Picking Your Carry Gun Based On Shooting Metrics

In the interest of practicing what I preach, as well as giving me something to do, I have decided to pick the ‘best’ carry pistol for me from my current small collection. This journey is mine alone, but I encourage you to think about what you value in a carry gun, do some research, and then shoot your short list side by side with a few drills that highlight the skills you’re likely to need.

Rather than rely on changing fancies over different guns and brands, and to avoid the collector trap (which I can’t afford), I want to pin down what is ‘best’ based on actual numbers, and then go with that choice for a while.

Like Chris at LuckyGunner, I’m going to start compiling my own scoreboard of guns by shooting the same few drills and getting comparison numbers. This is something I talked about in my youtube article.

If you’ve been with me for a bit, then you know that over the last couple of years, I have had a shift in priority for my carry guns. To quickly reiterate, my priorities are, in order:

  1. Not shooting myself
  2. Not shooting what I don’t want to shoot
  3. Shooting what I want to shoot

Mechanical Requirements and Features

I’ve spent a lot of skull sweat weighing the relative importance of shooting the gun accurately, shooting the gun at speed, day to day handling, threat management, one handed manipulation ease, weight and carry comfort, concealability, magazine capacity, accessory and magazine cost and support, and company reputation.

I’ve taken a honest hard look at the number of negative outcomes from things like NDs (negligent discharge) from sloppy administrative gun handling, trigger checking in high stress situations, sympathetic hand movement, and support gear failure/wardrobe malfunctions. It became apparent that I should acknowledge that I’m probably not as good as I think I am, and that leaning on a mechanical feature to add an extra layer of safety isn’t a sign of weakness.

A post shared by ENDO (@everydaynodaysoff) on

 (ouch for this guy. Keep an eye on your gear)

Here’s a short list of what I currently value in a carry gun, all things considered.

  • Reliability. I use the ‘2000 round challenge‘ that TLG outlines. Though an initial 200-300 round break-in and subsequent testing with carry ammo is a good start down that road.
  • No manual safeties. No extra buttons to get the gun into action. I’m not against guns with safeties, I just have chosen to go down the path buying guns without them. I like decocker only for DA/SA guns.
  • Ability to monitor the trigger with the thumb while holstering via either an exposed hammer, tactile striker indicator or Striker Control Device (The Gadget) on a Glock
  • Double Action Only. I was on a DA/SA kick with the Beretta PX4c, but I decided that I favor the shot-to-shot trigger consistency of a DAO. The long deliberate trigger press helps with people management and mitigates a few of the possible negligent situations mentioned above. I also feel like I pay more attention to my sights through the longer trigger press, which I realize is a personal problem. Claude has mentioned that this phenomena is not unique to me, however.
  • Overall concealability for my current living situation and needs.

The Drills

I chose three drills. One is pure speed, one is pure accuracy, and the last is an integration of speed and accuracy at varying distances and is used by the LAPD. Claude Werner chose and modified the LAPD course to rank some guns and I glommed on with him.

The drills are:

  • The Bill Drill from a Low Ready at 3 yards. 6 shots from a low ready on an target I can’t miss allows me to find my split-time/speed limit with that gun. The low ready starting point means I don’t have to have support gear for the gun I am testing and can shoot at a range where drawing from a holster isn’t allowed.
  • 25 yard, 10 shots slow-fire on a B-8 bullseye, unsupported. Calculating the score. Pure accuracy. Sights and Trigger.
  • (TacProf modified) LAPD Combat Course (Page 11 of this PDF). This one includes various ranges, par times, emergency and speed reloads, shooting from cover, drawing the gun, shooting from a low ready, target transitions, and some headshots. It’s a challenging course of fire that is scored for points, so there is some scoring resolution at the higher skill levels.

The Guns

  • Glock 19 (My ‘control’ firearm that I’ve carried for 9 years). Striker fired, 15 round magazine. .120″ Ameriglo fiber optic sights, 3.5# connector and 6# Trigger spring.
  • Sig Sauer P250 Compact with a medium-subcompact grip module. 12 round magazine. Double Action Only with a trigger like a smoothed out revolver. Ameriglo Orange front sight.
  • H&K P30sk with V1 “Light LEM” trigger. This is my newest pistol. 10 round mag. Double action only. The LEM trigger has long light travel up until you get to a 6lb or so trigger break. It feels like a marriage of the weight of a Glock trigger with the trigger travel of the P250.
L to R: P30sk 10 round, Sig P250 12 round, Glock 19 15 round. I don’t know how HK can’t fit 2 more rounds in their mag, but who am I to ask questions?

The Results

Ammo: Freedom Munitions 124gn reloads.

  • Glock 19

Avg. Split Time: .25 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 48/100, and 60/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

  • Sig P250 Compact

Avg. Split Time: .29 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 46/100, and 70(1x)/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

  • HK P30sk

Avg. Split Time: .228 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 76(2x)/100, and 76(0x)/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

*I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot the LAPD combat course yet, but will add to the post when I do.

