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Carry at all times
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The first practical handguns were invented in the early 1500s. In the five centuries since, they have evolved into a variety of reliable designs. The reason for their existence is simple: a handgun can be available when a heavier, larger shoulder arm (rifle or shotgun) would not. Although even the most powerful handgun is still limited in power compared to most rifles, a weapon in hand is worth ten left behind in a safe.

The answer to the question "Why carry a handgun?" is simple: because other firearms are too heavy and bulky. But that answer is too cute for most people. "Why carry a weapon at all?" they ask.

Friend in need
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One reason is that carrying a weapon makes the difference between being easy prey to ill-meaning humans and going through life unmolested. Criminals tend to have the advantage of superior numbers, initiative and ruthlessness. The lawful folk can counter that with better weapons and, as importantly, effective training.

Of course, avoiding trouble is always the best policy. Yet it is wise to have a back-up plan, if trouble does find us despite our best efforts to avoid it. Same logic as wearing a seat belt while driving: not looking for an accident but being prepared to minimize the damage should something happen.

Typical self-defense
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Self-defense need not produce corpses of hostiles. Most of the time, criminal predators are opportunists who flee at the first sign of armed resistance. The few who persist in trying to harm or control their intended victim would have to be shot, but that is preferable to allowing them to harm innocents.

Use your rights
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The other, equally important reason, is that wearing sidearms exercises a human right to self-defense acknowledged by the US Constitution. We know from history that neglecting to use the rights we have results in the disappearance of those rights over time. England is a good example of such a process. Their 1689 Constitutional had guarantees similar to ours but the rights enumerated in it have long since disappeared though disuse.

A person may not wish to go armed today. Should she decide to wear a sidearm sometime in the future, perhaps as a response to stalking or another threat, she should have that right. The tradition and the current practice of wearing defensive arms by millions of Americans preserves that right for all of us.

What kind of handgun would a person pick? Dozens of types and thousands of models exist. The choice would depend on the purpose and many would have several types, just as a photographer might keep several lenses for different circumstances.
Browning Buckmark

22 long rifle cartridge close up
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For recreational use, a .22 rimfire target pistol would work well. They have little recoil, good accuracy and suffice for small game hunting and target shooting. A typical example shown here is inexpensive, uses cheap low-powered ammunition and has finely adjustable sights.

Human life is worth defending
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Sidearms for personal protection have to be more powerful in order to be effective. They usually have simpler sights, and use larger cartridges than purely target handguns. They can, however, be used for target shooting: the variety of available ammunition makes these designs very versatile.

Naturally, plenty of practice is needed to gain proficiency with a firearm. However, guns are much easier to master than any other martial art: for that reason alone they overtook longbows and arbalests in popularity back in the 1600s.

Practice with your weapon
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Variety of 38 Special ammo Hi-res

Above are just some of the available ammunition types in .38 Special caliber, the most common for revolvers.

  1. Jacketed hollow point: for self-defense
  2. Jacketed round nose: for defense practice
  3. Jacketed soft point: for hunting small game
  4. Unjacketed wadcutter: for target shooting
  5. Jacketed flat point: for practice, target shooting
  6. Unjacketed round nose: for inexpensive practice

The uses listed above are typical but, in a pinch, any of the rounds shown can be used to deter aggression.

I have a new gun
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Ownership of a good quality defensive weapon is enjoyable. This woman was photographed right after she brought home a new .45 pistol. Although it is only a small upgrade over her previous sidearm in terms of stopping power, she is happily anticipating using it recreationally. Since prudent people like her avoid trouble diligently, she is likely to use her gun only for punching paper targets. However, if she must defend her life, she would have the skill and the tools for doing so.

Why people own guns

Fight, flight or surrender : Depending on others : Wearing arms : Homedefense : Real guns? : Martial Arts

Technology of firearms

Long guns : Handguns : Becoming a gun owner : My Garand : Art of the Arms : Image library

Politics of self-defense
Gun control : Stay Safe : Effective guns : Necessary Evil : Media Bias : Aesthetics : Get active
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