courtesy fnherstal.com

By: Mike McDaniel

This is the second article in a two-part series intended to inform those considering their first handgun purchase, and those needing basic information on handgun types. The first article “A Revolver Primer,” dealt with revolvers. As always at TTAG, the comments were lively and interesting. “Shawn,” apparently a revolver fan, reminded me of the intrinsic accuracy vs. practical accuracy issue, also a topic of lively commentary, when he wrote, “Real men are wheel men.” As I noted in the first article . . .

I began my police service with Colt pythons. One of my early supervisors carried a Ruger Security Six in .357 magnum, and used to joke that one had to be a real man to carry a Ruger–referring to the less than smooth, and very heavy, double action trigger pull. Rugers have always been sturdy and reliable. I always replied smugly, certain of my Colt’s superiority, “yeah, preferably two real men.”

But I was intrigued and eventually bought a stainless steel Security Six. Pythons weren’t available in that lovely metal then. After a very professional trigger job and Magnaporting, as well as quite of bit of grip revision, I ended up carrying that weapon happily for many years. I could shoot it as accurately as the Python, the trigger was as smooth and (relatively) light, and it was lighter and more compact that the Colt. However, the real selling point was that the Ruger broke down for cleaning far more easily and was far easier to clean properly. In those days, with all of the shooting I did with reloaded lead bullets, that was a significant concern.

The point? There is no “perfect” handgun–revolver or semiautomatic–superior to all others. We are all different. That Security Six perfectly met my needs for many years, even though it was a homely beast compared to my work of art Pythons, and it cost a great deal less as well.

If there is one primary lesson to impart regarding revolvers, it would be that the smaller the weapon and the shorter the barrel, the more difficult it is to shoot accurately, particularly if it does not have a competent action job. With any firearm, what matters is accurate shot placement. A solid hit with a .380 ACP is far more effective than a near miss with the largest handgun cartridge available.

On to the world of semiautomatics.

Semiautomatics are sometimes incorrectly called “automatics.”  An automatic weapon fires multiple rounds for each pull of the trigger.  As long as the trigger is pulled and held back, the weapon will fire until the trigger is released or the ammunition supply is exhausted.  Expert machine gunners can fire bursts of two-three rounds or more simply by means of manual trigger manipulation.  Some automatic weapons mimic this ability with burst features that fire short–commonly three round–predetermined bursts with a single pull of the trigger.  A semiautomatic weapon fires only one round for each pull of the trigger, just like a double action revolver.

Semiautomatics hold their ammunition in magazines.  Magazines are often incorrectly called “clips.”  The only currently manufactured, widely available firearm that actually uses clips is the M1 Garand battle rifle.  Most semiautomatic pistols hold more rounds than revolvers; in many cases, a great many rounds more.  The GLOCK 17 in 9mm, for example, is a full-sized duty-type handgun with a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds.  With one round in the chamber, the capacity of a GLOCK 17 is exactly three times that of a six-round revolver.  With two spare magazines, nearly nine times. My article on that handgun is available here.

This is a significant factor that has caused–in part–most American police agencies to transition to semiautomatic pistols.  While the majority of police shootings are resolved at very close range with few rounds fired, the necessity of having a great many rounds at hand is very real.  One can never know when they’ll be involved in the firefight that requires a great many rounds and magazine changes. So it is for civilians–as the police commonly call non-police officers.

NOTE: Those that claim that any magazine over 10 rounds–7 rounds in New York–is a “large capacity magazine,” are uninformed or deceptive.  A substantial number of commonly available semiautomatic handguns have standard capacity magazines of substantially greater capacity, which is nothing new or unusual. The Browning Hi-Power first distributed in the 1930s had a 13-round 9mm magazine.

All semiautomatic pistols work on the same basic principle: Firing a cartridge harnesses the energy of firing to push a heavy metal slide back against a powerful spring that keeps the action closed until pressure drops to a safe level.  On its backward travel, the slide extracts the fired case from the chamber and ejects it through the ejection port on the slide.  When the slide hits the rear stop, it is propelled forward under spring tension, picks up a fresh cartridge from the magazine and inserts it into the chamber.  This process is very fast and appears as a blur to most.

A powerful spring in the magazine pushes each fresh cartridge upward, ready to be fed into the chamber. In most designs, when the last round has been fired, the magazine spring pushes the magazine follower–the plastic part between the magazine spring and the cartridges–upward to engage the slide lock, forcing the slide to lock fully open (back) to notify the shooter he has shot his weapon dry.  This cycling may be accomplished by a blowback system (the most common in contemporary handguns; there are several variations of the basic principal), or a gas system.  Many semiautomatic pistols have an external, manual safety device of some kind.

This You Tube video animation of the direct blowback cycling of a GLOCK pistol is illustrative of the process, which is virtually identical for all semiautomatic pistols, allowing for slight variations in mechanical design. Warning: The music accompanying the video may be annoying.

Semiautos, like revolvers, come in several more or less standardized sizes.  Full sized pistols like the Colt M1911 and the GLOCK 17 are generally considered duty pistols, though even they may be carried concealed by most people.  Smaller pistols, such as the GLOCK 19 with a 15 round magazine, are meant to be lighter and more easily concealed, and “baby GLOCKs,” like the original model 26, are smaller yet while still having a ten round, 9mm magazine capacity.  And finally, there are what are commonly called “pocket pistols,” normally in .380 ACP caliber (essentially a shorter and less powerful 9mm cartridge) or smaller.  These pistols like the Ruger LCP or the S&W Bodyguard actually do fit in a pocket and are quite small, light and easily concealable while still firing a reasonably powerful cartridge.

The Bodyguard, for example, with one spare magazine, fits in a space no larger or thicker than a standard man’s billfold. My article on that pistol is available here.

Semiautomatic pistols, however, have a greater number of trigger mechanisms than revolvers.

Single Action: This is the oldest currently available pistol mechanism, characterized by John Moses Browning designs, and is the mechanism employed on the Model 1911 .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) and the Browning Hi-Power in 9mm Parabellum (From the Latin: “ii vis pacem, para bellum”–if you wish peace, prepare for war).  In these pistols, an exposed hammer is manually fully cocked and a safety lever mounted on the left side of the frame engaged.  To fire, the shooter clicks off (pushes down on) the safety and pulls the trigger, which commonly has a light and short travel, enhancing potential practical accuracy.

1911020

This 1911 is a much-modified model by Springfield Armory known as theRange Officer.” 

