Monday, August 30, 2010

Concealed Carry... In the House of the Lord?

This just in yesterday: LDS bishop shot and killed at a meetinghouse.  A local church leader was killed while at church! 

My heart goes out to the family of this man, as well as the members of the ward who looked to him for leadership and guidance.  This is a tragedy that should not have occurred, but did.  This is the worst of my nightmares when talking about random acts of violence.  The killer seemed to not have known the bishop personally - he just asked for someone in leadership.  It could have been any church, any leader, and any Sunday. 

I won't say whether or not having a gun on his person would have saved the Bishop's life.  You cannot say with any certainty that a gun in your possession gives you any advantage; quite the contrary.  Needing to pull a concealed weapon means that you are already at a disadvantage.  No one [legally] walks around with a gun in their hand, waiting for the moment when they will need it.  What I will say is that having a legally concealed firearm is better than not having one at all. 

You might be curious to know that there are a lot of people who carry a legally concealed firearm into their church.  At first glance, it seems counter-intuitive.  A church is supposed to be the house of the Lord - a meeting place for like-minded people to gather and worship the Lord as they see fit to do so.  What kind of person would even think to bring a weapon capable of carrying out such violence into the Lord's house? 

I'll tell you who can.  Kenneth James Ward, a 47 year old man from Modesto, CA did.  Not only did he bring a gun into the house of the Lord, but he used it to exact murder in a place where the followers of Christ thought they were safest. 

I'll tell you who also can: legally armed civilians, who care about their safety, and the safety of others around them.  There are good people in this world who understand that you cannot count on the police to provide protection for you 100% of the time.  These people understand that protection is something that must be considered by the person seeking it.  The government cannot stop inherently violent people.  The police are a reactionary force, who in the case of the slaying of Bishop Sannar, responded with enough time to put up police tape and take a report.  Yes, they eventually found the suspect, but not before an innocent man died.  There are many people in this world who understand this facet of life, and take upon themselves the burden and responsibility of being armed, trained, and ever so aware that just because they choose to worship in a peaceful manner, others do not.

Are you one of these legally armed civilians?  Are you a sheepdog?  What is a sheepdog?

A sheepdog is an individual who, oftentimes through experience, knows better than to rely on government agencies, private security officers, and a government that promises the moon, but never delivers.  These people do not sit idly by, passively hoping that someone will protect them in an emergency.  These are people who, as stated above, take up their arms, seek training and knowledge, and take an active approach to safety.  They are mindful of potential situations that may cause trouble and they are aware of the laws.  They use their knowledge and tools in a defensive role.  Should an individual, or group of individuals begin to start trouble, threaten with violence, or use violence, the sheepdog - through ongoing training and education - uses that which levels the playing field and gives the criminal element something to think about: a firearm.  The sheepdog will use the firearm to stop lethal threats and save lives.  Whether a bullet is fired or not, it doesn't matter.  Firearms save countless lives every year without firing a shot.  The uses of defensive firearms are normally found in the hands of citizens who choose to live life to the fullest, without fear, with an ear for education, and an eye for awareness.

Those who intend to do harm or kill will always enjoy the freedom to do so as long as good people remain unarmed and unable to stop an attack.  As long as there are gun free zones, there will be free fire zones, as was seen this last weekend at a LDS church in California.  The criminal man, unstopped by an unarmed group of people, killed an innocent man in cold blood.

No one should be so blind as to think that they will never be the victim of a violent crime or murder.  It can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime, even on the Sabbath.  Anyone who still views the world in this myopic vision needs to open their eyes to the truth.  The truth is that your values are not shared by everyone.  You need to make the hard decision now, and get yourself into the mindset that if someone makes an attempt on your life, the lives of your loved ones, your friends, or even perfect strangers, you may have to act to save a fellow human being by ending the threat of a criminal.

