“What gun should I get to keep in the house?” I’ve heard that question a hundred times or more during the last couple of decades. When your friends and co-workers find out you are a “gun guy”, you become the de facto expert on guns. Having been a Marine, Police Officer, and Small Arms Instructor for the military, I get that question on a regular basis.
Back in the late nineteen-eighties and early nineties my patent answer was to purchase a mid-sized double-action (DA) revolver in .38 Special or .357 Magnum with a stainless steel finish. The S&W “K” frame or something similar was the specific answer.
Diehard gun people aren’t the ones asking the house gun question, it’s the novice and new gun buyer. My reason for suggesting a DA revolver was that it was simple and uncomplicated to operate. The DA revolver is easy to load and unload without a complex manual of arms. The reasoning behind a stainless finish was two-fold. Number one, stainless is more forgiving of let’s say a ‘casual’ maintenance program and a couple of sweaty fingerprints won’t corrode the gun if it’s left in a drawer for a month.
The second reason for a stainless finish is the fact that a stainless steel revolver brings a much higher trade-in value than one with blued steel. If the person inquiring decided they wanted to sell the gun in question they’d get a better return for their money if it’s stainless. When my wife and I first married I found a second-hand revolver that fit the bill and it became our “fire extinguisher gun”.
Fire Extinguisher Gun
Do you have one or more fire extinguishers in your house? If not, shame on you. Stop reading this and go out and buy one. Now, when is the last time you moved your fire extinguisher? Do you play hide and seek with it, constantly shuffling it from one location to the next? Of course you don’t. A fire extinguisher is kept in the same location all the time. Every responsible person in the home should know where the extinguisher is and how to use it in a fire emergency.
A “fire extinguisher gun” acts on the same principle. The gun in question is kept loaded and ready in a specific location in the home. Every responsible adult knows where it is and how to use it in the event of an emergency. Certainly there may be other firearms around. I’ve carried a gun for a living for better than two decades now. However, the fire extinguisher gun is the vigilant sentry, quietly standing its lonely post, day after day, month after month, year after year just in case.
Throughout the years I’d take my bride with me to the range on occasion and brought along the fire extinguisher gun. Staging the gun on a range table, I’d sit my wife in a chair ten to fifteen feet away. On command she’d have to get up, run to the gun, access it and shoot the bad guy target. As my oldest son and daughter came of age I started taking them to the range to run this drill. Jarrad, who shoots regularly, didn’t have much trouble getting his first six shots into the “X” zone on the target. My wife and daughter, who only shoot handguns on occasion, struggled to get the first couple of shots into the preferred zone of the “bad guy”. By the third or fourth cylinder they were putting all rounds in the middle, but that rather defeats the purpose.
I know what you hard core guys are thinking: “Make your wife and daughter practice more often. Set up a dry-fire schedule and take them to the range every week.” Yes, in a perfect world without school, work, and conflicting schedules that might be possible.
During one of these range sessions I introduced both ladies to my Glock 19 and 17 pistols. They both enjoyed great success with the guns. For the next outing I set up the same drill, only this time I staged the Glock 17 as it would be at home. Both my wife and daughter had to run the “Get the Gun” drill. To their amazement and surprise both girls put their first rounds into the preferred zone on the “bad guy” target.
After that experience the ladies didn’t even want to shoot the DA revolver, but they did consume most all of the 9mm training ammunition I brought along. Therein lies the lesson learned; both my wife and daughter experienced success and enjoyed shooting the different gun. This success and enjoyment leads to genuine confidence. If the time ever comes to use a gun in self-defense, your thought shouldn’t be “Damn, I can never hit anything with this until I get warmed up.” Instead you want to have a supreme confidence in your equipment and ability.
In the year 2012 my opinion for the house or fire extinguisher gun has changed a bit. I now recommend some type of striker-fired pistol chambered in 9x19mm. The S&W M&P, the Springfield XD(M) and, of course, Glock 17 all fill the bill. These pistols are simple to operate like a DA revolvers but the trigger press on each is much more conducive to rapid, accurate shot placement. The only additions I’ve made to my house gun were the XS Big Dot sight set up and a Crimson Trace Lasergrip. Yes, I want my family to have an “unfair” advantage over any vermin that would attempt to harm them.
The 9x19mm cartridge is less expensive for training and practice than most any other pistol cartridge. It’s also no small consideration that if your spouse or loved one is forced to use the fire extinguisher gun they will start out with at least 17 rounds of ammunition (that is, as long as you reside in Free America). I don’t know about you, but if my wife or daughter is forced to stop an intruder(s) with a pistol I’d rather they had rounds left over than run out in the middle of the fight.
Paul Markel became a US Marine in 1987. He has been a police officer, bodyguard, and small arms instructor. Paul hosts Student of the Gun TV and offers training through SOTG University. Find out more by going to http://www.studentofthegun.com.
Images copyright Paul Markel/Student of the Gun