Debunking 9 Classic Myths and Whoppers about Firearms - ITS Tactical

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Debunking 9 Classic Myths and Whoppers about Firearms


FirearmMythsMainI’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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  • Ryan


  • Durham

    You should qualify myth #3. Dry firing without a plug of some sort will eventually damage (peen) the chamber rim of a rimfire. So don’t dry fire that .22 without a spent shell or a dummy round in the chamber.

    • I was recently told this does not apply to “modern” .22’s but have no hard data on that. Also after talking to Glock Corporate they do not advocate and actively advise against dry firing a Glock. This seems ridiculous to me and is yet another reason I am not a Glock fan.

    • It depends.

      My Browning Buck Mark specifically says to not dry fire it.

      My Ruger 10/22 specifically says it can be dry fired.

      Basically, if it’s a rimfire fun, you should check the manual or contact the manufacturer to be safe and sure.

    • err… that should be “if it’s a rimfire gun” not “fun”. Freudian slip, since rimfire guns are a lot of fun. 🙂

    • DB

      You cannot field strip a Glock without first dry firing.

    • beedubya

      The statement by the Glock people advising against dry firing probably has less to do with any potential damage it might do the weapon than it has with legal liabilities.

    • cbinflux


  • Fantastic article.

    I can’t agree more, the dry firing commentary is dead on for any shop I have been in.

  • great stuff! I kept hearing that weapons needed cleaning after a trip to the range, but thought that was a little ridiculous.

  • Great points Doc.
    I like the one about police knowing how to shoot. I cringe sometimes at in-service training when we qualify; I also wear my vest!!

    • longstreet

      The most afraid I have ever been at a range was at a police “turkey shoot”. Safe gun handling and police do not always go hand in hand.

  • Graham Monteith

    I was at Fort Jackson recently and they have unloading stations beside the barracks. Guys sat there and dry fired their gun at least 1-3 times before they entered a building. I would have to say that I know for a fact that the Army advocates dry firing. Good article ITS Tactical. I enjoyed reading it.

  • James Engel

    Wow, so many accurate points here. It’s refreshing to see someone else believes these as well. Great article.

  • Jackel

    Great article. I work part time at an indoor range that sells and rents guns and I have heard everyone of those myths more times that I can count. (I work there one day a week because by doing so, I can practice for free.) I see a constant parade of cops, federal agents, prison guards and ccw holders that only shoot when it is time to qualify. Few if any of them spend any time shooting under pressure. It is scary to think what would happen to these guys if someone was shooting back. I contrast the run of the mill with the handful of people that come in and truly practice. I have in mind one Border Patrol agent that comes in once a week and works on the range for a good three hours at a stretch. He works from his holster with his gear on. Shooting from different positions and different ranges. He sets up his magazines to malfunction. He turns down the lights to make visibility poor, etc. I don’t know what this gentleman does for the Border Patrol. But I know this, he knows what he is doing with his weapon. He is evidence of one of the truths about gun fighting, it is a perishable skill. If you want to be good at it you need to practice!

  • J Foust

    GREAT article!! Now if we could only get all those *other* people to read it, and believe it! Thanks

  • Doc, I’m laughing my ass off because I can hear your voice as I read the article. Especially about the trigger pull.
    I’ve been working with my 8 year old soon since you taught our Defensive Handgun Class for ITS. When I was talking about trigger pull with my son I couldn’t use the example you gave the class, where Red had to plug her ears, so I used an example of picking his nose. Seemed to work since he now has about a 4″ grouping at 7 yards with my Glock (I’ll email the video). Did I mention he was 8?
    It goes to show you good instruction breeds good instruction and crap instruction breeds crap instruction (shit in=shit out).
    Keep up the articles and I look forward to the next class!

    • Awesome video! And yes, my classes are sometimes not very PC or Gender friendly 😉 But you damn well remembered what I said didn’t you? ;-P

  • Jesse Krembs

    Myth #10

    Your a bad ass, or your training to be a bad ass. By in large most of aren’t, and never will be. Having a gun doesn’t make you a badass any more then knowing how to drive makes you a race car driver. You may even be really “good” with your firearm of choice. That still doesn’t make you badass. You a human being operating a machine, it’s a dangerous machine at that. So please have fun, be smart and be safe.

  • Tony

    Oh boy, I have a feeling this is going to turn ugly… :/ But some of these things bug me.

    Okay, myth 1 – the big controversy: While it is extremely true that people who pray at the altar of Magic Bullet #37 are oversimplifying things to a ridiculous degree and using the supposed magical properties of their chosen bullet/caliber as a talisman, this “de-bunking” goes too far and oversimplifies things to the other extreme. Yes, bullet placement is absolutely the most important single thing when it comes to terminal ballistics, and using a bigger caliber does not give you an excuse to be any sloppier – but things like bullet mass and size do matter as well! Penetration and deflection from intervening barricades (some ungentlemanly rascals who would use unlawful deadly force even go as far as not standing still out in the open when one tries to shoot them, if you can believe that!) – and penetration in and deflection from parts of the anatomy of your target! – the size of wound channel, things like these are not all the same between all calibers and all kinds of bullets. Yes, a .22 certainly has killed more than its fair share of people – but that does not mean the same as a high probability of a fast end to hostilities. The goal in defensive shooting is to stop the adversary, which is not the same thing as eventual death / lack of death of the assailant.

    Look, I am not trying to claim that a single caliber is the only right answer. Choosing a firearm is a matter of compromising between several conflicting demands. But tossing caliber entirely out the window is nonsensical. Rather, pick a decently powerful caliber, a decent bullet known to perform well, and then stop worrying about it.

    Myth 5: There are several things wrong with the starting point here. First is that “not very accurate” is not an exact statement. In itself, it does not imply that anything is actually wrong with the gun. You don’t need 1″ groups at 50 yards from a defensive firearm, yet for someone used to that level of accuracy most guns will not quite pass the expected level of accuracy. Second, some guns are more difficult for some people to shoot than others. Is the claim of unaccuracy meant to be taken literally and the only issue under examination is the mechanical accuracy of the firearm? Or is the gun/shooter interface taken into account as well? As you can see, the whole “myth” can be nothing more than poorly understood context of a non-exact phrase.

    (Example: Personally, I do claim that my Walther P99 is not a very accurate firearm. For example, when swapping with a buddies CZ75 while firing at a 25 meter target untimed, my group sizes were immediately cut in half when I used the CZ, and expanded back when I went back to using the P99. That would mean to me that this gun is, in casual terms, “not very accurate”. Doesn’t mean the gun couldn’t be used in a defensive role.)

