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Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Begin Rant on 08/31/2011 00:45:35 MDT Print View

Wow, this was actually kind of civil for a few pages. Starting to heat up just slightly, now.

I gotta put this out here- I am exactly the guy that the American public should WANT wandering quietly among them with a concealed handgun. I grew up in a gun family so I'm certainly not a hoplophobe. I am well trained on handling and firing a handgun. I can certainly hit what I shoot at, even in the stress-fire scenarios I've done. Needless to say, I have never failed to qualify "expert" on the joke of a test the U.S. Army uses. I have a CCW for the state of Colorado, and I understand gun law. I have proven good judgement. I fret about what it means to actually have to use a handgun for its intended purpose, and especially about where a bullet might go after passing through it's target. I would rather die myself than harm an innocent bystander. I obsess about my family's safety with guns in the house. So, frankly, you all should feel SAFER knowing that I might be standing next to you in the mini-mart the day a crew of tweakers open up. If nothing else I will draw their fire away from YOU.

And that's kinda funny. A lot of people on this thread have mentioned how useless a gun is if you aren't intensely trained, and how poorly people shoot in stressful situations, etc. (I, too, have chuckled at any number of police officers who I have seen shooting VERY poorly on ranges I have visited. Most of them would rather have a nice pen than a nice gun, y'know? They use it much more.) Well, I am the guy who is well trained, and I will certainly do a better job than the tweaker...

But I almost never carry a gun. Ever. City or wilderness. I simply don't need it. The biggest reason I even own a handgun is in case some ba$tard breaks into my house and threatens my family, which is probably the only thing that would push me to egregious violence. Though I am a rational man with a great respect for human life, I'm certainly no pacifist.

Mind you, I find most of the arguments against carrying a gun on this thread to be spurious:

"You're carrying a gun 'cause you're SCARED!" What? I'm not scared at all. I'm evaluating risk. A gun is kind of like parachute- you'll probably never need it, but if you do you'll need it VERY BADLY. That's why it is obvious to me that a lot of people here don't understand risk. Risk is NOT equivalent to likelihood. Risk is likelihood x severity. If the likelihood is low but the impact is catastrophic, well, that's a significant risk. Certainly likelihood can be so low as to effectively nullify the risk, but I don't think it is a given that this is one of those cases. It is arguable.

"Someone else will kill you before you can use it!" Again- what?!? I'll take 2 to 1 odds against a tweaker any day. And I'm certainly not going looking for a fight. Those who look for fights find them. I'm talking my way out if I can.

"If the pot growers have guns they'll still kill you!" Wow. That's far from a true statement. And even if one makes that general assumption- are you claiming that you shouldn't even TRY to defend yourself?!? That's kind of nihilistic, isn't it?

"The drive to the trail-head is more dangerous!" Granted. So you drive carefully and buckle up, don't you? You have evaluated risk and taken measures, which is all that the people who are asking about carrying a gun are doing, too.

Nonetheless, despite my thoughts on all of that, I rarely carry a gun- because when I evaluate the risk I find it to be so very low. Bear spray IS probably more effective for bears, unless you carry a high-powered rifle or shotgun slugs or something, and those are simply too heavy. (I did carry a .45-70 on my Alaska trip a while ago- because all of the locals warned me that I should. And I didn't see a single grizzly.) No HANDGUN is going to be remotely reliable in stopping a charging grizzly- I don't care what magnum round you're considering- because shot placement is just too difficult. Even PEOPLE who are shot almost never drop dead immediately, contrary to Hollywood. Frankly, if you MUST use a handgun against a bear a high-capacity automatic might be better than the magnum- that's what the rangers often end up using on the bears when they must put one down and a rifle isn't available. More shots = better chance of hitting something vital. I've seen footage of a grizzly being shot behind the shoulder TWICE by a .300 Weatherby Magnum and still fighting, so do you really think your .44 magnum is going to stop one? For that matter, we don't have grizzlies in Colorado. We also don't have the pot-grower problems in Colorado that you all have in California, nor do we have the coyote and Mexican mafia problems of the border states, all of which I think is just a tad overblown, anyway.

