“My right to life trumps your right to own guns.”

“My right to life trumps your right to own guns.”

This statement in the title, or some variation thereof, is the tyrannical left’s favorite non sequitur bludgeon at the moment. I see it used all the time in public discourse and, unfortunately, I seldom if ever see anyone challenge the utter lack of logic and morality the statement embodies.

As we’ll learn in the body of this article, the fact that anyone holds with such a statement is an indictment of their morality and intelligence. It also very clearly describes the battle that leftists desperately want to have with their fellow citizens; a battle that perverts the definition of rights and destroys liberty. In short, leftists want to do with rights what they do with everything else: distort first the language then the ideas, and then based on that distortion pit one arbitrary group against another in order to create a chaos that can only be addressed (they say) by a totalitarian web of immoral, unjust, and increasingly draconian laws. In the end, tyranny is defined as justice.

It’s all sounds very dramatic, but it’s the template the left has ever employed. We’ve seen it play out time and time again throughout history and the results are always the same. The United States was, in fact, founded in to be the exception to these examples seen the world over. Yet leftist tyranny has grown apace even here. As always, the prelude to genocide begins with disarmament.

Here are a few examples of leftist demagoguery and gaslighting:

That last group of tweets is my fave. :)

The very clear fact is that despite the left’s clever slogans and emotion-fueled demagoguery, our rights are never in conflict with one another. And because of the nature of rights, they are never in conflict with anyone’s safety. Therefore, whenever an argument is made to the contrary, the basis of the argument is quite obviously false. Even so, in order to fully understand the illogic and immorality of the “my right to life/safety trumps your right to guns” statement one needs to understand what a right is.


A Right, Defined

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning an individual’s freedom of action in a social context. That’s the basic definition, but rights have characteristics that distinguish authentic rights from tyranny. Each day, people proclaim in error many rights they or others supposedly possess, but there is a simple test one can apply to verify whether or not something may authentically be deemed a “right.”

  1.  A right may place no obligation on any other individual.
    For example, supposed rights to healthcare or to housing or to food are not rights because they each place an onus on another individual to provide them.
  2.  A right may not violate another individual’s rights.
    A right to healthcare, for instance, would force a physician to provide a service, violating his right to liberty; to dispose of his genius and effort as he sees fit, and at the price he decides.
  3.  Rights are possessed only by individuals; we each have all the same ones.
    For example, any “rights” that are for a special class or group of citizens (e.g. women, voters, migrants, etc…) are not rights because there are no such things as group rights. A right held by a group can come only at the expense of individual rights.

If a supposed right fails any of these tests, it is not a right. Instead, it is tyranny. This is a fact that most leftists ignore or even deny and it leads them into illogical and immoral arguments. One reason leftists ignore these facts is that a leftist’s morality does not allow them to recognize as legitimate any idea that prohibits conquest or slavery. I don’t say that to be critical; only to be accurate and factual. All leftist ideology is built upon the foundation of conquest and slavery.

In light of this clarification and relevant to the Twitter messages above, here are some important facts to consider:

  • There is no right to safety
  • Proclaiming this right implies the requirement others provide it; a disqualification. Though you do have a moral obligation to provide for your own safety.

  • Therefore, there is no right to “have your family safe from gun violence”
  • And it is people who are violent, not guns or other inanimate objects.

  • There is no right to feel safe
  • Feelings, being fictions invented in your own mind, are irrelevant with respect to rights—and in all other respects outside of your own mind.

  • There is no right to happiness
  • You have the right to pursue happiness, but that’s your business and no one else’s.

There IS, however, a right to life! Your right to life is component to fundamental morality, which is the right of every individual to his/her own life, genius, effort, and the fruits thereof. Yet in order to be maintained, and because there is evil in the world, one must sometimes defend one’s life.

The responsibility for that defense is each individual’s own; one may not, morally or by right, hold another responsible for the defense of one’s life. An obvious reason for this standard is that no right may place an onus on any other individual. By this standard alone, your right to life is yours to preserve and defend. No other individual can be held responsible for your defense, for to do so would be to transform a right into a tyranny and, therefore, a moral violation.

This is why our right to arms is inalienable; because—along with intellect and reason—arms are a human’s means of defense. To deny arms is to deny the means for defending life and property. Such a denial, then, is tyranny and as such, immoral. Yet leftists argue that this right must be denied because it conflicts with other rights.

