Expanded and Updated, 3rd Edition

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Defensive Use of Firearms, acclaimed in its original edition for packing so much information into such a small package, has been updated. The five core chapters retain the intent of the original subtitle - A Common-Sense Guide to Awareness, Mental Preparedness, Tactics, Skills, and Equipment. They are still preceded by a chapter on safety with firearms and followed by a chapter on legal issues. A glossary is included, for the reader who may be new to the world of firearms. The foreword was graciously provided by Bert DuVernay, former director of the Smith & Wesson Academy.

The revision has updated some material that had become outdated and clarified a few of the earlier points. The most noticeable and important change, however, has been the expansion of the skills chapter with the addition of several techniques, fleshing out a continuum for close-quarters combat. Corresponding drawings have also been added, to illustrate those techniques.

The book is intended for the gun owner who has realized that mere ownership of a firearm does not convey protection. It will be of particular interest to those who are engaged in or are contemplating lawful concealed carry of a handgun. While primarily oriented toward the handgun, the book contains some material about the defensive use of long guns, further expanding its relevance to home defense. The chapters on tactics and skills include numerous line drawings to aid the reader's grasp of the concepts described. The book offers the reader a set of principles, tactics and techniques distilled from hundreds of hours of the author's training, which included certification as a law-enforcement handgun, shotgun, patrol rifle and tactical shooting instructor.

While relatively short, this book is intended to be read more than once.

Samples of the Illustrations by Jeff Cahill

Note: Images are copyright © 2005 and 2010 by Defensive Use of Firearms, LLC


  • Defensive Use of Firearms serves more than one purpose. It's a primer for those new to the world of defensive firearms, a purpose it serves admirably. Stephen Wenger condenses his considerable training and education into easily understood and concise blocks. It should be a primary text for CCW instruction.

    It's also a refresher for the Old Salts. From his unique description of the basics of gunhandling (including the use of Clive Shepherd's wonderfully useful Safety Circle) to his understanding of the law, he gives the instructors among us another way to explain 'what we know."

    Defensive Use of Firearms will share my reference library with Spaulding's Handgun Combatives, Cooper's Principles of Personal Defense, and Ayoob's In The Gravest Extreme as an "essential."
    Sgt. Richard Grassi (retired), Shawnee County [KS] Sheriff's Office; Editor, The Tactical Wire; Author of Police Firearms Instruction: Problems and Practices
  • This comprehensive book should be mandatory reading for anyone considering using a firearm for personal protection and anyone who is currently doing so. There's no other book quite like Defensive Use of Firearms and the subtitle of A Common-Sense Guide... adds focus to one area that is all too lacking when it come to firearms use: common sense.

    Whether you are a grizzled big city cop or a soccer mom who is contemplating purchasing a firearm for self-defense, you'll want to own Defensive Use of Firearms. This book won't give you the physical skills you need, but it will provide you with a comprehensive blueprint of what you need to know if you own a firearm for self-defense.

    Look at it this way: purchase a firearm, ammo and holster - $600; take self-defense shooting lessons - $400; read Defensive Use of Firearms - priceless!
    Ed Nowicki, former Executive Director, International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association; nationally recognized use of force expert


  • The first edition of Defensive Use of Firearms has been a welcome contribution to my understanding and knowledge of firearms and their employment. It should not only be read by gun owners, but also by those who don the uniform to protect and serve.

    With regard to survival priorities, Steve Wenger separates mental awareness and mental preparedness. The distinction is invaluable. Most folks only think they are prepared - unfortunately, that includes many in uniform. Many are shooters; few are gunfighters.

    We all have, at some point, met those who deem themselves experts in the defensive use of firearms - some are good; some are better. Just as leadership is not a position so much as it is an action, expert status is not so much a position as it is a process. Steve continues to go through the "process." He keeps an open mind and evaluates training by asking, "Is this going to do me any good once I get off your range?" He distills the information gathered into common sense practices - and this is the value of Defensive Use of Firearms. Its common sense approach in developing a skill set that can be utilized by all gun owners is what separates this book from most. The second edition, with its expansion of usable skills, is witness of Steve's desire to share gunfighting skills with those who are willing to differentiate between shooting and fighting.
    Officer Richard Nickoloff (retired), formerly Senior Weapons and Tactics Instructor, California Highway Patrol Academy
  • As a teaching tool, this book provides answers that other books don't know enough to ask. In a world of shooting schools and publications that are locked into non-evolving "doctrines" based more on "gunfoo" than real world experience, it's refreshing to read a book that clearly explains the need for flexibility in the world of tactics and survival for those of us that carry a gun.

