Shooting fast

There is a tidal movement to shooting pistols as quickly as possible.   Instructors and wannabe “Know It Alls” are using 9mm to accomplish this.  More bullets, smaller and lighter… rapid fire.  This movement was very slow at first.  Then The Art Of The Dynamic Handgun video came out.  Haley and Costa rocking those M&P’s like they were SMG’s looked cool.  Then all the sudden everyone wanted to shoot like that.  Who wouldn’t?  Those guys look like rock stars doing it.
Some instructors I know have been teaching that stuff for some time, but MagPul videos really did open the flood gates.
I understand the arguments and theory surrounding the use of 9mm and shooting fast… and that’s all fine and well.  I can shoot that way myself if I want to… Even with a .40.  However, I find myself moving more and more to bigger and harder hitting rounds.  Slower fire but well aimed.  Heavier for caliber load selections, bigger bullets, make the shots count.  Shooting the 9mm’s the other day… 9mm Just doesn’t do it for me.  Oh, I know all about the Modern Ammo.  You know what?  That Modern Ammo is really good in bigger calibers too.

Yes, I know all about Ballistic Gel Penetration comparisons.  However that isn’t the whole picture when it comes to wound trauma and terminal ballistics.  It’s not the whole picture when it comes to barrier penetration and deflection.  Those Gel numbers are engineered, people.  The results are just what the ammo companies want you to see.  To get those numbers some loads are hopped and the others are neutered.  Some rounds open more and others slower so those penetration numbers look great in the gel tests.  Again – these Gel results are engineered to show just those results.  Why?  To sell ammo of course.  “See, our 9mm is just as good as the rest.”

Porsche does the same with their sports cars.  Boxster, Caymen, 911.  The Caymen being detuned to fall perfectly in between the two other cars… when it has all the potential to beat the 911.  But that’s another story.

I remember an incident where 9mm pistols were being fired at a windshield… the bullets were glancing off.  One round of .45 Auto, fired by a steady hand penetrated that windshield and ended the situation.  There are also incidents of 9mm failing to really even jostle a maniac when it impacted.  FBI Miami Dade, anyone?  Bank of American LA, anyone?  The search for Magic Bullets is now as it has always been, an attempt to find a Unicorn.  Don’t glue a paper cone on the head of a goat and tell me that’s its a Unicorn.  I’m not buying it.  Not even if you run a whole herd of them past me as fast as possible.  They still look like goats with paper cones on their heads.

As far as “Fast” goes, fast is good.  But fast follow up shots are not as important in a gun fight as the first round.  That first shot is the most important shot you will take in any engagement.  It needs to be made fast.  But not at the sacrifice of accuracy.  Shot Placement remains critical.  Using a smaller round that can be fired at a higher cadence, if that’s your beat, that’s fine.  I’m more Heavy Metal than Techno.  I’d rather have slower heavier beats.  See, I hear so many guys say, yeah but I’m more accurate with 9mm.  I call bullshit.  I’ve seen many guys who advocate shooting as fast as possible… cant keep a group.  Why?  Because they are losing the front sight and jerking that trigger like a 14 year old with a Playboy… They are giving up the Fundamentals in favor of Rapid.

Bullets hitting tissue is a rather predictable science.  The only variables are the vector through the anatomy and the barriers the projectile have to penetrate before hitting that anatomy.  The bullets all pretty much have the same effect.  Displacing fluid (like rocks hitting water) and tearing and pulverizing the permanent wound channel.  Bigger heavier rocks displace more fluid.  That’s just a fact.  Try it out at your closest body of water.  That water gets displaced and then it comes back.  In water, you have some cavitation effect briefly and what is left is the permanent wound channel that allows blood to flow out.  The bigger the whole, and the more torn up that wound channel is, the more blood is going to flow out.  That’s just a fact.  And ask any hunter, the more blood you have flowing out, the less you have to track that deer.  You put that wound channel vectoring through a heart, or CNS… Winner Winner Venison Dinner.  That is meat on the table.  For a defensive situation, that’s a Resolved Problem.

But then there is another problem.  The fact of the matter is that no matter what school of thought you have – you remain legally liable for each and every round you fire.   So I’m going to slow it down a notch.  Fire a bigger and heavier bullet.  And make sure those rounds go where I want them to go.

I know a few guys that can fire super fast, with accuracy.  A few.  And I’m not saying they should change… because that is working for them.  But I’m just not feeling it myself using small calibers.  I’m following Sun Tzu here.  “Hit first, and hit so hard your enemy can’t hit back.

Sure, all handguns are less ideal than rifles or shotguns… but some are better than others.  I’ll take my .40 calibers with my 180 grain loads.  I’ll take my .45’s with 230 grain loads (when I used to prefer 185’s) 

I think instead of drilling so much on Balance of Speed and Accuracy drills…   I think more emphasis should be on the drills from the holster to the target from a Buzzer.  Because that shot… that first shot right there is the key.  You have to be fast on that shot.  Before the threat can shoot you back or get to you with a knife, or cut the throat of a hostage or whatever reason you have that justifies the use of deadly force.  I want to make the most of that first shot.   I’m not looking at Gun Fight Averages here.  Because most gun fights are 1 point something average or 2 point something.  You know what they all have in common?  That first shot.

Make the most of it.

17 thoughts on “Shooting fast”

  1. Amen Brother!
    I have never liked the whole “empty the mag at the target” mentality.
    You are moving, your adrenaline is gushing, you may be taking incoming fire…
    Your grouping is going to look like a long distance shotgun blast.
    Hit fast, hit hard, hit first… but most importantly, HIT.


  2. Meh… makes me glad I don’t keep up on the latest gun “fashion trends.”

    1 shot…. make it count. It doesn’t matter if you have 5, 10, 15 or how ever many others. Make each shot count,.

