As I have said repeatedly, it is a fundamental necessity that the American people keep and bear arms. And bearing arms means carrying a firearm with you wherever you go. America's most recent mass shooting serves as another exclamation point behind that statement.
Furthermore, as an author, columnist, radio talk show host and pastor who is outspoken in my support of the Second Amendment, I often receive inquiries from people asking for my personal preferences regarding firearms. This column is devoted to answering those inquiries.
I'm sure this column will not provide anything new for the firearms aficionados out there. However, we are living in a violence-prone society, and more and more people (especially ladies) who never paid much attention to guns before are sensing the need to arm themselves but often don't know where to start. I hope this column helps these folks.
Plus, there are many Christians reading this column who have been brainwashed by preachers who promote the idea that they don't need to own a gun, because, they say, God doesn't intend for us to defend ourselves. I trust this column will cause these folks to at least study this issue for themselves.
First, let me emphasize that I am NOT a firearms expert. And I strongly urge you to receive as much instruction and training from a firearms professional as possible. Second, when it comes to a discussion of which firearms are preferable, the suggestions are as varied as the people who proffer them. This column contains my preferences regarding revolvers and semi-automatic pistols; rimfire rifles; centerfire hunting rifles; centerfire semi-automatic sporting rifles; and shotguns.
Most people who are armed nowadays are carrying concealed. Disgustingly, many states do not allow people to legally carry open. Fortunately, that is not true here in Montana where I live, and I often carry open—as do many people in this great State. However, most of the time, I am carrying concealed, as I think it better that the bad guy not know who among his intended victims is able to shoot back. If you are planning to carry a concealed firearm, you will need to carefully consider the kind of clothing you are wearing and how the firearm will fit in with your attire. For most people, concealed carry requires firearms that are—to one degree or another—somewhat diminutive.
My personal preference for a self-defense handgun is a Glock pistol. Glock pistols are as simple as revolvers to operate, reliable and almost indestructible. Plus, they provide increased magazine capacity and are safe. They are also very easy to disassemble and clean. And most importantly, they go "bang" when you pull the trigger. Some ladies might find the Glock grips to be a little bulky for their hands—except for the Glock 42 and 43, which most ladies should find quite comfortable. But most women should be able to safely and confidently shoot the majority of Glock 9mm pistols.
Favorite options in Glock pistols include the Glock 42 in .380 ACP; Glock 17, 19, 26 and 43 in 9mm Luger (also called 9mm Parabellum or 9x19); the Glock 22, 23 and 27 in .40 Smith & Wesson; the Glock 21, 30 (and 30S) and 36 in .45 ACP; and the Glock 20 and 29 in 10mm Auto.
When I am carrying concealed, I'm usually carrying the Glock 19.
The 1911 .45 ACP (I prefer Colt, Kimber or Springfield Armory) has been proven to be an extremely effective self-defense sidearm for over a century. But I don't recommend the 1911 for beginners.
My wife prefers to carry a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver in the snub-nose, J-frame configuration. This is primarily due to the reduced weight and size of these weapons for carry purposes. Plus, she just prefers a revolver over a semi-auto. And, yes, I sometimes carry a J-frame as well.
J-frames generally have a poor reputation for accuracy due to their very short barrel. And the reduced 5-shot capacity (for most J-frames) turns off some people. However, 70% of self-defense fights take place at a distance of 2 yards. As such, J-frames are very adequate for the task. In addition, most self-defense fights are settled with 3 shots being fired, so, statistically speaking, 5 shots are normally enough to defend oneself.
I prefer the .38 Special revolver to the .380 ACP semi-automatic pistol. Modern .380s are very concealable, however, and for that reason, I sometimes carry a .380 Glock 42 as a backup. My main complaint with the Glock 42 is it has a stiff trigger pull—around 9 pounds—whereas, most Glock pistols have a standard 5.5 pound trigger pull. I have found that a lighter trigger pull makes accuracy much easier (which is one reason many people prefer the single-action 1911). When I do carry a J-frame revolver, it is usually a Smith & Wesson 340 M&P or a Ruger LCR, which are built for the .357 Magnum and .38 Special cartridges. And when carrying the J-frame, I'm usually loaded with .38s. The .38 Special and 9mm Luger are comparable in power.
But, honestly, the best J-frame on the market these days might be the Kimber K6s. The trigger is sweet (like Smith & Wesson triggers used to be), and it holds 6 rounds instead of 5. The K6s is an all-steel revolver and is, therefore, a little heavier than most J-frames (23 ounces empty). But the extra weight of the K6s makes shooting the .357 magnum round more comfortable than the lighter weight versions. And shooting the .38 round in the K6s is downright pleasant.
