Without intending to hurt feelings, I have often said, “Don’t tell me what you carry—show me what you can do with it.”
I suppose it’s human nature for people to think that they will be able to improve their own shortcomings if only they had the newest and latest model and caliber. That sort of thinking may sell a lot of guns & gear, but it doesn’t do much for saving lives. So let’s look at a few things that are as important as the actual defense gun that is currently riding in your holster.
The first thing that comes to mind is the individual’s ability to perform successfully with the gun they are carrying. Nothing will stop a gunfight like getting the first center hit. It doesn’t have to be the newest model that just came out last month—and you happened to get the first one to hit your gun store. And it doesn’t have to be in the most powerful caliber currently available—loaded with those new bullets guaranteed to stop a Mack truck.
Two friends of mine come to mind as examples of that. The first carried an old Smith & Wesson Model 10 bull-barreled revolver, in .38 Spl., and the second carried a lightweight Colt Commander in .45 ACP. Both guns showed a lot of holster wear and had been shot thousands of times. My friends could hold their own in just about any kind of shooting match and had each survived several gunfights. In short, they had simply taken the time to learn to shoot. Ability, not gear, wins gunfights.
Another thing that is more important than the particular gun that we carry is our awareness. Our ability to spot trouble while there is still time to avoid it or to come up with a plan to deal with it. We aren’t born with the ability to spot dangerous situations. We learn it through observation and study. We learn it by applying common sense to what is going on around us. Simply put, if the closest convenience store has become a gang hangout, I’m going to the one across town.
Finally, training is more important than what we are carrying. I hear all kinds of excuses about why defensive shooters don’t take advantage of professional training. And those almost always are excuses because people tend to find the money to do the things that they really want to do. Just like awareness, we are not born with the ability to shoot accurately and to fight successfully. We have to learn those skills and, once we have learned them, we have to practice them on a regular basis.
So there are really some things that are more important than the kind of defensive firearm that we rely on. If you want to see the key to your ability to survive, don’t look in your holster, go look in the mirror.