Debunking 9 Classic Myths and Whoppers about Firearms

by September 15, 2010 09/15/10

I’ve been around firearms since 1972 (that I can prove). Having been in and around them in the military since 1988 and working in the industry since 1996, I have seen and heard some whoppers told in my time.

In this article I would like to debunk some firearms myths with facts, figures and my personal experience as an instructor of this very cliquish yet globally popular martial art.

Myth #1 – Caliber Matters

First off let’s talk caliber. Let me say that this is one of the hottest topics out there and is bandied about with much fanfare and supposition on all sides by experts and non-experts. Here are some facts and figures that actually do matter.

  1. A .22 has killed plenty of people. So have a .32, a .380, 9-milly, a .357, a .357 Sig, .40 and a .45 caliber. Bullet type (ball vs. hollow point) has more to do with effectiveness that the caliber.
  2. The common term “Stopping power,” is more a measurement of energy and has nothing to do with a dynamic target such as the human body.
  3. Shot placement is key.
  4. The cavity a bullet can make in a block of gelatin, wet phone books, or a water jug, has very little to do with what it can do in a diversely dense target such as the human body. The human body has differential densities i.e. muscle, tendon, bone and voids (lungs and intestines). All of these affect how the bullet performs.

What does all this mean? Well, if you plan on using your firearm in a deadly force engagement then you better know how to use it and where you need to hit them. Do I carry a .22 to serve a warrant? No, but I don’t walk around loaded for warrant service when I go to the store for a gallon of milk either.

Pick the right tool for the job, I wouldn’t want to use the 16 pound sledge to drive out the pins from a pistol on my gun bench and I wouldn’t want to drive tent stakes into hard earth with the brass hammer either. If you need to and can comfortably conceal & carry a .45, good on you if you are willing to do it every day.

I’m not and don’t need to. While a majority of the time a full size P-229 in .357 Sig is my carry option, occasionally in the heat and humidity of FL (and the relatively safe lifestyle and area I live in), the Walther P-22 does fill-in duty for shorts and t-shirt weather.

Myth #2 – Firearms Experts

Next let’s discuss Firearms Experts. Believe it or not I sold appliances, lawn equipment, and was considered an expert by the company I worked for when I wore an orange apron. My training consisted of reading some training manuals for 30 minutes and taking a test.

Here’s the newsflash, most gun stores don’t even do that and there is no way you could begin to become an expert in this manner. I have been around guns for a long time and don’t consider myself an expert and almost never recommend a weapon to a student until I have a chance to know them and see what their needs and physical abilities might be.

So why can I walk into a majority of gun Stores, pawn shops or Gun shows and get a recommendation on the perfect gun for me in less than 30 seconds from an expert? Answer? Because they are trying to sell guns!

Here’s another from the “experts,” send a female into a gun shop or gun show and see how many recommendations for a .38 revolver she gets.

I’ll wait.

Ergonomically a revolver takes more grip strength to hold because of the rounded back strap requiring the pinkie and ring fingers to squeeze much tighter in order to manage the flip of the recoil. Also teaching anyone to reload a revolver versus an automatic is easier and less time consuming, yet most “experts” will treat a female like a 3 year old that can’t accomplish such a complicated task.

Does the 98 lb. female need a full size 1911 with a 24# spring? No but that’s not to say that with proper technique and weapon she couldn’t accomplish the mission.

Myth #3 – Dryfiring Damages Weapons

Let’s move on to a more recent statement I heard from an “expert” here in my area, which also brings up another age old debate. I took a client to a local range for the shooting portion of the FL CCW. We were browsing the weapons and I was giving general info on different weapons based on the clients needs and wants. We asked to see a specific weapon and the gentleman behind the counter (notice I said behind the counter at a gun range, by most accounts this makes him an expert) obliged us.

The conversation turned to trigger pull and he made a statement that blew me away. He said, and I quote, “I never dry fire my weapon, it will damage them.” Lordy, lordy, lordy! Really? What rock have you been under for the past 40 years? The Marine Corps has made dry firing an art form with a week of Boot camp devoted to it, every competitor out there advocates it and I advise everyone in all my classes to do so (in a safe and secure manner with the weapon and ammo in separate rooms of the house, the lawyers made me add this part).

I can’t think of a better way to work on trigger control, which in my estimation is about 90% of the equation of shooting. Yet here we have an “expert” in his field, someone whom I know is an instructor at this establishment, spreading a vicious rumor to a neophyte. Upon hearing this, my client will think this is gospel unless I dispel this rumor quickly before it takes hold in a recess of his brain. I did so vehemently and quickly upon exiting the range.

These off hand statements can hurt the industry and promulgate these myths that I run into everyday.

Myth #4 – “I’m a Great Shot!”

This usually means I can hit the bull’s-eye more times than not with little to no pressure and no time hacks. Is this a good thing? Sure, if you are a professional target shooter. However, if you are carrying a gun for defensive purposes then it bears little on being able to FIGHT with a gun.

Myth #5 – “A (insert gun here) isn’t very accurate”

Unless you’re talking about a Hi-Point or a Lorcin the gun you have will most definitely shoot better than 90 percent of the people holding it. This is a fact that can be proven time and time again. Good ammo and a brand name gun will be a better shooting package than most of us out there can use, unless your name is JJ Racaza.

Myth #6 – “I know how to shoot I’m a Police officer, Marine..(Fill in the Blank)”

While this line of thinking initially makes sense, I have seen countless people that “should” be able to shoot well and carry a gun for a living that are absolutely horrible at gun fighting. On the opposite side of that, I know guys that are desk jockeys, lawyers and computer nerds that possess gun fighting skills that are phenomenal.

You want to know what the military teaches 90+ percent of the troops? Discipline and firearms safety, which has more bearing on your ability to learn gun fighting than gun fighting itself. The next time you hear this take it with a grain of salt.

