Wheel Guns

I recently purchased a Ruger GP100 Match Champion.


I picked it up in large part because I have always loved revolvers, even though they ceased being a practical everyday carry weapon when Glock, Kimber, Springfield, and Smith & Wesson started making reliable semi-automatics designed for conceal and carry. Still, if you are a big guy (and I am) you can get by with concealing a .357 Magnum on your person if you wear a tight holster and a loose cover garment.

One of the things that has always attracted me to the .357 Magnum is the power of the load, and its reputation as a man-stopper. Yes, I know, stopping power is not really “a thing” and no responsible instructor talks about it any more. But omitting it from the discussion does disservice both to the history of gunfighting as well as the developments that led to the use of the .45 caliber round in the M1911.

During the Philippine Insurrection Moro tribesmen took multiple hits from .38 caliber weapons and continued to fight, often with great effect, in close-quarters combat. The .45 was developed in order to bore bigger holes, effect greater bleeding, induce more profound shock, and ultimately, stop gunfights.

The Navy Seals say that two is one, and one is none. Recently an NRA writer opined that this means seals “aren’t good at math.” But that’s nonsense. The 2 is 1 motto is a reflection of Murphy’s Law.

You know Murphy’s Law. It says that whatever can go wrong, will. The corollaries say that if something goes wrong, it will be at the worst possible moment. The corollaries also say that if more than one thing goes wrong, the first thing to go wrong will be the thing that causes the most damage.

Seals are positively OCD about weapons lubrication and maintenance, and they don’t take grimy weapons into combat. But they swim with their rifles, the crawl through mud and muck with their rifles and sidearms, and eventually all of that will yield a weapons failure. Thus the 2 is 1 motto is meant to provide for a backup, even if that backup is redundant.

Redundant backups are a good thing. I have a full trauma kit in my range bag, but I also have a full trauma kit in my car. I have one in my house. I have this trauma kits because I know that bad things happen, and if I come across one of those bad things, I want to be able to do the things I was trained to do as a combat medic. Stop the bleeding, stabilize the patient, turn him over to compentent medical care.

The point is, we spend a lot of time in the real world preparing for things that don’t happen.  We crawl into tornado shelters even though there is almost no chance we’re going to get hit with the tornado.  We wear our seatbelt because if we’re in an accident, it will prevent greater injury.  We take precautions.  My .357 purchase is just that, a precaution.

All of this gets back, however, to the idea of stopping power. If you can’t survive the gunfight, all the preparation in the world was for nothing. Thus the idea of a five or six shot .357 in a concealed holster for that real world situation where the 15 rounds in the Glock 19, or the 17 rounds in the Glock 17 are not enough makes sense.  And that’s particularly true where the drug-fueled crazy person isn’t being stopped by 9 mm rounds; a .357 center of mass is pretty devastating, especially when using Critical Defense ammunition.

In the Gray Man novels, author Mark Greaney always reminds us that there is “no first aid in a gunfight.” The threat must be stopped before you can attend to the wounded. That’s especially true when you are the only person on your side of the gunfight.

So, I bought the .357, and I hope to get to the range soon and make sure it’s zeroed and ready to be placed in service as a backup weapon. I suspect it will most often serve as a safe queen, since my Glock 27 usually rides shotgun when I carry the Glock 22, or the Glock 26 rides shotgun when I carry my Glock 19. But I ordered a holster, and I will familiarize with it, and be certain I can use it if I need it, because that’s the only reason to buy a gun: to use to protect innocent life. I doubt I will train as much with it as my Glocks or my Kimber, but I will still train. Because having a gun and not training with it regularly is like having an alarm system you never arm. It’s worthless.

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