I recently wrote a post putting the importance of firearms reliability into its proper perspective, below more pressing concerns (e.g., situational awareness and “getting off the X”). I’d like to generalize that point for people new to guns: don’t get to thinking that your life defends on having the right or “best” equipment. The benefits of the owning the ideal self-defense firearm and related gear – a concept subject to endless debate – are minuscule when compared to the benefits of . . .
maintaining a proper mindset.
A great many gun gurus have written a great many words about the mental attitude required to defeat someone trying to hurt or kill you. Basically, it all boils down to this: whatever it takes. You have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to survive – using whatever weapon you have, or no weapon at all (if you don’t have one or it doesn’t work). The will to win is it. The thing. The most important factor for defeating a potentially deadly attacker.
Let’s say someone is trying to kill you and you didn’t take Reid Henrichs’ advice and put “backup” iron sights on your red dot-equipped AR-15. I know it sounds incredible, but your Aimpoint T-1 fails. What now? Consider running towards to the bad guy. The closer you get, the less accuracy you need. If you’re close enough, use your rifle as a club. Got a knife? Chair nearby? Think creatively! As James Bond taught us, never underestimate the power of an arched eyebrow. Do something.
You can never know what the “right” thing to do is in any given dangerous situation. The number of variables are staggering: who’s trying to kill you, why, using what, when and where? How many attackers? Are they easily discouraged or hell bent on killing you? Is there cover or concealment available? One thing’s for sure: it’s not going to go down like it does in training, where there’s plenty of heads-up and no real downside to screwing-up.
Given all these unknown indeed unknowable factors, you can never predict exactly what weapon and related gear you’ll need for any given self-defense scenario. For example, the makers of weapons-mounted lasers rightly point out that their way cool gizmo is the best aiming system for “unconventional” shooting positions (e.g., when you’re knocked flat on your ass). Yes but – looking for a laser dot when you’re moving and shooting is lot harder than getting a “flash sight picture” or simple point shooting.
By the same token, a weapons-mounted flashlight may be a bad idea for you’re identifying potential bad guys in your house. If you shine it directly at a friendly, well, you’ve just muzzled a friendly. When you’re stressed. And your finger might be on the trigger. (Not that it should be, but it might.) What could possibly go wrong?
The simple answer: resist CWE (Cool Weapon Envy) and have a gun that’s easy to use. Don’t get me wrong: bells and whistles are OK – as long as you train how to use them. If you have a snout-mounted flashlight on your home defense handgun or rifle, for example, train yourself to bounce the light off nearby walls, and use the light in short bursts as you move.
The less complicated or “specialized” your firearms and firearms-related equipment, the easier it is to be proficient with it. The more complicated or “specialized” your ballistic self-defense set-up, the more you need to train. Even then, be ready to abandon your training and simply fight like hell. At the end of the day, it’s not the equipment that will save you. It’s you.