Notes on Firearms

Although this web site is primarily about preparations for a bugout, part of your preparations will surely include defense. If it appears that I am giving too much attention to defense and guns, well, that is a valid opinion. As I mention elsewhere, if you don't give adequate attention to your defense planning and gear, all of your other planning and gear could be a waste of time.

It is far better to be armed and trained and not need either than to need both and have neither. - M. Adams

From a purely practical perspective, leaving aside any fascination with weapons, this is one area where the consequences of both preparing and not preparing could be profound. If you neglect your food preparations, you could be hungry. If you neglect clothing and shelter, you could be uncomfortable or worse. If you neglect defense, you could be dead. That's the difference, and that's why I give more space here for defense. Since you are reading this, I will assume you want to be.

A handgun figures prominently in defense, because it will most likely be the weapon you have with you at all times. I have already indicated my personal choices in the Defense category of the BOB contents, and here I will add some information and opinions which I feel might help you in your own choices. Some of these may appear elsewhere on this site, but I feel their repetition is useful.

1. The Glock pistol is a semi-auto with a formidable reputation for reliability and durability. I use the Glock 19 in 9mm (also available in the slightly larger .40). It has a magazine with 15 rounds, plus one in the chamber. I wrote elsewhere that I stuffed two additional rounds in the grip, in the gap just behind the magazine, and I secured them with a bit of rubber. If I am ever low on ammo or completely out, those two rounds will be most welcome. They can be pried out with a thumbnail. That brings my total to 18 rounds. (see 3 below for more storage tips) The only handgun I would consider as a replacement for the Glock 19 is the Glock 17, also 9mm, a bit larger pistol with 17 rounds plus one. The mags are identical to those in my Kel-Tec Sub 2000 folding carbine.

2. There are 33-round mags available for Glocks, both original and non-OEM. Instead of carrying two standard mags in a mag holder on your belt, consider one 33-rounder instead. The baseplate is nearly 1/4" wider than the mag, so it will catch when used IWB without a holder. I am making a slender belt pouch for mine. If you put it in a standard holder, it is so long that it will poke your shirt up when you bend over. Whereas the 15 and 17 round mags can be carried discreetly yet openly in camera pouches on the belt, due to the length of the 33-rounder, I don't know any common items the same shape which could be carried similarly. A flute perhaps. Or a thin harmonica.

3. I added a LaserLyte red laser pointer to my Glock, replacing the rear sight. You can find plenty of opinions on whether to add one or not, but in this case, the design is so small and doesn't conflict with any holster, and you can use it or not. It's there if you need it. The on/off button can be reached by the thumb of the shooting hand, and it can be set to steady or flickering. Flickering shows up better on a target. I zeroed the pointer using a laser bore sighter at 50 yards. Invisible in bright daylight, but since most gunfights occur in low light, I figure it's a worthwhile addition. One man is reported to have been kidnapped, his hands tied behind him and seated in a chair. However, he was not searched and had a pistol IWB in back. With his hands bound, he was able to reach his gun, turn on the laser, aim and shoot his captor. What do you suppose his opinion is on handgun lasers?

The LaserLyte came with an extra set of four tiny button batteries - a thoughtful gesture - and I was looking at my Glock for a place to stash them, and I found the perfect storage space. I took out the two extra rounds in the grip (see 1 above) and lo, there is a deep tapered space below them. I put the batteries and the hex wrench in a tiny plastic bag and stuffed them in that space, then put the two rounds back in place with a wedge of hard rubber. Along with the batteries, I could have included an energy bar, albeit a thin one, and some toothpicks. Thank you Mr. Glock for that cavernous storage space. Yet another reason to love a Glock.

Update: My LaserLyte failed to operate recently, so a full product review will have to wait. I recommended this unit to a friend and his also had an issue requiring a return/exchange. The company did not hesitate to exchange his, and I am awaiting word from them on mine. Check back later for the outcome of this matter. Update: I received a new LaserLyte and plenty of extra batteries. I installed the laser and it has been working fine for over a year. However, I am now in the city, not in the desert where sweat may have gotten into the switch. I now try to have a shirt between the Glock and me.

