my view, a shotgun is by far the best home defense weapon. This is another reason why I’m an advocate of shotgun sports. They are fun, plus worthwhile from a defensive-training
perspective, too, a great combination.
Why a shotgun for protection?
And why most shotguns aren’t equal to the task.
Let me explain.
Since the early frontier days, shotguns have been used to kill birds and small game for food, and for protecting the home. Nicknamed “scatter guns,” these weapons have the advantage of spraying lead pellets, which means that the shooter doesn’t need to be as accurate. It’s hard enough for the average person to shoot a flying bird with a shotgun, but it’s all but impossible to do it with a rifle or handgun. Except in the movies, of course.
But hunting and sport shotguns have long barrels, making them unwieldy to use within the confined space of a home. This is why most people use a handgun for personal protection in the home. Even a full-size handgun can easily be wielded in the smallest room in your house.
Another problem with a sporting shotgun is that when fired, the long barrel holds the pellets in a tight pattern. The width of the spray of pellets can be restricted to 6-inches (+/-) inside a home.
In most home invasions, the assailant is attacking from less than 20’ away, so the defender has little margin for error if using a long-barrel shotgun. Add fear to the mix and the shotgun-advantage, of delivering a broad spray of pellets, is totally lost.
Handguns do have advantages in self-defense situations. They are very transportable, and can be carried less obtrusively than even a short-barreled shotgun. This can be a tremendous asset in urban
outside-the-home defense situations. So the versatility of a handgun is important, yet these advantages still don’t make it optimal for inside-the-home defense.
Without a doubt, a handgun is a great all-around personal protection weapon. But if you’re concerned primarily with protection at home, a short-barrel shotgun has a number of clear advantages.
Using a handgun, even a highly experienced police officer often misses a moving target. Not surprising when you consider that that handgun bullet is less than half an inch wide. This means that a minor movement of the hand when firing can easily result in missing the target by several feet.
One great example of this was a case involving one of my fellow police officers. Around 4 AM one night, he had parked his cruiser and was walking around a retail area. All in an effort to stay awake on one of those rare quiet nights in a big city. However, when he walked around a corner of one of the buildings, he came face-to-face with a burglar. The crook had a handgun pointed at the officer’s head. It was an ambush.
My friend drew his gun and they both fired at the same time. Both emptied their guns. Less than 20’ apart, but neither the officer, nor the bad guy, hit their target. Two guns emptied, every shot missed.
After both guns clicked on empty, my friend rushed forward and tackled his assailant. He had him subdued and handcuffed before he could take a moment to call for backup. It was over in seconds.
An event such as this was embarrassing for my friend, but it’s not totally unusual. Even highly trained officers miss, at least with some of their shots.
My friend took a lot of razing for his poor shooting, but embarrassment is nothing when compared to the other potential outcome -- his death.
Fortunately for my friend, the bad guy also suffered from the same adrenaline-rush brought on by fear and surprise. Though the crook had a few seconds to prepare an ambush, he was still reacting to the fight-or-flight reaction that is part of any life threatening situation.
It’s important to add that my friend maintained good scores in his monthly firearm qualification. He was familiar with his handgun. He had the ability to shoot straight. It was his reaction to the unexpected encounter that ruined his aim. He wasn’t mentally prepared.
Had the officer been carrying a short barreled shotgun he‘d still have been surprised by the attack, but the results might have been different. Sure, he would have suffered the same negative effects of surprise, but there is a good chance that he would have hit his target.
Okay, lot’s of “maybe” conjecture here, but consider the facts. If he had fired a shotgun blast that delivered a wide swath of 15 bullet-size pellets with each pull of the trigger, it’s reasonable to assume that it might have played out differently. Most importantly, he might have incapacitated his assailant early. It’s unfair to leave it all up to your guardian angel. We can’t forget that each one of the assailant’s shots could have brought death.
And if the armed burglar had seen the officer coming with a shotgun, he may have surrendered without firing a shot, or at least tried to run away.
This same reality applies to you in your home. Surprise. Fear. The adrenaline-rush that comes from an emergency situation; and your aim may go awry, too.
This is an amusing story only because my friend wasn’t killed. If he had encountered an attacker who was better prepared mentally, the story would have a tragic ending.
