If you don’t follow Greg Ellifretz’s posts, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of good, practical information. He recently reminded me of one of my own pieces from a while back.  Just one guy’s path to learning, a path that guy still treads. 


  1. Greg briefly touches on an important point that I think needs a bit more discussion: recognizing the difference between an empty gun and a malfunctioning gun.

    As shooters we know how quickly an empty gun can be reloaded with a little practice; for a semi-auto rifle or pistol, it might only take a second or two. That leaves an almost impossibly-small window to escape or attempt to subdue the killer.

    Malfunctions, on the other hand, give the intended victims some more time. Many jams can still be cleared pretty quickly, but still take longer than simple magazine swaps. However, that takes practice, just like reloading from empty, and it’s less likely that the killer will have put in as much time and energy practicing malfunction drills as reload drills. Especially if it’s a new or new-ish gun.

    But recognizing the difference between a reload from empty (which buys the intended victims a couple seconds), a simple malfunction (a few more seconds), and a serious jam (several seconds or minutes, or possibly necessitating a weapon change) — and thus, recognizing when to counter-attack — could mean the difference between “hero” and “hero in loving memory”.

  2. I’m a big fan of Greg Ellifretz’s site. His “Weekend Knowledge Dump” puts lots of good content in one place every Friday. One thing I can’t agree with is his enthusiasm for .22 LR as a defensive caliber of choice. Just my opinion.

    • Statistically, more violent attackers have been put down permanently by the humble .22LR than any “service” caliber. More “one shot” stops, too.

      Whether that’s because it’s ballistically effective, or because it’s easy and comfortable to shoot confidently and accurately (recoil can be a pain and shot placement is king), or simply because it’s likely been used for so many defensive incidents (maybe for lack of any other guns available?) that the numbers are skewed out of proportion, is up for debate.

      But in any case, a .22LR is better for self-defense than sharp words or a pointy stick.

  3. Mas, thank you for the reminder that a semiauto pistol PLUS a revolver can really be the minimum for a gunfight. I feel confident with my ammo, and heed your advice. I just read “G-Men” by Stephen Hunter, with seemingly historically-detailed descriptions of gunfights vs. well-armed gangs. Charlie Swagger, main hero of the novel, often relies on his special 1911, but his spare weapons close at hand in the car are Thompson SMGs, semiauto or select-fire rifles, shotguns, and often fellow officers! Today outlaws are still well-armed and just as dedicated to getting off first shots as ever. They murder freely, while leaving surviving victims with grievous wounds. I like ACLDN, PHI helicopters, and American Handgunner.

  4. I have indeed been missing out on a trove of important, relevant, eye-opening and perhaps lifesaving information. While I recognized the name and stumbled upon an article or two either penned by Mr. Ellifretz or containing significant information referring to him in the past, I never sought out his website– duh on me!

    Fixed that! Just signed up for his newsletter. Wow! It’s like Christmas in October. Thanks once again, Mr. Ayoob!

  5. Though I started carrying a bit later in life than you I’m glad I found your teachings from the very start.

  6. Lotta good information on multiple relevant topics in one spot. One part on prosecutors touched a memory. A couple of election cycles back, our county’s long term Commonwealth Attorney lost to a younger guy who made the number of convictions at trial a point. Afterwards, the local paper did a tribute article to the long term CA. While several attorney’s mentioned that bringing cases to trial/conviction records weren’t really a good metric, one attorney’s comment stood out. His statement was that the guy who lost “Did Justice”, and that was his job. Not posting conviction stats. I think he added words to the effect that he hoped the mission statement hadn’t changed.

  7. Some thoughts about your Lessons Learned article:

    Lawyer Andrew Branca says that his formal legal education in self defense law at law school spanned only a few minutes.

    Maybe I’m weird but I’ve never understood the Mark of Cain thing. Why isn’t there also a Mark of Abel? When I learn of a victim’s successfully fighting off a criminal assailant, I’m relieved that the victim survived and not at all concerned with the fate of the assailant which he brought on himself. In some cases, I admire the victim’s skill in handling the situation.

    There is a reply to “My daddy says your daddy’s a murderer.” It is “The alternative would be my daddy dead. That would leave my mother a widow and me fatherless. Is that what your daddy wants?”

    • Totally agree. For decades I’ve told my students it’s better (in self-defense) to wear the mark of Cain than that of Abel.

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