And, yes, for some people, a revolver might still be the preferred handgun. It has no external magazine to worry about losing; it is very dependable and reliable; it is easy to clean; and it is simple to operate. NYPD expert Frank McGee says the typical police gunfight conforms to a "rule of three": 3 rounds, 3 yards, and 3 seconds. So in most real-life situations, the increased firepower of a high-capacity magazine doesn't even come into play.
But, of course, in today's violent environment, the risk of facing multiple assailants or a heavily armed would-be mass shooter is always possible. In such a situation, a Glock 19 or 17 that has increased magazine capacity would be much preferred, which is why I'm usually carrying one. (Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Springfield, along with others, are also options.)
In dangerous game territory, you will need the power of a 10mm Auto, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt or even a .454 Casull. These calibers are not for the limp-wristed, but when one is facing a Brown Bear, it is what one will need to survive. Plus, when your life's on the line, you'll never feel the recoil. But, truthfully, I would hate to face a Brown Bear (includes the Grizzly and Kodiak) with a handgun of any caliber. These creatures are the fiercest and most formidable animals on the North American Continent (along with the Polar Bear, of course). Against a Brown Bear, I would hope I had a big game rifle or shotgun handy.
I live in Brown Bear country, of course, and when I'm in the woods hiking or hunting, I'm either carrying a Glock 20 in 10mm Auto, a Smith & Wesson 686 in .357 Magnum, a Kimber K6s in .357 Magnum or a Smith & Wesson 629 in .44 Magnum. To be honest, the 629 and 686 get heavy after a few hours in the woods, which is why I usually carry the Glock 20 (the K6s carries very comfortably also, and I often carry this revolver as a backup). Plus, I feel better with 15 rounds of 10mm Auto than with 6 rounds of .357 or .44 Magnum. But I hope and pray I never have to test my theory for real. In a real encounter, you can bet that my rifle or shotgun would be my first choice, and my handgun (whichever one it is) would be the very last choice. (But I spoke with a man recently who, sadly, has had to kill several Grizzlies in his line of work, and he swears by the .357 Magnum. So there you go.)
For a .22 LR rifle (which is great for hunting small game), I prefer the Ruger 10/22 semi-auto. A Marlin model 60 tube-fed .22 LR is also very effective. The CZ model 455 bolt-action rifle just might be the most accurate factory .22 LR on the market. And I absolutely love my Remington American bolt-action rifle in .22 WMR. My all-time favorite .22 rifle is a Remington Nylon 66 in Mohawk Brown (which hasn't been manufactured in a long, long time). But that's because of sentimentality: It was my very first rifle. My dad gave one to me on my 12th birthday, and over the next several years, I fired over 50,000 rounds through it. I finally sold it (which I have regretted to this very day). But I found one in like-new condition (believe it or not) at a Montana gun show recently, and having a Nylon 66 in my possession again brings me great delight. But from a practical standpoint, I believe the Ruger 10/22 stands alone at the top of the heap.
For a big game hunting rifle, my suggestion is either a .270 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield bolt-action rifle or a .30-30 Winchester or .45-70 Government lever-action rifle. (Here in Montana, the .300 Winchester Magnum is a very popular caliber.) The 30-06 Springfield is doubtless the most versatile rifle caliber on the market. However, I usually hunt with a .270. It's plenty powerful enough for deer, elk or black bear. And, frankly, I just love shooting this low recoil, flat shooting, extremely accurate caliber. I prefer the Remington Model 700 BDL, but there are several fine rifles in this configuration by numerous manufacturers.
For a semiautomatic rifle, I suggest an AR-15 or Ruger Mini-14 in 5.56 NATO (they also fire the .223 Remington cartridge) or a Springfield M1A or AR-10 in .308 Winchester. My personal choice here is the AR-15. Daniel Defense makes some of the best AR rifles in the world, but they are quite pricey. Other good AR brands include Armalite, Bushmaster, Colt, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Windham Weaponry and several others. Most ladies will find that the low recoil of an AR-15 or Mini-14 will make the rifle very pleasant to shoot. No home should be without one of these rifles.
