Snake Slayer

The Bond Arms Snake Slayer

After more thought and research into Bond Arms, I decided to purchase a Snake Slayer and give it a thorough testing as my primary carry gun.

Now, being that I also own and carry 9 mm and .380 semi-automatic pistols, why would I look to make a change to a two shot, single action derringer? Some explanation of my reasoning is in order.

First, I think there are two main theories, or schools of thought, regarding how an average citizen can approach how, what and when to carry a concealed weapon. The how and the when questions are easily answered:

How

  • a method that is comfortable, so the pistol will be readily accessible given the fact that the gun will be under some kind of covering garment, 
  • secure so there is no danger of the gun becoming accidentally dislodged from the holster and is secure from an unexpected grab or discovery,
  • safe, so that the trigger is always covered to protect against negligent discharge,
  • keep it concealed. 

When

  • at all times where legally permissible. This requires that you know the law in the state where you are carrying. For example, I live about an hour's drive from another state, which I visit frequently. My carry permit is valid in both states, but the laws are somewhat different. In one, for example, I must be aware of which restaurants are compliant with the carry laws - in essence, an establishment must derive the majority of their income from food, not liquor. I wouldn't carry in a bar. Period. In one state, if the merchant posts a "No Guns" sign, the only force of law is regarding trespass. If an employee or manager knows you are carrying he or she can ask you to leave. That's it. If you don't, you could be charged with trespass.

What

This is usually where the controversy comes in, where gallons of ink (virtual and real) get spilled, tempers sometimes rise and some members have been banned from internet gun forums for letting their passion overrule their reason. As my old Company Commander in boot camp said, "Opinions are like ****, everyone has one."

In brief (and I'm not trying to cover all of the arguments, just a few of the main ones) the arguments run like this: Carry as big a gun as you can handle

This seems to be based on the old "stopping power" idea, being that one needs a large caliber, big bullet traveling at a high velocity to "stop" a man-sized, meth-crazed, 250 lb. biker assailant. Good luck with that. I don't know about you, but I have never even seen a meth-crazed, 250 lb biker and if I were attacked by one, I doubt that pistol "stopping power" would do much immediate good.

This notion of "stopping power" probably derived from tales coming out of WWI in the Pacific. While it is true that a 1911 .45 semi auto might drop a 100 pound, weak, starving, disease riddled Japanese soldier with one shot, a .22 would probably have worked about as well. The stories I heard while in the service in the 1960s about the "crazed" (insert an Asian enemy here) being shot six times with a .38 then slicing off the shooter's head with a samurai sword/machete/bayonet before collapsing is mostly b.s. Sounded good at the time though.

Modern ballistic studies, as well as studies based on actual law enforcement shootings, disprove this idea. Many assailants have been shot with many bullets of various calibers, including large ones beginning with a "4", and remained active and dangerous for some time.

One major problem with a big caliber gun firing large bullets at high velocities is their tendency to punch through a human torso, arm, leg, hand, neck, etc. and slam into something else. Like, through a sheet rock wall or door, or two. A car door, window, building. An innocent person who just happened to be in the vicinity. Missing your target with one of these big guns is bad. Who knows where those stray .44/.45/.357 rounds are going to end up when you miss?

The other problem with the "big as you can handle" gun is just carrying it. From my reading, and the people I know who have big pistols, most of them don't carry those guns regularly. They are too big and too heavy to strap on and carry all day, everywhere. And, if you have a carry permit and don't carry, what's the point? I've had people say to me, "I only carry when I'm going to need it." "I didn't know you could see into the future," I say. 

An average loaded model, 1911 .45 weighs about 45 oz. or 2.8 pounds. Think about carrying around half of a five pound sack of sugar attached to your belt. Make that three pounds with the holster, and a little more with a spare loaded magazine. Even so, you still get comments on the gun forums like, "The 1911 does weigh a little more, but it is a better gun in every other way. No one would ever or has ever disputed that." Not.

Even a more "modern" pistol, like a Glock 21 weighs 40 oz. loaded. That's 2.5 pounds. No big savings over a 1911.

I often wonder, really, how many of those Glock owners actually carry those guns regularly.

(There must be a reason why small, compact, lightweight guns like the Ruger LCP are so wildly popular...)

Shot placement

This old saw pops up with alarming regularity on the gun forums. (Again, a word of caution about gun forums. They are like men's gossip groups. There is a disproportionately large population of self-styled gun experts who post regularly in some forums but are basically opinionated jerks with little practical or actual knowledge of the subjects they pontificate on. Don't rely on gun forums to provide accurate, real and unbiased information. While there are knowledgeable, helpful people out there, it's very difficult to tell the phonies from the real ones, especially for those new to guns and self defense carry.)

The idea behind shot placement is that any caliber is effective when one shoots accurately and at a vital "stopping" area. There are more than a few things wrong with this notion. First, for 98% of the people who shoot hand guns, shooting with repeatable accuracy is not possible. Even then, the accurate and consistently good shots do their shooting on a range, at a target using techniques that have no bearing in a charged, adrenaline-fueled, self-defense shooting episode. Good sight picture. Steady trigger squeeze. Breath control. Steady hands. All of this goes out the window when someone threatens to take your life. Thinking that the average person who carries for self defense, who seldom gets to the shooting range and even more rarely practices rudimentary self defense shooting drills will be able to put his or her shots accurately on a vital target area when fighting for their lives is ludicrous. Remember that the next time your read or hear some fool promoting shot placement. 

