Posts Tagged ‘.22 Long Rifle’

By Ruth Goodman

umpire safe

I am declaring it official. The gun-buying panic is over. The mad rush to arms following the Sandy Hook tragedy (and the politicians’ attempts to exploit it) has finally come to an end. In case you were out of the country or otherwise occupied during the last two years, let me bring you up to speed. The gun industry was already experiencing high activity thanks to the reelection of our current president when tragedy struck in Newtown, Connecticut. Immediately following the reports of a school shooting AR’s began flying off the shelves.

While this picture is not of our store (we did not think to take pictures of our empty racks and shelves), it is remarkably similar to what happened to us.

While this picture is not of our store (we did not think to take pictures of our empty racks and shelves), it is remarkably similar to what happened to us.

Most of our inventory of Modern Sporting Rifles was gone within a week, all of it was gone within a few weeks. (On our busiest day, we went from a regular staff of 5 to 9 and still had customers lined up to the door.) Once all the AR’s were gone, attention turned to handguns. Self-defense purposed handguns became impossible to keep in stock. The rapid rise in handgun purchasing led to ammo shortages in nearly all the popular calibers. For most calibers, the supply quickly caught up with demand and the shortage ceased to be a problem many months, if not a year, ago. The notable exception to that is .22 ammo. In our store, the .22 ammo shortage began around the same time the rest of the calibers were catching up with demand and has continued on from that time. The most bizarre thing to many of us in the industry, is how long it has taken .22 ammo to catch up. A full year later and we still have a very limited supply of .22 and impose strict limits on how many boxes a customer can purchase. 

However, as we entered Spring we noted a marked slow-down in our store. As we talk with others from around the country, we are hearing of the return of the normal “summer slow season.” Gun stores and industry reps for national companies are reporting an industry-wide slow-down of purchases and firearms activity (with the exception of states that recently enacted increasingly infringing gun laws). I believe this slow season feels much slower to many, because it stands in stark contrast to the record making sales of the last two years. We have been so busy for so long, that record busy became the new normal. Stores increased staffing and ordered more product, producers ramped up production, etc… 

out of breath

Now that pre-chaos norms have reinstated themselves, this is the perfect opportunity for us all to rest and catch our breath. It’s a chance to look up from the daily activities and see the bigger picture. How many of the recent gun-buyers were first time buyers that now need training, supplies, and support? How can we as an industry meet those needs? Women are steadily increasing their presence in the firearms world. What can we do to encourage and support that growth? Have the local demographics changed in the last two years? Should a store focus more on building their online presence or on their brick-and-mortar functionality? There are countless questions we, as an industry, can ask ourselves at this time. Now is the chance for each of us to really sit down and evaluate ourselves as a store, an industry member, a service provider, and a member of the community. 

Let us all make the most of this time and catch our breath. 

gun-shop

“I’m thinking of buying my wife a gun for Christmas.” is the opening statement I heard today and  expect to hear often over the next few weeks. Concerned husbands, anxious for their wife’s protection, are searching for that elusive “good gun for a lady” and see Christmas as the perfect opportunity to buy her something she may or may not be interested in. Before you lay down $400+ on her new gun, please take the following concerns under consideration. This is the mental questionnaire I run through when a customer asks for advice on choosing a firearm.

Purpose:

First and foremost, you must determine the intended purpose of the firearm. Will the gun be used for a self-defense carry gun, home protection, competitive shooting, hunting, just having fun on the range or as a collection piece? Certain features should be prioritized based on which purpose you intend to use the firearm for.

sefl-defense-at-home

Carry Gun: Typically, light-weight is the priority for a daily carry firearm.

Home Protection: When buying for home protection, weight is less relevant as the gun will only be handled for short durations. The user’s comfort and confidence with the firearm take priority. Home protection guns tend to weigh more, to make the shooting experience more pleasant.

Competitive Shooting: Accuracy, and all that affects accuracy, are what matters most to a competitive shooter. Barrel length, quality, trigger weight, overall weight, etc… are all taken into consideration.

Hunting: Type of game and style of hunting affect your choice of hunting firearm.

Fun Range gun: A gun you are just going to take to the range to have fun is probably going to be something that fits the user’s hand well, has enough weight to balance out the recoil and the user is comfortable manipulating.

Collecting: Collectors typically know exactly what they are looking for. Good luck to you if you are trying to buy for one of these.

gun-shop-stock2645

When buying a gun, the trick is to find the right compromise of features that works for you. For example, Smith & Wesson Airweights and Ruger LCPs are great for carrying all day, but are so light-weight the recoil is quite uncomfortable. Knowing this fact, I still decided the low-weight was a high enough priority for my carry weapon that I purchased the Smith & Wesson 442 revolver. Do I enjoy shooting it? No. But I can carry it all day with barely a second thought as to the weight, I can carry it in more locations on my body, and it is more reliable than my semi-automatic. Overall, I made an informed decision to put up with the kick in exchange for a comfortable carry gun.

