The Special Application 9mm Carbine for Home Defense – Part 1

If you read my posts on the Ruger 10/22 (part 1, part 2) that I set up for home defense, this post will contain echoes and similar logic to that series. That particular .22 now lives at my parent’s house as their home defense rifle. Since we had a gun-void, I sought to fill it.

The Mission:

Find a carbine that my entire family could confidently use for self defense in the home, be willing to train with despite being recoil/muzzle blast-sensitive shooters, and keep at a reasonable cost. The ultimate goal is to build shooters with sufficient skill to make high pressure shots with no-shoots downrange on low probability targets. The only way to get there is if shooting isn’t a chore or abusive to the senses.

The Resource Problem:

Ammo costs and availability are a factor. We have a limited income, so a more affordable caliber makes sense for us. In my experience, less expensive caliber doesn’t mean spending less annually on ammunition, it means buying more ammo for the same price. More ammo means more practice, which means more proficiency.

We also don’t have $1200 for an AR-15 pattern 9mm carbine. We have a cost ceiling that we need to stay under. I have a pile of Glock pistol magazines that largely go unused since I’ve switched to Double Action Pistols. Using Glock magazines would be a nice bonus to save on support gear.

We have a time limitation. I need to maximize the training time, and blunt the learning curve by picking a platform that lends itself to quick proficiency. We rarely get time together, period. So finding time to go to the range is exceedingly rare. I have to strive for efficiency. Rifles are easier to shoot well. Four points of contact with a rifle beats two points of contact with a pistol. A red dot sight makes the learning curve easier for getting hits.

The shooter consideration problem:

For the shooters in my family, I need to be very considerate of recoil, and muzzle blast. My wife is quickly turned off to shooting a 5.56 rifle at indoor ranges due to the chest thumping concussion and flash that an AR-15 gives. She’s good for maybe 30 shots before she’s done. If concentration and focus is gone after one magazine, then competency will be impossible given the rarity of our range trips.

My wife isn’t a shooter. She wants to understand and be able to run all of our guns, but she doesn’t love shooting like I do. I have to be considerate of her time and pick something that she might enjoy more than an AR or shotgun.

I’d wager that many of you might be in a similar boat. It’s really time to bump the obsession with terminal ballistics down the list and keep context at the top. Despite what the ‘5.56 AR-15/ 00 buckshot or nothing’ crowd says, it’s more important that all the shooters meant to use a firearm can achieve a certain level of competency. If that means a .22LR, then that’s what it is. I wanted to give a 9mm carbine a chance, so here we are.

The tactical problem:

This is the reason we want a rifle that anyone in the house can use. My greatest concern is the shooting problem of a home invader with a downrange no-shoot. Not that it needs saying, but in the real world, it is very likely that there will be no-shoots forward of the ‘180* range safety line’. In fact, it’s quite common in home invasions for a husband to answer the late-night knock on the door, only to be overrun by bad guys. If I’m downrange, I want to make sure my shooters are competent enough to shoot them well, and not shoot me. It’s a self-preservation thing.

Story time to drive the point home. One of Tom Givens’ Students had to make a difficult shot with her husband down range:

A struggle ensued, during which the homeowner was shot in the thigh by one of the suspects. The homeowner’s wife was at the front door to greet her husband, and saw the attack. She ran upstairs, got her handgun, opened the bedroom window and engaged the suspects with several shots from the window.
She hit one suspect, and both fled.

Here’s another:

As the husband neared the front door, he heard the dogs growl and ran back to his bedroom, arming himself with a can of wasp spray, the records say. A man charged him in a hallway, and the husband sprayed the wasp spray in the intruder’s face, but it had no effect.

“The fight was on,” the records say. Both men tumbled to the floor, and the wife ran out with a baseball bat and struck the intruder with it until it broke, according to the documents.

After about three minutes, the husband yelled to his wife for help, “not knowing how long he could hold out in the fight,” according to the records. The wife “ran to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed the suspect several times until he quit fighting.”

These instances are not rare.  That’s reason enough for me to want good shooters in the house.