4. If you read even a little about self-defense with firearms, you will encounter the opinion that a handgun is what you use to fight your way to your rifle. I would agree, sometimes, but not always. A lot of gunfights only involve handguns, probably because they are more easily concealed and available. But I agree with the view that you are better protected with a rifle, and the reasons are simple. 1) A rifle, even one using handgun rounds, has more power than a handgun, due to the longer barrel. The slug achieves more speed in the longer barrel, due to the fact that the expanding gasses from the explosion have more time to push on the slug. 2) More speed flattens the trajectory, increasing its effective range. 3) Rifle rounds generally have more penetrating power, due to the more pointed shape and greater speed. Some body armor will stop handgun rounds but not rifle rounds, so if your attacker has armor, a rifle slug has a better chance of penetration. If your attacker does not go down after hits to the chest, aim for the pelvis. 4) The longer sight radius - the distance between the front and rear sights - increases aiming precision. 5) The larger frame of the rifle, plus its stock against your shoulder, absorbs more of the recoil, making follow-up shots easier and quicker. 6) The rifle often has a larger magazine. 7) And finally, if the rifle has a scope mounted, you can deliver accurate shots out to 100 or 200 yards and often farther, distances that render handguns for most people ineffective.

5. Although rifle rounds are more devastating than those from a handgun, it is enlightening to see just how effective your handgun round can be, when fired at common objects. In a place where there are no people, practice shooting your handgun at things like junk car doors, house doors and walls, wood - things you might be tempted to use for cover. You will see that the lowly handgun round will go right through a car door, several walls of a house and several inches of wood. Take some 2 x 6 boards and see how many boards your round will pass through before stopping. My .22 subgun (16" barrel) shot CCI FMJs through two 2 x 6 boards (total 3") and embedded in the third. 9mm does even better. Try both ball and hollow-point and note the results. Learn how to turn your enemy's cover into 'Swiss-concealment'. Now shoot the same objects with your rifle and note the penetration. An AK round (7.62 x 39) will penetrate a 10" pine tree. Using a tree as cover? Find a fat tree.

6. Find a holster that works. I recently bought a Blackhawk Serpa for the Glock 19, and it is easily the best holster I've had. It's made from carbon fiber composite, similar to Kydex, so the Glock slides in without effort - there is no friction bump or whatever to snap the gun in and out. Instead, it has a lock on the trigger guard that you release with your index finger on the draw. It's right where your finger naturally goes when you grip the gun, alongside the trigger guard. The gun can't fall out or be taken easily - the release is not a red lever or anything obvious. An attacker would need both hands to take your gun. The cant or rake can be set to any of five positions: center, two forward and two back. I like full forward. It tucks the pistol in closer to my body, it's easier to draw and it's easy to re-holster without looking.

7. So now you have your guns, maybe two or five or whatever, and a pile of ammo. Good start, but can you use them effectively? Do you practice with them? I don't mean at the range shooting static targets - that's not what you are going to be using them for when you really need them. Can you draw, fire and reholster while moving? Can you reload in the dark or without looking at your gun? Do you carry your handgun regularly?

You probably carry a wallet, keys, perhaps a comb in your pockets, and you can probably open your wallet and remove your credit card without looking at them, get your keys, find the car key and put it in the ignition, and comb your hair, all without looking. Are you able to do the same thing with your handgun? Draw, shoot, clear a jam, operate the safety, get to your extra mag, pop out the empty, insert the fresh one, save the empty and return the slide, all in the dark. Now do that in the dark while moving, possibly running for cover. Now with your rifle, the same drill, then your shotgun.

If you're not ready to invest the time to practice in a realistic way with your defense tools, can you really expect to be effective with them in a real firefight? Do you really think that simply buying guns and ammo will prepare you to defend yourself and others. You can operate their triggers and reload them while sitting at your table, great. Now do all that in the dark while running.

The BAR: The police and military have gathered extensive data on the use of weapons, training, practice and real-life shootouts with bad guys. The data is pretty clear. The body alarm reaction (BAR) that one experiences when threatened with serious harm makes fine motor skills much more difficult to perform. Thinking and hearing are also impaired. When BAR takes over and reduces your ability to perform, your training is the only thing that will save you. You will instinctively do what you have trained yourself to do, because conscious thought is impaired. That's why practice is so important - it creates a behavior model which will still be there when you are unable to think clearly. It creates 'muscle memory'.

