The Concealed Handgun Manual, by Chris Bird. Privateer Publications. Fourth Revised Edition, 2004. 459 pages. PB. $21.95. Available at Borders, Amazon, the NRA Store, or the publisher at 1-888-700-4333.
This book is sub-titled "How to Choose, Carry, and Shoot a Gun in Self-Defense". It does just that, and more. Handguns are the focus of this tome; no longarms here.
The author is a crime reporter, residing in San Antonio, Texas, and holds a Texas concealed handgun license. He is also a certified CHL instructor. Throughout the book, he includes accounts of actual self-defense shootings, most of which occurred in Texas. He skillfully uses these stories to illustrate the themes of the book's chapters.
Choosing a handgun (chapter 5) covers stopping power, caliber, revolver versus pistol, DA versus SA, and various handguns currently available from some 21 manufacturers. This is more of an over-view, rather than an in-depth treatment, but the information is presented in such a way as to allow readers to make informed decisions regarding which handgun is best suited for their purpose.
While the author doesn't try to influence choices, he does caution that 1911 and Browning type auto pistols should be carried cocked & locked and for this reason should be carried by serious shooters only. I must agree. He also discusses the pros and cons of several "mouse gun" pistols, but doesn't mention Derringers, a somewhat odd omission. His discussion on magazine capacity was written before the AWB expired, so is out-dated.
Other chapters cover holsters and accessories, victims or survivors, school shootings, staying out of trouble, firearms safety and handling, basic and advanced shooting, winning a gunfight, use of deadly force, shooting schools and academies, and a compilation of State concealed carry laws. This last covers only those States (37 at the time of writing) that have "right to carry" or "shall issue" laws. (After this edition was published, Iowa passed a "shall issue" law).
In my view, two of the more important chapters are Chapter 10, "Winning a Gunfight: Mind-Set and Tactics" and Chapter 11, "Deadly Force: When To Use It and What Happens When You Do". Both chapters include actual case histories that are especially pertinent. These chapters should be thoroughly digested and literally committed to memory by anyone who carries a firearm for self-defense.
As mentioned, the author chose not to decree that "Thou shalt carry this handgun in this caliber", wisely leaving this decision to the individual. He does offer specific, and sound, advice in other areas: be alert, be willing to accept the responsibility that goes with carrying a firearm, be mentally prepared to use that firearm if you have to, know the law, and practice, then practice some more. If you can't make these committments, the author strongly advises that you not carry a firearm. I can't disagree with that.
I recommend this book highly. Novice and expert alike should find this book to be a worthwhile addition to their library.