Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 509, March 8, 2009

"A bust has become a panic and is
well on its way to becoming a rout."

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Care, Feeding, and Use of the Defensive Autopistol
by Ron Beatty
bearfreeliberty -+at+-

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I decided to write this article due to the huge numbers of people buying new guns, once it became apparent that Obama was going to be elected. However, those of us who have been using guns all our lives could do with some review, as well.

First off, it is not my purpose here to tell you what type or model of weapon to choose. That is entirely up to you, based on your physical capabilities and your perceived security needs. I am a large man, with large hands and a lot of upper body strength. What I choose for myself might be totally inappropriate for a smaller man or an elderly woman, etc. I will say, however, that you should use the largest caliber you can comfortably control, and pick a pistol with a proven track record of reliability and efficiency. You should also take note of the operating system and the amount of time and practice it takes to become totally proficient with your chosen weapon.

So, you've finally chosen your weapon, bought it home, and taken it out of the box. Good for you!

Now, first and foremost, READ THE MANUAL!!!! I don't care how much experience you have, or that you might even have other pistols of the same basic model, READ THE DAMNED MANUAL! There is no way of telling what new "safety" features the pinheads in congress might have mandated, or that the gun manufacturer might have included in an effort to appease them before some new "feature" was legislated into existence. As an example, the Springfield XD45 has a new thumb safety. If you have older models of the same gun, you will need to train yourself to release that safety. Also, many manufacturers have included passive "safeties" which totally lock up the weapon until you use a key to release them. You need to know about these to be able to able to use the weapon.


Okay, you've read the manual, and you're ready to check out your new weapon. If you've chosen a semi-automatic pistol, the very first thing you need to do is check the magazines which came with it, as well as any extras you may have purchased. Disassemble the magazines, make sure the follower and spring are moving smoothly in the magazine body. The magazine is the heart of a pistol, and poorly made or maintained magazines are the cause of a vast majority of pistol malfunctions. Try to avoid surplus or cheap magazines. Stick with a manufacturer that you trust. I prefer to use Wilson or Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazines in my .45, but that is my personal preference, based on long experience. You might have different choices, or your pistol just might prefer other brands. BTW, don't think that just because you have a new gun, that the magazines which came with it are okay. I bought a new gun, and one of the new magazines supplied was poorly assembled, binding and scraping. Upon disassembly, I found that the magazine spring had been inserted wrongly in the body. If I had tried to use that magazine, without paying attention to the problem, it could very easily have led to injury or death, should a shooting situation have arisen.

Next, field strip your new weapon and make sure it is properly lubricated. Poor maintenance and lubrication is the other major cause of malfunctions. Make sure all the heavy grease or cosmoline is removed. This shouldn't be a problem with most American manufacturers, but if you've chosen an import, some of them may have been shipped with a coat of grease or cosmoline to protect them during shipping, and you CANNOT trust that the dealer will have gotten it all out of the interior of the weapon. Once field stripped and cleaned, lubricate your new weapon. Be careful here, don't use too much! For example, a single drop on each slide rail is usually enough for that area.

Reassemble your weapon. You might think that now you're ready to head to the range, but there is one thing to consider first. If you are new to shooting, I would strongly recommend that you seek professional instruction. This is only your life we're talking about here! If possible, take instruction at one of the many recognized and reputable shooting schools, such as Gunsite, Front-sight, Thunder Ranch, or the Lethal Force Institute, but at the very least, find an experienced instructor and learn the basics, including the legalities of using deadly force in your particular area. As a very general rule, you can only use lethal force in order to prevent death or grave bodily harm, but check your local laws to be sure. There is a very simple three step rule that is good for most circumstances.

ABILITY—Your assailant has to have the ability to cause you death or grave bodily harm. This usually means that he is armed, but can also include someone who is physically so over-powering that the only way to stop him is with lethal force. Check your local laws!!!

OPPORTUNITY—Your assailant must have the OPPORTUNITY to harm you. This one is entirely circumstantial. Each situation is different. Check your local laws!!!

JEOPARDY—You must be in jeopardy. This means that if the person has the ability and the opportunity to harm you, he will be able to inflict death or grave bodily harm. This is another one that depends on circumstances. For instance, if a man is armed with a knife or some type of bludgeoning weapon and is charging you, at what point does it become acceptable to shoot him? Many police departments use 21 feet as the basis for this situation. An armed man in decent physical condition can cover 21 feet in under two seconds. Again, check your local laws!!!

This short article is a VERY basic and general guideline. Check your local laws. As an example, what might be acceptable in a southern state with a conservative DA might put you in prison in NYC.

One final note, and this one is probably the most important. You are buying or have bought a weapon to protect yourself and your family. DO NOT SKIMP when buying ammunition, holsters, or other accessories! Cheap ammo, holsters, and magazines can get you killed. Buy the best quality you can afford, that works well with your gun and your usage requirements. Above all, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

Good luck with your new weapon, and good shooting!


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