Photo By: Lance Cpl. Richard Blumenstein

I know that you believe at least one of these myths.  They are so common as to be treated as fact by the majority of gun owners, and self defense minded folks.  It’s very easy to fall into these traps, and it’s generally preceded by a lack of critical thinking regarding, gear, tactics, and techniques.  Keep reading to see what the myths are, and the drastic impact they have on your ability to defend yourself.

1. The World is a More Dangerous Place 

This isn’t true.  If you ask most Americans, they will probably tell you that crime is increasing.  This is objectively false.  Some interesting research from Pew shows that all categories of crime have been decreasing over the last 25 years.

They used the FBI’s crime stats as well as the Bureau of Justice’s phone survey data.  This is key because up to 50% of crime goes unreported, according to phone survey data, but when combined, these two sources give a good unbiased view of what is actually happening.

According to the article, the overall crime rate has fallen between 50%-77% over the last 25 years.  Pew also asked people if they thought crime was increasing or decreasing since 2008, and 57% of people thought that it was increasing.

This is understandable, because the media constantly features crime, and some types of crime have been on the increase, such as mass shootings.  This leads us as gun enthusiasts to overestimate the chances of having to use a weapon to defend ourself.

Crime decreases as Chuck Norris increases, coincidence?                                                                       Photo credit: Scott McCoy via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

This is not to say that you should not protect yourself.  It’s important to have the ability, and the means to defend yourself and your loved ones, but don’t think that it is very likely to happen.

2. Quick Draw Mentality 

The quick draw mentality is the idea that, if you are forced to defend yourself, then you will have to produce and shoot your firearm as fast as possible.  I won’t say that this is false, but like our previous myth, it is drastically overestimated.

The vast majority of successful self defense shootings require that the defender strategically time their draw so that it is obscured from their attacker’s vision.They also must delay the draw until their attackers aren’t focusing on them as well.

Out of 30 self defense scenarios that we analyzed, there were almost no successful scenarios where the defender recognized the threat, and immediately produced their weapon.  For more information and a detailed break down on self defense shootings, check out this criminal video analysis.

This video is a good example of these concepts.


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3. Caliber Discrimination 

This is by far the most common misunderstanding that is hotly debated on the internet.  You’ve got  your 45 acp, 1911, bros, and the 9mm camp, with a few odd jobs in between.  In reality, anything above 9mm will work well for self defense, provided that you can shoot accurately.

Does this fit into a 1911?                       Photo credit: United States Marine Corps Official Page via Visualhunt

In handgun calibers, injuries are produced by crushing forces at the front of the round, as it enters a body.  Yes, larger caliber rounds generally have higher kinetic energy, but the difference is negligible.  If you get hit by a 4500 lb car vs a 4300 lb car, are you likely to care about the difference?

The only thing that matters for self defense is that you carry a reliable weapon, in a caliber that you can control.  I also think that you should probably carry at least 8 rounds or more.  Most importantly, you should practice with your carry method, and your carry gun! Everything else is just mental masturbation.

4. Aiming Doesn’t Matter 

Don’t worry I’m not going to go on a point shooting sales pitch here, but I put it to you, that most of your misses are not caused by poor aiming, but by moving the gun off target while manipulating the trigger.  Don’t take my word for it, check out this Rob Leatham video, blessed be his name.

As he says, what does it matter if you have perfect aim but you cannot maintain that orientation while manipulating the trigger?  This is often a training issue, but it can be a physical fitness issue as well.  Check out this article for the three key physical factors that predict pistol shooting performance.

5.  A Gunfight isn’t a Flat Range 

This isn’t one people actually say, it’s something that at a subconscious level is assumed.  For example, if I told you that you would have to defend yourself from an armed robber in one month, what would you do?

You’d probably go to the range, and shoot a lot of paper targets, trying to draw quickly and shoot accurately.  This isn’t a waste of time, but it won’t really help your chances of survival.

If someone told me that I’d be in this same scenario, I’d get some airsoft guns, and run through as many force on force scenarios as I could, focusing on moving, shooting, and seeking cover.  These are the keys to winning a gun fight.

Here’ a good video of Zach Harrison, former Delta guy, talking about why force on force matters.

Force on force training is incredibly important because it is the closest thing you can do to mimic an actual armed encounter.  The next best thing is to watch video’s of actual gunfights.

Final Thoughts 

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  They are simply some of the most prevalent misconceptions regarding self defense.  It’s important to have a solid understanding of these realities if we are to better prepare ourselves should we ever be put in these extreme situations.

Agree, Disagree, Leave your comments below!




  1. Personally I’ll digest the “spirit” of the article and leave the editing to those who go the range once a year, maybe. To misquote a movie phrase “if you are going to edit – edit. If you are going to shoot – shoot””

  2. I have lived in my area for 39 years, and I must disagree with your item 1. Murders almost daily, and home break ins are on the rise. (Shreveport LA)

    • Yes, but this is what everyone is doing, assuming their local conditions are what the whole country is experiencing. You are probably correct about Shreveport, but what do you know about Des Moines? It’s quite common for us to think that our own experiences are common to all. I personally think this is where a lot of political disagreements come from. Thanks for the comment.