The strangest thing happened the other day. I pulled the trigger on my XDm and nothing happened. Tap, rack, bang. Yes, but—the nine mil had never failed to fire. Never. Not once in over 7000 rounds (easy). The rest of the bullets in the mag went downrange like scalded cats. So I stopped and thought about it. And then it hit me: I’d short-stroked the gun. I hadn’t released the XDm’s trigger far enough towards the front of the firearm to reset the go-pedal. But I had released it far enough to think I was ready to shoot again. Uh-oh . . .
I found the failure deeply unsettling. Short-stroking a gun may not be the worst mistake I could make during a defensive gun use (DGU), but it certainly ranks in the top twenty on the list of “Things You Don’t Want to Happen When You’re Trying to Shoot Someone.”
Worse, I’d never short-stroked a handgun before. I couldn’t figure out why I’d done it. A random screw-up from a guy who writes about guns for a living, who spends more on ammo than the average American surrenders at their local grocery store on a weekly basis? Not good.
So I communed with the rabbi and conducted a few experiments at the range with the XDm and my carry piece (a Glock 30SF). I eventually sussed-out the cause of my failure to launch and discovered a pitfall all self-defense shooters should strive to avoid. Start with this . . .
You know the expression “Beware of the man with one gun”? According to this old adage, it’s better to get really, really good with a single weapon than to be so-so with a bunch of different guns. If you become extremely proficient with a single firearm you’ll run the gun without thinking and gain a strategic advantage (e.g., you’ll know your effective range).
Yes and no. Yes, there’s a direct correlation between firearms familiarity and the shooter’s lethality in combat—model-specific practice may not make perfect but it can get you close enough for government work. Unfortunately, you lose the ability to use other weapon systems effectively. In other words, I short-stroked the XD because I’d “over-practiced” with my Glock 30SF.
Check out the video at the top of this post. [Excuse my finger placement; I modified my grip to get my thumbs out of the way for the camera. As for the full trigger travel videos below, I know your finger should never lose contact with the trigger until you’re done shooting.]
I’m shooting the Glock the way it’s supposed to be shot (IMHO). You pull the trigger, let it return to the reset point, and shoot again from there. Thanks to the Glock’s extremely loud and tactile reset point, you know exactly when the trigger’s going to break. You can “ride” the reset.
This Glocktastic reset point enables extremely rapid and accurate follow-up shots. Stupidly so; with just a flash sight picture, I can double tap a brace of .45s through the same hole at five yards. At ten yards, I can empty a [Massachusetts-compliant] 10-round magazine in under three seconds with combat accuracy. With enough time, I can hit a sheet of paper with all eleven shots at 25 yards.
Of course, that’s down to both the gun and the fact that I’ve had a LOT of practice. So much practice that I trained myself to let the trigger out so much after firing and no more—regardless of the gun in my hand. I’d programmed my trigger finger (i.e. subconscious mind) to expect Glock “perfection.” Hence I short-stroked the XDm.
To illustrate that point, check out the difference between riding the reset on an XDm [above] and letting the trigger out to its full length of travel [below].
The long and short of it: there’s isn’t much difference. The XDm’s trigger reset point is so close to the end of the trigger travel, and the reset’s so demure (especially compared to the Glock), that there’s no point trying to feel for it. You just pull the XDm’s trigger, let it return all the way and pull again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The Glock’s trigger isn’t inherently better than the XDm’s. The XDm’s trigger’s transition from “off” to “on” is wonderfully positive, smooth and easy. You sweep through the XDm’s break rather than punch through it, as you do with the Glock. It’s the difference between the accelerator pedal in a V12 Mercedes and a Porsche Turbo.
OK, so, let’s assume that I want to be able to shoot any gun well—not just my Glock. I have two options. First, I could change the way I shoot the Glock. I could retrain my brain according to a general rule that I will allow the trigger to move through its full range of motion between shots. That way, I won’t short-stroke any gun—at least in theory. Here’s the video of that action:
Problem. I don’t like letting the Glock trigger go. I’m sacrificing a smidgeon of speed and accuracy for what? The remote possibility that I may have to pick up a bad guy or cop’s gun and use it? Again, I LIKE riding the reset on the Glock. As far as I’m concerned, the Austrian gun’s click-bang-click-bang trigger reset sets the Glock apart from the competition. So . . . what to do?
Eddy at American Firearms School set me straight. “Don’t focus so much on your Glock,” he advised. “Shoot lots of guns. Get so you know how to work all kinds of different triggers.” Roger that. When I was shooting a wide variety of guns with all kinds of triggers—double-action only, double-action to single action, single-action only—I adapted my trigger finger to suit.
So I can still ride the reset on my EDC (Every Day Carry) Glock—as long as I train my brain to recognize the type of gun I’m shooting and react accordingly. Revolver? Long smooth pull. XDm? Same deal. Glock? BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.
More generally, I learned that the same rule that applies to female deer applies to handgun training: no rut, no problem. Or you could say beware of the man with one gun. Don’t let it be you.