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Thoughts on a self-defense gun, new test.

This is a discussion on Thoughts on a self-defense gun, new test. within the CCW forums, part of the Gunner Forum category; Let me start by saying, sorry, for the long post. I do think there is a lot of relevant info to digest, though, for anyone ...


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Old 12-27-2015, 01:57 PM   #1
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Thoughts on a self-defense gun, new test.

Let me start by saying, sorry, for the long post. I do think there is a lot of relevant info to digest, though, for anyone who carries a gun for self-defense.

It's really been bothering me that I didn't do as well as hoped with my S.A. Compact 1911 in 45 auto as far as follow up shot speed and accuracy on our last trip to the range, so I've been working every night on my grip during dry fire sessions, trying to get a grip that offers more control. Pretty sure I got it, now, but only one way to know for sure. With temps in the low 20s and a few flakes of snow, headed to the range, today. Brrrr!

This time, had Bill do a count on my rate of fire with a variety of guns. How long did it take for each shot, in other words? I wasn't shooting to see how fast I could empty the gun, though. From 12 yards, the speed only counted if I could keep all shots in the 6" bull. In other words, it was a speed PLUS accuracy test, very similar to what one might expect to do in an actual self-defense situation.

These are the guns.


Top left is the SA Compact 1911, 45 auto, 28.5 ounces
Top right is the Ruger Blackhawk 357 single action revolver (also shot 38s in it.), 44 ounces
Bottom left is SA 1911, 9mm, 41 ounces
Bottom right is the SA 1911, 45 auto, 34 ounces

Rated from fastest to slowest.

First place
1911 in 9mm - easily under a second for each shot, about 3/4 of a second. Accuracy easy to achieve. For me, felt like shooting a 22 LR.

Second place
1911 SA Loaded in 45 auto - one second. Accuracy also easy to achieve, but recoil much more noticeable. This is a light gun for being a full size gun. Weight is very similar to a standard, all steel commander sized 1911.

Third place
Ruger Blackhawk with 38 Special - also about a second or slightly more. Easy gun to shoot, of course.

4th place
Compact 1911 in 45 auto - second and a half, ay first, but was able to trim that down to nearly a second with some work. Plenty of recoil, but with a firm grip, could keep the gun on target, reasonably well.

5th place
The Ruger Single Action in 357 magnum with full power 158 grain loads - a bit under two seconds, even with my cold fingers fumbling with the hammer. Serious recoil, but still reasonable for accuracy work.

There you have it. My conclusions:

This is an almost laughably unscientific test. Informal might be a nicer way to describe it. Be gentle. Use it as only a rough way to compare guns.

I am a target shooter, always. Obviously, I am no action or speed shooter. Still, I think in an actual shootout, this combination of speed PLUS accuracy would be effective and, for darn sure, with a little practice I can (and I will practice) do better.

I think heavier recoil tends to make you think you are shooting slower than you are. I was surprised at how closely the guns performed. The spread from best to worst was only about a second, 9mm to 357 in guns of similar weight.

It's not just a matter of cartridge when it comes to recoil and follow up shot speed. It's very much a matter of gun weight, too. Pretty obvious and no surprise, but when people talk about recoil in a review, they need to talk more about it in terms of follow up speed, not just comfort. That is far more important, in my book.

As much of a newbie as I am to cowboy action shooting with a single action revolver, I think a single action revolver is a viable self-defense weapon in terms of speed. Didn't bring a DA revolver to test, but I have shot a DA revolver in DA enough to know that I wouldn't be any faster - not if I wanted to maintain accuracy.

I think all revolvers can shoot plenty fast enough for self-defense work, compared to semi autos. I don't see that as a disadvantage for the revolver. In my book, the main advantage of the semi auto is capacity and ease of reloading.

Cold, numb hands do not make for good thumbing of single action revolvers, but neither do they work, well, for racking a slide on a semi auto or thumbing a safety or dealing with magazines. Gloves are worse.

I'm sure a 9mm is a great cartridge, blah, blah, blah, but it just feels slushy to me, compared to the 45 auto. I'd miss the recoil of the 45 auto if I dropped down to a 9. Go figure.

