A GLOCK is significantly more reliable than a 1911. I carry a 1911. Why? Because reliability is only one variable in a defensive gun use, and far from the most important one . . .

Defending your life with a firearm is all about minimizing risk. The first and most important variable that you can control: avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things.

Sure, bad things can happen anywhere. But the chances of being attacked in a good neighborhood are significantly less than the chances of being attacked in a dodgy area. At night. Alone. If you can’t or won’t avoid times and places where an assault is more likely to occur, like, say, a parking garage after a concert, fair enough. Your risk is higher than mine.

The second variable is situational awareness. If you can sense danger before it turns life-threatening and avoid it, perhaps by leaving, result.

The third variable is your ability to move out of the way. If you have a choice between moving out of the way of an attack or shooting from a stationary position that puts you in harm’s way, which would you choose first?

The fourth variable is your ability to bring your gun to bear on the bad guy or guys as you move. Most defensive gun uses end without a shot fired. If you have quick access to a firearm, if you can draw your gun efficiently, you significantly lower your chances of being a victim.

The fifth variable is shot placement. If you can hit the bad guy or guys with bullets it will provide a strong disincentive for them to continue their attack. Everything after that – including the caliber of round with which you hit them – is relatively unimportant.

And that’s why I’m not bothered about my gun’s reliability: I place all of the above above my gun’s reliability. Especially accuracy. I have confidence I can hit what I’m aiming at with my 1911. I also shoot my gun often enough to know that it’s acceptably reliable. In other words, the chances are high that it will function when I need it to.

Yes but – why not carry a GLOCK and take that variable off the table?

Again, I value accuracy over reliability. And I am mentally prepared to continue fighting if it doesn’t function. I’ve got a spare mag to try to fix a problem and enough sense to not try if I don’t have the time. Or ditch the idea of using my gun entirely.

If you own a GLOCK because you believe it will never fail, you are making big mistake. All guns fail, whether through mechanical function or operator error. Especially operator error. As in failing to get it out in time or dropping it or missing your target or running out of ammo.

At the end of the day, it’s best to carry a gun that you can use effectively. A gun you carry well and shoot well. I will never question anyone’s choice of weapon – if they’re comfortable carrying that gun and can hit their target, they’re good to stow.

Truth be told, I have three carry guns: a 1911, a compact 9mm SIG and a Kahr pocket nine. I feel comfortable with all of them. But I don’t assume that any of them will work. Why would I?

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290 Responses to Reliability is Over-Rated

    • Let me be blunt: If you know your pistol is less than 100 percent reliable under ideal conditions (normal periodic maintenance after practice/training while using your carry load), and you haven’t taken steps to correct the problem or replace the pistol, you’re just making excuses, and very poor ones, to boot.

      And spewing a bunch of words about how you believe this and that are more important than reliability is just whistling past the graveyard. There is nothing that prevents a person from practicing stoppage clearance and other important drills with a reliable pistol, so the person who carries a reliable pistol can be just as well-trained and “mentally prepared to continue fighting” as the person with a reliable pistol. But the damage to your confidence that a intermittently unreliable pistol subjects you to cannot be minimized. Just like a poorly trained or practiced person, a person with a gun that may not function reliably will be pushed by their own subconscious to present the firearm earlier, and perhaps even shoot earlier than a person with a reliable pistol might, to allow themselves “extra time” to clear a stoppage, should they need it. And unlike all those other situations you listed which take place under far less critical time constraints, clearing one or more stoppages AFTER the gunfight has begun, simply will not allow any room for contemplation or error. In fact, there may not be enough time for it at all.

      If the possibility exists that when it comes time to shoot, you may only have barely enough time to shoot, then it is incumbent on the carrier to do their very best to make sure that their pistol will shoot as near to every time they need it as possible. Start with a reliable pistol/ammo combo, and work backward from there.

      I even have confidence you can equal your 1911 accuracy-at-speed-under-realistic-conditions record with a box-stock Glock, if you only practice a bit more and decide it’s an important enough goal. It’s just not that difficult.

      • No gun is a 100% reliable. What you want is a gun that is reliable for 3 rounds in 3 seconds at 3 feet. There are millions of GIs who have used the 1911 in far harsher conditions than you will who say it is. It has practical reliability. It doesn’t matter whether it is less likely to make it through a 1000 round training session than a Glock because you aren’t going to get into a 1000 round fight. You are probably more likely to limp wrist a Glock under pressure of a real DGU than it is for a 1911 to jam.

        • “It has practical reliability.”

          Precisely this.

