Whenever gun aficionados get together to shoot the breeze, one topic inevitably comes up: stopping power. After all, unless you’re a competitive shooter, it’s the reason to own a gun. In the concealed carry community, stopping power translates into handgun self-defense with the big league player in that ballpark being the .357 Magnum.
While the .357 Magnum can bring down just about anything that crosses its path, most revolvers are limited to six rounds.
The engineers at Taurus have designed a pistol that increases capacity by about 15 percent — the seven shot Model 617 SS 2-inch Magnum revolver.
For a large bore pistol, the Taurus 617 is a relative lightweight at 28.3 ounces. The similar Smith & Wesson 686 Plus is a about a half-pound heavier at 34.1 ounces, which is a noticeable difference after a few hours. The 617 is an all-stainless steel product with a matte finish aside from the polished hammer and trigger. The grips on the 617 are neoprene and work well with the average-sized hand.
The wide, smooth trigger provides ease of access and identification while shooting, particularly in low-light conditions. As author Scott W. Wagner describes in his article “Have Seven for Sure with the Taurus 617 .357 Magnum Revolver” at USConcealedCarry.com, the trigger pull on the 617 takes some getting used to:
“The double-action trigger pull is in the 12-pound range, which is standard for most modern double-action revolvers. The single-action pull is around 5 pounds. There is a bit of stacking near the end of the double-action trigger pull, but it is still quite manageable. “(Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The safety system on the 617 consists of a transfer bar, which keeps the hammer from hitting the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled completely to the rear. The Taurus 617 also features the famous Taurus Security System, which allows you to make your pistol inoperable at the turn of a key.
At the range, the 617 .357 Magnum proved to be a versatile performer. A variety of .357 and .38 Special rounds were tested and there was a demonstrable difference in the speed ratings. Bringing up the rear with a velocity of 716 fps was Winchester 130 grain FMJ. This round produced virtually no recoil and would make an excellent practice round. At the other end of the spectrum, the Federal 125-grain Personal Defense Load topped out at 1252 feet per second.
Running an assortment of rounds through the Taurus 617 didn’t affect its accuracy. All rounds were true to aim using the fixed front and rear sights at 30 feet. Overall, the 617 is an effective combination of power and concealability that should garner considerable brownie points within the concealed carry community. The extra round is an added bonus. MSRP for the Taurus 617 is $560.
As the name implies, concealed carry is the practice of carrying a concealed weapon when outside of your private residence. The permit is essential to effective self-defense and elevates self-confidence regarding one’s ability to survive an attack.
But with the ongoing gun control debate unlikely to be resolved any time soon, it appears that gun-free zones are here to stay.
What this means to you is that a firearm should not be the only option in your daily carry ensemble.
There are a host of alternative options that deserve consideration for backup carry and a few of the more common ones are discussed here.
Collapsible batons are the modern version of the old-school nightstick. These can be an effective weapon if used properly and in the right dimensions. A baton between 12 and 21 inches is preferred — anything longer is unwieldy and a shorter baton only decreases the distance between you and your attacker. The baton can be used as an impact weapon, but may be more effective on pressure points.
Pepper spray is another option that can quickly stop an attacker dead in his tracks. Pepper sprays aren’t generic; quality varies and it is important to choose your bran carefully when your life may be on the line. Sabre Red and Fox are two of the most effective brands.
However, there are two important considerations about pepper spray: One, they do have expiration dates, so it’s necessary to replace as needed, and two, one in a thousand people are unaffected by pepper spray. For this reason, you should have another backup weapon readily available in the event your run into that thousandth person.
That weapon could end up being a tactical pen or kubotan. These are known as force multipliers and provide additional power when striking. These devices are most effective when positioned at the bottom of the fist and used to inflict maximum pain to the throat, face, jugular, or collarbone area. While the kubotans are generally recognizable by law enforcement, tactical pens are much harder to discern and can usually be carried into most environments.
Knives are probably the most common backup carry option, primarily because of their lethal potential. A good knife training course will focus on the defensive abilities of a blade and de-emphasize prolonged knife fighting. Knives are easily carried, so long as they’re not machete-sized weed whackers that will only draw attention to the carrier.
The last option should also be the least attractive one. Unarmed combat techniques should only be used when all else fails. Most thugs are street savvy and probably bigger and stronger than you. So unless you are spending hours and hours each week in martial arts training, this should not be a viable option. That being said, learning a few defensive moves is not a bad idea for anyone.
Yet none of the alternative options listed above are likely to work if you aren’t prepared to use them when needed, as author Steve Collins explains in his article “Other Than Guns: Tools of the CCW Trade” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“The thought of it repulses most people, yet it is that very ugliness in ourselves that we must bring to the surface — and quickly — if we are going to survive this kind of encounter.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)