Concealed Carry Myths Busted Part 3

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When I started what has turned into a series on concealed carry myths, I had no idea just how much bad information is circulated in the gun community. This is Part 3 with no end in sight. And please believe me when I say I am not making these up. The myths in this and the other articles are all things I have heard people say at gun shops and ranges and read myself on the internet and gun forums.

Firing a Warning Shot is a Good Idea

The vast majority of legal gun owners are good, decent people who would rather not take a life or shoot someone at all. But firing a warning shot is never a good idea. Yet, we continue to hear people advise others to fire a warning shot, and I still read accounts of defensive shootings where the victim says they fired a warning shot.

For one thing, pulling the trigger in a defensive situation constitutes deadly force in many states, whether you are aiming at someone or not. Under the law, you have now initiated a shooting incident. If the bad guy wasn’t actively pointing a gun at you, or worse, if they were running away, you become the aggressor even if you were not shooting at them. In an investigation, how are you going to prove where you were aiming?

Warning Shots in Self Defense: Considerations and Consequences

Second, you are responsible for every bullet that leaves the muzzle of your gun. That bullet has to go somewhere, and it will go a long way. If you aim up, the bullet will return to earth somewhere. When I was in Baghdad, I saw a hole in the hood of a vehicle, a hole in the ceiling of someone’s sleeping area, and a person who got wounded, all from bullets that were shot into the air and falling back out of the sky. Shooting down can be just as dangerous. If you are on pavement or a sidewalk, it can ricochet. If you are inside a building, it goes through the floor, threatening whatever is beneath you. You lose control over that bullet the instant the cartridge goes off.

Finally, you surrender the initiative when you take your aim off the assailant to fire a warning shot. That shot might be all it takes to start them shooting at you, and where is your muzzle pointed? Not at the threat. Firing a warning shot is never a good idea.

Any Holster is Fine as Long as the Gun Fits

It’s difficult to believe that in this era of high-tech holsters being advertised literally everywhere, we still hear this from people. But we do. I’ve read it on gun forums just this past month. All one has to do is go to Amazon to see a vast assortment of cheap holsters. Many are of poor quality and will fail with normal wear, and others are unsafe to use. 

A holster needs at least three traits to be good for concealed carry. It needs to retain the gun so it cannot fall out when you are moving around. It needs to protect the trigger so that it cannot be accidentally pulled while the gun is in the holster. And it needs to be comfortable enough to wear for several hours of driving and walking around. If a holster doesn’t tick all these boxes, you shouldn’t use it.

And yet, we still see new gun owners buying cheap, soft IWB and pocket holsters that do not protect the trigger and will either not retain the gun adequately during normal use or will come out of your pocket with the gun when you try to draw. But understand that when I say ‘cheap,’ I’m not ruling out inexpensive holsters; I’m just saying that they are cheaply made. Many big-name holsters are expensive and they can be a bit pricy if you’re on a budget. But there are less expensive holsters out there that are still good quality and do everything an IWB holster should do.

Aim For Center of Mass

I’m sure this one is going to raise some eyebrows because it is such conventional wisdom, so please let me explain. The problem here is not so much the message as the wording. There is no question that it is much better to shoot for the vital organs at the center of the chest than to try to stop the threat by shooting at the limbs or head since they are much smaller targets and would be difficult to hit in the heat of the moment.

But if you look at a diagram of human anatomy, you will see that the center of mass of the human body is around the abdomen. Although painful and possibly ultimately fatal, a shot to the stomach will not immediately incapacitate an attacker. A solid hit to the heart or lungs probably will. It may seem like a no-brainer to an experienced and trained defensive shooter that center of mass refers to the center of the chest, but keep in mind that there are people buying guns for protection who have never gone through training and who rarely, if ever, go to the range. In reality, there are new gun owners who have probably never fired their new gun. If this sounds farfetched, stop and think about it. Say you live in the inner city of New York, LA, or Detroit, and you buy a gun for home protection. Maybe you even managed to get a carry permit. Where do you go to practice? Ranges are few and far between in large Democrat-run cities. Most mandatory concealed carry classes spend more time teaching the law than shooting skills, and there just aren’t that many places for inner-city residents to shoot and practice with their guns.