The Result:


I decided that I wanted to try the Ruger PC Carbine in 9mm. It checked a lot of the boxes that I had for this purpose. There’s a lot of reasons I went with this over some of the other options out there. I’ll make a quick list of the big ones:

  • In 9mm. A caliber that all of my handguns shoot. I have plenty on hand, and one caliber streamlines things. It’s also the most affordable ‘duty round’ caliber.
  • Easily takes an optic on the section of picatinny rail on top of the receiver.
  • Takes Glock magazines. From 10-round to 33-round happy sticks.
  • Similar ergonomics to the Ruger 10/22. The rifle that my wife has the most time on.
  • Affordable. I got mine for $425 on Brownells. That’s extremely reasonable for a rifle.
  • Adjustable length-of-pull with included butt-pads
  • A section of rail that can be used for a weapon mounted light. I always try to have a light on long-gun.
  • Has the ability to break down in half for transport and storage (not necessary, but a nice feature)

Next up will be some details on running it faster, optimizing the setup, and designing a training program.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

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The Underwear Gun (T.U.G.)

…police say the pair started demanding money, something the 28-year-old said she didn’t have. That’s when one of the attackers allegedly picked up a kitchen knife, turned on the stove, and put the blade in the flame.

“And then four separate times burnt the 28-year-old female, burnt her face, both of her arms and her stomach,” Small said.

Still she refused to speak, so the crime went further.

“Then picked up the 28-year-old’s two-year-old daughter and threatened to kill the daughter if she didn’t say where the money was,” Small said.

Source

Home invasions are one of my biggest fears when it comes to armed confrontations. I think it’s because they occur inside the most comfortable and trusted shelter we have, our homes. Where you should be able to go into condition white and turn off your vigilance and recharge your batteries. A place where you kiss your child good night shouldn’t be the place that you have to fight for your life. But alas, there are some people on this planet that don’t feel that way. In fact, the kind of predator who breaks into your home when he knows you’re there is a special kind of dangerous.

Burglars are one thing. Those guys don’t necessarily want to interact with you in your home. They want to get in and out with as much loot as possible, as quickly as possible. Home invaders are scary because they know you’re home, and they still want to come in. As a result, I have taken several precautions to prepare for this. In fact, I suppose several of my posts so far have been dedicated to topics that all tie back to defending from home invaders. I mentioned in another article that I carry a gun inside my house. This article will outline the requirements I have for an ‘underwear gun’, the gun I chose for the job, its accessories, the drawstroke for T.U.G., and some of the drills I do with this gun.

Jack Black and I get down like this.

Mission: Choose, outfit, and always carry a pistol meant to be worn around the home.

The requirements I had for an underwear gun:

  • Must be reliable
  • Must be able to be securely held in drawstring sweat pants or exercise shorts, no holster required
  • Be lightweight enough to not pull said shorts down
  • Because I don’t want to wear a holster and I carry a loaded gun with a round in the chamber, double action only or DA/SA is required
  • Be able to find something for less than $325
The Dusk Till Dawn crotch gun was never put on the market, so I needed another solution.

The reliability requirement is obvious. I have no requirement for minimum caliber size for T.U.G., only that it be reliable when I need to use it. As an aside, don’t take my (or anyone’s) word that your gun is reliable. You have to know this for yourself. Small guns (due at least in part to the tight angles that ammo has to feed from magazine to chamber) tend to be very ammunition sensitive. Some ammo will work, others just won’t. You should run a few boxes of your chosen defensive ammo in your underwear gun before you even start to call it reliable. Small guns can even vary in reliability within the same model. It sometimes only matters what month the gun came off of the assembly line.

No Holster!

There is a short list of accessories that allow me to satisfy the second requirement depending on my choice of guns:

  • Universal Clipdraw – Semi-AutoThis is the universal clip draw. I wouldn’t use this on a Glock or any striker fired gun with a loaded chamber. I’d only put it on double action guns, or guns with safeties. It can also be used to replace a flimsy flashlight clip with a very beefy spring steel clip.

  • DeSantis Clip Grip – This is a cool set of grips that has a flare of material on the right side of the gun which can go over the belt and keeps the gun secure inside the waistband. It’s a great update to the Barami Hip Grip, which felt like greased soap and didn’t fill the hand very well. The DeSantis grips are legit, though.
Barami Hip Grip
  • Techna ClipThis is nearly identical to the clipdraws, but they are made for the newer generations of small framed pocket guns. This is what I have on my LCP. They also make left handed versions, which is good for those that need it.

With a double action gun, and an on-board clip to keep it from falling down my pants, I’m in business. You could technically do this with any gun you wanted if you always wear a belt, but my requirements limit the size of the gun I can carry. Which brings me onto my next point.

The weight and size envelope matters. I want something that I can carry in exercise shorts or sweat pants around the house. As a result, I am limited to a pocket gun (mouse gun), usually in a caliber less than or equal to 9mm.  This is my favorite chart for getting an idea of what I should expect when I go to handle different pocket guns. I also satisfy the next requirement by simply looking for a DAO gun in the list.

