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Old 03-08-2003, 11:03 PM   #1
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Guns for RV Defense

Guns...

While in an ideal world, gun owners would be trained and continually practice to maintain their proficiency, like the military and police, the reality is that most gun owners don't even have initial training, much less practice to maintain the skills they would learn in it. This posting deals with this reality.

The first myth is that a shotgun is the ideal home/RV defense weapon, and a lot of that is based on the misinformation that it doesn't have to be aimed. The reality is that while a shotgun may be perfect for close-range combat as it is at longer ranges outdoors, it's much less so at very close ranges indoors. And from a defense perspective, there's no reasonable justification to leave the security of a home or RV, and put oneself at mortal risk, much less use deadly force, to protect PROPERTY, nor is there legal justification to do so, in many cases!

A shotgun with a legal (non-Class III) 18+" barrel is ungainly in a house, much less the confines of an RV. Empty your shotgun and try to combat manuver through the house or RV without banging it into walls and things, and see how slow it is when it comes to getting on target compared to a handgun.

And yes, it has to be aimed just as precisely as a rifle, because at the distances indoors, the shot hasn't spread. While a folding stock, pistol grip shotgun may be a little more manuverable, it's still long and ungainly, and more awkward than a handgun, not to mention much harder to aim than a long gun with a buttstock. No shotgun is as effective indoors, particularly in the confines of an RV, as a handgun.

Birdshot has to be aimed just as accurately as a slug, because that's about how large its pattern is at short distances. Problem is, birdshot usually has insufficient penetration to stop someone when the pellets disperse in a body. In fact, even #4 buck has been found to have inadequate penetration, while #00 has the opposite problem and doesn't give as many simultaneous hits on the target in an outdoor situation. #1 buck is a good compromise if you're gonna use a shotgun.

Racking a round into a shotgun may be a deterrent against an unarmed perp, but it can escalate the situation against armed ones, and definitely gives away your element of surprise. In most cases, you don't want the perp to know you have a weapon until you're firing it, so displaying a weapon in an attempt to deter an individual may backfire on you as often as not.

Slapping a magazine into an auto handgun, and racking the slide to chamber a round also gives you away. If you're going to use an auto pistol, it isn't very useful, OR quick, if you don't keep the magazine in it and have a round in the chamber, with the gun either decocked (double-action) or cocked and locked (single-action).

While an auto is good for trained and PRACTICED personnel, its problem is complexity, and that complexity can be a significant problem for an unpracticed shooter. An imperfect grip can cause the auto to jam, especially on ejection with a "stovepipe." A scared and flustered shooter may accidentally hit the magazine release and drop it to the floor.

And if a round misfires, a flustered shooter may not think to rack the slide and chamber a new round. At best, a double-action auto that doesn't depend on the slide to cock the hammer will just hit the primer again. Sometimes the round will fire with a second strike, but if it doesn't, it's wasting precious time that the perp can take advantage of and he can be on you by the time you remember to manually operate the slide after trying the bad round a time or two. Some shooters under duress may get paralyzed with fear and just continue to operate the trigger on the bad round.

Continuing practice is essential when depending on an auto pistol. Have someone who reloads put a bullet in some fired cases for you, or use those inert practice rounds with a rubber pad instead of a primer, and have someone load the magazine at the range with one or two of those, so you don't know where the misfire will occur, and practice dealing with that until it's instinct.

Continued...
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Old 03-08-2003, 11:04 PM   #2
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More guns...

The reality is that most gun owners AREN'T going to stay in practice, just as most teenagers probably aren't going to abstain from sex. In this case, I'm dealing with what usually is, rather than what should be.

And in this case, a REVOLVER is a MUCH better solution. Yes, if they're going to get dragged through mud, a military grade (loose tolerance) auto may function better. But that's not going to be the case inside an RV. If the owner is careful loading, and closes the cylinder until it clicks and locks, it's going to be RELIABLE. It doesn't depend on how well you're gripping the weapon to operate reliably like a recoil-operated auto.

