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Old February 16, 2000, 09:08 PM   #1
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i've seen this quote somewhere, i don't know where or who said it, and i was just wondering: isn't the handgun sufficient in-itself for the average suburban homeowner in almost any reasonably conceivable self-defense situation?
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Old February 16, 2000, 09:18 PM   #2
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You have seen the quote more than once right here on TFL. I do believe the reference is by in large intended for law enforcement officers.

I know a shotgun is probably the better tool for personal defense, but I keep a .45 by the bed and the 12 ga. in the safe anyway.
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Old February 16, 2000, 09:19 PM   #3
Robert Foote
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Well, it's sure true as hell out here in the sagebrush. (Lived in a city long enough to get retired--NEVER AGAIN.)

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Old February 16, 2000, 09:24 PM   #4
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It sounds very manly, but most gunfights are won or lost in a couple of seconds and occur with 20 feet maximum (and usually much less)seperating the folks involved. The chances are quite high that if you're focused on anything other than the gun in your hand, you'll be dead - long before you can think about a weapon (rifle or nuclear bomb) you don't have with you. Regards, Dennis
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Old February 16, 2000, 09:39 PM   #5
Glenn E. Meyer
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Clint Smith from ThunderRanch and it
applies to civilians as well IIRC.
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Old February 17, 2000, 04:50 AM   #6
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The implication is that any handgun is ballistically anemic for self defense, especially "one shot stops". The rifle or shotgun are the only weapons that can deliver the needed energy to bet your life on.
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Old February 17, 2000, 05:49 AM   #7
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The Quote is really meant for LEO's, think about it, if you kept a long gun in your car and were out on the streets it would apply to you too. However, if you are talking home defense, the rifle or shotgun should have been the first defensive weapon you tried to acquire unless you are carrying a handgun while at home. One could engage in "what if's" all day but practically speaking, a handgun is purely a defensive weapon one conceals on their person while amongst the mostly civilized populace who do not wish to encounter firearms or accept their presence.
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Old February 17, 2000, 05:55 AM   #8
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Until I figure out some way I can comfortably carry a concealed shotgun or rifle, I'll have to stick with a measly Glock 29 or Taurus M445 to protect my hide.

Besides, the local authorities or politicans in Nashville wouldn't understand or approve anything more 'potent' anyway...

...defend the 2nd., it protects us all.
No fate but what we make...
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Old February 17, 2000, 09:58 AM   #9
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The quote is, You never take a handgun to a gun fight. If you know that you are going into trouble, take a long gun. True enough, this is for us LEOs primarily, because there are times when we have to go on calls where we know that there is an armed subject there waiting on us. Man with a gun calls are not that uncommon. But if I knew that I had a bad situtation going down and I had a choice, as a citizen. It would be a rifle/shotgun rather than a pistol. But if you can, and there is time, call 911 and let the people who get paid to handle this kind of thing, take care of it...7th Fleet


[This message has been edited by 7th Fleet (edited February 17, 2000).]
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Old February 17, 2000, 10:14 AM   #10
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I'd carry my carbine more often, but it keeps chaffing my knees when I carry it inside the waste band.

Not only that, maitre de's get so testy about it when I try to set it in the chair next to me...

Triggers exist to be pulled... again and again.
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Old February 17, 2000, 01:02 PM   #11
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The quote is from Clint Smith and it applies to everybody. It's a cute way of saying a handgun is to have available always (when trouble is "unexpected"), but if you know a fight's coming get the long gun (or don't go there).
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Old February 17, 2000, 01:46 PM   #12
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See, told you so. Thanks, Dave.
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Old February 17, 2000, 07:48 PM   #13
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The first time I heard the quote was in an article about Clint Smith/Thunder Ranch. I think the whole quote is "A handgun is for fighting your way to your rifle which you shouldn't have put down in the first place"

To answer jdd's original question:
Depending on whose study you read, Good guy has gun, bad guy gives up or leaves or otherwise the situation is okeedokee in 6 out of 7, 13 out of 14, or 33 out of 34 criminal situations.

But if your number comes up where you're the 1 in 7, or 1 in 14, or 1 in 34, then a handgun is always good to have, but if you ever have a choice then you want a long arm. (long arm AND handgun is good to have).

Handguns wounds cause death in something like 30% of situations. (Can't remember where I saw that.) Rifles/shotguns cause death in 70%+ of situations. I'm not trying to say we're trying to kill the bad guy(s), but obviously one is much more decisive than the other! (Side note: we shoot to STOP the threat).

