I recently posted a review of the Springfield XD-S .45 ACP sub-compact handgun on the Military Arms Channel. I mention in the review that the XD-S only carries 5 rounds of .45 ACP and I would rather have the handgun chambered for 9mm so I could have a couple of extra rounds.
A viewer to the channel raised the argument that 5 round was ample because the average gunfight only requires 2-3 rounds to be fired. Here is the posters comment:
I'm not as concerned as others about magazine capacity because most gunfights last only 2-3 rounds. And like Col. Jeff Cooper used to say: "If you can't do the job with 2-3 rounds, then you have no buisness carrying a pistol in the first place.I have a problem with planning your self defense strategy around averages. If the average number of shots fired to end a fight is 3 rounds, that means some gunfights required more rounds to be fired and some required fewer to be fired. It's safe to say that in that average more than one gunfight required more than 5 rounds to be fired.
What happens if you encounter two or more armed thugs with your 5 shot pistol? Do the averages say you will need to fire 2-3 rounds at each assailant? We don't know. Most who cite the averages for gunfight statistics have no idea how the data for the averages were collected or what types of shootings they included.
The FBI is the source of the 2-3 shots fired average. The data is collected from police shootings, not civilian shootings. There is a difference.
Many training organizations have collected their own data based on training done with paintball guns, soft air guns and with Simunitions. Gabe Suarez has this to say about what he's seen in training.
Defenders will fire their weapons until the threat disappears. That means that until the role player falls down (simulating effective hits delivered), or runs away (removing the target), the good guy will keep firing. The concept of school solutions, controlled pairs, or otherwise artificially limiting the number of shots (as one does in a firing string on the range) does not hold up even in guys who’ve been extensively trained to do it.This is how things typically go in a real world civilian gunfight. The good guy gets scared, pulls their weapon and proceeds to shoot until there is no more threat. The bad guy will do one of two things, stand and fight or flee. With semi-auto pistols shots get fired very quickly. Hit probabilities are relatively low, regardless of how extensively you've been trained. That means the person with the most rounds in their magazine has a decided advantage. The more attackers there are, the more rounds the defender will need.
Some will argue that having spare magazines will remedy the issue of only having a few rounds in the pistol. Suarez, and others, note that changing magazines in a gunfight rarely goes like it does on the range in practice. Stress changes everything. Fine motor skills go out the window and gross motor skills become labored. Many times the defender will run out of ammo and not notice until they've pulled the trigger several times on an empty handgun. They're focused on the fight, not the condition of their weapon. Suarez elaborates:
When a training gun stops firing (due to running out of pellets), the shooter is still in the fight and still trying to shoot his enemy as well as trying to not be hit by him. We see them continue to try to work the trigger for one or two times before there is a realization that there has been a stoppage (malfunction or empty gun). This is followed by a visual examination of the gun, and only then is remedial action taken.
The fact is you will fire more rounds than you think you might in a gunfight. Being forced to reload your weapon adds an avoidable failure point. Having more rounds in the magazine does increase your effectiveness in a fight.This can take upwards of a second and a half before anything is even attempted to fix the gun, and then the additional time needed to reload. Thus the idea that one can read the gun’s feel and immediately realize a need to speed load simply does not hold up. Running out of ammo is usually a fight ender if there has been a failure to stop, or there are multiple adversaries at hand.
When planning for self defense I recommend you think beyond averages. I view averages as bare minimums because they don't take into account the extremes you're likely to encounter in a fight. I do carry sub-compacts with limited magazines capacities, but I only do so for short trips or as a back-up weapon to a larger handgun. When I go to the store, I'll throw a XD-S or Shield in my pocket if I'm in a hurry. When I leave town or plan on being out for the day traveling around, I will bring my Glock 19. If I know I'm going into a bad area, I will most certainly bring my Glock 19.
The use of small pistols like the XD-S, LCP, Shield, Kahr's, Nano, etc. is a compromise. I understand that when I reach for a sub-compact I'm committing to living with the compromise I've just made. Ideally, I would never leave the house without one or more handguns with at least one carrying 15+ rounds.