Shotgun or pistol in your home: Which is better?

March 27, 2013 by  
Filed under CCW, Equipment, Self Defense, Training

Mossberg 500

I say: Why not use both? 

Let’s look at what each does well and doesn’t do well. 

Pistols are handy to have on you and are good for moving about and performing other tasks where a free hand is needed,  such as opening open doors, leading other people to safety and/or holding a flashlight. But they’re kinda lacking in the firepower department compared to a long gun. 

 A shotgun or a rifle brings A LOT more firepower to the table that a handgun just can’t match, but unless you’ve got an Ithaca Auto & Burglar by your bedside, you’re going to need both hands to work the gun. An AR-15 makes a dandy home defensive firearm, but be warned: They are LOUD in enclosed spaces. If it’s legal to do so where you live, consider buying a suppressor, elsewise, some active hearing protection for you and your loved ones might not be a bad idea if you’re thinking about an AR-15 for home defense. 

cz_p07I have a Mossberg 500 in my safe room loaded with #4 buckshot, and I have a pistol (usually one of my CCW guns) on or near me at all times. The shotgun is for defense of the safe room, and the pistol is there to move around the house if needed. On my shotgun, I have a shotshell holder with extra buckshot and a few slugs. I figure 13 rounds or so rounds of #4 buckshot*, a couple of slugs plus the content of my CCW pistol(s) will be enough to stop most threats outside of a rampaging bungalow or at least enough to hold them off until help arrives. 

I consider both a shotgun and a pistol to be integral parts of my home defense plan, much like I consider a fire extinguisher and a smoke alarm to be parts of my plan for a home fire. Each has its role to play in keeping me and my family safe. My primary plan is to get everyone to the safe rom ASAP and wait there with my shotgun until help arrives. If for some reason I need to move about my house, it’ll be with a pistol and a flashlight if it’s at night. I don’t want to go from room to room clearing my house: I’ll leave the professional tactical work to the professional tactical people. 

Recently however, I noticed a flaw in my thinking. In my safe room, I had the means to stop a threat, but I didn’t have the means to stop bleeding. The nearest first aid kit to my safe room was downstairs in the hall closet. 


Now in my safe room, I have a first aid kit and a bunch of Israeli field dressings and copies of my driver’s licence and CCW permit for easy identification if (God Forbid) I needed them. I keep an old unused cell phone nearby as well, because any working cell phone can call 911, regardless of whether it’s on a current plan or not. 

I keep all this stuff in our safe room because I don’t want to clear my house, going from room to room with catlike stealth: I want to get my family to my safe room ASAP and keep them safe, healthy and secure until help arrives. 

So what’s your preference? Pistol, shotgun, rifle, or some combination of all three? 

* Why #4 instead of 00 buck? I live in the suburbs, and over-penetration through thin drywall into other houses is definitely a concern of mine. 

How to Carry Concealed

February 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Clothing, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense

Or, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Concealed Carry, For People Who Aren’t Complete Idiots


You’ve decided you want to take responsibility for your personal safety and carry a firearm with you on a regular basis. This is one of the most adult decisions you can make, because you’ve realized that there WILL NOT be a cop around when you need one. In fact, criminals are really, really good at making sure there’s no cops around when their potential victims need one: That’s why they’re called “criminals” and not “felons”. 

I digress.

This isn’t going to be a post about equipment or training, it’s about getting yourself ready to carry a gun wherever and whenever it’s permitted. I’m going to assume you’re one of thousands and thousands of people out there who own a gun and have recently acquired a concealed carry permit, but you’re not sure if you want to carry your gun all the time. 

Which you do. We’ll get to why you want to do that in a minute. Let’s start off with the how. And please realize that I’m not a lawyer or someone in who’s served in the military or police. What I am, however, is a person who’s gone down the road you’re about to travel.

If you don’t have a holster for your gun, buy one. 

Many a pixel has been plotted over which kind of holster works best, but for starters, I’d suggest an Outside The Waistband (OWB) holster from a “name brand” manufacturer like Galco, Bianchi, Comp-Tac or Blade-Tech. And wear something to cover it, like an unbuttoned shirt or light jacket.

Plan on buying another after that one, because holsters are kinda like music: What works for me probably won’t work for you, and I change what I listen to depending on my surroundings and who I’m with. Same thing with how I carry a gun: I change what I carry and how I carry it depending on the circumstances I’m in. In general, though, I listen to 80’s alternative and carry inside the waist (IWB) on my right hip. I carry there consistently because I don’t want to have to think about where my gun is if I need it, and I’ve learned through buying a bunch of holsters that IWB carry is what I like best. 

