I’ve been a “gun guy” since I got my first BB gun at age 8. And no, I did NOT shoot my eye out, as the mother in A Christmas Story frantically warned. While most of the other kids in my posse worshipped John Wayne, I admired John Browning. And I know for certain that I was the only one of us who knew who Elmer Keith and Jeff Cooper were.
Since then, I have ravenously consumed everything written about guns, ammunition and self-defense. Since I became a writer years ago, I’ve always kept a library of the true pioneers in the gun world, both for inspiration and technical reference.
Innovation in Ammunition
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you are likely very much aware of the proliferation of new and technological advances in ammunition. Manufacturers and “wildcatters” have made significant improvements to bullet designs for existing rifle calibers, from Hornady’s LEVERevolution series to entirely new rounds like the now highly regarded 6.5 Creedmoor.
And for those of us who carry firearms for personal protection, the innovations in bullet construction, material and design have been nothing short of amazing. We even have rounds designed to perform well when fired from short barrels commonly used for concealed carry.
We have polymer-tipped bullets designed to prevent clogging when passing through clothing. Solid copper bullets ensure expansion and weight retention. There are even new bullet shapes optimized for defensive purposes — and more are coming.
You can spend hours upon hours just wading through the virtually endless YouTube videos, both professional and amateur, showing everything from exploding water-filled jugs to sophisticated high-speed photography of bullets passing through gelatin blocks.
The Real World
Fact: No matter how impressive a bullet is in the lab, its effects on a real-life human being under highly charged conditions can never be reliably predicted. We’ve all seen those forensic reports where a single small-caliber round dropped an attacker almost instantly. But we’ve also seen countless accounts of assailants being hit multiple times with powerful calibers who continue to advance.
The reason is that there are simply an abundance of variables, including actual velocity at impact (after passing through clothing or other barriers), angle of strike, muscles and/or bones encountered, physiological and psychological state of the assailant, position of the assailant (standing, crouching, running), and on and on.
As a retired combat veteran operator friend of mind once said, “Anybody who claims to be able to predict exactly what will happen in any particular shooting scenario is a bald-faced liar.”
Researching ammo can absolutely be informative and often fun. Just don’t get obsessed with ammo to the exclusion of more important elements of self-defense, like training and practice.
Remember: It’s Skill and Training That Will Save Your Life
Having the latest “magic” bullet in your gun will matter little if you fumble your draw or can’t make solid hits under stress — or, worse, if you were so preoccupied that you got completely blindsided.
Cultivate a situational awareness mindset, then live it. Noticing a threat even a second or two sooner can be the difference between life and death.
Practice drawing your gun from concealment … a lot. Too many folks fail to practice this vitally important skill.
And finally, practice shooting often, cultivating what Wyatt Earp called “deliberate haste” – meaning fast enough, but without sacrificing accuracy. “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”
After all, “Only hits count.”
About John Caile
John Caile, contributing writer for USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine, has more than 35 years of experience in concealed carry training and practical handgun shooting skills. As communications director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, John was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. Certified through the NRA as an instructor of Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Home Firearm Safety and Personal Protection in the Home, John continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida. He has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is frequently published in the press.