          Is a Glock more reliable? Sure is, especially when you go through a gauntlet of mud-crawling with your pistol to off hand, weak hand shooting in the rain putting over 1,000 rounds down range. In that scenario I’d take a Glock over a 1911, but in a practical scenario when I carry my pistol IWB and the most severe environment threat it faces is maybe a little body sweat and some shirt lint I think any decent 1911 is on pretty even footing with a Glock,

        • Mine are as close to 100% as I get reasonably get, and I’ve never felt I had to choose between accuracy and reliability as the article indicates.

          You throw out many points that have no bearing on the situation as stated. Robert’s pistol has only superficial resemblance to a mil-spec 1911A1, and I’m guessing his defensive ammo is VERY different as well. I don’t need 1000 rounds to tell me my gun is reliable, but if reliability problems are cropping up often enough in normal range training/practice that a person feels they have to choose between reliability and accuracy, they are using the wrong gun/ammo combo.

          Your 3/3/3 standard is an average, based on a study of cop shootings that is long out-of-date, and if you are ever involved in a DGU, you’ve already busted the “average odds” quite badly. No one ever finished a gunfight and said “Wow, I was carrying WAY too much ammo, I think I’ll cut back from now on.” In fact, one of the saddest things I can think of would be a well-trained person with the skills and tools to survive an otherwise-manageable defensive encounter, that failed to do so because they followed some dated advice on how many total rounds they thought they might need.

          Or a person that died because they thought it was more important to have a really accurate pistol, than a really reliable one.

        • I bet the average GI 1911 rattled like a old screen door as well. Very well broken in and probably started off lose. Most 1911 owners these days run really nice tight fitting 1911’s that are custom in some way.

          If I had to run a 1911, I would get a no frills colt or springfield and shoot the snot out of it to break it in nice. I would not run any custom crap to make it a hair trigger or whatever.

          On my Glock’s I replace the sights (Amariglo I-Dot Pro) and install the Glock OEM “-” connector to slightly smooth out the trigger wall, probably gives me a 5 lb trigger? Nothing else is changed. I even shoot a Glock at least 200 times before I use it as a carry weapon, if not more like 500 times.

        • +1. Doesnt take much to limp wrist a Glock and get a stovepipe. A little distraction, moving while shooting, etc. I think this goes for any lightweight compact handgun in .40 or .45, however. These are not guns for beginners. If you want more reliability get a revolver.

        • Another over-hyped “weakness” from which all semi-autos suffer.

          I can fire my defensive Glocks with a one-finger grip (the middle finger, to be precise) with perfect reliability, so as in many other things, I’m not too concerned about this supposed problem.

        • I ran 1000 rounds through my Springfield MILSPEC without cleaning it just to see how far I could go without cleaning it. Not one hickup. I figured that was enough.

          The best 1911s for Carry are in the $700-$1000 range. They are meant to be shot and not babied for competition. A lot of shooters by these guns and customize them for competition. Then they break and the platform gets blamed.

        • I’ve put several thousand rounds through my mil-spec Springfield 1911 and never had a malfunction.

        • “What you want is a gun that is reliable for 3 rounds, for 3 seconds, and 3 feet” and if you need more, what then? Maybe you used up that 3 rounds at the range, and on the way home, you needed 3 more!

        • tdiinva and Mike in OK,

          Unless those rounds were all your carry load, they mean almost nothing when it comes to screening your gun for carry reliability. FMJ/RN target/range ammo at low to medium velocities will not test how well sharp-edged JHPs will ride up the ramp and chamber, whether the mags can “keep up” with the higher slide velocities produced by full-power defensive loads, or whether your pistol can extract and eject full-strength loads cleanly. You’d have been much better off (and learned much more about your carry system) to spend the same money on 100-200 rounds of carry ammo, and test that instead.

        • #gunr;

          What part of 1000 rounds between cleanings without failure don’t you get?

      • I carry a Glock. I also have used a Colt 1911 and Commander for years and have complete confidence in both those weapons. Reliability is not the reason I’m currently carrying a Glock.

        • I keep hearing a lot of good things about the CZ P07 – it’s routinely referred to as “The best pistol nobody knows about”. I would almost put the FNX-45 in that category – I treat it worse than my lawnmower and it keeps humming along. Only downside on the FNX is you must have Cro-Magnon hands to hold it. A full size 1911 or Glock actually looks small in my catchers mitts, so the FNX is to scale for me, but too big for EDC. I’m definitely going to look into a CZ.

        • A colleague of mine bought an FNX is cracked its plasticy frame behind the trigger guard at 4,000 rounds. Another friend bought a CZP07. He found the accuracy level far, far below that of his CZ75.

