Tag Archives: Handguns

Top Service Pistols for 2014

I’ve talked about the best choices for Concealed Carry, but what about for the guys who have to carry openly?  Law Enforcement, PMC, Security Contractor, or general Open Carry use, these are going to require a different type of handgun.  Basically as much gun on your hip as you can get.  Full sized, full capacity, none of the compromises required for Concealment.

SIG 226/220.  This full sized SIG is a classic and the choice of a great many gunslinging professionals.  A big capacity and rugged construction combined with reliability and accuracy. It’s everything you could want in a Side Arm.  Unless you want a larger caliber.  The 220 everything you like about the 226, but in .45 Auto.  This big bore auto is known as “The Thinking Man’s .45″ and that does indeed make sense when you’ve spent time with the gun.  Same capacity as a 1911, but offers a decocking DA/SA fire control profile.  This is probably the safest autoloading handgun I know of. (226 included)  They are also very accurate.

Glock 17/22.  Depending on your choice of 9mm or .40 cal, these guns are probably the first choice of more police departments than anything else.  Very low bore axis, and a simple striker fired trigger mechanism makes these guns very easy to shoot well with once you get used to the triggers.  17 rounds of 9mm was an improvement over the typical 15 rounds others guns had, and 15 rounds of .40 cal is nothing to sneeze at these days.

Glock 20/21.  10mm or .45, these full sized beasts give you everything you need to pull duty on a dark and storm night.    A lot of Law Enforcement Officers are running the 21 and I know a few that are running the 10mm.  15 rounds of 10mm is a lot of firepower.  With good accuracy and legendary reliability – A Glock is never a wrong choice.

Beretta 90 Series.  The 92FS, 92F, M9, M9A1, 92A1, 90-TWO, 96, 96A1.  Shooting the big Beretta is like driving a Cadillac.  Big, comfortable, comforting, reliable and accurate all with Hollywood good looks.   Beretta has a lot of visual style, but what I like best is the almost straight line feeding.  Mine can feed empty casing.  Super smooth action as well, thanks to it’s unique locking block.  The Beretta won the US Army contract for a good reason.  Like it or not – and I know I’m going to open a can of worms here – it kicked SIG’s ass in the Trials.  It kicked everyone’s asses in the Trials.  So much so that the Army actually had to “dumb down” the test just so the SIG could stay in the race and the Beretta wouldn’t be a lone competitor.  The 90 Series is battle proven around the world.

Beretta Px4 STORM.  This is Beretta’s newest service auto.  It uses a unique rotating barrel action with a traditionally Beretta like DA/SA trigger mechanism.  This action makes the Storm a soft shooting pistol as it takes more energy out of the recoil.  Like the 90 Series, the sights and the barrel maintain their relationship, they are very accurate shot to shot.  With good triggers and comfortable recoil – it’s easy to be a good shot with the Px4 STORM.  Even the Mid sized version… But the full sized is seriously just a pussycat.  You can get it in 9, .40, and .45 auto.  It’s one of my favorite new autos.

S&W M&P.  S&W decided to get serious with the Poly Striker platform and forced Glock to rush the Gen 4 to market.  Smith took a lot of LEO sales away from Glock. The Swampy as some call it, is a good pistol and a huge step up from Smith’s prior Glock Attack, the SIGMA.  *shudder*.   I bought one for my eldest Son, who upon getting the pistol, loading it, and having never fired it before – drilled the X in the target as perfectly as an Olympic Marksman from 20 yards.  They are accurate guns.  Like my Glocks, his Swampy has never failed.

Walther PPQ.  This gun surprised me.  The prior P99 was a gun that surprised me too.  500 rounds of mixed ammunition, it never failed.  But it had a couple characteristics that made it an oddity.  Such as the push down mag release and the top of the slide decocker button.  The PPQ does away with the decocker on top and gives the gun a normal and familiar mag release. Honestly I didn’t mind the P99’s mag release and I found that I would use my trigger finger to drop the mags, just like I did with my HK.  The PPQ is now available in either 4 or 5 inch barrel lengths and in 9mm or .40 caliber.  The PPQ feels good in the hand and is probably one of the best and most under-rated service autos on the market.  Let me put it this way – I really want a PPQ and will be buying one this year. Or Trading for it. A few years ago I had said that Walther was struggling to maintain it’s validity.  The PPQ anchors it.