So, when I EVALUATE THE RISK it seems to come down on the side of not carrying a gun. Not worth the weight. But do your own assessment. If I do carry one I keep it light, carry it in a SafePacker, and it isn't for bear protection. Most of the human threats you might encounter are not courageou, and will back down when it becomes obvious that you might kill them back. On the very rare occasion that I carry a gun it is because I'm worried about aggressive rednecks or ranchers with delusions about property rights or rural mafiosi or perhaps the occasional tweaker trying to steal stuff in crowded areas, and then I carry a Ruger LCR because it's light. In general, I am willing to take much greater risks with my own life, but when my wife and/or daughter are with me I'm more likely to carry the LCR. The argument that this makes me a greater threat to my family than anyone else is spurious- I OBSESS about gun safety. If it ever gets back from the gunsmith I'll probably change to my S&W Model 19 because I'm having a MagnaTrigger installed for safety reasons, and then the LCR will only get used for those extremely occasions when I want to carry it while solo hiking.

Frankly I'll agree that armed untrained people are more of a threat to themselves and their friends than to anyone else, and most people who walk around armed are macho frightening people. Hey, I'm a "gun guy"- I know these people, and they are macho and frightening.

If you EXPECT to get in a fight, heck, carry a rifle. If you don't expect to get in a fight but want to be prepared, carry a handgun. For people who are extremely unlikely to get into a fight (which is nearly all of us, including me) and who aren't "gun people" I like to recommend small double-action revolvers. And if you aren't "gun people" don't shoot at any range longer than across a desk. They will fire every time you pull the trigger- for all practical purposes they do not jam, no matter how poorly treated. You can leave them loaded in your nightstand for YEARS and they will function when you pull the trigger- which is not something an automatic you can be relied upon to do. There is no safety to fumble under stress. You can just jam them into your target and pull the trigger if you must- many automatics will go out of battery if you do this. Small ones like J-frame S&Ws or the LCR are very light. Five (lead) rounds really isn't that heavy.

But, wow, it is an extremely odd circumstance in which I even consider taking a gun.

Edited by acrosome on 08/31/2011 01:00:49 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Begin Rant on 08/31/2011 01:21:28 MDT Print View

Hi Dean,
Good comment. Here's the bit I'm interested in:

"Someone else will kill you before you can use it!" Again- what?!? I'll take 2 to 1 odds against a tweaker any day. And I'm certainly not going looking for a fight.

The most likely scenario is someone with bad intent is going to approach you all friendly, then pull the gun with their finger already on the trigger, and demand your cash.

You can't outdraw that, unless you are going to ready your own concealed gun as the person approaches. Now, 99 times out of 100, the person approaching really is a friendly local or fellow hiker, and the only reason he is putting his hand into his pocket as he approaches, is to pull out the map he's going to ask you for help reading or his cigarrettes to ask for a light. At this point, you draw and he sh*ts himself, and you have to lend him your spare boxers.

How many times do you do that before you come to the conclusion you'd rather give the 1 in a 100 tweaker your $50 than pay for replacement boxers for 99 traumatised hikers?

My own strategy is to carry the $50 in my shirt pocket to give away to the needy, and stash the rest of my holiday cash and credit card in the well concealed pocket down the inside leg of my pants. 2 to 1 odds isn't good when you multiply it by the severity of fumbling the draw. Better to be $50 lighter in this world than $50 richer in the next.

Edited by tallbloke on 08/31/2011 01:35:18 MDT.

Rodney OndaRock
(RodneyOndaRock) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: Statistics on 08/31/2011 01:33:37 MDT Print View

@ Randy Nelson, (rlnunix)

In a car, I wear a seat belt, and the car has air bags. I have never needed either to save my life, but I still use the seat belt.

