Good guys… er, gals… with guns

The clip below is about a mom that hid in the attic with her 9 year or twins as an ex convict broke into their home.

In the dramatic audio we hear the husband instruct his wife to shoot as he taught her. The woman shoots the intruder as he enters the attic, hitting him 5 times in the face and neck with her 38 special revolver. The intruder escapes, goes back to his vehicle and crashes near by due to blood loss. He is captured by the authorities and expected to survive.


Be sure you hit the link and read the writer’s analysis about choice of caliber.
Still think your .380 is ‘good enough’?

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41 Responses to Good guys… er, gals… with guns

  1. bradoplata says:

    Good article, but I would argue two points. One, I have something bigger for the house, and two, do you really think she would have had all those hits with a .357 (not that she would have needed that many)?

    I’m new to shooting, but would she recovered enough if she missed the first shot to put the others on target?

    I had a lc9s that I loved but couldn’t carry everywhere. I have a little Taurus that I’m almost never without.

  2. Nemo says:

    center mass, Center Mass, CENTER MASS. However, she did well putting 5 of 6 in the head/neck even though none was a terminator. I suspect her weapon was loaded with FMJ’s which are next to useless for anything other than practice in .380, .38 or 9MM, IMHO.

    Anyone that doesn’t have good quality JHP’s or hard cast semi wadcutter ammo in their defense gun, no matter the caliber, is fooling themselves.

    • JeremyR says:

      Some one I know had hollow back wadcutters loaded in reverse. mega hollowpoint. After he had a successful stop, he unloaded, then reloaded with correctly loaded rounds of the same type. That way it appeared that by some freak of nature, the rounds tumbled before impact. That was in the70’s.

  3. bogsidebunny says:

    I use a Taurus 605 Poly wheel gun with 5- .357 hollow points. Not great for head-shots but center-mass is a bigger and softer target anyway.

  4. Jeffery in Alabama says:

    Damn! I’d think five shots of anything in the face at close range would be plenty. Actually, it was enough. The woman and her children lived. The perp retreated. How he survived is beyond me. You mentioned a .380. The way I read it, the gun used was a .38 special (author mentions .357). The only way I can see someone surviving five shots to the face and neck, even with a .22 LR, is that each bullet must have barely grazed whatever point of impact it struck.

    • JeremyR says:

      NO critical organs in his head. Brain wasn’t in use at the time…
      Ok, Eyes.

    • SAM says:

      I think [second time this year – it’s going to be a good year] the point is if a .38 special may not get the job do then there is no way a .380 ACP will.

  5. Tsquared says:

    She hit the guy 5 times in the head and neck but didn’t hit any critical points. Better shot placement and 1 shot would have been enough. Sounds like she grazed him 5 times. Bigger is not always the answer. If she had been shooting a 10mm, 41Magnum, 45ACP, or 45 Colt she would probably hit the first shot in the same non-deadly place but missed the rest because of anticipated recoil flinching.

    • Wirecutter says:

      but didn’t hit any critical points

      Which is pretty typical when you’re freaked out and the adrenaline is pumping.
      Here’s something that the folks that think their .380 is enough with proper shot placement – sprint 50 yards and then rapid fire a full magazine into a torso sized target at 10 yards and see just how proper your shot placement is then.
      A 45 might do the job with an off center miss, but I seriously doubt a .380 or 22LR will.

      • JebTexas says:

        I think it’s a whole lot more about placement and bullet type than caliber. I had an article from (I think) Guns & Ammo from the 80’s where they did live animal testing. A good hollow point .380 round did quite well against the goats they were testing them on. The point of the article was that hollow point ammo from the .380 caliber & up was Good Enough(tm). And let’s face it, what she had worked, right?

        • Wirecutter says:

          I agree with you to a point. Yes, placement is critical, but even more so with smaller calibers ot lighter loads. Why? Hydrostatic shock does a tremendous amount of damage – a bullet from a smaller caliber that misses a vital organ causes a wound. A bullet from a larger caliber that misses a vital organ can still kill due to hydrostatic shock.

