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A Firearm For Home Defense

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Inspector
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Actually, if I'm reading it right, the box o' truth is telling us that ANY round or load that will be "stopped" by walls is going to be terribly ineffective at stopping a man. And of course, the reverse is true: anything that will truly stop a man will go through walls like butter.

If so, then it would be wise to abandon these "safe" loads and rounds.

That would be true if penetration equaled lethality and if the human body acted like gypsum board. A bullet does not have to go through a person to hurt them. Quite the contrary: the most effective bullet goes into someone's skin and then tumbles up/down/sideways inside their body. That is why people will be shot and the bullet will be found lodged in some organ or bone.

The problem there is no way to perfectly simulate human tissue either using wallboard or ballistic jelly. Wallboard is only indicitive of how much wallboard a bullet can go through. Using ballistic jelly (those globs you've probably seen bullets go through on tv) do somewhat simulate what happens internally. The bullets go in cleanly, but (ideally) midway through they tumble and expand. This causes the real damage to a person. Also, if the bullet still has enough power to go through the organ tissues and bones, then there is a decent chance the doctors will find it still lodged against your skin somewhere in the back. If it does have the force to penetrate, then a significantly larger piece of flesh will be pushed out given the size and shape of the bullet changed. On FMJ rounds, the bullets are really designed to not expand but to go through, hence my problem with them. See my earlier post on the Geneva Convention.

Also, one of the goals of shooting someone with something like the 20 guage with a light trap load as I mentioned is that the person will not in all likelihood be dead but they are going to be severely incapacitated. That is when I get the chance to call RationalCop and let him do his thing. I also know that if I shoot someone with my PPK, unless I hit them in the head or square in the sternum the shot probably wont kill them outright. However, if I hit them in the stomach the Hydrashocks I use will expand and tumble and really do a number on his internal organs. A good doctor may be able to patch him up in order to see the justice system have their way with them. Or, I can take my second shot. Or baricade myself in a room.

People forget about the safety of hunkering down. I've got slide locks on the insides of all my bedroom doors. That way, should someone break in, they will have to make alot of noise and take time to come through to the bedroom. Most criminals don't want to make noise or take time. Should that not work out and they make it into the bedroom and the police not be here yet, which in Sugar Land their response times are phenominal, then I can start firing. If we were to forget to lock the door and the bad guy were to get into the room and I shot him, he would not be able to run far. I'm not going to risk my life chasing some bleeding nutcase. I'll barricade the door and make sure the police have been called.

When the police respond to the scene, the person they'll think is the threat is the guy holding a gun. I don't want to be that person. Now they should be able to reasonably figure out the guy who left the trail of blood is the bad guy whereas I'm the one still in the house.

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That would be true if penetration equaled lethality and if the human body acted like gypsum board.

Right, but it clearly showed that all rounds went through the walls, even the ones that are generally considered to have too little stopping power to the point that you risk your life in relying on them. I suggest you read what is on that site about birdshot and such...

Also, one of the goals of shooting someone with something like the 20 guage with a light trap load as I mentioned is that the person will not in all likelihood be dead but they are going to be severely incapacitated. That is when I get the chance to call RationalCop and let him do his thing.
Yikes! I think that's a highly dangerous approach on at least two levels:

1) To whatever degree that a round/load doesn't COMPLETELY incapacitate the intruder, you're putting yourself at awful risk of retaliation. It's not enough to merely harm the guy; you need to stop him right now or he can still inflict lethal wounds on you or yours. Even if you inflict a lethal wound, it carries the same danger; you have to inflict an INSTANTLY lethal wound or you're putting yourself at an unacceptable risk, IMO.

2) About the last thing you want to do in this litigious and victim-blaming society is leave someone ALIVE so they can sue you and take away all of your property.

People forget about the safety of hunkering down. I've got slide locks on the insides of all my bedroom doors.

Now that, on the other hand, is extremely smart.

When the police respond to the scene, the person they'll think is the threat is the guy holding a gun. I don't want to be that person.

If the intruder is dead, you can put your gun down and the police won't be confused.

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Also, one of the goals of shooting someone with something like the 20 guage with a light trap load as I mentioned is that the person will not in all likelihood be dead but they are going to be severely incapacitated. That is when I get the chance to call RationalCop and let him do his thing.

While I certainly want to come out and help you if you need it, and I want you to be the one standing when I get there, make no mistake about what control you have regarding incapacitating someone. The FBI report linked previously in this thread suggests that the two quickest ways to incapacitate someone is to cause massive blood loss, and/or damage the central nervous system. It's not about wounding the person in the most humane manner possible, it's simply about stopping the threat. They make no bones about the fact that you really need to do serious damage to a person in order bring them down quicker, all other factors aside. Any of the other factors that incapacitate someone are generally beyond your control, their fitness, their physiology, their psychology, narcotic influence, etc. Under penetration will more likely get YOU killed.