Because leftists deny the idea of personal responsibility, their personal safety ostensibly becomes an issue for someone else to address and to which all must contribute since, in their flawed ideology, safety is a right. By flawed leftist logic, if you possess anything that could be used to endanger their safety, you are violating their rights and The State must do something about you (must bring force against you). For safety.


It All Boils Down To “Safety”

“Safety” is the primary talking point keyword in the left’s battle against liberty. Leftist operatives use this term and its perverted ideal in every battleground: Safe Spaces at universities, Everytown For Gun Safety is the left’s primary anti-gun organization (and, no, they do not teach or even talk about firearm safety) …every argument against the inalienable right of gun ownership these days is primarily based on the idea of public safety. In their arguments, the left elevates safety to the ridiculous and impossible status as a right; a right that they say trumps your authentic, inalienable rights. Yes, their argument is and always will be that your rights must give way to their dominion.

In fact, every reference to “gun safety” that you’ll ever see these days in the mainstream media—printed or broadcast—is used to mean a denial of inalienable rights. These references have nothing to do with safe gun handling habits. In this manner they’re changing the common parlance in an effort toward tyranny. Those who mean to rule you first pervert language so that every communication is an effort to get you to question your own sanity.


The Logical Conclusions

The essential leftist argument is, “My life is in danger merely because you own firearms.” It is ridiculous and false, of course, but that is their thesis; that rights are in conflict.

Due to their very nature, rights can’t be in conflict. Moreover, to suggest that one is endangered because someone else is armed is to say that all must render themselves defenseless…which is to say that no one has a right to defend his or her own life. That idea has an obvious conflict with reason and morality. Such an idea is the same as saying that weak people are in danger merely because others are strong. It is the same as saying that the rights of irresponsible people are violated when others behave responsibly. It is logically the same as saying that to possess food is to cause obesity in others. Like everything else the left professes, it is all illogical idiocy.

So, no, as an objective and moral fact, no one’s right to life trumps your right to own guns. Owning guns poses no threat to anyone’s rights or safety or liberty or pursuit of happiness. Our inalienable rights are never in conflict and none trumps another. It is the inviolate recognition of our inalienable rights—all of them together rather than some and not others—that defines moral governance. Our rights never change; only the legitimacy and illegitimacy of our government.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
A Look At the New Glock 45

A Look At the New Glock 45

Despite its mildly misleading moniker, the G45 is a 9mm pistol. It’s quite similar to the Glock 19X, but there are important distinctions beyond the black color. Have a look at the feature callouts in the images below for a fuller appreciation of these changes and improvements. I got to spend some quality time with the G45 this month and I have a few thoughts and some info to share.

Why Consider the Glock 45?

With its full-size frame and compact slide, the G45 is perhaps best considered as a duty pistol or home-defense gun. The shorter, lighter slide means less-pronounced muzzle-flip and its larger grip means more ammo capacity and slightly better control opportunities. The longer grip also means the Glock 45 is not the best concealed-carry gun.

You might also consider the G45 because it represents a slight evolution in the current Gen 5 complement of features. Maybe call it a Gen 5.5 pistol. Many enthusiasts and law enforcement officerss may enjoy the slight enhancements featured on this gun.

Glock 45 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9×19
  • Length: 7.44”
  • Slide Length: 6.85”
  • Height: 5.47”
  • Width: 1.34”
  • Slide Width: 1”
  • Barrel: 4.02” Marksman Barrel
  • Weight: 24.98 oz. (w/empty magazine)
  • Finish: nDLC black
  • Sights: Available with polymer, steel, or steel night sights
  • Capacity: 17
  • MSRP: $698 (often available for less)

Shooting the Glock 45

It’s a 9mm Glock pistol. I don’t believe it necessary to describe what it’s like to shoot one, except to say that performs just like any other mid-to-full-size Glock pistol. What is perhaps remarkable about the shooting experience is that the G45’s trigger is the best of the Gen 5 triggers I’ve ever pressed. It’s still a Glock trigger, but it’s considerably better than the Gen 4 trigger and to me it seems even better than the Gen 5 G19 triggers I’ve spent time with.

Comfort and Controllability
The pistol is eminently controllable and the extended grip (as compared to the G19) will make some people very happy; especially those with large hands. Glock pistols are never very ergonomic, but I’m quite used to them and find nothing exceptionable about this one.


