PLEASE NOTE that the article title states, “sub .380”; therefore, it is focused upon .22, .25, and .32 caliber handguns. As well, note that this article IS NOT an endorsement of small caliber handguns for the purpose of self-protection. Personally, I feel that .380 ACP is the minimum caliber for serious consideration, as many others do as well.

Why did I then write this piece? For the reason that the manufacture and sale of this class of weapons is hitherto with us and, in fact, many people do carry them on a daily basis. I consider that one who would stake their life purposely upon a so-called “mouse gun” is probably not very gun savvy nor would they consider them any different from any other major caliber handgun, a gun is a gun right?

My hope is twofold; first, that they reconsider and select a larger caliber weapon and second, should they insist upon the continued use of their minor caliber firearms, that they, at least, understand its limitations and can use it successfully if, God forbid, they should find the need.

Thank you,

The answer to that is yes. Yes a .32, .25, or .22 can be used to save your bacon except you have to comprehend what you are using and how to use it effectively.

I tell folks to think of firearms in the same light as edged weapons and, in actuality, stick/staffs as well. Every weapon has two ranges, one is the maximum range, and the other is the effective range. The one we are concerned with is the effective range especially were pistols are concerned.

The so-called ‘mouse’ guns are akin to the yawara/kubotan and the sub-4-inch knife. They are extreme close range contact weapons, they are not preferred weapons but are weapons of special purpose, and they must be used properly or they are worthless. In other words, they are not true combat pistols, in reality they are an expert’s weapon not a novice’s, and they are certainly not the ideal ‘ladies gun” as was so often touted in the thrilling days of yesteryear.

Shot placement, always significant as is penetration, is everything when one is using a minor caliber weapon. Just as it would be nearly ineffective to stab a resolute assailant under the sternum with a 3-inch neck knife so would it be equally pointless to attempt a body shot with a minor caliber pistol and expect a change in attitude. Consider as well that marksmanship has nothing to do with this type of shooting, this is contact shooting.

 Your targets will all be from the clavicle on up. Your primary “aim” points will be the eyes followed closely by the mouth, ears, nose, and so forth and so on. Place the pistol barrel perpendicular to or force it into the eye and shoot straight towards the back of the skull, in the mouth and fire in an angled-up direction, directly into the ear’s cavity firing towards the other ear, the nostrils angled upwards towards the brain, finally under the chin/jawbone and shoot up. Obviously, we are attempting to register brain hits through unprotected softer tissue channels.

Secondary points are straight into the throat, which will damage the vestibular fold, epiglottis, vocal fold, thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, trachea, and esophagus causing shock and suffocation. As well, a downward shot, behind the clavicle at the base of the neck angled towards the heart/lung region is also an option. These are not preferred as they are (potentially) lethal…eventually…and you do not have that much time. Nonetheless, if they are your only options, take them. You can be very dead before your assailant is, keep this in mind.

Caution: when contact shooting the utmost care must be taken to not shoot oneself (YES it has happened). Know where the muzzle is and where your body parts are, especially your off-hand, as you will probably be using it to fend off the attack while firing.

I feel compelled at this time to emphasize several points of note. First is that contact shooting is not a highly recommended way of defending oneself, the farther away you can keep your attacker the better (another state is preferable).

The second is that if your assailant has a gun you will have no choice but to engage immediately. The objective here should be to get the hell out of there as fast as possible using accurate suppressive fire. Unless you are very overdue for a miracle, it is doubtful you will win a running gun battle with a .25 automatic.

A third consideration is that your enemy is armed with an edged or impact weapon. Do you really want to engage in a contact-shooting struggle now? One should always learn and practice as least rudimentary hand-to-hand skills along with shooting skills. Simply having the ability to sidestep in this situation could save your life.

Fourth and final point is ammunition selection for these less than powerful hideout pistols. From 9×18 on down, I use and recommend FMJ or for .22’s solid LRN or truncated cone. Many years ago, prior to the advent of today’s major caliber micro-pistols, I carried, on occasion, an Iver Johnson TP22 and used Remington Vipers, a solid truncated cone hyper-velocity round.

Real hot rounds for the .22’s are the Aguila Interceptor 40gr. Solid Points. This ammo travels at 1470 feet per second and is the fastest .22LR 40gr. load out there. For my Beretta 950 Jetfire in .25 ACP, I would have to go with plain old-fashioned FMJ rounds.

Yes, I realize that this is the 21st century and bullet technology has come a long way but…small calibers need all the help they can get in the penetration department, they simply don’t have the power to push an expanded bullet into the assailant, FMJ does that nicely.

Incidentally, the .22 long rifle round is ballistically superior to the .25 ACP. However, the .25 ACP, being a center fire cartridge is more reliable.

Let us look at some training procedures so if the shoe drops you will have some idea of what to do. Basic marksmanship with this style of pistol is a rather uncomplicated affair. Shoot one-handed, at eyelevel, at 5 to 7 feet from the target.

A paper desert plate makes a fine target because it is about 7-inches in diameter or roughly face-sized. All your shots should be well within the plate. Start using slow aimed nevertheless unsighted fire and continue speeding up your shots as long as all remain on the plate.

Your goal is to bring the pistol up and empty it into the plate as fast as you can pull the trigger; the pistol should sound like a machinegun.

Once you are comfortable with the speed shooting drill, add some movement. Your attacker is not going to stand there while you fire into his face, if he does not run at the sight of the gun he will charge you. To cover 7-feet takes the blink of an eye so you have to not be there when he arrives.

Your movement need not be drastic, a simple side step or pivot to the right or left will suffice. All the while, you are waiting until you can push that pistol into his ear or just behind it as he goes by, the other alternative is his neck.

The actual contact shooting is rather self-explanatory and I am uncertain how an average person would go about practicing the movements. Personally I do not feel that aspect of it is necessary just remember to know where your body parts are, while in the clinch, prior to shooting.

There is undoubtedly more involved however, I feel I got the collective perception across. Always avoid a fight if possible, always fight to win, always use the most effective weapon you can, always cheat, and always remember your goal is not winning a contest; it is to save your life…smash the ant with the hammer…twice.

As far as my personal sentiments on the subject are concerned, I will surmise as follows:

1. .22, .25, and .32 caliber pocket-type weapons do have a niche, albeit a small one.

2. Most people do not truly understand their limited application and therefore the guns are, or can be, misused.

3. I consider guns of this type as contact weapons more than true combat pistols.

4. The only target that should be considered is the face/head area and at arms length. Honestly, I always assumed if I ever had to use mine, it would be tucked under my assailant’s ear or chin, more of a knife that goes band.

5. Use the hottest and finest ammo you can get, as you need every edge you can with the diminutive calibers.

6. Small caliber hide-out guns need to be absolutely reliable (as do all weapons). By the time these tools of last resort are deployed it is already too late for any malfunction corrections and they’re too light to use as a sap.

7. Do I advocate their usage? No, certainly not nonetheless, if it is all you have at least have some idea of how to use it and what to expect from its use.

8. .22’s, .25’s, and .32’s are effective killing rounds, as are any firearm cartridges, but they are not so-called stopping rounds. You may very well be dead before your attacker.

So-called mouse guns ARE killers, they’re NOT stoppers…that’s where the confusion lies and, truth be known, no handgun is a true “stopper”.

David killed Goliath because David had complete knowledge of his weapon and confidence in his ability to use it effectively.