Pocket Pistol Reality Check

Assault can happen anytime, anywhere. That’s why the gun you…

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Assault can happen anytime, anywhere. That’s why the gun you actually carry with you is the one that matters most.

You’ve decided to take your personal security seriously and attend a firearms training course. The next step is to properly equip yourself, so you talk to a few people, buy the right magazines to find out what the “professionals” carry, then head to the gun store to make your purchases. You might say, “The full-size 1911 pistol fires the .45 ACP and if I buy +P, high-velocity hollow points, that will be even better. I’ll get one of those weapon-mounted lights, six spare magazines with pouches and top it off with a thigh holster like the SWAT teams and military wear. That should fill the bill!” You then spend time firing rounds to hone your skill.

Then comes the reality of daily concealed carry. A 1911 with the light mounted is too bulky, so the light goes away. The thigh holster was a mistake because you are never going to use it to carry the gun, so now you buy a concealed belt holster. After a few days of lugging around the full-size .45 with two spare magazines, you decide that maybe the magazines are a bit “over the top” so you just carry the gun. Then the gun begins to get heavy and your regular pants belts don’t support the weight, so maybe, just maybe, you need something smaller and lighter.

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At typical defensive distances, .380 ammo travels upwards of 900 fps, penetrating 10 inches into denim-covered ballistic gelatin.

Writer, trainer and former law enforcement officer Walt Rauch once said, “We talk .45, shoot 9mm and carry .38.” But should small pocket pistols be considered a good choice for personal defense? After all, the smaller the gun, the less there is to hang on to, which makes it more difficult to shoot. The .380 and snub .38 have never been considered “death rays,” so maybe carrying these guns is a step in the wrong direction? Gunsite Training Center offers a two-day course called “Pocket Pistols and Penlights.” The course is intended to explore the use of small pocket-sized guns in conflict to see if they can carry their weight. I attended, and here are my findings.

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