Firearms Misconceptions

22 Long Rifle

There are many urban myths and legends surrounding the shooting community. Most of them are from people who are new to shooting, or from people who watch too many Hollywood movies. However, I’m often surprised when I see an otherwise intelligent individual say something that is so outrageous, that I catch myself rolling my eyes and snickering. Since I do not typically consider myself rude, I thought I would politely highlight some common gun world misconceptions that many people have—some of these will make you laugh. The sound of a pump shotgun will scare off an intruder. Do you think the chambering of a shotgun would have scared off the bath salt guy who ate that man’s face off? This is one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard. If you hear someone coming through the window of your home and loudly chamber a shotgun, you just did two things. You let the suspect know where you are, and if he didn’t have his gun out, he does now. Also you just created a vacancy in the magazine tube, which should have been filled up long before any potential gunfight.

12 Gauge Shotgun
12 Gauge Shotgun

I like shotguns for home defense because you don’t have to aim them. Okay chief, whatever you say. I like shotguns too, but you still have to aim. While this little misnomer is kind of funny, it is almost an understandable misconception. I don’t usually make fun of folks who think this way. True, it is easier for a most people to hit a target with a shotgun than handgun or rifle. With enough distance, you will get a nice pattern of buckshot. However, you still have to aim, those shotgun wads have to get some distance before they open and those pellets start spreading out. You aim a shotgun just like any other gun, but that slightly opened wad may buy you that extra inch you needed to score a hit. You would be surprised how easy it is to miss a close range moving target.

One shot with a pistol will stop an attacker. Some people may think from watching every action movie ever made, that one shot from a pistol anywhere on the body, regardless of caliber will drop a person in his tracks. This is usually not the case. A shot to the brain stem will drop an attacker instantly, but a shot to the chest may take some time. It really depends on the situation. A couple of shots to the thoracic cavity and one to the brain stem is usually a good way to stop an attack, but listen to your firearms instructor, as there on many schools of though on where to aim at an assailant.

9mm Handgun
9mm Handgun

Laser sights mean I don’t have to practice as much. This one happened to me recently. A young friend of mine purchased a home defense handgun with a built-in laser sight. He said he rarely had time to go to the range, so the laser sight would help do the aiming for him. Obviously, having a little beam of light coming out of your gun doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn the basics. Laser sights do not fix jerking trigger pulls or clearing failures. In my personal opinion, they really do not help much at all.

If someone shot me with a .22 LR, it would just make me mad. Okay guy, why don’t you go try it. Yes, it would probably make you mad, just before you bled out. While I would not use a .22 LR caliber as my home defense gun of choice, it can still go right through your cranium and stop in the middle of your brain. Any gun can kill a person, especially if the bullet hits in a vulnerable spot. I’ve also killed more wild game with a .22 than with any other gun, trust me—a .22 can kill you.

22 Long Rifle
22 Long Rifle

I don’t like to carry one in the pipe. I get it, carrying a loaded gun in a concealed holster does not feel natural at first. I admit the first time I strapped a chambered handgun on my body; I got more than a little apprehensive. In my opinion, this reaction is healthy. Negligent discharges often happen from experienced gun owners who get just a little too comfortable. Any person who handles a gun should keep safety in the forefront of their mind at all times. However, carrying a unchambered handgun is almost like not carrying one at all. In a life and death encounter, every second counts. There will most likely not be time to reach down, draw your weapon, chamber it, grip it properly, aim, and pull the trigger. Eliminating needless steps will increase your chances of being the one who walks away unharmed.

Do you heard any misconceptions about firearms? I’m sure there are plenty more. Share them with us below and set the record straight!

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Comments (12)

  1. after over 50 years of shooting, the spring / magazine myth was new to me!
    can someone tell me if this also applies to the firing pin spring?

  2. Use to work at a slaughter house. We wiukd kill full size hogs and cows with a 22 lr six inch Smith and Wesson K frame revolver. Normal procedure most would go down with two quick shots to the head, often falling before you could make the second shot. Once in a while it would take three or four. shots, but this was often caused by bad shot placement. The bullet would stay inside the skull cavity and the brain would be blood pudding. No a 22 would not be my main chioice fir self defense, but I would hate to come up against someone who carried a 22 as their only weapon, fired fifty rounds per week, taking only head and spine shots..

  3. I have heard that the 22lr is the weapon of choice for Israels Mossad (secret intelligence agency).
    Any truth or opinion about this?

  4. Roger, It is the friction from usage of a spring (coiling, uncoiling) that fatigues the metal. Modern springs are made of tempered steel and hold up very well in a non-moving static state. If it makes you feel more secure, you can always buy extra mag springs and replace them every few years (they’re cheap enough).
    The issue with .22 calibers is not that they won’t kill anyone, it’s what they call stopping power.
    A .22 is low on stopping power and while the perp may eventually bleed out.
    He’s going to continue to kick your ass until he does….

