Re: Smart Pistols

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed May 03 2000 - 17:37:49 MDT

James Rogers wrote:
> On Tue, 02 May 2000, Brian D Williams wrote:
> > From: Chuck Kuecker <>
> > >All I own is mechanical guns. I don't trust those newfangled
> > >electrickal gadgets.
> >
> > Many of my associates won't own a semi-automatic for personal
> > defense because they don't consider them reliable enough.
> I assume you mean "self-loading" rather than "semi-automatic", since both
> revolvers and pistols are "semi-automatic" (unless you are talking about
> single-shot weapons).
> The mythical reliability of revolvers has, in recent years, been largely
> superceded by modern self-loading designs. Most of the reputation of
> self-loaders being unreliable can be traced to a hundred year history that
> was dominated by the venerable Colt 1911 (first sold in 1905 despite the
> designation).

There are myths about unreliability in autoloader pistols and there are

For example, it is commonly accepted that the Colt 1911 is an inaccurate
pistol and that autoloaders in general are not accurate. This perception
comes from the military experience of many people (and those that bought
military surplus 1911's), where they were issued pistols that were not
well maintained by their previous users, and the rifling in the barrels
had been shot out or rusted out. There was also a tendency for certain
individual pistols to stack jam, and military (war era) pistol ammo was
also of questionable quality in certain circumstances. All of this is
old news, as James says, the newer, more expensive weapons are of quite
good quality. I use a S&W 3914 9mm compact straight stack autoloader for
my primary self defense weapon. However less expensive guns, well, you
get what you pay for.

On the plus side, I've shot a number of 1911's and variants and found
them all to be accurate, though some will jam on non-standard ammo. My
father's 35 year old 1911 I was able to shoot 4" groups at 25 yards
after only a few hours of practice, and I'll only get a few jams out of
hundreds of rounds... other autoloaders, like the Isreali Arms
Industries Desert Eagle and Baby Eagle are highly accurate weapons. I've
seen a freind shoot his .50 cal Desert Eagle autoloader with 6" groups
at 300 yards.

.22 autoloader pistols do tend to jam on lead ball ammo, because most
.22 actions have an extractor ramp in the barrel that provides a very
sharp edge that the soft lead of the bullet can catch on and hang if the
bullet does not load quite straight. Copper jacketed ammo does not have
this problem.

The main reason, however, that revolvers are seen as more 'reliable' for
self defense situations is this:
a) a revolver, of any modern construction, is built such that you can
carry a round in every chamber safely. The decock position typically
rotates the drum halfway to the next chamber, so even if the firing pin
did drop, it would strike the metal between chambers. In a self defense
situation, simply release the safety, pull the trigger on your double
action revolver, and you can fire. If the round you fire is a bad round,
you can simply pull the trigger again to rotate to the next chamber.
b) an autoloader, while there are many fine safety features, double
action capability, decock, and firing pin locking mechanisms, if your
first round is a dud, in order to fire another round, you have to
manually pull the slide back to eject the round and reload. Some
authorities, such as Massad Ayoob, John Ross, and a number of freinds of
mine, all say that this extra time is of life critical importance.

Now, the question is: is your one in a couple hundred chance of getting
a bad round on your first shot really a problem? Murphy's Law says yes,
however this can be minimized by using only higher quality ammo for self
defense (or load your own, another advantage of loading your own is that
while commercial +P+ ammo (so called 'cop killer' ammo) cannot be bought
by civilians, you are free to load whatever you feel comfortable with
for your own use(*see note at bottom)), and the cheap stuff only for
target practice. I use PMC 115 grain 9mm standard rounds for target
practice, but I use 109 grain 9mm +P from Cor-Bon for self defense. The
+P rounds shoot a little higher, but I also find them to be more
accurate, and I've never had a jam or bad round with them.

I don't like the bulk of most revolvers, though I'm thinking of getting
a North American Arms Mini-Revolver in .22 magnum as a backup/light
clothing gun, as that is a really nice compact gun, and considering that
most self defense situations in public are going to tend to be
situations where an 'up-the-nose-gun' is all thats really needed (most
happen within ten feet), then .22 magnum is quite sufficient for making
an omlette of some perps mental faculties. On the flip side, the
frequency of hi-capacity magazines in autoloaders puts the revolver user
at a distinct disadvantage in an extended incident...

The point of concealed carry is two fold: a) the existence of it as a
legal option is a public deterrent over the community, and b) in
instances where it needs to be actually used, you want to incapacitate
the perp without overpenetrating and having stray rounds going off and
possibly hurting someone else.

Some people like carrying big, powerful guns concealed. This is really a
waste for most situations. .454 Casull, .357, 44 magnum , and other
large powerful rounds are really not necessary for outdoors use except
in situations where you are dealing with multiple perps and bladed
weapons. For one on one situations, in close quarters, a .22 or .32
round into the brain case is all thats needed to end the story. A .22
has enough energy and penetration to enter the brain case, but usually
not enough to exit, so it tends to ricochet around inside several

The two points of using big guns is that a) in body shots, they are more
likely to drop the perp where he stands, put him into shock, but they
are less likely to die from their injuries than with smaller calibers
(since shock causes the body to immediately go into a conservative
survival mode) which do not trigger a shock reaction in the body, so the
perp is more likely to bleed to death with a small caliber wound, and b)
big guns simply say to perps:"I'm a big mean gun and I'm gonna hurt you
somthin awful", so they are more likely to turn and run, or not even
mess with you if you are carrying openly.

NOTE: if you are loading your own +P+ grade ammo, or using +P and/or
hollow point bullets (which do increase damage to the target, but
minimize overpenetration and potential damage to innocent bystanders),
keep in mind that in the event you actually have to use this ammo for
self defense, a prosecutor is going to love going after you, because the
willful use of this ammo they claim indicates planning and prior intent
to cause harm (i.e. 'bloodthirstyness') and increases your chance of
getting prosecuted for a self defense incident. To help yourself avoid
this possibility, I always recommend you only load the first few rounds
with the good stuff, then load the rest of the magazine with more
mundane rounds, so if in such an event, make sure you fire all the good
rounds before the cops arrive, so all that left in your mag are the
mundane rounds. This is of questionable ethics, but if they don't know
you used the powerful rounds, don't think to ask because all they see
are mundane rounds in your gun, and you don't tell them (your 5th
amendment right), then you are far less likely to get prosecuted for the
deal. What they don't know can't hurt you. This is considered by lawyers
to be 'sound legal advice' if you are intent on defending yourself. The
other plus is if they 'know' you were using round ball ammo, and they
know the bad guy was shot with +P hollow point ammo, they are less
likely to look at you as the shooter anyways...(rifling on hollow point
ammo is typically of too poor quality to use as credible evidence)

Mike Lorrey

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