Monday, March 29, 2021

Remnant: Handgun


Jarrell’s third lesson was with a handgun.

Dar trained him with a Ruger .22 semi-auto with a bull barrel.

Jarrell had figured out that Dar had reasons for everything he did, so he asked “Why are we training with THIS handgun?”

Dar had an answer. “Ammo is in very short supply. You can train with a .22 and will learn what I need to teach you.”

“So this isn’t the one you think I should carry?” Jarrell asked.

“I really didn’t want to go there” Dar said with a sigh. “If you only gun is a .22 then you should carry it. If the only ammo you can find is .22 ammo, then you should carry it. If you cannot handle more recoil than a .22, then you should carry it.”

“But if you have a bigger caliber available to you and have ammo for it and you can control that gun and hit what you are aiming for...then that is a better choice” Dar said.

The internet was still up most of the time and Jarrell had done a little bit of research.

“Why do you say that?” Jarrell asked. “I don’t mean to be disrespectful but I want your opinion.”

“I mean, the internet says that the only sure stop is a central nervous system hit and if you hit it with a .22 it works as well as a .45” Jarrell parroted.

“And if you don’t hit the central nervous system then even the most powerful pistol cartridges are not that powerful”

“Have you ever played pool” Dar seemed to change the topic.

“Yeah, sure” Jarrell said. He had spent a lot of hours in bars and pubs and he had played pool.

“Have you ever had a ball you wanted to hit but had it hiding behind a couple of balls?” Dar asked.

“Yeah, I guess so” Jarrell said.

“What if your cue ball was a tennis ball. What are the odds of being able to get a piece of the buried ball if your cue ball was a tennis ball?” Dar asked.

“About zero” Jarrell said. 

On a straight, frontal, center-of-mass hit, approximately 80% of the target's width is "vital" and 20% will impact Central Nervous System...if your bullet has enough momentum left after punching through 10" of flesh.

“A head is about 50 square inches. The spine is three inches wide and twenty inches long. It is a bigger target than the head but you have to punch through the rib-cage and guts to get to it. I have my doubts that a 40 grain, .22 bullet is going to have enough steam left in it to hit the bad-guy’s backbone and bruise his spinal-cord. That is all I am saying. The central nervous system is a lot bigger than you think if you have the penetration to get there” Dar said. For him, it was a long exposition.

Jarrell was disheartened to see how hard it was to “hit” with a handgun. He had been able to hit charcoal briquettes 90% of the time at 25 yards with the .22 rifle. He was 50% hitting water bottles at five yards with the handgun. Much bigger target. Much closer.

“That is why you keep pulling the trigger” Dar said. “The good news is that your target is going to be a lot bigger than a water bottle.”

“Your handgun is your third choice for engaging your enemy” Dar said. “Its single redeeming feature is that it can always be with you.”

The last part of the lesson was for Jarrell to monkey-paw a selection of Dar’s
“extra” handguns.

“These are all adequate choices” Dar said. “The gun selects you as much as you select it. Which one feels best in your hand. Close your eyes, bring the gun up to eye level and see if the sights align with your intended target.”

Jarrell was dubious as he looked them over. “They are all so big” he commented. “How will I conceal it?”

Dar was straight up. “The time for concealed carry is over. Personally, I don’t think you have the time to learn how to be effective with a handgun and carry concealed. Even with open-carry you still need to be able to sniff-out trouble if you hope to have time to get your gun out of the holster.”

Jarrell’s hand selected a Ruger P-89, 9mm. The gun was one of the oldest (and least expensive) of the ones Dar offered. Dar assured him it would “always go bang!”

Dar had Jarrell run the handgun course with the gun several times. Jarrell did not embarrass himself but struggled with reloading.

Dar sent him back to Melody with the Ruger 9mm, the holster, four magazines and 100 +P premium rounds of hollowpoint ammo. 

Note to readers: Fabulous comments on the shotgun training. Please feel free to flesh out what Dar would have covered in his training with the handgun.