Surprisingly, I have not had a need to use my trail first aid kit in over 20 years, but if I get injured, I carry a kit to mitigate the risk of further serious injury.

When stealth camping with a buddy, I leave the hardware at home, but there is increased risk when solo and far away from the busy trail crowds.

Someone mentioned mastering martial arts as an alternative. I have no interest in tango dancing with Grizzly Mike Tyson. For about 1 lb of hardware, its piece of mind that I hope never to have to use in that rare awful scenario.

The pot-farm invasion of the national forests in So Cal is on-going, so in past years it used to be a hippie's well hidden crop, now it's turf warfare.

I like my mountains, I like to bush camp, I like to avoid busy trails, I like to go solo, I like solitude - unfortunately, so do the undesirable crowds, and the hungry predatory wildlife. In OC, the coyotes used to be a cute sighting, but their population exploded, now they are snatching leashed dogs while their owners are walking them in the morning. Coyotes are forming highly skilled packs and taking down single small, medium to large dog breeds. Also, mountain lions are on the move again because the past forest fires forced them to come out of hiding and seek out food in "people" areas.

but most of this stuff happens after 10PM and before 6AM.

Edited by RodneyOndaRock on 08/31/2011 01:35:02 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Begin Rant on 08/31/2011 02:12:12 MDT Print View

That's how how many muggings happen, but I'm not sure I'd say it is the "most likely" scenario. At least not in MY region. I'd say that the most likely scenario for me is a couple of shady-looking guys glancing around while they approach me across a parking lot, in which case, yes, I'd ask them what they want in a loud voice with my hand on my gun if I had it. Not drawn, but my hand would be on it. Don't underestimate one's ability to spot shady characters. Most (not all) criminals here aren't as well dressed as they are in Europe, and they tend to approach you in obviously suspicious and aggressive ways.

But Rog, I've already said that I'm not looking for a fight, and certainly not "outdrawing" anyone. Do you watch a lot of Westerns? I shudder to contemplate what you think of us Yanks -if some guy has the drop on me and asks for my wallet, well, he gets my wallet. If he doesn't have the drop on me I'm going to RUN if I can. But unfortunately in many jurisdictions here in the US we have something called a "three strikes law". If you are convicted of your third violent crime, you go away for life. This motivates criminals with two strikes to leave no witnesses, because they have nothing to lose. A two-strike mugger might START the mugging by killing his victim.

Certainly, if I'm in a minimart when some two-striker starts executing people I am going to fight.

I also habitually keep my cash separate from the rest of my wallet. I guess great minds think alike.

Heck, sorry Rog, I have a casualty coming in or I'd edit this into a more rational form...

Edited by acrosome on 08/31/2011 02:14:55 MDT.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Solo Wilderness Security on 08/31/2011 02:44:27 MDT Print View

I commend people for keeping this thread civil.

Here are a couple of studies that address injuries and fatalities in the outdoors. Neither study is all-encompassing, but basically backs up what I've read elsewhere:

That the main causes of death in the outdoors are (in no particular order):

1) Falls
2) Drownings
3) Cardiac events

Morbidity and mortality in the wilderness

Outdoor education fatalities in Australia 1960-2002. Part 1: Summary Of incidents and introduction to fatality analysis

Outdoor education fatalities in Australia 1960-2002. Part 2. Contributing circumstances: Supervision, first Aid, and rescue

On an aside, as someone who can't even operate the #*$&^@& zipper on his sleeping bag after waking up in the middle of the night to go pee, the chance of me brandishing a firearm effectively seems rather fanciful!

Edited by dirk9827 on 08/31/2011 02:47:47 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Re: Begin Rant on 08/31/2011 02:51:50 MDT Print View

Dean, sounds like you're busy, and my prayers are with your client that your expert and full attention gives them the best possible outcome, so here's my reply for when you are off shift.

