When the unthinkable happens and you find yourself face-to-face with someone threatening your life or the life of a loved one, there is little time for deliberation. You draw your weapon and shoot to incapacitate the attacker as quickly as possible. But what does that entail? The right answer is a lot of planning for that very moment.
The most efficient way to incapacitate a threat is to sever the brain stem from the rest of the body. In theory, this can be accomplished with a single shot.
In the real world, this rarely happens. Even a trained sniper, sitting at a comfortable distance and not engaged in a life and death struggle, would be hard-pressed to make that shot.
So the next best thing is to deprive the brain of oxygen, which is the point where choice of caliber and ammunition come into play.
There are three methods by which the brain can be suffocated. The first is to pierce the heart muscle to the point where it does not have enough pressure to pump blood to the brain. The next method is caused by a depressurization of the circulatory system, which occurs when a major artery or vein is severed. The last method is to damage the lungs to the point where they cannot exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, with the resulting brain death. Successfully using any of these methods will quickly bring an end to any confrontation.
But the debate continues as to which caliber and type of ammo is the best to achieve the desired outcome. There are many factors that affect a fired round’s probability of successfully incapacitating the target. Author George Harris discusses a few in his article “What Caliber and Ammunition Do You Recommend for Concealed Carry?” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“The attire of your adversary will most likely affect the performance of your ammunition. If you plan to use the same caliber and ammunition year-round, gear it toward the winter where heavier clothing is worn and more penetration is needed.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
In a perfect world, the key to successfully stopping a confrontation is to shoot the attacker multiple times in the critical torso area from the furthest point of your accuracy comfort zone.
Since this “perfect storm” scenario is unlikely to occur, you must depend on some combination of your ability, gun caliber, and ammo size. Expanding bullets increase the odds of debilitating the attacker but come with the caveat of penetration being reduced due to drag.
A semi-automatic pistol is generally preferred in a gunfight due to the increased magazine capacity and lower profile for concealed carry. For maximum stopping power, the .45 ACP is unparalleled, but if you haven’t been trained to handle the recoil, any confrontation will probably not end well.
The minimum caliber considered acceptable for quickly incapacitating an attacker is .380 ACP or .38 Special. Recoil is manageable with these rounds and your accuracy rate as well as your survival odds will likely be much higher.
There is not one definitive answer to the caliber and ammo size question. Spend time at the range, find out what works for you, and practice, practice, practice.
Recoil is one of those necessary evils that every new shooter has to overcome in order to be sufficiently accurate and react appropriately in the event of a confrontation. One of the great debates in the gun community is whether dry-fire and laser training systems prepare the shooter for the reality of firing their weapon with live ammo.
While many shooters tout the mantra of “shooting through it” to get accustomed to recoil, author and US Concealed Carry Magazine Executive Editor Kevin Michalowski claims in his article “Will Recoil Make You a Better Shot?” at USConcealedCarry.com, that continuously shooting will not make you immune to recoil:
“As a shooter, you can’t overcome a flinch by pounding your shooting hand with recoil. You can, however, ingrain the basic shooting mechanics so thoroughly into your muscle memory through dry-fire training that you will keep all your rounds on target.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Part of becoming a more accurate shooter is to follow the basics and remember that recoil does not affect accuracy, since it comes after the actual shot.
The Wall Drill is one of the first exercises to master. The first step is having a strong grip on your weapon. Then raise your gun to eye level with the end of the barrel about one inch from the wall. Pull the trigger slowly so that the release is a surprise. The objective is to hold the muzzle in place. Repeat at least five times daily if possible.
The goal of dry-fire training is to reinforce proper technique until it is embedded in memory. The key to accuracy is the elimination of muzzle movement, which is an easy skill to practice with dry-fire. This exercise should significantly reduce the tendency to anticipate the recoil and pull the trigger in an erratic manner.
Naturally, the more this drill is repeated, the more it will transition to live ammo at the range and will be a natural reaction should you ever be in a confrontation where you are forced to draw and fire your handgun.
If you find that recoil anticipation is still an issue even after practicing the Wall Drill for a while, then it would be a good idea to shoot with a smaller caliber gun at the range and focus on a smoother trigger pull. Remember that recoil happens after the shot and isn’t an influence on accuracy.
Although dry-fire training does not involve live ammo, there are important safety rules to follow. Remove and empty the magazine. Pull the slide to the rear and lock it. Verify that the chamber is empty. Make sure there are no loose rounds anywhere in the room.
While some critics disagree, most experts will tell you that practicing with dry-fire is an important training element. By combining trigger control and the knowledge that recoil occurs after the shot, accuracy will improve and recoil trepidation will decrease.
The burgeoning concealed carry market has naturally resulted in an outpouring of carry-related accessories designed to generally make your daily carry experience easier, safer, or more comfortable. These products range from necessities like holsters to somewhat fanciful items like “tactical” pens.
Of all the products designed expressly for concealed carry, one of the most useful is the backpack along with its various mutations, most notably the sling backpack.
The new Atlus sling backpack from Drago Gear is a top-notch example of a well-designed pack that not only provides excellent weapon concealment, but has the large multi-purpose compartments necessary for a gear or everyday carry bag as well.
Obviously, the most prominent and unorthodox feature on the Atlus pack is the sling. It is a marvel of engineering design with one shoulder strap that fits over the head instead of the customary two found on standard backpacks.
Concealed carry permit holders should take note that the Drago Gear Atlus sling pack also features a quick-release stabilizer belt that wraps around the back and will provide balance support while drawing and firing. The Atlus design also swings easily to the front, allowing quick access to the five entry points on the pack.
At 1700 cubic inches, the Atlus pack is large enough to tote a 17” laptop. It is also water bladder compatible with a hydration system that can attach to either side of the top of the pack. A Y-compression strap runs across the outside and helps keep exterior items secure. In addition to the compartments, the interior has a 4-channel elastic organizer.
Before purchasing a Drago Gear Atlus pack, there are three minor design flaws to consider. First, you should know the sling pack does not come with a generic holster for the conceal carry compartment, but the advantage is that the loop style lets you change out weapons without changing the holster.
Secondly, the Y compression strap needs to be released before accessing the concealed carry section. Since it is a quick-release buckle, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. The third issue is one that is also easily resolved, as explained by author Scott W. Wagner in his article “Drago Gear Atlus Sling Backpack” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Because there are five compartments, there are also a lot of zippers. I would change the paracord color of the two concealed carry compartment zippers so that they stand out if you need them in a hurry.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The Drago Gear Atlus sling pack wasn’t designed as a concealed carry pack with some extra room. It was designed as a multi-purpose pack, one of which being the ability to carry a concealed firearm. As such, the Atlus is an excellent and versatile mission pack that excels in both urban and field applications such as hiking, work or travel. MSRP is about $65.