“It’s better than nothing.” It’s the phrase that launched a million snub-nosed revolvers and pocket-sized semi-automatic pistols. “I’d like to carry my full-size gun, but it’s just not practical. So I carry this. It’s only for emergencies, like a parachute. Besides, it’s better than nothing.” While there are plenty of examples of gun owners using a mouse gun to stop a life-threatening attack, generally speaking, it’s not true. Nothing is better than the wrong gun. And for most people, a small gun is the wrong gun. Here’s why mouse guns are a bad choice for self-defense and why you’re better off with nothing . . .
1. You’ll miss
Miniature barrel, non-existent sights, two-finger grip, big recoil. Put it all together and it spells the first four letters of the Hospitality State. When you’re trying to shoot someone, missing them is a no-no. Oh, sorry, I forgot: adrenalin rush, low-light, moving target(s), the need for cover and friendlies you don’t want to kill.
Yes, there is that. On the range, missing a target is no big deal. In real life, every shot that doesn’t hit the bad guy can hit a good guy. And that sucks. Especially if the good guy is someone you know or love.
The argument against the mouse gun’s obvious limitations: “Most gun fights occur at the seven to ten foot range.”
Setting aside the fact that I’ve seen revolver owners miss a paper target at five feet, that oft-quoted number is an average. For every gunfight that occurs at point-blank range, you need one at twenty feet to create the stat. Truth be told, you don’t know what kind of accuracy you’ll need. But more is always better than less.
A mouse gun’s accuracy depends on two main factors: distance and skill. The further away your target, the more skill you need to hit it. There is a point at which your accuracy is non-existent. A point that’s a LOT closer than it would be if you were using a gun with a longer barrel, a bigger grip, a longer sight radius, proper sights and better recoil control. How much closer? Again, that depends on your skill.
And that depends on your level of training and practice. There are revolver experts who can shoot the eye out of a newt at 40 feet with a snub-nosed revolver. That’s because they’ve got flawless trigger technique, unshakeable recoil control and superb hand-eye coordination. And practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice.
Who the hell wants to practice with a mouse gun? Those things hurt. What’s more, the people who gravitate towards a gun that fits in their purse or front pocket are exactly the type of people who don’t practice. “One of the great ironies,” the rabbi told me this morning. “Is that the people who are least able to shoot buy the hardest gun to shoot.”
And, it must be said, one of the guns least likely to kill someone. Which leads us to . . .
2. You’ll really annoy the bad guy
The point of shooting someone: stop them from attacking you. Bullets are pretty good at that sort of thing (provided you’re shooting them from a gun). Which is why a lot of people who are not au fait with guns buy small revolvers and semis. What they don’t realize: shooting someone with a small bullet may not stop them. Quite the opposite . . .
We’ve discussed stopping power on these e-pages dozens of times. So let’s recap: a bigger bullet has a better chance of hurting someone enough to stop them from trying to hurt you than a smaller one. While we can debate the differences between calibers, it helps to think of 9mm as the dividing line. Anything 9mm and up is your friend. Anything below (.380. .38. 32. .25 .22) is . . . risky.
The defenders of smaller caliber ammo invariably base their argument on shot placement. “It’s better to hit someone with a .22 than miss them with a .357.” Yes, well, another word for “effective shot placement” is “accuracy.” [See: above.] And if it’s all the same to you, why not have both accuracy and a large caliber bullet? You can! Unless you’ve got a mouse gun.
And here’s the danger: if you shoot someone with a small caliber bullet, they may not die at all. Not one little bit. They may not even feel any pain. But they will realize that you’ve just tried to kill them. And that’s going to get them angry. Which brings us to the “nothing” part of the program . . .
3. You’ll escalate the violence
Careful. I’m not saying that it’s better to appease an attacker than attack them. I’m pointing out that shooting someone—and not hitting them hard or well enough to stop them—is a sure way to increase their level of violence. It may be that they’re already at maximum mayhem. But if they’re not, shooting them with a mouse gun is sure to ratchet up their aggression levels.
4. You’ll miss more effective tactical options
If you don’t have a gun when facing a life or death attack, you’ll do something other than try to shoot your assailant. You’ll run, hit them with something, seek cover, scream, something. All of which would be a LOT more effective than shooting a mouse gun and missing or hitting then with a diddy bullet and pissing them off. If only because fights usually last seconds. You don’t get three or four or five decision points. You usually get one. If you use up valuable time trying to use an ineffective tool, chances are you’ll lose.
As for the “mouse gun as parachute” meme, for most people, a mouse gun is like a parachute with holes. If you knew your parachute wasn’t going to work, well, what then?