Glock 45

Components and Materials

Again, it’s a Gen 5 Glock pistol, so… The G19-sized slide features the nDLC coating, which is a bit slicker than previous slide treatments, but the forward slide serrations will mitigate that slickness for some folks who care about such things. The sights are available in standard polymer “u-notch” sights, steel 3-dot sights, or factory Glock night sights.


Glock 45


The slide has the contoured “bullnose” front area and the frame is contoured to match this feature. The barrel is the Gen 5 “Marksman” barrel, which is a genuine step up from the Gen 4 barrels. The slide stop controls are on both sides of the pistol and, as per usual, the magazine release control is reversible.


Glock 45


The trigger has the smooth face rather than the G19-style serrated face. The full-sized grip has the flat frontstrap and, unlike other Gen 5 models, there is no cutout at the base of the grip. Like Gen 4 Glocks, the G45 comes with replaceable backstraps for sizing and comfort fit to your preference. The base of the grip is mildly flared out to create a slight magwell (though it is not a true magwell and there is no need for one anyway).


Glock 45



It’s a Glock, which means it’s the most reliable, safest pistol on the planet right out of the box. The full-size grip fits larger hands, allows for more ammo capacity, and better control. The G19 slide means lighter weight, less muzzle flip, and excellent balance to the whole gun. The new trigger is Glock’s best yet.

The gun is not the best choice for concealed carry and the backstrap contour, as with all Glocks, is not the most ergonomic. It’ll likely be hard to find one with anything other than the typical polymer sights.

So for rating the Glock 45…

Ergonomics (***)
I find it to be just fine, but I’ve learned to settle. Most quality pistols are far more ergonomic than any Glock pistol.

Shootability (*****)
It’s very shootable, especially with the better trigger.

Accuracy (****)
I found it to be plenty accurate and the Marksman barrel is a genuine boon to accuracy.

Reliability (*****)
It’s a Glock; the most reliable pistol on the planet. I have experienced no malfunctions of any kind while shooting the G45s.

Customization (*****)
There are all kinds of aftermarket sights and other components for this pistol, and any holster that fits a Gen 5 Glock 19 will fit the G45.

In Summary

For duty carry or home defense, this is a gem of a pistol. I like how Glock is making small incremental improvements in their components and this pistol has the most and best options available.

Rent the G45 at Eagle Gun Range, shoot a box or two of ammo through it, and see what you think!

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Tips for At-Home Carry

Tips for At-Home Carry

Responsible everyday carry means carrying all day, every day. Too many concealed carriers relegate their carry to those times when they’re leaving the house for some extended period of time. Such a failure of logic and responsibility declares that there are some times when it’s okay to be defenseless; when it would be okay for an armed assailant to take one’s life.

A failure to carry while at home equates to the same declaration. I’ll argue that at-home carry is at least as important as away-from-home carry and is likely more important. Your home is your castle. For many of us, our home is where our family is and where our family most needs protection.

Many responsibly armed citizens have the useful habit of staging firearms in their homes; either for immediate access in a hidden location or in, say, a bedside handgun safe for relatively quick access. While this practice is often wise and can be useful in certain situations, it doesn’t serve you well…

  • when you run out to check the mail
  • when you pop over to a neighbor’s home for a quick visit
  • when you take the trash out to the curb
  • when you go out to tend the flower bed
  • when you play with your dog in the backyard

…or for any of the myriad things you do around the house that take you outside for just a moment.

Staged firearms don’t help most particularly when you answer a knock at your door.

Home-invasion robberies and assaults happen every day. Most begin so quickly and violently that victims do not have any opportunity to go and get a staged firearm for defense. Only one who is already responsibly armed has a chance to thwart a violent invasion of their home as it begins. That pistol under the coffee table or in the closet is unlikely to help you a bit when your door is kicked in by three armed thugs who swarm into your home and beat you senseless, or worse.

Carrying At Home

Carry at home just like carry anywhere else involves, at minimum, a handgun and a tourniquet. Just as you don’t want to get caught needing a gun and not having one, you do not want to get caught needing a tourniquet and not having one. Either can save your life or the life of someone you love when seconds count.

I have staged firearms in my home. They’re for specific scenarios that are beyond the scope of this article, but even so I carry every waking moment when I’m in my home. Unless I’m in bed or in the shower, I have my pistol with me at all times. It’s therefore with me when I check the mail, when I take the garbage to the curb, and when I do all the other things that are part of being at home during the day or evening.