My last requirement is easy enough to meet. I had my short list of guns that I thought would work, kept an eye out on the used market, and waited for something to pop up.

I have had a KelTec PF9 (9mm), a Smith 442 (.38spl), a Taurus PT22 (.22lr), and now a Ruger LCP (.380) to fit this role. After selling the PF9 to fund a M&P shield, and selling the Taurus to my dad as his underwear gun, I am left with the J-frame and the Ruger. Due to weight and magazine capacity, I find myself carrying the Ruger most often.

image_1

Accessories

  • Techna Clip as mentioned above
  • Crimson Trace Laserguard– I think lasers are a great addition to any gun, especially one with sights as small and difficult to see as the LCP (gen 1). I also am fond of a laser that comes on when forming the full firing grip. It also has the benefit of allowing one to turn the laser off if one trains to relax that middle finger, as situation dictates. Lasers won’t make you control your trigger better, so you’ll still need to do the work.
  • Hogue Handall Grip Sleeve – This makes the grip of the gun just a little bit fatter. This allows a more hand filling feel, as well as a less cramped trigger pull.
  • GARRISON Grip Extension– This cool mag extension allows me to get all of my fingers on the gun. The tail of the mag extension also serves as a hook to keep the grip of the pistol right at my pants line. Without it, and the gun only has one point of contact at the clip, and can roll behind the pants (great for when you require the deepest concealment).image_6

Teeny Weeny Drawstroke

The drawstroke of a gun as small and deeply concealed as the LCP has to be modified a bit in order to build a full firing grip before presenting the pistol. Here’s how I do it:

  • Index the muzzle of the pistol through the pants with your middle and/or ring finger, and your thumb’s pad to the rear of the tang.
image_7
Note: my shirt is tucked so you can see what’s happening. Really, the thumb is used to swim under the shirt material and then indexes on the tang.
  • Press in and up with your middle/ring fingers and slide the pistol up as you slide your thumb behind the pistol.
image_9
The photos were taken with a potato. Excuse the poor quality.
  • Pinch the pistol between your thumb and index finger to lift it high enough to get your fingers wrapped and complete the drawstroke as normal.
image_13
This is what the pinch looks like. The pinch is what lifts it high enough to form the full firing grip.

image_10

Ammunition

This article gave me some ideas about .380 ammo selection. I had previously been using ball ammunition, because I was concerned about penetration and feed issues. I will be buying a few boxes of the top two he mentions in the article to try out.

Training/Drills

Surprise! Nothing is different here. I do what I do with all my other pistols. Dryfire and drills.

Issues Specific to the LCP

In such a small package, the .380 is a snappy little beast. I’m personally good for about 50-75 rounds before El Snatcho gets me and I fatigue to the point of diminishing returns. The hogue and grip extension mitigate this a bit, but only a little. This is an argument for a KelTec P32, or a .22 in a similar sized package. The sights on the LCP are just little bumps on the slide (sights on the gen2 are much better). I routinely make hits at 15 yards into the head box of an IDPA target (sans laser), but it took work. Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s only a bad-breath distance gun. Gain competence, and you will gain confidence. The trigger, like most all tiny double action guns, isn’t great. But again, dry fire and meaningful range time will allow you to work around this.

In Closing

I have had T.U.G. in its current configuration for about a year. This gun gets a lot of carry and shooting time (about 30% of my range time). T.U.G. in addition to allowing me to be armed around the house, makes a great grocery run gun, dog walk gun, gym gun, jog gun, and a wonderful Non-Permissive Environment gun. I always carry as large a gun as I can, and sometimes that gun is T.U.G.

May we always shoot home invaders in the face.

Protect the Brood,

Defensive Daddy.

The Special Application .22LR for Home Defense, Part 1: Weigh the Evidence and Make a Decision

I’m a fairly pragmatic person. I’m an engineer by schooling and like to base my decisions on statistics, facts, research, personal experience, and sometimes a sprinkling of intuition. I’m no different when it comes to the self defense game. I’m going to write an ongoing series of posts about my decision to outfit a Ruger 10/22 for my wife for home defense. I’ll try to make my case about choosing this rifle by noting some case studies on actual defensive gun uses, terminal ballistics, ease of training with the rifle, advantages of the .22LR for a muzzle-blast sensitive shooter, financial reasons to choose .22LR, methodology for training my wife and family in it’s use, and I will document the ongoing process of developing a training program around this rifle.

The Mission: Find and outfit a firearm for my wife which is reliable, chambered in an empirically effective caliber, will allow her to pass basic shooting standards, with which she can build competence and confidence to protect our family.