    Myth 8: this is really a question – do people actually claim that? I’ve never heard it myself. Instead, what I have heard several people say – and what I do claim myself – is that some grip angles (like, in my case, that of the Glock) are suboptimal for me. Nothing stopping me from pushing that front sight back down on the target, just that my recovery from recoil is not as natural as it is with a gun that suits me better, thus my split times suffer. Not a huge issue, but I’d rather shoot faster hits than slower hits, so I prefer pick guns that suit me.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t take things quite so literally, but these things bothered me. What can I say, I’ve studied engineering and lately I’ve been seeing people arguing over what are essentially different interpretations of a non-exact phrase.

    • Okay here we go 😉
      Myth 1 is more about the myth that any caliber that does not begin with a 4 is a waste of time to carry. I advocate carrying the correct tool for the job.
      If you are willing to carry a .454 casull everyday day in and day out, go for it, but the best weapon to have is the one you have on you. Therefore it might not always feel like a full size 229 day, but it can always be a Walther P-22 day. Do I kick down doors? Do I face PCP driven thugs? No. If I did I would probably carry a battle ax.
      But like you said will 10 rounds of .22 into the BHG of a thug at the local stop and rob allow me to go home?
      I agree with you theoretically but realistically who wants to carry for bear when you are most likely to face snakes.

      Your second point-
      1. How much did your group grow or shrink between the two weapons?
      If the difference is measured in feet you have a problem
      2. Were you shooting under stress?
      If not then who cares
      3. Was it still on the paper?
      If it is and you shot under stress did it not do it’s job?
      Basically I was saying that all these articles where they put the gun in a vise and compare it to another gun shot from a vise are bullshit. Who cares unless under stress at 6′ the gun misses a man size target.
      I do not teach Marksmanship, and when we talk about accuracy in fractions of an inch we should be talking about Bench rest shooting or Precision Sniper rifles, not a defensive weapon shot under stress from a combat distance of 6′ or less.

      your third point-
      Yes people say this. I have heard it to many times. Glock’s do not feel “Right” in my hands but I can hit a man size target under stress at 21′ or less.

      I appreciate your candor.

  • Great read, thanks again for another well written article.

    On the Army and the whole dry firing thing, they are steering away from it because a recent rise in negligent discharges. I don’t know if this applies to basic training but we didn’t dry fire at the training that we just completed.

  • To repeat, you stated-“(Example: Personally, I do claim that my Walther P99 is not a very accurate firearm. For example, when swapping with a buddies CZ75 while firing at a 25 meter target untimed, my group sizes were immediately cut in half when I used the CZ, and expanded back when I went back to using the P99. That would mean to me that this gun is, in casual terms, “not very accurate”. Doesn’t mean the gun couldn’t be used in a defensive role.)”
    25 meters untimed? Really? When will this come into play with a defensive weapon like a Pistol? You taking Kidnapper/Hostage shots with a P-99?
    Well don’t do it if I’m in the headlock, with any weapon please.

  • Steve

    Great great article. Thanks for sharing that information…and confirming many of the discussions I’ve had with others.

  • Terry

    A very good article, keep it up.

    The article should state that most of the points relate to the use of a defensive handgun and that many of the terms are relative.

    At the end of the day any firearm should be fit for purpose, well maintained, used with proper ammunition and treated with respect.

    On a personal note, I consider a Glock to be like a GM or Ford product – reasonably priced and good enough for most users. I’d rather a Lexus or a BMW though 🙂


  • Roger

    Myth #6. Whats scary, as a former police officer, I knew cops who never fired their weapon except for qualification, barely knew what brand of firearm and caliber. Sadly, even more so, didn’t know the brand of ammo or grain weight of the projectile. Why is all that important? Hypothetically, what if a cop has to discharge his weapon? What if a civilian is hit because the round missed the bad guy? The lawyers will have a field day in court. lack of training, lack of knowledge, spells disaster.

  • Remington Rand

    Great article. I have heard my whole life that dry firing is a bad thing, but I always dry fire any weapon before storage so the spring will be in an extended position. (I hope the need to store a weapon un-cocked isn’t another myth!!).

    I would like to know more about why it is OK to not clean a weapon after every use. My Remington 870 hardly ever gets cleaned and performs flawlessly. It has a camo paint job and no finish to harm. However I worry about fingerprints and salt from sweaty hands on any blued gun and clean all of them every time I shoot. I don’t carry daily and only shoot my guns once a month outside of hunting season so the time it takes isnt an issue. If I practiced a few times a week, I might be more inclined to consider less cleaning.

    Thanks again for a great article, I am new to this site and read everything that gets posted.

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  • P.S. for those offended by my reference to Hi-Points and Lorcins.
    Chevy’s are alright to drive until you get behind the wheel of a Lexus.
    You want to put your life in the hands of a third or fourth rate gun that may or may not go bang, are heavy, ugly and require a strong wrist, then be my guest and keep buying Pawn shop guns.
    I’ll stick to weapons systems made by companies that put time and effort into making them reliable (That means when I pull it, I have confidence it will go “BANG!” not “click”), user friendly, ergonomic, and able to last long enough to pass down to my kids.
    RSKTKR aka “Doc”

    • Brian Epps

      Yeah, but when you are dirt poor (as I was when I purchased my first handgun), the gun you have still beats the gun you don’t have. I didn’t have any trouble with my Lorcin, but I did get a better weapon as soon as I could afford it.

  • Jesse

    I used to believe that I couldn’t shoot my Glock well because my hand was too small and the grip angle sucked on it. After lots of practice I’ve come to discover that I shoot Glocks just fine, the determining factor was that I wasn’t any good with a handgun to begin with.

  • AnointedSword

    Placement is key. I put two in your chest with a 9mm and you shoot me twice in my shoulder with a .45…who has a greater chance of survival? Pick the caliber that best fitst you (9mm on up for carry). I heard a saying, “I would rather shoot a 9mm good, instead of a .45 no so good.”

    I have seen police officers shoot very poorly as well. It is the person and training, not the job.

    I have dry fired glocks for years and never had a problem. Of course corporate will not say either/or.

    I would agree with all of these myths. Nice work!

  • Jerry in Detroit

    As a life long shooter & former LEO, I would have added the qualifier fr self defense guns but agree with most of this.

    #9 depends on the ammunition. I’ve had my biggest problems with revolvers firing cast bullet reloads and .22 rim-fire.

    For Rule #10, I submit, “If it’s a fair fight, you’re doing it wrong.”

  • Well, all of these are “yes, but…” type statements.

    I have the better part of a hundred handguns lying around here, autos and revolvers. By far the worst is a fancy modern brand-name gun I bought new – a total jam-o-matic. ALL of my old surplus cheapos (not including exotics I don’t shoot at all) work better.

