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Old July 12, 2009, 03:10 AM   #26
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My guess is your wife, who I assume doesn't shoot much, would like the revolver more than the semi-auto.

ETA: FWIW, my wife likes our old S&W Model 10-5 in .38 Special. So that is our house gun.

Model 10's can be purchased new and alot of used ones are available fairly often. They are nice revolvers for women IMHO.

Here's an example of a nice used one in a six inch barrel. Four inch barrels are readily available also.

Last edited by RDak; July 12, 2009 at 03:17 AM.
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Old July 13, 2009, 01:07 AM   #27
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Here we go,no, get your wife an elephant duster! Lordy, when will us men learn that most women don't look at firearms the same way we do. My wife will shoot .357 mags, but prefers .38 special or .22s. Get her a small, lightweight, .38 special like a j-frame Smith. She will love you for it and maybe even spend some time shooting it with you.
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Old July 13, 2009, 01:52 AM   #28
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Get your wife the 357 and load it with a lightweight bullet in 38+p load and jacketed hollow point like a 110 gr from corbon or hornady critical defense. If she is sensitive to recoil, no point going for the 40 cal. 40 cal won't recoil like 357 but it will be stiffer than 38+p. I would NOT stoke with 38 rather than 38+p. Don't want to go too weak.
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Old July 13, 2009, 04:03 AM   #29
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Get your wife an airweight snubby and stoke it with full snort .357mags....

After one shot you'll have yourself a new gun! (Might not have a wife anymore, but you'll remember her each month when you write the alimony check.)

Seriously, let her pick the one she wants to keep close or buy another if she doesn't like either. Good guns really aren't that expensive.
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Old July 13, 2009, 05:49 AM   #30
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I consider the GP100 to be ideal for the task you described, enough so that I own two (WESHOOT2, ay?).

I own many other choices........
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old July 13, 2009, 06:31 AM   #31
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What she likes today may change as she gets used to shooting, at least that is my experience. One thing that I have run into while teaching several women to shoot hasn't been mentioned and that is grip fit. I have the Cougar in .40 and it is a great weapon for the money, but it has a fairly large grip diameter might be too big for your wife's hands. If you want to go with a .40 auto in that price range, look at the Taurus models, some of them have smaller grip frames, or spend somewhat more and go to the newer autos with the interchangeable grips. The revolver can easily be retrofitted with smaller grips at fairly low cost.
Above all, let her make the decision, unless you are dead set on one of these two guns, let her pick out something. My current girl friend, and the previous one, ended up carrying Bersa .380s. Not what I would have selected, but it works for them, and if bullet placement is the primary factor in self defense, they are both well protected.
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Old July 13, 2009, 11:10 PM   #32
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She's more to be pitied than censured

A female relative of mine who shall remain no better described than that, thought a "pound of protection" Charter Arms 38 Special was "too heavy" to be carried around all day, and she can't rack the slide on a standard automatic to save her life. So, she keeps a 4" Colt Police Positive Special (38 Special) as a bedside gun, while her favorite "carry" gun is a Beretta 950 BS .25 automatic with a tip-up barrel. Yes, I know, I know, and you're right, you're certainly right, but she likes it because 1. it's uber light, and 2. she doesn't have to rack a slide, and 3. she gets a couple of extra rounds over a revolver. She's pretty good with that little gun too in her Scarlett O'Hara way: ("I can shoot straight if I don't have to shoot too far!") But that little Beretta is so light in weight that it can actually be a problem. She almost got arrested trying to go into a courthouse with it. (She forgot she had it with her! Thank goodness, she had a concealed carry license, so they just turned her away instead of arresting her!.) But criticism does no good. She may not know guns, but she knows what she likes.
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Old July 14, 2009, 02:56 PM   #33
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try a 9mm for the wife. my wife carries her p85. which used to be mine, by the way. and she loves it....
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Old July 14, 2009, 04:37 PM   #34
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The .38 special was the most used Police cartridge for over 70 years. And that is because it worked, and it was accurate.
The .38 is a pretty good round now. However, there was a time when it was woefully ineffective in meeting the needs of street cops. Even though it was in wide use, the old lead round nose was known for over penetration and small wound channels. Many o gunfight saw six rounds placed in the torso with inadequate results. However, in it's current offerings, I think it is a very nice round. Even the plus P is a pleasure to shoot from a medium frame revolver and a powder puff from N frames.