  1. If I am ever in a position to train people how to use a handgun, I'll start them off with a CO2 pistol. Last fall I bought a Gamo P-430 (MSRP $45, currently available nowhere but Ebay from a seller who wants $60) and can vouch for its overall quality and its accuracy*, despite being a smoothbore; on a new CO2 cartridge, it shot Crosman and Beeman .177 pellets into 1" at 10 yards. BBs spread to about 2.5". Groups spread out as a cartridge pressure drops.
    The disadvantage of air pistols is, obviously, the shooter does not get to learn how to tolerate recoil. Otherwise, I think they provide good practice in terms of safe weapon handling and aligning the sights while squeezing the trigger. BBs are quite cheap, pellets less so, but still much cheaper than current prices on .22 LR.
    As for the training program itself, I would have started Dar on paper, shooting from a rest. This would show where his bullets are hitting in relation to his sight alignment and be more effective feedback than the "You missed!" message from water bottle misses. YMMV
    *I had to shave a bit off the side of the front sight with a utility knife (plastic gun) to correct a windage error.

  2. It may be available only during "Plentiful Times" but a SIRT pistol is a great (although pricey) training tool. Looks like a gun, feels like a gun, operates like a gun but with laser(s) so stance, grip, sight alignment, breathing control and trigger control can all be done noiselessly and recoil-free in a classroom (follow through requires recoil so that's for live fire); the Pro version turns on a red laser at trigger take-up and a green at sear break. Mine have the red laser adjusted 2" low at 30 feet so the instructor can see but a proper grip prevents the student from seeing it (CrimsonTrace lasergrips are good, too, but if the student "discovers" the red dot they will start using the dot instead of the sights, so I adjust the CT lasergrip about 5" low and 5" right - if I see the dot there I know the student is using the sights correctly).

    IIRC, the P89 is a DA/SA gun, so learning "first shot management" is critical - newbies usually put the first shot - with it's long, heavy trigger press - low and to the opposite side of their handedness (RH goes low left, LH goes low right) and do better with the rest of the magazine. Problem is, that first shot is the really, really important one and needs to be put where it belongs.

    "Failure to Stop" drills are important (aka "The Mozambique") - 2 to center mass, 3rd one to the eyes. Body armor, drugs (including adrenaline), a thick fat layer, a handgun's limited power, etc. can prevent a center mass shot(s) from effecting a solid stop. Real Life on the street ain't like television so "1 shot and done" very often does not work - shoot the threat until the threat stops being a threat.

    Dar would have made Jarrell shoot some full power ammo through the P89 so he would know what to expect, and some distance work (~30 yards) so he knew his capabilities and how the gun performed. And, how to periodically inspect, clean and lubricate the P89 AND protect the ammunition from solvent/oil contamination. AND reloading drills. AND how to "pre-stage" a draw response to a threat without revealing he has a gun or telegraphing his intent - means body position, hand position, alertness, establishing cover, escape routes. AND enough situational awareness to see something coming so he can be somewhere else, or at least behind useful cover.

    Melody needs training, too - some gun handling/shooting, (Jarrell may become disabled) plus what should she be doing to maintain her safety if Jarrell needs to draw and/or engage - pre-planned responses to "seekret" and discrete voice commands only they know, a rendevous plan, etc. "Build the Partnership" regarding security and defense, in other words.

  3. revolvers......aaaagh! (cue Tuco in the Gunshop Scene, TGTBaTU)

    Tools. Teach a man to kill with his bare hands first, then give him the other options and he will appreciate them all the more. And maybe be not so useless with or without them....

  4. Concur with Chuck. And .22s DO work for people with hand strength issues, so do .22 magnums. Shot placement for the win!

  5. Pop sending the goods home with the boy gotta be a shot of confidence for him and maybe validation/approval for her choice.

  6. I'm not sure I'd give a new handgunner +P ammo. Standard velocity will work just as well if his shot placement is correct.

    Chuck, I'll second the recommendation for the SIRT. I found out about them taking a class with Chris Cerino many years ago. Best dryfiring you can do. I'm also looking at the Mantix X system as an adjunct/upgrade.

  7. There's no replacement for displacement for me. Meaning I have to shoot a lot. Recently got a G44. Decided to shoot a brick of 500rds in a single sitting. Unbelievable confidence builder, because I have never attempted anything like that. Would love to be able to shoot that much with 9mm. I got the bb gun to learn Lucky McDaniel's instinct shooting, but, have yet to remove the rear sight and tackle it.


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