By Phillip Marais
Self-defence guns. Like insurance, it’s one of those things that we buy and hope to never be forced to use. The mere fact that we feel it necessary to have to carry one of them on our person speaks volumes about the violent crime rate in the country. I made the choice that I will be armed some time after an armed-robbery at home. My father managed to repel the two armed attackers through decisive, violent, speedy action, using only a plastic baton, while they were armed with what I later identified as Beretta 92-type pistols. It became clear to me then that we need not be victims. I bought and licenced a handgun. And it is ugly.
We buy the latest and most comfortable holsters for our self-defence guns, for while we may never use it, we will carry it.
We buy lights for it. Shooting at an object you haven’t identified as a legitimate target is going to end badly.
We spend (and if you don’t, you really should) money on training: How to use it properly under stress, how to manipulate it with adrenaline and blood flowing, and how to still make “combat effective hits”. (Cool words make you feel like you’re getting value for money training).
And still, to be frank, I detest my carry-gun. It’s cumbersome and it inhibits some of my activities. Swimming in the ocean has become a far bigger consideration than it should, because I have to comply with the law regarding this piece of plastic and steel on my hip.
I can wax about my competition gun for hours on end. I love it. The way it shoots, the way the front sight tracks, the mild recoil impulse, the inherent accuracy. Hunting rifles with wooden stocks and the romantic image of wide open plains teeming with Springbuck is a perfect example of the type of firearm people buy based partly on its aesthetics.
But my carry gun gives me as much warm and fuzzy feelings as the hacksaw in my garage. And that’s right.
There is nothing romantic about dying, no matter how many times you read Lt. Grossman’s thoughts on sheep, wolves and sheepdogs.
Some evenings, when I attach the weapon-mounted light just before I retire to bed, the reality of what I am doing strikes me afresh. I am attaching this light because there is a possibility that I might be in a fight for my life in the next few hours. I might need the light during that fight. I may lose that fight.
It does strike me as odd, then, that people would still base their choice of handgun on the way it looks. Granted, most likely that is not the only consideration. But the mere fact that it is mentioned boggles the mind. It certainly beggars belief that the “smooth clean lines” of a pistol warranted any attention just before, during, or after a violent confrontation.
If you are in the camp that thinks your carry-gun also needs to look good, you may need to reconsider your views on self-defence, and the role of the firearm therein. If you think that your carry-gun also happens to look good that’s all good and well, you’re one of the lucky ones.
But for the love of life, please do not forego one firearm for another, based on how it looks. Looking at the pretty gun in your rapidly relaxing hand as your eyesight fades to black is not going to bring you much comfort.
Phillip is a forum moderator, sport shooter and general know-it-all. Coming from a legal background, he fancies himself knowledgeable on gun rights. He detests generalisations, and thinks that Glock is better than CZ