Of the many gunshot victims that I have seen, I tend to agree with their evaluation. Many of these gunshot victims eventually died from their wounds, but they were far from incapacitated at the time they were shot. Some fought back, some ran, but many of them had plenty of juice for a far amount of time after being hit.

Please Scott, if it becomes necessary for you to shoot someone, shoot them with every intent of stopping them as quickly as you can, and endeavor to make sure that your tool will do that. If they live, fine. If they die, oh well. I agree with Inspector, shooting with the intent to merely wound someone can be deadly, to you.

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Actually, if I'm reading it right, the box o' truth is telling us that ANY round or load that will be "stopped" by walls is going to be terribly ineffective at stopping a man. And of course, the reverse is true: anything that will truly stop a man will go through walls like butter.

If so, then it would be wise to abandon these "safe" loads and rounds.

One round that he hasn't tried, at least from what I read on the site, is the Glaser safety round, which is packaged to travel as a single coherent projectile and to penetrate to some depth and then fall apart into its constituent pellets, delivering all of the energy. Going through a wall tends to start the disintegration process as well.

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Right, but it clearly showed that all rounds went through the walls, even the ones that are generally considered to have too little stopping power to the point that you risk your life in relying on them. I suggest you read what is on that site about birdshot and such...

I did and as I mentioned I was speaking from personal experience of actually shooting walls at a construction site. We were plinking and noticed my nephews 20 guage didn't go through the walls but my 12 guage with a trap load, .357 and 7.62 rounds from the SKS did. RationalCop it 100% correct that underpenetration can get me killed but overpenetration can get my neighbor killed. It's the balance of the two that I'm trying to strike.

Yikes! I think that's a highly dangerous approach on at least two levels:

1) To whatever degree that a round/load doesn't COMPLETELY incapacitate the intruder, you're putting yourself at awful risk of retaliation. It's not enough to merely harm the guy; you need to stop him right now or he can still inflict lethal wounds on you or yours. Even if you inflict a lethal wound, it carries the same danger; you have to inflict an INSTANTLY lethal wound or you're putting yourself at an unacceptable risk, IMO.

Yes, the ideal is to kill with the 1st and only shot. But that is not a reality. I've spent quite a bit of time hunting with everything from a bow and arrow, black powder, pistols, and rifles. I still get "buck fever" and that moment before I pull the trigger on something standing 50 yards away that stands no chance of hurting me. In a moment of actually having to shoot someone, unless you are a very well trained person like RationalCop, you are probably not going to be perfect. You are probably either going to not hit core of body and need to do a follow up shot or you will miss. I seem to remember reading about gunfights involving police and they tended to shoot once and hit the bad guy while the bad guys fired twice and didn't connect with either shot. While that is a good thing, it is what I'm illustrating. A civilian is likely to not shoot like a SEAL the one and only time they have to shoot someone to death.

Actually, my point wasn't to necesarily wing a person. As I mentioned the first shot will hurt and the second will kill. Using a smaller guage gun allows a bigger margin of error in my mind. Again, I mentioned that my ideal is the PPK do to the fact it is much more lethal than something like a 20 gauge.

2) About the last thing you want to do in this litigious and victim-blaming society is leave someone ALIVE so they can sue you and take away all of your property.

Now that, on the other hand, is extremely smart.

If the intruder is dead, you can put your gun down and the police won't be confused.

No, you'll get sued anyway. If you kil someone, their surviving families can and do sue. Also, if I didn't use my PPK but used my .357 and the slug hits my neighbor or, in these litigious times, just hits their tv I'm going to be seeing how good my umbrella policy with USAA is.

If the intruder is dead, you can put your gun down and the police won't be confused.
I agree. But really the entire point I was trying to make is that people tend to look at home security from the wrong context. Most people focus on the guns and stopping power and completely neglect defense. It's a bit like being reactive than proactive.

The main focus shouldn't be on what happens if an intruder gets into your house. That is a bit like our current foreign policy. Wait for something to happen and then react. The focus should be on hardening your house. Security systems are inexpensive and just having them present can make a criminal pass you by and go to an easier place. As I said thieves don't want noise or time. Having a security system means there will be noise if you use it correctly.

Then the house should be as hardened as possible. The idea is that it is safer to have yourself locked in a safe room and waiting for the police. Mind you, it is at this point you have the gun. If they manage to make it past the security system, and then make it into the safe room, you kill them.

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Saw this today and thought about the concept of the risks I mentioned of over penetration: Cow Slaughter Backfires For Man. The sumation is the guy missed when he tried to slaughter a cow and the bullet went through a wall, then through a fence, then through a door of a car, and then into the leg of a man.