But unfortunately in many jurisdictions here in the US we have something called a "three strikes law". If you are convicted of your third violent crime, you go away for life. This motivates criminals with two strikes to leave no witnesses, because they have nothing to lose. A two-strike mugger might START the mugging by killing his victim.

In which case the mugger will come from behind all sneaky. The person with the prior intent has the advantage, which is why the *availability* of firearms is such a problematic issue in the states, regardless of the legality or rights issues around ownership and carrying away from home.

Mountain lions and coyotes are pretty sneaky too. And fast. Bears are just tough. A nice bright fire and some pepper spray would be my approach. And a handy stout billy stick. I'd have a better chance of whacking a lion or bear in the eyes with those than a handgun, even though I'm a good shot.

Not too sure I'd hike solo in grizzly country though, so if a handgun gives peace of mind to those who do, good luck to them.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Pure fear driven by Television,movies and 24 hour news on 08/31/2011 04:21:00 MDT Print View

"God, not this gun thing again.................
I'm with Terry just above me on this one"


Given that guns have been threaded time and time again, why not just search for the old threads and have a read of them?

Is anything new likely to be said?

Edited by Arapiles on 08/31/2011 04:25:08 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Gun debate on 08/31/2011 06:13:49 MDT Print View

I'll preface that I don't like guns, that the thought of people backpacking with them disturbs me and that I believe that more violence is generated by the 4th amendment , by far, than is prevented. It is a difficult issue for me because I believe in personal rights, but I am disturbed by this one. I can't decide, I guess.
The reason I am posting here, though, is because I disagree with those that want the debate out of here, or that people just read old threads. Most issues have been discussed here and keep coming back, sometimes with new insights, sometimes not. I also dread this particular discussion, mainly because it always comes back around to one's manlihood or lack of it and other personal attacks. Yet it has it has it's place, because some members want to talk about it .It keeps coming up and then runs it's course and other than taking up room in the recent posts, which is not understandably not liked by those that just want to read about backpacking, it should be treated as any other marginally related issue.
Just my 2cents.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Location FTW on 08/31/2011 06:55:56 MDT Print View

Wow, this thread is yet another reason I am glad that I live in Sweden. If you statistic lovers think the odds are low of getting killed by a drug dealer or a bear in the US are low, they are even lower in Sweden. Much lower, especially for murder.

When I did live in the US, I never carried a gun or bear spray, just a knife (both urban and in the woods). Here in Sweden I only carry a knife into the woods, and sometimes an ax, but these are tools and not really for self defense. When I am hiking deeper in the woods (which is often) I will clap my hands and/or sing and/or holler every few minutes so that all the animals know where I am and clear out. I have yet to see a bear or wolf in the 5 years I have lived here, but I have seen plenty of moose, which are kinda dangers I guess. The rare few times a moose postured like it was going to charge, one time I just backed off (mother and her calf), and the other time I yelled and threw rocks (aggressive male) and it ran away.

If I ever ran into anyone that had a gun, I have at least a +10 on my diplomacy check, not including my charisma modifier which is above average, so I feel confident I could talk my way out of it.

If someone without a gun attacks me, urban or in the woods, I think that 3 years wrestling, 1.5 years boxing, and 2.5 years of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu training should suffice.

If I lived in the US I would only carry bear spray if I were going to be in grizzly bear areas. Black bears on the other hand (from

"Unlike grizzly bears, which became a subject of fearsome legend among the European settlers of North America, black bears were rarely considered overly dangerous, even though they lived in areas where the pioneers had settled. Black bears rarely attack when confronted by humans, and usually limit themselves to making mock charges, emitting blowing noises and swatting the ground with their forepaws. However, according to Stephen Herrero in his Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, 23 people were killed by black bears from 1900 to 1980. The number of black bear attacks on humans is higher than those of the brown bear, though this is largely because the black species outnumbers the brown rather than them being more aggressive.