IMG_4772

Why not a ‘real’ caliber like 5.56mm, 12 gauge, or a 9mm pistol?

Don’t get me wrong. My wife can shoot her Glock19 very well. She has taken a two day, 1000+ round Fighting Pistol class with Tactical Response, and plenty of follow up practice sessions, including a few with Claude Werner (The Tactical Professor). She shoots it well, but I think she would be the first to admit that shooting the 9mm isn’t a totally pleasant experience for her. I realize some of you are married to women who shoot .357mag in an airlite Smith for 150 rounds in a day and laugh about it. Well my wife can’t. In fact, in my experience, not many people can stand up to extended range sessions in any full-house caliber. She is good for maybe 25-50 rounds of practice before her flinch and trigger jerking starts to get the better of her. Many people, and women in particular, seem to be very sensitive to the over-pressure concussion of gun shots. My wife is noticeably rattled after a short time in an indoor range. So what? So, she doesn’t want to practice, doesn’t want to go to the range, and doesn’t want to maintain what is absolutely a perishable skill. These are all bad things, especially with the chance that she’ll have to make a shot on the home invader while I’m actively fighting them. The need to make a ‘downrange friendly’ shot is a very real possibility. It is a more likely shot for average Joe Gunowner than the ‘hostage shot’ we see in all of the paper targets and cop movies.



Example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1368677/Beauty-queen-Meghan-Brown-kills-burglar-pink-gun-fights-fianc.html

The fight between the two men broke the dining room table and chairs but, as they tussled, Miss Brown produced her pink gun from her bedside table.

‘I had my gun drawn, focused in on him – as he moved, my gun moved. I waited for my shot and when I saw an opening, I fired,’ she told the newspaper.

I’ll admit that it’s a little selfish of me, but I want to give my wife every chance to make her shot if this situation arises. To do this, she needs to enjoy practice and be able to make these kinds of low probability shots cold and on demand. I decided that a Ruger 10/22 rifle could be a good choice based on the advice of my friends and mentors. Let’s talk further about why.

Can the .22LR be effective against human targets?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDvdjdzB_ro?rel=0]

About four years ago I started getting turned on to the idea of .22lr as a pocket gun caliber when The Tactical Professor was writing his Old Man Gun series of posts on a popular self-defense forum, followed by my watching some ballistics gelatin tests of varied .22lr ammo at the Mid-Atlantic Tactical Conference in 2010. Then I read Greg Ellifritz’s An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power research article. Here’s an excerpt from this data collection:

.22 (short, long and long rifle)# of people shot – 154 # of hits – 213, % of hits that were fatal – 34%, Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.38, % of people who were not incapacitated – 31%, One-shot-stop % – 31%, Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 76% %, actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 60%

He goes on to say:

Some people will look at this data and say “He’s telling us all to carry .22s”. That’s not true. Although this study showed that the percentages of people stopped with one shot are similar between almost all handgun cartridges, there’s more to the story. Take a look at two numbers: the percentage of people who did not stop (no matter how many rounds were fired into them) and the one-shot-stop percentage. The lower caliber rounds (.22, .25, .32) had a failure rate that was roughly double that of the higher caliber rounds. The one-shot-stop percentage (where I considered all hits, anywhere on the body) trended generally higher as the round gets more powerful.

So, we have to try to consider all aspects of Greg’s data. We can see that we have an approximate need for 1.4 rounds of .22LR before the attacker stops pressing the attack and a 34% chance of a fatality resulting from quality shot placement. The Ruger 10/22 factory 25 round magazines hold more than 1.4 rounds, so we’re looking good so far. Rifles, in general, are easier to shoot, hold more ammunition, and allow a greater degree of accuracy due to four points of contact with the body, instead of two with the pistol.

With some training, we can improve our chances to make quality hits and affect the desired outcome (for the invader to leave us alone). We have to also be fair and acknowledge the fact that there is a higher probability of non-stops when using small calibers in defensive situations. Their lack of intermediate barrier penetration, their small permanent wound cavity, reliability issues, and all of the other issues with small and light projectiles need to be considered. I personally believe the statistic about failed stops is a shot placement issue and therefor can be trained to be improved (high center chest, ocular cavity hits being key). I don’t have any proof of this, so take that for what it’s worth. Our training needs to address putting a volley of rounds into these areas in a constrained time-frame, which we will talk about soon.