Myth #7 – “Kneeling/Modern Isosceles/Monica/(insert technique here) isn’t comfortable.”

WTF! IT’S A GUNFIGHT! I assure you that getting shot is a lot less comfortable. Is everything supposed to be comfortable and natural? If at all possible, sure, but the mission is to shoot him before he shoots you. End of story, suck it up!

Myth #8 – “I can’t shoot a (insert gun here) because of the grip angle.”

Really? Put the front sight on the target and pull the trigger until the threat is gone. I’m not a Glock fan but they shoot. See the myth above this one.

Myth #9 – “Guns need to be cleaned every time they are fired.”

Ummm…No! Keep them well lubed and you will be just fine. Modern weapons run like sewing machines for the most part. My days of “white glove” inspections went the way of my 6 pack abs.

This is article was more or less getting some of the b.s. I hear off my chest, thanks for listening. A special thanks to Brian Sloan for contributing to this article. Brian is a Navy Chief TAD to Djibouti, adjunct instructor with RSKTKR and developer of RSKTKR Electronics products.

“Doc” up!


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panch0villa
panch0villa

Loved the part about dry firing weapons.  

Even if it did damage the components like the firing pin, spring, sear, etc. which it categorically does not. The abilities, training, and understanding of trigger press sight alignment and picture is worth the cost of taking your weapon to the smithy to have a spring or pin replaced.  Or even better doing it yourself.


Cannot believe how many times I have heard people say they never dry fire their weapons.  I know they must shoot for sh*t.

ROBERT LEE MOULTRIE
ROBERT LEE MOULTRIE

Excellent Site and Article. It seems that some people are reluctant to face the truths about alot of gun myths-because their individual beliefs, ideals, and value systems are stronglyconnected to them- their individual identies built around them. In the end, it doesn't matter what technique, weapon or caliber is used-the end justifies the means- and in the conflict or crisis he who walks away is all that matters, mission complete. Saty Safe !

Aaron
Aaron

My groups are much better when I fire my 1911 than my Glock. The 1911 just "agrees" with me more. So where's the problem? Is it with me, or the Glock? Shared blame?

JEFF
JEFF

Wow. So a .22 is sufficient for self defense, guns don't need cleaned, Glocks don't point differently that 1911's, etc.

A list of more myths trying to bust myths. Good work.

Well, at least you've proven the point about "firearms experts"!

JEFF
JEFF

Wow. So a .22 is sufficient for self defense, guns don't need cleaned, Glocks don't point differently that 1911's, etc. A list of more myths trying to bust myths. Good work. Well, at least you've proven the point about "firearms experts"!

Ken
Ken

From personal experience: (...and IMHO.)

Myth #1: I have the potential to kill you with a poke of my finger. Really. Would I rely on that to defend myself? Nope. I carry a Glock 21 on duty (45ACP). When off duty and when I carry I generally carry my S&W Airlite in .357 or Keltec .380. I don't see the point of carrying a .22 unless the only thing you can carry in your Speedos is a .22 derringer and then you might want to reconsider your wardrobe and where you're hanging out.

There IS a caliber myth, but in the extreme as you're putting it.

Myth #2: You're dead on. It is frightening. I asked one "expert" which holster between two sizes once. I can down to the barrel length. End couldn't figure out which was longer 4 3/8" or 4 1/4". I now only ask him, "can you show me that one?"

Oh, pistol v. revolver. For non-shooters I always recommend a revolver because of simplicity. How many times have you guys had a failure? How do you clear those failures. Which type of clearing do you use which type of failure. It takes rounds down range to get failures and failures to clear to get quick to clear. A revolver eliminates that. An assailant can still put his hand on the gun, or you push it into his gut, and the wheels go round and round.

Myth #3: simply follow the manufacturers recommendations. Dry firing is okay on most guns today. RTFM.

Myth #4: Yep, context is key.

Myth #5: Yep. I think this comes from snobbery in what ever field we're discussing. For knives it's steel--AUS4 vs S30V?. GPSes, it's manufacturer. Cars, it's horsepower. I agree that most manufactured firearms are accurate "enough" for the intended situation.

Myth #6: Yes, it's embarrassing. I'm sure every department of any size has the same story of some officer who couldn't qualify with their weapon and was made a desk jockey until they could be coached.

To the person who watched a SWAT instructor who couldn't shoot--WOW! Our SWAT members are no joke. Fist sized groupings to 10 yards in timed fire. The SWAT guys like to challenge themselves. My former SGT. is one of the snipers and he hit a spoon at 266 yards. While they are tight-lipped on the number of tries, but with a steak dinner on the line I'm sure they didn't allow too many!

Myth #7: If you're shooting for recreation I can understand. In a fire fight you're shooting from whatever position that will keep your body behind cover and the firearm pointed down range.

Myth #8: See #7 and #5. Also, point shooters like myself can't easy switch from one handgun to another. That's why I have a limited number of guns. I'm old, have tired eyes, and I'm cross dominant. To shot with any speed it's point shooting for me. Out beyond 10 yards then I take the time to use the sights. Also, I shoot better support side with the M4 because of my "issues," but I'm too clumsy manipulating the rifle to shoot well overall that way.

If you use sights, though, it doesn't matter the grip angle unless there is something wrong physically that you can't hold the gun.

Myth #9: Some work no matter what. Some like to be clean. Again, it depends on the firearm.

I like the article! I like seeing some of the opinions of others. I also find it frustrating to see folks spout off maxims that aren't accurate or are outdated as if it were gospel.

