Soon after the Hurricane Katrina disaster we discovered Survivalblog and have since read thousands of (for us) Heaven sent articles. These last seven years has changed our lives for the better. We are dedicated preppers, now living on our new-to-us farm/retreat. We are busy setting it up properly for SHTF, and making good progress. We cannot thank you enough Mr. Rawles.
Prepping is preparing for the day things change for the worse. In all our planning, it never occurred to me that it might be me that changed. I seem to have hit that spot where I was forced to recognize that I simply cannot do (as well) all the things I used to do. I am in good shape and pay attention to my intake, nevertheless a few of my body components are not up to spec anymore. I am 60+ years young and I work hard six days a week on our little farm/retreat. But somehow those hay bales seem to be heavier this year. My smart alec doctor suggested my aches and pains are the price I must pay for the indiscretions of my youth (skiing accidents, etc).
There is little I can do about this, other than to (finally) pay attention to my body and plan for being a bit less able. With that in mind, I soon realized that shooting my pistol had become a bit of a chore rather than the weekly fun shoot of 50 rounds, and once a month, 100. My marksmanship was really not what it should be either.
I offer the following as a different viewpoint, not as a recommendation per say. I've been carrying a pistol all day, every day, for almost two years. For serious full time concealed carry these factors are crucial: Pistol size, weight, recoil, and accuracy with that weapon in an adrenaline-rushed shooting situation.
When we first realized the time for us to carry full time had come, I already owned a big ol' .45 semi-auto. So I strapped it on and went about my business. I could hardly wait to take the darn thing off by the end of that 16 hour day. So I searched the Internet and found a small and light weight 9mm, bought one locally and carried it on my hip for almost two years. It was so comfortable to carry, sometimes I simply forgot I had it on. Our local Post Office lady reminded me that if she can't carry in there, then I can't either. Oops.
However, as with all firearms, the lighter it is, the less mass it has to counter recoil. That little 21 ounce 9mm kicks like a mule. Its not fun to shoot anymore after just a few rounds, not nearly enough for the weekly stay-in-shooting-shape routine I found myself avoiding.
What I needed was a pistol for full time carry that had a balance between size, weight, and my ability to use it expertly. So I searched the internet looking for input from professional gun folks. I was looking for thoughtful consideration of easy-to-carry-all-day (16 hours or so) and easy-to-shoot-well pistols for each of us, as opposed to "bigger is better". I was surprised to find quite a few good quality articles addressing my concerns written by well qualified professionals. They often pointed out that shot placement is, 100% of the time, the most important factor in any shooting, not the caliber of the bullet nor the power of the cartridge, though these are important factors. They also pointed out some facts in favor of (believe it or not) the humble .22 LR (Long Rifle)... for some folks, in particular those that cannot handle something bigger. The .22 LR can be effective if the shooter does his/her part, which means a lot of practice, no matter the caliber.
In the time I've been carrying full time I learned a thing or two. For all day carry, size makes a huge difference. A large pistol gets in my way frequently (working on my farm or sitting at my desk), and it is quite difficult to conceal. A small pistol is much, much easier to conceal on my person. The weight of the pistol is a big deal too, the lighter it is the less of a problem it is (like keeping one's pants where they belong). Way to many folks go to all the expense, hassle and time to get their CCW, only to wind up not carrying because of the discomfort and inconvenience of carrying their chosen weapon.
Another important factor for me is the monthly cost of replacement ammunition, not to mention ammo availability from time to time (remember 2008?). I believe in having quite a bit of ammo stored for the time it is not easily available, if at all. Having 1,000 rounds sounds pretty good till you do the math. For me, that is only a four month supply. I once read that 5,000 rounds per weapon, per person, is an absolute minimum. Prices are not going down, so this makes sense on several fronts. At about $240 per case of 1,000, five cases is $1,200. Add my wife to the equation, and we double that. To be absolutely honest though, having twice that much ammo is where we are comfortable. That is $4,800 for just pistol ammo (20,000 rounds, is a three+ year supply for the two of us).
