We know that humans are fairly adaptable critters. Witness our military: “This is what you will shoot and this is how you will shoot it!” Still, the defensive handgun is a very personal thing, and the simple fact is that the better you and that handgun fit each other, the better you will shoot it. Here are some examples from my own experiences.
When I was a young man, the .44 Mag. was really hot stuff. Everybody that was anybody owned and shot them. By selling off a few guns and generally being careful of my spending, I managed to purchase a brand-new Smith & Wesson 4-inch Model 29, a beautiful handgun. That experience quickly revealed that I was not now, nor ever going to be Elmer Keith, Jr.
First of all, I simply was not stout enough to manage the recoil of the cartridge for fast, double-action shooting. Secondly, the gun just did not fit my hand. The length of pull, the distance from the backstrap to the trigger face, was just too long and I couldn’t take the proper grip on the gun. For that reason, I found the Model 29 uncomfortable to shoot, regardless of the different types of stocks that I put on it.
So, then, what about a 4-inch S&W Model 19? Ah, much better! The length of pull and the recoil were both much more manageable. This was indicated by the fact that I could shoot the gun very accurately and get off quick, multiple shots in defensive practice. Finally, when I tried the 2 1/2-inch Model 19, I fell in love. The round butt fit my hand even better and my shooting ability increased even more.
I had a similar experience when I went to the 1911 pistol. I shot the 5-inch Government model alright, but the Commander-size pistol was a greater improvement. The shorter pistol balanced better for me, and I found that the addition of a short trigger, arched mainspring housing, and thinner stocks made things even better.
I guess my point is that the defensive shooter should not be afraid to experiment with various guns and the various modifications of guns to find what really suits him. As long as we make our search only among guns of decent quality, we will be okay. It is a very subjective thing, but it is important to find what works best for you. Yes, you can make do with a lot of guns, but the gun that really fits you will reflect that in the ability to shoot more accurately, more quickly, and more comfortably.
Besides all that, it is an interesting, informative quest that one will never regret. I sure don’t … even though I found out that Elmer Keith, Jr. will never be part of my job description.
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