This means of carrying these pistols, commonly known as “cocked and locked,” frightens the uninitiated, but is perfectly safe when done by those properly trained who use proper holsters (particularly those that fully cover the trigger and trigger guard).  With this action type, each trigger pull is short, light and consistent, significantly contributing to ease of use and accuracy.  Such weapons employ the manufacturing methods and materials–-heavy steel–-available a century ago and are labor intensive to make.  Like everything designed by Browning, they are effective, reliable and mechanically brilliant designs, but they can be expensive. While they are “parts” guns, and theoretically any part made to proper tolerances will fit, for maximum accuracy, some degree of hand fitting is required, which, of course, adds to the expense. The number of aftermarket accessories available for this old and popular design is truly amazing.

Double Action: A second action type is the double action mechanism that mimics the trigger and hammer action of the double action revolver.  European weapons such as various Walther pistols with this mechanism (the P-38, the PP and PPK) were in use before WWII.  American manufacturers, most notably Smith and Wesson, produced double action pistols in large numbers beginning in the 1970s to increase sales of semiautomatics to police forces which at the time almost exclusively used double action revolvers. Col. Jeff Cooper called this invention “an ingenious solution to a non-existent problem.”  He was referring to the fact that double action semiautomatics are not designed to be carried “cocked and locked,” which was a selling point to uninformed and skittish police executives horrified by the sight of cocked hammers.

overview6

This double action semiautomatic pistol is a Walther P-22 in .22 LR caliber.  While the caliber is generally inappropriate for a self-defense gun, its action is identical to its larger caliber cousins.  Keep in mind that a great many bad guys have succumbed to the .22LR. My article on that handgun may be found here.

The inherent problem with this type of trigger mechanism is the first trigger pull tends to be long and heavy, but because the first, and every subsequent shot fired causes the cycling of the slide to cock the hammer, the second and every subsequent shot requires only a single action trigger pull, in other words, a much shorter, lighter pull of the trigger.  This commonly results in widely varying impact points between at least the first two shots on any target, and while experienced, capable shooters can overcome this “feature,” double action mechanisms are a less than optimum option, just as Col. Cooper observed.

Even so, I’ve yet to meet the new shooter, particularly women, who didn’t find the P-22 easy and delightful to shoot and shoot with a high degree of accuracy. It has very little recoil, mild report, and excellent ergonomics.

Double Action Only: Another action type is a hybrid of the double action mechanism that seeks to address the inherent shot to shot accuracy problem of such actions.  These weapons are incapable of single action fire; each pull of the trigger must be double action.  In other words the trigger recycles fully forward after each shot–it does not cock the hammer–making a long, relatively heavy trigger pull necessary for each shot.  While this method might be a theoretical improvement on double action mechanisms, any action that requires a long, heavy trigger pull will be inherently less accurate and harder to consistently shoot than a lighter, shorter trigger.

bodyguard380

This double action only handgun—a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard  in .380 ACP—is representative of the genre (take the earlier link in this article).  An interesting feature of this weapon is its integral laser sight, activated by the ambidextrous gray button on both sides of the front of the frame. The integral laser does not allow the lines of the little handgun to be very racy, but it works very well indeed.

Striker Fired: The most modern mechanism is the striker-fired pistol, typified by the GLOCK design as illustrated by the aforementioned video.  These weapons do not have an exposed external hammer or an internal hammer, but instead employ what is essentially a larger than usual, heavier firing pin driven by a strong spring.  When recoil cycles the slide, the striker spring is compressed—cocked–until it is released by the next activation of the trigger.  Cycling the slide to chamber the first round does the same. Trigger pulls with this type of weapon are shorter and lighter than those of double action pistols, and are consistent from shot to shot.  While the triggers do not have the very short travel of a single action mechanism and they are not as light, they are far superior to any double action or double action only mechanism, and are also superior to double action revolver triggers.  GLOCKs employ a unique system of three independent integral safety devices.  There is no external safety to be manipulated by the shooter.  As with revolvers, one must really want to fire a GLOCK to make it discharge.

Glock 26Gen4-500x500

This particular GLOCK is the model I carry daily, a GLOCK 26 (commonly called the “baby” GLOCK).  The only two additions I’ve made to my personal G26 are a Pearce Grip magazine finger rest and a Crimson Trace LG-436 laser. 

One advantage of the GLOCK design is that trigger pull weight can be easily changed from seven to five pounds, for example, merely by changing drop-in parts, an easy process with the modular GLOCK which uses not a single screw.  Such weapons are often made with polymer (plastic) frames and many other polymer parts.  This method of manufacture has many advantages, such as low cost, speed of manufacture, long life, no rusting, and the ability to absorb some recoil energy that would otherwise be imparted directly to the shooter.  To contain the inherent pressures and recoil forces, however, such weapons must have steel barrels, slides, and slide rails.  There is no such thing as a “plastic gun” that can’t be seen on x-ray machines.  A GLOCK under x-ray looks exactly like what it is, and most of its weight is, in fact, steel. An article on that issue, including an x-ray image of a GLOCK, is available here.

Another interesting GLOCK feature is the ability to “catch the link.”  When firing a round, the shooter holds the trigger fully back as the slide cycles and after the slide has returned to battery (is fully forward and closed) slowly allows the trigger to move forward until an audible and easily felt “click” occurs.  This allows the next shot to have a much shorter trigger pull, enhancing long-range accuracy.  But this is not a true single action mode as it does not function in the same way, and it requires a conscious effort on the part of the shooter to make the weapon function in this way for each shot.  The primary advantage of the GLOCK-–and similar—mechanisms remains their relatively short trigger travel, light pull weight, and shot to shot consistency.

ADVANTAGES OF SEMIAUTOS: 

The primary advantages of semiautos are that they are more easily concealable, tend to have lighter triggers, have greater ammunition capacity than revolvers–in many cases, much greater–and are more quickly and easily reloaded than revolvers.  Semiautos also, in most common calibers, have much less recoil effect and muzzle blast than revolvers, and have a bore axis much lower than revolvers.  With polymer frame construction, some semiautos can be substantially lighter than revolvers yet hold substantially more ammunition with no deficit in ruggedness and longevity.

Because of their very nature, semiautos are subject to more common malfunctions than revolvers, but each of these common malfunctions can be cleared in the field, without tools, in four seconds or less by those without expert levels of knowledge and skill.  Because they do not have cylinders, as long as there is a round in the chamber–and this is the way modern semiautos should be carried–semiautos will virtually always fire at least one round even if they malfunction thereafter.

The only exception is those designs with a magazine disconnect, a system that prevents the weapon from firing unless a magazine is fully inserted. This is a “feature” that should never be a part of any handgun carried for personal defense.