A revolver is SIMPLE. If a round misfires, the next trigger pull is on a fresh round. There's no magazine button to accidentally push, and no safety to deal with (in fairness some DA-only autos don't have a safety to deal with either, being decocked is the mechanism of safety, as with a revolver). While a revolver does have a cylinder release button, it's a slide type mechanism and much harder to accidentally operate. And when buttons aren't part of the normal firing operation, there's no reason for a shooter to push one.

Unlike an auto, a revolver doesn't have hot brass bouncing off walls, etc back on you, creating a burning distraction, and it leaves no brass on the ground to step on and slide on like a banana peel. A revolver can be even SIMPLER if it's a double-action only model. This means the hammer can't get cocked and put the owner through the more dangerous decocking sequence of pulling the trigger while letting the hammer down slowly. And a revolver can be made even MORE RELIABLE if it has a shrouded hammer, aka a "hammerless" model (it still has one, just not exposed).

IMHO, the ULTIMATE indoor home or RV defense weapon for the typical UNPRACTICED owner is the double-action only, shrouded hammer, Smith and Wesson Model 640 revolver, which chambers .38 Special and .357 Magnum (some older 640s were .38 only and didn't have a shrouded extractor rod). It is safe when loaded, even if dropped. Its 5 rounds are sufficient for the vast majority of confrontations likely to occur in a home or RV if the owner doesn't "spray and pray." This helps give it a thin profile to go along with the short barrel for a "pocket gun," especially with thin wood grips.

Unlike autos and revolvers with exposed hammers which can get caught and jammed by cloth, the 640 and its ilk can be reliably fired from inside a raincoat or jacket pocket, or dedicated purse pocket, allowing concealment (to avoid escalation) up until the time of firing, with considerable element of surprise. The short barrel also gives a perp less to grab and leverage the gun away from you if they get that close. These guns are also good as a pocket backup in outdoor situations better suited to a shotgun.

There are other S&W revolvers based on the 640, which are lighter, such as the 12 ounce (vs 20 ounce) 340 and 340PD in .357/.38, and the 15 ounce (vs 20 ounce) partially aluminum 642 and 642LS, and the 12 ounce aluminum and titanium 342 and 342PD, in .38 only. While light may be good in a pocket (or ankle holster), it isn't necessary at home or in an RV, and has the disadvantage of more felt recoil.

The revolver also may have an advantage if you ever have to use deadly force and face a grand jury. The media has made the term "semi-automatic" as evil as a machine gun, with high-capacity magazines a close second. Today, revolvers still have the image of the last resort, sometimes never drawn in a career, police officer's weapon, i.e. there's an association of revolvers with the good guys. Lower ammo capacity gives a perception of an owner desire to use as little force as necessary, and not use irresponsible and dangerous "spray and pray" techniques. The same can be said for a conventional 5 round shotgun vs one with a 7-8 round extended magazine.

Continued...
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Old 03-08-2003, 11:05 PM   #3
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and Ammo...

Choice of ammo is a player here, too. People, and thus juries, have different perceptions of different ammo. While even the logical and common hollow point expanding bullet has an "evil" reputation, and is not allowed by the Geneva Convention or permitted in many police departments, you sure wouldn't want to face a jury after using something like Black Talons with their cutting points! OTOH, use of a frangible round like MagSafe gives a perception of a responsible gun owner who's taken "due care" with regard to safety of others.

Perception aside, the MagSafe concept is sound. Almost any "effective" conventional round can penetrate an RV wall and go outside. That includes shotgun shot, and any conventional handgun round, even an ineffective .22 rimfire. The MagSafe models designed to break up in drywall aren't likely to penetrate an RV wall. My only concern with these would be against a perp wearing heavy clothing, such as a thick down jacket or heavy canvas or leather. For that reason, one might opt to load the first two or three rounds with the sheetrock grade" MagSafe, with two or three conventional jacketed bullets or higher powered +P MagSafes following these.

