Book Review: The Handgun in Personal Defense by R.K. Campbell


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

July 12th, 2005




Why do you carry a handgun? Why do you keep a handgun by your bedside at night? Ask yourself these very legitimate questions.  While more and more Americans are choosing to go armed than ever before, many never really consider carefully ever having to use that weapon for the fight of their life. Should the need ever arise that you have to use your handgun to defend your life or the lives of those whom you hold dear and are obligated to protect, it will happen quickly and with a vengeance. A rifle or shotgun will almost always be a better choice. The handgun is a compromise between power, concealment, and handiness. Most of us cannot efficiently perform our daily duties while carrying an AR-15 in one hand. Also, being realistic, most of us never truly believe that we will have to clear leather on any given day. If we did, prudence would have us avoid the situation altogether. The handgun is a compromise. It is not the best tool to bring to a fight, but it is the one that you are most likely to have available when the fight comes to you.

The preceding paragraph asked the question, without providing any answers. It was written to get you to thinking about the defensive handgun. Most importantly, to thinking about your defensive handgun. The answers, as best as they can be answered, are found in a book written by Bob Campbell titled The Handgun in Personal Defense.

Robert K. Campbell has a background of over twenty years in law enforcement as a trainer, weapons tester, and a street cop. He is one of the most prolific writers today on the subject of fighting weapons. He has been published in most of the better publications dealing with fighting firearms and edged weapons. He is also a very welcome contributing writer for, adding experience and wisdom to our online magazine.

Mr. Campbell just recently sent this book to me. I opened the package thinking to initially give it a quick thumb-through, then to set it aside to carefully read later. It did not work out that way. I began with the introduction, and finished it a few hours later, reading it through in one prolonged sitting. Then I read it again. It is not a huge book, having just 121 pages, but those pages are filled with some of the most essential and useful information available to anyone who owns a handgun for social purposes. The book is very well-written, and has numerous black and white photos to help illustrate the writer's intention.

Mr. Campbell covers the topics of handgun choice, training, cartridge effectiveness, holsters,  reliability, and one of my favorites; night shooting.  He also covers many other topics in a clear and concise manner. He covers cartridge choices from the .22 Long Rifle up through the .45 ACP, including the most popular magnums. He thoroughly covers the two basic types of defensive handguns; the semi-auto and the revolver. Mr. Campbell also touches on the subject of having a good knife as a backup to the handgun. He covers malfunction clearance, and most importantly, malfunction prevention. A gun that does not work can be embarrassing at the range. It can get you killed on the street.  I am often asked to recommend a handgun for personal defense. In Chapter 15, Mr. Campbell lists fifty handguns that he personally recommends for defense, with a description of each, along with photos and the reasons that it is a good fighting handgun.  He suggests various fighting techniques and stances, along with suggestions for the best use of cover. Many of us spend a great deal of time in a vehicle, and he also covers that situation as well. Mr. Campbell does not neglect the subject of the fighting mindset. Your most important asset in a defensive situation is your brain.

Many books are available to shooters dealing with the topic of handgun fighting. Most are filled from cover to cover with a heavy dose of the author's ego, spouting the reasons of why he is the new grand guru on the subject covered. In The Handgun in Personal Defense, none of that foolishness is to be found. Mr. Campbell explains what works and why it works, and backs up his advice and opinions with real facts, not propaganda.

The Handgun in Personal Defense can be purchased directly from the author for just fifteen bucks, plus $3.50 for shipping, for a grand total of only $18.50. That is less than the price of a box of decent ammo, or a cold pizza delivered to your house. Mr. Campbell will include a personal note and signature for Gunblast readers. You can order it by sending a personal check or money order to:

R.K. Campbell
P.O. Box 698
Una, SC 29378

For large quantities, contact the Second Amendment Foundation by telephone at:  425-454-7009.

Regardless of your level of experience, I strongly recommend this book to any and all who are contemplating a handgun for personal defense.  I have been packing for many years, and found the book to be useful and informative.

Jeff Quinn

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What you need for personal defense: a gun, a knife, and the knowledge to make them work!