In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the Primary Firearms System. The selection was based on applicability to being a firearms instructor, private security contractor, and living in a metropolitan area with a significant level of violent crime. In this installment, we will look at the personal defense handgun.
A home defense handgun has other criteria like searching your own home, rescuing your kids or others, and potentially protecting your property when no one is answering a 9-1- 1 call and nobody is coming. These tasks are outside of the handgun’s role but are often required because societal norms or legalities may restrict a long gun.
So, this gets us to handguns that genuinely fill the personal defense role against an unexpected attack.
While it is easy to talk about always carrying a firearm, it is tough to do. In a nutshell, this means we must always have this handgun on our person and accessible. We often wear different clothing during our daily lives, have other restrictions, and can be faced with challenging requirements to meet for levels of concealment that I define as “Covered,” “Concealed,” and “Undetectable.” Being able to be carried in all those roles is a tall order and usually requires a small and light handgun. Usually, a smaller version of the Primary Firearm is the easy button for this role.
That is a good option for many people. I could likely get away with the smaller of my P-365XLs for this, but another firearm fits this role better.
The LCR with the small Hogue Tamer grips is for dedicated Pocket carry and the one with the factory Hogue boot grips is used for all other types of carry.
For me, the small Snub revolver is my go-to. The Ruger LCR in .327 Federal Magnum is the current basis for my personal protection battery. Like the Sig pistols in part one, they are mechanically box stock, except for the grips. While I could switch the grips on one, having two is convenient and allows for a spare if one breaks or needs work. I chose these guns based on my mission. Let’s look at the needs that drove the decision.
First is how these guns are carried.
Since retirement from Law Enforcement and becoming a regular armed American, discrete concealed carry has been a priority. Pocket carry has become my go-to (both alone and as a backup). It fits my lifestyle and how I dress. I usually wear Duluth Trading Company shorts or pants, and their pockets are great for pocket carry. Fellow trainer Chris Frye has correctly observed that, for women, it is socially unacceptable to look in their purses.
For men, it is pockets. I have a place for my defensive firearm with pocket carry that is genuinely concealed and is socially unacceptable for anyone to check. For pocket carry, you want a revolver without an exposed hammer and shaped to clear the pocket without snagging; the LCR meets this requirement in spades. The LCR is light and small enough for this role. Hogue makes a minimal tamer boot grip that helps hide the firearm and is hard plastic on the sides to keep it from clinging or sticking to the pockets. Combined with a purpose-built pocket holster, I can easily access my handgun in a non-threatening manner if a threat or suspicious situation arises. A single headshot can be delivered with a consistent draw in under a second on a timer from realistic concealment if that situation degrades to where lethal force is required.
Rule One of gunfighting is “Have a Gun.” The lightweight snub revolvers function very well in this role. While some small lightweight semi-autos fill this role, I prefer the small revolver for several reasons.
The trigger systems are forgiving when digging them out of deep concealment. They do not require a perfect grip to function reliably. During an entangled fight, where these guns are likely to be used, your firing grip may be compromised. Often they will be shot out in “space” where your wrist may not be locked, and a smaller semi-auto pistol is very susceptible to malfunctioning under these conditions.
The small revolvers fill the “get out of trouble” role critical for a personal defense gun versus the “go find trouble” role better suited to the type of firearm used as a primary system.
My complete set of Ruger LCR’s. A pair of .327 Federal Magnums and a .22 LR that works well as an inexpensive trainer for the .327’s and discreet carry.
I also based the caliber choice on personal assessment. The .327 Federal Magnum allows one to use several different caliber rounds while holding six rounds instead of five (Part 3 will cover ammunition selection).
They are a modern version of Colt’s Agents and Cobra D frame lightweight revolvers that were popular when revolvers dominated American law enforcement.
In an entangled environment where contact shots are common, the attributes of a snub revolver is not only viable, but preferable.
Pushing 60 years old with my days of physically defending myself are long in the past; having a firearm that is easily accessed and reliable while entangled is a priority. A small double-action revolver with an enclosed hammer works well with the variety of concealment locations I use (below the waistband, pocket, ankle, AIWB, or small fanny pack). There is a .22LR version which I use as a training gun because of severe arthritis in my hands. And these revolvers are legal in all jurisdictions, regardless of magazine capacity restrictions.
Those are the factors that are important for me.
The factors you require in a personal protection gun will likely differ for everyone. Take a hard look at YOUR reality, assess your needs, and choose based on those needs rather than what someone else tells you based on theirs.