Springfield Armory XDM.  Good trigger, good sights, and huge capacities make the XDM a solid choice.  If you can get passed it’s “only a mother could love it” looks.  While I’m not the biggest fan, I have to respect it. They are super accurate and easy to shoot well with.  I know owners who have dumped a lot of rounds with astounding accuracy through their M’s.

HK P30 and HK45.  The Germans really do engineer some fine hardware.  But the P30 and the HK45 are both over priced and in my opinion over rated.  With a standard trigger package, I find their triggers to be lacking in the quality of trigger pull that I would expect from such expensive guns.  And I don’t like glow in the dark toy like sights that come on them stock.  Again, for such an expensive gun, I want Tritiums on it right out of the box.  Don’t get me started on the price of spare mags.  For what you pay for an HK, it should come with Tritiums and 4 spares.  All that aside – these guns deserve consideration.  They are sharp looking, and they feel good in the hand.   You can not go wrong with an HK, you really can’t.  They are very well made.  And after you dump enough rounds through it… Cost wise, would be enough to put a kid through a 12 credit semester of college, the trigger does feel pretty decent.   They do look good… Like new BMW or Mercedes good looking.  Pistol-Training.com’s Todd Green did a long term test on the P30 and it ran some 93,000 rounds before forced retirement.  You could buy a new car for that much… Or you could afford to get sick or even have a (small) accident under Obamacare for that much money.  I believe that none of his other tests have run that distance… Which ultimately makes the HK’s probably the best choice out of the lot.

 

A Brief Over-View of Beretta’s 90 Series pistols.

92FS

92FS & 96FS.   Standard Beretta 92/96 series. 3 dot sights.  This is the classic.  Used in every movie ever made through the 80’s.  Used by Law Enforcement around the world during that time.  It’s a great looking handgun.  Solid.  Accurate.  Reliable.  Shooting it is like driving a Cadillac.  Much like the Cadillac’s of the 80’s, which were overly large, heavy, and under-powered.  Yes, we make holsters for this.

M9

M9 Commercial.  Same as Military issue.  Uses dot-bar sights, but otherwise identical to the 92FS.  Used by just about everyone in the US Military who has no choice of what pistols they are issued.  Those who have the option tend to roll with the SIG P226 or a 1911 (Looking at you, MARSOC) or really whatever they feel like at the time as long as it’s not the M9.  Still, the M9 is a great pistol and will always be a great pistol.  Yes, we have holsters for this.

M9A1

M9A1.  railed version of the M9 with checkering.  Notice the straight and flat forward edge of the Trigger guard.  You can see this was built to not just have the option of a light mount, but to actually run with a light mounted to it.  I think they had the X300 specifically in mind when they designed this gun.  Yes, we have holsters for this.

92A1

92A1/96A1.  Railed version of the 92, but with a dovetailed front sight post, internal recoil buffers in the 96 version, no checkering like the M9A1, and note the rounded trigger guard.  The rail is Picatinny and not the normal universal rail.  This rail is bigger than the normal rail, which requires a completely different mold which we’ve not made yet.  Beretta made this gun different from everything else, not because these changes made for a better pistol, but because Beretta doesn’t like you, or concepts like “compatibility”.  NO, we do not have holsters for this at this time.

90-Two

90-Two.  Rounded trigger guard, new grips, and note the new slide profile.  Sights are dovetailed, there is an internal recoil buffer, and note that the rails come with a removable Rail Cover over them.    No, we do not have anything for this one, and we don’t need to as Beretta has killed off this gun.  Probably the best of the 90 Series guns Beretta has made.  And it’s a great looking and feeling gun too.  But it didn’t sell very well, because Beretta doesn’t know how to market their tactical guns.  That, and they gave it the worst name they could have possibly given it.  How do you say that?  “Ninety Two”.  Just like their other gun, the “Ninety Two”.  Brilliant.