    NONE of these guns require lubrication to work properly. All of them MUST be cleaned after firing IF I’ve just fired corrosive ammo through them. They’ll rust before morning otherwise. Some perfectly fine guns can ONLY be fired with corrosive ammo, as they don’t fire the ordinary everyday stuff most people shoot. (If anyone has a stash of 7.65mm Longue, please let me know.) If you only fire modern 45ACP or 9x19mm, you don’t need to clean anything.

    Caliber matters – sometimes. Saints Fairbairn and Sykes reported that the most feared pistol in China was the 1896 Mauser, firing a measly .30 cal round. Ex-Commie block Tokarev is the same stuff. Try to not be on the receiving end.

    Dry firing probably doesn’t hurt anything, although the fact that many people do it is hardly evidence that they aren’t damaging things. I have known a couple of guns which were almost certainly damaged by dry firing (broken strikers or firing pins) but they are pretty fragile designs which might have failed even without dry firing.

    .38 revolvers are excellent guns for women. They’re excellent guns for anybody. I routinely carry one myself. The problem with autos is the hand strength needed to operate them without screwing up. Guns are designed by average-type guys with average-type guy hands (except for John Browning, who must have had hands the size of baseball mitts). The average type woman does not have average type guy hands (and a good thing, too). Can the shortcomings of feminity be overcome via training and exercise? Some claim so; I believe it’s the wrong approach. Match the tool to the person, not the other way around.

    Etc, etc.

  • Charlie

    Right On!

    I’ve heard so much of this BS (particularly at gun shows) that I cringe.

    I copied your text, and will give a printout to my son. That’s a compliment.


  • Phil

    Agreed on all the myths, but the whole .22 for pocket carry? Come on. If that’s all someone can afford, sure it beats picking up a stick off the ground, but a Smith 442 would be about the same weight and size and be a far more effective firearm for self defense. I agree with you that caliber doesn’t really matter, but 9mm and .38 special should be a minimum, .22 is not a defensive caliber any way you cut it.

    Oh, also, “gun store guy” should never be considered an expert.

  • Robbie

    Yeah. lots of people have been killed by .22 rimfire. Good to know if you want to sneak up behind someone and murder them.

    If you’re being charged by someone with an axe or machete you might want something more potent. Cold comfort to imagine the guy with the machete died 10 minutes after he chopped your head off.

  • logic 101

    I am only a beginner, but I’d like to add my two cents. I shot at an indoor range with a friend’s various pistols. With his .44 magnum revolver, I never missed the silouette while emptying the gun. With his .44 magnum Desert Eagle automatic, I could hit the silouette, but the recoil was so big that my second shot hit the ceiling of the range each time. With .44 special bullets in the magnum revolver, I hit center mag on every shot, drawing from a holster.
    I also practised with his 9mm Glock. With the regular magazine, I was not able to hit the silouette at all. But with the large capacity magazine, I hit the silouette every time. I have large palms, and had trouble controlling the grip with the regular magazine.
    My point would be, that as the author points out, every shooter is different, with different levels of strength, vision, & patience, as well as different sized hands & fingers. The weapon best suited to you will depend on all of these factors, as well as the situation at hand.

  • Bill Woods

    In #2: “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, …”

    Am I missing something? “revolver takes more grip strength” seems like a *bad* thing, but the context seems to be making the case *for* revolvers.

  • razorbacker

    Gun cleaning is a subject I know little about. I’m not even sure exactly how to go about it. All I know is what Dad taught me 47 years ago; wipe the metal down with a lightly oiled rag, run a swab down the barrel until it comes out clean (to be honest, nowadays I use a boresnake), and wipe the wood clean.

    It has worked just fine so far. Might go all to hell tomorrow.

    So when I see friends with their firearms broken down to all the individual screws and springs I’m pretty impressed.

    I notice that they can’t shoot any better than I, though.

  • Larry

    Caliber may not matter in most cases but I’m pretty sure that the hitmen from this case had second thoughts about using those .22s.

    Outfit bosses, fearing Eto might spill mob secrets to avoid prison, ordered him killed. Hitman Jasper Campise and Cook County Deputy Sheriff John Gattuso were deployed to carry out the murder. But somehow, three .22 caliber bullets ricocheted off Eto’s skull and he survived. A few months later, the bungling assassins were themselves killed.

  • PokingPumasWithSpoons

    Gunstoreguy story – A elk hunter friend was in a local store and a fellow was buying a rifle for his first elk hunt. Sales guy tries to sell a special to him (in .223 Rem). Eugene overhears this and when the sales guy steps away he asks this fellow if he’d ever hunter elk before. Answer no. Eugene says that if he ever shot a bull with that caliber the elk would come over and break the rifle in half and shove the pieces up his ass. Lesson – get info from many sources and caliber matters. Almost all CF weapons can be dry fired BUT … it will take a toll on the firing pin if you don’t use ‘snap-caps’. Learn how to R&R the firing pin. It is not that difficult once you learn how. Glocks are fine. Revolvers don’t work well when they are crudded up. Owning a piano doesn’t make one a musician. Don’t depend upon a gun to save your ass if you aren’t willing to learn and train. Want to be a good shot? Practice, practice, practice.
    Rules of the fight (commit to the event NOW):
    Shoot first.
    Shoot straight.
    Shoot fast.
    Shoot last.
    Keep in mind what you decide in two seconds will be examined by numerous people for months after the event. A fair outcome is never guaranteed.

  • Steve Skubinna

    I’m going to pick a nit regarding caliber. Your point is that shot placement is critical, but even still, the heavier, larger diameter bullet will do more tissue damage, and with handguns that’s what stops a person (of course, your point about ammo type is valid as well, hollow points being more devastating than FMJ). People ought to determine what is the largest caliber they can carry and shoot accurately, and then stick with it.

    As for me, at 6’2″ and 250 pounds, I can carry and handle a full sized 1911. Not everyone else can, but even still they should work up to the largest caliber they can comfortably, reliably, and accurately use. Of course, the flinch factor might come into play as well.

    • William O. B’Livion

      “larger diameter bullet will do more tissue damage, and with handguns that’s what stops a person”

      No, it won’t.

      For the most part (excepting bones and I forget which organs) your body is made up of pretty elastic stuff, and when the bullet tries to move through the tissues stretch and deform, then “snap” back. This means that the hole when stretched will be about .45 caliber, but when it regains it’s normal stretch that hole will look like a .22. I can’t find the article right now, but purportedly even well practiced ER surgeons can’t tell the bullet caliber by the entry wound.

      Now, depth of penetration matters (gotta get to the important organs, and sometimes you don’t get a straight on shot), but almost all 9mm and above ammo gets you sufficient penetration (i.e. expanding stuff). .380 and lower not so much–so stick with solid/fmj in smaller calibers.

