Category Archives: Firearms

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?

Guns and Public Health

Public Health Experts Reportedly Targeting Gun Violence as ‘Social Disease’

On The Blaze

Before I dive into this I want to be really clear on something.

I welcome all honest inquiry.

You know what? The truth is. It is immutable. However, it becomes readily apparent in the article that the doctors in question are not after honest inquiry. These individuals are after a result. They have a conclusion in search of confirmatory evidence.

“This [mass killings] is what we’re going to have to live with if we have more personal access to firearms.”

There is the conclusion.

The statement immediately previous illustrates what I would call some fuzzy thinking:

“What I’m struggling with is, is this the new social norm?”

What an interesting question. I have a question of my own.

How can something that happened a total of three times in 2011 be any kind of norm?”


In those killings a total of 18 people died and 21 were injured. Each person is to be mourned but are we to say that these deaths are more bitter and more tragic than say the 32,885 who died in automobile accidents in 2010 (2011 was not listed in my source at the time of writing)? I could argue that Cars are the distressing “social norm” but that would be silly too. Aside from the fact that millions of people arrive safely in vehicles every day that number does not mention that lives are saved by cars. Ambulances, fire tucks, and police cars spring immediately to mind but how about folks who drove themselves or were driven to the hospital? What about the cars that the nurses and doctors used cars and buses to get to the hospital?

I could not find stats for lives saved by vehicles. People don’t usually collect information on things not going wrong. There is a similar problem with positive, life-saving gun uses; however there have been a few studies on it. The best study I’ve found says there are 1.5 million defensive gun uses each year. Some people may think that number is too high. I say fine, cut it in half. Still too big? Then cut it in half again. There is simply no way that the actions of three people in 2011 can compare to the good done, the lives saved and health preserved, by good people with the tools they needed to protect themselves.

These doctors are not looking at that.

The Tsunami Dynamic – Knowledge Part 4

April 6th, 2011

First Aid and CPR

You know you should know CPR and first aid already but the Tsunami Dynamic gives you another reason. It is extremely likely that you or someone else you come across will be injured in an emergency.

A great place to start in getting this training is the Red Cross. In addition to this I recommend taking a wilderness first aid course. Stores like REI often host classes like this. If the classes are free go for it but the good classes will cost about $150. Budget extra because you will learn what gear you need and that is the time to get it.

This is not simply a step to take in preparing for a natural disaster. A class like this is an investment in yourself and your family.

Self Defense

Everyone should know a smattering of empty handed combat. Just like you don’t need to be Ray Mears to start a fire, you don’t need to be Bruce Lee to be prepared to defend yourself. For unarmed combat that is quick and dirty I suggest Krav Maga and Systema. Like any skill set you can devote your life to it but what you need is some basics so if you find yourself in a physical conflict you will have some idea about what to do. If you are a female I highly recommend taking a women’s self defense class. Many law enforcement agencies offer them for free. My wife went to Women’s Strength and thought it was a very good investment of her time. When it is free like that you have no excuse.

Weapons. The function of a weapon is to offset differences in physical strength. You should have one. Knives are sometimes better than nothing but to use one you MUST make contact with your enemy. This is where guns are superior. Having a gun guarantees you nothing. You may not be able to deploy a gun before a threat is upon you. But a gun gives you options. Thousands of people use a gun every day to fend off would be attackers and don’t have to shoot anyone. Don’t let this deceive you into thinking that you can just wave a gun at a threat to scare it off. If you draw a firearm you had better be willing to use it.

If you are willing to use a gun then you better know how. You must get training to know how to use a gun to defend yourself. This has nothing to do with plinking or putting holes in paper targets. “Ben, this is way beyond the ‘very reasonable financial outlay’ that you led off with in your introduction.” True. Owning a firearm and getting the training you need is a commitment. However, it is not a huge commitment. Places like PFI can get you squared away on how to effectively use your weapon and there are a lot of good, reliable, and affordable guns to choose from.

I am suggesting that carrying a firearm should be a normal part of your daily life. If it is, then your firearm simply augments your preparations. However, if you are not one who carries on a daily basis then you need to add it to your preps. This would make a firearm a more advanced addition to your “Go Bag.”