Category Archives: Life

Guns and Shooting – A Primer (part 2) Different Types of Guns – Pistols

The last article probably left you with lots of questions like “Are handguns the same as pistols?” and “What are shotguns and why does Joe Biden keep talking about them?” Now that we know what a firearm is and the basics of how it works, let’s look at the different types of guns and answer those questions!

Before we get into that let’s get some terms figured out.

There are many different types of firearms and they generally fall into three classes.

  • Pistols
  • Rifles
  • Shotguns



A revolver is the oldest style of the modern hand-held, hand-fired guns. Here is a quick video to give you an idea of how it functions and what it looks like.

As you can see, the piece that holds the rounds (the cylinder) revolves to bring an unfired round in line to be fired. Revolvers are too often discounted as low capacity, slow shooters. As you will see, it’s really just a matter of training.


“??? But isn’t a revolver a handgun? I mean it is a gun and it’s held in your hand. . .right?” Wrong. It is not logical. It seems like “handgun” would be the term to cover all hand-held, hand-fired guns but for some reason it is not. When knowledgeable people are talking about guns and they refer to a handgun they are NOT referring to a revolver. The video below gives you a good idea of what they are talking about.

Some folks maintain that revolvers are better saying that they are simpler and don’t jam. Others say that handguns are better because they often can hold more ammo and can be easier to shoot fast and accurately. The truth is that modern handguns do not typically malfunction and revolvers can jam. And while revolvers do often have a heavy double action trigger so too do many handguns and it is simply a matter of training and practice to become proficient. The argument that revolvers are simpler (often directed at women) is false and insulting. Leaving aside the silly “which is better” argument, each one has applications for which they are better suited. The greater capacity of a double stack handgun is well suited to home defense, while revolvers can be made much stronger than a handgun and can shoot much more powerful ammunition which is good for self protection in bear country.

I was going to cover rifles and shotguns as well but I want to keep these articles short and light. The next article will be on rifles.

Guns and Shooting – A Primer (part 1)

Guns and Shooting – A Primer (part 1)

The topic of the different firearms and the various ways to properly shoot them is so broad that it’s hard to know where to start. I think the best starting point is firearms. What is a firearm? Is a BB gun or a pellet gun a firearm? Here is a definition used by the federal government:

The term “firearm” is defined in the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(3), to include (A) any weapon (including a starter gun), which will, or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon….

So, a BB gun is not a firearm because it uses compressed air or a spring to shoot the BB. Interestingly the law’s definition is not actually correct. No modern firearms use an explosive to propel the projectile. Did you know that? While black powder is an explosive, the modern smokeless powders used for the last hundred years are actually classified and regulated as propellants. This brings up another important point. When a round is fired the gunpowder does not detonate, it burns. It burns so quickly that it has a special name called “deflagration” to describe it. When it burns it release huge volumes of gas that push the bullet out of the barrel. I don’t figure you are reading this to get a dissertation on internal ballistics so I found this short 3 minute video that gives a nice overview:

It is a device that propels a device by that action of powder that constitutes a firearm.

Armed Teachers – A Conversation

Really! It is an honest to goodness conversation about teachers being armed. The following is an exchange I had with an old friend of mine. It started elsewhere on social media and I moved my response here. I thought it would be more easily read and understood here.


To lay the ground work, no one that I am aware of is suggesting the compulsory carrying of firearms. The idea is that teachers can volunteer. There are already teachers who carry during the rest of their lives and would like to carry or at least have access to their firearm at work. That is the population we are talking about.

The only unfortunate question we have to ask. Would a gun be used more by a teacher protecting their students or would there actually be more cases of a student getting a hold of the gun, or a crazy teacher losing it and using it on their students, etc. etc.

That’s a great question without a single unfortunate thing about it. I’m glad we’re going to talk about this. Let’s start backwards. You have me on “etc.” as well as “etc.” ;) Next is a crazy teacher losing it and using the gun on the students. Every mass killing I can think of happened after some type of planning. I have not heard of any spontaneous or impromptu spree killings. Forbidding teachers to be armed would not prevent wacko teachers from wacking the students. Too, consider the increasing number of people carrying concealed.