      The biggest problem with some of the “smaller” calibers is that the pistols that shoot them are often less than one would like.

    • Bob Ruods

      ““larger diameter bullet will do more tissue damage, and with handguns that’s what stops a person”
      No, it won’t. ”

      Yes.. actually it does. Those who are stopped by pistol wounds either died of exsinguination or oxygen deprivation or were struck in the joints or muscle tissue with sufficient force and damage (read, bigger bullet, bigger hole, more damage) to induce a physcial limitation.

      “then “snap” back. This means that the hole when stretched will be about .45 caliber, but when it regains it’s normal stretch that hole will look like a .22.”
      Then, if this were true, what does the .22 hole look like? Your statement is inccorect. The temporal stretch cavitiy of a ballistic wound like a .45 stretches BEYOND 1″ under the force of the impact and hydrostatic pressure as the bullet pushes into the body… the wound track is still, after impact, approximately .45 cal, allowing for differences in the types of tissue and the fact that that the damaged or “holed’ tissue does not make a straight line tunnel like some cartoon or geletin block would show you. But the damage is there.

      This article is a must read regarding the “science” and study of wounding and terminal ballistics.

  • British Contrarian

    The available literature suggests that experienced military and law enforcement personnel who can choose their own sidearms – and *expect* to use them in combat or for self-defense – regularly select a large caliber handgun cartridge, with .40 S&W and .45 ACP figuring prominently.

    Shot placement can vary, especially during chaotic, violent encounters when effective aim cannot be reliably achieved. But caliber is constant. A “winging” shot with a large caliber round is *more likely* to cause greater damage against an aggressor than a winging shot with a .22 LR, regardless of bullet design.

    I suggest that “shot placement” is, in fact, the “myth.”

  • Austin

    Myth #7 will get you killed.

    Modern Technique is uncomfortable because of the bullets hitting you while you stand there trying to shoot back.

    Get off the x, draw your weapon, and get as many rounds on the target as you can. The goal is to disorient the attacker by moving out of his field of vision while causing him to miss and then to return fire, hitting him, until he dies.

    As for #1, I carry a full size .45 XD service pistol AIWB all the time in Texas. And do the same when I am in Florida.

  • rusty

    I’m not sure I understand myth #2 with respect to women and revolvers. I’m not much on gunfights, but I used to spend an awful lot of time jumping out of planes and doing other insanely dangerous things – the reality of stressful situations is that adrenaline makes you instantly stronger and instantly dumber – you revert to motor memory instead of thinking, so a semi-auto is a much bigger liability for the average person than a revolver is; you’re going to get the adrenaline no matter what, and it will do two things – the first is that it will negate any strength issues you’re talking about (revolver vs auto) and the second is that it will ensure you never figure out that the reason your gun isn’t firing as you stand there squeezing and squeezing is that you forgot the safety when you drew the gun. The trick to surviving intensely scary situations is to minimize the number of points of failure in the system you use to deal with them – carrying a semi-auto instead of a revolver is like carrying a do-it-yourself helicopter kit while mountain climbing instead of using a rope – ah, it’s easy, we’ll just assemble a helicopter as we’re falling…

  • Chuck Pelto

    RE: Yeah….

    A .22 has killed plenty of people. — RSKTKR

    ….so has AIDS. But what does THAT have to do with combat ops?

    Or maybe you can explain why the team of Rangers who went in to rescue the SEALS whose helicopter was shot down were all packing their personal M1911 .45 cal ACPs, in stead of the Army issue PC 9mms.

    And they got out alive with their mission accomplished despite the banzi-esque assaults by the Talibanese hopped up on qat.

    I look forward to your reply.


    [Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a “.4” — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting]

    • William O. B’Livion

      Because they believe the same nonsense you do.

      Rangers–and SEALS and Recon Marines, and SF–are hella soldiers, but they aren’t wound ballistics experts. Well, let me rephrase that. They are experts in using ballistics to cause wounds, not in the minutiae of how the projectile works on the tissue etc. etc.

      Also for these groups (especially Rangers) the rifle (or carbine) is their primary weapon. They don’t train *nearly* as much with their pistol as they do their rifles. Many cops could out-shoot most soldiers with a handgun. It’s the other way around with a rifle. Different tasks, different tools.

      In Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell talks about how when they went to recover the bodies of his team they couldn’t find one of the guys where Luttrell was sure he dropped. Turns out the SEAL, who had fallen once due to his wounds, had gotten back up and fought for another (IIRC) 100 yards leaving a string of bodies WITH HIS PC 9mm.

      BTW, I spent 4 years in the Marine Corps, and never once heard that rule. I *DID* hear the one about a rifle caliber that doesn’t start with 3, but again that’s people whose idea of war is Saving Private Ryan, not the streets and alleys of any medium sized city.

    • JTHC

      Well, they may not be experts in wound ballistics, but they are experts in what works and what doesn’t. There’s gotta be something to the fact that Spec Ops types prefer a bigger caliber. I’m sure a 9mm will kill just fine, but I’d still rather have a gun that punches bigger holes in the middle of a firefight. No guarantees about shot placement in a melee, so I would prefer any wounds to be big wounds.

    • b.sloan

      Those aren’t personal weapons they are issued from the armory. Yes they have access to more than just the M9. The 1911 they are carrying is a “secondary” weapon system. It is a back up to their primary weapon system.
      As for caliber I would challenge you to show me a case where a person survived a gun shot wound from a hand gun but would have died if struck in the same location with a larger caliber.

      No one recommended a .22 for combat operations or defensive carry.

  • Tim Deters

    Whenever someone I’m talking guns with gives me the old “I’ll never use anything other than a .45cal handgun” I reply the same way. “Lets stand five yards apart, me with my 9mm and you with your .45.” I’ll let you shoot me if I can shoot first.” Suddenly nobody wants to talk stopping power anymore.
    BTW, I love my Walther P22. It feels great in my little girl-like hands.

    • Tim Deters

      I wanted to add, while having a 1″ group at any range is nice, a handgun target is pretty much a dinner plate, chest-high, and across the room. A hit anywhere there is perfectly servicable.

  • Maxim R. Glock

    Great article and comments! I’ll just add one thing, sorry if someone else mentioned it too. But the reason that .22’s have killed more people than any other caliber is because there are far more .22’s in the world.