Traditional guidelines for choice of caliber with conventional bullets apply much less so in a very close range RV environment, where overpenetration becomes a significant issue. Both.380 ACP (essentially a .355" diameter 9mm Short) and .38 Special (.357" diameter, shorter, lower-powered predecessor of the .357 Magnum) are often considered "inadequate" stoppers compared to even the 9mm with its poor reputation, much less the .45 ACP and .357 Magnum.

However, both the .45 and .357 Magnum are known for their recoil and that's not a good thing for an unpracticed user. The .357 is more likely to overpenetrate, even with its most violently expanding lighter bullets, and has significant muzzle flash to blind its own user at night, especially when used with shorter barrels. The 9mm and .45 can also overpenetrate with full metal jacket (aka ball or hardball) ammo, and both depend on +P loadings to get even their lighter bullets fast enough to expand reliably because of the jacketing needed to ensure reasonably reliable feeding in an auto pistol.

Besides its current negative association with drug dealers and "gangstas" (which ignore its selection as the NATO standard round the US military eventually adopted), the 9mm suffers from years of a reputation for poor stopping performance. This was climaxed by the massacre of a team of 9mm-equipped FBI agents, and lead to the development of the punishing (both to shooter and shootee) 10mm and essentially a shorter and more managable version of that, the .40 S&W, popular with police departments. The reality is that with high pressure +P loadings, with high velocity, rapidly expanding modern bullets, the 9mm can deliver as much energy into a body as the good 'ole .45. But a miss with any of these +P loadings can penetrate an RV wall, even with some of the MagSafe loadings.

So we're back to the .380 ACP (9mm Kurtz or short) and .38 Special. For many years, these rounds were the choice of police departments in Europe and the US. The .380 depends on a lighter 95 or so grain bullet at about 950 muzzle fps for about 190 ft-lbs of energy. As a matter of fact, this was a considerable upgrade from the 7.65mm (.32 ACP) used prior to that with a 70 or so grain bullet at about 900 muzzle fps for a roughly 130 ft-lbs of energy.

For the .38 Special, the commonly used 158 grain lead round nose or semi-wadcutter bullets at 750 or so muzzle fps gave 200 ft-lbs of energy, similar to the .380, but with a much softer bullet which expanded more than the full metal jacket, and yet penetrated just as deeply due to getting its energy from mass rather than velocity.

While these rounds paled in comparison to the 115 grain 9mm or 230 grain .45 Auto of their militaries, with their 330-350 muzzle ft-lbs of energy, in most cases they got the job done and didn't overpenetrate, which is one of our concerns as RVers.

Fast-forward to today and we have .38 caliber rounds, with 150-200% more energy, at or above the old 9mm or .45 hardball, that will both penetrate a body deeply, yet not overpenetrate, with the MagSafe rounds. The 304 ft-lb #38W SWAT Load is designed to break up in drywall, yet be effective at stopping a perp without high pressure +P loading. The 402 ft-lb #38MAX +P would give extra energy, with increased risk of a miss penetrating the RV wall.

The one thing I will warn you of is sighting. Most pistols, especially .38 Special and .357 Magnum, with fixed sights, are sighted for use with heavy, lower velocity rounds, such as the slow 158 grain loads. They account for the end of the barrel rising higher with the heavier recoil of the heavier bullet in the additional time it stays in the barrel due to the low velocity. With lighter weight bullets, say 125 grain, with higher velocity, they will shoot low, and with the VERY light MagSafe rounds, they can shoot VERY low. While this may frustrate a practiced shooter, unpracticed shooters are known to pull the trigger before the post is down in the notch, and to shoot higher than center-mass, toward the face, so this may be more of an advantage than disadvantage for the unpracticed shooter.

In summary (and IMO), a Smith & Wesson Model 640, or like model DAO hammerless revolvers, with .38 Special MagSafe ammunition, is the safest, most reliable, most useful, and most effective combination for RV defense, for those, who in reality, won't get out and practice frequently with their weapon to maintain proficiency.