Growing Concealed Carry

In every case where a Shall Issue concealed carry permitting system was introduced opponents claimed there would be “blood in the streets” with people shooting each other over traffic accidents and parking spaces. They claimed it would be a return to the “wild west” (by which they meant a return to Hollywood’s version of the old west which never really existed). What happened? People responsibly armed themselves. Statistically, concealed handgun permit holders are extraordinarily law abiding and I know of zero accounts of permit holders abruptly blowing a gasket and gunning down all in sight.

From this I see that forbidding teachers to be armed will not keep children any safer and allowing them to be armed will not expose them to additional danger.

Students getting the gun. Retention is always a dynamic one considers when carrying. You are considering where to put the gun that will be easy to live with, quick to access, not be seen, and kept there in a way so the gun stays put. While there are many ways of addressing retention for a teacher carrying on-body, the simple solution is off-body “carry” with the firearm in a safe.

[Shall issue means that if you meet a predetermined set of criteria (e.g. not a felon) the issuing agency SHALL/is required to issue a concealed handgun license. As an example you can see Oregon's requirements here: ORS 166.291]

My wife is a teacher, a very good one. She’s grown up around guns as her dad and brother are both hunters, but she, and many teachers we know could never be convinced to carry a gun to school.

I’ll bet she’s great! Like I said, I’m not advocating conscription, just volunteers.

The only logical place to have the gun would be concealed on them so they could access it quickly when needed…and, teachers I know don’t feel that it’s realistic with their jobs of squatting to work with students, sitting with students, playing with students, etc.

I think it is interesting how people without training or experience think they know what is involved in carrying and using a firearm for protection. I wouldn’t dream of telling your wife of what a developmentally appropriate curriculum is for any group of kids.

Actually, as far as defensive situations go, a teacher in a room has a fair amount of time to respond. Take the teacher who lied to the murderer in Connecticut about where the kids were. She knew he was coming and had time to hide all her kids. That would be plenty of time to get a gun out of a safe, especially one like this: Gun Vault

Most folks carrying concealed need to prepare for an ambush of some type. A mass murderer shooting up kids in a school is a frontal assault. I would not spend a lot of time teaching a teacher how to draw fast and efficiently if he or she was just preparing for this scenario.

Additionally, I don’t see the impossibility of on-body carry in the circumstances you describe. There are lots of guns as well as carry options. I’ve had my gun work loose once. That was after crawling around under a house for a couple hours. Without turning this into a primer on concealed carry options I’ll just say those activities are not insuperable barriers to intelligent and responsible on-body carry.

Would you like some examples of guns and holsters that might work?

Love and Guns

I just got off the phone with one of the best people in the world. I’ve known him since I was a young boy. I remember him pulling up to our house on his motorcycle when I was 5 while I was riding my big wheel. He put me on the back of his cycle set his helmet on me and putted around the long driveway. It was awesome. He has the heart of a warrior and a heart of gold.

We had planned on going shooting today but he’s fighting off a cold and it was too cold and wet to make that wise. We were arranging another time to go to the range and got on to stories we had heard of people successfully protecting themselves. I told him about the 15 year old young man who, protecting himself and his 12 year old sister, had used his dad’s AR-15 to shoot burglars who were breaking into their home (The story can be found HERE). When I told him he said, “Oh Ben . . . Ben I’m so proud of that boy. I’m almost as proud of him as I am of you.” I wish you could have heard the love and pride in his voice as he thought of that young man making the hard choice and facing the uncertainty and unquestionably fear to shoot at other people in order to protect his sister. He was not reveling in the counter attack on evil or that those burglars got what they deserved. He thought and spoke only of that young man and his family. Like Gracie McKee at Packing Pretty said, we arm ourselves not out of fear or indignation but “because we love.”

So when you encounter someone who seems disproportionately passionate about preserving his or her gun rights understand that it is not about their guns. They aren’t trying to keep their guns, they are trying to protect their family from a deep and profound violation of their right to protect themselves. They are thinking of their family, the people they love.