However, when I’m at home I want to be comfortable; more comfortable than when I’m out and about away from home during the day. If you’re like me, home time is when you throw off the discomfort and encumbrance of the day, to relax…or do housework, but in greater comfort. For responsible defensive carry, this might mean a different carry method or perhaps even a different gun for home carry than you use for away-from-home carry.

Compromises and Tips

If you carry a full-size or compact pistol in appendix or at 4 o’clock position away from home, you might change to a subcompact pistol and/or pocket carry at home. I can say from experience that carrying a subcompact, single-stack pistol at home makes for a very nice change from the mid-sized double-stack pistol I carry away from home. It’s far less encumbering and allows for far greater comfort.

three pistols

From Left to Right: My EDC Glock 19, my at-home-carry Glock 43, and my pocket Ruger LCP. The smaller pistols make for a nice transition at home to a less-encumbering option.

I hated to give up wearing comfy sweatpants around the house when I started with defensive carry. I could still do it and carry a subcompact pistol with pocket carry at home, but I prefer to carry at home with the same method I carry away from home (appendix position); all the better for a panicked response. So I changed to wearing shorts at home. The compromise is that I have to wear a belt. It’s not my ideal for lounging around the house, but I’m prepared to make that small compromise. Since I’m not wearing a magazine pouch and phone on my belt at home, I can wear it a bit more loosely, allowing the slim, single-stack Glock 43 have little impact on comfort.

three holstered pistols

The same three pistols from the previous image, now holstered: the Glocks in AIWB holsters and the Ruger in a pocket holster.

Part of what helps carrying a holstered pistol inside my waistband is the practice of wearing an undershirt. I never wore undershirts before I started carrying concealed. But I find that this small compromise makes for far greater comfort, even on hot days here in Texas when two layers might seem to be too much (it’s not).

If you prefer comfy sweatpants or shorts and no belt at home, you might consider pocket carry at home. Remember, you still need a good pocket holster. So long as your gym shorts or sweatpants have a waistband tie string, something like a Ruger LCP in your pocket will ride just fine and encumber you very little. As for tourniquets, a RATS or CAT tourniquet fits easily in a pocket with little to no encumbrance or discomfort.

You are no less vulnerable to assault, robbery, or ambush at home then elsewhere. What’s more, you likely have more to defend in and around your home than you do anywhere else. Responsibility requires that you be armed on your person and not simply have defensive arms or tourniquets “where you can get at them.” Save for a few rare anecdotes, such ideas are fantasy.

Find what works for you. Decide what small compromise of comfort you can best make, but don’t make the irresponsible mistake of failing to be armed at home. Concealed carry is not merely an occasional choice, it is a lifestyle; a responsible lifestyle.

Shooting Review: The FNS-9

Shooting Review: The FNS-9

A couple of days ago I got my hands on the new Glock 45 in 9mm. It’s the black-Gen-5 version of the Glock 19X. Basically, it’s a G19 slide with a G17 frame. Well, in actuality this same gun has been available since 2012. It’s called the FNS-9.

The FNS-9 is a medium-sized 9mm striker-fired pistol with a 17-round magazine capacity. As I alluded to earlier, it is quite close in size to a Glock 19, but with that 17-round magazine the grip is a bit longer, closer to that of a G17. The other differences are that, out of the box, the FNS-9 has far-superior features and ergonomics to the Glock. I find it strange that this pistol is not more popular and more talked about.

FN is a well respected brand. From the SCAR to the SAW to a host of other models, FN has been a military arms staple. The FNS-9 is right in the sweet spot for duty carry, but I’ve not heard of any police forces that use this model. Again, strange. I recently got the chance to shoot this pistol over a few days and here are my first impressions.

Why Consider The FN FNS-9?

The FNS-9 is purpose made as a duty pistol. It is almost just right for concealed carry, but that 17-round capacity makes the grip a tad too long for my taste and for easy concealment. You might consider it because you like that configuration (medium slide, full grip) and you detest the uncomfortable grip of the Glock. Because, yes, the FNS-9 is far more comfortable in the hand. But then again, what pistol isn’t more comfortable than a Glock?