Holsters aren’t an option. You want a holster because it’s just about the only way to carry a gun safely: Not only is sticking a gun into your waistband unsafe for others, you can also lose some things that are very dear to you if an accident occurs. As added bonus, having a holster for your gun is one way cops know you’re on their side if they have to stop and frisk you

Don’t carry just your gun. 

How will you call the cops if don’t have your phone? How will know if what you’re facing is a mugger or grandma on a dark night if you don’t have flashlight? There’s four things you need to carry with you besides your gun and holster and I’ve listed them over here

Learn the laws of your state first. 

It’s up to you to know the circumstances and consequences of carrying a concealed weapon in your state. Can you carry in schools? Churches? What happens if you walk into a business with a “No Guns Allowed” sign? Is there such a thing as businesses that can ban guns in your state? Can you carry a gun into a nuclear power station or military base? (Short answer: No you don’t, that’s a VERY bad idea.). 

Alan Korwin is a leading author on gun laws, and he has several books on the gun laws of America that are “must haves” for anyone who owns a gun, much less wants to carry one with them. 

Also, I recommend getting to know a lawyer in your area who deals with firearms, and signing up for one of the self-defense insurance programs out there BEFORE you need their services. 

Get to know your gun and use it safely.

Chances are, you had to pass a shooting qualification to get your concealed carry permit, but if you can’t remember the last time you practiced, it’s probably time to head to the range. And learn the rules of gun safety as if your life depends on it, because, well, it does. 

Think about what you’re getting, and what you’re giving up.

As my friend Caleb said, carrying a firearm means giving up the luxury to be angry. If you carry a sidearm, you have to consider the results of your actions and reactions a whole lot more carefully than if you don’t. 

What are you getting in return? You’re getting the ability to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones on the worst day of your lives. If being angry means more to you than that, please, for love of God and everyone around you, don’t carry a gun. 

Why carry a gun all the time.

Now we come down to the crux of the matter. The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t get to choose when you’ll need it. If you think you’re going somewhere where you might need a gun, DON”T GO THERE. Cops have SWAT teams to go places where they don’t feel safe, you don’t have that luxury. 

Criminals don’t play by your rules. Once you accept that, and learn to see the world how they might see it, you’ll be safer. We call that sort of thing “situational awareness” and it means the difference between having to use your gun and not having to use it. 

Think of it this way: Have you been in a car accident? Did that accident happen when you expected it? Do you wear a seat belt only when you expect an accident to happen? 

So why carry a gun only when you think there’s danger around? 

How to carry a gun all the time. 

Step One: Carry a gun with you all the time. 

Step Two: There is no Step Two. 

I know that’s kinda silly, but that’s about all there is to it. Start by wearing your gun around the house, and carry it loaded, because an unloaded gun is kinda useless, isn’t it? It’s going to feel a bit weird at first to have a gun hanging off your hip. Relax, you’ll get used to it. Then wear it outside the house on something you do everyday. 

We call it The WalMart Walk, but what it is doing something you’re used to doing in a way you’re not used to doing it. And don’t worry, your gun isn’t showing and no, no one else besides you is freaking out because you’re carrying a gun. In fact, I can predict right now what will happen the first time you walk outside the store with a concealed handgun on you. 

Absolutely nothing at all. So again, relax. 

Just be confident that you are now your own first responder. And stay safe. And have fun. 

Drive (and live) Defensively

October 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Mindset, Self Defense, Training

If you’ve never owned a gun, the thought of carrying one on your person for self-defense can seem a bit intimidating, because after all, you’re carrying something that can potentially kill other people. 

But driving a car also means you’re using a machine that can potentially kill other people, yet we do that all the time without much concern. The good news is, the same concepts that keep us safe while driving a lethal instrument like a car can also keep us safe when carrying a gun. 

Defensive driving is about trying to minimize the odds of hazards happening by anticipating the other drivers’ moves. It’s not about being paranoid or stocking up for the zombie apocalypse, it’s about being aware of what’s happening on the road around you. 

We do this on the road without thinking about it because we’ve practiced it for years. We’re not nervous about driving, we’re alert. We keep the music loud enough to enjoy, but quiet enough to hear an oncoming emergency vehicle. We keep our anger in check because we know that causes accidents, and we keep an eye out for people who aren’t as careful.

We are safer in our cars because we are situationally aware, and we are safer outside of our cars if we take that awareness with us when we leave our vehicles. 

“You have the rest of your life to solve your problems. How long you live depends on how well you do it.” 

– Clint Smith