        • I have medium to large hands. The FNX feels extremely comfortable and not large at all. It is a double stack .45 but the grip is square, not wasting space on ergonomics. I hate anything ergonomic. To me, it feels like gripping a tennis racket.

        • +1000….cz’s work for me. With that said, I see more glocks and 1911’s go down during competitions than anything else. BUT, after the talking with these people, they worked on the guns themselves…. Oh ok…that explaines a lot. Normally, no issues with stock glocks or 1911’s, or those that were worked on professionally. I think most guns are reliable these days. But in the end, I’ve had the best luck with 3 cz’s so I will carry on. Find what works for you a.carry it…be safe..

        • Most amateur gunsmithing is right there with a DIY home open heart surgery kit – just a bad idea across the board. Every class I’ve been in a class where a Glock has gone down was where they plucked all the stock stuff out of it and randomly replaced it with aftermarket items not fitted for the gun. I wonder why it won’t run. I’ve shot 1911’s for years, but you must be locked on regarding their specific issues and maintenance or you will have problems eventually. Larry Vickers has a nice description of this. I once learned this sage wisdom from a class I took with a former career SF/Delta guy: “The pistol you train properly and frequently with is probably the most effective one for you.”

        • +1 on the CZ. My 75b has been customized with the omega trigger, short reset sear, slightly lower hammer spring, and longer firing pin to offset the lighter spring. Reliability is 99.999%. A couple years ago I used the Action Magic dry lube process on it and then ran 1500 rounds through it just to see what would happen. The gun didn’t miss a beat and I blew what little bit of crap off it that was visable. That sold me on a dry lube process for semi auto pistols. That gun is still my favorite range and hunting backup gun. I think John Browning’s high-power was the best design he came up with and CZ does a great copy of it. Its the only handgun I can hit a man size target with 95% of the time at 100 yards. If I had to pick one pistol to keep me safe no matter what its this pistol. To bad its just to big and heavy for EDC for me.

      • I have ripped through 250 rounds in average afternoons with my Kimber Grand Raptor. Except for that effin TULA it is very reliable. I’ve mixed “hock shop” combs of FMJ, ordinary HP and bonded defense. No mater the combo of loads it has yet to hiccup in 5 years due to regular cleaning and use of Slipstream lubes.

        Ray

      • Nice reply. After reading the initial post a second time, I thought it should be retitled. “M1911 owner says ‘reliability is overrated.'” LOL.

  1. Interesting thought. I don’t live my life in fear. Sounds exhausting to plan out every detail of your day to be sure to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually, to me it sounds impossible. Even locations that people believe are safe and “Gun free” can be dangerous at times. A church shooting comes to mind.

    For me, reliability is a huge issue. I would never carry a SideArm that I believe to be unreliable. That would be unresponsible and maybe dangerous.

    • True, but there is not really such a thing as an inherently UNreliable mid to top shelf handgun these days. Most of them have performance records that WWII era pistols would kill for. I think the author is talking about having a safety margin in accuracy be more important than a safety margin in reliability.

      • I agree that (overall) the pistols are very good nowadays, but it is only one part of the defensive combo. There is enough off-the-wall/weird ammo available that you can take a perfectly good pistol and choke it into unreliability with crappy ammo. Or fill it with good ammo and never clean or lube it, carrying it until it gets so dry/dusty/rusty it will not shoot more than one shot reliably.

        People need to shoot their carry pistol with their carry load at least a couple of times a year, and make sure the combo of gun/ammo/maintenance is still producing reliable results. If not, diagnose the problem and fix it, or use another combo altogether.

        • Oh, I 100% agree. But let’s be honest, after a certain point, it’s all fanwank. We’re not Army SEAL Ranger Team Six Recon tactical operators operating strategically in a high speed environment. We’re not going to be shooting these guns for ten million rounds without cleaning, while buried in molten lava… on the Moon.

          My friends mock me because I normally carry either a P99 or PPK/S, but while neither gun has the reputation of a Glock, they have worked 100% for me, and I don’t expect to be baking them into any cakes any time soon.

        • If your pistol works 100% or the time (really) with your carry load, and you shoot it regularly (twice a year?) with that load, then I wouldn’t criticize it at all, no matter what it is. What we are talking about is giving up ANY increased level of reliability for some smidgen of accuracy, or a pretty blue finish, or nicely checkered walnut grips, or any other non-contributing-to-effective-defensive-use feature.

        • But that’s not really true. if you read the article, it doesn’t dismiss reliability. It just states that since all handguns are more or less reliable these days, practical accuracy should take precedence over fanwank.