If you prefer polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols, you might consider the FNS-9 for the far-superior-to-Glock complement of external controls and sights, or perhaps for the solid and respected pedigree of the manufacturer. In short, there are a number of good reasons to consider the FNS-9. Have a look at its specifications:

FNS-9 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Length: 7.25”
  • Height: 5.5”
  • Width: 1.35”
  • Barrel: 4” stainless steel
  • Sights: 3-dot white or 3-dot night sights
  • Weight: 25.2oz. (w/empty magazine)
  • Finish: Stainless steel in Black Nitride or natural silver
  • Capacity: 17 (10 in tyrannical states)
  • Manual safety: Available with (ambi) or without
  • MSRP: $599

Shooting the FNS-9

I feel like I should say something interesting or clever here, but shooting the FNS-9 was just comfortably boring. I ran a few hundred rounds of ball and defensive ammo through it without a hiccup. And this was on a pistol that already had a couple thousand rounds through it since it was last cleaned.

Running the gun was easy. The controls all seem to be in the right place and were entirely unobtrusive; even the manual safety control (which I didn’t use) never got in the way. What I did NOT like, however, was the awful trigger. The trigger is gritty and long, with a bit of a long reset for my taste. The trigger’s safety mechanism splits the upper portion from the lower portion of the trigger shoe with a hinge. The hinge must be depressed for the trigger to actuate. Whatever…I could not perceive the hinge action while shooting, but I was never really comfortable with the trigger and when shooting rapid-fire strings I could not really find a rhythm. Were I to own an FNS-9 I’d have to spend some time smoothing out that trigger action.

Despite the poor trigger I found it easy to get good accuracy from this pistol. It felt natural to shoot it for good hits. Unlike many non-Glock striker-fired pistols, the bore axis on the FNS-9 is really quite low. Correspondingly, the recoil impulse and muzzle flip are insignificant. All in all it was a comfortable, easy, and effective pistol to shoot. I like this one.

Comfort & Controllability

I found the FNS-9 to be worlds more comfortable to grip than my EDC Glock 19. You can choose your backstrap, small or large, according to your taste. It’s plenty comfortable to shoot, too and the recoil is no better or worse than any quality 4”-barreled gun. I had no controllability issues and found it easy to both maintain a good grip and get sights back on target immediately. If you’re like me, you’ll find it useful to use the takedown lever as a support-hand thumb rest, useful in controlling muzzle flip.

Concealability + Capacity

The grip is a tad long for easy concealability. I know folks who EDC with a Glock 17 so it’s possible, but I wouldn’t want to do it. The 17-round capacity is pretty normal for a gun/grip of this size.

Components and Materials

The FNS-9’s external controls are quite minimal. Even the superfluous safety control is unobtrusive and never got in my way. Unlike many similar models, features like the slide stop lever and takedown lever are fairly unobtrusive, too. Lots to like there.

The sights are iron 3-dots, in either white dots or night sights, and both the front and rear are drift adjustable. The pistol has dual-sided slide-stop levers and dual-sided magazine release controls, which will be a boon to lefties and those who shoot with either hand. Same with the manual safety control, if you opt to get a model with that feature (just don’t). The FNS-9 comes with two interchangeable backstraps and three steel magazines. Gotta love a company that puts more than two mags in the box! The steel magazines are nice and so much better than polymer mags.

The 4” stainless steel barrel rides under a stainless steel slide that has serrations both forward and aft. They’re plenty grippy. The polymer frame has a MIL-spec 1913 accessory rail up front and is otherwise nicely minimal, with something of a beavertail on the back. The trigger guard is large enough to accommodate a gloved hand (a nice feature!) and has texture on the front…for if you’re a huge, monkey-handed brute who likes to put his support-hand index finger on there. The grip texture is about is good as it gets on a stock pistol. The bottom of the grip includes a lanyard hole (as do all MIL pistols).

The trigger is one of the worst I’ve run on a striker-fired gun. It’s got this weird hinge that spits the trigger shoe in the middle, separating the top from the bottom. As I mentioned before, I’m not a fan of the trigger’s action or travel.




The FNS-9 is a somewhat concealable, striker-fired pistol with 100% ambidextrous controls. Out of the box, the iron sights, minimal controls, and metal magazines put it miles ahead of any Glock. It’s comfortable to hold and shoot and it’s plenty accurate.

The FNS-9’s trigger is pretty bad. Because it’s so close in size to the G19 I’m going to ding it also for the long grip (should have kept it to 15 rounds!!!). But that’s about it; there’s not a lot to dislike about this fine pistol.

