During the 19th Century there were numbers of tiny, underpowered handguns made. One of the first was the Smith & Wesson Model One, a 7-shot revolver chambered for the .22 Short, the original .22 rimfire cartridge. Often they were marketed as guns for the well-dressed lady. For the most part they were pretty useless. Today we have a much better selection for the lady wanting a handgun for concealed carry.
Due to the clothes that society demands the modern well-dressed lady wear, the type and size of handgun she can carry concealed on her person is pretty limited. It has to be smaller than those carried by the average man. Also, the average lady is not going to go to the range to practice as often as the average male, so the gun must be simpler to use, and it probably needs to produce less recoil. This limits the selection, but there are still a number of good choices.
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First, I believe that the average lady should not carry a semi-auto handgun. If she so desires, she needs to make the effort to go to the range and do the practice it takes to learn the various reloading and jam-clearing drills that are required of those who carry such weapons. Lessons from a good, professional instructor is a very good idea. If she is not willing to do this she should limit herself to revolvers, which are generally easier to shoot and safer to use.
Revolvers have fallen out of favor with the public as concealed carry weapons for the reason that they carry less ammunition than most modern semi-autos. This is true, but I believe that while this is a valid observation, it may not be as necessary as we have been lead to believe by the various magazines. If we are to believe the available statistics, the average gunfight involves about 3 rounds fired. The smallest revolvers suitable for the purpose hold 5 rounds, and many hold 6. While carrying a gun that holds 7 or more rounds in the magazine lends a feeling of added safety, it may be a false feeling of security. I will not make a statement on this issue as I believe that the more ammo you carry the better, but I will admit that I sometimes carry a little 5-shot revolver, and have for the last 35 years. A speedloader in my pocket gives me 10 quick shots.
Revolvers have no manual safety device, at least most of them do not. They also, usually, allow for firing the gun by simply pulling the trigger (double-action), or by pulling back the hammer (single-action) for a much shorter and easier trigger pull.
Before I entered law enforcement in the late 1970s I almost always fired my handguns single-action. When I became a police officer I learned that I could, after a bit of practice, shoot the gun just as well double-action. In fact, I may have been a better shot double-action than single-action. Most certainly a revolver can be shot very well double-action. Anyone who does not believe this is welcome to come by and watch me prove it.
There are small semi-autos that are certainly suitable for a lady to carry. I have a couple of them and have seen a number of others. They also will shoot cartridges that are sufficiently powerful for self-defense. However, they are more susceptible to malfunctions. In truth, they are even more susceptible to such malfunctions in the hands of a lady than in the hands of a man. The reason is that most ladies have smaller hands and weaker wrists. A semi-auto requires a certain amount of resistance for it to cycle properly. A lady who holds a handgun loosely, as a great many do, will not offer the necessary resistance and the handgun will not cycle completely, causing a failure to eject the fired cartridge and chamber to next round in the magazine. My little wife is a prime example of this, and therefore carries a revolver. I have tried a few times to get her to shoot a semi-auto, but have given up. Either "it kicks too much," or it fails to function. If the revolver fails to fire, all that is needed is to pull the trigger again. I find this a very real advantage for anyone who is not very familiar with handguns, semi-autos in particular.
One option is for the lady to carry her gun in a handbag of some kind. I believe that this is a mistake, or at the least a last resort. It is almost impossible to quickly draw a gun from a bag hanging over the shoulder and is impossible to do so with one hand. The gun should be carried in a holster that is comfortable, secure, and easy to access. This is, generally, some kind of waist holster. We will not discuss that topic here as we have gone into it in detail in other editions of TDOD.
The best guns for the lady are the small revolvers like the Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chiefs Special or something similar but with a shrouded hammer. These guns and other very similar guns are made by several companies including Taurus and Charter Arms. They are small, often using some type of aluminum alloy frame to save on weight, have 2- or 3-inch barrels, and shoot .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .32 S&W Long, or one of the new .32 magnums, like the .327 Ruger Magnum. Of these, any will suffice, but those shooting the antiquated .32 S&W Long cartridge are very underpowered and should be avoided by all who can handle a more powerful cartridge. The best of the lot are probably those shooting the .38 Special. If carried loaded with one of the +P hollow point rounds they are sufficiently powerful for self-defense, and the owner can practice with the low-recoil wadcutter loads. In fact, wadcutters are surprisingly good self-defense rounds, due to the flat face of the bullet, especially if handloaded, with the velocity bumped up a bit. Some of these little guns are currently made to shoot the more powerful .357 Magnum cartridge, but the recoil of that round in the small-frame, lightweight guns can be pretty brutal.
Here are a few facts for you ladies to contemplate.
As I tell my own two daughters: Any gun is better than no gun; a gun at home is no gun at all; a gun is a much better defensive tool than a nail file; five shots are better than none at all; a bit of discomfort is a small price to pay for your life. For your home protection, get a shotgun.
This is an evil world. Buy a handgun, learn how to use it, carry it all the time. My best wishes to the fairest sex. May you all be safe.
Dustins Field Test - Tactical Optics Offset
Defensive carbines like the AR-15 are excellent platforms for mounting tactical optics such as Trijicons, Aimpoints, EOTech and the like. These optics provide bright dependable aiming reticles that serve well for fast acquisitions as well as being precise enough for long range engagements.
Most shooters zero their rifles at 100 yards because thats the standard distance found at the local shooting range. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but you need to train and experiment with your rifle at all practical distances to see how offset effects your shot placement.
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Offset is simply the result of the optic being mounted a couple of inches above your barrel and not looking directly down the bore of the rifle. Because of this you must know how your point of impact differs from your optics zero at different ranges as the line of sight crosses the path of the bullet.
With most AR style rifles your optic will be two or more inches over the bore. If you stay at relatively the same distance as your zero, offset will never be an issue. But if you need to use your rifle in a close quarter situation, you must know where offset will move your point of impact for precise shooting.
This is most evident at extremely close distances for a rifle, like perhaps a hostage situation where a precise shot is needed to neutralize a threat. For myself it was recently on a hog hunt when we discovered a boar at close range dug into a creek bed. The shot was placed in perfect trajectory underneath the eye into the brain by placing my Meopta reticle at the top of the hogs head while I was about 5 yards away. It also is vital to good performance in shooting competitions. In the Fallen Brethren match in Jacksboro you were shooting a 2"x6" target 1 yard away surrounded by "no shoot" targets and then 400 yards with the same rifle with the next round. Most shooters usually practice at close ranges with our pistols and the point of impact isnt much different, but we also should train with our rifles at this range so we will know how to use them if necessary.
For most AR-15 rifles with a tactical optic the holdover will be roughly the same height as the optic is over the bore at point blank range. But the main idea is to train at different distances until your holdover is instinctual at every practical defense range.
You might find that some scopes or red dots with ballistic reticles, you may be able to use the 300 yard mark for close range. This could speed up your shots and take out the mental estimation step in your aiming. I have also seen iron sights for AR15 rifles that compensate for offset by the shooter aiming over the top of the peep sight rather than through it for close range shots.
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Lasers are also great firearm accessories, but they have the same technical offset. The further away they are mounted from the bore the greater the point of impact will be from the laser beam. The holdover in this case will be on whichever side your laser is mounted. If it is mounted 3 inches below, then your dot will be 3 inches lower than your intended point of impact.
The main way to overcome offset difficulties is to train at various distances in different scenarios with a variety of targets. It will take a little work, but soon you will be ready for any target, at any range.