It’s fun to play off the title of a great book by Robert Ruark—“Use Enough Gun.” Ruark was writing about Africa and dangerous game hunting, and when you are facing some humongous beast that can kill you in an instant, it is wise to use all the gun you can manage. Most people never get to fire one of those big .470 doubles, so they nod wisely at the title and agree. The key element in the equation is “all the gun you can manage.” I believe that most defense shooters never really determine what they can handle. Further, I’m guessing that they can probably use a lot more gun than they realize. Guns are mysterious things to most people, having been formed by the chronic mis-use of firearms on TV and in the movies. Most new shooters choose a firearm for personal defense on the basis of a brief conversation with an enthusiastic young man at a gun store counter. While it is logistically difficult to pull off, a beginner really needs to shoot a variety of calibers, styles and models of guns before choosing. Unfortunately, this is probably not going to happen.
In the sense of terminal effectiveness, it should be obvious that the gun that delivers the greater blow to the target is closest to achieving the mystical “enough gun” status. In spite of how well they are managed, some guns are inadequate in the sense that they don’t develop enough energy to stop a criminal attack quickly. I have strong personal beliefs about light cartridges and would not consider anything lighter than .38 Spl. in revolvers or 9 mm Luger in pistols. On the other hand, I have witnessed a wide variety of beginner handgunners of both sexes, as well as different sizes and shooting backgrounds, in the course of their training at Gunsite. With the quiet, systematic and well-organized training system in use there, complete neophytes acquire strong shooting skills very quickly. And that is really the major point. The firearm is only a part of the defensive system; the shooter’s skill and mindset are far more important.
Training is the way to close the confidence gap in personal defense. You cannot buy some mystical ideal gun that will make all the boogey men go away. But in the process of developing serious shooting skills, you will find that you can handle a lot more gun than you thought you could.