer.

What happened?  Did the shooter actually want to unload his handgun at that moment?  It does not appear that this was the case.

I would think that one of the shooter’s fingers was lightly touching the magazine release, which is just a button located at the base of the trigger guard.

millenium pro with red arrow indicating magazine release

When he received the chest wound, it appears that the suspect tightened his grip.  The finger which was lightly brushing the magazine release was suddenly not brushing it so lightly, and the magazine dropped away from the gun as it was designed to do.  The sudden and unexpected unloading of the gun is probably the only reason the suspect was not able to finish off the state trooper.

The shooter realized he was hurt, and moved to put the bulk of the law enforcement vehicle between himself and his victim.  But his gun would no longer fire, and he noticed that the partially expended magazine was lying on the pavement.  He moved to scoop up his magazine and reload his weapon, but decided at that point that discretion was the better part of valor.  He ran back to his own vehicle, and sped off down the highway.

One of the lessons I try and impart to my students is that handguns suck.  They excel at their primary purpose, which is to provide go anywhere emergency self defense in a small and light package that is ideal to carry on your person at all times.  Unfortunately, these requirements for low weight and small size means that power and effectiveness must be compromised.  They are just too weak to reliably render immediate incapacitation.  This video makes that same point.

The last we see him, the suspect is moving very fast.  He retrieves his ammunition from the ground, reloads his handgun, and runs to his car.  Anyone seeing that would think that all of the shots fired by the attacked state trooper had missed their target.  The shooter does not appear to be in any pain, and is able to perform complex actions without hesitation.  And yet he was dying all the while, with probably less than a minute of conscious life remaining.

I would think that blood loss was what finally laid the man low.  Perhaps the blood loss was mostly internal, as I did not see any sudden bloodstain appear on his shirt, but it is hard to tell with the loose clothing that was being worn.

I am very glad that the state trooper is on the road to recovery, just as I am glad that the three children waiting in the shooter’s car were not harmed by any stray rounds.  It will be interesting if we ever find out why this man decided to attempt to murder a law enforcement officer during a routine traffic stop.