One interesting advantage that is of little use to most shooters is that semiautos can accept suppressors (there is no such thing as a “silencer”).  Suppressors are useless on revolvers–despite what Hollywood would have one believe–because of the gas that escapes through the gap between the cylinder and the forcing cone.  Suppressing firearms is primarily about gas control.

Contemporary designs often have accessory rails that allow the easy installation and use of flashlights, and more importantly, laser sights. Revolvers may also be equipped with laser sights, but semiauto owners will generally find that equipping their weapons is easier and that there are more choices available.

Semiautos, many of which are designed with military service in mind, usually break down without tools and are easy to clean.  Even non-military designs are generally easy to break down, clean and reassemble, and generally without tools.  They also tend to have few parts to disassemble.  GLOCKs, for example, break down into the frame, barrel, recoil spring/guide rod assembly and slide.  No further disassembly is required for normal cleaning, and reassembly is quick and easy.

As previously mentioned, semiauto trigger mechanisms—even double action mechanisms—tend to be much lighter and more easily manipulated than revolver triggers.

DISADVANTAGES OF SEMIAUTOS:

There are two primary types of malfunctions common to semiautos: failures to feed and failures to eject.  Each has several commonly known variations, but as previously mentioned, proper training will show anyone how, within mere seconds, to clear such malfunctions.  One of the most common problems with semiautos is “limp wristing,” or not giving the handgun a firm grip with a straight, rigid wrist.  Semiautos need a solid grip against which to cycle the slide.  If the weapon is held limply, it may lack the force to complete the cycle and may not fully eject an empty casing, or may not fully chamber a fresh round.  Proper technique can easily sort out this common problem.

A number of readers of the first article in this series suggested that revolvers do not suffer from limp wristing, which is true enough, however, learning the manual of arms with any handgun, and becoming comfortable with it to the point of allowing good accuracy takes time and effort. All weapons have their peculiarities, and not every weapon is an optimum choice for everyone.

Semiautos generally come in only one grip size, so some may simply be too large for smaller hands, a not uncommon issue with full-sized 1911s, for example.  However, some manufacturers are now shipping models with easily switched backstraps to address what may or may not be a problem.  In addition, weapons with polymer frames like GLOCKs allow magazines with substantial capacity while still keeping the grip relatively small. Semiautos are generally more ergonomically pleasing to more people than revolvers, particularly with out-of-the-box, unaltered weapons.

One cannot normally tell whether a semiauto is loaded merely by looking at it, though some, such as GLOCKs, do have mechanical loaded chamber indicators (which can be checked by touch), or like the S&W Bodyguard, a small notch cut in the breach that allows a chambered cartridge to be seen.  However, this can be addressed with a simple “pinch-check,” or retracting the slide just enough to see brass in the chamber.  Some people also experience accidental discharges when, after removing the magazine, assume that the weapon is empty and fire the round in the chamber.  This too can be easily addressed by using the proper, basic safety drill of always removing the magazine, cycling the slide several times, locking it back, and looking and using a finger to verify that the magazine well and chamber are empty. Of course, keeping one’s finger off the trigger until milliseconds before firing is also helpful.

Some semiautos, due to their unique design, have very stiff recoil springs. Some people with weak hands or limited strength may have difficulty cycling their slides.  My article on correct technique in dealing with stiff recoil springs may greatly simplify this issue for most people. In reality, few people truly lack the ability to cycle semiauto slides; it is primarily a matter of proper technique.

Another common problem is loading magazines with stiff springs.  However, inexpensive magazine loading tools that essentially eliminate this problem are widely available–GLOCK includes one with every handgun sold–and it is a very small portion of the population that cannot learn how to use what strength they have to cycle a slide, or with proper tools, to load a magazine.  Even so, some few people, due to disability or illness may find such tasks daunting.

The greatest single weakness of semiautos is the magazine.  They are generally easier to damage than the guns themselves, and if a magazine won’t properly feed due to fatigue or damage, the shooter suddenly has a hard to load single-shot handgun.  To address this problem, at least one spare magazine should always be carried, and all magazines should be regularly rotated with a complete set of spares to allow the springs to “rest.”  I grant that this may be an old shooter’s superstition, but it surely cannot hurt anything, and in more than three decades of daily carrying handguns and following this procedure, I’ve yet to have a magazine malfunction.  This may be attributed to nothing more than my care in ensuring my magazines aren’t exposed to damaging conditions and are regularly cleaned and otherwise maintained.

Though this is a much smaller issue than it was only a decade ago, some semiautos are ammunition sensitive; some brands and/or configurations of ammunition may make some guns more prone to malfunctions.  My wife’s S&W Bodyguard .380, for example, doesn’t like inexpensive steel-cased Russian ammunition, but mine feeds and fires it without fail. Both cycle higher quality full metal jacket and defensive–hollow point–ammunition without complaint. Most guns designed for self-defense will fire just about anything with little or no difficulty, but some guns, particularly those built to very tight tolerances, such as guns intended for competition, may take a bit of trial and error to find ammunition that is completely reliable.  On the other hand, brands such as GLOCK have a well-deserved reputation for reliability right out of the box and require no alteration or modification at all. I have never had a malfunction of any of the GLOCKs I’ve owned, or of their magazines. Dumb luck? Perhaps, but I practice malfunction drills just in case.

Semiautos generally have less intrinsic accuracy than revolvers. This is so because their barrels–with a few notable exceptions, many in .22LR only–are not fixed to the frame and thus, unmoving as the slide cycles. Designs with both a fixed barrel and the sights attached to that barrel, tend to have intrinsic accuracy no less than the best revolvers, the Ruger Mark III and 22/45 pistols in .22LR being cases in point.

Defensive pistols must have looser tolerances because the need for maximum reliability is greater than the need for maximum accuracy. This will generally produce slightly less overall accuracy. However, for general defensive use, this is not at all an issue for most people, whose practical shooting ability is not up to the optimum intrinsic accuracy of their semiautos, particularly at the kinds of ranges at which gunfights virtually always take place.

What kind of difference is involved? A target semiauto tuned to the tightest tolerances without sacrificing the reliability necessary for the sport might shoot a 2” group at 25 yards, while a daily carry pistol might manage 4”. Proper ammunition will also have an effect on group size. Some handguns simply shoot more accurately with some configurations of cartridge and bullet. This is true with any firearm, and is why long-range competition riflemen and snipers are meticulous about developing loads that maximize the accuracy of their weapons.

Obviously, all semiauto owners should shoot a number of the cartridges they plan to carry in their weapons daily to ensure they work properly. How many? At least 20, and the more the better, not only to ensure they function properly, but to develop a feel for them and to gauge their accuracy and the necessity of changing sight (perhaps laser sight) settings.