This is just my opinion, but I don't want to have a minimal amount of power to stop the bad guy. I want a comfy margin of safety in MY favor. Also, bad guys are coming by the carload more often nowadays. I surely don't want minimal power if 5 perps are forcing the issue.

Aside from the power issue, long arms are much easier to aim with less practice than handguns. At very close range handguns have an edge, but if you have time to prep your situation by maybe getting behind furniture and covering the doorway, or maybe behind your car with your hood to brace on with the bad guys a comfortable distance away, the long arm is MUCH easier to hit with.

...but don't forsake handguns for all these reasons. Rifles don't replace handguns, they complement each other.

Hope that helps.

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Old February 17, 2000, 08:02 PM   #14
Rich Lucibella
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Hand the man a cigar. The quote is from Clint Smith. FastForty was the first to put it in context. Clint wasn't saying that we should always be fighting our way to a rifle in a gunfight. He was pointing up the inherent limitations of handguns in stopping agression. Better than a wish; not as good as a rifle or shotgun.
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Old February 17, 2000, 11:32 PM   #15
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Clint Smith may have delivered that line to his clients at "Thunder Ranch", but it is as old as the military theory of Musketry!
Unless you were calvary, a pistol- if your status or finances allowed was/is a nice back-up to have...a sword or big knife comes in a weak third...


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Old February 18, 2000, 04:02 AM   #16
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I take the statement as literally as possible. Many of the more hardcore instructors like Jim Crews teach to always have a rifle as close as possible. That means having a "trunk rifle" and a home rifle/carbine/shotgun.
I take the statement very literally and I do keep a carbine legally in my trunk and I keep a shotgun available at home, never more than a room away.
I DO use my handgun to fight to my rifle.
Most of the time, I will not need a handgun. Most of the rest of the time, I will need to only display a handgun. Most of that time, I will never need to fire the handgun, and most of that remaining time I will never need a reload. Does that mean I don't carry a reload?
Handguns are very ineffective. My handugn is to fight my way to my rifle that I left in the car or in the other room.
The odds are slim that I need it, but in a situation like commuting home and getting stuck in the middle of a major incident like a riot etc, I want to have the rifle if I need it.
Similarly, if I see an incident going down and I have even two seconds to get the rifle, I get it. If I hear shouting outside like a major incident going down where I know I may need firepower, you bet I get the rifle in my hands. The handgun is only for the cases where I CANNOT get the rifle. The handgun is merely present for the fact that I can wear it and have it immediatly if I cannot get to the rifle fast enough.
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Old February 18, 2000, 05:47 AM   #17
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Those that claim to use a rifle must not live in a city where the odds of the slug exiting the home are close to 100%. I've been to shootings where a rifle was used and you have to go look around the neighborhood to find the slugs. Neighbors cars, homes and garages get hit. Not good. Imagine if you are in an apartment.
The concept we will be in a D-Day type shoot is pretty far fetched and such advocates are not concerned about YOUR money or the safety of others. If you live in a very remote area it may have some merit. You may have to encounter some vehicles, but that is even a Hollywood stretch.
We had a drive by shooting here where an SKS was used and slugs (FMJ) went into two other homes after exiting the first. An occupant of one of the non-targeted home was killed in his sleep.
A shotgun isn't much better unless used with very small shot (7 or 8's) but application IN a house is another story. It isn't as easy as in the movies, shoots like a rifle, and muzzle blast is excessive with both rifle or shotgun. A factor many also fail to mention.
In the riots like Detroit in the 1960's, stray slug were hitting cars and homes long distances from the actual riots.
Also the lethality rate of a rifle is about 17% (based on IWBA and others) compared to 14% for a rifle and over 60% for a shotgun.
The rifle offers very little in the way of stopping power compared to most conventional handguns. The slug is not going to save the day. a .223 is still a .22 on steroids. Even in an expanding type bullet, the lethality rate is not that much higher. The only real advantage from a rifle is placement because of the long arm type application, if any.
Having been a cop where we had to worry about tax protesting types (Gordan Kahl etc.) I carried a shotgun and figured it for a primary defensive weapon even where I had no concerns for non-involved people being around. In the trunk we had an Mini-14 where it was secondary. If it was at rifle range I figured I had plenty of time to get it.
If you live in an urban environment as most folks do, a lot of thought should go into what bullet you want to release in and around your home. Maybe you should ask yourself what YOUR neighbors are using? Want Charlie Lunchbox next door to use his shotgun with slugs or a SKS with FMJ?
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Old February 18, 2000, 05:58 AM   #18
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I might be the author of this quote or I might not,"The handgun is purely a defensive weapon one conceals on their person while amongst the mostly civilized populace who do not wish to encounter firearms or accept their presence", but it doesn't really matter who said it, the point is we are not going to be prepared for violence in most cases, if we were we would have the primary arm (rifle,or SG) with us along with its complementary piece, the pistol and concealment wouldn't be an issue. In the realm of daily personal defense we carry the pistol and hide its presence from view. Again, I can see the only time you will have a long arm is when you are in your car or at home, on the street it will always be the handgun. In your house, go for the SG. In your car, a carbine or rifle. You'll be damn lucky (or unlucky) if the fight lasts long enough to reach a long gun secured in a car trunk or home closet. I don't subscribe to every day carry around the house. If there were recent threats or incidents, that certainly would require me to be armed 100% of the time.
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Old February 18, 2000, 08:11 AM   #19
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That saying has been around the army in one form or another for along time. Since Clint is an old military guy, he probably adopted and adapted it to his use. Officers were not issued long arms in the old army. The pistol, stick, and blade were objects of rank and authority. The toopers, with the exception of the cavalry, did not carry pistols nor swords, but issued long arms. It was felt that an officer would not need a long arm as it was his job to direct the movement of his troops. Thus they carried maps, cases, field glasses and other items neccesary to this task, which left little room for a long gun in additon to his other equipment. The purpose of the pistol was for close quarters combat, for personal defense (as officers were gentlemen, it was considered appropriate- no more like a duty, to go armed in polite and not so polite society, that these gentlemen sometimes found themselves in their dealings with the general public), and to insure that ones orders were carried out without hesitation. Since pistols were expensive and many times procured by officers themselves at their own expense, they were a symbol of rank and social status. The lack of a long arm identified an officer on sight just as surely as ones badge of rank. This tradition stayed in place well up to the the second world war. The m-1 carbine was meant to replace the pistol, even though many prefered the stopping power of the .45 over the .30 pistol cartridge shot through the carbine at close range. The idea that the pistol is an offensive weapon is a relatively new concept. That is why the police were called "peace officers" and later "police officers" and were given the traditional symbols of rank and authority of officers-the stick, the pistol, and the blade. They were supposed to appear to have authority and have the ability to protect, but to appear defensive in nature, not threatening. With the advent of the modern rifles and automatic weapons and the wide open and fluid movement on the modern battlefield, coupled with the use of smaller units operating independently, the need for officers to carry something other then a pistol to enhance unit firepower was recognized. Given many circumstances throughout history on more then one battlefield, I bet more then one officer "used his pistol to get to a rifle". I bet one of Custer's officers said something similar- of course we will never for sure Being an army brat and having been around the military my entire life, I have heard that quote or something similar long before I knew who Clint Smith was.
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Old February 18, 2000, 09:41 AM   #20
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Everyone forget what the Col. used to say?

