Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

TTAG: How to get killed in a home invasion

Written By: Bob - Mar• 13•12

I know that a lot of gun bloggers carry a lot of animosity towards The Truth About Guns, and they have their reasons for the way they feel. For the most part, I’ve found the site’s content entertaining and often well written.

Then I made the mistake of reading Nick Leghorn’s Self Defense Tip: Don’t Use a Rifle.

I do not know Mr. Leghorn, and bear him no ill will. Based entirely upon his provided bio, I strongly suspect that his basic firearms proficiency and competition shooting skills would put me to shame in any sort of 1-on-1 comparison that you could come up with regarding the competitive use of firearms.

That allowed, I feel confident in stating that if you read his article at the link above and follow his advice, you will be putting your family and neighbors at great personal risk for serious injury or death.

Put frankly, it is mall ninja grade opinion, devoid of facts. Let’s “Fisk” just a few of the more dangerous factual errors.

Let’s start with his call to create a perfect situation for a negligent discharge.

With a handgun, you can quickly turn around to retreat before the bad guy starts hosing down your previous firing position with commie milsurp lead. Moving through the hallway to get back to your family and protect them won’t be a problem because the handgun is small and light and fits nicely in the waistband of your Fruit of the Looms if need be.

We’re going to presume that by “Fruit of the Looms,” Mr. Leghorn is referring to the thin elastic waistband of male underwear, in particular. Women’s underwear bands (and the rest of the garment as well) tend to be even more etherial.

I would challenge any shooter to remove the magazine and clear the chamber from his/her pistol, or clear the cylinder of his/her revolver, and attempt to slip said handgun into his/her underwear waistband. I suggest doing this over a carpeted floor, as that is where your handgun will immediately be deposited. I tried this with both subcompact and duty sized centerfire polymer pistols, and saw no need to extend the test to my metal-framed sidearms.

Advocating Mexican carry is your skivvies is a horrific idea, and will lead to a dropped gun, or worse, a panicked shooter attempting to catch a dropped gun. But we’re just getting started.

In the very next paragraph, he makes this demonstrably false claim.

Even when doing other tasks such as herding your family into your bedroom and out of harm’s way or barricading the door, the pistol is small enough that you don’t need to put it down to lift things or move stuff. And the ammunition, while powerful enough to put someone down for good, doesn’t do walls so well. And that’s a good thing, since the neighbors aren’t too keen on the idea of extra ventilation in their home.

Hundreds if not thousands of scientific tests, backyard tests, and real-world shootings have proven time and again that centerfire pistol bullets dramatically over-penetrate building materials in comparison to the common .223 Remington/5.56 NATO chambered in AR-type rifles or many shotgun loadings  (slugs excepting). I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Read the results for yourself.

Leghorn then makes several more generalizations before dropping this concentrated bombshell of ignorance.

Rifles are, without a doubt, the worst idea. They’re cumbersome to maneuver, you need to put them down to do anything productive, and they don’t give you any additional benefits. The shotgun got you a little wiggle room in terms of accuracy, but the rifle is just as unforgiving  – shooting wise – with the added benefit of having to worry about where the rounds eventually end up. Like the neighbor’s bedroom. Oh, and they’re much louder than handguns and therefor more likely to permanently harm your family members’ hearing.

The only situation where this ranking (pistols best, then shotguns, then rifles) is reversed is if you have large swaths of land and expect the bad guys to be firing at you from dozens of yards away. In that situation, a rifle would come in handy. But considering where most people in the world live (namely cities and suburbs) it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

BUDs. Amatuers.

Perhaps Mr. Leghorn is thinking of defending his loved ones with a bolt-action deer rifle, or a .416 Rigby double rifle from his last African safari. Rifles in any caliber aside, he’s decidedly wrong about the penetration of handgun bullets in building materials, and someone relying upon that bad advice could get someone killed.

A semi-automatic carbine in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO offers better stopping power per shot, less risk of over-penetration per shot, higher capacity, better reliability, better intrinsic accuracy, more sighting options, more options to affix lights to better identify possible targets, and of course slings to allow one or both hands to go free if needed while still retaining control over your weapon.

TTAG’s editors failed to catch dangerous ignorance in this post, and I hope that they do a better job editing their published content before they give anyone else potentially fatal advice.

Update: You should always give credit where due. I emailed Robert Farago, owner of TTAG, and he had Leghorn make some (minor) corrections to the article.

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18 Comments

  1. Oddybobo says:

    I’m rather fond of my 20 gauge as it is a youth model (I’m small) and has a strap, meaning I can carry it without dropping it. It is easy to fire, and is usually already loaded with at least two shells. I like my .38 revolver, but it is cumbersome to reload, and my .22 pistol is perfect, for, you know, those up close and personal moments – because it will kill, and I know how to use it. But the greatest fallacy of all is that I’d “herd” my family to the back of the house. I’d shout directions to them, but I would not turn tail and run with them… hell, my home is my castle. You come in, you are looking for a fight. Period. Oh, and I’m a girl. ;) Happy Birthday! As always, honored to share one with ya!

  2. Oddybobo says:

    Oh, and since I live on a hill, with no neighbors, you can bet your booty, that my rifles are my friends, and I don’t have to worry about a stray landing in my neighbors bedroom. ;)

  3. One of many many reasons I no longer read TTAG. Most of what they write is horseshit, condescending, or both.

  4. Phelps says:

    Well, he’s obviously right, in that dynamic entry groups like Delta and such are all replacing their carbines with pistols.

