Exclusive: Church Insecurity

…Or God helps those who help themselves?
Protecting The Flock Beyond Seven Yards …

By Raymond J. Fleck

In the beginning, there appeared a mentally ill homeless person and an angry man (possibly on some drugs) at the church of a friend. Afterward, the Elders decided a church security team was needed. My friend was one of a number of people who volunteered. He acquired a concealed carry permit and a Ruger LCP .380 ACP for the purpose of “Gently instructing the heathens in the errors of their ways.” While not being a religious person, I tend to agree with scripture when it comes to instructing the heathens in the errors of their ways.

I have an LCP — I think I can blame His Editorship Roy for this — and questioned the utility of a gun and cartridge designed for spitting distances. Even a small church sanctuary may require engaging a malefactor at more than contact distance to put a prompt stop to hostile behavior.

Or was I wrong? I decided to test the LCP — as well as the assorted tools in the pictures — at 50 yards, as well as the mythical seven yards. I figured I might just learn something.
I did.

The target and tools used for test. Ray found the tiny Ruger LCP .380 was a real
challenge at 50 yards and rifles rule at distance. The “Zen” AR/MSR is Ray’s
push-back against the “tactical” look crowd.

Dodger reviewed the data and considers this 10mm to be “enough” gun. His reading material
extends to Heinlein who he values as portraying self-sufficient men and women.

The Mechanics

I chose the target with the intent to use the scoring rings for a measure of accuracy. A free app loaded on my semi-smart phone provided a shot timer. The simulated malefactor was stationed at 50 yards, with the shooting position at a plastic work table. To simulate holster draw I placed the tools on the table. Picking up the gun and blindly poking the shot timer was a reasonable work-around for a lack of holsters. I held the MSR in a barrel-down, bolt locked back, “rest” position. This was to introduce a bit of time delay and movement which might occur while anticipating the need for “Righteous Anger” as it were.

I fired three rounds from each gun since that seems to be common wisdom for defining a group size. Common wisdom, like common sense, generally is not any of those things, but that’s a discussion for a different day. (The truth is Ray is just cheap and ammo is expensive. Roy)

What about big guns? I once used a 10mm 1911 to dispatch a medium-sized mule deer buck trotting at 52 yards. Dispatching said deer, along with other experience, shows the big 1911 — at least in 10mm — is easy to shoot accurately at distance. Even challenged shooters have turned in respectable results with this firearm. At this point, I can hear loud complaining a gun that big is not suitable for concealed carry. Mostly the whiners are correct. However, providing security for a well defined space with a suit coat as normal dress makes it plausible. A shoulder holster, or better yet, a messenger bag or similar, will work very well. The bag in the picture has served me well for hauling the 10mm around.

Next up was the Taurus Tracker, then the Sig P220 followed by the Walther P99C. The LCP had the honor of last place. I put it last so I might gain some proficiency from practice with the others. I fired a rifle (MSR “ZEN” — a creation of mine) as a basic “control” piece. The thought is a rifle will always “Trump” a handgun in a fight, especially at a distance. The 5.56 NATO is a Franken-gun I built. I like to hate on the whole business of “tactical” so the “ZEN” as configured is a good heresy for that sort of overly “tactical-everything” religion.

The 50-yard target looked mighty small past the sights of the little .380. Ray used a
standing position with the gun supported on the table to begin, sort of taking the time
needed if he’d been drawing from a holster. The Artful Dodger kept a careful eye on things.

Ray got a bit too cocky at seven yards with the ZEN rifle. Shooting “Not quite from the hip”
delivered three nice, clean misses. Being too confident up close can bite back. Some say, “Oh,
anyone can hit at close range” and they’d be right — to include the bad guy you’re facing.
Which is why, to paraphrase Wyatt Earp: “Hurry up but take your time.”

Things I Noticed

My main goal for this shooting session was to confirm the LCP was not good at distance. I was mostly correct. However, I did manage to wing the target in the arm at 50 yards. How much effect a .380 would have at that distance is open to debate, and I’m thinking a minor flesh wound at best. Referencing the initial reason for all this, both individuals at this church were subdued without significant violence. However, people who are on drugs or are very angry may fail to notice any rounds not doing significant damage.

My shot timer results are nothing to send home, but this was my first time shooting against a shot timer, so bear with me. The timer data demonstrated the ZEN rifle was faster to acquire the target and more accurate — mostly. A rifle is a cake walk right? Over confidence set in. As the picture shows, three clean misses at seven yards. I redid the ZEN more slowly and gathered in a score of 24/30 — both lungs gone and a bad GI disorder. The take-away is a long gun still needs practice and attention to be effective.

I used the scoring rings on the target to gain some measure of the utility of each gun. The scoring indicated the larger guns were faster and more accurate. The 10mm was king of the handguns. The LCP did fine at seven yards, which is its intended use. However, if we factor in mythical and forever argued about “stopping power” — I don’t consider the .380 to be a useful tool for this particular job of protecting the flock.

On the topic of “power” the 10mm has enough smack to plant a deer with one round (chest). As such, it will plant a human, or slow them down quickly. If you use deer-whacking as a measure, none of the other cartridges on the list are legal in a lot of states for killing deer. The larger guns all scored okay or better, even at 50 yards. If you compute stopping power and the ability to shoot accurately at distance — the LCP .380 does not measure up, at least in this fairly vertical situation.

The target was mostly “winged” or gut-shot at 50 yards as you can see from the paste-ups.
Ray says more trigger time was needed and confessed his lack of practice with the test guns
showed in this target. Big guns seemed easier to hit with overall (Taurus Tracker, 10mm,
SIG P220 and Walther), while the LCP .380 was a challenge. The rifle had best potential
but nonetheless still needs practice, even when at toe-to-toe distances.