    The fact that the author also has a background in martial arts helps prepare the reader for what actually happens in close-quarter confrontations. The author doesn't hesitate to challenge the fossilized techniques of some of the most well known shooting instructors, while showing the reader viable, life-saving alternatives. This book is for serious students and open-minded teaching professionals who are willing to set their egos aside and wear the "student" hat again.

    I admire and perhaps even envy the eclectic odyssey that the author took in gaining the experience and knowledge to write this book. While most people attend several schools and declare their training complete, this author chose to declare his training as a beginning. The odyssey continues with a new edition of his book that expands the use of the handgun at extreme close quarters. Understanding the OODA loop and a person's instinctive reaction to danger, the author has integrated the proper techniques to confront that danger at close range.

    Unlike the majority of law enforcement trainers who received their training and experience on departments with few actual officer-involved shootings, I gained much of my experience as part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Training Bureau, which investigated numerous officer involved shootings, in order to modify officer survival training at all levels. I then taught these lessons at the LASD Laser Village Tactics and Survival unit and finished my career as a Sergeant, working the infamous South Central reporting district, where we averaged one officer-involved shooting a month for five consecutive years. Much of what I learned is in this book, and although I have an extensive library of books, tapes, and DVDs on self-defense shootings and confrontations at my disposal, I GIVE a copy of this book to my most serious and dedicated students. What more can I say?
    Sgt. Harold R. Flynt (retired), Los Angeles Sheriff's Department; rangemaster/firearms instructor, private security


  • Two of the best features of this slim volume are its clarity and its brevity. These two qualities are not to be airily dismissed. Prose that is crisp, precise, and accurate is not easy to come by anywhere, especially in firearms publications... Wenger's prose is like an athlete, lean and spare and stripped of ornament. Furthermore, the very shortness of this book ensures it will be read, rather than nibbled and tossed aside... My only quibble is its brevity. But, you say, I thought that was one of its virtues. Alas, true. Yet I was sorry to see it end.
  • I have been reading your book and enjoying it a great deal. I've been reading it slowly and stopping to consider various points in my reading to try and truly absorb it rather than just read it. It's amazing; the book is not very long as far as books go, yet there's so much in it. I got to the point where I had to decide to be a lot more discriminating in what I chose to highlight because I realized that, if I didn't, most of the book's text was going to be yellow. I'm a bit of a writer myself and I have to commend you on being as concise as you are in your writing, without sacrificing any substance. Your book is one of those rare mixtures of economy of words and a wealth of information. Excellent job.


  • Defensive Use of Firearms is a clear, concise telling of what every armed American needs to know and understand. There is no fluff or inessential information; Stephen Wenger dispenses with that which isn't part of the kernel of knowledge necessary when responsible people carry a firearm for self-defense. Defensive Use of Firearms provides basic knowledge to the novice while being quite thought provoking to the more experienced, exploring all of the essential elements of what it means to "go armed".
  • The precision of language in this tightly written big little book is greatly appreciated. So, too, is the clarity of definitions and consistency of word use... Wenger's writing style is clear, concise, brief, and wastes no words in describing processes, procedures, or concepts... In many cases I could close my eyes and see a process or concept as though it were in a picture. And, speaking of pictures, the illustrations by Jeff Cahill and Paige Robbins are wondrously simple and clear - great job! Communication ability is a gift from God; Wenger, Cahill and Robbins have it.
    M.B.D. and L.D.
  • Among the talents Wenger has, the one that shines through in this book is his ability to sift through many competing and complementary self defense issues and clearly state a synthesis of the best and most workable. Reading Wenger's slim book saves a person the trouble of needing to assimilate a dozen other treatises on self defense.

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