Just Get A Gun That Shoots

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Choosing your first weapon

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Know Your Tools, Be Prepared for Likely Situations in Your Environment

This article was originally published in July of 2017

The NRA recently decided to disallow revolvers and 1911s from their “Carry Guard” classes. They have since reversed themselves, probably after millions of gun owners took to the internet to tell them it was stupid. This decision seems to have once again highlighted the differing opinions in the firearms community about what is and is not an “obsolete” firearm.

I almost said “reignited the debate,” but who are we kidding? It’s never stopped.

The best gun for beginners - how to choose your firearm; advice from Pete Nealen.
This unfortunate apparently misinterpreted image, came out during the initial “carry guard” debacle, making a bad situation worse and diverting much attention from what the conversation should have been about – just as it has done with this article.

On one side, you have those who believe anything that isn’t polymer (therefore lighter), high capacity, semi-auto, internal safety only, and requiring as little maintenance as possible, is “obsolete” and will get you “KILLT IN DA STREETS!”

The best gun for beginners - how to choose your firearm; advice from Pete Nealen.

 

The inherent assumption is that one must always be prepared to fight off platoon-sized elements of thugs or terrorists (hence the high-cap, semi-auto requirement).

The requirement for dirt-simple controls, requiring as little practice or thought as possible, is always justified with talk about “loss of fine motor control” under stress, which really only applies to the untrained, and can generally be laid at the feet of David Grossman. Grossman’s methods and conclusions have rightly been called into question, starting with the presumption of a man who has never heard a shot fired in anger calling himself an “expert on killing.” But that’s another article.

The best gun for beginners - how to choose your firearm; advice from Pete Nealen.

On the other side, you have those generally referred to as “Fudds,” who believe that anything that isn’t pure steel and wood is blasphemous. This is just as silly as the opposing “arguments,” which generally end in some variation of “Why would you buy anything but a Glock?”.

The best gun for beginners - how to choose your firearm; advice from Pete Nealen.

The reality, as always, is a little different. Guns are tools, which means that some are better suited for some tasks than others. Every firearm has some kind of tradeoff involved. A pistol is smaller and more compact, making it easier to carry and conceal than a rifle or a shotgun. Pistol rounds are, however, necessarily slower and less powerful, with less range, than rifle rounds. Semi-auto pistols have even less powerful loads than revolvers, due to the necessity of fitting the rounds into the grip.

This deficit has led to all sorts of attempts at different solutions, some of them truly bizarre and gimmicky, such as the rightly-reviled “RIP” round. My friend Mike Kupari summed up the problem thusly:

“People are always trying to find the magic, more powerful 9mm round. They already make it; it’s called a .357. Quit being a vagina and get a real gun.”

Rifles have seen some of the same tradeoffs. “Everyone knows” the only viable option for a rifle is now an AR, able to rapid-fire lots of small, fast bullets. But capacity and light weight mean a tradeoff in throw weight. There’s a reason that .223 is banned for hunting in most states: it doesn’t do enough damage to reliably put the deer down quickly with one shot.

The best gun for beginners - how to choose your firearm; advice from Pete Nealen.

There is no magic gun, and as long as a firearm still functions and fits in whatever niche it’s built for, there really isn’t any good reason to call it “obsolete,” particularly not for self-defense purposes. The vast majority of the time, no carrier is going to be facing a platoon of bad guys with a pistol. If he or she is, they need to seriously re-think their route planning because they’re in the wrong neighborhood. If you’re in a place where that is a possibility, you should probably have a long gun somewhere close by. There’s an old saying, “A pistol is for fighting your way to the long gun you should have had the whole time.” There’s a reason that pistols are secondary weapons in the military. They just aren’t as capable as rifles or carbines.

Let’s face it, people successfully defended themselves with .32 caliber cap and ball revolvers and derringers for decades. Humans haven’t become any harder to kill since those days. Instead of obsessing over whether you have the most up-to-date race gun, maybe you should know your tools, know your environment, and be prepared for the actual situations you might face in that environment.

And quit obsessing so much about other people’s self-defense tools. For the most part, as long as it shoots, it’s gonna work.

-Pete Nealen

Fortis cadere, cedere non potest.

 

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10 thoughts on “Just Get A Gun That Shoots

  • July 18, 2017 at 4:12 pm
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    People are always trying to find a magical 9mm round? It already exists, in the 38 Super.

    Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 11:29 pm
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    “Quit being a vagina” What if I have a VIGINA? Should I only carry a 380? Am I banned from a 357? Those stupid comments from such ‘macho’ writers from the 19th century only work against our gun community.

    Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm
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    This put that old saying in my head, “Beware the man with one gun. Chance are he knows how to use it”. I like the way that sounds, and it works. I carry a 1911 because I know it really well, it’s really accurate, and extremely reliable. That’s all I carry, and is also my regular house gun. You know, the one that gets me to my rifle. I’m a little more modern there, it’s an AR-10 carbine. Now I own many more guns than that, but those two are the ones I shoot the most, and as I said before, are extremely reliable. I think that’s a good rule of thumb: know your weapon, be proficient with it/them, and keep them in good order. Do that, and you’ll at the very least have better chance of coming out of and conflict minus holes and still breathing.

    Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 11:40 am
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    Is that Teddy R. with a Triceratops?

    Reply
    • July 18, 2017 at 7:23 am
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      Teddy was good friends with H G Wells, and well, Wells wrote Time Machine (it is reported) from first hand knowledge.

      Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 11:30 am
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    Nice to see an article not trying to “sell” the latest greatest in tacticool

    Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 8:05 am
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    I just shot a match .45 only match and one of my fellow shooter shot a 1911 his granddad carried in WWI. Yeah it’s a hundred years old. Tiny sights, not every current 1911 magazine fits it, but it functioned fine until the extractor broke. (If I had a my granddad’s gun, oh, wait, I do. It’s a 32 caliber revolver and I don’t shoot it less it blows up in my hand!)

    So here’s the problem with old guns: Do current parts fit it, are current loads too powerful, is it reliable, can I reload it relatively quickly?

    After that I don’t care what you shoot. It is a truism that a gun on your person is better than the best in your sock drawer. I’ve seen custom high end semi-autos out shot by second hand, out of the box S&W revolvers. It is always about the shooter. The top shooter can get more out of an ordinary pistol than I can get out of a Bill Wilson custom supergun.

    Reply
  • July 16, 2017 at 11:32 pm
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    is James missing the tip of his index finger, or is he finger banging that trigger?

    Reply
  • July 16, 2017 at 10:32 pm
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    “There’s a reason that .223 is banned for hunting in most states; it doesn’t do enough damage to reliably put the deer down quickly with one shot…”

    Meh, I think the fuddism inherent in hunting regulation circles has a lot more to do with it.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2017 at 7:55 am
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      Agreed. An AR with Barnes tsx 55gr or fusion/gold dot 62 gr will kill whitetails dead all day long. Also great for kids because I can collapse the stock and the recoil doesn’t scare the bejeezus out of an 11 year old.

      Reply

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