 

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.

Reading.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. And it always impresses me that even in the oldest books about shooting, trigger control is always mentioned as being critical. It was every bit as important “Back Then” as it is now. The only difference is that back then, they didn’t have trick sights with illuminated or fiber optic sights. They didn’t have mini red dots and lasers. What they had was Trigger Discipline.
Another thing they didn’t have was any form of decent technique or tactics.
But don’t think for a minute that if you were to go back in time you would be able to clean how.
Because back then ammo was cheap. Even by today’s dollars and their income levels back then, ammo was cheap. While they may not have been much on the Art of the Dynamics… They could hit. And no matter then or now, Hitting is Winning.
And here’s the deal… I bet you could take your Great Great Grandpa and give him your gun, and he could hit with it. But he gives you his gun, you would be hard pressed hit the black.
Today we’ve been very spoiled with good triggers and CNC Machined actions making everything much more consistent. So he would think your trigger was awesome. You, might not think the same of his. Not that his was bad… just different.
But the one thing he had that I bet most guys don’t… He knew what a good trigger pull was. Not the trigger and the mechanics of it, but the biometrics and the technique to have a good pull.

Pistol Training with Steve Reichert

Had the chance to train with Steve Reichert today.  Not as an Instructor, but as a Student.  And I had a great time.  Photos can be found here.

Steve Reichert puts on a top notch training class. It was an honor to train with a man of his experience and insight. I can honestly say that he made me a faster shooter. From 2.3 seconds to 1.42 for first round hits on steel from the holster. It was hot, muggy, and we had some rain showers, but we trained on.
Starting out, there was a lot of repetition in some core fundamentals that many instructors gloss over because they are not fun to train… but the Wax on Wax off approach to building good habits made the difference in building our speed and confidence.
Steve is a beast with his SIG P226. And he shows you how to do the same with your gun. Some people may be intimidated about going to a class taught by a certified professional badass like Steve, but I found him to be very personable, professional, without the elitist chest pounding. The same went with his assistant instructor. I was impressed. Excellent training. Some of you may not know who Steve is. Watch this:

The range was gorgeous… The Spartan Ranch in Maysville, NC. If you get a change to train there, with Steve… Take it. You will not be disappointed and you will come away sharper than when you first arrived.

Remember that old Daewoo Pistol?

LH9C

Some time ago, Daewoo was importing a great little pistol into the US.  Then for whatever reason, it was abandoned.  Leaving all Daewoo pistols in the US orphaned.

I remember shooting one once and was very impressed.  It was a great handgun.  I liked it.  The owner smiled and said I couldn’t buy it.  I had offered him the 500 cash I had on hand, but he wouldn’t sell.  At the time, I really wanted one myself.  I believe I was living in Hanover County Virginia at the time.  And that was a long time ago.  Long after Daewoo stopped sending those guns to US Dealers.

Well, I have rediscovered these guns.  They are now Lionhart Industries pistols.  Here at work we have a couple in our vault and I’ve checked them out.  They are ever better than I remembered them to be.  And for some reason smaller and lighter than I remembered, but essentially they are that neat little Daewoo that I wanted so many years ago.

Check them out here… http://www.lionheartindustries.com/ 

 

Speed Holstering.

There has been some controversy in the Gun Community about Appendix Carry and a video that was posted by Gun Nuts.

The problem I have isn’t the position of the holster.  You can Appendix Carry all you like.  If the gun is in the holster, it’s fine.  Drawing the gun from the holster, it’s fine.  The problem comes from when you go to put the gun back in the holster.   Too many people think it’s cool to reholster as fast as you unholster.

