Sunday, October 11, 2009

That Old Saw

I love this old saw, on Munchkin Wrangler. Based on the number of comments on his site and on Tam’s referencing his site, there isn’t a gunnie out there that doesn’t love the debate.

It’s the old hypothetical; a variation on “what do you select if restricted X number of guns in Y number of calibers.”

I've used a lot of brain sweat on this very problem, and posted about it here. As my thinking has evolved I've also come to the conclusion that you just aren't going to get there for the purpose stated. Not pick 2 guns that share a caliber and does everything from self protection to deer hunting. You might have a point for issues with 2-guns-1-caliber for 2-legged varmints (and my enthusiasm, lately, decreases for this, too.) But add in deer hunting and it’s an order of magnitude harder to work.

This discussion is of a kind with the 3 gun system, or 4 or 5 gun system hypotheticals that also gets rehashed.

[the X-Gun system is the minimum required to be considered covered. Shotgun, pistol, rifle for three guns. Add a .22 for #4. And a smaller pistol for conceal carry for #5. Mainly because everyone pistol of the 3 is a full sized pistol of some sort.]

Why do we do it? Why do we go over this and over this? I think it’s partly because we people interested in guns are also a bit of a rugged individualist type. Self-reliant. Alone against the world. If we HAD to. And simplification is a part of that. Lots of us may own 600 guns in dozens of caliber types and good for every specialized purpose. But we can’t carry 600 guns around to stand alone against the world. Much less a decent quantity of ammo to feed each kind. So we do the head games to try to gauge the absolute minimum, and that means what you can carry walking around. One rifle one pistol is doable. One rifle, one pistol, one shotgun is just about not. Add a anymore on top of that and it starts to get kind of silly. Carrying a battle pack of rifle ammo plus a mess of mags, a box of pistol ammo and a few mags, and box of .22, and a slew of 12 gauge along with the 4 guns is an awful lot. If you want to sleep in a sleep bag and have a change of clothes and drink water and eat food out of your pack and all.

The recognized problem with 2-guns 1-caliber is that there is no way, ballistically, to have an ideal gun and caliber for taking deer that also works as a compact enough self-defense handgun. Here are some pistol caliber data with varying rifle lengths. You don’t gain TOO much feet per second with longer barrels, though you do gain some. Nothing like rifle velocities. The hottest pistol loads are around 1300 fps out of a 5 inch barrel, and might get up to 1500 out of 18 inches. Maybe 1800 max for the outlier. Real hunting calibers like .308 are screaming out at 2500 fps, on average, with pedestrian loads, and other rifle rounds are much better than that. 3000 fps is easy with many rifle rounds, including AR-15 .223. If the bullet was a bit heavier .223 would be an acceptable deer round with no argument against it.

The actual debate consensus is generally along the lines of a short N-Frame .44 Magnum for the pistol, and a lever gun that shoots the same. I personally already own that configuration in .357, (second place, followed by Camp Carbine types) so not only have I thought on this 2 gun problem, I DID something about it. The consensus also is the criteria forces too much generalization. You have an ammo type that is ok at many things but master of none. Better just a shotgun and a variety of shell types. A One-Gun system!... That you can't conceal carry...

Box O Truth
has a saying. A paraphrase of: “Rifles is rifles and pistols is pistols, and ne’er the twain shall meet.” And hybridizing a rifle with pistol calibers or a pistol of rifle calibers just does cut the mustard.


What would Jeff Cooper pic for his 3-Gun, as an aside? I know of 2 he’d definitely pick. He’d pick his Scout Rifle, bolt action .308 and a Colt 1911 .45ACP, Gov’t size. He might not turn his nose up at few different 1911 manufacturers, and he might even go with a Combat Commander style smaller 1911. Funny enough, Colonel Cooper was a Marine and this combination of bolt action rifle and a 1911 was what a Marine carried during his formative years. WWI through the beginnings of WWII. That’s not ALL the reason he’d select those firearms, but it could easily be a factor. The factor could also be that Cooper was 100% correct and the Marines came to the same conclusion.

As for a shotgun for Jeff Cooper? I have no sure idea. The only one I recall him talking about was a suggestion for a non-gunnie to look at shortish double barrel exposed hammer coach guns. And it’s one he’d put over the kitchen door in his own home. So that is the 3-gun system ala Cooper. Probably. And he’d miss the bigger calibers when thinking about African safaris, I know.

(Can you tell I am hunting for blog fodder? It’s why I posted this Sunday. No one reads my blog on Sunday. Nearly no one. Hi, Mom!)


Steve - The Firearm Blog said...

I can only think of one rifle pistol combo that could meet your self defense / deer hunting requirements:

Sawn-off double barrel or pump 12 guage loaded with buckshot (legally a pistol).

Rifled 12 ga. slug gun for deer firing sabots.

... ok ... so this is a pretty poor combination. As you say, you cannot get one caliber that does everything - although 12 gauge comes close.

Keith said...

I still have most of my books boxed up from moving, but in one of Col. Cooper's books(To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth?) he discussed shotguns, and as I remember it the Gunsite shotgun was an 870 with ghost ring sights. I think it had a butt cuff ammo holder with two slugs and three rounds of buckshot. The essay discussed how and why to use it. I can also remember reading his commentaries about the short double barrel though.

lordjim said...

Buds has a used scout in their online store. If you were still looking at one. It is the right handed model and they buy used over the phone...