Sure, a shotgun is not as portable or maneuverable as a handgun; but you can see how it might be a lot more effective inside your home.
Coach Guns (Shotgun):
Coach guns are double-barreled shotguns like some sporting guns, but made for personal protection. Since the barrels are shorter, (originally designed for use by stagecoach guards) they are better suited to the purpose of self defense.
Yet, you’d better be a good shot with a coach gun because it only holds two shots, and it takes time to reload -- too much time if your assailant is charging at you, or shooting at you.
John Wayne did use a coach gun to great advantage in his Western movies, but today we have a better option.
A tactical shotgun, either pump-action or semi-automatic, is a staggering advancement in firepower. It can hold as many as 8-shotgun shells, so with one of these short-barrel shotguns you have 8-chances to hit your target. This offers far better odds than coach gun. For home defense today, a “tactical” shotgun like those used by police officers, is clearly the best choice.
Tactical shotguns are not very useful for hunting or sport, but buying a model which uses the same operating features is worth considering. You must be familiar with a weapon, and use it regularly if you are to use it effectively in an emergency situation. So, having a shotgun for hunting or sport, that is similar to your tactical shotgun, does provide a clear training advantage. Most people use a sporting shotgun far more frequently than their tactical shotgun, and familiarity and training are essential if you are going to be prepared.
Tactical Pump-Action Shotgun
A pump-action shotgun requires that before firing, the user must “pump” the handle which is located under the barrel. As the handle is slid rearward, the action releases a shotgun shell from the magazine, and drops it onto an internal rack. When the handle is moved forward, the rack moves upward and inserts the shell into the chamber of the shotgun. This manual process is often called “racking,” and many consider it an added safety feature.
If you are interested in purchasing a tactical shotgun, the standard police workhorse is the Remington 870 which is a pump-action tactical shotgun. For more than 30-years this has been the tactical shotgun used by most police departments. It is still standard equipment in probably 90% of today’s police cruisers.
Even within the pump-action category, tactical shotguns come in several configurations. However, the most common “police” model is one with this configuration: Remington model 870, with an 18-1/2 or 20" barrel, and a magazine extension tube. (A capacity of 7+1 shotgun shells). A synthetic stock is much more durable than wood, so this is what most police departments purchase. Some models come with a pistol grip, others without. Police departments use both.
Another advantage of the 870 is that there are many after-market products available for it. This includes pistol grips, collapsible stocks, flashlight mounts, lasers, rails, sidesaddle shell holders, swivels & slings, etc.
Buying a used gun at a gun show is an option to consider, but personally, I don’t buy a used gun if I think it will ever be used in a self-defense situation. I want to have total confidence that when I need it, it’ll be in proper working order. For hunting and target use, no problem, but for self defense, I buy new.
The Remington 870 comes in a number of tactical configurations. Click Here for a link to the most durable 870 tactical shotgun.
One advantage to the above model is that it has all the important features, plus it is more durable because it has a special corrosion resistant surface. This model was originally made for boaters who want protection from pirates, as well as a shotgun that they could use against sharks and to launch distress flares. Today, this model is popular because it doesn’t rust as quickly, and it doesn’t look like a weapon that would belong to a militia member. But it is fairly heavy.
If you want something that looks more “tactical,” and has a pistol grip, Click Here for more information on one of the more popular 870 models.
If you live close to saltwater, or plan to routinely take your tactical shotgun out into the rain or with you on a boat, it is important to select a gun that has an anti-corrosion coating. Today there are many anti-corrosive coatings available for firearms. Some are better than others, but all of them are far superior to traditional “bluing” which must be treated with oil to protect the metal.
A newer entry into the police tactical-shotgun market is the Benelli Nova Tactical. As with the above Remington 870, it comes with an anti-corrosion finish, plus it’s lighter in weight than the Remington 870. It’s also a great choice.
The Nova’s probably not as durable as the Remington 870, but it’s a great weapon and reasonably priced. As with the Remington tactical shotguns, you can order the Nova with the magazine extension-tube already installed -- which is what I strongly recommend for any tactical shotgun. It’s less expensive to order the gun with the magazine extension already installed, but it is an option that you can purchase and add later. Click Here for a video on the Nova Tactical web page.
