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Critical Steps To Survive A Firefight

Critical Steps To Survive A Firefight

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Firefights are scary and a live-and-death battle – but they are survivable. And as a lawful citizen you are already at a distinct disadvantage.

You do not get to choose the time and place that a firefight happens. It will always be a surprise or an ambush on you and your fellow citizens. This means we must always be prepared. These are my top five ways to survive a firefight.

No. 1 — Have the Right Gun

The best way to survive a firefight is to be able to fight. Unarmed versus a gun rarely turns out well for the guy with empty hands. But when the rounds start going down range, you shouldn’t just have a gun; you should have “enough” gun. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Pocket pistols stink.

Tiny little guns like the Taurus TCP, Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 and Beretta Pico are all well-built, functional weapons. They are all guaranteed to go bang when the trigger is pulled and that’s great, but they are poor fighting weapons. Limited capacity, under-powered round, small grip, short sight radius, etc. Maybe you’ll get lucky, but I don’t count on luck to survive.

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I’m not advocating carrying a full-sized 1911 or Glock 17. I’m all about compact weapons. Weapons like the Glock 26 are an excellent balance of firepower and size, and the same goes for the Walther CCP. They’re easy to carry but big enough to fight.

No. 2 — Have Proper Ammunition

I’m not starting a caliber debate between proponents of the 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP or the 38 Special. What I am saying is to carry a duty caliber. By this, I mean any of the aforementioned, as well as the 357 Magnum, 357 Sig, 45 Colt, etc. I stay away from the mouse gun calibers like 380, 32 (except 327 Federal), 22 long rifle and Magnum (rimfires are nowhere near as reliable as centerfire) and 25 ACP.

Another factor is being equipped with proper ammunition. Winchester white box is good for a lot of things, but not so much for carrying. Modern defensive ammunition has bridged the gap quite a bit between the big three: 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. It’s gotten to the point where the bigger calibers offer very little advantage but are still very viable rounds. Whenever someone asks me my opinion on carry ammo I always say Speer Gold Dot or Hornady Critical Defense (for compacts), or Hornady Critical Duty (for full size). These rounds are proven over and over again by law enforcement around the world, as well as enough ballistic gel tests to prove their worth.

Avoid the gimmicky rounds like the G2 RIP ammo and research online. YouTuber ShootingtheBull410 has good videos. Ask your local police what they carry, and follow up with: Why do you carry it?

No. 3 — Have Enough Ammunition

It’s very easy to get in the mindset of “I’ll probably never get in a gun fight anyway, so I’ll just take the gun and be good.” First off, that’s a bit lazy and somewhat of an oxymoron. If you don’t believe you would ever need your weapon, then why do you carry it in the first place?

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Also, it’s complacent. Complacency kills, and it kills hard and fast. I suggest carrying at least one reload with you, one extra magazine, one extra speed loader, or speed strip. In all honesty, I carry two extra magazines. I’ve been in a few firefights and I could not imagine the fear and desperation that would come with running out of ammo in the middle of a fight.

No. 4 — Know the Difference Between Cover and Concealment

Have you ever seen the movie Lord of War? Nicholas Cage plays an arms dealer who travels across the world and makes millions illicitly selling guns to anyone and everyone. In one of the early scenes it shows some local mobster attempting to kill another mobster. They come with their AK 47s and start spraying, and their intended victim flips the table over and it absorbs dozens of rounds. (It was quite amusing, as little wooden tables are not prone to stopping bullets.)

Some items are great for hiding behind, and some are great for soaking up bullets. Seventy-five percent of a car won’t stop a bullet, but most engines can soak up rounds decently. Cinderblocks rarely take a direct hit but may deflect a round or two, but I wouldn’t count on them to save my life. Bullets are powerful things; it takes dense material to absorb a bullet and protect you.

No. 5 — Get Trained … and Practice

Carrying a gun does not make you a gunfighter; it doesn’t make you anything more than a guy carrying a gun. Training is what separates winners and losers. In other words, just because you have a pair of boxing gloves doesn’t mean you are ready to step into the ring with Manny Pacquiao.

Find a competent source of training that can instruct you not just how to shoot your gun, but how to fight with it.

I’m not saying you need to be a Delta Force member, but some basic instruction can do wonders. More important than training, though, is practice. This is where you will sharpen and refine your skills. Practice shooting with your weak hand, with one hand, from behind cover, from the ground, from a knee … and the list goes on and on. Even practice reloading and clearing malfunctions.

Believe it or not, training can be a lot of fun. In fact, it is easy to get somewhat addicted to it. Once you take your first class, you’ll be hooked, and you’ll want to learn more and more — especially when you see your proficiency increase.

Of course, in a firefight could do everything right and still get hurt or die. You can minimize the risk by being cautious, being well-armed, and being ready for that day if and when it comes.

What tips and advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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15 comments

  1. I respectfully disagree with your assessment on type of weapon and the efficacy of them. A 22 cal is just as deadly as a 44. I say that with ever 40 years experience as a Master Firearms Instructor. If you can’t hit your desired target with deadly accuracy the size or power is irrelevant. This is a most common mistake made for people who are uncomfortable with recoil and decible levels. If you can’t choose which eye you want to penetrate with consistency, you are not going to profit by using a larger caliber that you can’t use to that end.

    • Idiotic comment. The goal is to STOP an assault and put the assailant down. It is idiotic to claim a .22 is as effective as, say, a .44. It is also idiotic to claim that a tiny .22 round is as deadly as a .44. I wonder if Mr. Smith is wacko enough to say he’d just as soon be shot with a .44 as a .22?