I have addressed the need for proper training in a past entry, so no need to beat the dead horse... very much.  Suffice it to say that should you decide to become a sheepdog, or just consider yourself prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones, you must get trained on how to properly use a firearm and also train your mind to understand that there may be a time when you will be called upon to end a criminal life to save an innocent life.  Obviously, it is a personal choice, but I would rather be a sheepdog than a sheep.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Magnum Research BFR

I have been thinking about big caliber handguns as of late.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to fire the Taurus Raging Bull, chambered in .454 casull, and it was thrilling.  Recoil was manageable with medium sized loads.  I adopted a snub nose .357 magnum for concealed carry purposes.  While I have no doubt that it will do just fine defending me against smaller critters and human offenders, it leaves much to be desired for defense against larger critters, like bears. 

I checked prices and availability of a lot of different ammo for a lot of different big game pistols.  Part of the list included the usual suspects: .357 magnum, .44 magnum, .454 Casull, .45 Long Colt, 45/70, and on and on.  Of course, when you reach into .44 magnum territory, the prices go up considerably; so does the power.  The .454 screams out of a 2.5" barrel with 50% more energy than a .44 magnum from a 6" barrel.  The penalty, however, is that the .454 builds internal pressures of 50,000 PSI or more.  More pressure = more wear on the weapon and a lot more recoil.  The 45/70, on the other hand, gets to the energy levels of the .454 casull at only 25,000 PSI, which results in less felt recoil, given the weight of the gun.  In fact, the 45/70 can be loaded to surpass the velocity of .454 casull and still be under 30,000 PSI - not bad.  In my reading, I also discovered that traditional 45/70 loads may actually have less felt recoil, from a 7.5" or 10" barrel than a .44 magnum with a 5" barrel.  This makes the 45/70 a viable cartridge to employ for defense from larger game.

It has come down to 3 cartridge sizes: .44 magnum, .454 Casull, and 45/70 govt.  The .44 magnum is what I would consider the absolute minimum size for the intended purpose.  The load is considerably lighter than the two mentioned after it.  The penalty is, however, offset by availability of ammunition and gun selection.  The .454 Casull is a big contender and I've experienced it recently.  Out of a big enough gun, this could be a viable choice.  The penalty is cost of ammo.  It is very expensive to run a gun like this.  Finally, the 45/70 comes onto the radar.  Why 45/70?  Why not?  Consider that the recoil is reportedly more manageable than even the .44 magnum!  The 45/70 can reach out and hit with about 1450 ft lbs of energy... FROM A PISTOL!  Add to this the fact that 45/70 is about the cheapest ammo of the three.  I'm not joking when I say I've seen .44 magnum for more than 45/70 in a few places.  It defies logic, but it's true.  Don't get me wrong.  45/70 is some expensive ammo to buy, but of the three, it's definitely the cartridge that hurts the least at the register. 

So what of this?  Which cartridge do I get?  Well, consider this.  I have a rifle chambered in 45/70 already.  It really makes a lot of sense to buy a pistol that can shoot the same ammo as the rifle, right?  Cowboys back in the late 1800's did this for a reason.  When ammo is scarce, or you don't want to carry two types, having one cartridge for two guns makes better sense.  It helps with logistics.  Should I find myself needing to hunt elk, I could easily carry the same ammo in a pistol should I find myself in a self defense situation.

To this end, I'm leaning on the Magnum Research BFR (Biggest Finest Revolver).  This gun is no joke.  It is a revolver built specifically for the 45/70 cartridge.  Magnum Research is methodical in how they manufacture and hand build this gun.  Each barrel is lapped by hand to ensure proper fit.  The cylinders are precision-honed for perfect operation.  The frame is milled on a CNC from really hard stainless alloys.  The entire weapon was built from the floor up around the 45/70 govt cartridge.  It is not some gun that was modified to shoot this round.  The BFR is a 5-shot, single action revolver.  The single action simply means that every time you want to shoot, you must first cock back the hammer.  There are some other big offerings in double action, but for the sake of safety, perhaps single action is the way to go.  God forbid you shoot this cannon and accidentally pull the trigger again while the gun is recoiling in your hand; I've seen this happen on youtube.  Trust me, you would not want this to accidentally go off without your knowledge.  It would be one helluva surprise if it did.