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – shoot whatever you’re comfortable with. But be sure you can shoot to kill with it. I have yet to see anybody shooting a little .380 make one ragged hole dead center in a target in ten yards consistently, but folks that carry them are the ones that scream “It’s all about bullet placement” the loudest. I’m not talking down the shooter’s ability here, but the guns that are chambered for them. Most of them have very rudimentary sights and when you combine that with such a short sight radius, it’s hard to shoot them well. It’s not just the .380s either, even my 38 special pocket rocket has sucky sights on it and I can’t shoot it as well as I can my 45 or 357 – which is I why carry that pretty much as only a last resort.

          Bullet styles also play a huge role as you pointed out. Absolutely. I’ve got hundred of rounds of 230 grain factory hardball and reloaded wadcutters in my house. In my 45 on my hip right now, I’m carrying 230 grain hollowpoints. The hardball and wadcutters are for practicing, the HP are what I’ll stake my life on.
          Same thing with my 357, HPs are in the cylinder when I’m carrying that. I’ve read where ‘experts’ advocate using 38 special for practice and use 357 for carry. Uh-uh. Practice with something that replicates your carry load as closely as possible. You don’t need heavier recoil and a blinding muzzle flash adding to the situation if you ever need that gun. It’s best to get accustomed to it beforehand.

          • Sanders says:

            When I thought I was going to carry a .380, I did a bunch of research on the best rounds to carry in the Keltec P3AT that I had purchased.

            Someone else has almost always done the legwork on those questions, and I found a forum post on the P3AT forum that answered just that. A guy tested many different self defense rounds and found that none of the hollow point ammo expanded, but also would not penetrate very deep through layers of clothing into his wet phone book test medium.

            The bullets that worked best in that particular pistol were 90 gr. FMJ. They were more reliable, and penetrated deeper. Expansion was a non-issue as nothing available for sale at the time expanded.

            While the little .380 was nice to carry in the pocket, I never did like shooting it. It was too loud, and the recoil was too snappy. I much prefer the .45 ACP.

  6. Nutty Old Geezer says:

    Well yes, it is. However, I practice with my weapon. A lot. I use quality ammo. I can hit exactly where I want. Shot placement- just like real estate its location location location. Recall a while back some douche got into a free for all with the popo (somewhere in Ohio I think). They shot him about twenty times with a .40 S&W or a AR. He lived. Near misses only count with hand grenades and horseshoes. That said when I go to the big city, I want my Glock 23 with two mags back up. I practice with it also. A lot. But 13 on board vs 7 rounds……There are a lot more douches in the big city. Now if I could just ccw my AK. NOG

  7. majmike says:

    Ya’know. Lots of times fat and slows gets the job done better! .45JHP forever!!!

  8. Boone says:

    I’ll wade into the fracas… The imperfect weapon you have with you is always better than the perfect weapon you don’t. Shot placement is everything. Quantity has a quality all it’s own. (Thanks, Clausewitz!)

    This said, there are instances of people being shot half a dozen times with handgun rounds and a dozen more with 223 rifle rounds and still being able to resist arrest. See “Lessons Learned” at end of NSFW link:

    I’ll take my chances with a .380 when I don’t have a belt fed handy.

  9. Winston Smith says:

    Actually it did the job. Drove off the attacker and he bled out.
    That’s a Win to my way of thinking.

  10. JFM says:

    This is why Hydroshocks were invented. No lie. The guy who invented the Hydroshocks was an ex-police officer who started with .38 Special inverted lead wadcutters.

  11. AlphaDelta says:

    He got 10 years and had six prior arrests, but this is par for the course…

    “He has six children and acknowledged that he shouldn’t have been there. That breaking into people’s houses to steal things to support your family is inappropriate,” Ainsworth said.

  12. JeremyR says:

    Many years back I saw a video of a police undercover operation. They stopped a car. Three cops rolled out and two bad guys and exchanged fire in the space of two vehicles between their respective cars. High capacity mags, multiple changes, no hits. Ended with two cops tackling one and the other cop chasing the other who was hauled back in cuffs.
    Dirty Harry, in Magnum Force, was carting his trusty .44mag, but admitted it was loaded with 44spcl. Impact of a .357 and recoil of a .38. Something to consider. I’d like top find something with the impact of a .454 Casul and the recoil of a .22short.

  13. California southpaw says:

    I read somewhere that he was on respirator and couldn’t breathe on his own. Can’t frickin find it now.
    And now I see that the asshole pulled through. Damn shame.