My wife has the choice of two offerings in our home: A baby Glock 9mm and a K frame .38 special. I prefer her to use the revolver due to the fact that she has no interest whatsoever in shooting firearms unless there is a bad guy on the other end. She will not practice and couldn't clear a jam, literally to save her life. "Six four sure" is best for her. It is specific to the individual woman on what she should use.
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Old July 14, 2009, 06:09 PM   #35
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I am in the very same boat, my family members (all female) appreciate guns and would depend on them if they needed them but they are just not "into" them. Every time I quiz them on how to charge, clear, safe any of my auto's it's like starting all over again the basics of safe gun handling. As I was showing them the procedures for charging, clearing, safetying my auto they were perplexed at how fast I did it. They are just not efficient at it and not confident and their lack of consistant frequent training or familiarization showed.
This is the exact reason I bought a revolver and even have one at all. I am intimately familiar with all my weapons and could take each and every one of them apart and put them back together again in the dark, load it, empty it, and ensure they are in a safe condition. But that's me I'm a gun freak and am anal about the proper procedures. They are not. As simple as my favorite pistols are (Glocks 23 & 21) I am concerned about their ability to make the weapon safe if they had to charge it and either use it or not. With the revolver none of this is an issue. Pick it up shoot it or not shoot it, reload if necessary, then put it back, simple.
I do not like the .357 magnum cartridge, it's just too much for a handgun, especially if depended upon for defense. At the range with safety glasses and earplugs........fine. However, the recoil and muzzle blast preclude confidence with my family members. There are many fine and effective choices available in .38spl that aren't punishing and that they feel comfortable shooting. So for them it's a no-brainer. As a matter of fact I'm looking at picking up another S&W Model 10 so that one is always available to them whether they are home together or seperated on trips.
I don't mean to turn this into a revolver vs. auto thread, but there are situations where the .38 out of a revolver is more appropriate than a .40 out of an auto, I am confident with both, but some just aren't.
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Old July 14, 2009, 06:57 PM   #36
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I love reading into how "If it's good enough for the FBI, then we should all be shooting the 40". The truth is, the main reason the 40 was chosen over existing 38spl or 45acp is because of magazine capacity. And for a law enforcement individual who is in many times OFFENSIVELY going into a potential shooting; the quantity in the magazine has importance. For the average civilian, 5-6 shots in a revolver or 7-8 shots in a 45acp (And there's plenty of models other than a 1911A1); that is plenty of rounds.

The gp revolver in 357 is one of the BEST all around guns/calibers there are. There is absolutely NOTHING that the 40sw can do that the 357 magnum can't. You can make a 357 magnum revolver as weak as a strong 380auto with the right 38spl loads; as medium as a 45acp with 38+p or low end 357 mag loads; or as hot as anything you want to pull the trigger on. Minus of course the 44 magnum and mega hunting revolvers like the 460 or 500. The 40sw doesn't even come close to the capabilities of the 357 magnum revolver. There can definitely be some debate, as in the other thread, of comparing a 40sw to a 45acp. That's mainly because the 45acp has a limited amount of loads. But when it comes to comparing it to the capabilities of the 357 magnum, that's not even worth a debate.

The only advantage the 40sw has over the 357 magnum is that the bullet is slightly bigger in diameter and it carries more rounds. But in my opinion, for a civilian, more rounds is a totally Non-Issue. There is no other handgun, especially for self defense, that has the versatility of the 357 magnum. Certain semi-autos have the advantage of easier to conceal carry. Some of the advantage of being inexpensive to shoot because it's a military round and surplus ammo is readily available (9mm, 45acp, 9mm mak). But if I could only have 1 handgun; or if it was a handgun that my wife or someone else was going to use but not go and shoot/practice as often as I do; (Mainly a self defense gun); there is no doubt in the world I be recommending a revolver, and a 357 magnum at that. Simplest to shoot. Lest chance of screwing up. Point and click. And loads as LIGHT as 37 grains for personal defense, up to 200 grains for hunting deer. Definitely go with the 38spl/357 magnum. Let the 40sw debate stay against the 9mm or 45acp. At least it has a chance in that argument. FWIW: I carry a 45acp, 9mm Mak, or 32acp depending on the season. I like semi-auto for conceal carry. For the experienced shooter or the right carry, the semi-auto is excellent. In the home; where the wife, daughter, or I might need to grab an available gun, it's a S&W Model 13-1 357 magnum. Or of course the remington 12 gauge model 870 shotgun. And if my wife was going to carry, it would be a small ruger or smith revolver in 357 magnum. No brainer. POINT-AND-CLICK!
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Old July 14, 2009, 07:13 PM   #37
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This is the KEY point to consider in your situation: have your wife fire both guns and let HER decide which she'd prefer to have if the occasion ever arises.
She needs to figure out which she likes better. If you wanted, you could hot rod the .38 special in a GP-100 and the ballistics will make it close to .40 S&W (Buffalo Bore makes a .38 +P that will knock your socks off).