  5. I do agree with the .22 concept. I sure as hell don’t want to be shot by one. Not being the being the best shot with a 1911, I know I can hit a target more times with a .22 then a .45. especially in a defense mode. I believe more people are thinking this way. Have you seen the prices of .22 revolvers lately?

  6. I was told that keeping a loaded clip or magazine would weaken the spring eventually. I believe that not keeping one in the tube and a full clip or mag could get you killed so you don’t have to worry about a weak spring. Springs are replaceable, I’m not.
    I have a brother that teaches a carry class in a certain state that says you can’t have a loaded gun unless you are ready to shoot it. He teaches the class to always be ready to shoot it. lol

    1. I’ve got an S&W 9mm that has had mags loaded full-up for most of 50 years, and they all still have the same spring power they had when new.

  7. Couple of what seem like myths to me:

    The first is that one needs to be trained like a special forces soldier to have a chance of successful self defense. There have been so many recent stories of successful self defense by people who picked up the gun for the first time in decades and use it to repel a home invader. The recent story about an 80 something grandmother who pulled her late husbands revolver out from between mattresses where it had been for years and used it to repel a home invader.

    There are serious studies by capable people that tend to indicate in 80% of successful firearm uses to repel danger, no shots are fired. In nearly all other cases it’s two or less shots at about 5′, or arms length, probably point shooting one handed. The biggest promoters of all the extra training are mostly those that sell training. Reading forums I think some people are over trained.

    I think basic safety is good. PA hunter safety class or NRA handgun safety class pretty much gets it done. But I wouldn’t deny any woman/man being stalked by an ex-spouse or ex-boy/girlfriend a gun for protection just because she/he hasn’t had a class. There was an article and a 911 tape a couple of years ago where a woman was loaned a pistol because her ex-husband or boyfriend, I don’t remember which, had been threatening her and had attacked her. She needed that gun right now, not after a class and saving for training. A few hours later he came after her again in her place of residence, she backed herself into a closet and talked to 911 as he smashed his way through the house to get to her. When he broke into the closet to kill her, she shot him. No training, just had a gun, kept her head, and used it.

    Another myth, having a gun will improve the actuarial outlook for someone who over weight, over eating, over smoking, over drinking and under exercising. If it does, it’s in the 3rd decimal place.


    1. No you don’t need to be trained like a SF Soldier. But your chance of survival goes up drastically if you are. No, you don’t have to aim your weapon, but your chance of hitting your target goes up drastically if you do. And no, a hunter safety class won’t train anyone enough to be in any way competent with a hand gun. Practice, and practice that emphasizes the type of shooting you may have to do will help train you. I’ve shot pistols and revolvers for about 50 years, and instructed basic and advanced marksmanship in the Army over a 20 year career and I have seen soldiers miss the entire target; a man sized target, at 7 meters. That’s about 22 feet. They missed multiple times. Admittedly the M 1911A1 of the time and the Beretta M9 were and are not target pistols, but they would group within 3.5 inches at 25 meters if not entirely shot out. (some of the 1911’s were). I could and did hit the 50 meter target with various officer’s handguns so that they couldn’t say it was the weapon. The thing is that accuracy, especially under stress, is part concentration and part muscle memory, both of which is all training. As to the ’80& of the time’, yes, sometimes showing that you’re armed will end a potential conflict. Those are the timid thieves. But sometimes waving it at a bad guy and not using it gets your weapon taken away or gets you shot or even worse, gets your weapon taken away and you beaten with it or shot with it. Also, I’m not a fan of the ‘point and shoot’ method. I train to sight my weapon, no matter what it is. That also becomes muscle memory, and can be done in less than 1/2 second. Bowling pin matches are good training for this. Of course, they are also addictive. I have seen shooters at these matches hit 5 pins at 15 yards in less than 4.3 seconds. All shots were aimed. Also, the hits had to be in order and the time didn’t stop until the last pin was knocked off the stand. Nobody point shoots at pin matches. Basically, the people who successfully defended themselves without training did it by keeping their heads, and getting just a little lucky-oh and they had to have had enough training to arm the weapon and know which end launched the round. But most of the people who have not had any training and have had to try to defend themselves with a handgun or other firearm have not been very successful. Many have wound up in the hospital or dead. And in a serious situation showing your weapon to your opponent and not using it is a great way to discover if he is armed and has been trained. Because he or she will shoot you.

  8. True, though a .22 caliber can and quite often will kill something or someone, that being said, I`d still put my self defense trust in a good ol` 1911 .45ACP!

    1. I sometimes carry a small Walther TPH .22LR when I don’t have a way to conceal my 1911. Four or five holes from a .22LR is better than having a 1911 at home. Bigmag is 100% right, though.

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