The advantage of a pistol grip on any tactical shotgun, as illustrated on the above two models, is that this helps provide more natural aiming. In an emergency situation, inexperienced shotgun shooters tend to shoot high. A pistol grip helps to naturally pull the shotgun down and on target.
FYI, sights aren’t necessary on a tactical shotgun. They are included on some models because a police SWAT officer, as well as a sheriff’s deputy working in a rural area, will use a shotgun for other purposes. Some of these require sights.
For them, these “tactical” shotguns can also be loaded with specialty shells containing powered lead to breach doors and locks, crushed glass to shoot out lights, for launching teargas grenades, and to fire long-range sabot rounds. Sportsmen also use sights to hunt game. So, since sights can be useful for some of these purposes, you often find sights on tactical shotguns. But they’re not needed for more routine self-defense purposes.
Some tactical experts think that sights on a shotgun slow target-acquisition (reaction time needed to bring the weapon on-target). They claim that the user tends to aim-and-shoot rather than instinct shoot. That is probably true in my experience, but sights do make the shotgun more versatile.
For example, the above models are routinely carried by bush pilots in Alaska. They serve well as a multipurpose survival weapon that a downed aviator can use to launch signal flares, shoot game for food, or to provide protection against grizzly bear. So consider the various other potential uses before you decide on a specific tactical shotgun.
In any case, any disadvantage to having sights on a tactical shotgun is nothing that training can’t solve. You need to make your choice of weapon based on any secondary uses you might have for the gun. Remember, the more you use it, the better you will respond in an emergency situation.
Of course the best of both worlds, for well-funded SWAT teams, is to add either an Aimpoint or EOTech sight made for a tactical shotgun. Expensive, but the results are impressive. I’ve routinely seen inexperienced shooters become proficient in one afternoon using one of these:
However, this VERY expensive sight is totally unnecessary for anyone who isn’t an operator, bush pilot, or rich, but I’ve added the Aimpoint link just in case you’re interested.
Rather than buying an expensive sight, you may want to spend the money to purchase a top-notch automatic rather than a pump-action model. The below link will take you to the tactical shotgun used by the premier SWAT teams and military units. Until recently the Benelli Tactical shotgun has been top-dog amongst operators, but a new Beretta is now giving the Benelli some competition. The cost of these semi-automatics is 3-5 times more than a good pump shotgun, but these are certainly impressive weapons:
Tactical Semi-Automatic Shotguns:
Unlike the pump-action shotguns which require the user to manually operate the action before each shot, semi-automatic models load themselves. A small lever is operated to initially load a shell into the chamber of the gun, but after that the gun reloads and cocks itself after each shot. This makes a semi-automatic shotgun much faster to shoot.
The downside of using a semi-automatic shotgun is that you need to remember to engage the “safety” once you are done shooting. This is because if the trigger is pulled again, it will fire again.
The other main disadvantage is that a quality semi-auto shotgun will be much more expensive to purchase than a pump. You don’t want to use a less-expensive semi-automatic as they have a tendency to jamb at the most inopportune times. You can’t risk this problem when using a tactical shotgun for self-defense, so if you want an autoloader, you need to step-up and buy a good one.
Conversely, the immensely positive aspect of a high quality semi-automatic shotgun, in addition to how fast it can be fired, has to do with reduced recoil. The perceived effect of recoil can be cut in half by a model such as the Benelli Super 90. For some people this is an important consideration.
Several (but not all) of the newer semi-automatic models have remarkable recoil absorbers built into the gun. This isn’t just padding, it is a series of remarkable technological advancements. So if you are intimidated by the prospect of a shotgun’s recoil (“kick”), one of these new reduced-recoil models will minimize this effect.
Plus, less recoil is not just easier on your shoulder; it also means that you can get the shotgun pointed back at the target much faster. This is significant.
The Benelli M4 is currently the gold-standard for SWAT teams and military units because it is easy to use, accurate, reliable, and amazingly fast. And I so mean Fast with a capital “F”. It’s like using a submachine gun – but better. The Benelli recoil-reduction system means you can keep the M2 or M4 on target even during rapid fire. Click Here for Benelli shotgun videos (select "Benelli M4 Tactical" for more information on this specific product).
The Benelli M2 and Super-90 are older models, also excellent, but hard to find. Yet, I love the Super 90. I’ve done many demonstrations using the Benelli Super-90 held in one hand, like a pistol, and hammered the target rapid-fire. This is only possible because the gun itself absorbs most of the recoil.