Ken
Ken

From personal experience: (...and IMHO.) Myth #1: I have the potential to kill you with a poke of my finger. Really. Would I rely on that to defend myself? Nope. I carry a Glock 21 on duty (45ACP). When off duty and when I carry I generally carry my S&W Airlite in .357 or Keltec .380. I don't see the point of carrying a .22 unless the only thing you can carry in your Speedos is a .22 derringer and then you might want to reconsider your wardrobe and where you're hanging out. There IS a caliber myth, but in the extreme as you're putting it. Myth #2: You're dead on. It is frightening. I asked one "expert" which holster between two sizes once. I can down to the barrel length. End couldn't figure out which was longer 4 3/8" or 4 1/4". I now only ask him, "can you show me that one?" Oh, pistol v. revolver. For non-shooters I always recommend a revolver because of simplicity. How many times have you guys had a failure? How do you clear those failures. Which type of clearing do you use which type of failure. It takes rounds down range to get failures and failures to clear to get quick to clear. A revolver eliminates that. An assailant can still put his hand on the gun, or you push it into his gut, and the wheels go round and round. Myth #3: simply follow the manufacturers recommendations. Dry firing is okay on most guns today. RTFM. Myth #4: Yep, context is key. Myth #5: Yep. I think this comes from snobbery in what ever field we're discussing. For knives it's steel--AUS4 vs S30V?. GPSes, it's manufacturer. Cars, it's horsepower. I agree that most manufactured firearms are accurate "enough" for the intended situation. Myth #6: Yes, it's embarrassing. I'm sure every department of any size has the same story of some officer who couldn't qualify with their weapon and was made a desk jockey until they could be coached. To the person who watched a SWAT instructor who couldn't shoot--WOW! Our SWAT members are no joke. Fist sized groupings to 10 yards in timed fire. The SWAT guys like to challenge themselves. My former SGT. is one of the snipers and he hit a spoon at 266 yards. While they are tight-lipped on the number of tries, but with a steak dinner on the line I'm sure they didn't allow too many! Myth #7: If you're shooting for recreation I can understand. In a fire fight you're shooting from whatever position that will keep your body behind cover and the firearm pointed down range. Myth #8: See #7 and #5. Also, point shooters like myself can't easy switch from one handgun to another. That's why I have a limited number of guns. I'm old, have tired eyes, and I'm cross dominant. To shot with any speed it's point shooting for me. Out beyond 10 yards then I take the time to use the sights. Also, I shoot better support side with the M4 because of my "issues," but I'm too clumsy manipulating the rifle to shoot well overall that way. If you use sights, though, it doesn't matter the grip angle unless there is something wrong physically that you can't hold the gun. Myth #9: Some work no matter what. Some like to be clean. Again, it depends on the firearm. I like the article! I like seeing some of the opinions of others. I also find it frustrating to see folks spout off maxims that aren't accurate or are outdated as if it were gospel.

Justin White
Justin White

I own a Springfield XD9, and with regards to the Dry Firing myth. I've owned this gun for awhile and it shoots better now than it did when i got it. I've put thousands of rounds through it. I havent had a problem, with the platform yet. Not one. Only ammo, or user error related issues. (Primer failure, Miss feed-due to magazine spring being backwards, and 1 failure to eject which was due to a worn our -reloaded- casing I believe). Anyways. long story short, the firing pin roll pin has a tendency to take some wear and tear when dry firing. I've read in a few places (xdforums, and various other places) that dry firing your XD can cause undue stress on the firing pin rollpin. I have yet to have a problem with this, and until it breaks, I'll consider it a myth. Meanwhile, if it does break, I have a lunch kit and extra (1/2doz) pins available in my range bag. As for dry firing other weapons, the only other instance I know of is dry firing or safety testing your trigger assembly on the AR platform with the upper receiver removed from the lower receiver. The hammer can damage your lower if you allow it freely cycle without using a thumb to catch it when it releases. Thats about it. I see no problem with dry fire. If your worried about it, get snap caps.

Awesome article BTW!

Justin White
Justin White

I own a Springfield XD9, and with regards to the Dry Firing myth. I've owned this gun for awhile and it shoots better now than it did when i got it. I've put thousands of rounds through it. I havent had a problem, with the platform yet. Not one. Only ammo, or user error related issues. (Primer failure, Miss feed-due to magazine spring being backwards, and 1 failure to eject which was due to a worn our -reloaded- casing I believe). Anyways. long story short, the firing pin roll pin has a tendency to take some wear and tear when dry firing. I've read in a few places (xdforums, and various other places) that dry firing your XD can cause undue stress on the firing pin rollpin. I have yet to have a problem with this, and until it breaks, I'll consider it a myth. Meanwhile, if it does break, I have a lunch kit and extra (1/2doz) pins available in my range bag. As for dry firing other weapons, the only other instance I know of is dry firing or safety testing your trigger assembly on the AR platform with the upper receiver removed from the lower receiver. The hammer can damage your lower if you allow it freely cycle without using a thumb to catch it when it releases. Thats about it. I see no problem with dry fire. If your worried about it, get snap caps. Awesome article BTW!

TANK
TANK

WOW The arthor even stated it was from his personal experiences. Are all of those who will comment in a negative fasion that closed minded? I may not agree with him but I will not go out and critisize his work. Noting is grossly wrong, infact I believe most of what he has written. I was raised around firearms, I can remember when my mother switched from her .357 revolver and brought home a brand new berretta 92 and, with our family beliefs I was to understand firearms, was lookking it over and handling it unloaded at about the age of 5 and closing the slide on the flap of skin between my thumb and index finger. I think those of you willing to examine everything under a microscope need to learn to live and relax.

Opinions are like assholes, every one has one.

TANK
TANK

WOW The arthor even stated it was from his personal experiences. Are all of those who will comment in a negative fasion that closed minded? I may not agree with him but I will not go out and critisize his work. Noting is grossly wrong, infact I believe most of what he has written. I was raised around firearms, I can remember when my mother switched from her .357 revolver and brought home a brand new berretta 92 and, with our family beliefs I was to understand firearms, was lookking it over and handling it unloaded at about the age of 5 and closing the slide on the flap of skin between my thumb and index finger. I think those of you willing to examine everything under a microscope need to learn to live and relax. Opinions are like assholes, every one has one.