That said, I have a Security Six in .38 Special (close enough to a GP-100) and a Beretta Cougar 8040. I like them both but neither of them is my home defense weapon. I keep a Beretta Centurion 96 DAO ready in case the need arises. It is less prone to cycling problems than the Cougar, is heavier and less prone to recoil issues than the Cougar, carries 4-5 more rounds than the Security Six and it can be used as one hell of a hammer if I do run out of ammunition.

Buy both, let her decide which one she likes. Sell the other.
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Old July 15, 2009, 06:11 AM   #38
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The .38 Special is by far the much more proven round, with a far long history of usage by police departments. In comparison to it, the .40 S&W is a new comer, and is thus much less proven.

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Old July 15, 2009, 11:48 AM   #39
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As a matter of fact I'm looking at picking up another S&W Model 10 so that one is always available to them whether they are home together or seperated on trips.
+1 on that. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get them both an extra one that way they have an instant New York reload.
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Old July 15, 2009, 12:08 PM   #40
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I don't even think this is a contest the .357 wins hands down.

Yes, a .40 is better than a .38 and I would rather have the .40

The revolver gives you so many more options. Your wife can shoot
.38's and the recoil will be low. You can load it with .38 +P if she
wants it for HD. You have the option of shooting .357's too. If you
get into handloading then there are lot's of options with the revolver.

My vote goes for the .357.. then you can pick your ammo.
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Old July 15, 2009, 01:07 PM   #41
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Personally, I vote for the revolver, due to simplicity. And as stated by several other posters, there is a wide range of ammo selections on the market.

Practice, Practice,Practice. Drill, Drill, Drill. To complete the home defense package a speed loader/strip and a quality flashlight (Surefire) should be with the gun. Also have a plan of action, and drill on it.

Shot placement and First up, best dressed. Practice builds confidence.
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Old July 15, 2009, 04:07 PM   #42
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Your choice between .40 and .357 mag?

Go with the Ruger GP100 in .357 magnum.

Why, because you are using it for a self defense gun at home (not carry) and it is easier to pick up and use in an emergency than an automatic pistol (for most folks anyway). It takes a lot more training with an automatic than a revolver. Although, you need to train on a revolver and practice firing it as well.

The neat thing about the .357 mag is you have three different rounds you can shoot in this pistol, (instead of only one with the .40). The .38 special, .38 special +P and the .357 mag. As your wife becomes more familiar with the Ruger revolver, she or you may want to step up to more power with the +P or .357 mag. Good luck.
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Old July 16, 2009, 05:21 AM   #43
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Both my wife and I are CCW holders,and both of us carry .40 caliber autos as our main guns;and revolvers as our back-up peices. I am former military (Army Ranger) and now I am a part-time rangemaster and teach "Tactical rifle and pistol self-defense classes;level 1,beginners, level 2, advanced and level 3,expert. My wife has taken and passed all three of my classes useing her Kahr CW40,loaded with .40 S&W 180gr Remington Golden sabers,and her back-up gun a Taurus M85 revolver loaded with Speer Gold Dot 135gr .38+p EJHPs. I myself carry a Springfield XD40 subcompact loaded with Speer .40+p 180gr Deep-Core JHPs,and my back-up gun is a S&W 640-3 .357 Magnum loaded with 158gr Federal Hydro-shoks. I am at the range 5 days a week and my wife comes to practice at least twice a week. I recomend tryin' as many combo's of ammo and firearm you can over a period of several weeks and see which gun and ammo yields the best results.After that take classes and then drill and practice as often as possable.
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Old July 21, 2009, 04:27 AM   #44
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GP-100(38/357) vs Cougar (40 S&W)