Of course, another way to reduce recoil is to use a less powerful ammunition in the shotgun, at lease for your initial practice. Low-base shells of the variety used for bird hunting or skeet, deliver far less recoil, especially in the 2-3/4” size.
For self-defense however, load any of these 12-gauge tactical shotguns with 3” Magnum 00-Buck (pronounced “double-ought buck”) and you have a truly formidable weapon. Every time you pull the trigger it shoots 15 - .33-caliber lead pellets. Even the standard-load (2-3/4” 00-Buck) has 9 - .33 caliber pellets within each plastic shell. (Note: Standard loads in each size of 12-ga shell generally contain 3-less pellets than a magnum shell of the same size. Check the specifications on the box of shells for the pellet count.)
Before settling on the shot shells you will keep in your shotgun, test several brands, sizes, and both magnum and standard loads. Recoil varies between loads, as does the size of the pattern when shot at the same distance. With this in mind, it’s important to do your own testing of shot shells. This is necessary if you are going to select the right load for you and your situation. As with any weapon used for personal defense, only use major-brand ammunition. Look for shotgun shells made by Federal, Winchester and Remington.
The 3-1/2”and 3” Magnums, and the standard 2-3/4” shot shells all have their advocates, but the 2-3/4” is most common because it has the advantage of far less recoil. Remember, less recoil is significant because not only is the shotgun easier to control, it also means that you can get back on target more quickly in case you need to shoot again. (Note: The 3-1/2” 00-Buck shell is rarely used in tactical shotguns because most 7-round magazines will only hold 6 of the 3-1/2” shells).
For the professional SWAT team member or Spec Ops soldier, they often load their tactical shotguns with lead slugs. This is due to the unrivaled knock-down power of 1-oz of lead traveling at more than 1,500 feet per second.
In handgun terms, this translates into this side-by-side comparison: A 12-gauge shotgun slug contains 473.5-grains (1-oz) of lead. In essence, the shotgun slug is a whopping .73” diameter (caliber) bullet.
Compare this to a standard 9mm hollow-point pistol (or submachine gun). A 9mm bullet is .38 –inches in diameter. And the standard 9mm bullet is 115-grains of metal-jacketed lead, which exits a pistol barrel at around 1,155 feet per second.
Comparison Shotgun Slug to 9mm
9mm GD +P
There is actually a lot more to calculating stopping power than these numbers, but I’m giving you these details to make a point. You don’t need a complex computer program, or a NASA scientist to see that there is a huge difference when it comes to stopping power.
As interesting as this is for the professional, it’s important to remember the #1 reason why a tactical shotgun is best for home defense. This is that a shotgun loaded with buckshot “sprays” a cone of pellets (bullets) rather than a single projectile that can easily miss the target.
Some gun enthusiasts express frustration that they can’t have a submachine gun in their home for self-defense. The rapid fire of a sub-gun can empty a 32-round magazine in under 4 seconds.
Though this seems ideal to some people, in my experience a tactical shotgun is far better for home defense. Sub-guns are hard to hold on target, and there is too much penetration even with hollow-point ammunition. This is a mammoth problem in 9mm, and still a serious problem with .45 ACP. Remember, each shot that misses your assailant goes somewhere; most often through multiple interior walls or through a window.
Also, submachine guns typically hold only 30+ rounds of ammunition in one magazine, whereas a tactical shotgun can hold 120. (3” Magnum 00-Buck shells have 15-pellets in each plastic shotgun shell. A tactical shotgun with extension tube can hold 7-shells in the magazine, plus 1-shell in the chamber for a total of 8-shells. 8x15=120). Talk about firepower! The sub-gun is much faster to reload, thus its popularity with military and police units that may get into a firefight. However, for home defense, the tactical shotgun is a better choice. Plus, it doesn’t have the legal challenges inherent to owning a fully automatic weapon.