AnointedSword
AnointedSword

I agree with this article for the most part. I do have a problem with people saying they want the biggest caliber to kick down doors. Mainly because when you kick down doors and clear speed and placement is of the essence.

Woody
Woody

Lets all stop listening to all the so called experts and use logic on all of these points/ myths. My ears burn when I hear people at the range, gun stores, gun shows repeating these time honored statements

as "a .45 will stop anything", a ".308 will kill just by wizzing by you", etc. etc. I can vouch for the military man not being able to shoot and they should know that by their own scores at the record fire range. I was a sharpshooter at best and a no qual. at worst. It took me a lot of unlearning to shoot a handgun and be able to reliably hit the inside of said barn. I did learn it is not like riding a bicycle, you need to shoot/ dry fire a lot to stay good with any weapon. My 2cents.

Woody

Woody
Woody

Lets all stop listening to all the so called experts and use logic on all of these points/ myths. My ears burn when I hear people at the range, gun stores, gun shows repeating these time honored statements as "a .45 will stop anything", a ".308 will kill just by wizzing by you", etc. etc. I can vouch for the military man not being able to shoot and they should know that by their own scores at the record fire range. I was a sharpshooter at best and a no qual. at worst. It took me a lot of unlearning to shoot a handgun and be able to reliably hit the inside of said barn. I did learn it is not like riding a bicycle, you need to shoot/ dry fire a lot to stay good with any weapon. My 2cents. Woody

Mike Judd
Mike Judd

You know...two in the chest and one in the head will kill regardless of caliber.

robert herbert
robert herbert

i'm impressed. for such an emotional topic this has been civil.

what event results in death (where are ya doc?)? cessation of brain activity.

how do you cause that event? one round to cranial occipital. of anything. even .22 short will work.

second best cause of flaccid paralysis is trauma to medulla oblangata. again, even .22 short will work. third best and most common is going to be internal bleeding from a lacerating gsw to an arterial blood source, hence the center mass target. ideally you want to rip a large hole in the aorta, carotid, sub clavian, brachial or femoral arteries. rapid blood loss combined with a rapid drop in bp causes unconsciousness and shortly, death. a lacerated liver is effective also. any of these events can be accomplished with any bullet. gsw to any organ other than cardiac muscle is not immediately terminal and there are instances where cardiac gsw is not immediate.the only real consideration of caliber is penetration (velocity), expansion ( to prevent over penetration), and will it fracture humerus, femur or pelvis. for this i would not rely on anything smaller than a .38+.

you can kill an elk with a .22 if it goes through his eye into his brain. shoot him with a .50 bmg and hit his knee? well no dinner for you. it all comes down to bullet placement. if you think it is "energy", this is a fallacy. most defensive hand guns acheive 300 -600 pounds of energy. bas ruttan has been measured a 1000pbounds in a punch and nearly 1200 in a kick. he never killed anyone in the ring. i would not recommend any rim fire as a defensive weapon. my first handgun was a ruger p91 dc. man was i a lousy shot. tried a friends glock and i shot better than him and he is his dept.'s top shot. i love my glock 22 it still feels like it was custom made for my hand. every time someone has said"what kind of gun should i get?", i tell them go to a gun range and shoot a bunch of different guns. buy the one you can shoot accurately and feels light enough to carry daily.

robert herbert
robert herbert

i'm impressed. for such an emotional topic this has been civil. what event results in death (where are ya doc?)? cessation of brain activity. how do you cause that event? one round to cranial occipital. of anything. even .22 short will work. second best cause of flaccid paralysis is trauma to medulla oblangata. again, even .22 short will work. third best and most common is going to be internal bleeding from a lacerating gsw to an arterial blood source, hence the center mass target. ideally you want to rip a large hole in the aorta, carotid, sub clavian, brachial or femoral arteries. rapid blood loss combined with a rapid drop in bp causes unconsciousness and shortly, death. a lacerated liver is effective also. any of these events can be accomplished with any bullet. gsw to any organ other than cardiac muscle is not immediately terminal and there are instances where cardiac gsw is not immediate.the only real consideration of caliber is penetration (velocity), expansion ( to prevent over penetration), and will it fracture humerus, femur or pelvis. for this i would not rely on anything smaller than a .38+. you can kill an elk with a .22 if it goes through his eye into his brain. shoot him with a .50 bmg and hit his knee? well no dinner for you. it all comes down to bullet placement. if you think it is "energy", this is a fallacy. most defensive hand guns acheive 300 -600 pounds of energy. bas ruttan has been measured a 1000pbounds in a punch and nearly 1200 in a kick. he never killed anyone in the ring. i would not recommend any rim fire as a defensive weapon. my first handgun was a ruger p91 dc. man was i a lousy shot. tried a friends glock and i shot better than him and he is his dept.'s top shot. i love my glock 22 it still feels like it was custom made for my hand. every time someone has said"what kind of gun should i get?", i tell them go to a gun range and shoot a bunch of different guns. buy the one you can shoot accurately and feels light enough to carry daily.

FYS
FYS

On the money on all points... Except one. I will point out that you are most incorrect on the Hi-Point being inaccurate. A friend gave me one as a gag gift... And damn if the thing isn't accurate. Not saying I'd trust my life on it, but I am saying, it is more accurate than 90% of its users will be.

FYS.

FYS
FYS

On the money on all points... Except one. I will point out that you are most incorrect on the Hi-Point being inaccurate. A friend gave me one as a gag gift... And damn if the thing isn't accurate. Not saying I'd trust my life on it, but I am saying, it is more accurate than 90% of its users will be. FYS.