Lastly and, most importantly, I now have enough confidence to continue to use the Compact 1911 in 45 auto as my main carry gun, but I will continue to work with it to do better. That was the whole point of this little exercise, after all.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-27-2015 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 12-27-2015, 03:31 PM   #2
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Interesting post NCG. Obviously we don't know exactly how a self defense situation would play out, but I'd say your 6" circle at 12 yds is even a little over toward the "target shooting" side. 6" at 7 yards might be closer to a "typical" SD situation, if there is such a thing. I've always thought that if you can hit something at 15 yards you'll be able to hit it at 5 yards, though, so I can see the value of your 12 yd test. I'm just saying, if you tried your test at 7 yds, the result with your compact .45 would probably get a lot closer to the results of your 9mm 1911. It sounds like you've helped to affirm your confidence in the compact, and that's the main thing. Confidence is everything in a carry gun, much more important than caliber or manual of arms. Pretty much the only gun I carry is the 9mm Shield. (Not concerned with defense against bears, etc) I have several guns I can shoot faster and more accurately than the Shield, but I carry the one I'd be willing to bet my life on.
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Old 12-27-2015, 03:37 PM   #3
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Thanks, Shaky. Yeah, confidence is a biggie we it comes to what we choose to carry. While the 45 auto is by no means a bear gun cartridge, I'd rather have it than a 9mm, so that's another point frosting with the 45 auto for me and odds are that's what I'd be carrying when and if ...
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Old 12-27-2015, 05:32 PM   #4
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I have been following this and your other thread but haven't chimed in. I don't shoot often enough or anywhere near as well as you. For me carrying a single action revolver would not work. I just would not feel confident that I could thumb the hammer back and point and shoot well. I just feel that I would do better under stress with just gripping the gun and squeezing the trigger.
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Old 12-27-2015, 05:49 PM   #5
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ncg,Thanks for posting your results. It's interesting to see the results. The single action isn't ruled out as long as it is loaded, but when it's empty, that's obviously it's downfall. If you have a NY reload, not much of a problem (second gun). Those 1911's are quick to reload and back into it.

RSb, I agree with you too. If you don't shoot / practice enough, you'll likely grip the gun and fire unless you have practiced with the single action.

If you carry a handgun for self defense, please practice and become proficient with it. As much as possible.
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Old 12-27-2015, 07:43 PM   #6
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I agree, guys. Confidence is a matter of practice and developing enough skill to trust what you carry. At this point, I do trust a single action for self-defense against animals, but animals don't shoot back and if you'd more than six shots against a bear, you probably lost, anyway. In an exchange of gunfire, despite its lower capacity, I have a lot of confidence in a 1911.
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Old 12-28-2015, 04:00 AM   #7
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Thanks for the update.
This is something I'd like to try when I get back out to the range.
Maybe I can do so this week while I'm off from work.

Good work ncg!
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:27 AM   #8
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Here is my CCW guns . The Glock 23 and 27 is my everyday carry guns and is my top picks for CCW .



This gun I carry is not in the top pic but it is on my person 24 /7 .



This gun is too heavy for a CCW in my opinion but it is a super shooter and the gun I can shoot the fastest accurately .

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Old 12-28-2015, 07:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfpack65 View Post
Thanks for the update.
This is something I'd like to try when I get back out to the range.
Maybe I can do so this week while I'm off from work.

Good work ncg!
Would be very interested in what you get for results, though not as to speed - anyone could beat my slow times and that's just a matter of practice, anyway.

The point of my tests was to judge my relative effectiveness in follow up shots with various gun and cartridge combinations in actual side by side tests. Really learned a lot about the guns I choose to carry and my ability to use them. Lots of surprises and also showed that I need to do a lot more work on this part of my shooting. I encourage everyone who carries to do something like I've done.
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by tx gun runner View Post
Here is my CCW guns . The Glock 23 and 27 is my everyday carry guns and is my top picks for CCW .



This gun I carry is not in the top pic but it is on my person 24 /7 .



This gun is too heavy for a CCW in my opinion but it is a super shooter and the gun I can shoot the fastest accurately .


TGR, you're killing me with that Vaquero. There are some birds head versions now available as distributor exclusives in 45 Colt and 45 ACP. Can't help but think they would be fun guns for a single action fan like me. Would probably carry one in the woods, too. The 45 ACP version would be cheap to shoot, too.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-28-2015 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:55 AM   #11
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One point I forgot to mention in these tests that may or may not be a factor for some of you was the difference between revolvers and semi-autos as to how they recoil. Semi autos like a 1911 have a distinct shuffle in the hand as the action cycles; revolvers, of course do not. The difference as far as follow up shooting is subtle, but noticeable. Found it just a tad easier to maintain a sight picture with the revolver. Gave me the illusion of more control. Never gave it much thought, before, but it was noticeable.