For a shotgun, a 12-gauge in any configuration is the premier close-range weapon. Nothing equals it. In a pump shotgun, I prefer a Winchester Model 1300, which is not made anymore. So, you'll probably have to choose between Mossberg and Remington. In the semi-auto configuration, I prefer Mossberg shotguns. And don't discount 20-gauge shotguns. The 20-gauge has less recoil than a 12-gauge, and at "bad breath" range (where a shotgun shines anyway), the 20-gauge is just as lethal as a 12-gauge. And for home defense, do not overlook the double barrel shotgun. And while I often use a .410 gauge shotgun for small game, I do not recommend it for self-defense.
It is also critical that no matter which firearm you decide to purchase to be sure and practice with it. The firearm you purchase is no better or worse than your ability to handle it. And be sure to stock up on ammunition. A gun without ammo is reduced to being either an expensive club or a cumbersome paperweight.
Go to your local independent sporting goods or gun store (I don't recommend the large national chain stores to do your firearms shopping), and get to know your hometown firearms dealer. Most of these people are kind and helpful folks who will be more than happy to assist you in finding exactly what type of firearm is suitable for you and your family.
And always be sure to follow all of the safety rules for your firearm. The last thing any of us wants is an accidental discharge of a firearm that results in the injury or death of a loved one or friend. So, always remember that safety is job one. And rule number one is NEVER point a gun at anyone unless you are doing so in an act of self-defense. And rule number two is ALWAYS assume that a gun is loaded, which takes you back to rule number one. Plus, guns should always be kept away from children before they have been properly taught how to safely handle a firearm—which should be done as soon as possible.
I realize that there are many pastors and Christians who try to impugn the necessity—much less the desire—to own a firearm. These people are famous for saying things such as "God will take care of you; no one needs a gun." Of course, these same people quickly embrace the idea that police officers should carry guns for self-defense. I never understood why it is that Christians who are not policemen are supposed to "trust God" to take care of them and not arm themselves, but Christian police officers are somehow exempt from this same spiritual notion.
Beyond that, many pastors teach that Christians are obligated to obey civil authorities who demand that we surrender our firearms. They even try and quote Scriptures to prove this preposterous position.
For these reasons, my constitutional attorney son and I collaborated on a book that takes the Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) to prove that self-defense is not just a right under our Constitution; it is a moral obligation given us by our Creator. In the book, we show that Christians who are unwilling to defend themselves, their families and their communities have actually denied the Christian faith. We show that the Bible nowhere teaches God's people to remain defenseless or to surrender their means of self-defense to any civil authority.
In the book, we examine the Scriptures that the "no gun" preachers use to support their lunacy and show how unbiblical these positions are. We go through both Testaments and show that our Creator has given us the obligation to defend the life He has given us. We also put to rest many of the distortions of Scripture that anti-gun preachers use to turn Christian men and women—who are created to be providers and protectors—into sheepish slaves of the state and helpless prey for human predators.
Yes, keeping and bearing arms is a spiritual DUTY. Defending oneself or family is as spiritual as praying or reading the Bible or any other spiritual exercise.
The title of our book is To Keep or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns. Order it here:
It is not only important to be armed; it is even more important to understand the moral and spiritual underpinnings of WHY we should be armed. And that is exactly what our book attempts to explain.
If you are challenged by this column, I encourage you to highlight what resonates with you, and then take these suggestions to your local independent firearms dealer who can further explain the various nuances of what to look for in a gun for your unique and individual needs. When you do, you might find that his preferences differ from mine. But basics are basics, and at least you have my suggestions as a starting point. And remember, there is no one gun that is perfect for everyone. Get the gun that is right for YOU. In a self-defense situation, any gun is better than no gun. The Boy Scouts motto is good advice: "Be Prepared." Plus, much more important than the type of firearm and caliber you choose is shot placement (accuracy). And that only comes with practice. So, find a gun that suits you and practice with it.
And if you are one of those people who just don't "like" guns, when you become familiar with firearms and actually begin shooting under the supervision of a knowledgeable instructor, you might find yourself really enjoying it. But even if you don't, there are many things we adults do that we don't enjoy doing, but we do them because we know it is the prudent and responsible thing to do. I would put the proficient use of a firearm in that category.
Good (and safe) shooting.
© Chuck Baldwin
P.S. When I was on the campaign trail in 2008, I visited a gun shop in South Carolina, and the owner of the shop asked if I'd like to shoot a target in his indoor gun range in the back of the shop. I gladly agreed. My camera crew was with me, and I knew they would be filming the whole thing—and being massively busy campaigning, I had not held a handgun in over six months. I quickly prayed and asked God to not let me embarrass myself on camera. I was using a Nighthawk 1911 .45 ACP pistol that the shop owner loaned me for the occasion. Here is the video of that day's target shooting:
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