        • He says “I also shoot my gun often enough to know that it’s acceptably reliable. In other words, the chances are high that it will function when I need it to.”

          “Acceptably reliable” = not reliable. It either is, or it isn’t. Unless his definition of “acceptably reliable” is actually “reliable” (works all the time), in which case he invalidated the entire need for the article and his stated choice.

          He also says “Again, I value accuracy over reliability.” First, this is a false choice when it comes to practical accuracy of the type needed to defend your life. Second, it also implies, like the other statement, that his chosen pistol is not 100% reliable, or there would be no need to make this statement (or choice).

          I’ll say it again, as it bears repeating: giving up ANY level of reliability to gain any small amount of accuracy is false economy. Reliability is far more likely to have a practical effect on your defensive use than any perceived increase in square-range accuracy. If your reliable pistol flat isn’t accurate enough to meet your needs, find another gun (or try other ammunition, as this can make a big difference).

        • I took “acceptably reliable” to mean that any stoppages were related to issues that were identified and resolved. Robert is not an idiot. I tend to give an author the benefit of the doubt. My PPK/S used to have serious cycling issues where the slide wouldn’t return to battery. I did some work on it, changed the ammo, and it’s been running 100% for years.

        • Again, if his reliability problems had truly been solved, why would he feel like he had to choose between reliability and accuracy? Answer: he wouldn’t.

      • Clearly, I wasn’t clear enough in my post.

        I’m not arguing that reliability isn’t a factor. I’m saying that it’s one of many. Anyone who focuses on their equipment, generally, more than their awareness, training and technique, generally, is making a great landing at the wrong airport.

        Most guns are hugely reliable. What are the odds that your EDC will MALF at the exact moment you need it? Low. Really low. So . . .

        If most guns are acceptably reliable, then the criteria for carrying it should place reliability lower on the scale than comfort and accuracy. For me.

        • But RF, aren’t most guns, even the lowly Hi-Point, also sufficiently accurate for DGU purposes? As I said elswewhere, it would take a HUGE accuracy fail in a DGU situation to equal a “normal” reliability fail. Why would you give up “significant” (your words) reliability advantage in favor of meaningless accuracy improvement?

        • Well– your first three variables don’t apply to firearm selection. Your fourth is the first addressing a point where you might compromise in selecting between firearms that meet your minimum reliability criteria. You would choose the one that you shoot better while on the move vice one that was more reliable than your minimum.

          Similarly, you make a good point about choosing (again assuming several meet a minimum reliability) the holster/weapon combo that you can draw more quickly.

          I think the compromise decision also comes into play in terms of concealability. That is, choosing the holster/weapon combo based on ability to conceal under particular conditions being more important than some increase in reliability over the minimum acceptable.

        • I think you were clear. I chose m&p 9 core for reliability over accuracy. And it is highly reliable, but not nearly as accurate. Both are accurate and reliable enough to count on. 1911s are just so 2nd kind of cool.

  2. The first thing a gun must be is reliable. The most precise weapon or the best accessories in the world are useless if the gun doesn’t go bang when the trigger is pulled. I love my USP for this reason. The thing is built like a tank and I can put holes through holes.

    • No matter the number of firearms that are what you would call reliable, it still must be the first priority in a EDC gun. Just because you have more choices and the selection is easier to make, doesn’t push reliability out of the most important consideration.

    • Reliability is so high amongst modern pistols that it’s no longer THE issue for gun selection. IMHO.

      I’d buy any GLOCK, Springfield, H&K, Walther, FN, Smith & Wesson or other mainstream brand with confidence that it would go bang when needed.

      Yes, I’d test it. And maintain it. But I wouldn’t worry about a failure. Nor freak if one happened. Persistent failure? Yes, of course I’d get it fixed or get rid of it.

      I’ve only encountered two handguns that didn’t work. The Cabot and a Smith & Wesson 686 where the lock failed. Both were fixed and tested (by me) and I’d carry either without hesitation.

      • I have a Walther P99 with a tight chamber and it is not reliable with all types of ammo. I have a Walther P88 which is even worse.

