Fighting Smarter

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Book Reviews

  • SumoMe


My friend Tom Givens recently sent me an updated version of his extremely useful textbook on handling violence.  I have been recommending the earlier editions of this book for years.  After re-reading it, I’m happy to say that I’ll be recommending the latest version for years to come.  It’s a great book.


Tom’s description is as follows:


Fighting Smarter is the result of over 40 years of specialized training, education and experience in using handguns for self-defense. Consisting of 40 chapters and over 300 pages, this book is full of vital information for anyone concerned about personal security.

The first half of the book deals with the “software” issues, such as developing your awareness skills, building a winning mindset, and your legal rights and responsibilities. There is also a great deal of information about crime and how criminals operate, to help you see problems as they develop. The “hardware” section deals with selecting the right gun, holster, and ammunition and proper training to take control of your life.

The author, Tom Givens, has been carrying a gun professionally for over 40 years and has been conducting training for over 35 years. Givens serves as an expert witness on firearms and firearms training issues in both state and federal courts all over the US. He is a former champion competitor in both IPSC and IDPA competition, and he holds an IDPA Master rating in CDP, ESP, and SSP divisions. Givens has written well over 100 published magazine articles in Combat Handguns Magazine, SWAT Magazine, Concealed Carry Magazine, Soldier of Fortune, and other publications. This is his fifth published textbook.


The book is just over 300 pages long.  Readers with older eyes will be happy as the print is larger than normal for a book this size.  I found the format engaging and easy to read.  Tom covers legal issues and appropriate use of force decision making at the start of the book.  He then transitions into how to control fear, raise awareness levels and make sound decisions under stress.


Tom then does a deep dive into threat assessment strategies for the armed citizen and debriefs some of the 60+ shootings in which his students have been involved.  I think Tom does a better job explaining the true risks an average citizen faces better than anyone else in the firearms training business.  His police experience combined with the experiences of thousands of students over the years has led to an incredible amount of understanding in the field.  Tom’s discussion about “What are the odds?” is worth the price of the book by itself.


As discussed in the book’s description, the second half of the book is “hardware” related.  Tom covers how to choose an appropriate concealed carry weapon, how to shoot the weapon, how to reload, and how to clear malfunctions.  Unlike many books on the market, Tom discusses these skills for both semi automatic pistols and revolvers.  After that, he covers both handgun “stopping power” issues and how to choose a holster.  The advice he provides on holster selection is extremely thorough and is unmatched by any other book on the topic.


Fighting Smarter is truly at the top of the list of firearms/tactics books on the market.  Tom’s simple “no bullshit” advice and easy to read style makes this a “must read” in my opinion, easily ranking in the top five of all the shooting books ever written.


The book is available at and occasionally  on as well.  Pick up a copy.  Every proper defensive library should contain this book.  It’s one of the best.





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*Disclosures- Although Tom did provide me a copy of this book to read, I am receiving no commission, payment, or royalty for providing this review.  This is my honest opinion and the review isn’t influenced by any financial benefit on my part.  It’s just a good book and all of you will enjoy reading it.


5 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Al T. says:

    Got my copy in October. Excellent!

  2. davidc says:

    Is this the latest version ? The Jan 26, 2015 edition ?

  3. Tom says:

    This is an EXCELLENT book and I highly recommend it!