Your Gun: Your Life
Survival for Armed Officers or Citizens

This information emphasizes considerations of dangers from other persons over the dangers inherent in the firearm. Some of this advice is only useful in extreme situations. But extreme situations are exactly where you need every advantage to survive!

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Most important safety feature? Trigger guard
Why?: Most accidental discharges occur when the person holding the weapon is not prepared to shoot, but has his finger on the trigger. Keep your finger OUTSIDE the trigger guard until your mind is focused on shooting. Especially when drawing your weapon. Before you "unfocus" from shooting take your finger out of the trigger guard!
FIRST check? That safety is on SAFE.
Shoot WHAT? POSITIVELY IDENTIFY FIRST: Never EVER shoot at something you can't positively identify. You may shoot an innocent, a hostage, or a friendly that's gotten to a place you don't expect.
In suspect's face? Always keep your weapon closer to yourself than to a suspect. Don't get your weapon knocked from your grasp. It may look good in movies, and it is fairly common for poorly trained officers to place a gun against a suspect, but it gives the suspect the exact location of the firearm and the opportunity to move in such a way as to cause a miss and possible disarmnament. In this case, if the suspect acts, you can only react. There has to be some delay.
If a suspect crowds you, but you think him harmless, knock him away with your foot and tuck your gun hand against your waist.
Chamber loaded? An empty chamber is fine for recreational shooters, and operating the action looks good in the movies, but the delay can cost your life in an emergency. Also, you may need to ready your weapon silently.
Single action option? Never choose DAO. This "safety feature" is unnecessary if you use the trigger guard properly, (see above) and the accuracy of single action is more important, your life may depend upon it.
MISS? DON'T be in the habit of expecting to miss. In emergency situations accuracy counts, and needing to reload can mean death. If you are not consistantly more accurate than you need to be, dry fire until the weapon is very still when the sear releases. Practice shooting for an EXACT point, not an "area".
Avoid shooting? When facing a threat, if you're confident of your accuracy, aiming for a head shot may save you from having to shoot the suspect. They will be able to see that you will not miss and they're not going to take a hit and still get you (Especially applies if using .22 cal. or out of uniform). Also, if they do bring a weapon to bear, you will be able to be more certain of stopping them. No fear of soft armor.
Despite these advantages, police depts. discourage "head aiming" (apparently there's a fear that the officer will misjudge his ability and hit something else). If you DO shoot someone in the head, be certain the court understands that you knew the above advantages!
Another usual dept. prohibition is "warning shots". But I've had a drugged crazy charging at me, and a shot into the ground seemed to "wake him up", and he stopped. If there are no others around and you have time, you might want to use your own judgment.
Cross draw? Gives you better custody of your weapon. Makes it much harder for a person to grab your gun from the holster, especially from behind. Makes it easier to draw from awkward positions, as sitting down.
How to carry a shouldergun on a sling? Barrel down over off shoulder and under shooting arm.
Keeps droplets and dust out. Weapon can be used without unslinging from shoulder. (If it doesn't come to you, try it.)
Ammo dependable? Carrying in a shoulder holster or wet weather, or an oily chamber may cause duds. Fire a load on a schedule and make it a point to use waterproofed ammo. I've had good luck with Winchester, and bad with Remington (rimfire).
Shooter hit me? Never underestimate an unknown suspect's skill or suppose him to be unarmed. There have been snap shooters that could hit a bird in flight without sighting. Even with a vest, you are NOT bulletproof! Avoid exposing yourself. If you must move, go cover to cover.
Exploding gun? Check your barrel often for a layer of oil, rust, or sabotage such as chewing gum. If the detent or cylinder on your revolver is even slightly loose or worn, fix or replace it.
Disarm crowd? Take station near a corner next to a long wall with no opening (door-window etc.) behind you. Have crowd assume the position against the long wall. Face suspects at all times. Disarm nearest suspect, and have him go to opposite end of line. Have line move one position closer. Disarm next suspect and continue until all are disarmed.
Shoot to KILL? NEVER use the term "shot to kill" in discribing someone you've shot. Prosecutors and judges interpret this to indicate your intention to kill rather than avoiding it. Always use "stop" in place of "kill".
Unwilling to kill? But, if you are unwilling to kill anyone, do NOT carry a gun (nor be a police or corrections officer). Some perps will sense your attitude and kill you with your own gun. It's happened too many times.

6th Edition
GS312 2011-2013