  • JTW

    calibre does matter: larger rounds are more stable at longer distances, making hitting easier.
    They also carry (typically) more energy, enabling them to do more damage, making where you hit the target less critical.

    dryfire can damage a weapon: Not so much talking lack of a bullet as lack of lubrication of course. And in some weapons powder residue etc. might aid in lubrication.

    accuracy: probably true for most modern weapons. If you’re talking about older ones (or ones from third world factories), built to poor standards, things change.

    bad design: depending on your physique, that may well be true. But mostly that will be for people with physical disabilities like arthritis. After all, if you can’t hold it because it falls out of your hand, you’re not going to be able to shoot it (crew served weapons excluded, but let’s assume handguns).

    There’s a lot of BS, but there’s also a lot of BS among people trying to debunk BS 🙂

    • William O. B’Livion

      “larger rounds are more stable at longer distances, making hitting easier.”

      I’ve attended classes where we used defensive pistols (Glocks, 1911s, berettas, and in one case a revolver with a 2 1/2 barrel) to engage targets at 50 to 100 YARDS. IIRC the guy with the Detective Special was able to get a one-shot hit on steel at over 125 yards.

      Yeah. Don’t get in a fight with him.

      If you’re planning on engaging bad people at longer ranges than that with a handgun you’re doing it wrong.

      A 9mm bullet is 95-150 grain (roughly). A .223 is 47-77 grain. Now, at distance things like the rifling spin rate, and the rest of it come in to play, but basically what is “extreme” range for a 9mm is barely getting started for the .223.

      I don’t think bullet stability is really an issue with handguns. Or rather it is, but it’s more a function of proper round selection. Some factory reloads tend to be at the bottom end (powder wise) of what Glocks can handle (tighter barrels etc.) and the rounds can keyhole at close ranges. Seen it. But that’s not defensive ammo. At least I hope it’s not.

    • Bob Ruods

      As far as your revolver man at 125yds, this has more to do with bullet drop and the shooter…. Accurate estimation of drop with a pistol round would be FAR more important… If you couldn’t make the accurate guess, the relative accuracy differences wouldn’t matter anyway.

  • Mike

    Regarding myth #3….I have also heard this one all my life. However the reasoning behind it may be somewhat valid. Supposedly the repeated steel-on-steel impact of dry firing can damage the steel by slowly causing a change in crystallinity and increasing brittleness. Perhaps the metallurgy has improved in 40 years since this was an ‘issue’, but I wouldn’t bet on it…if anything it could be worse due to increased focus on strength and corrosion resistance. Do I know this for a fact? No. But the reasoning of the myth is logical. Will occasional dry firing be a problem? Almost certainly not. Is it smart to repeated dry fire as practice? I don’t do it without snap-caps…just doesn’t seem prudent on a fine tool.
    And lastly, using military SOP is not a good idea without considering that the military has vastly different goals in training and preparation then a civilian gun-owner. Its quite possible that they are willing to sacrifice increased maintenance and reduced weapon lifespan for training benefits.

  • Ben

    #3, fact: You can safely dry fire a M2HB machine gun, which is based on the short recoil principle, just like your automatic pistol. That bolt is driven by a buffer spring strong enough to kill a person, but somehow it can handle being dry fired and your itty bitty .45 can’t?

    #7, it’s true that, obviously, you don’t need to be comfortable in a firefight, but you do want to be comfortable while training. The key is to realize that you can train your body to become comfortable in an awkward stance, just don’t wait until the range to do it. When you’re watching a movie or something, just get into the stance and stay in it for a while; after a few weeks your body will adapt.

    #9: yup, we had that idiot battalion XO who insisted on perfectly clean weapons, and half the weapons had no bluing left due to over cleaning. Another point my old armorer would want me to add: if the manual says “once a year” it means once a year. We always had guys who knew how to, for example, take apart the trigger / sear assembly on the M16. And they would wear out the little springs and pins because they weren’t designed to be taken apart that often. Read the manual, and do exactly what it says and your weapon will last you a very long time.

  • I would have thought that the extent to which caliber matters had been pretty definitively been determined by the work of Evan Marshall and Edwin Sanow in their book “Handgun Stopping Power.” In short, bullet kinetic energy and recovered diameter correlate closely with a bullet’s one-shot stopping power. Also, if you need a tiny gun for summer weather, the .32 Winchester Silvertip Hollowpoint, as in a Seecamp, is fairly effective, probably much more so than a .22.

    • cbinflux

      There was a retrospective study a few years back which proved that .40 S&W had much greater stopping/killing power when compared to 9mm and .38 caliber. There is zero supporting science on #1, and it also lacks “all other things being equal”.

  • Jonathan

    On dry-firing: The CZ-52 7.62×25 pistol is known for having a brittle firing pin that can be broken by repeated dry-firing. I suspect that several other older weapons are that way, and that this is what caused the “don’t dry-fire” rule. Out of politeness, at a store, always ask before you dry-fire. Side note, the CZ-52 also has a major safety problem with the decocker (drops hammer, hits firing pin–my only AD ever).

    Also, for those wanting to learn how to be a rifleman: Been there, going back again next month with my wife.

  • There are poorly made firearms out there that you shouldn’t expect any kind of accuracy from. For example, the AK-47.
    A Winchester lever action won’t have the accuracy of a Remington bolt action. A dry fire here and there won’t break a firing pin, but if somebody wants to do a lot of dry firing, then there is special dummy ammo for that. The Marines may dry fire, but they’re in a position to replace firing pins at training facilities. A poor ergonomically designed handle is an obstacle that can be overcome with practice, but it’s understandable why people want to avoid these weapons, when there are alternatives. If you’re in the service,
    and you don’t have a choice, it’s possible to make the adjustment.

    • William O. B’Livion

      “There are poorly made firearms out there that you shouldn’t expect any kind of accuracy from. For example, the AK-47.”

      Really? Care to bet your life on that?

      A frind of mine–a really good shot–hit a 2×2 (foot) steel plate OFFHAND (meaning standing) at over 200 yards. He routinely hits A-zone sized steel at 300 yards with Arsenal or Fuller build AKs.

      There are a lot of poorly made AKs, and no, the design will never be a sub-minute of angle tack driver. But it’s a military weapon designed to (eastern) military standards. Which means you can shoot people ALL DAY LONG at “normal” ranges.

