Thoughts on Self-Defense

submitted by ARL contributor Harry Tuttle

The Basic Right To Self-Defense

The right to self-defense is a basic principle, both to the Constitution and to Natural Law.   No political diatribe here; if you don’t agree, just go away.  There’s really just no point in arguing with people who don’t understand the most basic principles of individual liberty and personal sovereignty.  Especially those who expect others to defend them.

It ought to suffice to say that the ability to defend one’s self (along with one’s family, neighbors, and state) is the only material barrier lying between basic liberty and the will of those who would deny that right, not to mention all of the others.  And, chances are pretty darned good that, if you don’t believe a human being has the right to defend its own existence, all those remaining “rights” aren’t that sacrosanct either.

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C.S. Lewis

 The same might be said of the right of self-defense among all the other rights.  Enough said…..well, almost.

The Citizen’s Obligation to Be Armed

I’ll go one step further and add that not only do individuals have the right, they may well have the obligation to provide for “the common defense”, meaning, in effect, that – yes – we are our brother’s keepers. 

The rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, like all rights, come with responsibilities.  One of them, in my opinion, is to look out for the weakest among us.  That may well include the progressive liberal who not only trusts their government, but distrusts me. 

Moreover, the more we look out for ourselves and others, the less government we need.  This is a biggish part of the whole “self-governance” concept.  No surprise, it’s also the long-held hallmark of the difference between the citizen and the serf.  Pick your poison.

OK, now, enough said.

Arm Thyself, Pilgrim

The basic self-defense battery will likely depend on your situation and budget.  Like all “reasonable life” solutions, there’s no single best fit.  But, here are a few basic recommendations.

Low-Budget Entry For the City & the ‘Burbs

  •  A basic, five-shot revolver chambered in .357 magnum, such as: the Ruger SP101.
  • Reasoning:  This is the simplest, smallest, concealable, most reliable, confirmed man-stopper on the planet.  They’re affordable and easy to use.  They can also fire the lower powered .38 special for practice or carry, the least powerful cartridge I can recommend.

Mid-Level Budget & Experience for the City & the ‘Burbs

  • Add a simple pump shotgun and/or a second .357 revolver to the battery, as budget allows and need may require.  The standard shotgun is chambered in 12 gauge, but a 20 gauge might make better sense for women or light-framed men.  They’re lighter, for one, and have reduced loads with less risk of over-penetration when fired indoors.  (In fact, there are special, frangible defense loads available for both if that is a concern.)  Good models to consider would include the Mossberg 500 or 590 and the Remington 870 Tactical.
  • Reasoning:  Every adult in the home should have access to and experience with a firearm.  The shotgun is perhaps the most useful addition after the basic handgun requirements have been met.

Advanced Budget & Experience for the City

  • If you don’t (yet) have the resources or opportunity (or wisdom?) to have moved to the country, but have a bit more money and experience, it may be time to consider a semi-automatic pistol.  Unfortunately, many novices begin with the semi-auto and, too often, don’t have a clue how to safely carry, use, or maintain such a weapon. 
  • Some are more complicated than others, but many do not have “safeties” as popularly depicted in the movies and books.  It is harder to confirm whether or not they are loaded, they are more difficult to unload, they may require more wrist strength and, of course, they usually cost quite a bit more. 
  • A number of useful chamberings are available, but the most useful, at the moment would be the .40 S&W.  I’m personally fond of the .45 ACP, but that’s my anachronistic character.  The smallest load considered should be the .380 ACP.  Recommended models might include the Glock 19 (or 23) or the Sig Sauer P229, among many others.
  • Reasoning:  There are tactical advantages to the semi-auto, however, they are more expensive and more difficult for the novice shooter to master.  See more good commentary at Chuck Hawks site.

Low-Budget Entry for the Country

  • Probably no different from that of the city dweller, but the need for concealment is generally reduced.  Consider a six-shot, full frame .357 revolver (love those S&W 686 wheel-guns ).  A variety of older ones are often more available and affordable, which might leave room in the budget for a useful .22 rifle or 12 gauge shotgun, depending on the hunting opportunities in your area.
  • Reasoning:  If the revolver is not as likely to leave the home, go big:  they may be easier to wield and absorb recoil, they might be cheaper.  And, in the country, you’ll want that second addition all the sooner. 

