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Some thoughts on a self-defense gun.

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Old 12-22-2015, 02:55 PM   #1
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Some thoughts on a self-defense gun.

Here's a couple of guns from our collection that I love. Had them both at the range, today, so I thought I would compare them as to follow up shot speed and accuracy. The test was simple. How fast and with what accuracy could I put 6 shots in the target from a standing position at 12 yards with each gun. Yup, a single action versus a semi-auto. Okay, not really a fair test, but wanted to see how close i could get with the single action. Had Bill do a count while I shot. Repeated the test a couple of times.



The top gun is our Springfield Armory Compact in 45 auto. It uses standard Officer 6 shot mags, but, of course I can and do use 7 shot mags with it. It weighs 28 plus ounces and has a 4" barrel. I equipped it with Hogue wrap around finger groove grips for the sake of better control. This 1911 is very accurate and I shoot and carry it a lot. The recoil doesn't bother me in the least, but it's definitely more than what I get with a full size 1911.

The bottom gun is one my favorite single actions. It's a Ruger Flat Top 357mag/9mm convertible. It weighs 40 ounces, has a 5 1/2" barrel and a superb trigger. I also shoot this gun a lot, though not for the sake of speed. Today we were shooting 9mm for fun, but we typically shoot 38 or 357s in this gun for the sake of accuracy. It's not breathtakingly accurate with 9mm, but plenty good enough for close up work.

And the winner is ...?

Being such a diehard 1911 fan, it was a little hard for me to take, but I was able to get off 6 shots slightly faster and with less effort with the single action Ruger by thumbing the action cowboy style with my support hand. In fact, I was surprised at how easy it was.

More importantly, in rapid fire, I was significantly more accurate with the Ruger, as in take out a bad guy's heart with all 6 shots. With the 1911, some shots would have been marginal or even a complete miss as far as being in a lethal area. Not good.

The problem for me with the compact 1911 was the recoil. It really slowed down my recovery time and by pushing hard to wrestle the gun back down on target, my timing and accuracy was off. Now, I am very accurate with this gun in slow fire where recoil and recovery time is not an issue, but that's another type of shooting.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions for this admittedly informal test, but I really do think follow up shot speed and accuracy needs a lot more attention in discussions of gun and cartridge choice for self-defense. Going light is great for a carry gun, but how much of a penalty do we pay after getting off that first shot? I love the 45 auto, but at this weight in a gun, is it the best choice in a cartridge? Maybe for someone else, but for me ...?

I'll be sleeping on this one. No way will I sell the 1911, though. Don't even ask.

Comments are welcome.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-22-2015 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 12-22-2015, 03:01 PM   #2
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So....are you thinking a heavier gun or a lighter caliber?
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Old 12-22-2015, 03:27 PM   #3
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Logically, if I want to carry the 45 auto for self-defense, I'd be better off with a heavier gun; if I want to go lighter in gun weight, I need a lighter choice in a cartridge. The Ruger gave me the best of both and, have to say, I was quite surprised at how fast and how accurate I could shoot it. One more thing: the single action Ruger was easier and faster to draw from the holster. Not that I plan to carry the Ruger for concealed carry bad guy gun, but it is nice to know I can draw and shoot it so well for use as a woods and bear gun.

Let me add that I am not a typical female in terms of being conditioned to heavy recoil - I shoot much bigger and nastier cartridges than the lowly 45 auto an a regular basis, including the likes of the 454 and 460. On the other hand, I am a typical female in terms of my upper body and arm strength and I'm no spring chicken, either. I'll never be able to shoot a light 1911 with the speed of most guys. I don't like it, but that's just the way it is.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-22-2015 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 12-22-2015, 04:00 PM   #4
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Glad to see that the Revolver won out.

My Revolvers are also for self-defense.
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Old 12-22-2015, 04:11 PM   #5
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To me the most important shot is the first one. With a 45 auto that may be all that is necessary. In addition in a real life situation you adrenaline takes over and you may become less steady but I suspect recoil will not be a issue. With the S/A you will have to manipulate the action which muscle memory will likely take over but with the adrenaline you will probably slow down some. With the 45 you will have to remember to sweep down the safety which again will be muscle memory.
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Old 12-22-2015, 04:25 PM   #6
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I am curious as to how your thoughts go on this. Please get back to us on gun size and caliber that meets your defense needs. I mostly tote a Glock 30S. I like the .45 caliber and capacity of the Glock. I have not challenged myself to "shot vs follow-up" as you have, but think I should be considering this. I shoot pretty good, but age is taking it's toll, and maybe I should reconsider my choice. I will wait for your lead. I know you like 1911's. Sooo.....full size 1911 in .45.....small size 1911 in 9mm.....?
How about a single shot .50AE??? Shoot the first one and the rest will run like hell.