One additional caveat is that, like revolvers, the smaller the pistol, the more difficult it tends to be to shoot accurately. My wife shoots her GLOCK 26 with greater ease and accuracy than her S&W Bodyguard, for example. Substantially smaller than the GLOCK, the Bodyguard has a longer and heavier trigger pull than the GLOCK, and a shorter barrel, and is therefore harder to shoot well. It’s not impossible to shoot well by any means, but it does require more practice, including dry fire off the range, to maintain proficiency. Of course, anyone choosing to carry a handgun has a duty to practice enough in dry and live fire to maintain proficiency sufficient to ensure they will hit only what they intend to hit.

There is no question that semiautos are, by their very nature, somewhat more complex to operate than revolvers.  This makes accidental discharges somewhat more likely for some people.  Keep in mind that during my police days, there was no shortage of ADs with revolvers (or shotguns). However, learning the proper manual of arms is far from rocket science, and I’m tempted to wonder about the fitness of anyone unable to safely handle a semiautomatic handgun—given proper training–-to handle any kind of firearm.

Final Thoughts:

I own all of the guns I need, but not as many as I want. These days, the only revolvers we own are tiny, North American Arms mini revolvers. My semiautomatic handguns meet my–and my wife’s–needs very well. We don’t own semiautos exclusively out of a lack of appreciation for the qualities of revolvers. The issue is more one of a conscious decision to stock as few different types of ammunition as possible. I’m of the mind that it’s always better to shoot fewer weapons more than to have an enormous number of different guns and cartridges that I can’t afford to fire as often as necessary to attain a high level of skill and confidence.

I carry a GLOCK 26 most of the time, and in those few circumstances when I need a weapon smaller than even the little GLOCK, a S&W Bodyguard takes its place. I have no hesitation recommending GLOCKs in general (unfortunately, they don’t pay me for such recommendations, drat!), recognizing that no weapon works for everyone. I carry them because they meet all of my needs, and I’ve found them to be flawlessly reliable and as accurate as necessary for any defensive handgun.

Many ranges allows brief rentals of handguns, and many shooters and instructors are more than willing to allow neophytes to try their guns. Finding a handgun that feels good in the hand and is reliable is not a difficult matter in 2014. The reliability difficulties common in semiautomatic handguns in the 70s and 80’s are a thing of the past. However, keep in mind that it may take at least 50 rounds with any handgun to get a real idea of how it will work for any individual. Some guns just tend to feel right for some people while others don’t.

As I previously mentioned, while my wife–and I–shoot our S&W Bodyguards accurately, after shooting them, switching to our GLOCK 26s makes a world of difference. The GLOCK triggers seem ridiculously light and of very short travel, the weapons, being larger and heavier, have less recoil, and it is much easier to shoot with great accuracy. Friends we teach to shoot switching from the Smith to the GLOCK are shocked by the difference.

Obviously, shooting as often as possible is a good idea. Few people who remain shooters for any length of time own only a single gun. Shooting is fun and different weapons meet different needs and provide different experiences. It’s all a part of shooting.

The old axiom that the man with a single gun is often the most dangerous remains true. He’s likely to know how to shoot that gun very well indeed. Finding a handgun that works, performing correct, regular practice, and reaching a high level of proficiency should be every shooter’s basic goal.

Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.

83 Responses to A Semi-Automatic Pistol Primer

  1. The author forgot to mention the primary disadvantage of a Glock, which is that it could make you look like a toolbag when people with Sigs show up.

    Let the flaming commence…all in good fun 🙂

    • And then the sig guy is reminded of his ridiculously high bore axis and the fact that his gun originated from those cowardly Swiss who declare their neutrality and traded with the nazis instead of fighting them! 😉

        • A glorified CZ? I’m not sure they can compete with CZ because CZ is awesome at 1/3rd the price.

      • …but Glocks are made in Austria which is pretty much Germany part II. Not to mention they were allies with the Germans in WW2.

        • They weren’t allied with the Germans in WWII. They were *part* of Germany as a result of the Anschluss in 1938. Hitler himself was an Austrian by birth.

      • As the Americans should have done, instead of falling for yet another scheme to enlarge the tax feeding classes.

  2. It’s interesting how many technical things and stated-as-fact comments in the post I would argue with or refute. Maybe some of the issue is that actually explaining it in detail and properly requires a book, rather than a post. Even a long post. I couldn’t scratch the surface on “correcting” some of the post without writing one almost equally long. Certainly not doing that in the comments here haha. And, I’m sure, some of the people reading it would agree and some would disagree anyway. None of this is as cut-and-dry as a “primer” could possibly make it seem. This is definitely an excellent starting point for those looking to get a first introduction, though, and I guess that’s the real point of a primer.

  3. While I have heard every recoil-operated semiauto pistol referred to as “blowback,” that terminology is not necessarily correct. Yes, there are plenty of small-bore blowback pistols, usually in calibers of .380 or less. Among medium- and big-bore semiautos, the most common is the locked breech design. Blowback and locked breech are not synonyms, although they are sometimes used as such.

    • Yes “direct blowback” is certainly one of the things I’d be compelled to expand on further and/or “correct.” Anything with a locking ‘breech’ or, in my opinion, any other method of delaying ejection doesn’t fall into the ‘direct blowback’ category, whether it’s short recoil operated (like a Glock) or roller delayed or gas delayed or what. A Glock is definitely not a direct blowback action, nor is it a blowback action. An H&K P7 is a blowback action, but it isn’t direct blowback. A Hi-Point is direct blowback.

      • Short recoil and direct blowback operate the action by different means. In a blowback action the pressure created by firing the round forces the action open since it is not locked. Because it uses the firing pressure to open the action blowback firearms can actually function without an extractor. Short recoil actions use the recoil force generated to unlock the breech and cycle the action. It is a key distinction. There aren’t very many firearms design experts who would confuse the two.

    • For me, one of the key distinctions of a true blowback action (delayed or not) is that the barrel remained fixed to the frame.

      eg, a Ruger MkI/II/III .22LR, S&W 41, Browning Buckmark – they’re all true blowbacks. The only thing holding the breech closed is the recoil spring.

      HK “roller delayed” blowbacks are also blowback actions, the breech being delayed by the mechanical disadvantage of the rollers in the breech mechanism. The Remington M51 is a delayed blowback.

      For me, any pistol where the barrel moves, regardless of how/where the barrel moves – eg, down on a 1911 or Glock, , backwards as on a Luger or rotates as the Brobergs do, isn’t a true blowback.