So for rating the FNS-9…

Ergonomics (****)
The FNS-9 is very comfortable to hold and operate.

Shootability (*****)
I’d shoot the heck outta this gun any day. It’s easy to shoot well.

Accuracy (*****)
I found it to be very accurate for its 4” barrel. I doubt you can outshoot the gun.

Reliability (*****)
This is a first-blush evaluation, so I can’t speak to real reliability. However, I found no issues in a few hundred rounds at the end of a 2000+ round string of shooting since its last cleaning. Other than some early-release-model hiccups (corrected), I could find no reports of reliability issues (some reports showed amazing reliability even when covered in mud/sand!).

Customization (***)
You can find good aftermarket sights for the FNS-9 and I’ll bet that triggers are on the way (one is recently release for the FN 509). Beyond that, there’s not much one might want to do for this gun. It’s that solid.

In Summary

Were I not a Glock adherent I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up this excellent pistol. Yes, the trigger is crap, but I’ve seen how one can improve that with rudimentary armoring skills. The long grip presents a bit of a hurdle for concealment in an EDC role, but everyday carry is about solving such issues. I’ll bet you can if you try.

I cannot understand why this pistol is not mentioned more frequently and is not more popular among serious pistol carriers. It is the “comfortable Glock” and I think it deserves more consideration in gun culture. I hope you’ll give it a try. I bet you’ll love it.

Defensive Targets for Armed Defenders

Defensive Targets for Armed Defenders

When you first start practicing with a handgun, the oft-heard instruction for defensive shooting is “aim center mass.” This is good advice for someone who knows nothing about armed defense and who will likely never seek training for and never practice for armed defense. Beyond this limited context, however, it is poor advice.

The purpose of defending with a handgun is to stop the threat. This is specific: to stop it—to make it cease to be a threat. In the case of human threats, this means to render the individual(s) incapable of continuing to be a threat. Context is everything, so “stopping the threat” may be as simple as deploying your firearm in a compelling manner and issuing compelling verbal commands for the individual(s) to cease and desist. At the other end of the spectrum is the requirement for accurate shots on target to stop the threat.

The specifics and totality of the context (and laws) may guide you in determining what level of force is appropriate, but it is the more violent end of the defensive spectrum that I want to deal with in this article. Specifically, we’re going to examine the few, small targets that when attacked with a handgun allow for a quick stop to threats. Again, they are specific and few and almost never are they accounted for when aiming center mass.

B-27 target

Above: Don’t use this target for your practice. Rather use one that does not focus on center mass, but instead has specific, effective target areas as outlined in this article – or – targets that are either simple outlines or are photorealistic and have no target areas defined (which makes for very good practice!).


Context: Handguns, Not Long Guns

It is important to understand that the context for this article is for handguns only. Rifles and shotguns introduce different contexts and I’m not going to deal with them here.

A handgun, generally, will put holes into people and animals. There are many handgun round calibers and slug types, but popular carry-handgun trauma characteristics are somewhat similar with regard to the specific and effective target areas of the human body. Rifle rounds, on the other hand, introduce far greater temporary-cavity trauma and generally put holes through people and animals. Shotguns, in addition to putting holes into people and animals have the added gruesome aspect of potentially taking chunks of anatomy off of the body, at close range.

Suffice it to say that we’re only going to deal with the most likely form of defensive targeting, which is that with a handgun.

Stopping a Human Threat

If you put several rounds into an armed assailant’s center mass it may incapacitate or even kill him eventually, but real-life example after example demonstrates that he will likely suffer no diminishment or only mild diminishment of ability for minutes or even hours. In other words, you can shoot him in the belly and he can keep shooting at you or attacking you with a knife or with a crowbar for as long as it takes to kill you. “Center mass” will often do very little to stop the threat.

Serious trauma to the chest, even directly to the heart, has an unusually low mortality rate. One study noted that of 1109 patients with severe and puncturing trauma to the chest, only 18% died. Generally located defensive shots to the chest can be largely ineffective. Shoot a man in the left lung, he’s still got one good lung and another with diminished function. A lung shot is going to give the assailant a problem, but not immediately and it will seldom stop a determined assailant quickly; and then only if they decide to. Renowned instructor and self-defense legal expert Mas Ayoob said it quite well:

“The way to stop a criminal from shooting at you is to deliver your bullet to a part of the body he needs in order to keep shooting at you, and to make that part of his body stop working.”