Compared to brown bear attacks, violent encounters with black bears rarely lead to serious injury. However, the majority of black bear attacks tend to be motivated by hunger rather than territoriality, and thus victims have a higher probability of surviving by fighting back rather than submitting. Unlike grizzlies, female black bears do not display the same level of protectiveness to their cubs, and seldom attack humans in their vicinity.[43] The worst recorded fatality incident occurred in May 1978, in which a black bear killed three teenagers who were fishing in Algonquin Park in Canada.[74] The majority of attacks happened in national parks, usually near campgrounds, where the bears had become habituated to human contact and food.[43] 1,028 incidences of black bears acting aggressively toward people, 107 of which resulted in injury, were recorded from 1964 to 1976 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and occurred mainly in tourist hotspots where people regularly fed the bears handouts."

Fred Thorp
(BFThorp) - F
misdirected stats... on 08/31/2011 08:11:18 MDT Print View

@ Mark

"so fred, we are to believe that all the ccw persons in the us have equal or more training than the police?"

Not at all... but to apply police shooting statistics to responsible CCWs is misleading. Not all situations or people fit under the fat part of the bell curve. I thought a niche community like this would be more averse to averaging and broad generalizations. I was mistaken.

Richard Fischel
Re: Begin Rant on 08/31/2011 08:44:28 MDT Print View

Dean - I really enjoyed what you wrote - pretty much middle of the road; therefore, folks on either extreme could have problems with it. I might not make the same choices you would make, but I would hopefully employ the same logic. i am currently not a gun owner, don't plan on being one any time soon, but fully understand that there are times and places that they are applicable.

Can i post it elsewhere? If yes, would you like attribution?

Funny story - I did a short stint in Alaska doing survey work as a fill-in for the regular guy. There was a rifle with every team, but as part of your personal kit you could requisition a large caliber revolver. You were told to file the front site off the gun so that when the bear shoved it up you a#$ it didn't hurt so much.

Edited by RICKO on 08/31/2011 08:49:34 MDT.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Rant on 08/31/2011 08:48:55 MDT Print View

@ Richard,
"...part of your personal kit you could requisition a large caliber revolver. You were told to file the front site off the gun so that when the bear shoved it up you a#$ it didn't hurt so much."

When I was invited by a friend to go hunting in Alaska, I was told the same thing.

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." was Isaac Asimov's proposal, on which H. Beam Piper commented: "Only the incompetent wait until the last extremity to use force, and by then, it is usually too late to use anything, even prayer."
(another source gives it to Larry Niven)

No, violence is not that tidy so that it's always wrong, nor always tool of first choice.
Often violence breeds violence.
Heinlein suggested that "an armed society is a polite society" (SF is great for speculative debate)
But it means a lot of bloody weeding out of the idiots who can't be polite, having to be polite to rude bullies who happen to be good with a gun, and accepting a good number of casualties amongst innocent bystanders. Hmm.

On the whole, I'd prefer a duel of wits...
But sometimes a violent option is required.

(As a loner, should I be locked up immediately, or just forced to have friends?)

Edited by djjmikie on 08/31/2011 10:38:59 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
I am great handling a gun on 08/31/2011 08:58:18 MDT Print View

Every gun owner I know thinks they are very skilled and safe with a gun, unlike those other idiots.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Solo Wilderness Security on 08/31/2011 10:56:29 MDT Print View

All the the options are too heavy for the utility provided, just like a super thick sleeping pad, a chair, big double-walled tent, big cameras, etc--- all of which would actually get used every time. A satellite phone or an emergency beacon would provide far more security for the weight than a firearm would.

I grew up with firearms and gun control in my family means hitting the intended target. BUT, asking about carrying heavy metal objects on a forum where people debate carrying a Swiss Army Knife vs a single edge razor blade is kinda asking for it.

