So, as a firearms and officer survival instructor for the past almost 15 years, I've often found it interesting to discuss various outlooks on weapon preference, caliber, capacity and off-duty carry issues. Across the past couple of months we've run some polls to find out some of YOUR outlooks. Here's what we found out with some commentary on how things have revealed themselves.
Let's start with caliber: We set up two polls having to do with it. The first asked what caliber your agency issue duty weapon is. The second poll asked what your preferred caliber is for off-duty carry. The answers by caliber are show here. They are in this order: caliber, issue %, preferred off-duty %.
.38 Spl, 1%, 6%
.357 Magnum, 0%, 3%
.357Sig, 3%, 4%
9mm, 16%, 19%
10mm, 1%, 1%
.40S&W, 47%, 39%
.45GAP, 4%, 3%
.45ACP, 10%, 14%
.380ACP wasn't on the poll for issued duty weapons (because I just couldn't imagine an agency issuing a .380 caliber wepaon for duty use) but was on the off-duty preference poll. 8% of the respondents voted for the .380ACP as their preferred off-duty caliber.
Look at those numbers. I am somewhat surprised to see that 9% of our voters still prefer a .38 or .357Mag for off-duty carry. I can understand the .38 I guess because of how easy it is to conceal a S&W Chief's Special or similar snubby revolver. I suppose there are equally concealable (or close) snubbies in .357 as well. The votes show that very few agencies, however, are still using these caliber weapons.
That the .357Sig is 1% more popular off-duty than issued on duty impressed me. I congratulate those who are motivated enough to carry the .357Sig off-duty. It's proving itself a capable caliber and there are certainly comfortable-to-carry weapons available for off-duty carry.
Look together at the 9mm and the .40. More people carry the 9mm off-duty than are issued it. Fewer people carry the .40 off-duty than are issued it. I think (and this is purely my opinion of course) that people perceive the 9mm as "enough power" to carry off-duty and, for some reason, consider many 9mm weapons easier or more comfortable to carry. I could be wrong.
The 10mm is even. No surprise to me there.
The .45GAP is the newest caliber on the polls and I note, with interest, that 1% of those issued a weapon in this caliber aren't carrying that weapon off-duty. Are some of those folks carrying the 9mm? or maybe the .38 / .357 snubby...
The .45ACP results made me smile. After all, I'm a .45ACP fan and I nearly always carried my .45 off-duty. It's heart warming to see that 4% of the voters agreed with me.
Moving on, knowing the calibers that are preferred for off-duty carried, I wondered what people felt a minimum capacity would be. Ther results were:
5 rounds: 15%
6 rounds: 11%
7 rounds: 10%
8 rounds: 12%
9 rounds: 5%
10 rounds: 22%
Over 10 roudns: 26%
In hindsight I think I should have changed the choices around. I think it should have been:
6 - 9 rounds
10 rounds or more
As it was set up I think that the votes may have been impacted by simple gun knowledge, or sometimes lack thereof. After all, if you can only think of guns that carry 6 or 8 or whatever number of rounds then that's likely to affect your vote. I DO think it's interesting that 15% of the voters felt 5 rounds off-duty is enough. Everyone has a different opinion but I would never consider only 5 rounds in my weapon sufficient. I didn't address reloads in that poll either but I think I shoudl have.
The next two questions I found of interest were about carrying your weapon on vacation and in church. For the question about carrying on vacation the answers / votes percentage were:
Now we all know that carrying a gun at the beach is next to impossible. There are few guns I'd take in the ocean when I'm at the beach and how to conceal it presents unique challenges. If I did I'd have to clean it that evening and all of a sudden my family is complaining because this is more like being home than being on vacation. I'm impressed, though, that a full 45% of votes say they ALWAYS carry their gun on vacation. Excellent. The biggest concern I have is the 20% who say they never carry their gun on vacation. I was once on vacation about three hours from where I live and work and walked into a drug dealer I'd locked up. At that very moment I regretted not having a gun on. Since then, with the exception of the beach, I carry on vacation.
In church? It never ceases to amaze me how strongly people hold opinions about whether or not it's acceptable to carry a gun in church. 39% of our votes say they always carry a gun to church. Another 21% say they carry in church sometimes. 40% say they never carry to church. That's double the number that don't carry on vacation. What's up with that? It's my own personal opinion that God doesn't mind me carrying a gun in church. He knows I carry it for righteous reasons and not because I'm espousing violence in His house. In fact, I got married in my dress blue uniform. My mother-in-law flat out told me that I WOULD NOT carry my gun in church. I had to explain to her that it is part of the uniform; it was MY church we were getting married in; and MY GOD didn't mind. She kept debating this until I threatened to elope with her daughter.
Now there are two questions left I wanted to share and discuss. How many times per year are you required to qualify with your duty weapon? The large majority (75%) qualify either once or twice each year. That 75% is split about evenly between the two. 5% qualify 3 times per year. 15% qualify quarterly. 1% qualify every other month. 2% qualify monthly (I love it). With regard to off-duty weapons though, how often do you qualify with that? Not how many times each year are you REQUIRED to, but how often do YOU do it? Maybe a new poll to put up.
And last question, how often do you clean your handgun? 31% answered "only after I've been to the range". Shame on you. 29% answered monthly. Better. 13% said quarterly; 7% said twice a year; 2% said once each year. 12% said they clean their guns weekly. Hoo Ah! And finally, because they could, 7% replied, "We're supposed to clean them?" I'm glad we ALL know they were joking.
So, that's our polls, results and commentary. Do you have any thoughts on these issues? Please share them.