There is no serious debate that a shotgun chambered for 12-ga shells is the right choice for a gun that will be used for a defensive purpose, but there are ammunition options other than 00-Buck. Another popular self-defense shotgun shell is #4-Buckshot. Though #4 Buck boasts an impressive number of pellets (27-pellets in 2-3/4” shells, and 41-pellets in 3”), the much smaller diameter pellets (.24”) have much less knock-down power. These pellets are not much larger than the bullet of a .22 pistol, which can still be deadly, but it certainly doesn’t deliver much of a knock-down punch. Yet, some experts swear that #4 is best as each shot fills the air with more pellets, but it’s worth noting that most police departments continue to use 00-Buck in their shotguns.
A good defensive firearms overview course, taken from a first-rate school such as Texas Republic Firearms Academy (www.TXRFA.com), will give you the opportunity to fire various pistols, revolvers and tactical shotguns. Plus, you will be able to actually observe ammunition tests which compare different types of ammunition. Even if you’re not new to firearms, an overview course that focuses on the use of firearms for personal protection is well worth the money.
Because shotguns are so popular, there are new tactical shotgun shells coming out all the time, and even with these the cost-per-round is generally about the same as a handgun cartridge, so training is affordable. Professional training is a plus, but practice is essential.
Take a look at the following link for one of the latest shot-shell developments, a hybrid shell that contains a 1-oz rifled slug (huge) and 3 plated 00-Buck pellets. Though impressive and innovative, shells like the Winchester PDX1-12 produce too much penetration for routine use as home defense ammunition (since they will penetrate multiple walls).
However, for outdoor use, and for the police or military that use the tactical shotgun for Close Quarter Battle, this type of ammunition definitely has its place. Yet, it’s a poor choice for self-defense or the defense of your family when an attacker is already inside your home. Click Here for more details.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about storage and safety. If you have children in your home, or if children ever visit, it is essential that all weapons are securely locked. And what home doesn’t at least get periodic surprise visitors which include children? Even if you never have children in your home, just from the standpoint of a burglar stealing your guns someday, it’s necessary to keep them securely stored. Most guns used by criminals were stolen from someone’s home. The use of a locked gun safe is a good idea.
However, for a tactical shotgun to be of any benefit in an emergency situation, it can’t be in your gun safe. It must be readily accessible. For this reason many people keep them handy behind a bedroom door, or in their closet. Personally, I appreciate the wisdom of having it close at hand, but I still believe in the use of combination locks designed for shotguns. A three-number combination lock can be quickly unlocked to free the gun and make it ready for use. It’s worth the delay to protect children. If you’re feeling nervous some night, unlock it and keep it with you, but don’t forget to re-lock it in the morning.
Combination locks that cover the trigger guard are perhaps the fastest to remove, but provide a lower level of safety than a keyed lock. Combination-lock cables can offer greater security, but they often generate noise when the weapon is moved for unlocking. Clam-shell locks made of steel probably provide the best safety but usually require a key, and that key may not be readily accessible when you need it. Most large sporting goods stores will offer a low-end selection of gun locks, whereas police supply stores which can be found on the Internet, offer higher quality locks such as the rack-locks mounted in police cruisers. Click Here for an example.
It’s important to note that most firearm locks do not provide a high level of safety. Yet, they are far better than no lock. And they do allow quicker and more ready access to a firearm than a gun safe.
Be safe, but be prepared.
The tactical shotgun is generally much underrated, probably because shotguns are so familiar that they don’t provide the mystique of an exotic weapon. Still, they are the first-choice for home defense among most firearms experts.
In any case, one of the top benefits of a tactical shotgun is that there’s a good chance that you won’t need to shoot a home invader. Just racking the action of a pump shotgun (like the Remington 870 or Nova), is enough to scare-off most burglars.
With the Remington 870, I’ve experienced several occasions when a fellow police officer was holding a criminal at gunpoint that had refused to drop his gun -- even though my fellow officer was pointing a handgun directly at him from short range. Each time when I approached with my 870, as soon as I racked a shell into the chamber, they immediately dropped their gun. I know of other officers who still had to shoot. But my experience was not unusual. This sound is an effective deterrent.
On one occasion, having responded to an audible alarm, I encountered a burglar loading a shotgun. I pointed my tactical shotgun at him. He hesitated as if he was considering his chances against me. Later, when I interviewed him after booking him into jail, he admitted that he would have tried to shoot me if I had been holding a handgun rather than the shotgun.
