Seven Tactical Myths Debunked

Today we are going to tackle the world of tactical myths.

It’s sad how many myths exist and how destructive they can be. Many pose as advice but can be downright dangerous. Since these myths show up so often, I’ve decided to target some of the more dangerous ones out there and thoroughly debunk the B.S.

Lights Give Away Your Position

Light discipline is real, and the idea that the light gives away your position is true if your tactics suck. A weapon light is a weapon light, not a searchlight or a light to navigate around your house. Weapon lights are a must-have for home defense and ensure you properly identify your target in the middle of the night.


This is one of the more dangerous tactical myths on the market. There have been too many incidents of people shooting their family members because they failed to establish proper positive identification in the dark.

Carrying With an Empty Chamber is Safer

The fear of your gun just going off isn’t one you need to concern yourself with. If you are using even a remotely modern firearm, it’s just not gonna happen, and you Alec Baldwin your firearm. Not carrying with a round in the chamber is unsafe from a defensive standpoint. You’re assuming that you have plenty of time to rack your slide in a fight.

Heck, you’re assuming you’ll even have the use of both of your hands in a defensive situation. These kinds of assumptions make this one of the more dangerous tactical myths. If you’re afraid of carrying a round in the chamber, you might not be ready to carry a firearm and need to invest in some training.

Tampons Work As Medical Gear

Tactical myths like this stick around for a long period is an example of how easily misinformation spreads. I still see this one pop up now and then, and it needs to be squashed. Tampons are not intended as bandages and are a terrible choice for traumatic use.

Tampons soak up blood, and that’s not our goal with wound care. They only absorb a small amount of blood in the first place. You want to stop bleeding, and you can use a ton of them to make up enough of a dressing to stop the bleed. If you have a few dozen tampons, they might work as good as one roll of gauze.

Dry Fire Will Damage Your Gun

Of all the tactical myths on this list, this one at least used to be true and can occasionally still be true. Older guns didn’t take to dry fire well, but modern firearms will handle dry fire just fine. When it comes to rimfire weapons, it’s best to check and make sure the manufacturers advise that dry fire is safe.

For 99% of firearms, dryfire is completely safe. Dry fire brings a set of valuable skills to the table and allows you to train without firing around. Dry fire can help build critical skills and retain the skills you have.

Just Shoot Them In the Leg

Oh boy, haven’t we heard this one quite a bit in the last few years? The idea of taking an extremity shot comes from the world of fiction, and that’s exactly what it is. A leg or extremity shot, in general, is a dangerous shot to take. This is one of the few tactical myths propagated by the mainstream media.

Taking a leg or extremity shot isn’t guaranteed to not nonlethal. There are lots of veins and arteries running through your extremities, and those can cause massive blood loss. Additionally, extremities are always moving and can be tough to hit. Misses can result in hits on innocent people, and legs and arms can be easily over-perpetrated by high-quality defensive ammo.

Caliber XYZ is Bigger, Therefore Better

Ooh boy, this one goes back to the 45 ACP vs. 9mm vs. 40 S&W debate. Bigger equals better seems to make sense until you factor in the real world. Modern defensive ammunition has closed the gap between calibers. What’s more important than the projectile’s size is the projectile’s type.

On top of that, you need a round that can penetrate deep enough to stop the threat. All three of the big three are capable of penetrating deep enough to reach vital organs. The modern projectiles can expand to create a much larger projectile and penetrate deep enough to stop a threat.

Alternating FMJs and JHPs is a Good Idea

The practice of Dutch loading almost always comes from someone who is seemingly offering wise, sage advice. Typically the claim is that Dutch loading FMJs and JHPs allows them to shoot a threat through hard cover or into a vehicle. To that, I say hogwash. Using FMJs is just dangerous.

They perpetrate too much and will very likely over-penetrate and harm another person. Do not listen to these tactical myths if you plan to be a responsible concealed carrier.

Debunk The Tactical Myths

Tactical myths deserve to be debunked! A little education goes a long way and can hopefully lead to becoming a safer, more efficient concealed carrier. Mythos in the world of guns concealed carry, and self-defense runs far and long. Which ones did I miss? Should I add any to the list?