Two barrel size options are available for this Big F'ing Revolver.  You can order it with a 10" barrel or a 7.5" barrel.  The weight penalty for the 10" barrel is nominal at .4 lb more than the 7.5" barrel.  The main penalty for the 10" barrel is the additional length.  Of course, it seems that 2.5" isn't a lot, but on a pistol, it is; especially when that pistol is 15" long to begin with.  The penalty, however, for a shorter barrel is lower muzzle energy.  Oddly enough, Magnum Research claims the recoil for the shorter barreled version is a bit less than the 10".  For field purposes, the 7.5" barrel seems to make more sense, as it would be easier to carry, and weigh about half a pound less.  Plus, if you need to unholster quickly, you would not have to draw up as high to get the muzzle clear.  That can save a life in a pinch.

Clearly, this decision has not yet been made.  I've written about the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan before, and still have my eyes on the Super Redhawk .454 Casull.  Ultimately, this decision will come down to what I need, cost, and practicality.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Own the Light, Own the Fight

One thing that is common about defensive firearms use is that many encounters occur after the sun goes down.  In low light or no light situations, it may be impossible to identify friend from foe without the assistance of a suitable weapon light. 

I have been involved in the debate over different theories regarding use of lights in self defense situations.  Two schools of thought emerge.  The first is that the light should be mounted on the firearm in order to aid keeping both hands on the weapon and so that the light will point wherever you aim the weapon.  The second school of thought says that the light should not be mounted on the weapon, but should be freed up so that you can point it at someone without actually pointing your weapon at the person.  Proponents of both theories make valid statements, and I'm personally on both sides. 

I have a small white light that I can use inside the house or anywhere.  It is convenient because I don't necessarily need to have the gun out to use it.  I can scan the rooms in my darkened house without the risk of injury to another person.  It also works well for concealed carry because a weapon-mounted light does not conceal very well. 

However, I've also been in the market for a dedicated weapon-mounted light for my dedicated fighting pistol.  This gun is not a concealed carry piece and is used for home defense.  This pistol also has an accessory rail that accommodates a mounted light or laser, or combination of both.  I chose to purchase a light for this gun for the purpose of having a light with the gun at all times, and that can be easily actuated in the event of an emergency or if something should go bump in the night. 

Once in a while, I will hear a crash, bang, or other noise in the house that doesn't seem normal.  On these occasions, I've either started falling asleep, or have been awakened.  In each case, I've calmly reached over, tapped the code on the GunVault, retrieved a pistol, and went out to check to make sure all is well.  Most of the time, the unfamiliar sound was from a cat being a dumbass and knocking something over.  I have been in situations, in the past, where it was not a cat and was a person either rapping on the front door or someone outside doing God knows what.  My truck was also broken into a year ago, probably at night.  So what am I getting at with all this?

The fact of the matter is that sometimes, I remember to put a flashlight on the nightstand and sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I'll have a light with me as I check the rooms and doors with a pistol, and other times I'm in the dark.  Additionally, when I use a light and have a gun, both hands are busy holding something.  It makes it somewhat of a chore to check doors and make sure windows are tight.  Mounting a weapon on a gun allows one hand the freedom to do whatever it is I'm doing while still maintaining a state of readiness and a light without putting anything down.

Should the call for alarm actually be a real intruder, they will be at an immediate disadvantage.  If the person has been skulking around in the dark, they most likely won't be ready for 160 lumens of light pointed at them.  If the person decides to confront me after that, my weapon light has an easy to activate strobe option which gives even me a headache after a few seconds of looking at it.  The strobe really is to overload the person's sensory parts of the brain and make them not function, giving more advantage to me.  Plus, being on the right side of the bright light makes it so the person cannot see me, but I can see them.  As the saying goes, "Own the light, own the fight."

But wait a second.  I have a friend who once said, "Just shoot at the light."  Okay, that's a valid statement.  But remember that this light shoots back.  If you, the attacker, is confronted by a light and command in someones house, do you really think they are just going to stand there and let you draw on them?  Nope.  As soon as I, the defender, see a weapon, it's lights out for you (pun very much intended).