In what tactical situation do you ever need to put your gun away lightning fast?  We see this usually just after whipping one’s head back and forth “scanning for threats”.  This is where you need to take some time.  Let’s think about this.   You just had a kinetic situation.  Your body is still in fight mode.  Your blood is pumping like a Fire Engine and you are still amped up on Adrenaline.  This is where you need to take a deep breath, let it out slowly… and then reholster… slowly.  You need to take a second or two here.  You may have caught a round and didn’t realize it.

A couple years ago now, we had an IDPA Shooter that failed to think.  He was amped up on the stage, which is a hell of a lot less than the boost you’ll get from an actual shooting incident.  He was using an XD, a very safe pistol.  Until he reholstered with his finger on the trigger.  No waiting to show clear or any procedurals were followed.  He shot a string and then went to shove his gun in the holster.  Finger was still on the trigger.  The .40 cal projectile went down his leg and out with about as little damage as possible.  He was lucky.  What if he had been packing Appendix Carry?  Ouch.  Don’t even want to think about that.  Other incidents like this have happened around the country.  This wasn’t unique.

Never be in a hurry to reholster.

After shooting a target, come into a high compressed position with your finger off the trigger.
Scan the area for threats, and don’t take less than five seconds.
When the area is clear, take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
Then slowly and carefully reholster your weapon safely.

Never be in a hurry to reholster.

This is a great email

I normally don’t post emails that I get… namely because I just flat out get too many of them. And I may not answer them all. But I do read all of them.

Hi Ogre,

My wife and I have been batting around the idea of purchasing a pistol or two for a few years now. Considering some recent events, on both national and local scales, we are making that more of a priority. We’ve visited our local Cabellas and a couple of independent shops, test fired a few pistols, and so on, but we’ve still got some lingering uncertainties about exactly what we want. With that in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask someone who knows about guns, and isn’t going to try to swamp us with a load of BS in hopes of making a big sale – i.e. you. (If you already have something like this on your site, I apologize for missing it.)

I understand that “what do you recommend” is a difficult question to answer without some additional info, so here’s what I think you will need to know to provide some useful advice:

1 – The primary purpose will be home/personal defense, and by extension target shooting to build up the relevant skill and confidence that we’ll need to use the weapon properly.
2 – We’re reasonable sure that 9mm is the ammo size we want – Good stopping power with not so much recoil as to be problematic for inexperienced users like ourselves.
3 – We want our weapon(s) to be semi-automatics. I’ve seen enough that I am confident in the mechanical reliability of newer weapons, and we also like their recoil-damping capabilities compared to revolvers.

Here’s what we’ve tried so far, and our impressions:
Beretta 92FS / M9A1 – This is our overall favorite to date. We especially like how the decocking lever and slide release work, although when test-firing, the accuracy seemed a bit random. That could be our lack of skill, or because the specific weapon is a range gun that anyone can use, and has probably had 50,000+ rounds shot through it by now. We found the slide to be a bit stiff when racking in a round. I thought it would have been a bit large for my wife’s hand, but she said she was comfortable with it. I kind of wish the decocking lever were below the slide, but you can’t have everything.

Beretta PX4 – This was the easiest for my wife to use, and she also likes how the slide will not manually operate one a round has been chambered. I don’t care for that as much, as it seems to make removing a dud round without dropping the magazine difficult. The rotating bolt also seems to be more mechanically complex.

CZ 75 – This one seemed to be a knockoff of the Beretta 92 – This one seemed loose, our shots went all over the target, otherwise the differences we noted were mainly superficial.

Kimber Team Match II – This one was a near-immediate reject for us. The slide was so stiff my wife could barely operate it, and while the grip safety is nice, it seemed that when we racked the the slide, the lever safety would come off and we would have to manually re-engage it. Neither of us liked the thought of accidentally firing a round because the safety came off when we didn’t expect it.

I know there are many other manufacturers out there – S&W, Springfield Armory, Sig, Glock, Wathers, HK, etc. etc. etc. Each with various pros and cons, but if we spent the time to handle and test every one, we’d spend months thinking about it and enough money on range fees to have bought one or two pistols.

