While some will undoubtedly scoff at the notion of carrying a .380 as their primary concealed carry gun, more people than ever are opting for the comfort, convenience and concealability of .380-caliber “pocket pistols.” Pistols like Ruger’s LCP are inexpensive, easy to carry and could help tilt the odds in your favor during a lethal force encounter. You may be thinking, “Sure a .380 is practical for concealed carry, but how effective can such a diminutive cartridge be in stopping an attacker?”

In reality, no handgun round is likely to immediately incapacitate an attacker unless your shots are well placed and when they are well placed, just about any round will do. But regardless of what you carry, your gun is only part of the solution. You’ll need to give careful consideration to holster and ammunition selection. And to ensure your safety, you’ll need to add a healthy dose of situational awareness and sound tactics to the mix.

Consider the Real World

It should come as no surprise that most shootings occur at distances much closer than we would prefer. Unfortunately, many firearms training programs focus on training from well beyond this distance, with the rationale being, “If you can hit your target from a farther distance, it will be that much easier to deliver well placed rounds at close range.” However, this is not necessarily the case. At close-quarter shooting distances, you’ll have less time to react and contact distance weapons, like knives and clubs, may come into play. From these distances, pocket pistols are more than adequate, assuming you’re well-versed in their deployment.

If you’re a fan of action movies or westerns, you might expect a single shot fired from the hip to send your attacker reeling backward and to the ground. In the real world, that’s just not going to happen regardless of the caliber handgun you’re shooting. Statistics tell us that the vast majority of handgun wounds are survivable. In fact, even multiple center mass hits are unlikely to immediately incapacitate your opponent. If you’re assailant is charging with an edged weapon or bludgeon, you better supplement your well-placed shots with movement to get off line of the attack. If you’re not familiar with the Tueller drill, you should to be.

In the 1980s, renowned police trainer Dennis Tueller published an article detailing his research related to reaction time during a deadly force encounter. Specifically, Tueller determined that the average person can close a distance of 21 feet in approximately a second and a half—roughly the same time it would take a proficient shooter to draw and fire two center mass hits. When you consider that two center mass hits probably won’t stop the attacker’s forward momentum, the need for movement becomes crystal clear. When dealing with a determined, armed attacker, a tie is unacceptable.

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