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FMJ - or full metal jacket (of any caliber) is a poor choice compared to hollowpoint ammunition. What your looking for is efficient energy transfer from the projectile into the target, and FMJ is notorious for low energy transfer and over-penetration.

The exception to this is .223, which (surprisingly) does not seem to over-penetrate in lighter grain weights - SWAT teams now use compact .223 AR's regularly for house clearing duty in lieu of pistol caliber AR's.

New Intellectual suggested getting a full butt stock if you are considering a shotgun and that is good advice, the recoil from a pistol grip shotgun is very hard to control - you can tuck the full-size butt of the gun under your arm and "choke up" on the shotgun and get the same compact length as a pistol grip shotgun and not lose the ability to control recoil. I work part time at a gun range and we no longer allow pistol grip shotguns on our range...too many holes appearing in our ceiling!

You might also look in to getting a Beretta Storm carbine. They look a bit funky but they seem reliable, they come in 9, .40 or .45 caliber - they take regular Beretta pistol magazines, plus you can mount a light on them (very useful at 3:00 AM)

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I don't agree that FMJ is always a poor choice. The FBI concluded that in order for a pistol cartridge to be effective, it needs to achieve 12" of penetration. With catridges 9mm and smaller, this is only possible with FMJ bullets.

I think over-penetration is over-hyped. A very good shooter will hit his target half the time in real-world situations, I think the average for police is lower than 1 in 10. The other half miss obviously, and continue on. For this reason, I think it is a little silly to base your selection around the fear that your rounds will harm someone after going through your target. Half (or more) of them are going beyond your target anyway!

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situations, I think the average for police is lower than 1 in 10. The other half miss obviously, and continue on. For this reason, I think it is a little silly to base your selection around the fear that your rounds will harm someone after going through your target. Half (or more) of them are going beyond your target anyway!

For this exact reason I'm leary of FMJ. If, the highly trained professionals with badges that deal with guns day in and out only hit 1 in 10, what are my stats likely to be? I've at least hunted and been shooting all my life, my wife hasn't. So you'd expect her hit stats are downright pathetic. So I can't see saying that at best 1 shot in the clip is likely to hit the bad guy, you should use rounds that are prone to go through the wall. It would seem that you'd want to especially make sure they are using rounds that won't risk overpenetration.

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  • 6 months later...

After test shooting just about everything under the sun over the past few months, I have picked up a Springfield 1911 (their loaded fullsize model) with the parkerized finish and tritium night sights (the first of many, as soon as I get the money). I am very satisfied with my purchase. What I have learned is that:

1) Pistol selection is a highly personal affair. You have to try before you buy. And then try some more. And then some more.

2) I like shooting.

3) For me, good 'ol John Browning's design is still the best. (upgraded, of course, with the best in modern components) I can see why this gun has so many fans. No, seriously, I really like this gun.

Thank you all for your help.

Edited by Inspector
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For this exact reason I'm leary of FMJ. If, the highly trained professionals with badges that deal with guns day in and out only hit 1 in 10, what are my stats likely to be? I've at least hunted and been shooting all my life, my wife hasn't. So you'd expect her hit stats are downright pathetic. So I can't see saying that at best 1 shot in the clip is likely to hit the bad guy, you should use rounds that are prone to go through the wall. It would seem that you'd want to especially make sure they are using rounds that won't risk overpenetration.

I think the most important characteristic in a defensive pistol round is adequate penetration to reliably stop an attacker. The FBI claims that 12+ inches in ballistic gelletin is needed to insure reliable incapacitation. Any round that is even close to this level of penetration will go through drywall like butter. A round which will not go through a wall is grossly under-powered for self defense.

According to the box o' truth, a .22 pistol wil go through 3 walls.

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Inspector, does it include the “Integral Locking System” (I.L.S.) passive safety mechanism? I'd be curious to hear your review of this feature.

More informantion can be found here: http://www.galleryofguns.com/shootingtimes...cles.asp?ID=750

Yes, and that is almost precisely the same gun that I have in that review. (Interestingly, that TRP must have been custom ordered with the exact features I have on mine... usually they come with checkering on the front strap and a teflon coating...)

Anyway, I can say that the review above is 100% accurate. The ILS is totally unobtrusive and only visible if you know what to look for. With my handy mini-key, I can lock my gun if I have to leave it in the car (if, for instance, a business tells me they don't allow firearms on the premises). Happily, that has not happened yet. The only comments I've gotten so far are along the lines of: "wow, cool gun! What kind is it?" or "Ooh, is that the new Springfield?"

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  • 1 month later...
Right, but it clearly showed that all rounds went through the walls, even the ones that are generally considered to have too little stopping power to the point that you risk your life in relying on them. I suggest you read what is on that site about birdshot and such...