 Mid-Level Budget & Experience for the Country

  • As stated above, there’s probably more immediate need in for long-guns of some sort in the country.  First, the distances you’ll be dealing with may be longer, notably for actual hunting.  The right choice here may be for a dual purpose second or third addition to the battery. 
  • Words of Wisdom:  The pistol is what I use to get to my real gun. 
  • Adding both a rifle (or two) along with a shotgun may make more sense than a second pistol or revolver.  If you are going to hunt, stick with the tried and true, a bolt-action deer rifle in .308 Winchester, .30-06 Winchester, or .270 Remington or the classic stand-by:  a lever gun in .30-30 Winchester.  Some may be had for very reasonable cost, like the Marlin 336.  Even if you don’t hunt, a lever gun is a great defensive weapon in the country.
  • Reasoning:  There’s just more to shoot at in the country.  You can even do it in your yard in some places.  You can practice.  Wow.  If you’re never going to hunt “big game”, consider smaller cartridges and, possibly, a military-style semi-auto such as the Ruger Mini-14 or an AR-15 of some sort (Ho, Bushmaster).  These are still very good “varmint” weapons and are a boat-load of recreational fun.

Advanced Budget & Experience for the Country

  • What can I add here except that it’s sort of up to you at this point.  There are so many possibilities.  Add a full-size “battle rifle” (for the day the SHTF), a dedicated “trail gun”, a target or long-distance shooting platform, learn to re-load.  Your choice. 
  • Again, the need for long-guns and shotguns may well be greater here.  No need to go crazy, more stuff takes more care, more zeroing, more ammo, more accessories like scopes, slings, cases, spare magazines, etc.  Find the simple solution if you can.  One to give some real thought to is the so-called Scout Rifle, see these links.
  • Reasoning:  We might all feel like Phil Graham (“I have more guns than I need but fewer than I want.”) But, there’s no need to go overboard, unless you’re a true collector.  Guns, believe it or not, actually do make pretty good “hard asset” investments.

Closing Thoughts

Be armed, be smart.  Remember the Police, well-trained and earnest though they might be, generally only respond to criminal activity after the fact.  In the country (or even the city) that response can seem a bit on the long side if you’re on the wrong end of it.  You are responsible for yourself.  That’s a key point.

Talk to a gun owner, even go to a gun show, and you’ll be surprised just how knowledgable, accommodating, and friendly their response will be.  Also, in my experience, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing the thrill of empowerment that women, in particular, get when mastering this much-maligned and much-misrepresented skill.

Get trained.  Don’t be some cro magnon monkey with a gun.  Like many useful tools, guns are not toys and shouldn’t be treated as such.  Neither should they be used to compensate for deficiencies of character.   Be a peace-maker first, and then buy one and learn to use it.

Surprise yourself.  Be a citizen.

The “Ideal Battery”

Here’s one (very knowledgable) man’s opinion for an economical battery.

And, at the risk of violating the principle of “watch out for the man with one rifle“, here’s my ideal, though less economical battery:

  • Ruger SP101 or S&W 686, .357 magnum
  • S&W 317 Kit Gun, .22 cal.
  • Sig Sauer P220, .45 ACP
  • Ruger Blackhawk, .45 ACP and .45 LC
  • Ruger 10/22, .22 cal.
  • Mossberg 500, 12 gauge, interchangeable barrel set.
  • Winchester Model 70, .308 Winchester
  • Ruger Mini-14 or Bushmaster XM15
  • Springfield M1A Scout Squad

2 responses to “Thoughts on Self-Defense

  1. I’d very much like to see a gun I recently saw called a “Colt M-4…can you show me this gun and an approx. price?

    • Nancy –

      Thanks for the question. The Colt M4 is not generally available to the public, unless you live in a state that permits Type II/NFA weapons ownership and have the required ATF tax stamp. More info is available here.

      As for the rest of us, perhaps, you’d best start here with a little background on the AR-15, which has become a more generic term for the semi-automatic (civilian) version of the original Colt M-16. There are lots of manufacturers, but my preference has been Bushmaster, which makes several high-quality models. Hope that helps. HT

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