Sunday, December 19, 2010

On caliber choice and perceived threat levels...

When I'm in the boonies, I always carry either a 1911 or a rifle. Since I live in the boonies, that means all the time. I've mentioned in the past that my .45 hasn't always proven the omnipotent fight-stopper my imagination built it up to be, and these days if I leave the property and don't need both hands free I'm more likely to carry my AK.

But I only own pistols in two centerfire calibers; .45 and 9mm Makarov. And on those rare occasions when I go to a city, I'm more likely to carry the Mak. This strikes me as incongruous, because I haven't lived in a city for over four years and they rather frighten me.

I was thinking about this a couple of days ago. I'll be visiting a city for a week at the end of this month, and was contemplating what I should bring. I never go without weapons, but the weapons I actually carry there are pretty anemic. I guess it's the whole probability/impact ratio again: On any given day in the boonies, the chance that I'll need to shoot something is almost negligible, but over time it becomes a certainty. I've had to do it in the past, and unless I move away I'll need to do it in the future. Nothing I've been called on to shoot out here was a particularly terrifying danger, but still - I definitely needed to shoot and so wanted something I was confident would hit and stop the threat. In the city, considering that I don't plan to troll slums with $100 bills hanging out of my pocket, the chance of shooting is extremely low. But if I do need to shoot something, it'll probably scare me a lot. Yet the pistol I'll probably carry is pretty much symbolic.

It's a puzzlement. Part of this, of course, is that the thing I fear most is cops, and cops in most places (I'd guess in all cities) take a dim view of "civilians" carrying visible weapons. So I go for something small and easily concealed, even though I prefer something massive and easy to get to.

Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I really don't like cops. But that hardly needs repeating.


MamaLiberty said...

The thing I didn't see you mention here is the relative distance... Out in the boonies, you are more apt to need a weapon that can reach out and touch someone or something at far more than arm's length.

In the city, you are more apt to wind up in a really close encounter - try 0 to 5 feet, so your 9mm would probably do just fine and not give you a case of droopy drawers which could easily attract unwanted blue attention.

Shot placement, of course, is far more important than caliber at close range. The "one shot stop" is mostly a myth, regardless of caliber. Only a central nervous system - spine or brain stem - hit will stop an attack instantly. It takes at least a minute or two for a bleed out, even if the heart or a major artery is torn.

Practice head shots... at close range. :)

Joel said...

Yeah, I could have been more clear about that. Shots I've taken have been at quite close ("Don't bite me, bro!") range. My targets here don't tend to have guns, so a target at more than twenty feet or so isn't a threat and doesn't need to get shot.

Of course in most cases the animals I've shot here weren't threatening me anyway, but the dogs. The only mammal I actually shot since I got here was a badger, and that only because the young dogs picked a fight with it and wouldn't let the matter drop. I was responsible for the dogs' safety and not for that of the badger, so...bang. I can report that a badger head-shot with a .45 does lose interest in fighting immediately.

I thought I would have to shoot a bobcat once, that that confrontation ended without bloodshed. I don't look for opportunities to shoot things.

Anonymous said...

Coyotes can be a danger to humans. Here a woman was standing in her semi rural yard and a coyote ran up and bit her on the leg. It wasn't rabid but the wound turned gangrenous.

I remember the badger incident, I didn't say anything at the time but I live in a rural area and walk our dogs. There wouldn't be any hesitation (after applying the prudent man rule) when it comes to protecting them.

And yeah the problem is cops everywhere you go. In this country at least.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as you occasionally work with livestock on daily actvities, adding another .45 might not be a bad idea. The .45 Long Colt (LC) in a Ruger SA Blackhawk can be loaded to pretty potent levels. They are made with a spare .45 ACP cylinder as well, so you aren't gaining an entirely new round to buy, just some extra cases.

It isn't that livestock are evil per se, its just that their large size and weight when coming into contact with your body in close quarters can really mess you up pretty quickly. Not good - you need something that will gain their attention NOW.

Just saying is all.

I don't like big cities either. I don't spend as much time in the wilds as I used to, but visiting / vacationing in large cities makes me feel more vulnerable. Definitely feel like a part of the food chain, a handgun there to me feels mandatory.

MamaLiberty said...

Yeah, I should have known you didn't need any advice from me. LOL

But I don't have any problem shooting most critters, either to eat or as varmint control. I shoot rabbits off my deck sometimes... with a .22lr it's great practice for moving targets. :)

There is also a badger who lived on the backside of my property on some bluffs. I've only seen him a few times and he's never bothered me or my old dog (kept strictly in a fenced yard), so I have no interest in shooting him. That might change if I ever decide to get chickens, of course.

Joel said...

Landlady keeps talking about starting chickens here. If that ever happens I'd expect the body count to increase dramatically, one way or another.

Anonymous said...

the 9x18 Markorov worked as a CCW for the KGB just fine. If I have to get into a gunfight I want a caliber that starts with 4, but if it's simply to have an equalizer in an "iffy" situation, the Markorov works fine...not as intimidating as a 1911 when looking at the end of the barrel, but effective when it was needed a couple times. Besides, it's always loaded with Hogdson Special JHP rounds that have proven effective when needed