      1 minute of angle is 1 inch at 100 yards. Your average person is about what, 12 inches across? So a *4* minute of angle rifle at 300 yards is PLENTY. A properly built AK is probably a 2-3 minute of angle rifle. Which means that it’s good enough out to where the bullet drop gets extreme (~400 yards)

    • cbinflux

      I shot an AK last week, and I found it to be very accurate. Of course, I’m a very good shot…

  • The claim that most of those who die of gunshot wounds in the US were shot with .22 rimfires, while true enough, doesn’t seem particularly relevant. But its virtue is that it’s a factual data point. There are precious few of those in the discussion of large vs. small caliber. Most of what we have is opinion and guesswork. “Debunkings” generally add no facts, they just add more opinions and guesses. So what are the facts? We don’t know. A century ago the army assigned Colonel Thompson (later of SMG fame) to find out. A couple of years later he’d amassed a pile of data gathered by shooting cows and pigs, but no real answers. Julian Hatcher later came to some conclusions, with simple formulas, for lethality and stopping power (different things, of course), based partly on Thompson’s work, but these conclusions were not real data. Fairbairn and Sykes, in 1942’s “Shooting to Live with the One-Handed Gun” (which I’m sure we all have under our pillows), recount cases from their voluminous files of law-enforcement incidents which cast serious doubt on the effectiveness of both large and small calibers. In sum, all we can really say is that if it was easy, the question would have been answered about two centuries ago.

  • Overall, this is an excellent list that I will send far and wide. However, Myth # 1 is only true to a point. Shot placement matters when you can make it matter. Unfortunately, no plan survives the 1st shot intact, and if your plan was perfect shot placement, you’ll likely to be sorely disappointed. I think the comments above by British Contrarian speak to the heart of the matter. We prefer a higher impact energy caliber so that each shot does more damage than a .22, regardless of its impact location.

  • mark
  • Lamp of Diogenes

    Re: “experts,” I am not one. Just a guy who likes to shoot.

    Seems that many of your points, while technically “true,” seriously miss the point. Yes, I CAN kill you with a .22. The “let me shoot first” example is silly. Ask yourself this question: You are about to walk into a large building (barn, hangar, etc), with many potential points of concealment. You believe you are likely to encounter a goblin. There are two guns available to you, a Browning Buckmark .22 and a 1911. Which gun do YOU pick up, first? (I’d take them BOTH, but the 1911 is in my hand.) If you said the .22, you are a damn liar.

    Yes, in some situations, concealed carry is important. If you can’t conceal a (JUST as an example) Walther PPK in .380 ACP just as easily as a .22, you need to learn some concealment skills. And, again, if you have a CHOICE in a gunfight, and tell me you’ll take a .22 over a .380, I suspect your veracity.

    And, yes, a reasonably competent and practiced shooter SHOULD be able to shoot just about any handgun with “acceptable” accuracy – so the hell what??????????????? I can reliably, regularly shoot my Colt Python with greater accuracy than any other handgun I’ve ever fired. The grips fit my hand well, the sight picture, FOR ME, is darn near perfect, weight and balance work FOR ME, caliber is a good compromise between punch and controllability of recoil. Bottom line – shooting the Python, I hit what the hell I’m aiming at, pretty much every time. I CAN shoot my buddy’s 1911, and after one magazine to reacquaint myself with the dynamics of this gun, I can paint a respectable target. Again, so the hell what??? If my GOAL is to shoot the other bastard, I want the gun that works best for ME. So, sorry Charlie, I’ll pick up my Python EVERY TIME.

    Sure, you should oughtta be able to fire pretty much ANY gun, from just about ANY position, well enough to defend yourself – self-defense is, by definition, an emergency situation (no one in their right mind, except cops and military, who do it because it’s their JOB, intentionally walks into a gunfight), and you do what ya gotta do to get out the other side.

    But pretending that any given shooter doesn’t shoot some guns better than others, and that “caliber doesn’t matter” is . . . well, I’d like to be polite, but the only correct word is “bullshit.”

    • b.sloan

      “But pretending that any given shooter doesn’t shoot some guns better than others, and that “caliber doesn’t matter” is . . . well, I’d like to be polite, but the only correct word is “bullshit.”

      with regard to shooters being able to shoot some guns better than others you are absolutely correct..however this has more to do with the shooter and not the weapon. Read what was said in the article again.

  • mack

    Pretty good post…
    correct about dry fire…marines spend alot of time(or did back in ’78) “snapping in”. We did alot of dry firing.
    One problem I have is finding a range that allows anything but standing, sitting, or prone shooting positions. And god forbid I try any sort or move and shoot. That would get my membership revoked in a heartbeat for safety violation.

    • Howard

      Find a range near you that has USPSA. It’s fun and it is all move and shoot. I did it until I hit 64. Knee problems. I still shoot, but not the 1000 rounds a week I used to…

      It also covers shot placement in funny positions, shooting under stress, etc.

  • Rich

    I seem to recall that back in the 1800’s in the Philippines the Navy(Army) had switched to .38 and found that the crazed natives just ignored point blank shots and killed the shooter. This ended up in their going back to .45s. So maybe where this all started but shot placement and all the other considerations aside – I like a .357 revolver though I am looking at one of those Taurus Judges in .410 shotgun 🙂

  • Spartan79

    On point 6 (police knowing how to shoot), a few years ago in a small town in central Michigan near where I live, a carjacker was finally stopped and shot by officers from about four agencies after a wild chase on the interestate. They expended several hundred rounds before they got their man. Residents of the community living in all directions from where the incident occured were finding bullet holes in their siding for months afterwards.

  • cbinflux

    Interesting, but #’s 1 and 8 were pap. #3 is true on some guns, especially rimfire.

  • Wow, I see I started a shit storm.
    I will attempt to rebut these points in the next couple of days.
    Although the article is not meant to be a definitive article as some of you are taking it and it may delve into giving black and white answers for things that are really grey in nature, I stand by the statements made. This article is based or meant to be based on Defensive pistols of the modern age, something you can go buy new off the shelf and it’s made by a company that can afford to buy a full color ad in Guns and ammo (Which I stopped reading 20 years ago as a biased gun rag with crap experts, but I haven’t read it recently so don’t hold me to that)

    If you are not dry firing your weapon you are not doing all that you can do to become a better shooter. If your weapon is designed in such a way that dry firing it can hurt it, get another weapon.

    I stated repeatedly carry the right tool for the job and then people say well Rangers/SEALs/Recon guys carry X caliber.
    No shit! I said that I wasn’t kicking down doors anymore. I don’t know what you get into, and yes lightning strikes happen so the 1 in a million chance that you could come up against the team from the movie HEAT could happen, but me personally, notice I said “me personally” in my normal ramblings feel comfortable with my P-22 on “SOME” Days. I’m not advocating you carry a .22, nor am I saying that you will find me carrying a .22. Depends on the day. Sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes you don’t. But I do say you should carry something, and if all you have is a Desert Eagle then it sucks to try to hide it in a pair of shorts and a T-Shirt.
    I’ll stand behind my ability with 10 rounds at the local 7/11. I’ll interrupt his OODA loop and keep trucking.
    If I was going to HALO in to an Al Qaeda hideout I would probably go for a larger round. ;-P
    So you guys took one little statement and carried it into left field.