Last edited by RidgeRunner; 12-22-2015 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 12-22-2015, 05:04 PM   #7
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I love my 1911 but I made the switch to Glock years ago . The pic tells rest of the story if you read it . I've been caught 2X where there was more bad guys then I had ammo . I have 26 rds in only 1 mag change . see thumb nail

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Old 12-22-2015, 07:55 PM   #8
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Thanks for the thoughts, guys. The problem for all of us, of course, is that we're all just guessing to what might happen, when and if. We can think ahead and plan ahead, but we'll never know for sure until it happens and I pray that it never does. Be nice if all of this just stayed a mind game. Thank you all for your help and thoughts, though. I hope it gives everyone something to consider.

I am concerned about being slow on follow up shots and I suspect follow up shots will likely be a big part of the equation, since there is a very good chance that my first shot would be less than my best due to stress. Who knows, having to manually cock a revolver might even be something that helps to focus my concentration.

I can shoot our 1911 in 9mm about as fast as shooting anything, so maybe it's time to think in terms of dropping down to a 9.

Again, thank you, all. You guys are great.
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Old 12-22-2015, 11:34 PM   #9
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When I found the .45 ACP in lighter guns was becoming a problem I went to the .40 S&W. I like the cartridge as it offers a wide range of loads. In medium to large guns the full power loads are easy to handle well. In the lighter guns I had trouble with the 180 grain bullets but the 135 grain loads were fine. These have less punch but I felt they were still better than most 9mm loads unless you get into the hottest ones. I only had one 9mm for a long time and did not really feel comfortable with it. I now have several and I have more confidence in the newer loads. I load mine with the Federal BP9 JHPs. It is a standard pressure load that is safe in lighter or older guns like my P-38 but has a good reputation in police work. I don't bother with +P loads in the stronger guns like the Beretta 92 because I have .40s for that.

I switched over to the .40 during the first ammo famine when it was the only cartridge that was available in case quantities at reasonable prices for good police type ammo. I stocked up then and have been in pretty good shape. A medium sized .40 like the Sig 239 is like a semi-auto version of the S&W Mod 19 revolver, a very versitile gun that can serve all purposes reasonably well.
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Old 12-22-2015, 11:38 PM   #10
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I used to avoid DA autos in anything but pocket guns but as I got older and less comfortable with cocked and locked, and guns got better, I found I much preferred DA or DAO guns. You just draw and fire, like the DA revolvers I spent so much time working with. They also work so well with either hand.
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Old 12-23-2015, 01:05 AM   #11
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And keep in mind. The situation may arise where you can only shoot one handed.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:52 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machinist View Post
I used to avoid DA autos in anything but pocket guns but as I got older and less comfortable with cocked and locked, and guns got better, I found I much preferred DA or DAO guns. You just draw and fire, like the DA revolvers I spent so much time working with. They also work so well with either hand.
My triggers on all my Glocks is 3.5 lbs and that is scary to most people and in my opinion it is safer then the 4.5 trigger in my 1911 I carried for a CCW and shot in combat matches for 20+ yrs or as safe as a S&W with a 10 lbs DA pull . I posted this earlier about Glock trigger and its reset to teach people about the Glock's trigger . Some people say a Glock trigger is a SA and in my opinion I disagree . Hickok45 makes videos and shoots and test hundred different guns and his CCW gun of choice is a Glock 23 & 27 in 40SW He can't be wrong . All my Glocks cost me between $400 to $500 each .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x-UbatREbo

Last edited by tx gun runner; 12-23-2015 at 04:02 AM.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:39 AM   #13
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Thanks, Mac. Funny you should mention the .40. It's one I've been considering and I have looked at the Sigs and love the quality. TGR, not sure I'm ready to switch over to the Glock, given that's such a big change from shooting 1911s, but I've never doubted the gun's practicality.

I also agree that I should take a fresh look at the 9mm, what with the new loads and bullet technology. It is a milder shooting cartridge, for sure. Bill, my husband, does not like recoil, even 45 auto, and I struggled for a long time to get him to shoot 1911s with me. Got him our S.A. Range Officer 1911 in 9mm and now he won't go to the range without it. I find the way the gun cycles, compared to the 45 auto, to be a bit mushy and odd. I suspect a 9mm on a different platform is something I should try.