The Conclusion

I really don’t have a logical explanation for why I could shoot my new sub-kompact HK better than a pistol I exclusively shot and trained with for over 9 years. The only excuse I can think of is that I shot the Glock early in the session, and as I warmed up, my scores improved. Alternatively, I simply shoot this HK better than my G19.

If I go strictly by the numbers, the HK gets the nod. If I go by what features I have the warm and fuzzies about, the Sig or HK get the nod. I’m glad my perceived needs aligned with my test scores.

I’d admit that the results are close enough to probably not matter. It’s really a wash. I also realize I have a slow trigger finger. I’m also not a high volume shooter, with most of my practice coming in the form of dry-fire. Ultimately, my visual and mental processing speed and decision making ability will be the speed limit of my shooting, not the physical manipulation of the gun.

As a result of my findings, I’ll be strapping on the P30sk in the morning for the foreseeable future. The Sig will get a X300U and a Safariland ALS Holster for House Gun Duty. The Glock19 will cry in the safe.

I encourage you to do similar testing for yourself. You won’t know which of your guns you shoot best until you run the numbers. Don’t get married to specific gun based on ego, time invested, stubbornness, or blind trust in an instructor’s recommendation. Also, don’t change guns with the wind. Consistency and dedication to the grind is the key. Almost any gun will do, if you will.

Thanks,
Mark

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Sig P250 – My ’16 shot revolver’ – 2000 round test – part 1

In an effort to put my money where my mouth is regarding moving to a defensive pistol that is ‘safer’ as a result of a longer trigger, I recently picked up a Sig P250 compact. My friend and the best shooter I know, K.C., recently got one as well, and I admit his purchase pushed me over the edge. Our philosophies on defensive guns are pretty well aligned, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish with the gun.

Author Tamara Keel also did some extensive testing with the .380 model. Article Here.

I was able to find one at Academy Sports for $400 new. By all accounts, I got a pretty good deal on it. The upside to wanting a gun that no one else does is that you can buy them cheaper. It seemingly has everything I was looking for.

  • Smooth, revolver-like double action only trigger
  • Exposed Hammer
  • Glock 19 size envelope, with bonus ability to switch grip frames easily and cheaply
  • Rail with ability to use a Surefire X300U weaponlight for the house gun role
25 yds, 10 shots slowfire
25 yds, 10 shots slowfire

My intention is to keep good range records and do a 2,000 round test, as my friend Todd Louis Green was fond of doing. My training volume is quite low at the moment, and this test could take a while. I’m OK with that. I will be doing range trips, some training, and some competition. I’ll report back as the round count grows. I also will try not to bore you with range trip reports, only when I reach significant round count milestones. I also do daily dry-fire practice, and I estimate the dryfire will in the 10’s of thousands by the time 2,000 real shots happen.

My initial thoughts after Two Range Trips

It really does feel like a revolver trigger, but smoother and a bit lighter. I dig it. Factory sights are serviceable. I blacked out the rear white dots as they were overpowering the front spot during recoil. I’ll probably dab some orange paint to increase front sight visibility a bit more. My shot to shot split times on a piece of paper at 7 yards are about .10 slower than a striker fired gun. .34 seconds or so. I’m not a fast or talented shooter.
I’m willing to trade .10 seconds for the peace of mind that I get from the longer trigger. I also am willing to put in the extra work that a longer DAO trigger demands for proficiency. The daily dryfire of my J-Frame is paying dividends here, though the Sig’s trigger is much smoother and lighter than my snub.
I seem to actually be MORE accurate with a double action trigger. I feel like I pay more attention to the sights during the trigger press and I have been getting a very clear read on my sights during the shot cycle. Claude (The Tactical Professor) told me that he has noticed the same thing.

Drills performed over two long range trips:

  • NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program (qualified Distinguished Expert), the 100% accuracy standard over 220 rounds is what makes this one tricky. I encourage you to try it.
  • Dot Drill (USPSA version)
  • Family Downrange Scenario
  • Presentations from low ready and compressed ready at 7 yds on 6″ circles (I can’t draw from a holster at my indoor range)
  • 10 rounds @ 25 yards on B8 bullseyes
  • Dot Torture  – Got a 38/50 today at 4yds. Lots of room for improvement. Managing the new trigger and having patience on target transitions and after reloads.
  • 3×5 card walkback drills – made it to 16 yards, starting at 4 yds in 2 yd increments.
  • 2 and 4 shot rapid fire strings on full sheet of copy paper at 7 yds to work on tracking the front sight and working the trigger smoothly.

img_1912

So Far:

600 Rounds of 115gn practice ammo

0 stoppages

0 malfunctions

0 parts broken

Away we go…

Mark

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