The fear thing is really interesting. Saying that you carry, but not because you are afraid, is an amazing twist of logic. If I am going to go to the expense, weight and liability of carrying deadly force, I would need to have a BIG fear to justify it. Even having one in the house is a balance of being afraid that someone will break in vs the fear of a family member being harmed with it.

I live in a big city and I don't carry and don't feel the need, in other words, I don't have sufficient fear of the consequences. 99% of the crime is in the populated areas, where I spend 99% of my time and if I don't have enough fear to justify carrying deadly force then, why in the world would I want to haul an extra couple pounds plus up and down the mountainside?

In the last 20 years, three people have been killed within a mile of my home-- all by law enforcement personnel in the commission of crimes. In the same time, I can recall one person being killed on the trail by a kid who thought she was a bear, and two women were murdered on a local trail. 19 people were murdered in my city (Seattle) last year (the lowest since 1954) and nearly all were killed by an acquaintance. 448 people were killed in traffic accidents. Indeed, I am in far more danger on the way to the trailhead than walking city streets, or walking any trail. Only one fatal bear attack has been recorded in Washington state. There are three non-fatal attacks on record.

And you can be certain that I wear a seat belt because I am afraid of the consequences of not using one.

I carry a first aid kit because I have sufficient fear of injury to justify the weight; likewise a whistle, redundant fire starting gear and an emergency bivy. I have used the first aid kit several times, but I've never been in a situation where deadly force was even remotely required.

I would go for a big ol' can of bear spray, which is cheaper, lighter, less liability, a better chance of hitting something and actually useful against a bear, where most handguns aren't.

But to answer your question, the ultralight hiking equivalent of a handgun would be an aluminum derringer at 7.5oz and is about as miserable a firearm as a single-edge razor blade is for a knife. It does fit all your criteria less the night sights, which I don't get as you want close range and aren't concerned with accuracy.

Bobby Pack
(Piddler) - MLife

Locale: West Virginia
M&P 360 .357 Magnum on 08/31/2011 12:25:35 MDT Print View

A voice in my head says to stay out of this thread but...

M&P 360

This Smith And Wesson revolver is about 13 ounces unloaded and about 17.5 ounces when loaded. Easy to shoot, easy to carry and it doesn't rust. You can practice with lower powered 38 special shells and carry it with your choice from a wide variety of nasty 357 loads.

We don't have brown bear around here to worry about and the black ones have never threatened me in any way. I do worry about aggressive dogs; I've been bit several times. I worry about rabid skunks and raccoons; we have a lot of those. I've even been stalked by a growling coyote. With the pot farmers in the woods, raging drivers on the road and drunken rednecks at the trail head I often find it worth the weight. I don't always carry it but I often do and it has been worth it.

A. B.
Fear on 08/31/2011 12:42:29 MDT Print View

I guess you can make anything fear-based if you want to Dale. I suppose I eat because I am fearful of starving?

The police must be afraid because they carry guns? Or maybe they understand it is the right tool for the job.

I'm sorry, but there is no requirement for fear to own/carry a gun. Maybe for you Dale.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
voice in my head on 08/31/2011 12:44:31 MDT Print View

"A voice in my head says to stay out of this thread but..."

Isn't nice to always have company?

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
wrong on 08/31/2011 13:19:21 MDT Print View

Oh no, someone is wrong on the internet. No time to work, I must correct them now.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Solo Wilderness Security on 08/31/2011 13:54:14 MDT Print View

Pistols are like tents; you use different ones for different conditions. This can get expensive and fill nup a closet quickly.

Fortunately, Desert Eagle has solved that dilemma.

You get THREE interchangeable barrels:

.50 AE

.44 Magnum

.357 Magnum

Pick your threat level; choose your barrel.

Edited by wandering_bob on 08/31/2011 14:34:46 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Solo Wilderness Security on 08/31/2011 14:21:28 MDT Print View

Holy cr*p! 3 grand for a popgun.

I can fill myself out with nice nosh and do several months backpacking for that.