  14. Chish says:

    I got a small .380 for when it’s 98+ here in Chickenbone SC. I mean it’s good enough to go to the grocery store in my little town. Going in the city, 9mm with hollow points and extra magazine.

  15. singlestack says:

    I’ve been around guns/shooting literally all my life, and I’ve had to fight for my life with a gun.

    I carry a 1911 loaded with 230 grain JHPs in a paddle holster on my right hip and my BUG is a 5 shot .38 snubbie loaded with 125 grain +P Hydroshocks carried either in a paddle holster crossdraw on my left hip or in a shoulder rig. I also carry 2 reloads for each with more in the truck. I live in a constitutional carry state so I don’t have to worry about my weapons showing though I do keep them covered, discretion being the better part of valor.

    Two is one, one is none.

    In discussions like this you always hear someone saying their .22 or .380 mousegun is enough because they invoke “shot placement” like it’s some kind of magical talisman. Well, it isn’t.
    When you’re on a two way range and you’re winded from exertion/pants shitting scared you are not going to shoot like you do on your weekend range outings or in competition. No, competition is not a simulation for combat. It’s not even close. Adrenaline robs you of your fine motor skills and you get tunnel vision. Instinct will take over. It’s difficult to overcome, even for people who train for it, like the cop in LA who fired 36 rounds at a guy on the ground from less than 20 feet and never hit him once. The cop panicked. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.
    Carry the biggest, most powerful gun and ammunition that you can shoot well. The legal requirements of CCW require compromise but go with the biggest you can. Like Col Cooper said, “Use enough gun”.
    A lot people carry lightweight polymer mouse guns because a bigger gun is uncomfortable. Well, a carry gun isn’t supposed to be comfortable, it’s supposed to be comforting. I carry steel framed guns for two reasons. First, the weight makes the gun more controllable with powerful ammunition. Second, the weight is a constant reminder of the responsibility I have accepted by carrying a gun.
    Handle and manipulate your carry gun every day, whether you shoot it or not. Become so familiar with the manual of arms that you can do anything you need to do with it without any conscious thought.
    Practice, practice, practice. Dry fire is your friend.
    Prepare yourself mentally. Game self defense scenarios in your head. Stay alert.
    If you have to draw your weapon in anger you’ve made a serious error in your defense strategy. Accept that sometimes shit happens that is beyond your control.
    If you get formal “armed self defense” or “combat” training be careful. There are a lot of charlatans out there that will take your money and teach you habits that will get you killed.

    • Wirecutter says:

      A lot people carry lightweight polymer mouse guns because a bigger gun is uncomfortable. Well, a carry gun isn’t supposed to be comfortable, it’s supposed to be comforting. I carry steel framed guns for two reasons. First, the weight makes the gun more controllable with powerful ammunition. Second, the weight is a constant reminder of the responsibility I have accepted by carrying a gun.

      Outstanding, and I agree 100%.
      If you can’t handle a larger caliber (barring any physical disabilities) practice until you can.
      If you don’t carry a large caliber out of concern because you don’t want it to ‘print’, then dress for success.
      Practice, practice, practice.

  16. Tom W. says:

    I wont engage in a caliber flaming, as I “celebrate diversity” and carry different EDC’s as needed here in the sunny swamps of So Flo weather.

    However, she and her kids lived, threat was stopped.

    Oh, real calibers begin with a 4. ;-)

    (Couldn’t help it)…..

  17. Highlander says:

    Shoot center mass! how difficult is that? whoever thought teaching her to shoot head shots…well now you know why you don’t do that. No round is perfect but for all you who think a .380 is worthless, please stand in for the target next time. I have no idea what kind of hits this woman made (crappy internet so if its mentioned in the video, I can’t get it to run) obviously no square on hits, I have seen many examples of the skull letting the round ride around it causing only tissue damage. Neck, lots and lots of empty space in the neck, and the torso, for a round to pass through and not stop someone. Knew a criminal who got 13 9 mm to the torso and jumped out a window into a trash dumpster and only got caught when he jumped out and broke his leg. Only one round found an organ…he now sports a colostomy bag. I have also seen a one shot from a .22LR kill some one. no matter how bad ass you think you are there is still the element of “luck” to be accounted for. Finally, I read a lot of big man in town shit her; How many of you have actually been in a gun fight? It ain’t anything like you think it might be. Kudos to this woman for being there and doing it!