Another issue might be the dedication level of the attackers. Against an opportunistic bad guy, it’s very probable that shooting won’t even be necessary (it often isn’t), just showing the intent and ability to use deadly force will make him remember he has somewhere better to be. Against a home invader, however, it’s possible that you’ll be facing a dedicated attacker who is after you. This is the sort of bad guy that you will have to shoot until you incapacitate them. You will have to make enough holes in the pump works or computer to shut down the attack. The .22LR can help you to this end by allowing rapid followup shots through minimal recoil, high capacity, and minimal muzzle flash. It can be a poor choice based on it’s lack of muzzle energy and occasional poor ignition.

While Greg’s stats are a compilation of actual events (a whole lot of them, in fact) it’s still useful to read a few examples to illustrate some points. Let’s run through a few.

First: http://www.wsbradio.com/news/news/local/gwinnett-home-invasion-suspect-named/nCf3b/

“She was telling him not to hurt her, that she had money in the house.  He then forced her into the bedroom where it’s believed he was going to sexually assault her with the threat of the knife.  The victim was able to retrieve her .22 cal. pistol and responded to his deadly threat with deadly force and shot the suspect multiple times,” said Ritter.

Ritter says the man fled out the back door and then he collapsed in the backyard.  The suspect died at Gwinnett Medical Center.

The notable issue here was the percentage of hits she achieved. As I recall it was 8/9 or 9/10 shots that found their mark. A very good hit ratio. She had done her practice. He was dead as she shot him, but he didn’t realize it until he made it out into the yard. The .22LR has several great benefits that allow one to become proficient, which we will talk about in a later installment.

Second: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2014-08-02/boy-15-shoots-uncle-fathers-defense-police-say

According to the release, Newman came to the home, threatened to kill Rich­ard Green and began punching him. After Newman placed him in a chokehold, Green’s 15-year-old son got a .22-caliber rifle and threatened to shoot if he didn’t release the hold, the statement said.

When Newman didn’t let go, Green’s son fired once, striking Newman in the back, the statement said.

I chose this situation to show that a young man (or even child with proper training) can wield a .22 and make a low probability shot with a friendly downrange. Stories like this made me consider long-guns over pistols.

Third: http://www.wfmj.com/story/21823428/72-year-old-woman-shoots-at-intruder

hen she heard the glass break. The 72-year-old told police that’s when she rushed to her bedroom to retrieve her revolver, and began yelling, “leave me alone” and “get out of here!”

The homeowner says she feared for her life and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. The woman says she then pulled the trigger of the gun a second time and a shot was fired.

That’s when she called 911, and held the intruder at gunpoint.

She can be heard on the 911 tape telling the 26-year-old male suspect, “You better sit down! You better sit.” Then she asks 911 operators if they can hurry and get a police officer to help her.

This one shows that an old woman can wield a .22 revolver and hold down the fort. It also shows the well known fact that rimfire ammo is prone to misfires. Which just stresses the importance of using high quality ammunition to ensure ignition when it matters. Here’s a cool interview Greg Ellifritz had with an older fellow about his use of the .22 revolvers for defense.

The .22LR and ease of practice and training

Even though finding .22LR in stock in today’s market is like finding hen’s teeth, it still is an affordable caliber when you can find it. It can be had in very reliable loads. While these loadings are more expensive than the 550 round bricks, they are not prohibitively expensive. A reliable .22LR rifle will not break the bank. A new Ruger 10/22, for example, can be had for about $200. Add to this the required white light and mount, and possibly a red dot optic, and you’re into a budget home defense rifle for $300-$400. This allows inexpensive practice on an inexpensive rifle that is enjoyable to shoot, not abusive in recoil or noise, reliable with the right ammunition, light weight, and has proven effective in actual situations.

So hopefully you’re following my train of thought on why the .22LR can be used for home defense. I hope I’ve given enough logical evidence to make my point. The next articles in this series will discuss how I’ve outfitted my wife’s rifle, the training program I’m developing with her, and her ongoing training.

Stay Safe and Protect the Brood,

Defensive Daddy

References and Notes:

I want to thank Dr. Sherman of http://revolverscience.wordpress.com/ and Claude Werner of http://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/ for the inspiration to begin this project. Getting this project off the ground has been paying off tremendously in easing my mind when it comes to setting up a firearm for my wife and my mother to use in the event of an emergency if they’re home alone, or in the event that something happens to me during a home invasion and they are the last line of defense between the bad guys and my son.

The .22 Caliber Rifle For Home Defense? (Podcast – Season 2, Ballistic Radio Episode 57 – April 13th, 2014)

An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Real World .22s for Self Defense

Trends in Self Defense Part 2: The Mighty .22LR

Part 2: https://growingupguns.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/the-special-application-22lr-for-home-defense-part-2-the-setup/