8. Try this trial run. Pretend you are bugging out in a hostile situation, lawlessness, no police or other law enforcement. You will probably be expecting encounters with looters, thieves, robbers, muggers, carjackers or all of the above, so you are going to go out armed and ready to defend yourself (leaving a bit late, no?). You put on your backpack or whatever, get it adjusted, and now you are looking at your handgun and rifle and extra mags for both. Where do you carry them? Obviously not inside your backpack, and you can't carry all that in your hands. Have you planned for this, or not? If you have, you will know what to do with your guns and mags. Your backpack belt probably covers your pants belt, so your belt holster and mag pouch won't work there. Will it work on your backpack belt? That belt could be up to 2" wide. Assuming you can mount your handgun holster on your backpack belt, what about extra mags, where do they go? Does your mag pouch fit on that belt? If not, how do you carry them? Now you have extra rifle mags, where can they go? Finally you pick up your rifle for open carry, because the situation outside looks nasty. Does it have a sling? Have you tried to sling your rifle while carrying your backpack? You may need both hands to climb a fence or wall, so you will have to sling your long gun or throw it over - not a very wise choice. You could hand it up or over to a friend or partner, if you have one, but their attention might be better used keeping watch. Also, you might have to split up for some reason. You still have some time to practice all these things and get them right, before all hell breaks loose and then you'd better have them right.

9. My system: Since my BOB backpack (mil-surp medium ALICE) belt is 2" wide and some things I normally carry on my pants belt (1.5") don't fit on it, I added a kydex pistol holster to the right side of the belt (12 - 3 o'clock), as well as a mil-surp, covered, waterproof, mag pouch (has 2 MOLLE clips, holds three mags and two grenades; I cut off the grenade pockets and mag separators), a NVD (night vision device) in its own pouch and a sheath knife. On the left half of the belt (9-12 o'clock) I added two more of these modified pouches and a canteen. My pistol goes in its holster, its extra mags in the pouch next to it. The two pouches on the left hold 1) extra rifle mags, 2) binoculars, flashlight and headlamp. My hands are free to carry my rifle, or I can sling it to use binoculars, NVD, GPS, flashlight, etc. My GPS, multitool and pepper spray clip to a shoulder strap.

For more discreet carry, in a situation where law enforcement is present (i.e. open carry not advised), my Kel-Tec Sub 2000 (folding 9mm carbine) goes in my BOB with its mags, the pistol is carried concealed, as are two extra mags and/or one 33-rounder in a cargo pants pocket. Once out of the city, I can unpack my carbine and mags.

10. Pepper spray is important, because you don't want to use your gun for situations that require a LTL (less than lethal) response. Lethal force is reserved for situations you can't avoid that endanger your life or well-being or that of others. If you can neutralize an attacking dog or an aggressive but unarmed person with a blast of pepper spray, you have possibly saved yourself from a court case and prison time. If someone is harrassing you, pushing and or slapping you around, don't draw your gun, because you will have escalated the confrontation unnecessarily. Give him a face full of something else to think about instead. And while he's thinking about it, you can stroll away calmly. You hope, anyway. If his friends come after you with knives and baseball bats, you might be able to outrun them, but with a backpack on probably not. If they look serious about attacking you, it's time for you to draw, take aim and to shout "Freeze!" You are in condition 'red' and prepared to take them out if they continue their attack. Remember, a hit or two or three in the chest may not stop a man from attacking you, however police data shows that one hit in the pelvis will always topple a man, and a man on the ground can't attack you - aim for the belt buckle.

11. The presence of law enforcement will discourage some or most looting, depending on how thorough the patrols are, but if people are deprived of basic necessities, it is only a matter of time before there is panic and chaos. You will want to be armed with concealed weapons. Open carry will draw unnecessary attention to you and you could be arrested, even in an open carry state. In an emergency, the fedgov can do all kinds of things: impose a dusk to dawn curfew, ban the carry of all weapons, even ban the possession of all weapons and confiscate them, search homes for banned items, take over all aspects of civilian society and impose martial law. It might appear absurd, for the fedgov to confiscate our arms just when we need them for protection, but the gov is used to appearing absurd and don't appear to care about appearances. They know that they could very well incite a rebellion. My suggestion is to vacate cities long before any signs of collapse manifest, and establish your residence in a rural community far from population centers and highways leading out of them.