In essence, you need to instantly turn the machine off. There are a couple of very good ways to do that; one is to traumatize the nervous system and the other is to traumatize the circulatory system. Again, neither of these is possible when you aim center mass with a handgun.

The Circulatory System

Attacking the circulatory system with a handgun in order to immediately stop a threat is not so easy as it might sound. True, any round you put into someone’s body will likely induce bleeding trauma, but most bleeding occurs too slowly to have any timely impact on the threat at hand. Effective attacks are possible at only a couple of small targets.

The heart is a primary circulatory target, but even to say “the heart” is to be far too imprecise for quickly stopping a threat. The large heart muscle can withstand quite a bit of trauma before it stops working well. Shooting someone in the heart will most likely not even kill them. As has been documented:

“Specifically, the mortality rate of gunshot wound of the heart 24.5% and that of stab wound of the heart, 11.5%.”

Though you’re not trying to kill anyone, your defensive aim is to immediately incapacitate. Rather than traumatizing muscle, incapacitation is best achieved by causing a quick and dramatic loss of blood pressure. This means attacking the upper venous and arterial structure of the heart.


The human heart


Trauma to this upper structure of the heart has the greatest chance of causing internal bleeding to the extent of causing a quick drop in blood pressure, greatly slowing down the assailant or causing loss of consciousness.

Locating the Target Area

On a human male, the proper target area for the upper structure of the heart is located midway between the nipples and the clavicles, roughly in the midline, as you can see here:


chest target area


In your range training, do not aim for center mass and do not aim merely for the chest. Instead practice aiming and hitting this proper small target area exclusively. Regard anything else as a miss.

The Nervous System

Trauma to the central nervous system can essentially turn off the machine, causing a sudden loss of consciousness and a corresponding stop to the threat. As defenders, this is what we want. As with the circulatory system, there are precious few targets for effective nervous-system attacks and none are large.

On the front of the head, the best target area is between the pupils of the eyes and down to the bottom of the nasal area. The reason this is the best target on the front of the head is because the bone structure here is comparative thin and there are voids behind the frontal bone structure, allowing for easier access to the most effective target of the cranial area: the brain stem.

On the side of the head, this same target is located at the top of the ear, where the skull is relatively flat, with the important target—the brain stem—just behind it.

cranial target areas

Note that other areas of the head are not good targets, as the human skull is designed to deflect energy away with its rounded structure. There are many examples of people being shot “in the head” where the bullet simply fails to penetrate the skull and either glances off or is caught under the skin where it travels around the skull rather than penetrating.

It is true that the impact of a high-energy projectile to many places on the head can induce quite a shock to the system and even move the head so violently that one loses consciousness, but this is not a sure bet. As one defending his or her life, you want to cause an immediate stop to the threat. You need surer targets.

Angles Change Things

Given the specific scope of this article I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, but it is important for armed defenders to understand how various body angles change your target areas. Targets on the front of the body are not necessarily the same as on the back of the body. They’re similar, but not identical. Learn them and adjust accordingly.

For instance, it is difficult to attack the upper spine from the front with a handgun. Other than the neck, the spine is protected by various anatomical elements. On the back, however, the spine is somewhat exposed so the upper spine can be an effective rear target.

Note, however, that it is highly unlikely that any assailant will simply be standing facing your or away from you, with arms at his or her sides. More likely they’ll be both at some sort of angle and their arms and or weapons will likely be in the way of certain important target areas.

Notice here how useful target areas change as the body angle changes:


target areas on different body angles


In addition to body angles, the fact that they’re attacking you or someone else means that they’ve got their arms and some sort of weapon in use, likely in front of their body. Additionally, their upper body is likely to be in a position other than simply ramrod straight and vertical. Notice how the assailants depicted on these training targets present far fewer effective target areas.


practice target


In Conclusion

If you’re going to carry a concealed handgun, don’t live and train with the illusion that simply putting holes in your attacker, even in center mass, will do anything to stop them attacking you before they’ve done great harm.

Effective targets on a human attacker are few and they are small. Get training that focuses on effective target areas and practice for good hits on these effective, small target areas exclusively. If you’re going to defend your life or someone else’s life, know what you’re doing and acquire the skill and discipline to be effective.