      Want to see a major caliber pistol that is blowback? Look no further than the Hi-Point pistols. Barrel remained fixed, the mass of the slide and the spring hold the breech closed.

  4. Semiautomatics are sometimes incorrectly called “automatics.”

    Technically, “automatics” are sometimes incorrectly called “semi-automatics,” and “machine pistols” incorrectly called “automatics.” But, then, English accommodates a wide variety of dialects, so it really doesn’t matter. Neither does it matter about “clips” or “magazines.” Nor “buffalo” or “bison.” Nor “pizza” or “pizza pie.”

    Sorry. Pet peeve about language Nazis. Good article, anyway.

    • Nope. Maybe 100 years ago, but in the 21st century, if you call a 1911 an automatic pistol, you’re wrong. The language has evolved as described by the author.

  5. As much as I prefer semi autos, I carry and rely on a wheel gun of different calibers. For me, one of the big disadvantages of the autoloader is the fact that they are heavily dependent on what they are fed. A failure may be a rare event, but that one time might be when you are shooting at someone real, not a piece of paper.
    The four seconds that Mike refers to, to clear a jam, can easily mean the difference between life or death.

    • Exactly, it’s nice to know that if you hear a click instead of a bang (or boom depending on caliber lol) with a revolver all you have to do is pull the trigger again. No immediate action, no clearing stoppages. I’ve always carried a semi-auto on duty but for off duty carry it’s usually a revolver.

      • Ahhh….but that is exactly the point. True, it may be easier to rectify a click with a revolver, by simply pulling the trigger again, as opposed to an SA, which would require racking the action to chamber a fresh round. Although, a semi auto with true double action would give you second strike ability, meaning a second pull of the trigger would cock the hammer and release it to strike the primer again. Granted, that second strike would be on the same cartridge, which may be just as much of a dud the second time around as the first, whereas the revolver’s cylinder rotation would offer a fresh cartridge to the second trigger pull.

        Still, two things come to mind. A click failure to fire with a SA, in my experience, is extremely rare. With a revolver of even average quality, it’s to be expected maybe 5% of the time, which is unacceptable in a duty or selc defense firearm. Cylcling through the rest of the cylinder and returning to the original failed cartridge usually results in a successful firing of it the second time around. That says revolver firing pin problems to me, more than primers or SA strikers.

        So I’m not seeing a this post-click revolver advantage as true. For one, it’s not even exclusive to revolvers. Second, the original problem of the failure to fire click is more prevalent with revolvers in the first place. The design doesn’t get credit for doing well what shouldn’t have to be done at all.

        • What in the world kind of revolvers are you firing that one in 20 trigger pulls goes click? I’ve been shooting revolvers for 40+ years, including thousands of rounds of my own inexpert handloads, and I have NEVER had that happen. .38, .357. 22, never. Have you ever fired a revolver that cost more than $5, for example?

    • The “heavily dependent on what they are fed” problem can nowadays be fairly easily rectified by testing ammo until you find one that works, then carry that. Premium ammo these days, have close enough tolerances that if the first few hundred works, the next probably won’t stop working. And revolvers can be finicky feeders as well, particularly small frame ones, where unusually long bullets, and perhaps crimp jump, can lock up the action.

      For “survivalist scenarios”, where an operational requirement is maximum ability to chew any ammo one may get one’s hands on, including half baked reloads, I’d agree the scales may tip in favor of the wheel gun. But as long as reasonable;e supplies of reasonable ammo can be taken for granted, I doubt modern autos any less reliable than their wheel gun counterparts.

  6. Great article.
    One thing I would add for those just getting started is that the first handgun selected can greatly influence future decisions. Those that start with a 1911 tend to stay with them. The same with Glock and SIG (at least SIG P series). It seems once the manual of arms becomes second nature and no ergonomic issues arise the shooter masters the unique requirements to shoot with consistent accuracy.

    I think the general TTAG reader will take exception to this because they (like me) are nuts and want to get their hands on every gun that comes down the pike and learn to master it.

    Also I would add that a shooter training for defensive purposes will find that most guns are accurate enough where a target shooter will find that no gun is accurate enough.

    • My first pistol was a 1911 and I wasnt really happy with it. Then it was an H&K USP, which was better but still not there yet. Then it was a Glock 17 which was just right, and I still own it today, but lately I find myself carrying revolvers most often. Not to say that any of those weapons are poor choices, thats just the path that personal preference took me down and where I ended up over the course of 15 years or so.

  7. “A semiautomatic weapon fires only one round for each pull of the trigger, just like a double action revolver.” How many rounds does a single action revolver fire per trigger pull?

    I liked your first post on revolvers, but disagree with several points in this one. And it seems like it’s a commercial for Glocks. Maybe it was using GLOCK all the time.

    I didn’t re-read the post, but I don’t remember any talk of safeties. I have been shooting guns for over sixty years and would never have a Glock because there is no safety. Yes, it will take me longer to use the gun, and yes, I may forget the saftey and have to play with it, causing me to be killed. But I think it’s more likely my finger will slip onto the trigger and in a stressful situation fire when I don’t want. Since this post seems to be written for a gun owner to be I feel safeties are very important to discuss.

    • a single action revolver fires zero rounds per pull of the trigger. a super blackhawk, once the hammer cock has manually set the sear, should only need to be fired once. hence the term (teehee).

    • Nope we haven’t forgot about it…It is a crappy revolver that only exists in the lexicon of snobby gun gurus to simply prove that there is an exception to everything.

      Everyone actually talks about a supressed nagant, but raise your hand if you have actually seen or shot one.

      • Mayhap suppressed Nagants are uncommon because most folks who own them, myself included, don’t want to bubba a piece of history.

        And something tells me Paul has never even seen a Nagant in person, let alone held or owned one.

        The Nagant bears mention because the author brought up the ability to suppress semi-autos but not revolvers. He’s mistaken in that blanket declaration.

        I bet y’all don’t like the Nagant because it’s a gun even a poor person could own, and it just wouldn’t do to have the rabble armed, would it?

        • So we weren’t taking about the model 1895 Nagant revolver, the only revolver that allows for a complete gas seal when using 7.62x38mmR? What Nagant revolver were you taking about?

        • I don’t really understand the hate on Nagants. Sure, the trigger is heavy but that can be remedied. Just check out THENAGANTMAN on Youtube.

      • I know this is late as hell but I hope someone sees it. I am the almost-total opposite of a “gun guru”, and one of the few handguns I own is a Nagant revolver. Why? Because it was inexpensive , had some history, and despite the heavy trigger (mine is apparently a little better than most) could be operated by anyone in the house, including the gun-averse lady of same, in a self-defense pinch. Not a bad little gun, really.

