I’ve had several parallel annoyance tracks running this week.
1) .22s for personal protection
2) .38 snub nose revolvers for personal protection
3) The ‘OODA Loop’
4) The value of knives versus guns for personal protection.

Here is my advice to the gun community:
Unless you have primary source information about a topic, meaning you have personally seen it, or better yet experienced and tested it, then don’t talk about the subject. Just keep your piehole shut and don’t spread misinformation. Everything you have been TOLD about the subject by someone else was TOLD to them by someone else, who HEARD it from someone else, etc, etc, etc. The ‘information’ was either bad in the first case, got badly distorted by six degrees of separation, or both.

This applies to gunshop commandos, law enforcement officers, gun manufacturers, firearms trainers, Internet Lounge Lizards, and anyone else who has ever seen a gun or seen a picture of one.

I know this will fall on deaf ears but I’m going to put it out there anyway.

25 responses

  1. I have said the same thing! Interestingly these same topics are some of my favorites!!

    Gary J. Glemboski


  2. 1. Unless attacked at a range or while squirrel hunting, not recommended.
    2. Well, back in the old days (and yes, I’m old enough to have seen it for myownself) they served quite well not only for personal protection but were carried as issued weapons for detectives and some plain clothed officers. However, there are many better choices available these days.
    3. Pie hole is shut.
    4. Best left to chefs and 17th century sea captains. Gunfights are bad enough without arriving with only a knife.

    1. *Friendly tone* I think there is, perhaps, a chance that the blog post didn’t mean what you think it means. 🙂 Could be wrong though.

      1. You’re smarter than the average bear. 🙂

  3. I am not a ninja. But I am an instructor who is always trying to learn more. Would love to hear what your thoughts are especially about .22’s and .38’s.

    1. Although many of the industry ‘cognoscenti’ denigrate .22s, I can document more failures of service calibers in the hands of law enforcement than .22 detractors can document in the hands of private citizens. I guess that means police need to be equipped with Varon-T disrupters or something similar 🙂 The factors of METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain and weather, Troops and support, Time available, Civil considerations) are completely different for Armed Private Citizens than for LEOs, which seems to be lost on most trainers and other alleged cognoscenti. If soldiers in Afghanistan were told that they were going on patrol, alone, with a pistol, 2 spare magazines, no water, no helmet or rifle rated body armor, and they were going in an unarmored vehicle, they’d look at their superiors like the CO had gone nuts. Yet, half a million law enforcement officers do that every day in the US without a second thought. Why? The factors of METT-TC are completely different for them than for troops in Afghanistan. I could go into a fairly long dissertation about this but I won’t.

      The short answer about .22s is that three of my students have had to kill home invaders. One with a .45, one with a 9mm, and one with a .22. The .22 was the only one that got an instant response with one shot. The .45 and 9mm required multiple rounds to get any effect at all. Why? Because the terms ‘handguns’ and ‘stopping power’ don’t belong in the same sentence, no matter what the caliber. It’s just physics; if you can hold it in one hand and fire it without the gun flying out of your hand, it’s not powerful. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.

      As far as .38 snubs, I am one of their biggest fans. However, anyone who thinks they are the ideal first weapon for someone who has no familiarity with firearms is an ignorant foolish bumpkin. There, I said it. Someone who makes that recommendation just hasn’t a clue of what they’re talking about. Such a recommendation is foolish, uninformed, and ill-advised. I know of at least one case where such a woman had the gun fly out of her hand when she fired the first shot. She then took a good beating from her attacker because she wasn’t able to fire a second shot. When I taught the NRA Basic Pistol class, we had students shoot around 18 different handguns so they could make an informed choice. Over the course of a decade, no woman in the class EVER said she would purchase a .38 snub. Many of them would not fire more than 2 shots through one. A gun that is painful to shoot and therefore intimidating to the user is a godawful choice to foist upon her (or him for that matter.)

  4. Amen professor!

  5. Thanks for your no nonsense commentary. I have a proposal for a Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification-like protocol for Defensive Shotgun that you will like. Please let me know how I can mail it to you for your review and feedback. Dr. William White >

    1. Dr. White, you can email it to . I would be glad to look at it.

    2. Tactical professor I am a 72y/o dinosaur need a snail mail address, please. Dr. White

  6. This comment is for police officers. Just because you can shoot a marginally passing score on your State mandated qualification course, which is designed to be passed by a Lowest Common Denominator shooter, that doesn’t mean you’re capable of even teaching someone how to use your own service weapon, much less any other firearm.

    The same thing applies to veterans who managed to qualify with the M4 carbine or the M9 pistol.

  7. Regarding the use of a 22 as a defensive tool, I like to remember the account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan: Hinckley fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 long rifle blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds, missing the president with all but one shot. The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head,,,, The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine and hit the president in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung causing it to partially collapse, and stopping nearly 1 inch from his heart.