Continued...
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Old 03-08-2003, 11:06 PM   #4
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and kids!

The concept of a weapon kept ready for use applies to childless couples and empty-nesters. When it comes to the presence of young children or grandchildren, there's no option to keep guns handy and ready for use. PERIOD! At best, one can keep the weapon loaded and ready in a cypher-key safe that pops open. There is no place a weapon can be hidden, yet accessible, without the chance of a child accessing it.

As your own children get older, the best thing you can do is train the child to responsibly use firearms. The next best thing is to take the child hunting after they've become skilled on the range. Believe me, nothing impacts a child more emotionally than their first kill. I don't believe they truely understand the power of the firearm punching holes in paper, until they've seen what it... no, what THEY, can permanently do to what was a life, with a firearm. It's critical that you not blow off or ignore their concerns and feelings at this time. Sometimes they're feeling really badly about this, and NEED your consolation and understanding. You need to be there, in every way, for them, to explain the ways of nature.

I'm sure this is controversial here, so I won't go any further.

I hope this has helped those who want a weapon for defense, but realize they won't become a gun hobbyist, or well-trained and practiced security personnel.
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Old 03-08-2003, 11:15 PM   #5
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My head hurts!

There is also another thread on the subject of guns and RVs and guns more or less in general at:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...&threadid=3360

I'd hate to think what a jury would think if I got in a jam with my .50cal Desert Eagle w/ 325 grain HP.

Dead is dead though. If you own a gun and someone tries to kill you, rob you, hurt you or all of the above and you plant one right between the eyes, I can't see how the type of gun means anything at that point. Self defense is self defense.

On the other hand, they say shoot to kill or you could be sued if you hurt someone.

Some good info though Maurice.

Eric
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Old 03-09-2003, 12:02 AM   #6
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Maurice,
I have to agree with you concerning simplicity of the revolver over the auto. When individuals ask me what kind of auto they should carry for self defense, I have to ask them how much time they have already spent at the range. If they are new shooters or have not spent much time then I do not recommend an auto because they can become a death trap. I've seen untold malfunctions caused by bad magazines, the wrong kind of ammo, "limpwristing", a cheap auto or a high quality auto that came out of the factory with a defect. I've never carried without testing ammo and running at least 300 rounds through that weapon. Revolvers follow the KISS principle and are almost idiot proof. Aim, squeeze the trigger and when it does not go off, squeeze again (after verifying you have not had a hangfire or squib load).

The shotgun is another matter. #4 Buck with 27 pellets around 24 caliber will eat you up at close range out of a cylinder choked Remington 870. Penetration is sufficient to cause trauma to the major organs which are in the front 1/3 of the body. I'm a little more partial to #1 Buck with its 16 pellets for the extra penetration at a slightly longer distance should it occur. One of the things we found at the range is that at 50 yds. with a police cylinder 870, 00 Buck with 9 pellets may only hit a B-27 silhouette target with a couple pellets or possible none at all. That combination is good for up to 30 yds. max but there has been one reported fatality which occurred after the individual was hit at 300 yds. by a single pellet in the temple region.

A shotgun with cylinder choke and 18 1/2" barrel when handled correctly can be use for clearing rooms. We train teams to do it all the time. We just put two Remington 11-87 auto shotguns in our armory with 14" barrels and I am surprised how accurate they are with slugs at 50 yds. Granted, sticking any length barrel through the threshold where someone can grab it may get you killed. This is why the low ready position is advocated. I won't get into that because we aren't talking about clearing rooms here. We are talking about defending your home or RV. In the home you should have a "safe room" where you can barricade yourself in until Police arrive (you have called by now haven't you) and where you can take a stand behind cover. It is not the time to go chasing after the perps. You have to take a closer look at a MH or trailer to decide if you even have time or a place to even do this. Pellet selection for the shotgun has to be a balance between range to target, what the target may be wearing and where the pellets go if some should miss the target and penetrate sheetrock or the trailer skin. If I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a pistol then the shotgun with a Surefire high intensity flashlight built into the forearm would be my next weapon of choice.