I note that you and your wife do not plan to carry, so this will likely be a home defense choice. As many have already suggested, let HER decide what SHE likes. Given the choices you present, my hands-down choice would be the GP-100. I am a retired cop and carried a GP for several years when I worked for an agency that allowed us to carry our own weapon. I always felt comfortable with the gun as it was heavy, comfortable to shoot, accurate, and reliable. I loved the fact that it could be taken down to its smallest components (although for the cylinder assembly, you need three hands), cleaned, and put back together. If you go this route, PLEASE spend the extrea twenty or forty bucks and get the STAINLESS version. It will pay for itself in terms of low maintenance and lack of worry over the finish. While stainless may rust, it will not pit and is much more forgiving. My duty and OD model was the adjustable sight GP with heavy barrel. It came with the large grips which I could handle but did not like that much. I ordered a pair of the smaller, rounded grips as they fit my hand much better.

When I transitioned to a department that made me carry their gun, I let my mother have the GP as a bedside and glove box gun. To this day, her and my step-dad enjoy shooting it and the fixed sight (heavy barrel) model that I purchased before Y2k. With the revolver, there are no magazine springs to worry about losing their pressure after sitting idle and loaded for years, as with the semi-auto. Also, should you get any semi-auto, PLEASE get numerous extra mags for it as they are subject to becoming unavailable at inopportune times in the future.

While any cartridge or load has had its failures, I am really suspicious of the
.40 in particular. When they first came out, I used to think that if I were a police chief, I'd try and have them issued to my people because they are a larger OD bullet, heavier (depending on load), light recoil, decent capacity mags, etc. Over the years, I have read and heard too many accounts of this cartridge failing to stop bad guys with what should have been decent hits. I am aware of one double "catastrophic failure" in my local area where a thug and a police officer shot it out with .40's. The officer was hit in the eye (a BB to the eye would put me down) with the bad guy's .40 and returned fire, striking the bad guy in the head. The bad guy was arrested a day or two later when he finally sought medical treatment at a local ER. The officer (one hell of a cop, IMHO) returned to duty, minus the eye and the bad guy went to jail. While this was a freakish event, it highlighted numerous shootings, frequently involving multiple hits, that seemed to be far too common with the .40, wherein the bad guy frequently didn't go down quickly and almost NEVER died. Heck, with a 9mm, people do die on occasion when shot with them.

These days, in my retirement, I carry a Glock 29 (10mm small version) loaded with 175 gr Silvertips and a Ruger LCP loaded with T-Series.

I have a Glock 23 and 26. They are light, convenient, and handy guns, but I just cannot bring myself to chance carrying the .40, even though I have them loaded with 180gr T-Series, which seem to be making a better showing for the .40 in actual shootings.

If you go with the .40, why not consider a Glock over the Cougar? They are utterly reliable out of the box, street proven, and as rust resistant as stainless or better.

Recently, in a northern SC county, there was a serial murderer on the loose and the anxiety of the residents of this area was off the charts. People literally were unable to sleep at night in that county because they feared that they might be next. With a stainless gun or a Glock, if your wife is at home alone and needs to take a shower, she can have it in the bathroom with her without fear of the moisture in the air corroding the gun. Think about it, where are any of us more vulnerable than when in the bathroom, for whatever reason.

Take care!
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Old July 21, 2009, 09:52 AM   #45
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So cbuchanan87, what did you decide to do after all the members here were kind enough to answer your question?
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Old July 22, 2009, 06:55 AM   #46
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I whould have to go with the .40cal over the .38,and I'll tell ya why. My wife is 5'2" and about 105lbs and although she does carry a .38 as a back-up gun she favors her Kahr CW40.(I'm sure some body will dispute this but .40 caliber ammo can be as much as 20-30% more powerful then even the best .38+p) .40 cal is a great round, but it don't matter what you'er shootin' if yer not prepared to defend yourself. Take classes, go to the range often and drill on a regular basis.You'll be glad you did if the worst happens.
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Old July 22, 2009, 10:09 AM   #47
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Has she shot either of the two? Even held them?