The Black Hills Honey Badger line of ammo (new) got a wring-out too. Ray found it extremely
reliable, very accurate in the test guns and thought the unique construction would have allowed
more penetration at the 50 yard distance than conventional bullet construction. Even Dodger
seemed impressed by its performance.

So, What Works?

Faith is no substitute for practice when it comes to shooting. During the shooting, I screwed up any number of ways because I lacked practice with a given firearm. You have to do real trigger time if you want to be proficient. That trigger time at some point has to include the ammo you intend to use for doing the work at hand. If you practice with mild range loads, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice if you don’t at least get familiar with your carry load, check zero with it — and make sure it runs in your gun.

Center of mass for me resulted in mostly shooting into the GI area, not the chest area. Shooting against the shot timer induced stress. If you’re going to practice situations where you expect stress, use a shot timer. The free one on my semi-smart phone works well. The price is right so there’s really no excuse for failing to use one. “But my range will not allow rapid fire” — so fire one round against the clock, it will still be valuable.

I did all of the shooting for score (against the clock) but as a control I did shoot the 10mm, .357 Tracker and the LCP off the table at 50 yards. If possible find a rest, and your score will be delighted. Even the LCP looked better — three rounds in the lower abdomen. Roy mused “I wonder if he would even notice.” A disreputable relative commented the heathen would just be “A bit more angry.” But, perhaps even minor damage would help the miscreant lose interest and leave. If it comes up though, better to subject them to major damage.
Fast misses mean nothing compared to slower hits.

My main take-away from this exercise? If you identify with the Old Testament — have enough gun.

Interested to learn a bit more, and as such things happen, one test lead to another and here,
Ray’s wife Cindy blasts a line-up of water balloons with a .38 Special Honey Badger. Cindy
discovered the light 100-grain bullet, even at about 1,275 fps, was easy to shoot and didn’t
recoil as she anticipated it might. According to Black Hills’ gel testing, this load can
penetrate deeply and is something to keep in mind if you’re recoil sensitive but still need
to “reach out” at distance with reliable penetration.

Editor’s Note: Ray failed kindergarten but turned out okay anyway. Well mostly. He lives in the hinterlands of North Dakota. His dad started him down the path of guns at age four. He’s been shooting at stuff ever since. Some times he actually hits stuff. He’s also a retired engineer with a penchant for questioning things we usually accept as fact. Look for more from Ray in the near future as he takes on some other commonly accepted ideas, with some surprising results at times. The fact he’s also a machinist and itinerant tinkerer helps. His wife, Cindy, usually just groans when the UPS truck arrives. ‘What now, more tools, ammo or camera equipment?’ Likely. Roy Huntington, Editor

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6 thoughts on “Exclusive: Church Insecurity

  1. Jim L

    Ray, I enjoyed the test. I liked your honesty about practice etc. I can’t say I’m a church goer but I do take the 50 yd shots and I have had the fast and close missed shots. Keeps a good reality check. Roy I think you should continue to let him write.

  2. Robert Boswell

    The thing Ray is really right about is practice. Practice at the distances you may shoot will teach the proper shot picture, turning those low abdomen hits into heart/lung hits. With the proper hold, the .45 ACP is good for at least 100 yards, as are most other full power loads.

    I know Ray was doubtful about the .380’s stopping power, but it’s ballistics more or less duplicate the .36 Navy Colt that Wild Bill used for his famous 70 yard one shot kill. Bullet placement trumps all else.

    1. Clayton Jolley

      If I had as much computer skill as shooting skill I might not be retyping and trying to send in my comment. Here we go again, I am surprised that no one including Roy mentioned the inherent and quite likely possibility of the misses and over penetration of heavy caliber handguns and rifle. Even with great shot placement over penetration could nullify the shot. That is why I usually carry a Colt Mustang 380 or S&W Body Guard 38 special both of which I practice with on a regular basis at @ 10 yards which is @ 1/3 the distance from the altar rail to the back of the church. I will confess to sometimes carrying a Colt Commander 38Super cal. I have shot the Commander at club level IDPA matches. Having shot against a timer I find it to be a good stimulus but not the pressure you or I would face if needed. Practice creates muscle and mental memory and will help us as will the Good Lord. Again think over penetration! Peace be with you.

  3. Sivispace

    I’m for carring as much gun as the environment will allow and the shooter can handle proficiently. I will not carry anything less than a 9 millimeter and prefer a .40 or a .45. All the debate over .40 vs 9 vs 45 is just hot air. Newton demonstrated the problem with his three laws of conservation of motion. Suffice it to say simply bullets with better Sectional Density stop a threat with greater authority. In my experience, a 9mm is not appreciably softer recoiling than a .40. If anything, the 9mm is sharper. For the summer, a Walther PPS in .40 offers a nich blend of concealability with decent stopping power and wears well with a light covering garment.

  4. Keith Bugden

    Bad enough he used the word “killed” in the article which I”m sure is illegal to say, but he subjected that poor defenseless Artful Dodger to a horrible experience. The look on his face shows he will be scared (as in emotionally damaged) for life and also exposing him to the possibility of shell case ejection damage. Another example of how you “Gun People” totally disregard the feelings of anybody who disagrees with your barbaric way of life. I”m shocked offended and triggered, and will probably need counseling myself. I intend to take up a collection for the expenses involved in Dodger’s healing process but am certain that the author would just spend said monies on ammunition, or even worse beer.

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