The Illinois State Police started out with the S & W Mdl. 39 9 mm with 115 gr. +P+ loads and they were manstoppers. If someone carried a 9 today, I would recommend CorBon. The FBI did learn in the Miami incident that 147 gr. subsonic rounds are terrible stoppers and I sure would not recommend them to anyone.

If you haven't tried the 45ACP with 165 gr. Federal Personal Defense then you are in for a treat. All the 230 grain loads seem a little hefty to me so I carry with the Rem. 185 gr. Golden Sabre. I still have a good stock of the 165 Federal PD on hand and they are a pleasure to shoot.

Good comments on teaching kids gun safety. If we don't teach them early and get them involved, then they might be the ones who attempt to vote our gun rights away.

The S & W Mdl. 640 is a nice .38 and several of my friends have them and like the way they shoot. I've always been partial to the Mdl. 19 and 66 with 2 1/2" barrels for carry and have found several for close friends who have carried them for several years now.
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Old 03-09-2003, 01:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Silvertwinkie
I'd hate to think what a jury would think if I got in a jam with my .50cal Desert Eagle w/ 325 grain HP.

Dead is dead though. If you own a gun and someone tries to kill you, rob you, hurt you or all of the above and you plant one right between the eyes, I can't see how the type of gun means anything at that point. Self defense is self defense.
Eric,
I hope you're addressing the grand jury part of what I wrote. If there's sufficient evidence someone was going to harm or kill you, you'll probably never see the grand jury.

If you kill someone just trying to rob you or steal your car, then you probably will, and there's a good chance in many places you'll do time for it, and come out as a convicted felon without the right to own a firearm.

I sure hope you don't use a .50AE for self-defense in an Airstream. If it overpenetrates, or God forbid you miss, and you kill an innocent, particularly a child, in another RV (or two)... let's just say you'll be thinking about this thread for a long time.
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Old 03-09-2003, 02:01 AM   #8
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Craig,
I hope folks aren't missing the point of the post, which is to address an effective defensive weapon for use inside the RV... that will minimize the threat to others outside the RV... for less than skilled shooters.

Shotguns are great outdoor weapons, but not real practical inside an Airstream. I know how accurate they are with slugs because that's all we're allowed to use for deer in Ohio... no rifles. In addition to the handgun for defense in the trailer, it might be good to have a shotgun if someone was outside firing into the trailer and you had to bail out a window, but that's a less likely scenario unless you're out boondocking alone.

I guess I wouldn't mind tearing up a government's guns with Corbon +P+, but I wouldn't use it in any weapon I cared about, or shoot it inside an Airstream with other campers around.

And don'tcha know those Golden Sabers are just Remington's attempt at poltically correct Winchester Black Talons. Seems they got away with it. Timing (and a less provocative name) is everything.

The Model 19 and 66 are fine guns for skilled shooters, and definitely more accurate when fired single-action, but that kind of accuracy probably wouldn't be paramount with a snub-nose revolver, especially at the distance involved inside an RV. I've known of less than skilled shooters having accidental discharges trying to uncock them, including young military police playing around. That's why I don't recommend them for less than skilled owners.

Thanks for your info. I'll PM you for more.
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Old 03-09-2003, 05:40 AM   #9
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Thumbs up Excellent points~!!

Maurice,
One THE most well thought out subject yet~!!
Thanks for your valuable insights on the subject of children being taught the proper respect and, handling of firearms~!
I look forward to more of your threads~!!
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Old 03-09-2003, 09:17 AM   #10
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I take the Desert Eagle on almost every trip.

Most of the campgrounds I go to are very remote (10-25 miles from the nearest small town). The other campsites are at least 15-25 yards apart in most cases.