If I were to choose, I'd go with the revolver. It's more versatile, ammo-wise. .38 SPL+P will definitely thump a person and there is a lot of fairly affordable ammo available for practice purposes. A revolver is a very user-friendly format and, if your wife isn't one to practice a lot, I'd go revolver. I have a Model 10 next to my bed, btw.

PS: Yesterday, I traded for a GP100, my first. I couldn't find one bad comment about them so I traded a flat top Single Six and $50 for one. Can't wait until it arrives.
A Makarov? Simple, easy and works perfectly every time. ¡Vale!
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Old July 26, 2009, 04:59 AM   #48
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There is no comparing the two.

The 38 special is weak compared to the 40 S&W.

In velocity with bullet weights considered,the 40 S&W will win everytime.

Compared with the the 357 magnum,it's a much different story.

But the 357 is a cannon to shoot without hearing protection.

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Old July 26, 2009, 01:49 PM   #49
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You can't go wrong with GP100 for home defense. If it's kept loaded, you can count on picking it up, pulling the trigger, and it delivering the goods provided you have good ammo and know how to use it. When you get awakened at 3am by a bump in the night, I think simplicity is the way to go, but I tend to prefer a revolver anyway. I'd be careful about bumping up to 357 mag though without some serious practice. It would be better to hit the target with 38+p than miss with 357 mag. If the shooter can control the 357 mag, then you might want the extra power on your side. 38+p well-placed though is plenty for most situations. I wouldn't worry too much about the ballistics of 38 vs 40 cal for most home defense scenarios.
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Old July 26, 2009, 03:55 PM   #50
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38 special vs .40 S&W?

Hi cbuchanan87,

You've had about every kind of advice so far, so I'll be the next idiot in line, and I'll just repeat what a few have said. Get your hands on one of each of the pistols involved, and take your wife to a well run range, and let her shoot both. I hoping you have enough experience with both the .38 Special revolver and the .40 S&W automatic to instruct her in how to handle both pistols properly. If you do not, please find someone who has the necessary instruction. I think, in my feeble old mind, that her decision will come down to how well she can rack the slide of the Stoeger.

I don't know the Stoeger Couger other than from gun magazines, but am getting to know the .40 S&W cartridge pretty well, though I'm learning it in a smaller and lighter pistol, the SA XD40 SC, which has quite a bit of combined recoil and muzzle blast with high performance ammunition, that combined with the high center of gravity causes a lot of what other posters call "SNAP". I would not want to put that pistol in the hands of a small woman who had not done much, or any shooting, without a lot of solid training. My late wife was 5 foot nothing and 125 lbs and had never fired a pistol before we met, but came to be a good shot with a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum, but after a two shots from the .454 Casull decided it was not her weapon (but she was game!). Her favorite handgun was my old S&W Model 19 .357 and Remington 125gn +P+ JHPs. She could stand all day and shoot the 10 ring out of a 25 yard target at that range. After gaining strength in her hands from shooting regularly she became able to rack a 1911 as well as anyone. I am sure that your wife can learn to to anything, as long as she has both the desire and proper instruction. To the self defense merits of the .38 Special versus the .40 S&W, I would say that with quality defensive ammunition currently available (that is if you can FIND any available) both cartridges will do the job as long as the shooter manages to put the shots into the vital organs. A shot from a howitzer that does not hit vital organs will not match a .32 that passes from side to side, through the heart and both lungs.

I have had the misfortune to have been around a great deal of violence with firearms, in the Mekong Delta while in the Navy, as a Peace Officer back home, and on one occasion in my own home, and the only link I can see that kept me alive through all of it was the bullets went through the vital organs of my opponents. The most powerful pistol I ever shot at a person with was plain military .45 ACP 230 gn Hardball, the rest were all .38 Special +P HPs. I'm not a "fast" gunman, not nearly as quick as most of the folks I shoot CAS with; but I become deliberate in a life or death situation. I just don't fumble around much, probably because I practice, practice, then practice some more. And, as Theodore Roosevelt said, "Don't hit at all if you can help it; don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - New York City February 17, 1899.
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