Yikes! I think that's a highly dangerous approach on at least two levels:

1) To whatever degree that a round/load doesn't COMPLETELY incapacitate the intruder, you're putting yourself at awful risk of retaliation. It's not enough to merely harm the guy; you need to stop him right now or he can still inflict lethal wounds on you or yours. Even if you inflict a lethal wound, it carries the same danger; you have to inflict an INSTANTLY lethal wound or you're putting yourself at an unacceptable risk, IMO.

2) About the last thing you want to do in this litigious and victim-blaming society is leave someone ALIVE so they can sue you and take away all of your property.

Now that, on the other hand, is extremely smart.

If the intruder is dead, you can put your gun down and the police won't be confused.

It is very true that you do not want to simply harm an attacker. The problem is that it is very difficult to guarantee a stop in time to save yourself from harm. There are cases (sorry, don't have links, but it has been discussed in many different places such as rec.guns newsgroup) where a person has taken a bullet through the heart and still had time to close the distance and stab the victim with a knife before his blood pressure dropped enough for his brain stopped working. The only CERTAIN way to stop someone right now is to hit them in the Central Nervous System, meaning the brain or spine. Needless to say, if someone is slashing at your with a knive or shooting at you, it would be extremely difficult to place a shot that precisely. Now, everyone reacts differently to high-stress situations. Some criminals might stop as soon as they see a gun, others will take multiple bullets without even noticing until they bleed out, others will think they have been shot even if you miss and drop instantly, etc. There is no formula for determining what will work for every situation. Many of the suggestions already given are very good; use the most powerful /largest caliber gun you can handle accurately, and practice as much as time and money allow. Avoid small caliber pistol rounds such as the .25 or .32, which have been known at times to fail to penetrate even the skull at point blank range. .22's are very lethal if properly placed, but are not as effective at immediate incapacitation, which is your goal.

Remember, letality is not what you are going for, though that is often the common side effect of stopping someone's attack. Despite what the above quote says, killing the person will not help you avoid a lawsuit; even if your attacker is dead, their friends, relatives, etc. will almost certainly sue you if there are no laws in your locale preventing it, and even if the dead attacker has none of the above, there are always "civil rights" groups willing to sue on their behalf. If you have to defend yourself, count on being sued and spending a ton of money defending yourself, even if you are lucky enough that the prosecutor believes you were justified (which will NOT be the case in most areas that self-defense is a common need). The important thing is to make everything look like you had no choice but to use the force necessary to stop the threat, then use every means at your disposal to try to save the life of the man you were just forced to shoot. Think about it; what is a jury (which will probably consist of 12 people who think you have no right or need to have a gun in the first place) going to be more sympathetic towards... a crime scene photo of you standing calmly over the person you shot as he bleeds out, or a picture of you soaked in your attacker's blood from your trying to save his life? This in no way is meant to indicate whether I think the person deserves to live or die, but for simple self-preservation it is best to make it look as much as possible like you did NOT want the person to die, but only shot him because you had no other choice.

Finally, while a shotgun is by far the best choice as far as simply stopping power, it may not be the practical choice regarding home defense. First, a handgun can be kept on you at all times, while a shotgun by its very design must be stored some place and cannot constantly be on your person. Second, depending on the layout of your home, a shotgun may be impractical in regards to the manuverability of the weapon. You can turn around corners/tight spaces etc. much more easily with a pistol than you can with a long gun such as a shotgun. Also, remember that you will be most likely not be expecting the encounter, so you will not have eye/ear protection on when and if you are forced to fire, and any firearm blast, expecially a shotgun will be very disorienting indoors without such protection. Other than that, it simply relies on what you feel comfortably with and have the time and money to practice with.

Mike Owens.

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Mike, you make a good point. I didn't mean to say that you should go for lethality, only that you shouldn't take an ounce of risk in avoiding it. The goal is the instant and total incapacitation of the attacker (which often ends up being lethal to him); to strive for anything less is to place yourself and your loved ones in unnecessary danger.

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The problem is that it is very difficult to guarantee a stop in time to save yourself from harm. There are cases (sorry, don't have links, but it has been discussed in many different places such as rec.guns newsgroup) where a person has taken a bullet through the heart and still had time to close the distance and stab the victim with a knife before his blood pressure dropped enough for his brain stopped working. The only CERTAIN way to stop someone right now is to hit them in the Central Nervous System, meaning the brain or spine. ...Avoid small caliber pistol rounds such as the .25 or .32, which have been known at times to fail to penetrate even the skull at point blank range. .22's are very lethal if properly placed, but are not as effective at immediate incapacitation, which is your goal.

I read something in the July issue of American Rifleman that seems apropos:

Finally we have the third and last class of individuals who are the most difficult of all to stop. ...All these chaps have become so keyed up and desperate that they have made up their minds to die if necessary, but to do as much to the other fellow as possible before that occurs; it is these individuals who require a .45 caliber bullet in a vital spot to stop them.
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