Imagine being the victim of a burglary five times in a six-year period. Not only would you be losing personal valuables during each burglary, undoubtedly the ongoing victimization would take a toll on your life in other ways. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to a man named Harvey Lembo. Harvey is a retired lobster fisherman who lives in a small apartment in Maine. He takes multiple medications and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.
Most likely, the criminals who kept breaking into Harvey’s apartment knew he had prescription medications in his home. They also assumed he was an easy victim, since he was only able to move around using his wheelchair. The fourth time Harvey’s apartment was burglarized, the thieves made off with around $1,000 and several prescription bottles. It was then that one of Harvey’s neighbors suggested he purchase a gun to protect himself. About a month later, Harvey decided that was a good idea. So, he went out and purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver that he kept under his pillow.
The same day he purchased the gun, Harvey was awakened in the night by a noise coming from his kitchen. He got out of bed, moved himself to his wheelchair and quietly proceeded to the kitchen with his gun. When he reached the kitchen, he saw a man going through the cabinet where he kept his medicine. Harvey told him to sit down and wait for the police or he would shoot. The burglar didn’t listen to instructions and Harvey ended up shooting the suspect as he ran out of the apartment. A short time later, police arrived and followed the trail of blood. It led them to 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber, who had been shot in the shoulder. Wildhaber was arrested and charged with burglary. He was later sentenced to four years in prison.
According the Maine Criminal Code, “A person in possession or control of a dwelling place or a person who is licensed or privileged to be therein is justified in using deadly force upon another person… when the person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent or terminate the commission of a criminal trespass by such other person.” Basically, Harvey was perfectly within his rights to do what he did, to protect himself in his own residence.
But consider this, within hours of buying his revolver, Harvey had to use it to defend himself. He didn’t have weeks or months to spend time at the shooting range practicing and breaking in his new gun. That being said, today I want to share with you four steps for breaking in a new firearm — which hopefully you’ll have time to do before ever having to use your gun.
Clean Your Gun
Even if you purchase your gun, new straight from the factory, it doesn’t hurt to give it a good cleaning. You never know how long it’s been sitting on a store shelf or under what conditions it’s been kept. Whenever you clean your gun, you should visually inspect each part of the firearm. Make sure there aren’t any loose metal shavings or barrel obstructions. And don’t forget to grease your gun with some sort of oil or lubricant such as Remington oil.
If your new gun is a semiautomatic, you should definitely dry-fire and function-test your gun. In other words, rack the slide to ensure it moves properly, and then dry-fire the gun multiple times. As long as it’s a centerfire gun (not a rimfire, such a .22), you can safely dry-fire your new gun without damaging it to make sure it works properly.
Shoot an FBI Qualification
The first time you go to the range with your new gun, I recommend shooting an FBI qualification test. This is only 60 rounds, but it’s a good way to get started with your new firearm. Of course, 60 rounds is not enough to break in your firearm. Ideally, you should shoot at least 500 rounds through your new gun to break it in. This should include different drills in addition to the FBI qualification test. In short, you need to test out every aspect of your new gun. Now is the time to find out if you have a bad magazine or you need to adjust your sights — not when an intruder is barreling toward you.
Test Your Self-Defense Ammunition
Go to the range and run your self-defense ammunition through your gun. You need to ensure your hollow points feed properly and the gun doesn’t jam with this type of ammunition. I realize self-defense ammo is a lot more expensive, but this is very important. I know some people who shoot two or three rounds of hollow-point ammo and then start carrying their gun. Personally, I’m not comfortable carrying a gun I’ve only shot a handful of defensive rounds through, which is why I recommend putting at least 100 rounds through the gun. Once I’m sure my new gun functions flawlessly with my self-defense ammo, then I’ll give it another cleaning and start carrying it.
If you follow these four steps to break in your new firearm, you will be better prepared to use it if, and when, the need arises. It’s lucky that Harvey was successfully able to use his new revolver to keep himself from being robbed a fifth time, but that’s not a chance I’d want to take in my own home.
Do you have a procedure you go through to break in a new pistol? How many rounds of self-defense ammunition do you shoot? Share your answers in the comment section.
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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.