    • Wirecutter says:

      The woman was hiding in the attic, so I assume she started shooting as soon as she saw his head poking up.

      • SAM says:

        To be fair the .38 special did the job it had to it, to keep her and her children from harm, yes she shoot him five times and he walked out but it stopped him.

  18. Jack says:

    Boys she is hiding in the attic with two kids. Phyllis billy pushes his big ass ugly head in, she plugs him 5 out of 6. He goes down and hauls ass. We don’t know she was not reloading. Women round here got speed loaders and can do it it the dark.

  19. Steve in ky says:

    Yep. 380 is good enough for carry. At home the get 12 gauge 00 inside, or .308 outside. The 5.56 is for groups of “zombies”

    Hell man I dont feel under armed with a .22lr. I have killed many a pig with a .22 its like a light switch.

    • Jeffery in Alabama says:

      I like .22 LR and .22 WMR’s too Steve, but I sometimes carry something larger with a greater capacity. As a retired Army Ranger told me once, “any of the calibers will get the job done. The question one has to ask is do I have time to wait’? He carries a 1911 in .45.

  20. Jesse in DC says:

    460 S and W Magnum…(Yeah I know it is really a 45…)

  21. Dan says:

    Shot placement counts over any other single factor. I doubt she hit anything of importance and if she was using the wrong ammo the round sailed right through without causing enough damage to stop the perp. 4 decades in healthcare, mostly ER including quite a bit of time in So. Central and East LA. Saw a LOT of GSW’s. Handguns are not particularly effective at stopping a determined attacker and some 80% of those shot survive. If she had a more powerful gun she might have missed due to recoil. If she had better ammo the results might have been different. No way to know as we can’t see the outcomes of ‘alternative timelines’. Regardless the ending was a happy one for her and her kids….they survived unharmed.

  22. Shawn says:

    Sounds like she was using shot shells to me… or hit him all in the lower face missing the brain.

    38 special should be more that enough to stop someone with the right ammo.

  23. Mac says:

    Just to throw my two cents in, a guy at our range got hijacked last year and while the five were debating whether to kill him in his driveway or somewhere else he slipped his NAA 22 magnum out and killed 4 of them and severely injured the last. Granted a NAA is far from ideal but shot placement, speed, surprise and aggresion is everything. It does help that this guy was an excellent shot as well.

  24. Bill N. says:

    She did well enough with what she had. A better choice than any handgun would be a shotgun if circumstances permit. Had she tagged the suspect once in the head or neck with a load of buckshot from even a 20 gauge he probably would be in a body bag now. The problem is that sometimes you only have one hand available because you might be holding a kid or don’t have time to get it out. In this case she had enough time to assume a good defensive position and the kids were old enough that she didn’t need to be carrying them. The only question would she have been willing to spend the time learning how to use one. I had a discussion with a friend’s ex-wife once about how she should respond to break-in if she was home. I told her she should first get one of her husband’s guns (he was a police officer) and then get the phone. She said she couldn’t do it because she would panic. She was going to get the phone and call for help. Nothing you can do when a person has a loser mindset and doesn’t have the will to fight.

  25. John Deaux says:

    Lots of opinions here, most on point some kinda drifting about. IMHO.
    The subject of home vs carry, retreat or stand your ground, shoot or don’t shoot are all points to consider depending on your location and situation. Here in La we have stand your ground and castle doctrine so that’s what I use to base my security plans off of.
    I carry a polymer frame in 40 caliber 99% of the time, either the Glock model 22 or the 27 depending on circumstances, I like the polymer because I sweat and when it’s mid 90s and the humidity is just as high I sweat, a lot, the polymer doesn’t rust like some of the steel frames have. At times I have used a smaller caliber at times rather than going unarmed.
    Home is shotgun territory backed up by a handgun if necessary, I have seen and heard the plus and minuses of the AR in home defense and while I love my 6920 it’s not my go to for home defense, your opinions may vary.
    So back to the articl , we have a mom retreating with her children and grabs a weapon, when push comes to shove she fires several rounds into the criminal, she and her children are not harmed and said criminal has been stopped. She did what lots of people would not be able to do and to that I say Good Job

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