Fellow officers who were on the other side of the building at the time, later told me that they clearly heard me yell, “Freeze or I blow your #%!*!%# head all over the wall.” I wasn’t aware that this is what I’d yelled. It was language I never use, which somehow slipped out in this circumstance. But for whichever reason, the graphic words or the cannon-looking big bore, I didn’t need to fire.
On a number of other occasions when my badge wasn’t enough, the business end of that big 12-gauge bore similarly demanded surrender. Sure, someday you may need to shoot. And if you do, it’s nice to know that you have a better chance to neutralize the threat. But one of the greatest benefits of the tactical shotgun is that you may not ever need to pull the trigger.
For other great articles on firearms and self-defense, visit: www.TexasRepublicFirearmsAcademy.com
Full permission to reproduce and disseminate this article is hereby granted to any member in good standing of the National Rifle Association. Others must obtain permission from the author through Texas Republic Firearms Academy.
Copyright (c) 2010 Sig Swanstrom
About the Author:
Raised in California and Washington State, Sig Swanstrom graduated with a university degree in Criminology. After college, he became a police officer in a border town near Seattle. Two years later he transferred to the LA area of California to continue his law enforcement career.
After several years as a uniformed patrol officer, Sig became a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI), and was subsequently promoted to Detective, working crimes-against-persons cases. After joining the SWAT team, Sig was certified as a firearms and explosives expert, nuclear disaster monitor, and was trained by the US Secret Service in Executive Protection. One of his SWAT duties was to provide protection for various high-profile or high-risk principals. One ongoing assignment was to serve as the personal bodyguard for Ronald Reagan during the period between when Reagan was governor of California, but before he officially announced his candidacy for president of the United States. During his career Sig was named “Police Officer of the Year, he received the Commendation for Valor, and numerous other awards and citations.
Since taking an early retirement from law enforcement, Sig has been an entrepreneur and consultant, serving business people, NGOs and government agencies. While working in Guatemala during that country’s guerrilla war, he had ample opportunity to further hone his skills for combating violence. Today, Sig continues to assist individuals, businesses, NGOs, and law enforcement agencies.
The below reference materials links and downloads are listed by category
TXRFA (Our) Firearm Safety Rules
Parent’s Guide to Gun
Death, injury or damage to the firearm can occur if the
wrong ammunition is used. Some firearms such
as a .357 revolver are designed to use both .357-magnum and .38 Special
ammunition. However, just because a
cartridge will fit into the chamber of a gun, this does not mean that it is
safe to fire that cartridge. All modern
firearms sold in the United States have the caliber (ammunition size)
imprinted on the action or barrel of the weapon. The above link is provided to highlight
some of the most common mismatch problems that create a safety hazard.
Video: Ammunition Safety and Fire Safety
Video by SAAMI on ammunition safety, and firearm and ammunition safety relating to the protection of our firefighters.
Laws and Firearms Regulations
CHL Texas - Frequently Asked Questions on Carrying Concealed Handguns in Texas
You do not need to be a Texas resident to obtain a Texas Concealed Handgun License. However, you do need to take a CHL class in Texas, from a State licensed instructor. A Texas CHL is valid in many other States. Use this "Reciprocity" link for more information on other States that honor the Texas license.
You do not need to be a Texas resident to obtain a Texas Concealed Handgun License. However, you do need to take a CHL class in Texas, from a State licensed instructor. A Texas CHL is valid in many other States. Use this "Reciprocity" link for more information on other States that honor the Texas license.
Texas Concealed Handgun Laws and Selected Statutes (PDF Document)
You must be at least 21 years of age or at least 18 years of
age if currently serving in or honorably discharged from the military. You must also have a US Social Security
Number, a valid driver’s license or State identification card, home address and
employer address (if employed) information for the past 5-years, divulge
information regarding psychiatric health information, drug and alcohol use,
criminal history, email address if applying online, and a valid credit card or
e-check. All fees are non-refundable
even if the applicant is denied a license.
This is the only authorized direct-to-DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety) source for automatic submission of fingerprints. Call for an appointment, Toll Free: (888) 467-2080. We strongly recommend using this service to obtain the fingerprints you need for your concealed handgun license (CHL) application. If you apply for your Texas CHL online (link provided above), and use this fingerprint service, the combination seems to expedite the process of receiving your license to carry a concealed handgun. (If you click on the link to L1, San Antonio is listed in the Southern Region section of the L1 website). The phone number provided here can be used to schedule appointments throughout Texas, as well as to obtain information on L1 services in other States.