The .50 cal ammo is a poor penatrator after it has been slowed. For example, if I were to fire it and miss, it would go through both skins of my A/S. If someone were outside the A/S they have the chance of being hit or killed (a problems with almost any gun less maybe a .22).

By the time the bullet made it the 15-25 yard, providing a tree was not in the way, the impact would be fairly low. As I said the bullet is the size of a flat nose bus, and kind of looks like one.

There is generally only one situation where you could take someone's life (not that I'd like too) and not be charged. The criminal has to break 1-2 laws and you or your family's lives need to be in danger. Someone breaking into your car to steal it does not qualify. Lives of you or you loved ones would need to be in danger first after a law was broken (trespass, breaking and entering, etc). Cat calling or throwing stones, etc from the outside does not qualify, even if your feeling were hurt.

My friends and I have gone round and round on the revolver vs. the semi-auto. I have to say that any gun can can have a problem. I personally am well versed in most problems that can happen with a semi-auto since I maintain and use the gun at the ranges regularly. I use only quality ammo and have spare clips as well. Compared to speed loaders, the clip is the only way to go. Most law enforcement agencies also feel the same way. I'm not talking about cal., I'm just talkin' semi-auto vs. revolver.

I think you post was great for the people that are thinking about getting into guns or just got into it. For the most part, some if not most of it should be basic common sense and for people that know, a simple yep, right on.....

Regards,

Eric
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Old 03-09-2003, 11:56 AM   #11
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Thanks, 53FlyingCloud!

Eric, it's good to hear you're not gonna "put one right between the eyes" of someone who's just robbing you. Like I said before, an auto is fine for someone who practices regularly, and it certainly has some advantages. A hammerless DAO revolver is better for someone who doesn't. Sorta like using the right tool for the job.
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Old 03-09-2003, 01:00 PM   #12
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Maurice,
25 years ago our dept. shot the last 6 rds. on the revolver course from the 50 yds. line and officers could use single or double action from this line. FBI stats changed that years ago and we shoot no farther than 25 yds. and all double action. Over the years I just found that I can shoot about as well double action as single action but yrs. of practice helped me get to this position. I too agree that cocking the hammer in single action mode is an invitation to disaster. A number of state police agencies eliminated the single action cocking feature of their revolvers when they had them as issue firearms. Apparently a number of officers were startled and the firearms discharged when not intended.

I don't use CorBon ammo due to excessive recoil of the first shot and the need to possibly get a quick second shot, double tap. I'm not really fond of 9 mm and would carry the .357 if limited to these 2 calibers. A number of yrs. ago I was talking with Louis Awerbuck (not sure if I spelled his name right) and was trying to get him to teach a 3 gun class at our academy. He made a comment that I totally agree with, "If you are still using revolvers as the issue weapon, you need to really learn to shoot them well." I know that I do not feel handicapped with the revolver because I shoot it well. The 3 extra rounds from my autos are added insurance but the truth is that most fights are over within 3 rounds anyway. Police deal with multiple targets and more firepower today so the high capacity mags give them the added assurance that they will not run out of ammo or be caught reloading when the perp closes in. I guess this is why some officers still carry 38 backups just in case.
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Old 03-09-2003, 02:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by RoadKingMoe
Thanks, 53FlyingCloud!

Eric, it's good to hear you're not gonna "put one right between the eyes" of someone who's just robbing you.
Got enough problems of my own without that problem too!

Eric
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Old 03-09-2003, 07:52 PM   #14
 
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Quote:
I hope folks aren't missing the point of the post, which is to address an effective defensive weapon for use inside the RV... that will minimize the threat to others outside the RV
If you phrase it like that, weapon, not gun:

we have bought at a truck stop, years ago, what we just call our "bonker" (used to check equal inflation of tires, by "bonking" on them).
We can put it up a sleeve. Keep it by the table or under the bed if we feel unsafe when camping at WalMart. Just "bonking" it on something is enough to scare an un-armed would be bad guy. It scares bears away too.
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