    Revolver guys, God Bless you!
    I am not a revolver guy, but it is very irritating to have every gun salesman in a 50 state radius try to get my wife to buy a .38 snubbie.
    Women can and do shoot Autos very well. I teach them everyday. About 2 in 10 like the revolver over the Auto if they are shown them without a bias. If that is what they want that is what they get, but don’t tell them they are to dumb or weak to shoot an auto like most gun guys do.
    I teach geriatric and even partially disabled shooters, I can show you anytime you want that it takes more grip strength to hold a revolver vs a Auto. Believe me I can and will prove it. Proper grip with a auto is easier to achieve because of the ergonomics with 70% of the students I teach that have weak grip strength. Does an auto fix everything? No I still recommend it in some cases but I try the autos first and they work most of the time. 6 shots vs 12? This is good for a shooter who may not practice very much how?
    Revolvers work but so does a modern handgun. Tell me the last time you had a misfire shooting a modern gun with modern ammo. I train for it and I have to use snapcaps to simulate it as it doesn’t happen enough.

    Clean your gun as often as you want.
    I blow mine out with canned air, hit it with a toothbrush and lube it up. Every once in a while I hit the barrel with a few patches. I fire Speer Frangible and Gold dot through it on a regular basis, no wadcutters or lead rounds. Your mileage may vary.

    I hope this clears up some of the controversy.

    • Old Guy

      Thought your original and follow up were “Right On”. Heard a lot from experts through the years and I usually ask two questions. How many firefights have you been in? How many men/women (politically correct) have you killed? I’m sure you guessed the answers I receive. I always have a wheel gun along with a semi.. An older pistolero taught me long ago to shoot fast and straight (slowly) he also was a stong advocate of it is easier to place a second shot if the sob is on the ground. Bottom line: Know how to use what you carry and One Shot = One Kill.

    • Ron S

      When I was being taught to instruct pistol shooting for the Army, we were told that many women lack the grip/forearm strength in their off hand to pull the slide back on some automatics, especially ones with stiff recoil springs. Instead of telling them to pack it in and give up on automatics, they taught us a neat trick. Have the woman grasp the slide and PUSH the handle forward (fingers off the trigger, please). Women have plenty of hand/arm strength to do that because they are using the strength in their dominant hand/arm. Since then I have taught many women to shoot and have found the grip strength to be an issue mainly on large caliber guns , especially shorties that are made be be smaller/concealable but still pack the full size round punch.

  • Jerry

    More than occasional dry firing will damage .22 rimfires, and the CZ52 firing pin won’t withstand any at all.

    Other than that, great article.

  • Antibubba

    You forgot the biggest myth of all:

    “This isn’t loaded! See…”

    It isn’t paranoia if they continually sweep you.

  • Bob Ruods

    #9 is deceptive as well… the local gun store can’t keep M91/30 Mosin Nagants on the racks and sell alot of surplus ammunition of variouso kinds… Not cleaning your firearm after firing corrosive ammunition is, as we all know, no good.. it will ruin your gun unless you chromed everything.

    #5 is another I disagree with. I have dealt with many brand name guns I wouldn’t carry to take the trash out. On the other hand, I have picture proof and personal witness of the hi-point’s capability to make consistant, accurate shots. This constant crap I hear from people repeating the gun-snob BS is exactly that. BS. Any who think otherwise are more than welcome to put their body where their mouth is and stand down range. I for one don’t care to trash talk about a gun that goes bang just as often and relentlessly as my own 1911 (an Armscor… perish the thought!).

    #1 is not very truthful either. As the adage goes, 9mm might expand but .45 doesn’t shrink. You point to ammunition selection as important and I agree. But a pistol is still a pretty poor weapon to try stop/kill with. Some 80% of those on the receiving end of pistol fire survive… compared to 35% of those receiving rifle fire. A bigger bullet makes a bigger hole. The bigger the hole, the more damage. Ergo, the general recommendation is carry as big as you can comfortably. Obviously, an unconfortable gun is a gun you’re not likely to carry. But I don’t translate that as carry smaller. Yes .22LR has killed alot of people… but given its prevelance, it has more chances to do so. This doesn’t neccessarily make it a good choice. I don’t disagree with the choice of small chamberings but on the other hand, it is very small and thus makes small tunnels.

    You point to FL heat. As a TX coast resident, I understand your point about weather affecting your clothing choices. I don’t wear the usual flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirt but instead dress to a certain standard and thus find it a moot point. But for reference, a full-size 1911 fits in most of my khaki pants and dickies shorts pockets without printing… So why carry smaller something as small as the “mouse” guns? Most manufacturers make sub-compacts in the larger chamberings and even if it isn’t comfortable shooting, its a gun fight and I’m sure you won’t notice the recoil underneath all the “rush”.

    Additionally, the geletin is a tool, not an end-all, be-all. Unless firing squads for death row inmates are to be resumed with experimental ammunition for testing purposes, geletin remains the only way to verify the design process against reality… otherwise the vaunted hollowpoint may not have risen to enjoy the acceptance it does.

    Finally, for #1 you said “No, but I don’t walk around loaded for warrant service when I go to the store for a gallon of milk either.” I ask, is there something less dangerous about the psycho terrorizing the grocery store versus the criminal you serve a warrant for? The answer is ofcourse no. In fact, the freeze isle is just as good a bullet-stopper as the fridgerator and certainly better than the criminal’s drywall or front door. And auto glass works well in both locations too. If you want to step up your game, as they say, bring a rifle… but stepping down in the pistol world is simply digging a deeper hole to climb out of for the sake of an extra pound or two on your waist or under your shoulder. I mean… who cares if its uncomfortable if there’s a gunfight, right? I assure you, shooting to no result is alot more uncomfortable to explain to yourself as you get shot or beat senseless than ‘its not comfortable’ as you walk out the front door.

    #4 is a a distraction at best. Training to sight,press,recover until it’s muscle memory is good but you never know how you do under stress of combat until you do it. Being a good shot (hitting the target consistantly and with accuracy approriate for the purpose) is important. Doing so under “pressure” is merely a matter of more practice. But it does not guarantee you will perform. Ask the military… the’ve gotten better at conditioning troops to shoot, but no one has proven yet that all the ones that do shoot are consistantly hitting anything. Ergo, your “myth” is more of a thought falacy. It is a myth that you can train yourself to shoot so as to be accurate under combat stress and it is a myth that just being a “great shot” at the range somehow precludes you from hitting a human being under stress. Given the hit percentages for cops (somewhere around 2 in 10) and other trained personnel like the FBI (4 in 10)… Citizens thus far seem to be doing pretty well. I haven’t seen too many (read none) interviews on the keepandbeararms news blotter of people saying “thank goodness I went to the combat training class!” Likewise, Mr. Joe Horn, in his address to my CHL class, said he never did anything but hunt and hit the range once and awhile. He seemed to respond just fine. Being able to shoot under stress is more mental conditioning and manual practice to the point of muscle memory… not stress-tests. Lt Col Dave Grossman covers the real factors in combat in his book “On Killing”. Take a break from the range and internet and read this book to understand the mental requirements of shooting. It will do you more good than the best gun and a 1000rds worth of practice. It you can’t mentally pull the trigger on target, it won’t aim and fire for you. This being said, always practice is better than no practice and forums of competition such as IDPA provide a venue to practice skills and are multi-dimensional.. something that is hard to find at many ranges.