"All my ammo is factory ammo"

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Old February 18, 2000, 10:17 AM   #21
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Pluspinc: I'm surprised by your statement that "The rifle offers very little in the way of stopping power compared to most conventional handguns". If the target to be stopped were a 200 pound whitetail deer rather than a 200 pound human, would you still consider the rifle's advantage negligible?
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Old February 18, 2000, 11:44 AM   #22
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AK9 thanks for the Back up historical support!

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Old February 18, 2000, 12:25 PM   #23
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And a rifle is used to fight your way back to your belt-fed weapon…


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Old February 18, 2000, 12:46 PM   #24
Jeff Thomas
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An aside - pluspinc, there may be at least one exception to the accepted views on rifles for home defense. Please see

Apparently the .223 in 55 gr. hollowpoint may have some practical use in urban tactics / home defense.

When I first heard this quote, it was in a more humorous version,'... shooting your way back to your rifle, which you so stupidly left behind ...'
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Old February 18, 2000, 01:04 PM   #25
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I always thought of it this way:

Pistols are deployed when there is no time to prepare for the attack.

Shotguns and rifles are deployed when you have time to prepare for the attack.

After all, is there anyone who would prefer to get into a gunfight with a pistol over a shotgun or rifle? Ask yourself - if at home and a situation arose where you might need to defend yourself with a firearm would you reach past your shotgun to get to your pistol? Why?

If you don't own a shotgun or rifle, fine. But if you can, you should.

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