Jason
Jason

#1 Agree. Caliber doesn't matter if the shot is well placed.

#2 Agree. Salesmen are not experts.

#3 Mostly agree. Some weapon designs shouldn't be dry fired. I am military. We dry fire our weapons constantly for muscle memory. It saves lives.

#4 Agree. Fight or flight response kicks in during a true fight for you life. I know from having survived Baghdad, Iraq; Kandahar, Afghanistan; and Shank, Afghanistan. Being able to hit a paper target with your heart rate slightly above your resting heart rate doesn't compare to 140+ BPM when fight or flight responses have kicked in.

#5 Agree.

#6 Agree. I can state this strongly being that I am military. Some of my buddies scare the crud out of me when we go through advanced weapons training. Those individuals thankfully get pulled off the range.

#7 Agree. The way it was put to me: Use your money maker and work the pole. It isn't meant to be comfortable. It it were everyone would be doing it.

#8 Agree. It amounts to human error and not weapon error majority of the time.

#9 Agree and Disagree. During Advanced Weapons Training / Fighting we easily fire off anywhere between 3000 - 5000 rounds through our M4 Carbines and a good 1000 rounds through our M9 in approx 4 days. During that time we don't clean the weapons. We simply lube them up and keep firing. Next week we spend time with our weapons and clean out all of the carbon deposits. A clean weapon functions well. It is your life.

Jason
Jason

#1 Agree. Caliber doesn't matter if the shot is well placed. #2 Agree. Salesmen are not experts. #3 Mostly agree. Some weapon designs shouldn't be dry fired. I am military. We dry fire our weapons constantly for muscle memory. It saves lives. #4 Agree. Fight or flight response kicks in during a true fight for you life. I know from having survived Baghdad, Iraq; Kandahar, Afghanistan; and Shank, Afghanistan. Being able to hit a paper target with your heart rate slightly above your resting heart rate doesn't compare to 140+ BPM when fight or flight responses have kicked in. #5 Agree. #6 Agree. I can state this strongly being that I am military. Some of my buddies scare the crud out of me when we go through advanced weapons training. Those individuals thankfully get pulled off the range. #7 Agree. The way it was put to me: Use your money maker and work the pole. It isn't meant to be comfortable. It it were everyone would be doing it. #8 Agree. It amounts to human error and not weapon error majority of the time. #9 Agree and Disagree. During Advanced Weapons Training / Fighting we easily fire off anywhere between 3000 - 5000 rounds through our M4 Carbines and a good 1000 rounds through our M9 in approx 4 days. During that time we don't clean the weapons. We simply lube them up and keep firing. Next week we spend time with our weapons and clean out all of the carbon deposits. A clean weapon functions well. It is your life.

logan
logan

On point #3, if I'm not mistaken in some older pistols it will damage the hammer as they are designed to be sent backwards after the recoil. However, in newer handguns companies actually want you to dry fire them to get a better feel for the weapon.

For instance i would never dry fire any of my revolvers older than 30 years old. But on the other side if I'm cleaning any of my newer .45's or any pistol for that matter, I will dry fire and test every moving component on it to ensure cleanliness.

I agree and disagree with the point.

Good article though.

logan
logan

On point #3, if I'm not mistaken in some older pistols it will damage the hammer as they are designed to be sent backwards after the recoil. However, in newer handguns companies actually want you to dry fire them to get a better feel for the weapon. For instance i would never dry fire any of my revolvers older than 30 years old. But on the other side if I'm cleaning any of my newer .45's or any pistol for that matter, I will dry fire and test every moving component on it to ensure cleanliness. I agree and disagree with the point. Good article though.

Specialist
Specialist

I have to say that it seems like a lot of people are put their two sense in and debunk everything that is in this article. There are a lot of grey areas in all of these myths but for the most part they are true to the point. In Afghanistan it was a lot easier to shoot the terrorist who had a higher caliber than we did. The fact that we trained on end to have discipline and learn how to handle when you are being shot back at. If you have someone that really doesn't know how to shoot and just spreads their ammo or fires from the hip and someone that is trained to kill 99% of the time that person that is trained to kill will kill the hip firer just saying great article liked it a lot and has a lot of useful information but like stated earlier all of these are not black and white and there will always be exceptions to everything.

Adam Jourdan
Adam Jourdan

Shit storm is right! wow! I had to go back and read your article several time while I was reading the comments. It really is amazing how often you are misquoted/misread. great article, I also do not agree with all of your points, but I am NOT an expert. Not even all that knowledgeable about guns. I know the 4 weapon systems that I am trained in, the 1911, M-16A2, Tac-shotgun, and .308 deer rifle.oddly enough, I have dry fired all of these weapons hundreds(if not thousands) of times and have yet to have one of them fail me. I live in an open-carry state, but I never wear shorts (the scars draw so many damn questions) so the need to hide my 1911 in my shorts is a moot point. I can carry concealed, and I do when in a concealed only state. Combat firing is combat firing, target firing is target firing. The Army method of training is one of the best out there, but no matter what the first time a Tango fires at you with intent to kill you, there is no pretending that you are in a training environment, but you are still reacting in a mostly "save your ass" manner. or at least I was. Never tried to defend myself with a .22, never saw the point, saw too many opponents keep going with multiple rounds of 5.56 in them.and that is all the shit I will fling.

Brian Gaum
Brian Gaum

Aug.1,1977,Baton Rouge La.John James Mullery,42yr old 6',200#s,high on coke and pcp.

2 officers arrive,fight starts,assaliant grabs for officers gun 2nd officer shoots assailant in wrist(both officers have S&W 64's with 125gr.38+P hollow points.Wrist shatterd assailant grabs second officers gun and shoots her in the chest and kills her. 1st officer regains his firearm and begins to fire. Summary #1 shot in wrist#2and3 in chest #4left side of abs #5upper middle part of abs,#6top of head,#7and8 in the chest#9in the abs,#10 in the pelvis and hip,which was not the killing blow but broke his pelvis causeing him to go down and still Crawl only to bleed out.