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.




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9 thoughts on “Seven Tactical Myths Debunked”

  1. The author must not have kids or if he does he doesn’t play with them. I usually carry with a round chambered but if I know I’m going to be horsing around with my kids I carry on an empty chamber. To say choosing to carry without a round in the chamber makes someone not ready to carry a gun is arrogant and ignorant. Each person who chooses to carry needs to figure out what level of risk they’re willing to assume. Some people insist on a holster with active retention. It slows you down a hair but provides a greater degree of safety through better weapon retention. If someone wants to be Tactical Tim and carry a double stack 10mm while wearing body armor let them. If someone wants to carry a 22LR in a shorts pocket holster let them. As long as someone isn’t petting someone else at risk with their choices don’t be jerk and belittle them. We need more responsible people carrying, not less.

    1. Dear JP,
      If you have to empty chamber around kids to horseplay,
      you’re doing it wrong.
      Consider actually utilizing better safety.



      I have been a competitive shooter and NRA Instructor since 1970. I am currently an NRA appointed Training Counselor, among other things.
      I only have one question: WHY ARE YOU USING A REAL GUN TO HORSEPLAY … PERIOD!
      1. It teaches playing with guns is OK…. It is NOT.
      2. This can cause lack of respect for the “WEAPON.” [A word I hate using…]
      3. It breeds carelessness.
      4. Lastly, sooner or later that gun is going to remain loaded and prone to accidents.

      Growing up, my sister and I KNEW my father kept a loaded gun in each room of our home. We lived a couple of miles into the “sticks,” and he felt he needed to be able to grab a gun in an emergency to protect home and family. We were taught to NEVER touch those guns, and if we were curious, we could come to him. HE would retrieve the gun, unload it, and then we could handle it under his supervision. For anything else, there are cap guns, nerf guns, water pistols, ……………

  2. Stephen Collins

    1) Revolvers never malfunction! (They do, more often than people think.)

    2) AK47s never jam! (Seen it happen,any times.)

    3) Just the racking of a shotgun will scare the bad guy away, and if it doesn’t, just point it in his general direction and pull the trigger, you can’t miss with a shotgun! (Dear God, where to start with this one?)


      To confirm that revolvers can jam: I have experienced jams with both Colt and S&W revolvers. In both instances, the cause was the same.
      Let’s begin with the basics. A revolver has a rod going through the cylinder. This rod is often referred to as the “ejection rod,” but for the sake of this discussion, I am going to call it a “spindle.”
      The cylinder is threaded on to this spindle. As the gun is cocked and fired, the cylinder and spindle rotate.
      When the gun fires, vibrations [shock waves] are set up. — This is supposed to happen.
      Well, this also means that eventually the cylinder can loosen up on the spindle and can back out of the threads ever-so slightly. When this occurs, the revolver will not open up to eject and be able to be reloaded.
      Note: For reliability, I will still generally choose a revolver. The weakest part in a semi-auto is the magazine, and the greatest problems in an emergency will be caused by that mag. HOWEVER, a gun is a machine, and eventually all machines can/will have problems.

  3. Shot placement is priority in defensive shooting. The ability for follow-up shots is also important (the reason Dirty Harry is fiction).


    REGARDING TAMPONS: When I trained as a medic [Emergency Medical Technician], tampons were discussed. The class was on trauma dressings.
    Tampons were discussed for use in an emergency when trauma dressings were not available, and they were the only thing available at-hand. By using these as a dressing, they were a known commodity:
    They soaked up a reasonably large amount of blood for their size, and
    An ER Doctor could have a rough guess as the amount of blood loss by the number of tampons used. Tampons were never the dressing of choice; Sanitary Napkins would have been preferred as they are larger, cover more area, and hold more blood. [Tampons are really not a satisfactory substitute.]
    In any case, it is still advised to carry regular trauma dressings if at all possible.

  5. Proofreading is a lost art.
    “Taking a leg or extremity shot isn’t guaranteed to not nonlethal.”
    “They perpetrate too much and will very likely over-penetrate”
    I hate when my ammo perpetrates! lol

    But silly nitpicks aside, good article overall.

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