A Nurse with a Gun

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My CCW Gun Requirements

People sometimes inquire as to my criteria for a CCW gun. Here are my requirements, in order of precedence.Click to enlarge These are only my requirements. You do not have to follow suit.

1. Reliability
2. Portability and/or Concealability
3. Speed of deployment
4. Stopping power
5. Accuracy and/or Shootability
6. Durability
7. Capacity
8. Ease of maintenance and availability of parts

Reliability: If a gun fails to function, in a crisis situation, then I find myself taking a poor choice of action if I draw it. Unfortunately, I find out after the course of action is chosen. The failure of a gun combined with the decision to use it equates to my potential death. This is because the gun should not be drawn from concealment in defense of one's life unless one's life is in jeopardy. If one's life is in jeopardy and the life saver fails to function, one's life is lost. Unless one's killer is frightened by a gun that jams or goes click........

Portability/Concealability: The old saw that it is better to have a mousegun in your pocket than a cannon back home is true. If you do not have your gun when you need it, it is as useless to you as the nitroglycerin tablets on your bedside table if you have a heart attack at the corner Burger King. If you can not easily carry and conceal your weapon, you cannot reliably follow the laws you agreed to when you obtained your CCW, and you will sooner or later fail to strap it on to keep with you all day.

Speed of deployment: The person who fires the first shot usually survives. Others are reacting to his actions. Greater speed into that first shot gives one the split second needed to make it an accurate shot. Firing the first accurate shot increases your survival rate immeasurably. Speed of deployment can be compromised by methods of carry as well as the gun's platform. Other platforms and carry modes enhance speed of deployment.

Stopping power: I want the first shot to have the ability to stop the attack if correctly placed. I want it to have the greatest potential to stop the attack if I fail to strike an incapacitating area. If a hit is so far off the mark that it fails to stop or repel the attack, I want it to slow the attack so the next shot can be placed more accurately. Fewer shots mean more ammunition conserved in case of unknown numbers of attackers. Believe me, when you are attacked, once you deal with the initial attack, the first thought in your mind will be the curiosity of where his accomplices are. Fewer shots also mean less likelihood of "overkill" claims in civil court at a later date.

Accuracy and/or Shootability: Self defense with a gun and target shooting are not the same. When a person's life hangs in the balance and their attacker is engaged in trying to kill them, they do not have time to make certain the front sight has an equal amount of light on each side with a 6:00 hold. They just need to get some lead into the son of a bitch as quickly as possible.

Durability: There is a good chance that the shots you fire in self defense will be fired after you have been knocked to the ground from behind, slammed up against the wall, and had your pistol struck against something. Even your draw while trying to evade your attacker may result in your pistol hitting something solid. You may drop it. Nobody plans to drop their gun in a life or death situation, but when the rush of adrenaline numbs fine motor skills and tunnels one's vision, plenty of people do. If the gun design will not function after being dropped on concrete, it fails the #1 criteria, reliability. Further, a carry gun leads a tough life in a holster getting smacked on door jambs, floors of public restrooms, etc. Click to enlargeIf it's not up to the task, it can't do the job. I don't like cars I have to work on all the time either. Tools that break suck.

Capacity: Having sufficient ammunition to stop an attempt on your life is the key. Capacity is important. Accuracy is vital. If you can't hit squat, a 50 round magazine will not help you. Survival in a gunfight depends a lot on skill and tactics, but a major player in the outcome is luck. That is something that Jim Cirillo taught, and it can't be ignored. Capacity can help you hedge your bets if your luck goes sour.

Ease of maintenance and availability of parts: I don't have time or inclination to be coddling a tool that should be performing it's job protecting my ass. If I can't wear a gun all day, clean it once a week, or as needed after a gully washer drenching, I'll find one that will allow me to do so. If something breaks on one of my carry guns, I want the part yesterday. I do not want my safety compromised because some dude in Yonkers figured cheap part would be good enough. I do not want my safety compromised because I do not have my gun.

People sometimes wonder why I chose the old single action 1911 or a snubnose revolver for self protection. This is why. They may not be glamorous guns, but they fit my criteria. Our lives may hang in the balance of our decisions at any given time. We may be attacked suddenly, without warning. If that occurs, to survive, we need to stop the attack. Quickly. Effectively. Efficiently.

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Anonymous tjm said...

I am wondering what kind of ammo you favor in your 1911’s. I find that my Colts and Springfields with a traditional feed ramp have trouble with hollow points like TAP ammo, the ammo I tend to favor because of high pressure and low flash. I find that my Kimber with a ramped barrel works fine with it, (only after I use a Wilson mag in it). I see that most off the 1911’s that you have are of the original configuration. I know that pow’r’ball is good but it is light at only 165gr, I like 230gr in my weapon. I do not have Wilson mags for all of my 1911’s, chip McCormick high caps are the norm for me. Not sure if that is the problem. In addition to that I have always heard the hollow points in traditional 1911’s are a “NO NO”. As always, love your opinions and appreciate what you do.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I carry Federal HydraShoks in my carry guns, with the exception of the P32 (due to rimlock risk).

I choose HydraShoks because they are what local law enforcement uses, and they are effective. Local LEO loads help reduce risk of "special super duper killer ammo" in a civil trial after the fact. Others may disagree with this point, but it sounds reasonable to me.

They feed fine in my 1911s. I use Wilson 47DCB magazines in the carry guns, or in the New agent's case, the original mags.

CMC Shooting Stars go in my range bag. They are good mags though.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your website is a frequent stop for me, and I find nearly all your posts, and photos extremely interesting.

Thanks for some refreshing no nonsense subject matter that appeals to me.

I am also a gun toting RN.


6:14 PM  
Blogger nature223 said...

for house protection....Winchester Silver tips,they hang up pretty well in walls.
for carry?
Cor-bon no question, their stuff flat out rocks
for winter time...XTP's,for the better ability to negate thick winter clothing.
I also polish my chamber mirror bright,that helps the more aggressive rounds somewhat

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Not sure how I found your blog, but I now have it bookmarked :-)

I'm issued a Glock 22 for on-duty, but off-duty, it's a Kimber Pro CDP stoked with standard pressure Federal HST 230's and either Wilson 47D or CMC Power Mags.

I've had a love affair with the 1911 since I was 11 y/o (1971).

The one Colt I've owned I didn't care for, Series 80 Stainless Commander.

More than satisfied with my Springfield's, Dan Wesson's and 1 Kimber.

Oh, yeah, I like the bike and dog stories, too.


5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in the great state of Nevada in the beautiful and dangerous city of Las Vegas and let me tell you my weapon of choice for cc is the Colt Single Action Army i know i may be a fossil but with some tricks i picked up i can pull and soot that thing like clint eastwood or my hero the Duke.

1:53 PM  

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