What We Plan For

Sheriff Jim reminds us that wishing and hopeful thinking should not be part of your self-defense plan.

posted on June 24, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

There is a saying among those who hunt dangerous game that we don’t plan for when everything goes right, we plan for when everything goes wrong. Thus, we carry guns of suitable and substantial caliber. And, we generally hunt with a guide, or partner, similarly armed just to throw some of the advantage in our own direction. The hunter can easily become the hunted when dealing with the likes of cape buffalo, Kodiak bear or elephant, just to name three of the tough ones.

The armed citizen should be able to easily identify with that statement, too. Of course, the hunter at least knows that he is going hunting, while the armed citizen may become a target without ever knowing it. All the more reason to be ready when Murphy’s Law goes into effect.

For years, one of the largest of the American bears on the record books (a polar bear as I recall) was taken by a native trapper with a .22 rifle. Yet, I am pleased to report, this did not cause all of the would-be bear hunters to rush out and purchase .22 rifles. 

By contrast, however, I see quite a number of armed citizens packing small, lightweight guns in very light calibers. Occasionally someone will inform us that more people have been killed by the .22 rimfire than any other caliber. The only problem is that our mission is to stop an attack as quickly as possible; death, should it occur, is only a byproduct of the need to protect ourselves from death or serious bodily injury. The fact that a bad guy dies later, even two or three days later, does nothing to cause an immediate cessation to violence.

If those popgun calibers were so effective we might see our police and military armed with them. One should plan for when everything goes wrong, therefore I’ll stick with a minimum of 9mm/.38 Special and suggest that you do the same unless you have some physical impairment that prohibits it.

Along these same lines, another thing that bothers me are those who choose to carry a pistol with an empty chamber. I will freely admit that, when everything goes right, one can draw, chamber a round and get off a shot in a surprisingly short time period. The problem is that it’s a criminal attack and things rarely go right when people are trying to kill you. The empty-chamber assumption relies on the belief that you’ll have time to chamber a round (you probably won’t) and that you will have the use of both of your hands (you might not). If semi-automatics with loaded chambers really make a person nervous, I suggest they get a good DA revolver.

The armed citizen who is serious about personal defense should take the time, periodically, to examine their choice of gear and defensive tactics. There is a big difference between planning for when everything goes right and dealing with the reality that everything has gone wrong. Which camp do you fall into?


Viridian Lasers For The Walther P22

Hodgdon’s 2024 Reloading Annual

With the internet all it is today; you might wonder why anyone would want a printed loading manual.

I Carry: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Comp 9mm Pistol in a Mission First Tactical Holster

In this week's episode of "I Carry," we have the new Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Comp 9mm pistol carried in a Mission First Tactical Ambidextrous AIWB/OWB holster with a Shield Sights AMS enclosed-emitter red-dot sight.

First Look: MDT Renegade Shooting Bag

Ideal for situations where every extra ounce matters.

First Look: Federal Top Gun Range Gear

Designed for use in the great outdoors.

Azimuth Technologies Ships 2 Millionth Bolt Carrier Group

Azimuth currently offers firearm components, assemblies and other products.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.