Rather than telling a new gun owner to shoot for the center of mass, tell them to aim for the center of the chest. After all, that’s where all the vital organs reside and where there is a possibility of stopping an assailant with a good hit. Yes, it’s an exercise in semantics, but it’s still a valid myth.

Dry Fire Training Can Damage Your Gun

Dry fire is a valuable way to train and practice skills like a smooth trigger pull and a good grip. Although it doesn’t replace actual live fire on a range, it is a great way to get in some practice when you don’t have the extra money for ammo, or it isn’t possible to go to a range.

Does it hurt your gun? The short answer to that is no: dry fire will not damage your centerfire pistol. You can dry fire most modern centerfire semiauto pistols all day long without worry. The firing pin or striker is not hitting anything, so there is nothing to damage it. You will notice I said “most” pistols. You should always read the owner’s manual before doing anything with your new gun, including dry fire training. The manufacturer will warn you if dry fire is bad for a particular gun. If you are still concerned about damaging your gun during dry fire, pick up some snap caps and load one into the chamber before doing dry fire practice. Likewise, using a laser training cartridge poses no danger of damage to your gun.

There are two exceptions to this. It is not a good idea to dry fire rimfire guns. They are more prone to damage than centerfire guns because there is a risk that the firing pin will strike the edge of the chamber. It is also not advisable to dry fire older single-action revolvers. Modern double-action revolvers are fine, but not the old cowboy guns.

You Don’t Need to Practice Shooting with Expensive Carry Ammo

Ammunition can be expensive, especially quality defensive ammunition. That’s why most people, myself included, do most of their range time with inexpensive FMJ ammo. 9mm range ammo can be had for as little as 16 to 20 cents a round. Quality defensive ammo, like CorBon JHP can run closer to 60 to 75 cents a round. So, this myth makes more sense than most of the others I’ve discussed, but it is still a myth for several reasons.

First, you will never know if your gun will reliably feed hollow point cartridges unless you try it. It’s well known that some older designs, like the 1911, will sometimes not feed HP ammo reliably. But even in some modern designs, a certain gun may be finicky about what brand of HP ammo it will feed. You will never know if your gun is one of them unless you shoot HP every so often at the range. When you are facing an armed assailant, it is not the best time to find out that it won’t feed well.

Second, defensive ammunition generally feels different to shoot than cheap practice ammo. Defensive ammo is more powerful, so there is usually more recoil. It also frequently shoots flatter, so there can be a difference in where it strikes the target in relation to where you aim. Both are good things to get used to on the range.

Finally, it’s a good idea to rotate your ammunition periodically. The frequency can vary due to variables like the climate you carry in and whether you carry an autoloader or a revolver. Pistols tend to beat the daylights out of the first couple of cartridges in the magazine. The first round is violently slammed into the chamber when you load the gun, and the slide presses the second round down into the magazine with a lot of force as it moves. Along with that, carrying subjects your ammo to humidity, especially in the summer in a humid climate. Overall, ammunition manufacturers recommend rotating your defensive ammo about every six months. You can take the old ammo to the range to practice with.

Open Carry Will Raise Awareness of Responsible Gun Ownership

This one came up the other day in a rather spirited debate about open carry. Advocates of this view argue that it allows non-gun owners to see that gun owners are just average people like they are. And the truth is most gun owners are decent, law-abiding people who would go out of their way to help a stranger. Unfortunately, that is not how the media chooses to portray us, and you can bet that they will take any opportunity to stir up trouble if they see someone open carrying. Sadly, I’ve even seen another gun owner post a picture of someone open carrying on a well-known gun forum and make fun of them as a ‘redneck’ and someone worthy of derision. If other unenlightened gun owners do this, how do you think the anti-gun media will react?

Two Recent Incidents Where Open Carry Guns Were Stolen: Is Open Carry Worth the Risk?

Another factor that could backfire in this situation is some liberal snowflake suddenly making a stink with a store owner or even calling the police. It has been known to happen. And, although the police may determine that you are doing nothing wrong and let you go about your business, the damage is already done in terms of onlookers’ perceptions. Better to always remember that it’s nobody’s business if we are legally carrying a gun.


Part of being a responsible gun owner is making sure that the information you pass on to others is accurate, especially when sharing it with first-time gun owners. The new generation of gun owners is remarkably diverse, and we want them to have a positive experience as they join those of us who have been around guns most of our lives.

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