Outside of a cannon or airstrike what caliber?.45,maybe not as many,well placed shot to the apricot probably.

I carry a .45 but you never know your opponent.Always be prepared.Know your weapon and be profiecient with it.Stress,unless youre living in a combat zone where the sound of gun fire is music to your ears and your numb enough to walk out into a gun fight and cooly take aim and fire, there is really no way to prepare for it. Except being in red alert most of the time,which is in-practical.Seek some distance and cover or at least diversion.In the story above (this was a case study for LE)the officer killed was a rookie,but then again we all are until its your turn

Brian Gaum
Brian Gaum

Aug.1,1977,Baton Rouge La.John James Mullery,42yr old 6',200#s,high on coke and pcp. 2 officers arrive,fight starts,assaliant grabs for officers gun 2nd officer shoots assailant in wrist(both officers have S&W 64's with 125gr.38+P hollow points.Wrist shatterd assailant grabs second officers gun and shoots her in the chest and kills her. 1st officer regains his firearm and begins to fire. Summary #1 shot in wrist#2and3 in chest #4left side of abs #5upper middle part of abs,#6top of head,#7and8 in the chest#9in the abs,#10 in the pelvis and hip,which was not the killing blow but broke his pelvis causeing him to go down and still Crawl only to bleed out. Outside of a cannon or airstrike what caliber?.45,maybe not as many,well placed shot to the apricot probably. I carry a .45 but you never know your opponent.Always be prepared.Know your weapon and be profiecient with it.Stress,unless youre living in a combat zone where the sound of gun fire is music to your ears and your numb enough to walk out into a gun fight and cooly take aim and fire, there is really no way to prepare for it. Except being in red alert most of the time,which is in-practical.Seek some distance and cover or at least diversion.In the story above (this was a case study for LE)the officer killed was a rookie,but then again we all are until its your turn

Claude Werner
Claude Werner

Excellent article.

Re: Larger is better BS. In relation to the male torso, a .45 is 22/100ths of one percent larger. Wow, that's a big difference. Conversely, very few people can shoot a .45 as well as smaller calibers. Try out a .45 v. a .22 on the Distinguished Expert course and see where you get the better score.

I asked for verifiable sub-caliber failure incidents in the Private Citizen self defense context on a number of caliber intensive forums. What I got was zero. Everything cited was SWC; Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. "She shoulda had a bigger caliber because if he woulda been more determined, it coulda gone bad for her."

We're not trying to put the bracelets on the predator, just stop him from continuing his attack. If a Private Citizen shoots a criminal with a .22 and the criminal runs away, that's stopping power; saying it's a failure to shoot is disingenuous.

Re: police, Marine experts. So true when it comes to handguns. Many marines are good with rifles but that has nothing to do with shooting handguns. Most police officers skill level is adequate to hit the walls of the police station from the inside, beyond that it's a crap shoot. Explosive situational dynamics have nothing to do with it, they can't hit a standing still target. I watched the local SWAT firearms trainer miss a silhouette with her first three shots at 5 yards; it was stunningly bad.

Claude Werner
Claude Werner

Excellent article. Re: Larger is better BS. In relation to the male torso, a .45 is 22/100ths of one percent larger. Wow, that's a big difference. Conversely, very few people can shoot a .45 as well as smaller calibers. Try out a .45 v. a .22 on the Distinguished Expert course and see where you get the better score. I asked for verifiable sub-caliber failure incidents in the Private Citizen self defense context on a number of caliber intensive forums. What I got was zero. Everything cited was SWC; Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. "She shoulda had a bigger caliber because if he woulda been more determined, it coulda gone bad for her." We're not trying to put the bracelets on the predator, just stop him from continuing his attack. If a Private Citizen shoots a criminal with a .22 and the criminal runs away, that's stopping power; saying it's a failure to shoot is disingenuous. Re: police, Marine experts. So true when it comes to handguns. Many marines are good with rifles but that has nothing to do with shooting handguns. Most police officers skill level is adequate to hit the walls of the police station from the inside, beyond that it's a crap shoot. Explosive situational dynamics have nothing to do with it, they can't hit a standing still target. I watched the local SWAT firearms trainer miss a silhouette with her first three shots at 5 yards; it was stunningly bad.

Dan
Dan

The author of debunking 9 classic myths needs a crash course on firearms and needs to refrain from writing articles without researching the facts. Some firearms can be dry fired but some should not be dry fired such as some .22 rimfires and some shotguns.

Granted a firearm will usually still function if not cleaned but cleaning a firearm will greatly increase reliability in most cases. The only reason I can see for not cleaning a firearm is called LAZY.

Some police officers in an agency that does not promote regular firearm qualification might not be experts but many times the lack of hits in a shooting may be the explosive situation of the incident.

The idea that Marines can't shoot- where did you find this guy. He needs to view the three weeks of rifle training that ALL Marines initially receive then follow their continued training. A Marine that is even a non qual can probably out shoot the average joe.

The idea that caliber doesn't matter- sure a .22 rimfire will kill you but the idea is to stop the threat immediatly. Look a the statisical evidence for one shot kills. So you shoot someone with a .22 and he stills harms you and/or a loved one and then goes off and dies- wonderful.