Perspective is a funny thing. I have no qualms about using single action revolvers in the woods for self-defense against toothy critters. Completely comfortable and confident in my ability to use them for that work. Just never occurred to me to compare them to guns I use for the other type of self-defense. It's been an eye-opener and that's a good thing.
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Old 12-23-2015, 01:17 PM   #14
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The Sig quality is great. The problem with most of them is the double stack magazine. It makes the DA trigger reach too long for me. I had a 220 Elite for a while and thought that would be perfect but the trigger reach was just too long for my hands, even with the single stack magazine. I wanted a 225 in 9mm but by the time I decided I wanted one the surplus bargains had gone away. I do like the 239. It is single stack with a very thin and compact grip and is available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig. I had a 9mm but sold it. I now have a .40 and it is a very fine gun. The DA pull is very smooth and even to where it would work fine as DAO. The SA pull is almost perfect for a service type auto. I have a 9mm conversion barrel and magazines but only for practice. The breech face is sized for the forty so the 9mm is not held as securely by the extractor as the proper 9mm gun. It has been reliable but is just not as confidence inspiring. It is fine for cheaper practice and would serve if only 9mm was available. The .40 is a better suited cartridge anyway.

The Beretta 92 has a large grip too but I seem to do better with the DA on that. A single stack version would be excellent. My Walther P38 (P1) basically is that and fits my hand well but the DA trigger pull is just not as nice. I may have a gunsmith try to smooth that. In any case the Beretta is extremely reliable and durable and an accurate handgun.If I was going to carry one I would probably get a 96 in .40 S&W caliber. I have a Taurus clone of this and it is very impressive but I trust Beretta quality more.
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:31 PM   #15
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I've tried fanning a SA revolver and can be fast and accurate and slow and inaccurate all in a span of two minutes. I can do it but am not consistent.

I've never been afraid of big kickers and shot them for most of my shooting years. But now I think rimfire has me under its spell.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:39 PM   #16
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Thanks, again, Mac.

Looked at some Sigs at a local shop, today, and liked what I saw. The gun I really liked, though, was a Colt Defender in 9mm. It's a 1911, after all, and it holds 8 in the mag.

303, the type of rapid fire I did with my Ruger was something I learned from the cowboy action crowd. It's not fanning. I was surprised at how well it works, especially for accuracy. I can shoot as fast as going DA in a DA revolver, but since there is no long DA pull, I get less sight disruption and better accuracy.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-23-2015 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:07 PM   #17
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I have always liked the .38 special. It's a nice all around cartridge with many different types of cartridges made for it. But..........

If I were expecting to protect myself or another, I'd go with something beginning with a 4. I really like my .44 special, but my 696 only holds 5. My Glock 21 holds 13. I shoot both pretty well and with tgr's real life example in mind, the Glock wins, hands down. I find that all the compact .380's and 9mm's are a little too small for the job. I base this on shooting dueling trees. .45 hits generally swing them pretty good. .40's usually, 9mm maybe. I'm only guessing, but I feel a regular framed handgun in something beginning with a 4 is better than anything starting with a 3.

It's better to have something than nothing of course. I like to always have something. If you know how to operate it reliably, carry what you want. As some of our Sheriff's have stated, if you have the right to carry, DO.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daytime dave View Post
I have always liked the .38 special. It's a nice all around cartridge with many different types of cartridges made for it. But..........

If I were expecting to protect myself or another, I'd go with something beginning with a 4. I really like my .44 special, but my 696 only holds 5. My Glock 21 holds 13. I shoot both pretty well and with tgr's real life example in mind, the Glock wins, hands down. I find that all the compact .380's and 9mm's are a little too small for the job. I base this on shooting dueling trees. .45 hits generally swing them pretty good. .40's usually, 9mm maybe. I'm only guessing, but I feel a regular framed handgun in something beginning with a 4 is better than anything starting with a 3.

It's better to have something than nothing of course. I like to always have something. If you know how to operate it reliably, carry what you want. As some of our Sheriff's have stated, if you have the right to carry, DO.
Dave,Glad to see someone else has a 696,I absolutely love mine. .HKS Speed loaders for a Charter Arms Bulldog fit the S&W 696 perfectly. I've never seen one listed for the 696 in stores
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:35 PM   #19
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Have been working in the evenings, trying to develop a firmer grip with the 1911 and doing a little dry fire work. As Jerry Miculek says, if your support hand isn't tired at the end of a shooting session, it's not doing its job. I may just be guilty of too loose a grip. Too much bullseye practice and not enough rapid fire practice, perhaps. Anyway, it's worth a try. I don't really want to step down from the 45 auto. Just like the cartridge too much. As soon as the weather permits, will put it to the test with some rapid fire work at the range and try again.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-23-2015 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 12-23-2015, 10:52 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by 303Lithgow View Post
I've tried fanning a SA revolver and can be fast and accurate and slow and inaccurate all in a span of two minutes. I can do it but am not consistent.
303....... Fanning not permit in SASS or CAS matches . In the video there is 4 ways to shoot a SA in a match . In the video watch the thumb you will see it slides off the side and don't pull the hammer straight back . That is super important and note his little finger is under the grip to keep the gun from rocking back and keeping the sights on target . I shoot normally Gunfighter which is the last way he shows you . A gun in both hands . I hope this help


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSRJHlbJwr4
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