The other fallacy behind shot placement is the idea that there are "vital stopping areas" that will drop an assailant dead in their tracks. Works pretty good on TV shows like "Justified", but in the real world, leaving aside the question of actually hitting one of those areas, who knows where and what they may be, or where to aim to get to them? Theoretically, maybe, but practically? There are documented cases of bad guys being shot in the head (surely, common gun wisdom knows this is a vital stopping area) who don't go down, but keep on shooting.

A caveat regarding laser sights

I have to note that the acceptance and use of laser sights on handguns has a direct, and positive bearing on the notion of shot placement. Many respected authorities on handguns and self defense, such as Jeff Quinn of Gunblast.com, recognize the usefulness of laser sights for the average shooter. In short, lasers make one a better shooter. Not just at night or in places of diminished light, but across the board. While it is true that an accomplished and practiced marksman or markswoman can shoot as well, perhaps better, than you or I using a laser sight, you and I will never be shooting at that level. Not unless we have the time, money and inclination to train hard enough to be a master. Most of us don't. So, it can only help with most guns like the semi-autos and revolvers being carried for self defense to buy and use a laser to improve one's marksmanship. It is also a safer thing to do for the general public. We need all of the help we can get to be sure to hit only our intended target. I have reviewed a number of lasers in this blog. I like the LaserMax variety. If you are interested, read my reviews, and others', and decide for yourself.

Carry plenty of rounds

Most modern semi-autos carry more than enough rounds for self protection. Many carry more than necessary. I have a Ruger SR9c with a seventeen round magazine. With one in the chamber, that's eighteen shots. Now, I can imagine a scenario in which I might need eighteen shots, but the odds of that actually happening are remote, to say the least. Yes, people will cite instances in which a self defense shooter needed a large number of rounds, but the odds of that happening are very slim. 

The unstated assumption behind carry plenty of rounds is that one could easily be in a situation where there are a number of assailants or it takes multiple (like four, five, six, or more) shots to stop the threat. But, if one does enough digging through reported self defense incidents that involve the person being threatened resorting to a gun you'll find that a very large number of these incidents never involve a shot being fired. The potential assailants flee at the sight of their intended victim drawing a gun. Of those in which the potential victim does fire, it usually involves only one or two rounds before the threat is stopped. The bad guys run away, sometimes uninjured, sometimes ending up at a hospital where they are usually arrested. Sometimes they are killed.

Often when multiple shots are fired, only a few find their target. The rest find unintended targets, thankfully most of them in an inert object. But not always.

The question becomes, how many rounds are enough? This is, of course, an unanswerable question. As I leaned in project management school, the real answer is "it depends."

And so we come to what I think are the real questions. Why do I legally carry a gun for self defense? And, what does that actually mean, and what am I willing to do, and not do, because of that? And, given the answers to those, what, when and how should I carry?

I carry because bad people also carry guns (and knives, and clubs, and chains, and some are much bigger, younger, and meaner than me) and until they don't, I refuse to be a victim who can't fight back.

I carry because I feel a responsibility to my family and my fellow citizens. I'm no cop, but I am a citizen and believe it is my responsibility to protect the lives of innocent people when there is no other choice.

Carrying a gun for self defense means that I am capable of using it effectively, and I will use it without hesitation if forced to do so in defense of my life or that of others. This also means I am prepared to be injured or killed in so doing.

I am not willing to risk the lives of, or injury to innocent people by firing my weapon in a manner that may do so. I must have a clear shot, even if it means exposing myself in order to shoot safely in a violent, self-defense situation.

I will choose and use a weapon that is, as much as possible, consistent with the above. 

It seems to me that many people choose their handguns with the idea that they are good shots, can hit their targets regardless of circumstance, that they require a larger and more powerful weapon that will carry enough ammunition to stand off an assault by a crowd of assailants.

I don't subscribe to those ideas. My thinking has changed to this. I want a small, reliable gun that I can carry comfortably, all the time; that is powerful enough to quickly stop an attacker, but not so much that it is a danger to others nearby; that I can shoot accurately enough at close range but its effectiveness (lethality) falls off quickly beyond that distance. At this point, my thinking is that a small, hand-held shotgun is one answer to these requirements.

Those are my reasons for choosing a Bond Arms derringer as my primary carry weapon. Firing a .410 shot shell with large diameter shot, such as 000 or 00 buckshot, or perhaps the self defense rounds that use a combination of three or four disks and BB pellets, the little gun should be very effective at short range, even with not-so-good shot placement, and will be less of a danger to others.

Two shots should be enough for the vast majority of situations I might encounter. If not, I will have the option to reload, or to resort to a small backup gun.

The Bond Arms derringer should be very reliable. It is a single action pistol with little to go wrong. No springs, slides, or revolving parts. It is designed with built in safeties using both the single action cocking and rebounding hammer.

It is small enough to carry, but large enough to do what it is meant to do.

So.... I have a Bond Arms Snake Slayer on order. Perhaps it will arrive this week. I'm putting my money where my opinion is so I can test out my theories and this innovative firearm. I will be looking at how it shoots, how it conceals, how it carries from day to day. I will be testing its reliability and use factor - how easy is it to draw from concealment, cock and fire? What kind of ammunition and shot patterns work best in self defense situations. How is the best way to carry spare rounds and reload quickly. And, anything else that occurs I think you'd want to know about.

I will report back here after I get my Snake Slayer and begin to apply some reality testing to it.