    It wasn’t even a direct hit, but rather a ricochet.

    I steer many folks to a 22, as I find they simply can’t/won’t handle any recoil,,, at least to start. I also feel that a 22 offers many newer shooter a chance to fire more rounds during training & practice sessions doe to less recoil.

    IF a person feels they are ready to move up to a larger caliber at some point in the future, go for it. Bu to start with a larger caliber that intimidates the shooter into serious anticipation & flinching issues just has no common sense.

    I once read where only three things count in a “gunfight”
    #1 Shot placement
    #2 Shot placement
    #3 Shot placement

    1. Your logic is inescapable.

  8. I do almost the same thing – I teach a class we call a “Test Drive” where we go over safety, the fundamentals of shooting a handgun, how the pistol should fit in their hand and then let them practice all of the above while they shoot about 20 of my pistols. Over the years someone has picked every single handgun as the one they prefer except the .38 spl. That being said, if I am going to carry a back up gun that HAS to work when I need it give me a good J frame .38. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I appreciate the info..

  9. matthew abernathy

    At Paul Sharp’s MDOC course he told me of your approval of the .22 for self defense, that’s what led me to this blog. I looked at data and usage results and couldn’t reconcile why so many people were ardently opposed to the notion despite the hard data.

    My wife has a small frame and despite the number of times I have worked with her on gripping and compression with a G17, she might score 2 A’s out of 10 under any sort of time; not to mention the difficulty she has working the slide. For this reason I set her up (for HD) with a M&P 15-22 rifle. Albeit not ideal, it is easy to manipulate, low recoil impulse / low audible report, low mass for degraded penetration if there is a miss, and 25 high percentage chances to make hits. I recall one gentleman who was once fond of saying “Only Hits Count.”

    Ill stick with my G19 for now but one ECQC course altered my way of thinking of what is likely to happen with a gun and has me reconsidering a Colt 1903 as a viable slim CC sidearm.

    Thank you for this post and I welcome any more info on data stemming from .22LR being used in a self defense scenario.

    1. Some people seem to be under the impression that being hit with a .22 is like a ‘bee sting.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.
      One shot from the despised .22 5 shot mini-revolver did that guy in.

      My Five year study of The Armed Citizen is here on my blog. Even I was surprised at how often 1 round of .22 kills the criminal Dead Right There.

      Your wife is well equipped with her .22 carbine. Make sure she has good ammo and she’ll be fine. Notice that reports about .22 unreliability never say how many rounds of what kind were used. Is it any surprise that the cheapest bulk crap ammo to be found doesn’t produce the best results? I have had excellent results with CCI Mini-Mag ammo.

  10. It is refreshing to hear from men who really get it when it comes to women and Guns. It is difficult to understand why so many experienced gun owners and retailers continue to steer, especially women, towards revolvers and away from 22 caliber handguns. Perhaps, subconsciously, they want them to fail?
    Most women find it insulting to be told they should choose a revolver because it is ‘simpler. ” Wake up guys. Maybe the male ego gets in the way? Just guessing… Let the women make their own educated, choice when it comes to guns. Everyone will be happier, and she will probably enjoy shooting, practice more, and be a better shot because of it. Isn’t that what we all really want?

    1. A smart female friend asks the following question when a woman tells her a man wants to pick out her gun: “Would you let your husband pick out your shoes for you?”

      Any gun, but especially a pistol, is a very personal choice. It’s a decision the shooter needs to make, not someone else.

      I could go into a number of factors that should be considered but philosophically I think her question is sufficient.

      1. A wise woman once told me, “A man should never buy shoes for his girl; if he does, she’ll use those shoes to walk out of her life.” I think the same thing might apply to buying a small frame .38 for the female partner!

      2. Mutual respect and consideration in all things. Including your spouses choice of weapons. Let the woman decide what’s best for her, and respect her choice.

      3. Oops…I meant that to say, “Walk out of YOUR life.” Indeed, Janice. I’m a big fan of all people using life saving equipment that inspires confidence. So I stay clear of shoe (and gun) selection for my gal. 🙂

  11. Good morning Professor! You touched on number 1 & 2 above. But, I am most interested in your thoughts on # 3&4, the OODA loop, and using a knife!

    1. In short, the OODA loop is not a tactical decision process the way it is often described. Colonel Boyd first mentioned it long after he had stopped flying and was deeply involved in the strategic acquisition process of the USAF. Anyone who really wants to understand what Boyd wrote about tactical decision-making should read his Aerial Attack Study. He wrote it over 50 years ago and it is still considered the manual for fighter combat. While you can see shadows of the OODA process in the AAS, they are almost 180 degrees apart philosophically.

      With regard to knives and guns, I will quote my friend and colleague, Ken Hackathorn. “Anyone who would rather stab someone than shoot him is weird.”

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