      • No.. Your comment is idiotic, Jefferson. You can’t STOP a threat if you can’t HIT a threat. I’ve personally seen many people at the range I work at flinch their way out of good shot placement with duty caliber weapons but be able to dot someone’s eye easily with 22LR. The statement is actually about shot placement, if you bother to read the entire post. If you can’t hit the target… caliber simply doesn’t matter, therefor, 22 and 44 are equally deadly. Don’t suppose you’d volunteer to take a shot from a 22, would ya?

  2. The 10mm should be considered as well, they aren`t as popular as others, bargains can be found `cause of that.

  3. Watch out for tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is that all your concentration is focussed on an assailant. Try and keep your periferial vision in play. There could be more than one assailant, that you don’t notice at first. This can only be achieved on the range, with constant practise. Set up your normal target, and with your back to the range, get a friend to put in a pop up target that he can trigger, preferably at right angle to your primary target.

  4. Keep in mind the best gun to bring to a gun fight is the one you have.

  5. i see the way people handle guns in movies and its funny to me

  6. Any gun you have in a firefight, IS better than NO gun. While I personally PREFER a duty caliber myself, having arrested well over a thousand felony suspects during my career, that’s just me.
    Some folks well prefer “their version” of what works for them. I’m a firm believer in we all working out our OWN “salvation”. I could care less what other people legally carry for self-defense. Just legally carry and practice, practice, practice with that carry firearm and carry reloads or, die. Yes, it IS that simple. If you are going to “count” on “statistics” of a firefight, remember, YOUR firefight, isn’t about “statistics” it’s about winning, period. I don’t have to be a master of anything to understand that concept, and yes, I know what it’s like to be in combat, from my time in the military as well as in “urban combat”. Each of us is responsible for ourselves, period, and I can live with that.

  7. I’ve asked local LEOs what they carry (40 S&W) and why. The why question is invariably answered with, “‘Cause that’s what the department will provide to me.” Their point is that the department will provide the ammunition in that caliber, so why not go with what is free. Several have mentioned that they would like to carry a different weapon or caliber, but don’t want to spend their own money to do so. Bottom line, just because LEO has a certain calibre doesn’t mean that it is the best or most desirable.

    Also, lots of different calibres have proven track records for stopping threats. Witness the 380ACP/9mm Kurtz, which is a military and police round with years of use. Much of stopping a threat depends on the threat (is the person motivated or easily discouraged from causing harm, etc.) and shot placement. Sometimes, merely showing a firearm can deter an attack. At other times anything short of a CNS hit will not do.

    As Mr. Smith says, above, a .22 can be as deadly as a .44 magnum – dead is dead after all. You do have to be much more proficient with a .22, though.

  8. These are not steps to survive a firefight, they are steps to engage in a firefight with more power. Having a gun does not mean one will survive a firefight. For 90-95% of regular folk: what to hide behind, under, where to place one’s hands, how to protect the kids, whether to run or drop, prayer, etc. would address the title of the article much better.

    • No, what you are suggesting isn’t a fight at all. Your idea would be more aptly named, how to react to someone murdering you with a handgun. The idea of a firefight necessarily includes the concept of direct fire and return fire.

  9. Something to consider:

    In my young adult days I was lucky enough to have an indoor range with a range master. After he laughed at my attempts to teach myself to shoot a handgun for a few days, he was kind enough to take 10 minutes to teach me how not to flinch and correct a few other bad habits common to new handgun shooters.

    When I taught my friend to shoot, I passed on the tips. We met up a few years later where we were in different schools but on the same range to requalify for security license. Yes, I know it is not as difficult as LEO training (I would do that too one day}. I used a .38 snub nose six shot and she used a .38 snub nose five shot. It was clear that we had the smallest and least powerful guns of anyone else. Tops scores on the range out of 53 people was her 398 and my 396 out of 400. There were 20 that did not requalify.

    I have small hands and my friends’ hands are even smaller. We chose our guns because we could reach the trigger, funny thing to say for grown women, but true.

    As I developed proficiency, I learned to compensate and went on to some larger frame guns, and some much more difficult qualifications. Now as an old woman, I want something that is small enough to fit my hand and I want a gun that will not wear me out after only one reload.

    Yes, I do like the convenience of semi-auto when it comes to reloading, and there are a few 9mm that meet those requirements. Problem is, with my lack of strength I am unable clear a jam.

    These days as an old lady with weak hands, I will take a gun that is small enough to fit my hands, not look like some horrible growth under my shirt or weighs so much that my purse is too heavy on my shoulder, and does not jam.

    So, when it comes to knock down power, if you hands are small or you are frail by age and/or infirmity, find something that does not do more damage to you when firing it that it does to the intended target.

  10. To all of you caliber dim wits. This gentlemen/author has given disclaimer after disclaimer about both caliber and pistol type. Yet you decide to build a case to complain upon? You must be the guy that purchased the .22, .380 etc. right? So ok, he does not state you are in the wrong or that you are less of a killer if you have to be. He states his recommendations on what is proven to have a high level of statistical based defensive capabilities. Are you trying to argue that there are documented reasons for him to write that you should consider .22? Really? I’ll tell you what. 2 guys having practiced with their respected chosen weapons with 1000 rounds, become equally effective in shot placement. One with a .22 pistol and the other with a Glock 26 9mm. They have to try to hit your main arm artery with only one shot. You have to stand in front of one or the other…….DUH

  11. Another good concept to surviving an exchange of gunfire is the “Plus one” rule. For every bad guy you see, always expect one more. Hopefully that will keep you from letting down your guard too early and the fight is truly over!

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