12. Don't learn to use your handgun by watching movies! I know, it looks cool sometimes, but it's probably not like reality. Drawing your gun means you have identified a threat to your or another's life, and you are prepared mentally and now physically to use lethal force to stop it. Your trigger finger is alongside the trigger guard, not on the trigger, until you are ready to fire. A gun is not a badge of honor that everyone who sees it will automatically respect and bow down to. Don't wave it around; keep it aimed in the direction of the threat. If the threat is hiding and you are searching him, your eyes and gun barrel move together. Also, don't expect people to die like they do in movies. A headshot will stop a threat right now, anything else creates a wound that may or may not be immediately fatal. So don't expect your attacker to drop like a stone from one shot to the chest, or two or three. Some men on drugs have taken over twenty hits and were still aggressive and dangerous. Your attacker could be wearing body armor, so if shots to the chest are ineffective, aim for the belt buckle (see 10). A man on the ground can't attack you, but if he is armed he can still shoot, so keep your eyes and barrel aimed at him. Remember, your intention is to stop the threat, not to kill. Your attacker may die from his wounds, too bad for him. If he has/had friends, they may require your attention, so don't drop your guard yet.

13. Okay, one more. Know the difference between 'cover' and 'concealment'. Cover is anything that you can duck behind that will stop bullets. Concealment is anything you can hide behind, but it will not stop bullets. Refer to 5 above and experiment with things you may have thought were cover, but are actually concealment. Your front door, even if solid wood, is not cover, nor are the walls in most houses. That's right, even handgun bullets will go through several walls in a wood frame house. Stone and concrete, now that's cover, for all handgun rounds and most common rifle rounds, if its six inches thick or more. If your house is not cover, it is only concealment - think about that. A bullet can pass through your entire house, right through the front door, through two rooms and out the back wall, and it's still lethal.

Find a place to do some experiments with cover. Instead of using a door, take some scrap wood, like a 2 x 6 or several of them and a door from a junk car, and, in a safe place, wearing eye protection, shoot at them with your handgun and rifle. If a handgun bullet passes through two boards (2 x 6) like my .22 sub gun does, and the first board represents your front door, what does the second board represent? That's right, it could be you. Now shoot the car door. In the movies, cars are shot full of holes and the driver keeps going, as if the car body stops bullets. Shoot your own door and just for fun, put some boards behind the door, representing you. If a bullet goes through even 1/2" of plywood, that could be your skull. Try to forget what you've seen in movies, and make your own experiments, to know what is really cover and what is not. Many rifle calibers will go through a car door, through a person and out through the other door or panel. You are not safe in a car. You are safer behind a car, like a wheel or the engine.

The Die Hard series (movies) is entertainment, NOT training for real life. There is so much nonesense and baloney in those movies, especially when it comes to handguns and combat. Guns and bullets don't behave like that, nor do people when they are shot with bullets. Bullets don't knock people off their feet - they go through people like a knife through butter. Ever seen a duel with swords, and a guy gets impaled from the front? Does he fly backwards? No. Well a bullet hitting someone is similar - it goes through the body without pushing the body badkwards.

Book of Eli, The quick and the Dead and so on, it's not really possible to hit accurately at those distances with a handgun, without even using the sights. It looks cool, to knock guys off rooftops shooting from the hip, but don't expect to do anything like that. In short, don't learn tactics from movies. Also, some movies show victims being approached in lonley places by creeps with big knives or other weapon, and the victim NEVER has a gun. DON'T be so damned stupid - carry a gun as often as possible, especially in places where you are vulnerable, get used to its prescence until you feel odd without it. Practice drawing it quickly, reholster, draw again (unloaded) and become skillful in its handling.

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"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration!
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Adolph Hitler

Passing of the German Weapons Act in 1935


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The supreme law of this land, The Constitution, has not granted power to the federal government to regulate, register or control guns. The Second Amendment specifically states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. What part of "shall not be infringed" does the government not understand?


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"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."

George Washington