If there is anything else you need to know in order to make recommendations/suggestions, please drop me an e-mail.

Thanks much!

This is how to write an email of this type… he gives me enough background information so that I might be able to give the best possible response. Because normally my response would be “Get a SHOTGUN and a GLOCK.” Because I know those work and without any additional information, that’s the best that could be done. “Oh, for you, I’d get the SIG 226. Absolutely the SIG 226.” Yeah, see, I can’t do that, because I don’t know you and that means everything. How big you are or are not, how you dress, where you go and how you get there etc. And this guy knows that I don’t know him, so he fills in the details.
No, don’t send photos of yourself… Unless you are a Smokin Hot Mamma wearing something small and thin. Other than that, just fill in the information like this guy did.

Now, to answer the question.  Let’s get to it!

The Beretta is indeed one of the finest fighting hanguns you can get, and if your wife can handle it, it’s a solid choice.  They are extremely accurate and reliable.  Your evident problems with accuracy though, means it would require some additional range time with the gun, which is great, but you need to do that before you can carry it.  So while I would recommend it… that’s a commitment you would have to make.  I’ve sold several to women who say that like the feel and have no problem with the gun’s grip size, but it is large.
Mechanically the CZ and the 92 are about as different as a V-8 and a Wankle Rotary Engine.  Both are great, but operate differently.  And like the guns, I like both engines.  The CZ is a great handgun, one of the best.  In fact, the late Jeff Cooper hailed it as one of the most advanced 9mm pistols you could get.  I’ve had several and all of them were very good.   You can’t go wrong.
The Px4 Storm, is once again, a very different system mechanically and operates just like the 92 from the Operators standpoint when shooting.  The upshot to the Storm is that more novice shooters will find the Storms to be more accurate and softer shooting thanks to that rotating action taking some energy from recoil.
For general use as you indicate, I’d say go for the Beretta Storm and get to know it better.  The barrel and locking lug should be lubricated with some Slipstream Grease while the rest oiled normally with a good gun oil… such as Slipstream Styx.  You can order those off Amazon.com or CrusaderWeaponry.com as you wish.
For some other pistol options, I am of course a fan of the Glocks.  A Model 19 would fit the bill perfectly for both of you, if you can both handle a 92, the 19 would be no problem.  A Gen 3 19 is the way to go as pulling the slide back for your wife will be no problem.  Another pistol to look at if you can find one, is the Caracal F.  Much like the Glock in that there is no exterior manual safeties, but the internals are different and the trigger is better, smoother.  I really like the Caracal and have shot one rather a lot.  I could probably be tempted to trade off something to get one.  The Caracal has a grip more like the CZ and much less blocky like a Glock.  Butter smooth action too.   Take a look.

With these options, it’s just a matter of taste as to which one would best suit your needs.

The Catch 22 of the 10mm

So many shooters say they love the 10mm.  But they’ve never owned one.  They say that they would, if ammo was cheaper and more plentiful. 
If they would actually step up and buy 10mm guns and buy 10mm ammo, then the Gun Industry would respond in kind.   More guys buying 10mm, the more ammo would be produced, driving costs down.  More variety would be produced.  More gun makers would offer versions on 10mm. 
But we won’t get that… Because 10mm is the Ron Paul of cartridges.

But could you imagine… An XDM, Beretta Storm, M&P, or a SIG… Anything from SIG… in 10mm?
I would buy a Beretta Px4 Storm Tactical in 10mm.  I’d buy it ASAP.  Hell, right now!
But then again, I have an active imagination. 
Because the problem with the 10mm is also the gun options are so thin, no one is really interested in jumping into the 10mm bandwagon.  Unless you like Glock or EAA, you ain’t getting a 10mm.

Here is a prediction.
Just like the first AWB brought back the popularity of the .45 Auto… I predict the next AWB will bring a surge of people to Ten Territory.  8 rounds of .45, you could have the full limit of 10 10’s. Think about that.