  8. I’d never say “never” — as in, I’d never carry a Glock — but having carried a Glock for many years and having been around people with Glocks for the same number of years, I have a Springfield XDM now. I don’t want a toggle type safety, but I do like the Springfield setup (backstrap and trigger safeties). I don’t give them a moment’s thought, but I do think they could prevent an accident. Same goes for take down levers rather than the Glock method that includes pulling the trigger before take down. People will do stupid things–that’s a given. I’ll admit, I didn’t buy the Springfield because of the safety set up–I liked the ergonomics and trigger best of what I looked at–but that said I’m happy with the safety aspect and think that it deserves more of a discussion. But I liked the article!

  9. [striker fired pistols, especially Glocks] are far superior to any double action or double action only mechanism, and are also superior to double action revolver triggers.
    Don’t be too objective here…
    The DA pull on a high-end CZ or Sig is better than any Glock trigger pull, and the SA follow ups can get pretty close to a tuned 1911.

    GLOCKs employ a unique system of three independent integral safety devices.
    It has a firing pin block (that’s unique!), a drop safety that’s not the firing pin block (I suppose that’s unique because the firing pin block in most guns would make it redundant), and that annoying trigger that doesn’t prevent people from having Glock brand ne-glock-gent discharges.

    As with revolvers, one must really want to fire a GLOCK to make it discharge.
    I never realized all those people who shoot the bottoms of their holsters out wanted to do so. I thought it was just a result of the inherent flaws in the Glock design.

    So when exactly did this primer on semi-autos turn into Glock fan fiction?

    • “inherent flaws in the Glock design”

      ??

      C’mon dude, fan fiction? Gimme a break, cant we have a mature discussion about firearms? Why does it always have to turn into a my gun is better than your gun flame fest? If the Glock design is so flawed then why do so many law enforcement angencies use them? Sounds like it would be a pretty big liability considering how unsafe they are.

      • Uhh…it started as “my gun is better than your gun”. That first line in italics is a quote from the original post.

        As for the police using them: have you not read this site very long? There’s a story every week about a cop’s gun “accidentally” going off. And the cops never get in trouble for it.

        Then of course, there are all of these stories about Glocks discharging in their holsters.

        • Yeah I’m all too familiar with the cop bashing on this site. It still doesnt prove that GLOCKs are unsafe. Safe has more to do with the person carrying the weapon than the weapon itself. Also, isnt “guns are unsafe!” the cry of the left wing gun grabbers? Sounds like you are helping their argument as well as promoting your own. Division between gun enthusiasts is the only thing stopping us from winning the fight for the 2nd amendment. People need to think about that before posting inflamatory comments that are meant to satisfy their own egos. That goes for cop bashing as well since most cops are pro 2nd amendment and firearm enthusiasts as well.

    • I also like how stiker fired is the “modern approach”. While yes more modern than single action or double action the principle is well over 100 years old. The 1903 Colt pocket hammerless was a commercially successful firearm that was striker fired. I have a CZ Duo captured in WWII that is striker fired. Not to bash on GLOCK they did good things; taking neglected, underutilized, and proven firearm and manufacturing inovations to put a unique product on the market that is a reliable for most people. I do own and carry a GLOCK 20 on occassion, but i agree with the sentiment of not putting GLOCKs on some highly exalted pedestal above criticism.

    • I seriously dislike the trigger on my Glock, and it is the only firearm I have ever owned that I will not leave the chamber loaded on, because I do not trust its safety. To say that it has a trigger that is better in any way than my Sig 229 is incomprehensible. To say its better than my Colt Python is just deranged.

    • What kind of ratings scale do you use, to arrive at the conclusion that the DA pull on a DA/SA Sig is “better” than the Glock? I’m assuming a normal Glock, not severely cement booted by state politicians to give their mob donors a better chance against those they prey on. I can understand preferring the DAK pull to the standard Glock trigger (or to not), but the DA pull on a standard Sig????

  10. One other nit to pick. I’m not totally comfortable about the recommendation of .380s as being “a reasonably powerful cartridge.” I’ve been impressed by discussions of sectional density lately, and noted that the 22LR actually has a greater SD than the .380–although both are quite inadequate from the SD standpoint compared to 9/.40/.45 in 147/180/230. I understand the argument for pocket pistols, especially for women, but I would still think long and hard before going with a .380.

    • I did. But I live in a warm/hot climate and OC is verboten. Carrying even my Kimber Ultra Carry .45 just was not happening, usually I left it at home. A .380 with me every hour of every day, mowing the grass, watching my TV in my living room, whatever, is what assures me if I need a gun, ever, I will have one. If I’m in my car, the .45 is there, when I get out the .380 is with me. As a result, I do not skimp on ammo, Critical Defense is expensive, where ball ammo for the .45 would still be more effective, a .380 needs all the help it can get. And don’t run it down too far, TX first CHL use was a man who killed a gangbanger with one shot from his Sig .380.

  11. I have a couple of quibbles (discussed below) but as with the revolver article this is an excellent primer for a person wanting learn more about firearms.

    Quibble #1: ” As with revolvers, one must really want to fire a GLOCK to make it discharge.”

    TTAG has posted enough IGOTD articles about unintended Glock discharges better known as an ND. The Glock trigger system is a drop safety. Unlike the Springfield system with its 1911 inspired grip safety you can easily inadvertently make it go off. It happens a lot.

    Quibble #2: “Semiautos generally have less intrinsic accuracy than revolvers. This is so because their barrels–with a few notable exceptions, many in .22LR only–are not fixed to the frame and thus, unmoving as the slide cycles.”.

    Another falsehood. Accuracy is an end-to-end process involving the length of barrel, the sights, trigger pull and recoil. For any given size revolvers have shorter barrels, longer trigger pulls and much more recoil which more than offsets any stability achieved by the fixed barrel. Revolvers are great for hunting, bull’s eye shooting and point blank self defense but are a terrible choice for general self defense applications. Why do you think military switched from revolvers to automatics?

    Quibble #3. Automatic is the correct term because the term automatic is derived from automatic loading not automatic firing.

    • “For any given size revolvers have shorter barrels”

      That’s not true, when measuring semi auto barrel length the manufacturers include the chamber. When measuring the barrel length on a revolver the cylinder or chamber is not included. For example a 4in barreled revolver has a longer barrel than a 4in barreled semi auto. I know it’s semantics but I think you are making a failed attempt to disparage revolvers. Also the “more recoil” is offset by the weight and ergonomics of the revolver and the long trigger pull just takes practice to get familiar with. It boils down to personal preference and the needs of the shooter. Like I stated above I started out with semi autos but now I prefer revolvers. I wouldnt really say either is necessarily “better”. Better is a rifle but that’s a different topic altogether.