This downloadable form is required for the submission of the two passport photos that are required by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as part of the CHL application process. Once you have filled-in the required information, place your passport photos in a sealed envelope, print your name on the envelope, and then attach it to this "Photo Holder" form. We recommend that this form accompany your CHL-100, which is the document issued by your instructor after you have completed the required the State of Texas CHL training.
The NRA works to maintain current information on which States will accept as valid the concealed handgun license (aka, Concealed Weapons License, or CCW) issued in another State, and this information is supplied here for your convenience. However, it is the responsibility of the individual to check with the State to which they will be traveling to verify that this information is accurate and current. The Attorney General or the Department of Public Safety within each State will be able to provide current information on concealed carry reciprocity and concealed weapon requirements. Click Here for a link to the Texas Department of Public Safety website, to view or print the actual letters of reciprocity issues by the various States, as well as other official information on this topic.
This website provides a summary of the most important legislative initiatives.
This is the hard-to-find definitive and reliable handbook produced by the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) for law enforcement. It provides examples, measurements and specifications on what firearms are legal, what is illegal to possess, and information on special licenses.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of false information in the marketplace on topics such as short barrel shotguns, the use of shoulder stocks and forward grips on handguns, silencers and noise supression, special-purpose guns and ammunition (tracers, etc), fully-automatic weapons and machine guns. This handbook provides the answers. Provided for download in PDF format, this is a large document (10 MB), but pages 5-26 are sufficient to answer most questions.
The relevant information on concealed handguns and defense weapons is covered in all TRFA classes, but for those who want to access the authoritative publication used by law enforcement officers, this document will answer most technical questions regarding national law and firearms possession and ownership. (2005 Guide is most current at the time of this posting in 2011).
Firearms Articles and General Reference
E-book: "God, Guns, and Guts of Firearm Defense" by Sig Swanstrom
Article: "Ammunition Selection for Self-Defense Firearms" (PDF Download)
Proper Sight Picture (PDF Download)
The most popular handgun amongst law enforcement agencies due to its high quality and economical cost, the Glock is popular worldwide. This is a no-frills workhorse weapon with great price-performance coupled with innovative safety features .
These medium-price pistols are very popular among civilians and to a lesser extent, with law enforcement agencies. The XD and XD(m) pistols are particularly popular among budget-conscious people who want to own a quality pistol.
HK - Pistols (Heckler and Koch Pistols)
Manufactured in Germany, these pistols (along with Sig pistols) are considered by many to be the Mercedes Benz of the firearms industry. Expensive, and worth the price, these pistols are often the pistol of choice to élite SWAT and special ops and teams.
Sig pistols are used around the world by elite military and police units. In the US, these pistols are used by the US Secret Service to protect our president, Navy Seals engaged in anti-terrorism, US Federal Air Marshals, and other top agencies. Manufactured in Switzerland and Germany.
The industry leader in the production of 1911-style pistols, Kimber is popular among law enforcement officers, competition shooters, and for those civilians who prefer the 1911-style pistol for concealed carry or self defense. Often touted as a custom gun sold for an assembly-line price, the Kimber pistols are made in the USA.
Ruger - Pistols and Double-Action Revolvers (Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc.)
One of the leading manufacturers of quality firearms for the sporting and self-defense civilian market, Ruger offers the only full-line of US-made firearms. These are quality weapons, but represent the low end of pistols and revolvers that have passed TRFA testing as acceptable for self-defense and concealed handgun use.
Though Smith and Wesson also makes pistols, it is their double-action revolvers that have brought them worldwide fame. For concealed carry, their light-weight (Scandium) revolvers are reliable, easy to use, and can be fired from inside a pocket – something you can’t do with most pistols (at least not more than one shot). The entire line of Smith and Wesson double-action revolvers are popular among people who want to own a simple, uncomplicated and incredibly easy-to-use handgun.
The Black Widow and Mini-Master in .22-magnum are maligned by many because the bullet is so small, but the diminutive size of these single-action 5-shot mini-revolvers are why they are worth owning. In a self-defense situation, it’s far better to have one of these than no gun at all. So when you’re going to leave your heaver handgun at home, stick a Black Widow into your purse or pocket, just in case.