Dan
Dan

The author of debunking 9 classic myths needs a crash course on firearms and needs to refrain from writing articles without researching the facts. Some firearms can be dry fired but some should not be dry fired such as some .22 rimfires and some shotguns. Granted a firearm will usually still function if not cleaned but cleaning a firearm will greatly increase reliability in most cases. The only reason I can see for not cleaning a firearm is called LAZY. Some police officers in an agency that does not promote regular firearm qualification might not be experts but many times the lack of hits in a shooting may be the explosive situation of the incident. The idea that Marines can't shoot- where did you find this guy. He needs to view the three weeks of rifle training that ALL Marines initially receive then follow their continued training. A Marine that is even a non qual can probably out shoot the average joe. The idea that caliber doesn't matter- sure a .22 rimfire will kill you but the idea is to stop the threat immediatly. Look a the statisical evidence for one shot kills. So you shoot someone with a .22 and he stills harms you and/or a loved one and then goes off and dies- wonderful.

JOE
JOE

Military, Law Enforcement, Personal protection for the home,Conceal carry.Gun battles,DISTANCE is king,military the handgun is the gun of last resort,at that point it is CLOSE quarter combat.C L O S E . A blind man can hit the threat at close range even if he is scared shitless. Law enforcement once again gun battles ,Distance is king handgun is for close quarter combat if your shooting your handgun at 50 yrds.your an idiot if you practice at 50 yrds with a handgun your waisting amo. Trained personel carry a long gun to a gun battle.Personal defense from what I know the threat is CLOSE. That is what the handgun is for and that is what everyone that owns and shoots a handgun should be practicing for and that is where SIZE MATTERS . I have seen alot of GSW's. and do not want to be shot with any caliber including a BB gun. BIGGER IS BETTER for sure I have not had to many conversations with people shot with a 45. and if they were still able to make noise they for sure were neutralized...If you cant hit at close range dont pick up a weapon you will hurt or kill an unintended target.arm yourself with a cell phone and pepper spray and call 9 1 1.

TimD
TimD

Great article. as has been said many times, the best gun to use in a gunfight is the one in your hand at the time. I agree there is absolutely no predictor for how someone will react in a gunfight.

No Name
No Name

good article overall, with some caveats/nit-picking.

Don't take this any of this as a personal attack, you were trying to write an magazine article and your readers are turning it into a term paper. You probably know most of the stuff we're saying but couldn't fit it into the article easily.

you're absolutely right that caliber is secondary to shot placement, but well-informed, experienced, intelligent shooters and scientists continue to disagree as to how important caliber is overall compared to other factors.

dry firing actually will wear the gun out faster and cause it to break quicker, but this risk is so small, it takes so long for it to happen, and the benefits of dry firing are so huge, dry firing is absolutely the way to go.

people with minimal self-defense needs will likely have no real effect on their gun since they don't shoot it regularly enough to cause any major wear, while people who really need regular practice because their life is on the line cannot afford not to do some form of dry-firing-like exercise.

The "no dry firing" "rule" came out of the hard experience of old-timers with earlier firearms where dry firing really was not advisable.

modern firearms of any decent quality are designed to be dry fired.

grip angle definitely does not make a gun unshootable, but it does affect accuracy and comfort for many shooters. This isn't a valid reason not to train with one for a while, but it may be a valid reason to select something else for your personal firearm.

as previously mentioned, guns using corrosive ammunition DO need to be cleaned after every use. If you're using good modern ammo in a good modern gun, which you should be doing for anything serious, then you're absolutely right.

No Name
No Name

good article overall, with some caveats/nit-picking. Don't take this any of this as a personal attack, you were trying to write an magazine article and your readers are turning it into a term paper. You probably know most of the stuff we're saying but couldn't fit it into the article easily. you're absolutely right that caliber is secondary to shot placement, but well-informed, experienced, intelligent shooters and scientists continue to disagree as to how important caliber is overall compared to other factors. dry firing actually will wear the gun out faster and cause it to break quicker, but this risk is so small, it takes so long for it to happen, and the benefits of dry firing are so huge, dry firing is absolutely the way to go. people with minimal self-defense needs will likely have no real effect on their gun since they don't shoot it regularly enough to cause any major wear, while people who really need regular practice because their life is on the line cannot afford not to do some form of dry-firing-like exercise. The "no dry firing" "rule" came out of the hard experience of old-timers with earlier firearms where dry firing really was not advisable. modern firearms of any decent quality are designed to be dry fired. grip angle definitely does not make a gun unshootable, but it does affect accuracy and comfort for many shooters. This isn't a valid reason not to train with one for a while, but it may be a valid reason to select something else for your personal firearm. as previously mentioned, guns using corrosive ammunition DO need to be cleaned after every use. If you're using good modern ammo in a good modern gun, which you should be doing for anything serious, then you're absolutely right.

Thomas Bacalja
Thomas Bacalja

Great article. If someones that worried about dry firing their weapons, then I know you can go purchase dummy rounds.

Greg Whited
Greg Whited

Great article. I don't have anything to disagree with, I even feel the same way about Glocks, though the Gen 4 fits pretty nice. May have to take one to the range.

Hide what you can carry, carry what you can shoot, shoot what you can hit the target with. All else is just statistics.

As for the difference between target shooting and combat, well, if you don't know, then all you've seen is target, right? I've seen great shots, with all sorts of confidence in their weapon skills, bail out of the force after their first hands on with a subject.

Greg Whited
Greg Whited

Great article. I don't have anything to disagree with, I even feel the same way about Glocks, though the Gen 4 fits pretty nice. May have to take one to the range. Hide what you can carry, carry what you can shoot, shoot what you can hit the target with. All else is just statistics. As for the difference between target shooting and combat, well, if you don't know, then all you've seen is target, right? I've seen great shots, with all sorts of confidence in their weapon skills, bail out of the force after their first hands on with a subject.

Robert
Robert

Agree that that is true, but the difference is minimal as the numbers and mathematics show. Basic Algebra says that if you change a variable by a really small amount, the results of that equation will also be a small amount. Just mere physics as previously described.

Nice to see that you're a cut above the rest. There's no end to those that are over confident, but what I said is a much better rule for most.

