A “nightstand gun” — the handgun you keep by the bedside for a bump-in-the-night-scenario — is a niche firearm. While your nightstand gun can be your carry piece as well, it’s best to have something specifically suited to the task (finances allowing). Here are three criteria which should guide your selection.
There’s one main reason not to carry a full-size handgun: it’s too big. As you don’t have to carry your nightstand gun — again, depending on your financial situation — why not have a big *ss pistol by your bed?
Given the dangers of over-penetration (i.e. stray rounds) at home, maximum accuracy is a must. Full-size handguns enable the best possible grip — one the keys to shooting accuracy. Full-size semi-automatic pistols also stow plenty ‘o ammo. While capacity prolly ain’t no big thang in a home defense scenario, no one ever ended a gunfight wishing they had less ammo on board.
Which raises the thorny question of whether a five, six or seven-shot revolver makes for a suitable bedside gun.
The overarching concept: have a nightstand gun you can shoot well. Instinctively, even. If that’s a full-size revolver, mazel tov. Just don’t get to thinking you’re going to reload your wheelgun in the dark, under stress, while moving. (You’re not likely to be carrying a reload in your jim-jams).A man’s got to know his handgun’s limitations.
Back to semis for a second . . .
While I carry a 1911, I prefer a striker-fired handgun without an external safety for home defense. If ever there’s a time when I’m likely to forget to switch off a safety, the middle of the night is it.
2. Night sights
Night sights are a tremendous aid in low or no-light conditions. That’s why your nightstand gun should have them.
I know that a lot of gun owners eschew night sights in favor of a weapon-mounted flashlight. I get it. A WMF illuminates the dark while keeping a hand free for opening doors, dialing 911, guiding friendlies and turning on lights. Equally, WMF adherents reckon that their knowledge of their house — in the dark — gives them a strategic advantage. Surprise!
It’s my considered opinion that clearing a dark house is a technique best left to operators operating operationally. There are too many ways a solo house clearance can go very badly wrong, especially if there are multiple home invaders. Which is why those Triple O’s work in teams.
Turning on your lights in a bump-in-the-night (BITN) scenario eliminates the stress and danger of clearing a darkened house. While lights-on signals the bad guy/guys that you’re awake and alert to their presence (and maybe even your location), the info may cause them to retreat, especially if you shout out that you’re armed and the police are on their way.
Will most home invaders retreat when the lights go on and they know they’ve been detected? Who knows? But some will. Remember: a lawful killing involves an awful lot of paperwork, expense (ServePro) and potential psychological trauma.
Also, unless you’re not going to leave the WMF switched on — which clearly identifies your exact position — manipulating your light under stress will be extremely difficult. Training in WMF room clearing techniques may ameliorate some of these unavoidable challenges. Or it may not.
As for using a handheld flashlight for BITN work, again, I believe it’s best to have a spare hand for ancillary tasks.
Guns are REALLY loud. Fire a gun in your house and you will lose at least some hearing, probably permanently. Personally, I value my hearing to the point where I’m not willing to sacrifice it if I don’t have to. And I don’t have to.
As you may know, suppressors aren’t necessarily “hearing safe.” But they will reduce your gun’s sonic signature to safer levels. Not only will a suppressor protect most of your precious hearing long-term, they allow you to use your sense of hearing during a gunfight.
OK, sure, the bad guy may shoot a [very loud] gun. Hopefully, that noise won’t be right by your ears. And if he does, your hearing probably won’t be your biggest concern. Equally hopefully, you’ll be able to shoot the armed bad guy(s) before he or she has a chance to fire. Assuming they’re armed with a gun.
Active noise cancellation headphones are a cheaper and more effective alternative. Not only do they eliminate gunfire entirely, they amplify your hearing. You’ll be able to more easily identify the threat’s location.
Of course, you have to keep them next to your gun and remember to put them on. Will you do so under stress? If you don’t like the idea of wearing ear pro when the S hits the F, or worry that you might forget, a suppressor is the better choice.
Oh, and one more thing . . .