      • I am not talking about barrel length I am talking about size of the pistol. A S&W 686 with a 4″ barrel is longer than a 1911.

    • Quibble #3. Automatic is the correct term because the term automatic is derived from automatic loading not automatic firing.

      Granted, but then where does the term “semi-auto” come from? Confusing.

    • Quibble #2: “Semiautos generally have less intrinsic accuracy than revolvers. … Another falsehood.

      While I generally prefer semi-autos to revolvers, if I needed to do some accurate handgun shooting from beyond-ordinary-self-defense distances, I’m pretty sure I’d pick a revolver to do that. The reason that “Revolvers are great for hunting [and] bull’s eye shooting” may have something to do with their intrinsic accuracy. I have no proof to offer, but that has certainly been my experience.

      • I think we agree. Bull’s eye shooting and hunting are typically done with long barreled big bore revolvers. The shooter is taking deliberate shots. If you have an revolver and a automatic with similar ballistic properties do the following experiment. Set a standard silhouette at 10 yards. Take the automatic and fire it as fast as you can and still hit center mass. Then take the revolver and fire it at the same rate as the automatic. I bet that between the recoil and the trigger pull you will miss the target no later the third shot with the revolver. I can empty the magazine of my 1911 in less than three seconds and have all the rounds within 4″ at 5 yards. I don’t think you can do that with a revolver unless you are in Jerry Micelak’s class.

      • Geez whiz Pastor Paul, just go through the years of IGOTD and ND stories on TTAG to ascertain if my assertion is true.

        • When my brother was in the law-enforcement academy in the early 70’s, one of the reasons his force still issued revolvers is because of the number of cops who were shooting holes through the floorboards of their patrol cars with their new semiautomatics. Since the first model 17 was almost ten years away, I’d say police negligent discharges aren’t unique to Glock. Cops are required to carry guns whether they are interested in them or not. That means there will be accidents. TTAG publishes stories about those accidents. A lot of them involve Glocks. Is that because Glocks are unsafe, or because most cops carry Glocks? Show me the study that backs up your assertion and stop substituting name calling for logic.

    • “Intrinsic Accuracy” is most often used to refer to maximally achievable accuracy under ideal conditions. IOW, as close to as possible, measure the mechanical limitations of accuracy of the firearm itself, not the firearm/shooter interaction. In that case, most revolvers tend to be better than most semis. Line bored revolvers with tight tolerances (Freedom) are pretty spectacular, although AR type semiautos aren’t exactly laggards either….

      I don’t know about the military, but from what I gather, police departments switched to semis because of new training protocols advocating getting as close to a 200/1 shots to hits ratio as possible. Which can be accomplished quicker and with less fatigue with a semi 🙂

  12. “The music … may be annoying”
    Yeah, no big deal, I can mute that. But what I found annoying was that I was trying to get a good look at the trigger/sear/striker action, and just as I’m about to focus in, it does that twirling, zooming movement that accomplishes absolutely nothing but annoy. And then it does the same thing. Tease, bang, swoop, tease, bang swoop, etc.

  13. “…In these [single-action semi-automatic] pistols, an exposed hammer is manually fully cocked…”

    Uh, no.

    The hammer can be manually cocked, but that is not the primary or only way it is done.

    • Actually, yes it is. He’s not referring to the hammer being “recocked” when the slide cycles, he’s talking about “initially”. If you have a single-action semi-automatic pistol, you either cocked the hammer when you jacked in the first round, OR you cocked the hammer just before you were ready to fire – in either case, it was a manual action that resulted in a cocked hammer. This differs in the “double-action” in that you had to perform some separate action to cock the hammer. I’m a 1911 guy, myself, and NO amount of pulling on the trigger is going to make it fire if I haven’t cocked it first.

      • quibble. cocking the hammer is a separate action from jacking the slide, which may (or may not) accomplish chambering a round simultaneously. most would read that as meaning utilization of thumb, one possible scenario.

        • Speaking of which, thumbing the hammer on a 1911 is so awkward it’s hard to believe. My Python is a pleasure to cock, the slickness difficult to believe. Uncocking is easy. Trying to let down the hammer on a 1911 feels suicidal, tho I confess I have never tried it with the gun loaded.

    • Agreed. Thanks for the write up!

      Sorry for all the anal nitwits picking it apart over pittance.

  14. All semiautomatic pistols work on the same basic principle: Firing a cartridge harnesses the energy of firing to push a heavy metal slide back against a powerful spring that keeps the action closed until pressure drops to a safe level.

    No. The powerful spring has little or no role in that. In simple blowback designs it’s the inertia of the breech block that keeps it from opening too far for safety until pressure drops to a safe level, in delayed blowback designs it’s the leveraged inertia of the breech block and/or breech carrier that does that, in short recoil designs it’s the locked travel of the barrel and the breech block that does that, and so on with all the other designs. If a powerful spring were strong enough to do that, it would still keep the action closed after that too.

    There’s a typo in “ii vis pacem, para bellum”; it should be “si vis pacem, para bellum”.

    Semiautos generally have less intrinsic accuracy than revolvers. This is so because their barrels–with a few notable exceptions, many in .22LR only–are not fixed to the frame and thus, unmoving as the slide cycles.

    That fixing of the barrel was a feature of Pedersen’s original hesitation locked Remington, and having a lower line of the barrel reduced the shooter’s own inaccuracy too. It’s a shame that the new ones on that principle have other problems.

  15. Automitics is not an incorrect term, just an old one redefined. Originally circa 1900s early semi-automatic pistols were called automatic pistols because the mechanism to feed the next round was automatic, i.e. Colt 1911 Automatic Pistol. This is similar to how older rifles in the 1860s were refered to as repeaters because a simple action could reload the chamber for a subsiquent shot. Also early semi auto rifles were called self loading rifles. The term semi automatic came more prevelant as fully automatic weapons were fielded by militaries. Semi automatic and automatic is the more common modern day usage of the term so most references to automatics are yes indeed incorrect, but it is also an accurate statement if referencing the original use of automatic pistol.

    • Those early “semi-automatics” originally were termed “automatic loading” or “self loading,” and sometimes “automatic cocking.” The distinction between fully and semi automatic was entirely academic prior to the NFA of 1934 because there then was no legal stigma attached to any firearm’s feeding method.

  16. “The only currently manufactured, widely available firearm that actually uses clips is the M1 Garand battle rifle.”

