Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Capacity: How Much Is Enough?

In one of my Armed and Pregnant blogs I wrote the following:
"a good combat handgun has a full grip; decent, easy to acquire sights; a capacity greater than seven; a good sight radius (distance between the sights) for longer range accuracy and can easily be controlled for fast follow up shooting."
 Upon reading that my husband, JD, asked me why I chose "greater than seven" to be my capacity choice for a combat firearm. Others, too, have asked why I think seven is a minimum capacity for a combat firearm.

Mind you, what you are about to read is strictly Lima theory. I have not read this in any blog or been taught it in any class. These are my opinions from my own training, time spent on the range, firefight stories I have read, etc.

First, let me clarify what I think of as a combat firearm and how, in my mind, it differs from a backup gun or even a deep concealment gun.

A backup gun is one you would utilize as... wait for it.. a back up if your primary firearm were to fail or be lost. It is the hail mary, the last ditch effort, the oh-my-god-shit-is-no-longer-hitting-the-fan-it-done-knocked-it-over gun. It's light, it's small, it usually has a lower capacity, poor sights as it is designed for extremely close quarters shooting.

A deep concealment gun is something you would carry because you need to make sure no one ever finds out you carry. I think of people who carry to jobs that have no weapons policies. There is nothing illegal about them carrying in their place of employment but if they were discovered it could mean immediate termination from their job. It stands to reason that these people might sacrifice some size and capacity for the ability to be 100% discreet.

When I think of what I (me, myself, and only myself) think of as a "combat handgun" (in the civilian side of things anyway) I think of the criteria I listed above: a full grip; decent, easy to acquire sights; a capacity greater than seven; a good sight radius (distance between the sights) for longer range accuracy and can easily be controlled for fast follow up shooting.

It's pretty easy to see why I would choose a full grip (better control), easy to acquire sights with a good sight radius (for shots that may require distance) and a caliber that can easily be controlled by the shooter.

But why the capacity over seven?

In all of the firearms classes I've ever been in, in all of the shooting videos I've seen and stories I've read, in all of the statistics that have been sent to me or posted, I can count on one hand the times I have heard of less than two bullets being fired per bad guy (if shots were required at all, that is). I've read multiple accounts of bad guys being shot multiple times and still fighting or only one hit for several shots fired. I've seen video after video of police officers emptying full magazines at criminals and only registering three or four hits. I've seen reports of bodies getting upwards to thirty or forty different calibers pulled out of them accompanied with statements saying it took all of those rounds to bring the individual down.

If you want more scientific data on shootings and statistics, please check out this article on handgun stopping power.

What I'm getting at here is that the a single shot being fired is rare. A one shot stop is rarer.

From what I can glean, if the presence of the gun does not stop the encounter and a trigger must be pulled it can almost be expected that it's going to be fired several times and take more than one bullet to put a stop to someone brave, drugged or stupid enough to keep advancing on said gun.

The people who train other people with firearms know this, so they inevitably teach you to keep shooting until the threat stops. Some schools will teach you to empty the magazine or to fire two rapid shots followed by an assessment and continuation of those two-shot bursts until the threat has ceased. Some teach two to the chest, one to the head. Some teach two to the chest, two to the groin, one to the head. Some don't even give you a shot limit (which I think is ideal).

Whatever the variation, the point here is that I have yet to go to a class that taught to stop shooting after one shot.

Given the safer assumption that you are going to need at least two shots per bad guy and that you may be facing more than one bad guy, that brings your total up to four shots for just two perpetrators. Add another bad guy to the mix or a missed shot or two and, whella, you have now depleted six shots and the fight may only be getting started.

Throwing in an extra round for a grand total of seven isn't a bad idea.

Now, I know plenty of people who have told me they do not feel under gunned with a five-shot revolver or even a little two-shot derringer. While I'm not big into derringers and wouldn't carry one, I have carried five-shot revolvers and agree that I have never felt lacking. It is, as they say, better than harsh words. I will probably carry limited-capacity firearms in the future as well. Some might even consider my G26 to be limited capacity now that there are firearms out there that can decretely carry 19+.

But, for me, if I want to feel like I'm maximizing my armed potential it will mean being armed with a minimum of seven cartridges to fire (with a few prayers sent up that I never have to use them).

I'd rather have them and not need them than need them and not have them (to borrow a cliche).

Now, whenever a discussion regarding capacity is brought up it usually means someone will say, "That's why I carry a reload" or "spare magazine."

True! That is a reason to carry a spare magazine but not the primary reason (magazine failures and malfunctions are the top reason to carry a spare magazine). Unfortunately, however, magazine changes in the middle of a gunfight are prime times for people to die. It has happened that police officers have been found dead with empty guns and loaded spare magazines in their hands. Is it possible to reload and keep fighting? ABSOLUTELY! However, a good rule to remember is: Gunfights are won with what is already in the gun.

Max it out!

But that's just Lima theory.

1 comment:

  1. This is why I carry a G19; 16 in the gun and a G17 mag (17 more) for a never know!