Guns are an unusual subject for a British social scientist and a fairly infrequent topic among British criminologists. Things are obviously quite different in the USA. My exploration of the ‘sociology of the gun’ began somewhat by chance. I was actually researching in the crime prevention field, but noticed a headline: ‘Home defence choices’ on the front cover of the American Guns & Ammo magazine at a newsagent. An article in the magazine profiled a number of handguns said to be particularly suitable for guarding your home against intruders and a companion article ran through a number of tips on ‘defensive handgun combat tactics’. Included here was advice on weapon availability and access, speed and accurate shooting, and concealment and cover.