    Great article, but I do feel compelled to point out that most double action revolvers that shoot (semi-)auto cartridges use ‘moon clips’ or ‘half-moon clips’.

  17. Odd, just had a weird “error 500, syntax” page come up when I tried to post. Ate my post too…

    Didn’t really enjoy this “primer” as much as the revolver one. Then again I’m not the target audiance for a “primer” on firearms either way, but I feel like there are too many little things that could be corrected (information wise) and too many pieces of fat that could be trimmed off of the article.

    Blowback =/= recoil operated.

    Should have broken up firing actuation (Striker vs Hammer) and trigger types (SA, DA, DAO, Preset) instead just kinda bunching them all together.

    No need for the entire first section to be here (reminicing about Colt vs Ruger revolvers).

    Etc.

  18. Here’s a better animation of the glock action. However, it doesn’t show the firing pin safety.

  19. I like Glocks fine, but parts of the article do sound like an advert for Glock. If you want an auto that won’t fire unless you really intend for it to fire either a manual safety or a DA only pistol are in your future. In fact, if you’re looking for a gun to have an ND with Glock makes a good choice. It’s not that Glocks aren’t good, but they are in fact of a design (along with many others) most likely to have an ND, not least. To compare striker pistols to DA revolvers in terms of likelihood of ND is ludicrous.

    What Glock made was intended for and serves well as a military sidearm, designed to be carried openly and with it’s trigger guard fully covered by a solid holster of either plastic or heavy nylon. In this they are truly great. In a capacity for size contest the G-15 might be the king of concealment pieces, Glock has made some great guns, but to say that they are safer than other designs is simply untrue.

  20. Holy GLOCK GLOCKMAN! Sorry, just had to get that out of my system after reading it so many times. But seriously about those GLOCKs, just how GLOCKY are they? On a scale of GLOCK to GLOCK where do they rate as compared to say a GLOCK? I think I’m just going to etch GLOCK into my Sig just to try and ramp it up on the GLOCK scale. Have a GLOCKday everyone and to all a GLOCKnight.

  21. I own and operate a training company Called…. Shoot…Don’t Shoot LLC in Henderson, NV.
    We teach firearm safety and Marksmanship basic intermediate and advanced, tactical shooting skills.

    Handgun, Carbine and Shotgun. Defensive shooting skills. To students of all ages. We also teach
    tactical awareness. I recently purchased (9) CC Knives to give to each student who graduated from our
    refuse to be a victim course, and personal safety away, from the home.
    I believe it’s a GGGRRR888 purchase.
    Semper Fi
    Ed McCourt
    Capt US Marine corps ret

  22. Although this is a good article on the most basic of the basics, intended for the gun newbie, it requires a caveat. The same caveat that most any article does, LET THE READER(esp newbies) BEWARE! Most all authors are biased in favor of their favorites. It shows up here as a bias towards striker-fired, plastic handguns(Glocks in particular).
    In just one example of this, it is stated(by the author): “The primary advantages of semiautos are that they are more easily concealable…”. This is just factually incorrect. It is the GRIP that “prints” under clothing, NOT the cylinder. Revolvers can(not necessarily will) have a much smaller grip, as there is no necessity to contain ammunition within. The cylinder is a lump that can be less COMFORTABLE to carry than a flat autoloader, but is still much less likely to “print” allowing the carry to be noticed, which is the definition of concealability.
    Then there is the lack of proper labeling of a “jam” vs a “stoppage”, the incorrect assertion that autoloaders have a lower bore to hand line, and so on.
    ALL persons are biased in one way or another, so newbies beware, take all “expert” advice with many grains of salt, and use your own experiences and situation to sort out your own decisions.
    IMO the best piece of advice here is this: “There is no “perfect” handgun–revolver or semiautomatic–superior to all others. We are all different”
    HEAR, HEAR! My personal bias runs towards revolvers, even though I own only two of them. Just examine how very easy they are to understand and learn to use vs ANY(even a Glock) autoloader. Just handle one of each in a store and notice how much simpler and more intuitive the revolver is. This is why I say they are always to be preferred FOR THE BEGINNER. Later, if one chooses to become more familiar with a greater variety(its the spice of life!) of options, autoloaders can be that. The increased capacity and quicker reloading just MIGHT be a factor, depending upon… who knows what all. Striker fired plastic handguns will be easier to transition to from a revolver, than, for example, a 1911, but by then you may judge that the basics are learned well enough to make the jump clear over the Glock type firearms. All the plastic handguns are, is really just a design that is simpler for a beginner to operate than a “normal” semiauto, and cheaper to manufacture. This is good for a rank beginner, but then a DA revolver is simpler and yet easier to understand, so why start out with them? IMO the plastic striker arms are best used as a second step towards a more complex semiauto, or just the end of the trail for someone who wants a semiauto, but does not care about the further intricacies of the Glock “fail-safe” trigger that does, indeed, fail every time a dud round is “fired”, etc.

  23. Obviously the author and his spouse are well trained and practice regularly. I wonder though, about the risk entailed by carrying handguns with different mechanisms and trigger pulls. Under stress, would it not be better to have trained with firearms that are all single or all DA/SA or DA only, and with similar trigger pulls. This would be particularly true of those with less than stellar training and practice habits. When a stressful situation is presented, it is counterproductive to rely on anything less than instinct. When you draw a handgun in defense you should not have to consciously think, “is this a Glock or a Bodyguard” and “how do I modify my operation/aim/trigger pull, etc.” Glocks come in so many sizes. Would it not be prudent to only carry Glocks?
    Just asking.

  24. The majority of the gun-owning public should still be using revolvers. That is just an obvious fact, stated often by NRA basic handgun instructors, but the stupid gun press and fanboys will argue and argue that people need the latest semi-auto.

    These statements are supported by what I see regularly going on at my local shooting ranges (and in classes) with people who don’t quite understand their semi-auto pistols. In fact, I often will leave a range when newbies show up with semi-autos. In just the past few years we’ve had many cases of negligent discharges with semi-autos at one local range (fortunately with no serious injuries). In contrast, the owner there only remembers TWO cases in twenty years with revolvers at the range. That’s with thousands of people using the range over that time. This range requires a concealed carry or NRA safety class first before use, so you’d think the people would learn their semi-auto pistol operation well, but they don’t.

    The gun press continues to push semi-autos, and that’s just wrong for the majority of gun owners who don’t practice often. Most people are not mechanically inclined, and just have trouble rembering how not to do stupid things. Or they just forget and then do stupid things. With a revolver it is much harder to be stupid.

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