Intended frequency of use:

I ask our customers how often they intend to practice with their firearm in order to narrow the choices down. A revolver is renowned for its ability to sit in a drawer for years and still function flawlessly when called upon. In the same scenario, I’ve seen a semi-auto jam after the first shot. Springs can lose their tension over years of inactivity and the semi-auto design relies heavily on springs. For this reason, whenever a customer says they want a gun for “just in case” and they don’t really want to come shoot it much, I unilaterally direct them towards a revolver. Revolvers are mechanically simpler and more reliable. Buying a small semi-automatic for your wife to stick in her purse but never practice with is asking for trouble.

revsemi

Comfort:
DadExecDECXL-23w

1911

The way the gun feels in the hand and how it feels when shooting are key components in a user’s overall satisfaction with a firearm. This is where the gun buying process becomes quite subjective. The only person who can determine if the gun fits right is the user. There are some guns that just feel good to hold and there are others that are less comfortable to hold. Determining the right fit requires the user to come in and pick up lots of different guns to get a feel for what feels good and what doesn’t feel good to them.

6359079285_4349c66999

Small guns = tight springs = hard to rack the slide.

In terms of recoil, weight is your friend. The heavier the gun is, the less recoil your hands have to absorb and the more fun the gun is to shoot. Guys, do me a favor, please do NOT buy your wife that “cute, little .380 ACP.” Those little things have much more recoil than you think. I, personally, would rather shoot a .45 ACP 1911 any day over one of them. Just because they are small does not mean they are good for your wife to start with. Just the opposite in fact. I find beginners do much better starting with heavy firearms and progressing down to light-weight carry guns.

Previous Knowledge/Experience:

basic-gun-safety-course-for-one-two-or-four-people-1369988450Has the potential user ever received any formal instruction in firearms? I ask this question mostly to determine the user’s level of safety awareness. Formal firearm classes are great for drilling the gun safety rules into heads and habits. In general, I recommend taking classes before the firearm purchase; not only to make sure our customers and everybody around them stays safe with the new gun but classes also makes the user a much more informed consumer. For the gift-buyer, previous experience with firearms can also give you clues as to which type of firearm the person is comfortable with and enjoys shooting.

Budget:

“You get what you pay for.” This is true for most things in life and especially firearms. That cheap pawn shop gun was cheap for a reason. I have seen such guns literally fall apart on the range. You really do get what you pay for. I understand money being tight, and seeking to find the best bang for your buck, but please save up a little longer or do something to get a little extra money to go towards the firearm purchase. It is much better to have a reliable firearm that your life can depend on than a few extra dollars in the bank.

Physical Limitations:

How_to_Rack_the_slide_03Firearms are mechanical devices and each has a series of manipulations that must be accomplished in order for the device to function properly. Hand, wrist and arm strength are vital. The user must be able to rack the slide on a semi-automatic or pull the heavy trigger of a revolver. Frequently, when a person is not able to do one they can do the other. Occasionally, they struggle with both. At that point, I may suggest, using two fingers to pull the revolver trigger, trying out a .22 caliber firearm or a semi-automatic with an easier slide. If they are still incapable of operating the firearm, I typically suggest they get OC Spray instead of a firearm.

Stopping Power:

woman_with_gunMuch is said about the acclaimed stopping power of this round or that round. As I’ve researched it and looked at the statistics, I’ve come to realize what you are carrying is less important than that you are carrying. Many, many bad guys are stopped by .22s. There is something called a psychological stop. Basically, it boils down to the fact that people don’t want to get shot.  Typically, bad guys are looking for an easy victim and shooting them suddenly converts you from “easy victim” to “more trouble than it’s worth.” Yes, there are those times when the bad guy is shot multiple times with .45 ACP rounds and keeps coming, however, the large majority of bad guys are cowards looking for easy prey. Odds are in your favor that you will not encounter that zombie-bad guy that just keeps coming, and if you do, good shot placement will help you more than missing with a larger caliber. My conclusion: carry what you can shoot well. If you can shoot a .45 ACP well, carry a .45. If you can only shoot a .22 LR well, then carry a .22.

Concluding Thoughts

Before you buy that gun you think will be perfect for your loved one, make sure its designed purpose lines up with its intended use. Do your best to accurately estimate how often they will be using the gun. Try to avoid buying a complicated gun for a novice. Keep it Simple. Be sure to consider any physical limitations they may have. Balance the pro’s and con’s of each firearm to ensure a good match of user and firearm is made. A mismatch may make the user uncomfortable, insecure, and mistrustful of guns in general.

