AL.com writer Cameron Smith wrote this piece on purchasing a handgun for home defense. He grew up with firearms, shotguns and long guns, but his wife was unfamiliar with them. Neither had experience with handguns. So they did what every first time handgun buyer should do: They went for a test drive. A trip to the range let them try out several guns in different calibers. They settled on a 9mm as a gun that both he and his wife could operate confidently. Some may dismiss this as a “mouse gun”, but a larger caliber is of little use if the Smiths won’t take the gun to the range for practice. A gun isn’t a magical talisman that protects you from harm. It’s a tool that requires practice to be useful.
The other feature that they found of value is the gun’s standard capacity, 15-round magazines…
Ultimately, we bought a Heckler & Koch VP9. It’s balanced in hand, holds fifteen rounds and is remarkably easy to use.
Shooting rounds at a range is one thing; firing accurately in a confrontation is another. According to a 2008 RAND Corporation study of the New York Police Department’s firearm training, “the average hit rate was 18 percent for gunfights. Between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate in situations in which fire was not returned was 30 percent.”
Most average folks will likely be even less accurate during a home invasion or other crisis situation. That’s why more rounds in a defense weapon make a difference. It’s also a good reason to think critically before imposing broad magazine restrictions.
Another factor that must be discussed when talking about “combat accuracy” in a gunfight is a round’s ability to incapacitate your opponent; to make him stop attacking you. Using the 18% number from the RAND study, this translates to 2 hits from a California legal, 10-round magazine. To be effective, at least one of those two hits must be so severe that your opponent is either unable or unwilling to continue attacking you. Even a pair .50 AE rounds hitting the bad guy will be of little effect if neither is incapacitating. If one has a standard capacity magazine, the number of hits increases to 3. That gives you, the innocent party in all of this, a 50% greater chance of prevailing over an attacker. It also gives your family, if you’re all that stands between them and a predator, a 50% greater chance of survival. Politicians like Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, and Paul Krikorian are putting their fragile emotions above your right to live when they call for restrictions on magazine capacity.
It should also be mentioned that the particular H&K model the Smiths chose is not available in California. It is considered “unsafe” here because it does not leave a human readable serial number microstamped onto the spent brass. No matter that this is a technologically impossible feat, the State still demands this of all new handgun models before they can be offered for sale here. There are currently 21 Heckler & Koch handguns on the “not unsafe” roster. Their certifications expire on 1/1/2017. It is unlikely that any of these models will be legal to sell after that date. H&K’s engineers are brilliant, but I doubt that even they can do the impossible.