This piece is not actually about Spider-Man. It is about something that one of the characters in the first Spider-Man movie said. Spidey was talking to his uncle and the uncle told him “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Single action pistols on the left, double action pistols on the right. S&W Shield striker fired in the center.

At the time I thought nothing about that, other than to note that it was obviously true. Then later I began to cogitate on it more deeply and discovered that it had a very real and present application in our society today.

When Texas began to issue concealed carry licenses, it returned to us what many of us believe is a basic American right—the right to carry a device by which we could protect ourselves and our loved ones from all those evil wolves that prey on the weaker members of society.

I personally do not believe that any state ever had the legal right to take away that right in the first place—regulate it, possibly, but never remove it. Not even if they were going to assign each one of us a police officer to be by our sides 24 hours a day to protect us.

Since that is unlikely to happen, they have no reason and no right to deny us the ability to protect ourselves. That old saying that “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away,” is absolutely true.

In more than 20 years in various law enforcement positions, I never once got to the scene of a crime in time to protect anyone. Think about that and then think about the fact that most cops can say the same thing, and you will begin to understand why you must be prepared to protect yourself and your family.

Now, you have bought the handgun that you are going to carry, have practiced enough to pass the Texas concealed carry class. What do you do?

Most people carry their handgun for a few weeks, find that it’s a terrible burden, and put it in the drawer beside the bed, to be taken out only when they think they may need it. They may put it in the console or under the front seat of the car, so it will be handy, and some will lock it in the gun safe to keep it away from the kids.

Sadly, every one of those things is dead wrong. The only way a gun is going to be there when you need it, is if it is on your hip almost every waking hour. As I sit writing this, I am on my own little place of 25 acres just outside the town of Brackettville. I am in my workshop, which is about 50 feet from my house. On my right hip is a Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chief’s Special. The first round up is a snake load, but the next four are +P hollow points.

When I get up in the morning, one of the first things I do after I put on my pants is put a gun in the holster on my belt. Am I paranoid? No, I am not. I have seen enough of the evil in this world to know that the only way I can be prepared is to have protection at my side 24 hours a day.

I don’t like carrying a gun. It is uncomfortable, makes me wear clothes that look sloppy, and it pulls my pants down. I carry it because I understand that I cannot predict when I may need it. Neither can you.

Now for the reason for the title of this story. 

If you are going to carry a gun, you have great power, the power of life and death. Because of that great power you have the responsibility to learn to use it properly. This is not something that is in our DNA. We have to be taught the proper use of a firearm and the proper times to use it.

The Texas concealed carry class would be laughable if it weren’t so lacking. The truth is, as I have said before and will say again, it is not and was never intended to be a training class, but only a test, and not a very good one at that. When you pass the test, unless you are an IPSC competitor or a retired law enforcement officer, you still need training.

I beg you, carry the gun and get the training. There are many places in Texas where you can get the training you should have. I do not know most of them. I am familiar with Thunder Ranch near Kerrville and with Gunsite Academy in Arizona. Both of these are top notch training facilities. I am sure there are many others. 

It is your responsibility to seek out this training and then—after you have been properly trained—to practice what you have been taught. So, when that once in a lifetime situation arises where you must use that gun that has been riding under your shirt all those years, you will be able to react properly, with the necessary degree of speed and skill.

—Steve Lamascus





The most important part of a pistol’s shootability is the trigger. I’ve had many students who brought pistols to lessons that they chose just on caliber or size then found their pistol was difficult to shoot accurately because of the weight and action of the trigger.

Revolver actions are simple to explain. Single actions are like the old cowboy hog legs that require the shooter to manually cock the hammer every shot.

Modern revolvers are usually double action where you have the option of cocking the hammer every time for a lighter, shorter, and crisper trigger press. Or you can just pull the trigger and a longer heavier pull cocks the hammer as you squeeze through.

The heavier and longer double action pull makes it difficult to keep your sights aligned and often results in a miss. Yet in a defensive scenario the shooter will probably be forced to fire quickly in double action mode without ample time to cock the hammer. 

Double action revolvers have a simple operation when compared to a semi-automatic, but I usually recommend new shooters choose a handgun with an action that is easier to shoot more accurately.

This brings us past revolvers to semi-automatic pistols where there can be so many types of actions it can get confusing. With single action, semi automatic pistols such as the 1911, the hammer must be manually cocked for the gun to fire, however racking the slide will automatically cock the hammer. These guns are usually carried “cocked and locked” with the hammer back and safety on for quick defense.

Then there are traditional double action pistols like most Sig Sauers, Berettas, or CZs that work just like a double action revolver where the trigger can have a longer heavier pull if it has been decocked, or have a lighter, shorter, crisp break in single action mode. Usually these guns are carried with the hammer decocked so your first trigger press will have to pull through the 8-10 pounds of pressure. However your subsequent shots will be in single action mode.

The only advantage that I see to the double-action semi-automatic is for safety purposes. With this action, you won’t have a negligent discharge under adrenaline stress when your finger applied too much pressure. However, if you are going to carry a firearm in this condition you must train twice as much since you have two different trigger pulls to master.

Although there are other types of double action we could get into, we will ignore them in order to close with my personal preference—striker-fired. This is also the most popular action you will find on today’s modern handguns.

This is your run of the mill Glock, S&W M&P, Springfield XD, and so on. Instead of a traditional exposed hammer, these pistols utilize an internal striker to fire and are charged when the slide is racked. They usually have no decocking mechanism which results in the same trigger pull every time.

Most of the most popular models do not have a manual safety selector, but instead have several internal safeties along with trigger and grip safeties. This design might make inexperienced shooters nervous about accidental discharges, however as long as you don’t pull the trigger they will not fire.

Although the actions listed above were only the most popular styles of actions and there are several other variations, the important thing to remember is that the trigger action plays an important role in how well a shooter can use his firearm. Find what works for you best and train accordingly.

—Dustin Ellerman



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