Here’s an interesting story of a woman who suffered a home invasion.
She ran and hid with her children in a closet, and when the bad guy opened the closet door, she shot at him, hitting him five times, in what is described as ‘the face and neck area’, with .38 SPL rounds from her six shot revolver (the sixth missed).
It seems reasonable to assume that this was at a distance of perhaps three feet. The muzzle blasts alone would have been very severe, disorienting and disabling. The .38 SPL round is a good round, at least in terms of pistol caliber rounds. And, of course, as per Hollywood movie myth, five rounds in the face/neck should be enough to instantly kill anyone. The ‘head shot’ – five times over.
But as you’ll see in the article, the bad guy, although no longer aggressive and initially compliant, managed to get free and was subsequently caught by police some houses away. He was taken to hospital and is expected to survive.
The Two Morals in this Story
Firstly, all head shots are not the same. If you are shooting into the lower half of the head, or the neck, your chances of instantly incapacitating your attacker are much lower than if you shoot into the cranio-ocular cavity – a sort of 3″ x 5″ card sized area bounded by the eyebrows at the tip and the bottom of the nose at the bottom.
For this reason, unaimed fire is best directed into the ‘center of mass’ (or, slightly better, the thoracic cavity) – the shots are more likely to hit the target and will have similar effect, whereas unaimed shots to the head may miss entirely or hit a non-vital area. If you need to switch to head shots (due to body shots having no effect, or body armor) then they should be carefully aimed into that 3″x5″ card area in the upper half of the head. Shots that land in that area have a high probability of causing rapid/instant incapacitation – your objective becomes one of ‘quality’ (of aiming) rather than ‘quantity’ (of shots).
Secondly, no matter if the guy is a block away or at very close ‘bad breath’ range, pistols are ‘ballistically inadequate’. While the fight went out of this would-be assailant, it was probably as much for mental as physiological reasons. If the guy had been high on PCP or similar, or just a highly motivated attacker, it seems he would still have been physically capable of attacking the woman and her children, even after taking five shots at point-blank range to the head and throat.
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Six rounds in a revolver are not enough. And when you’re facing down an oncoming attacker, don’t pause between shots. Keep shooting as long as he keeps coming.
‘High Capacity’ Magazines are Not Overkill – They Are, Instead, Essential
The facts of this scenario point to one more conclusion/moral.
As you surely know, politicians are currently clamoring to ban ‘high capacity’ magazines, viewing it as ‘low fruit’ and an easy next step in further gun controls. But here’s a case of a woman who found that her six shot revolver was insufficient to guarantee a positive outcome to having only one person attacking her.
Her situation was unusual – it is more common for people to start shooting at an attacker across a room rather than from the back of a closet to the front of the closet, which means that normally you would not have five rounds land on target from six shots. Remember that trained police officers seldom get more than one round in four on target. In other words, in most common home defense situations, firing six shots from a revolver would probably mean only one hit, and at best, maybe two.
In these types of common self-defense situations, it is very unlikely you’ll have a chance to reload. Maybe you can do a 1.5 second or faster magazine change on the range, but it would take you longer ‘in real life’ because you almost certainly don’t go around with a spare magazine in a pouch on your belt such as you might do on a range. However, even a 1.5 second change is too long – wherever the bad guy was when your gun went empty, he can probably close the distance and be literally on top of you in less than 1.5 seconds, and with you splitting your focus between reloading and avoiding the bad guy’s rush at you, you’re again adding time to the reload process.
Needless to say, unless you’re unusually skilled, you can completely forget about any attempt at reloading a revolver in such situations.
A ten round magazine is not ‘overkill’, not even when facing only one bad guy, and definitely not in the more probable case where you have two or more attackers.
No-one has ever lost a gunfight because they had too many rounds of ammo in their gun. But plenty of people have lost out because they didn’t have enough. Don’t let that happen to you.