TTG: “Self Defense Findings”

This is an interesting compilation of five years worth of data. It’s all compiled from one source: The NRA’s ‘Armed Citizen Column’. That is, admittedly, a small sample but it consists of 482 incidents. The fact that anyone expended the time and effort to analyze these cases shows that someone thinks they might have some important messages.

The work was done by Claude Werner, Director of Firearms Training LLC, and appears in The Thinking Gunfighter.

Here are a few of his findings:

Here’s my analysis of what armed self-defense for the Private Citizen, not LEO, looks like. You decide what suits your needs best to solve this type of problem.
Private citizens reload in approximately 1/2 of one percent of shooting incidents (3/482).

If the defender fires any shots, most likely it will be 2 rounds.
The shooting distance in the vast majority of cases was slightly in excess of arm’s length.
At this distances, even .22s and .25s are highly immediately lethal.

The majority of incidents (52%) took place in the home. Next most common locale (32%) was in a business. Incidents took place in public places in 9% of reports and 7% occurred in or around vehicles. The most common initial crimes were armed robbery (32%), home invasion (30%), and burglary (18%).

The range of most incidents appears to be short but in excess of touching distance. It appears that most defenders will make the shoot decision shortly before the criminal comes within arm’s length. Defenders frequently communicate with their attackers before shooting.

Reloading was required in only 3 incidents. One of those involved killing an escaped lion with a .32 caliber revolver, which was eventually successful after 13 shots.”

So, the data included more than person-on-person defense. The lion case indicates that. I have read most of the ‘Armed Citizen’ columns and seem to remember cases where a firearm was used to defend against attacking dogs, for instance.

I suspect that who or what you must defend yourself against depends on where you live. If you live in a city you will be more likely to defend against a human attacker than if you lived in a rural area. I live outside of town and have had several black bears on the patio. We’ve also had dog packs and a cougar on a neighbor’s patio. Deer have chased my dog. In all this time I have only killed one animal – a doe that had been hit by a car and had a broken hip.

Regardless of my experiences I hope you enjoy the discussion linked to.

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9 Responses to TTG: “Self Defense Findings”

  1. Jim22 says:

    I’m really interested in a response from Nota. He has carried a badge. I have not.

  2. notamobster says:


    I can only really relate to my training and officer involved shootings. Anything else would be anecdotal or pulled wholecloth, from my ass.

    I know from experience that letting someone know that you’re armed works as a deterrent. That’s not to say that it always will, but it does sometimes.

    Most people, unless they are retarded or high, don’t want to be shot. A great many of the years and years worth of AC stories I have had the pleasure to read show that most assailants flee at the presentation of a weapon, and almost all – at the discharge.

    As for proximity, caliber, and the like:

    Training. When we did our (frequent) CQB training we trained for encounters of 5-12′. When you extend your arm – that puts your muzzle about three feet from your target.

    Even basic firearms qual had a 2 yd, quick draw, no sight picture shoot.

    My duty weapon was a Spgfld .40 Xdm

    off duty? NAA .22 magnum revolver! It holds 5 shots and conceals under ANY clothing leaving absolutely no silouette. It clips inside my basketball shorts and no one ever knows it’s there.

    I even got wanded at two pro sporting events with it in my waist.

    The bark and fire of a firearm deters even the most hearty of attackers. This of course doesn’t apply to those who are high or retarded. πŸ™‚

  3. R.D. Walker says:

    My son tells me that when you shoot someone with 5.56mm NATO, they run a few steps before they die and it is hard to tell if you got them or not if they run behind cover. If, on the other hand, you shoot them with 7.62mm NATO, they fall right where they stand. He would know.

    I don’t think we are talking about rifle ammo, but it is interesting.

  4. notamobster says:

    I wouldn’t recommend an M16 or an AK47 for interior home defense. If we’re shooting the neighbors up anyway – might as well go with the .50 cal.


  5. notamobster says:

    It is actually very interesting, RD. One of the reasons for the 5.56 NATO was that it did less catastrophic tissue damage. It enabled you to cause the enemy a casualty, with less likelihood of causing a fatality.

    Kinder, gentler warfare.

    It’s also much cheaper and lighter.

  6. Jim22 says:

    Kinder. Gentler. That makes me wonder about my preparation efforts.

    Cheaper and lighter I understand.

    I wonder about the experiences of RD’s son. Did they include expanding bullets? Do expanding bullets make a difference in rifles?

    Regarding interior home warfare I support the notion of a shotgun. I also have a handgun but I’d much rather defend my home with a shotgun. I don’t think it makes much difference if it’s a 12 ga. or a 20 ga. .410’s, no.

  7. R.D. Walker says:

    Hollow points and other expanding bullets are against the Hague Conventions and NATO countries don’t use ammo that is prohibited by Hauge, so no, there was no expanding ammo used.

    Laws of War: Declaration on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body; July 29, 1899

  8. notamobster says:

    Shotguns are great. I like a pistol for maneuverability. A 12ga with 7-1/2 game load hits like a slug inside of 25′.

    The thing to remember is this: once your fire a bullet… You own it – and any damage it does to persons or property.

    I carried federal hydrashocks until I learned that they have very poor penetration because they expand rather easily. I used to have The FBI studies/reports on different caliber, that were released for LE / SWAT training. Great materials.

  9. Jim22 says:

    “Shotguns are great. I like a pistol for maneuverability. A 12ga with 7-1/2 game load hits like a slug inside of 25β€².”

    That’s pretty much along the lines of my thinking. Defense always. I kind of break it down into two areas: In-home and outside the home.

    As I wrote earlier my biggest defensive concern at home is likely to be non-human. Even in the unlikely instance that I am confronted by a human intruder I will be in a defensive position – holed up behind the bed or something. Shotguns rule there.

    Outside my home I will not be carrying a long gun so it’s a pistol or nothing. My experience with pistols is that they are underpowered and difficult to hit with. That’s why they are not my first choice at home.