A little tip for all you gift-buyers out there, we see a much higher rate of success when the intended user is involved in the decision-making process. If you can successfully buy her a pair of shoes then you stand a pretty good chance with buying her a gun. If not, please bring the intended user in with you. Only she will know what feels right to her.

woman_examiner_2

ThomasJefferson

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. ~Thomas Jefferson

201352474951-22magselfdefense_mI recently stumbled upon a rather intriguing debate on Facebook. It all started when one person bemoaned the recommendation of a .22 LR firearm as an optimal self-defense firearm, others chimed in voicing their disparagement, and one lone person challenged the status quo… Let the fireworks begin. Countless justifications and numerous resumes later and his challenge still was not answered. Nobody stepped up to dispute his facts. They  vehemently disliked his conclusion, but where were the facts on their side of the debate (other than the diameter of the bullet)? All this got me wondering… what happened to the principle of questioning everything? Are we not, as mature adults, expected to firmly know the reasons behind our choices? Why do so many in the gun community automatically (and vociferously) denigrate the .22 LR for self-defense? Have they so little confidence in their knowledge of why they choose their calibre that they get defensive at the first suggestion there might be other ways? Or are they genuinely concerned for the life of the other person and believe they are embarking in a false sense of security? Why do these civil debates turn into personal attacks? Do large calibre proponents not have a solid foundation to stand on? Is there nothing more to their arguments than calibre diameter, “stopping power,” and name calling? Why do they get so defensive?  Can we not have a rational discussion? There are logical and justifiable reasons for people to carry .22’s, 9mm’s, .40’s, etc… Can we not acknowledge that what works well for us may not work well for others?

Do all calibre discussions have to devolve to this?

Do all calibre discussions have to devolve to this?

The calm questioning of the status quo stood in stark contrast to the rote reiteration of that .22 LR gun store conversation we’ve all heard. It piqued my curiosity. Was there something to his claim? Is the .22 LR a viable self-defense gun? I’ve been just as guilty as all of those on that post of unerringly maintaining the status quo and firmly discouraging .22’s as defense guns. “They don’t have the stopping power.” “The bullets are too small to do enough damage.” “They really aren’t effective as self-defense guns. etc…” I must confess, I am parroting what others have said. I never looked it up for myself. I’ve never questioned the lines. I’ve stood there, issuing statements that I personally had no knowledge of.

0_vtriqpn0s8em6q6weuwd

My only experience with shooting any living thing with .22’s, came one late summer night when I attempted to kill an eastern diamondback. It was moving through tall grass, illuminated only by an overhead utility light, and I had never shot at a moving target… It did not go well. I refuse to admit how many rounds I shot that night, but suffice it to say that while the snake did end up with many holes in it, a shovel proved to be much more effective in the long run. From this experience, I concluded .22’s are worthless at killing things and only good for plinking (a better conclusion would have been: buy snake shot). Getting further involved in the gun community only served to reinforce that belief.

Empire-State-Building-shooting_1_1-e1346168287857

However as the gentleman pointed out, .22’s are capable of causing extensive damage. Multiple lives have been saved by .22’s and lives have been taken by .22’s. It is used far more for self-defense than I realized. One potential reason for its popularity is the convenience of carrying one. .22’s designed for conceal carry are often very small and lightweight. That’s definitely one major point in its favor. And keep in mind, in a gun fight, any gun is better than no gun. Also, one recent study of lethal force encounters seems to imply that calibre isn’t as important as simply having a gun, any gun. It seems people, even criminals, don’t want to get shot. It’s painful. This psychological stop is a potential outcome in every lethal force encounter. Yet, not everybody stops just because they’ve been shot. Some keep coming. Can the .22 stop that one?  As many stories as there are of .22’s successfully being used in self-defense there are other stories (and rumors) of .22’s failing to penetrate. Many voice concerns that thick jackets and other objects may dramatically slow or even stop a .22 LR bullet. Can a .22 be trusted to physically stop a threat? Can a .22 be trusted to incapacitate the person before they can incapacitate you? There are lots of questions that still need to be asked and answered. Let’s not stifle questions by throwing out rote clichés, but encourage debate by listening and maintaining civility. Surely, if we are willing to bet our lives on it, our calibre selections should be capable of withstanding a few honest questions.

 img_muni_gold

http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/our-journal/260-april-2012

http://peachtreecorners.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/police-release-911-tape-reporting-duluth-shooting-6

http://www.guns.com/2013/09/20/use-22-self-defense-must-watch-video/

http://www.humanevents.com/2012/10/28/mighty-rar-of-the-mousy-22/

http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/the-22-mag-for-self-defense/

http://survivalblog.com/2012/02/22-handguns-and-other-options-for-self-defense-by-rfd.html

http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/using-the-22-for-self-defense

http://americanhandgunner.com/defensive-carry/

http://gunssavelives.net/blog/trends-in-self-defense-part-2-the-mighty-22lr/

http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/handgun-stopping-power

http://www.wnd.com/wnd_video/for-self-defense-22-beats-45/