Last edited by north country gal; 12-28-2015 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 10:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Shakyshoot View Post
Interesting post NCG. Obviously we don't know exactly how a self defense situation would play out, but I'd say your 6" circle at 12 yds is even a little over toward the "target shooting" side. 6" at 7 yards might be closer to a "typical" SD situation, if there is such a thing. I've always thought that if you can hit something at 15 yards you'll be able to hit it at 5 yards, though, so I can see the value of your 12 yd test. I'm just saying, if you tried your test at 7 yds, the result with your compact .45 would probably get a lot closer to the results of your 9mm 1911. It sounds like you've helped to affirm your confidence in the compact, and that's the main thing. Confidence is everything in a carry gun, much more important than caliber or manual of arms. Pretty much the only gun I carry is the 9mm Shield. (Not concerned with defense against bears, etc) I have several guns I can shoot faster and more accurately than the Shield, but I carry the one I'd be willing to bet my life on.
I do the CAS /SASS and did a lot combat type shooting with 1911 and anything under 15 yds is a point shoot as fast as I can . I did a lot of steel shooting and this is a draw and rapid fire 5 shots with 1 hand using my sheriff model 44-40 [ NCG likes ] . I did that 5 time at that target and it is 16"x 16" and I shot it at 25 yds .

The gunfighter class is the way I shoot . A pistol in each hand ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qcUpH9qqRU


Last edited by tx gun runner; 12-28-2015 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 12:34 PM   #13
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Good heavens, TGR, if I had your skill with an SA revolver, I'd have no hesitation carrying one (or, better, two) for self-defense. Okay, concealment might be a factor, but carrying that Vaquero on your hip would sure make a statement.
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Old 12-28-2015, 01:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by north country gal View Post
Good heavens, TGR, if I had your skill with an SA revolver, I'd have no hesitation carrying one (or, better, two) for self-defense. Okay, concealment might be a factor, but carrying that Vaquero on your hip would sure make a statement.
I saw a pic of you carried a Super Blackhawk in 44 mag in your purse if I remember correctly and shot it well

I can shoot my Ruger SA guns far better and faster then my S&W 686 DA that is why I sold the 686 . Size , weight number of rounds and slow reloading is why I don't carry a SA Ruger and I carry a Glock 27 or 23 .... The pic tells the story .

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Old 12-28-2015, 02:27 PM   #15
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I like Glocks. I carry one (30S) , and keep one by the bed (21 with light). They don't fit the purist spirit in looks, tradition or function. However, there can be no denying the success of the weapon. Just look at all the copycats on the market. I enjoy 1911's, and revolvers, but for self defense I choose a Glock. I fought the Glock concept for several years until I bought one.
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Old 12-28-2015, 02:40 PM   #16
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Figured pulling that big 7 1/2" Super Blackhawk 44 mag would stop a lot of arguments before they got started. Kind of silly packing something that big, though, so now I use my dainty 3 3/4" 44 mag Super Blackhawk. Color coordinated for my purse and a lot easier to find than a J frame Smith, too.

Like the song says, "I am woman, hear me roar."

Last edited by north country gal; 12-28-2015 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 02:50 PM   #17
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You would make Annie Oakley proud. I can just see you on the evening news….”defending the folks at the local mall with a six-shooter.” I’m glad you’re on our side.
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Old 12-28-2015, 02:56 PM   #18
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Thanks. Yup, Annie is one of my heroes.
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Old 12-28-2015, 03:03 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by RidgeRunner View Post
I like Glocks. I carry one (30S) , and keep one by the bed (21 with light). They don't fit the purist spirit in looks, tradition or function. However, there can be no denying the success of the weapon. Just look at all the copycats on the market. I enjoy 1911's, and revolvers, but for self defense I choose a Glock. I fought the Glock concept for several years until I bought one.
The Glock 30S is a great gun but it is too big for me to shoot DA correctly . The 23 and 27 are made on the 9MM frame which fits my hand perfect and the 40SW 180 and the 45 ACP 180 , both shoot a HP at 1000 fps which make them both equal in my book .
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Old 12-28-2015, 03:42 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by north country gal View Post
Figured pulling that big 7 1/2" Super Blackhawk 44 mag would stop a lot of arguments before they got started. Kind of silly packing something that big, though, so now I use my dainty 3 3/4" 44 mag Super Blackhawk. Color coordinated for my purse and a lot easier to find than a J frame Smith, too.

Like the song says, "I am woman, hear me roar."
That 7 1/2" SBH made a great weapon when you ran out of ammo . That 3 3/4 SBH is a super gun
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