A number of years ago, a group of trainers and writers were gathered when the question was asked: What gun you are carrying right now? Virtually everyone in attendance answered that they were carrying a small-frame, snub-nose revolver.
I think the times they are a changing. At a recent MAG 40 class ( a four day immersoin course taught by Massad Ayoob in Hot Springs, Arkansas), three of the five top scores all came from sub-compact autos.
If you have been to many handgun classes, you will know that many students bring full-sized handguns in outside the waistband holsters. The MAG 40 class is different. Massad Ayoob advocates that you bring and shoot your carry gun. The range portion of the training culminates in a police-style qualification where you shoot both dominant and non-dominant single-handed positions, perform speed reload drills, shoot from cover, and learn 2-handed shooting stances (Weaver, Chapman, and Isosceles), all while under time constraints and at from distances of 4 to 15 yards.
Over the last 15 years, I have seen almost every kind of gun used in this class (including two single-action revolvers from a cowboy action rig), and it has been my observation that students mostly fall into 3 groups: the ones who bring the gun they shoot the best (but carry another gun on a daily basis), the new shooter who purchased their first gun and are trying to figure it out, and the real-world guys (and girls) who bring and run what they carry every day. Keeping in mind the final course of fire is 60 rounds (the class is 500 rounds in total), the guns that came to this class were the following brands and models:
|Walther PPQ (M1)||287||9mm||4|
|Springfield R.O. Compact||282||.45 ACP||4|
|Walther PPQ (M2)||266||9mm||4|
|Springfield XD Mod 2||265||9mm||3|
|S&W 649||247||.38 Special||2.2|
Let’s do the sub-compact math
On the final exam, each of the shots is worth 5 points, for a possible score of 300. To pass, each student is required to score 75%, or 225 out of 300 points.
The order of finish was a win with a 100% from the little Glock 43. The gun in the second-place position was the equally small Walther PPS with 99.3%. Show was claimed with a full-sized Glock 17 and an STI Trojan, both with 98.3%. The honor for 4th place was garnered with the sub-compact Springfield XDs with 96.6%.
What is the take away?
The new generation of sub-compact autos will perform with the big-boy autos! There are some advantages to the sub-compact autos that you don’t find with snub-nose revolvers.
1. Generally, the new sub-compact autos have better sights than the notch formed into the rear of the top strap and the small front sight found on most small revolvers, a notable exception being the Smith &Wesson M&P 340 series.
2. The choice of magazine capacity helps you to tailor the gun to the choice of carry with 6, 7, or 8-round magazines.
3. A third finger perch is afforded by the molded sleeve on the exposed portion of the magazine.
Do the new sub-compact autos have the 100% reliability of the small revolver? Typically, no, however these current samples don’t seem to be giving up any reliability, while delivering better sights, concealability, and adequate firepower.
The age of the pocket auto has arrived; or to be more correct, what was old is now new again. Around about the turn of the last century, the pocket auto was all the rage for the same relative reasons listed above. I’m referring specifically to the Colt 1903, the 1908 Hammerless, and the 1908 Vest Pocket models. These guns were designed by John M. Browning and produced by Colt, however, these guns had a drawback in the choice of ammunition available. The new generation of small autos will easily fire Plus P 9mm defensive loads that are capable even out of the shorter barrels. I confess a preference to a 9mm pistol as a minimum caliber for self-defense. There have been a slew of .380 auto guns that fit the bill for pocket carry, but I have noted less-than-stellar performance from the 9mm short round. The generation of effective, reliable, and powerful pocket autos has arrived.
I would urge all gun owners to attend Massad Ayoob’s MAG 40 course on the judicious use of deadly force. Details can be found here ( http://massadayoobgroup.com/ ).
Mas and I will be teaching again October 8-11, 2015, in Northwest Arkansas. You can register here. http://nighthawkcustomtraining.com/