Many shooters have come to regard ammunition capacity as more important than wound potential. While a reserve of ammunition is a good idea, a fast and hard hit is more important. Any boxer will tell you that a number of light blows do not equal one heavy blow. Let’s look at some of my experiences and what led me to this conclusion.
The attitude of many shooters is to look down on the pistols that do not have a fat, double-column magazine. Recently, I was enjoying firing two vintage handguns at the indoor range. Each was about 50 years old. I was really putting my foot down with the 9mm pistol and tearing out the X-ring at 25 yards.
The fellow in the adjoining stall asked what I was firing. I showed him a full-size single column magazine 9mm, the Smith and Wesson 39-2. He seemed surprised to see this handgun doing so well. On the bench was a Llama Martial revolver in .38 Special. Not state of the art and not high capacity but each is very easy to shoot well.
The budget is sometimes close to the bone, but I own several modern high-capacity pistols. I simply enjoy good reliable firearms and don’t consider high capacity to be the overwhelming attribute of a defensive firearm. Some very good handguns are overlooked and passed over because they do not have 15 rounds in the magazine or cylinder.
My preferred carry gun is a Commander-type 1911 .45. It feels right under the jacket and is easily concealed but chambers a cartridge with proven wound potential. High probability is high.
Some feel that low-capacity handguns are somehow inferior to other pistols. Most modern high-capacity pistols are efficient and reliable. A young shooter may think the double-action revolver is as outdated as an old west gun.
I don’t think a trained shooter is at the disadvantage some would have us think. That is, if the shooter has trained for a realistic scenario with the revolver. Training is the key. Some folks train in a way that sets them up for a lot of misses.
Training that includes hosing the target down is bankrupt. The first two or three shots will decide the gunfight. Missing a lot isn’t an option. Morally and legally, you need to solve the problem with a minimum of well-placed shots.
I have strong opinions I regard as conclusions when it comes to personal defense. Many writers stay neutral — that is the safe route — and only provide data in a report. That’s fine as far as it goes, especially if we are talking about bird hunting, game shooting, or target shooting.
Did the firearm function? How was recoil? Was it as accurate as expected? Context is important. What will the handgun be used for? It is a house gun, range gun, or a carry gun. Handguns are defensive and reactive firearms, not offensive firearms.
I have mentioned poor training often. Repetition is good. Drawing, firing, and hitting the target is important. I don’t recommend drawing and emptying the magazine into the target. Drawing, firing two to three rounds, re-holstering, and then repeating the drill is more important.
Boring? If you think so, then your training is just a game. It takes time and work to become proficient. Bankrupt training and practice lead to a false impression of what is needed.
Shooting a lot is enjoyable. It is fun to fire quickly and get hits. It teaches recovery and recoil control. But an accurate first shot should be our focus. We should fight a dependence on aftermarket triggers and optical sights that are not service grade. The handgun should be well balanced. If it is too large, it will not be carried. If it is too light, we will not perform will with it.
The gunfighter’s gun of the previous century wasn’t a high capacity 9mm. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police .38 Special got into more fights than any other handgun. The revolver may not be more reliable than a Glock, CZ, or 1911, but it is far more tolerant of poor ammunition.
With the current crop of ammunition being take what you can get, this may be important. When we are training with low bid ammunition, we need reliability. That’s not to say that a quality 1911 will not feed lead semi-wadcutter or hollow point bullets on demand. Pistols must have a properly fitted and polished feed ramp.
The handgunner should understand application and the defense mission. At the short ranges — usually encountered in a defensive action — a revolver is reliable and will function even when thrust into the opponent’s body and fired time after time.
The modern shooter respects high capacity over wound potential.
This may be a mistake. We should not rely on how many bullets you need to deliver but how well they are delivered. Keep your mind loaded as well as the handgun.
When it comes to power, the revolver hits hard. The .38 Special with heavy bullets far outstrips the .380 ACP handgun. The .357 Magnum, with proper loads, outperforms the 9mm or 10mm. The .45 ACP offers a good balance between control and wound potential. The .45 operates at low pressure, delivers modest muzzle flash, and offers good wound potential.
Personal choice and the training budget mean a great deal in handgun selection. A modern, new-in-the-box handgun, with a good warranty is always the better choice. Don’t discount the easy handling and reliability of a revolver. Don’t feel that high capacity is superior to eight or nine well delivered shots. The person behind the sights is most important.
America’s rifle, the AR-15, features 10, 20, or 30-round magazines. I like this very much in a long gun. On the other hand, I will not compromise reliability by adding a bulky magazine with enough rounds to finish up an Israeli police action.
As for shotguns there is little in a compromise inherent in shotgun choice. Wound potential depends on the load. However, some choose an unwieldy shotgun with no natural point. They justify their choice because they can hang detachable magazines on the shotgun.
I prefer a tubular magazine that allows me to top off the magazine as needed or quickly change to slug loads.
Don’t compromise hit probability. You won’t need those extra rounds in all probability However, any time you are forced to defend yourself, even if you only need one shot, you will need to shoot straight.