    Finally #2 is just as applicable to Firearms Tactics Experts… Study the info out there and remember to KISS with all your training.

    • Wow.
      People hear or read what they want I guess.

    • Rob

      Wait, wait, let me get this straight.

      You’re advocating carrying around a rifle…. in public… as a self-defense weapons?

      Not only is that completely illegal (open carry is only permitted in maybe twelve states, and Florida isn’t one), it’s also ridiculous. If you’re concealed carrying, and you happen to be in a bank, or a grocery store, or Blockbuster, or soemthing of the sort, you’re not going to have a rifle, and you’re not going to have a shotgun. Hell, if you’re going for a walk, you also won’t, and in none of these cases will you have the range to use a rifle anyway. There is absolutely no self-defense case short of a gang fight in which a rifle is going to help you, or that a pistol is a ‘step down’.

      As for, is a gas station robber less dangerous than a person on the run from cops? Most certainly. A person robbing a gas station, or a bank, or something, is not going to be expecting resistance. They will not expect you to pull a gun and will many times freeze up and just drop the weapon. If they’re being chased by police, though, they are prepared and ready. The element of surprise is lost. Therefore, a person being chased by the police is MUCH more dangerous than someone in the middle of committing a robbery.

      In any case, the major point he was trying to make is that if you shoot someone, it’s going to stop them. People survive gunshot wounds because they’re not shot in vital spots. If you shoot someone in the heart with a .22, it does exactly the same thing a .45 does, and that’s kill them. But most people do not want to kill their attackers, they want to incapacitate them. .22s do just fine with that.

      As for the accuracy thing… once again, this is SELF-DEFENSE. What the hell kind of self-defense are you going to be doing that you need to shoot more than 10, 20 yards maybe? Accuracy for self defense guns matters so little that it almost doesn’t matter at all, it’s just point and shoot. If the person’s moving, it’ll be to run away, in which case you’re still fine even if you miss.

      Seriously, figure out what you’re replying to before you start making long-winded replies that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand and don’t make any difference whatsoever.

  • Ron

    I have to disagree with your #5. I have shot many rounds with my Hi-Point .45 and have not had any failures and it will shoot better than I can.

    I fully agree with the dry firing. I do it with all my guns, including a Ruger MK III and have never had a problem.

  • Jon

    Great post, Micheal! I hear idiotic misconceptions on guns all the time and do my best to educate. Do I agree 100% with all 9 points? Nope…but damn close. Do all 9 points have merrit? Yep. Depends on the situation. One of my friends has a great saying: “any gun will do if you will do”. My opinion is as long as the gun you carry has proven to be reliable and accurate, who cares who made it or what it looks like…it’s a tool.
    On caliber, I agree that any caliber will kill. I do, however, believe that the larger the round, the more likely it is to stop the threat before the threat stops you. That is still no guarantee since I have seen BGs popped with multiple .45 rounds stay in the fight and I have seen BGs stopped cold with one 9mm shot. As stated, shot placement is king. Also, it does no good to carry a .45 if the largest gun you can reliably hit your target with is a 9mm. It’s about surviving, not style points.
    All in all, great post, Micheal!!

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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…..

  • jdun1911

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Thomas Bacalja

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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

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

  • 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.

    • MilSpec

      Reading Comprehension FAIL! ^

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • Mike Judd

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

  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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”!

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  • 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?


    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 !

  • 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.

    • ColBullSigh

      panch0villa  I know who started that rumor–the snap cap makers!  Talk about a useless piece of junk!

    • RussellSmith

      The prohibition on dry firing can’t into being with percussion cap firearms, today, that rule is just as obsolete. With the possible exception of rimfires, where the firing pin can peen the edge of the chamber. Some manufacturers such as Ruger harden the chamber face to minimize this damage but I have seen rifles that would not chamber and fire a live round because of it.

  • Darin

    Love it. Every point is spot on.  I love the comment that getting shot is more uncomfortable.

  • Dan Baron

    Outstanding. I agree with 98%. With over 60 years of experence I have found these statements to be true. Kids younger than my underware think they are experts. I have seen a 500# grizzly taken with a .22 rifle, shot in his left eye. A .22 in the hand beats a custom 1911 at home in the safe every time.
    As a Sig armourer and one who does his own smith work I can verify that dry firing does no damage. When in a shop I do ask before dry firing a weapon that does not belong to me. If they say no they lost a sale.
    How good a shot you are, how your firearm handles, form, stance, all goes out the window in a fire fight. Paper targets don’t shoot back. 100% shooters on the range turn into 12% shooters under fire, and I’m talking real bullets whizzing past your head not soft air.
    What you want is a a firearm that you will carry, not leave behind because it is too heavy/too large and might print. That said I suggest as large a caliber as you are comfortable with. A .45 that you flinch before you fire it isn’t for you. Try before you buy lest you wind up with something you don’t like and won’t carry.
    Holsters are another story. It needs to be comfortable and safe. I’m fat so IWB doesn’t work for me. What works for me may not work for you. I prefer firearms made of metal and holsters of leather. That said I carried a Glock 17 as a duty weapon in a level lll fabric metal holster. The Glock is the junkyard dog. Ugly as sin but it will bite when needed. A holster needs to be made to fit the weapon. Fits em all holsters can be dangerous.
    While one can get away with not cleaning their firearm after firing, I prefer mine to be cleaned and relubed. I don’t just field strip I take mine compleatly apart.
    Last it failed to point out the stuff you see on TV and movies is total BS. Unless the pathologist has a bullet in hand they cannot tell what caliber firearm was used. (FBI and personal experence). Often with the bullet it can be difficult to distinguish between .38, .357, 9mm, .380. At best you can know the diameter, number of groves & lands, and right or left hand twist. The exception is the Glock which uses a polygonal barrel. However you can buy a rifled barrel for a Glock. As a Navy Corpsman during Vietnam I have seen more wounds than I care to think about.
    In time you learn who has good advise and who is full of crap.

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