    Oh, wait, they are replacing them with even bigger carbines? Never mind.

  5. Sailorcurt says:

    I can personally vouch for the fallacy of pistol rounds being less prone to overpenetrate in building materials.

    Without going into great detail, I had a round of .45 caliber Federal XTP Jacketed hollowpoint negligently discharged in my house (not by me…I know that doesn’t matter to anyone but me, but it does to me).

    The round made it through 4 layers of plaster and drywall, a hollow wooden closet door (the round hit at an angle and tore about a 4″ gash in each layer of wood on the way through) and a Palm IIIc (clean through and through, after having already transited two of the walls and the door).

    the bullet ended up stopping when it chipped the brick fireplace on the other end of the house.

    Upon inspection, the hollowpoint had not expanded at all. The bullet was scarred, but pretty much intact, with plaster embedded in the hollow point.

    apparently, when the bullet hit the first wall, the plaster jammed up the hollow point and prevented expansion through the remainder of the round’s trip.

    I can’t speak to how much energy was left by the time it went through all that and hit the fireplace, but it was significant. If not enough to kill, certainly enough to seriously injure.

    In summary, handgun rounds go through interior home walls just fine, thank you very much…even rounds that are ostensibly designed to expand and expend their energy without overpenetrating.

  6. Apparently this clown doesn’t know about “slings.” They are a little known rifle accessory that allows you to hand your rifle around your neck and shoulders if you need to have your hands free.

  7. DirtCrashr says:

    I’d just have to qualify the, “Women’s tend to…ethereal” bit with one word: Underwire – nothing much ethereal about that! And Fruit of the Loom? Does he underwear shop at Wal-Mart?

    • Bob says:

      If a woman needs underwire underwear–in addition to her underwire bras–then she has some major sagging issues.

      Seek medical help.

  8. rumcrook says:

    yeah that was an poorly written piece filled with a whole lot of bad advice, and viewing the reactions over there he has seriously paid for it in the comments section. I would characterize it as having been torn a new a55hole.

    and after what happened to that marine in arizona your guest blogger wrote about last year at the old flagship blog I am inclined to immediatly keep pulling that trigger on a rifle or shotgun if a threat smashes my door in until there is no threat and or it retreats back out of my house out of my line of fire. judged by twelve instead of carried by six. its not my job to delay shooting in order to determine who and why someone is smashing my front into splinters and off the hinges.

    also he talked about retreat, as for as im concerned thats crap the best defense is offense, I dont want to retreat and wonder where the threat is I want to put lead on target and drive him or them back, they have less at stake than I do and a good offense is sure to break their resolve and send them running than a retreat.

  9. I once awoke to find an intruder in my bedroom. I had a handgun at my bedside. I grabbed it and started yelling. He ran before I could get a clear shot at him.

    Since them I’ve made sure to have a burglar alarm. I don’t again want to wake up and find someone has already penetrated to my bedroom.

    I’ve run through endless scenarios in my mind about what I would do if awakened by the alarm. Handgun? AR-15? My only shotgun is a single-shot .410; maybe I ought to get a 12-gauge. My big concern is over-penetration. I live in a suburb, with houses on three sides (big railroad bridge on the remaining side).

    While I’m concerned about over-penetration of the walls, I’m also concerned about failure to penetrate body armor. Even crooks have that nowadays.

    My tentative conclusion is that I’d be better off with a rifle like the AR-15 (or AK-47 or Mini-14). Yes, it’s a bit more awkward than a handgun, and will certainly go through the house walls, but I can shoot it more accurately, and it will penetrate any armor an intruder is likely to be wearing.

    Your mileage may vary.

  10. Brian Guy says:

    I’m a muzzleloading enthusiast exclusively, before you laugh trust me that the fire and smoke a .75 caliber Brown Bess puts out would scare the bejesus out of even the most determined intruder. While they’re wondering what happened I’ve got the bayonet… ;-)

  11. Linoge says:

    I think you just discovered one of the many reasons why many of us gave up on TTAG.

    In other news, if you are writing about firearms – and, specifically, the penetration capabilities of firearms – and are unaware of the Box O’ Truth, you are doing something wrong.

  12. [...] Bob Owens speaks of some bad home invasion advice, but I wanted to draw attention to a comment: I’m a muzzleloading enthusiast exclusively, before you laugh trust me that the fire and smoke a .75 caliber Brown Bess puts out would scare the bejesus out of even the most determined intruder. While they’re wondering what happened I’ve got the bayonet… ;-) [...]

    • Brian Guy says:

      Ok, I was being a bit facetious, but I live in a nice neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada. An armed home invasion is only slightly more likely here than a raid by a Huron war party…

  13. Robert says:

    My tentative conclusion is that I’d be better off with a rifle like the AR-15 (or AK-47 or Mini-14).

    Stick to something in .223/5.56x45mm. A 7.62x39mm (what the AK-47 is chambered in) WILL penetrate MORE than a handgun round. The reason that the .223 does not is that it is a much smaller bullet traveling much faster, and is hence more prone to simply breaking up when striking a hard object. And even that is only with certain rounds: FMJ .223 is far more likely to keep penetrating than a light (40-55gr) JHP.