Whiskey85
Whiskey85

Tweek #3

While I fondly remember "snapping in" for a week in 2nd Phase at PI (Platoon 3042 in 1985), I have modified my dry fire practice to the recommended "Ball & Dummy" drill from Larry Vickers. Dry fire alone lulls the practitioner into an artificial practice session due to the fact that he knows the gun won't go BANG. It's easy to walk away from a dry fire session feeling confident because you KNEW you weren't at the range and the gun was empty (unless you let your guard down and "Mr. Murphy" sneaks a live round into your session......uh, oh).

Anyway, the point of the ball and dummy drill is to maintain the same trigger control/discipline because you know that there is a distinct possibility that the gun WILL go bang at each pull of the trigger. This forces the shooter to be more focused than if he were at the house. If "El Snatcho" shows up and you snatch the trigger, the results will be immediately visible on the target 7yds away. If you snatch a round, empty the gun and dry fire the gun 10 times to get your "mojo" back. This works when you have a partner to load your pistol for you, thus keeping you honest.

Again, just another opinion offered in the spirit of sharing.

Semper Fi

W

Whiskey85
Whiskey85

Tweek #3 While I fondly remember "snapping in" for a week in 2nd Phase at PI (Platoon 3042 in 1985), I have modified my dry fire practice to the recommended "Ball & Dummy" drill from Larry Vickers. Dry fire alone lulls the practitioner into an artificial practice session due to the fact that he knows the gun won't go BANG. It's easy to walk away from a dry fire session feeling confident because you KNEW you weren't at the range and the gun was empty (unless you let your guard down and "Mr. Murphy" sneaks a live round into your session......uh, oh). Anyway, the point of the ball and dummy drill is to maintain the same trigger control/discipline because you know that there is a distinct possibility that the gun WILL go bang at each pull of the trigger. This forces the shooter to be more focused than if he were at the house. If "El Snatcho" shows up and you snatch the trigger, the results will be immediately visible on the target 7yds away. If you snatch a round, empty the gun and dry fire the gun 10 times to get your "mojo" back. This works when you have a partner to load your pistol for you, thus keeping you honest. Again, just another opinion offered in the spirit of sharing. Semper Fi W

jdun1911
jdun1911

The main reason why people recommend revolvers is reliability. Second because the .357 mag is a real good stopper.

Robert
Robert

On the caliber subject, I agree with the author - shot placement outweighs the size of the projectile. The difference between a 9 and a .45 should come down to simple numbers.

The difference in the diameters between a 9 and .45 is .1 of an inch. The weight difference is around 88 grains (7000 grains to a pound) which would be about 1/5 of an ounce. A .45 travels at a slower speed than a 9, so that takes away a little from the weight and diameter advantage.

All in all, if you were able to hit a person in particular location with a .45, turn back the hands of time and hit the person in the exact same place with a 9, there wouldn't be a bi difference.

Capacity is also an advantage that a slightly smaller caliber would have (9 versus .45). As has been demonstrated time and time again, when the shit hits the fan, even combat veterans don't shoot too well. That means those of us without combat experience will shoot even worse. Having a few more rounds than had I been carrying a .45 might make the difference when my accuracy plumits.

MilSpec
MilSpec

Reading Comprehension FAIL! ^

Steve Barnhart
Steve Barnhart

The North Hollywood bank robbery in '97 would have been over sooner if someone could have made a head shot at 50 yards. This is not out of the question with many handguns and shooters.

Most gunfights happen at less than ten feet and 95% at less than 21 feet. Than doesn't mean you don't ever practice at a greater distance.

You don't always have a rifle when the bad guy is on the 50 yard line.

Steve Barnhart
Steve Barnhart

The North Hollywood bank robbery in '97 would have been over sooner if someone could have made a head shot at 50 yards. This is not out of the question with many handguns and shooters. Most gunfights happen at less than ten feet and 95% at less than 21 feet. Than doesn't mean you don't ever practice at a greater distance. You don't always have a rifle when the bad guy is on the 50 yard line.

Ron S
Ron S

I have to say that if the person you are shooting is wearing a vest, the best round is the .45ACP. I has knockdown power to spare that will still affect a vested assailant. But in general, I agree. Caliber is less important to damage than the design of the tip and the ability to place it in an area where it will do the most damage. But the real important thing is to practice, practice, practice. Too many people think that having a gun will protect them. It helps.... but it is the mindset and mental fortitude to use it when it is necessary and then the familiarity with the weapon that allows the round to be put on target. That is why the military trains so incessantly...dry firing and all...

Rule number one...never bring a knife to a gunfight.

Rule number two....always bring a gun to a knife fight.

That means the other guy is breaking rule number one.....

Jason
Jason

Right on the money. Agree with what you state. We, military, use 9mm as our secondary weapon. Majority of units have the M9 (Beretta 92). Other units use SIG, etc. 9mm is just as effective as .45 in stopping a threat with placement on target.

True fact that you state about those of us in the military. When engaged we can miss a target due to the sudden surge in heart rate, fight / flight response, and flood of adrenaline. All of this amounts to fine motor skills (finger control) becoming affected. Motor skills and smaller muscle groups don't function as well under pressure / stress. Surge of blood flow is diverted to larger muscle groups for potential running or fighting. You can easily miss under these circumstances and a larger magazine capacity is extremely beneficial.

That is where dry firing comes into play and the military utilizes it for muscle memory under stressful conditions. Your subconscious can save your life.

cbinflux
cbinflux

I can 'place' shots in the same place regardless of the caliber/load, so all other things being equal a .45 or .357 has more stopping/killing power than a .40 S&W which has more... than a 9mm/.38, which has more... than a..380, 32, .25, .22.

Common sense, tests and retrospective studies agree.

Steve Barnhart
Steve Barnhart

Let me add that I'm referring to typical distances for law enforcement shootings as reported by FBI LEOKA.

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