    The lack of gun discipline that I see is annoying. No trigger discipline, much less understanding of trigger discipline. No understanding of basic shooting foundation principles that lead to having the skills to properly race a gun. No concept of counting your shots, or even being able to call your shot. No taking the time to understand how, when, and why you may have missed a shot or made the shot because you don’t slow down to take one shot at a time. No idea of just what a gun is actually capable of. No idea of what you are actually capable of. No concept of precision, or just what should be an acceptable group and standard of accuracy.

    I am glad I grew up when revolvers still dominated. When lever actions and bolt actions were plentiful. When a semi-auto was uncommon. When you learned to make the first shot count because follow up shots didn’t come at light speed. And when you learned how to make the first shot always count, you learned how to make each shot after that count just as much as the first shot did.

    Anymore I am migrating to the opinion that a cutting edge pistol course focuses on returning to the basics. Go back to revolvers. No semi-autos allowed. Go back to learning the basics, how to work the trigger, and counting your shots. Learn how that when you are forced to make each shot count, you realize that the effective maximum range of a pistol is well beyond 25 yards.

    Granted I rock and roll with all Glocks now, but I still cherish the days when I cut my teeth on a S&W model 19 .357 with a 2″ barrel and how I learned the skills needed to shoot a 6″ group at 50 yards regularly with it.

  3. I obviously don’t get out enough: I’d not heard of the ‘rapid-fire the magazine’ stuff.

    What happened to ‘Fire two, move if you can and observe, fire again if necessary’?

  4. Here, here, missing fast is not as good as hitting hard if slightly slower. Likewise, too many keyboard commandos and power-point rangers think that shooting fast is the answer to the use of a caliber that does not work as well. For my money, every bullet is a liability (legal and moral) so I want the fewest number discharged by me to potentially hit innocent bystanders and property. Likewise, the more rounds I fire to do the job, the less I have to do the NEXT job. If I have 17 rounds in my mag against 5 targets and each take 5 rounds I need to reload, if I have a 15 round mag and each target takes 3 rounds I don’t, who then has the superior firepower? I learned a long time ago that hitting hard and well is better than hitting fast and lightly which is why I carry the biggest caliber I can handle well

    You could make a lot of money on the Fast-and-Furious crowd though. Years ago I said you could build a hell of a pocket pistol with a .25acp round stretched out to 20 or 25mm case length and necked down to .17 caliber, it would run 1500 to 2000+ fps and run a 20 round mag in a gun not much bigger than a Walther PPK/S. Never had the time and money to do anything about it though.

    1. I was thinking a super high cap .32 Auto M&P. Totally recoiless and 40 rounds in the mag. Call it the UberTac.

  5. You may get only one shot. Make it count. Front sight and trigger discipline. If you need a second one and can take it accurately, yes, take it and then move. I despise magazine emptying showmanship stuff.

    As to bullet weight, I agree with George and all of you who go heavy for caliber.

    I do have one exception both for handguns and long guns: Barnes solid copper “X” type bullets. I love them. I hand load them in .40 S&W, 9mm and in several different bolt rifle calibers. I usually go down one size in weight with the Barnes and pick up some velocity while still retaining excellent expansion and penetration. If I recall, the Barnes “X” TAC bullets did very well in windshield penetration too, although the petals tend to break off.

    Breaking my own rule in that regard, I do handload a very mean, long, flat shooting 200 grain Barnes XFB in .300 Weatherby: Sectional Density: 0.301; Ballistic Coefficient: 0.550; MV: 2950. But that is for long range work.

    Give me heavy or Barnes AND careful shot placement.

  6. Have to agree that “pray and spray” works out better when you’re in uniform than when you’re not. Yeah, I carry a .45.

  7. hmm, heavy or fast, what to do, what to do?

    That reminds me… One of these days been meaning to try out a .400 Corbon barrel in my Norc 1911.

    Cake _and_ eat it.

  8. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Take the time to do things right, even if that means slowing down a bit, and you’ll put more rounds on target than the people trying to empty their magazine in record time.

  9. What do you think of the .357Sig as a hard-hitting round? It is slower on the follow-up than a 9mm but reportedly is pretty effective.

    1. I like the .357 Sig, I really do. But the ammo is harder to find and often more expensive. Other than that, I really like it. Snappy, but the reward is more punch. And I like punch.

  10. I’m uncertain at this point. I just started shooting USPSA at my local range after 33 years of military, PPC and law enforcement related shooting. I’m liking it so far. i agree that a lot of what they do is completely unsuitable for most self defense applications but they do stress fast, accurate shooting. I’ve found my front sight focus improving and my accuracy at what is considered normal combat shooting distances is better than ever. I’ve stayed away from the ‘competition’ loadings and shoot normal pressure .40. I’m slower that they are but not by a lot. I have to say that competition shooting does have a place in my training environment. It’ll never replace more accepted schools of thought on self defense shooting but as a training tool it does have merit.

  11. Ogre-san: I also have always liked heavier bullets and harder hitting calibers. Am I hopeless fossil because I still like revolvers (not that I don’t have a .45!)?

  12. Any one that needs a clear cut example of calibers needs to go shoot a bowling pin match. Best real time example of kinetic energy that I know of. 9mm just… no. (and I carry a 9mm btw, recoil from anything larger is a bit much for my arthritis now) 40 in the proper loads is OK, 45 (yes, with the proper loads too) OK. Full house 10mm loads… oh yes. I do think the “dump” technique has shown up quite a bit in some circles. Too much emphasis on the “dump” part and not enough on the “sight, slack, target!” part. I do think you need the ability to shoot fast AND accurately, but that takes time, money and discipline. (sadly, most folks lack one or more of those listed)

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