Ammo for our rifles was a whopper too. But prepping is not only about defense of course, we all need to plan for, get and store properly, our beans, band aids and bullets, plus train and practice with that same food, water, gear, etc - it never seems to end. We budget, plan and apply what we've learned, but we still have to make tough choices, often. Stocking 20,000 the rounds of .22 LR for our pistols was less than $750. Add to that spare magazines (five per weapon, bare minimum), cleaning supplies, spare parts, etc, it is still expensive, but less than 20% that of our previous pistols. Now that we have light, good quality .22 LR pistols (Ruger SR22), we both actually shoot like we should, in terms of marksmanship and frequency. Plus shooting the .22s is still fun and doesn't hurt. We are not getting any younger, it is only going to get tougher as we continue to age.
At 4 cents a round, together we spend about $20 a month on replacement .22 LR, and we are much better shooters. After shooting 100 rounds insequence, the only thing that hurts is my face, from grinning. Also, with my vastly improved shooting skill, my confidence in all things pistol has greatly improved.
Now for the effectiveness of the .22 LR in self defense. A few years ago I read a study written for the FBI on the wounding characteristics of just about every pistol caliber (see this web page for the full study). Briefly, the study included several thousand real life shootings over a number of years. The end result is that no caliber stops a crazed criminal instantly. A hit to the heart will kill for sure, but a crazed person (or someone loaded with drugs) can function for up to 10 seconds before death. That is a very long time if that crazy person is still shooting at you.
The single exception to this finding is when the bullet disrupts the central nervous system: either a hit to the upper spine, brain stem, or brain. The study went on to point out that a hit to the central nervous system from any caliber of pistol, from the .44 Magnum all the way down to the lowly .22 LR will have the same result: instantly stopping the aggressor. Shot placement is, 100% of the time, the most important factor in any shooting.
Training classes in self defense teach us to aim for center-of-mass, the chest of your attacker. Our self defense shooting will be aimed for the center-of-head. [The "ocular window."] There are a lot of good counter arguments to this, especially the difficulty of aiming well while under the very high stress of a shooting situation. I am not discounting the tried and true of the experts, I am trying to make the .22 LR work for our aging bodies. Center of mass for a .22 LR is more than likely not going to be effective, thus the brain is our only logical choice.
One police officer I interviewed told me about the one time he was in a gun battle. Rather than the Weaver stance, he hid behind the fender of his patrol car to return fire. He told me that from that day forward he practiced two more methods of hitting his target. The first is point shooting (not aiming per say, but pointing the pistol), the other is flash aiming.
Whatever the method of aiming a .22 LR in a self defense scenario, my intent is to triple-tap the aggressor's face. It will be what I'm looking at anyway, that could save me a microsecond or two over shifting my sight to center of mass. The brain is much bigger than the heart, and it is not covered with heavy clothing (a factor with most pistol calibers). But a glancing hit to the skull will not work, one must make a direct hit.
Of course I wish our bodies and budget would allow us to carry something bigger. What we've done is figured out a way we can still defend ourselves. A .22 LR pistol for self defense is nearly worthless without constant and thorough practice, including moving targets and moving through various as-real-as-I-can-make-them scenarios.
Well there you have it, my thinking on practical all-day-carry and self defense with a pistol for us. Knowing that shot placement is, 100% of the time, the most important factor in any shooting, we had better be excellent pistol marksmen above all other pistol shooting factors.
You and your family will remain in our prayers Mr. Rawles. Thanks again for your hard work and devotion to preparedness and survivalism.JWR Adds: While I do not recommend any .22 rimfire for self defense, if you feel you must, then make it one with a large magazine capacity, such as a Kel-Tec PMR-30. It weighs just 13.6 ounces, unloaded, which makes it suitable for all-day carry. With 30 rounds of .22 Magnum available, you'll at least have a fighting chance. And BTW, the point shooting approach that you mentioned is not compatible with your goal of getting central nervous system hits with a .22. That requires deliberate, aimed fire. Carrying a .22 rimfire for self defense will take a tremendous amount of practice. (Many thousands of rounds.) I suggest that you do nearly all of it from 3 to 30 yards using human silhouette targets, taking exclusively head shots. Train like you'll fight! Thankfully, your training ammo costs will be relatively low.
Also, keep in mind that if you do any dry practice, you will need to keep a fired piece of brass in the chamber. (Unlike centerfire guns, any rimfire can quickly have its chamber galled by dry practice with an empty chamber.)