Three Guns to Rule Them All

Almost everyone seems to have picked up the Handgun-Rifle-Shotgun meme, so I’ll play too:

One Handgun, One Rifle, One Shotgun. You are able to choose just one of each for self defense with NO modifications.

Let’s talk about requirements first:

  • Accuracy. Most self-defense situations are close proximity, so accuracy of 1.5 inch groups at 500 meters is not a self-defense gun requirement, as far as I am concerned. If the gun allows you to hit inside a 5″x5″ square at 30′, it’s probably good enough. Most people don’t shoot as good as the gun is capable of anyway. I’m with most people in this.

  • Reliability. Probably most important requirement for self-defense. The requirement is that when you’re in trouble and reach for your tool of choice to defend yourself, it will function as expected with very high probability. There is no such thing as a 100% reliable gun. All guns occasionally malfunction. It’s a question of picking one that is more reliable than the rest.

  • Cost. Given the legal ramifications of self-defense gun use, you might lose use of your weapon (confiscated as “evidence”) for an extended period of time. Therefore it has to be something that will not break the bank to replace.

  • Caliber. Definitely should not be an “exotic” caliber. Should not be a “one gun” caliber either. If there isn’t a wide range of guns on the market, using a particular caliber, stay away from it. Even if today there’s a large supply of cheap surplus ammunition in that caliber. I mean calibers like 5.45×39 and 9×18 Makarov, for example.

  • Ammunition cost. Self-defense skills are not something that magically comes to you, when you’re in danger. Especially skills with a firearm. They take lots of practice. Will you be able to afford shooting 200-500 rounds per month?

  • Recoil. Can you handle firing more than one round from this gun?

  • Convenience. Someone with very small hands might be uncomfortable with  a Glock, just like someone with very large might be uncomfortable with Bersa. Custom grips help, but we’re talking “no modifications”, remember.


Given all this, my picks:

Handgun: CZ 75SP-01 9mm. Any gun of the CZ 75B family would do, really. It’s reliable and spot on accurate, when I am up to its capabilities. And I really like what the Czechs did with SP-01, lengthening the frame to shift the weight forward. Plus, the factory grip on SP-01 is just perfect for my hands.

Rifle: Saiga 7.62×39. Again, almost any AK-47 variant would do, but given Kommiefornia’s continued AWB, it’s Saiga. Accurate enough (remember, we’re talking about self-defense use, not long-range competition). And reliable as … I don’t know a weapon more reliable than AK-47. Drop it in sand, mud, river, leave it out in the rain, get it frozen in ice, and when it thaws, you’ll have no problem shooting it.

Shotgun: Saiga-12. Same reason as the rifle. I hesitated a little between Saiga and one of the pump action shotguns, because of the psychological advantage that you supposedly can get just from working that pump. But then again, the sound of cycling the AK-style gun is pretty unmistakable too.

So, there you go – my three choices for self-defense weapons (G-d forbid that I should ever be limited to having only 3 weapons). What are yours?

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Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Afraid, my choices will disappoint you: not only I don’t have any preferences – I have no knowledge or experience with firearms. Except an ancient and unfortunate episode in 9th grade Civil Defense class, when one and and only practice in the school’s basement range resulted in my almost hitting with my Izhevsk rifle the Captain who was standing behind me.
    Nobody knows how that could happen, least of all – me. But I still remember the epithets he awarded me with…

    • No disappointment – choice of how one plans to address possible dangerous situations is very personal, and unfortunately the only way to know that it was the wrong choice is by whether after the fact one is alive and well, or not.

      Funny you should mention the school Civil Defense. Imagine telling the kids here today that we used to have an indoor range in school cellar, and that we had a mandatory class where in order to pass one had to field strip an AK within 12 seconds, put it back together within 19, and get some score (don’t remember how much) with a .22 rifle. I was recently reminded of why we, the boys, were particularly fond of going to that range … the girls … wearing school uniforms, with very short skirts, and shooting from prone positions 😉

  2. I don’t plan at all, I’m a fatalist with my head planted firmly in the sand.

    Your school was more serious than mine. We didn’t shoot from prone positions, although the taking apart/assembling Kalashnikovs, etc I remember well.

    Yeah, my son loved to hear this stories. The only chance he gets to shoot is when visiting friends in PA and going to the range with them.

    • Well, if you or your son are ever in the neighborhood, I’ll be happy to take either or both of you to the range, to make it a safe and pleasant experience, unlike the one your school memories paint, and to watch my language 😉

      • Thanks, if I ever visit CA I might take you up on that kind offer.

        My son doesn’t go on trips with me anymore – he prefers company of his girlfriend. But he went to LA once, and he liked CA. He even told me recently that some day he’d like to move to SF.

        There are so many things I need to learn: to shoot, for one, and to drive…

      • Stick to shooting, driving is too dangerous


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