        • are your pistols reliable with any ammo choice? if not, would those pistols be marked for self-defense? does ‘reliability’ mean a pistol must be capable of shooting any proper caliber ammo you might find lying about on the ground amidst a gunfight?

          there are 1911s that have a reputation for being bad choices, no matter who has it. that does not make the 1911 type ‘unreliable’. it means that a 1911 should be from a manufacturer who demonstrates they produce a 1911 that runs great, has a 6-sigma manufacturing capability, is sold in numbers greater than those proven unreliable, is used by a recognized competition team, can be used right out of the box, feeds whatever ammo the user depends on, can go 35,000rds or more without cleaning….that sort of thing. if one is contemplating a 1911 that is not as reliable as a block, do not buy that 1911. all the complaints about 1911s generally relate to some horror story long ago, or some weapon known for being poorly manufactured, or is known to not feed any ammo with regularity.

          as to limited magazine capacity, how many civilian (i mean, non-military/leo) gunfights have you read about/heard about where 15, 20 or 33 rounds were used? if you are gearing-up for the zombie apocalypse, i guess it is a good plan to have massive firepower because under that sort of stress there is likely to be a bunch of misses.

        • My definition of reliability is a pistol that will fire all types of ammo without a burp. Reliability must also include working when dirty, frozen or over or under lubed as well. The gun must not crack its frame or slide at low round counts with any type of ammo. Its parts breakage must be zero for at least 20,000 rounds. Many modern guns will not go even 5,000 rounds.

          I have seen even 1911 guns go inert at 4,000 rounds due to the springs wearing out and what was even more amazing they were used with mostly cream puff mid range loads and the springs still went kaput.

          I have seen various brands of plastic pistols both high dollar and low dollar break right behind the trigger guard and at low round counts. Example: An H&K 40 S&W at 4,000 rounds. A plasticky .380 at 200 rounds.

          I have seen the Late model Browning High Power Break its slide back at the passive fire pin slot as well as the Beretta 92 break its slide as well as the Walther P38 break its slide.

          I have seen the S&W 39 break its cast safety more than on just one gun and I have seen the same gun break off its rear aluminum frame rails all at less than 5,000 rounds.

          I have seen the Sig .45 p220 German stamped sheet metal slide gun break its slide and ditto for its aluminum frame.

          I have seen the Kimber 1911 break its slide stop but remember this is a cast part not the high quality forged part that Colt used to use which never gave me any breakage.

          I have seen the front sight fall off the Tanfogleo TZ 9mm. I have seen the Tanfogleo sear fail on the TZ 9mm in a brand new gun.

          I have seen the inner ejector rod on a S&W model 29 mushroom out inside its sleeve and jam up the cylinder on a gun with less than 250 rounds out of it.

          I have Seen the expensive Colt Python go out of time in less than 2,000 rounds.

          I have seen the H&R 929 jam its empties in the cylinder and refuse to eject until the guns cylinder cooled down and even then you had to beat the empty cases out of the cylinder.

          I have seen the P38 blow off its stamped sheet metal top cover taking away some of the inner workings with it. I have seen the P38 lose its extractor under recoil.

          I have seen the German Luger crack its breach block.

          I have seen the Polish Radom break its firing pin.

          I have seen the Browning High power break its firing pin and the 1911 get its extractor out of whack because the operator did not feed rounds out of the magazine but occasionally dropped a live round directly into the chamber which screwed up the bend in the extractor.

          I have seen the glock magazine fly apart when it hit the ground loaded scattering live rounds all over the pavement because the plasticky magazine flexed when it hit the concrete. This is one reason Glock redesigned the magazine floor plate catch with the new detent button located in the middle of the floor plate. Hopefully this cured the problem.

          I have seen magazine springs in various auto pistols weaken in a very short period of time when left loaded which caused feeding problems both in plasticky pistols and even in the 1911 as well.

          I wish I could find some of these modern reliable miracle weapons everyone here seems to tell me are as common as leaves on trees. In my neck of the woods I have yet to find one of any brand that fills that bill.

          The smart man buys his defense gun and tests it with the ammo he will use for about 200 rounds, then cleans the gun and never shoots it again. The more you shoot it the more likely the pistol which is a machine is more likely to break. When practicing use an alternate gun that you will never use for self defense. I think today this is more necessary than ever since many manufactures are now using MIM cast parts. If you have not heard about these parts then you have not kept up on what has been happening in the gun industry with some people like Detonics and Seecamp refusing to use any MIM cast parts in their guns. Does yours have them?

        • all forged steel.

          not sure why any gun needs to be able to flawlessly use any ammo manufactured for caliber. has there been a civilian self-defense situation where either opponent needed to scrounge the ground or building for more ammo, hoping to find something that would keep them in the fight. my thinking is avoid guns that have notable and recent significant episodes of failure (taurus, tang, kimber, amer classic, etc). find s/d ammo your gun uses well, and stick to it. my 1911 has a diet of random sources and weights; no problems. do 1911s fail, do their internals cause problems? have read such. but also read the same for the striker crowd. i have only sampled 9 different types of handguns; 1911 is the most successful for me (btw i like the idea of a real gun and a practice gun; great justification for a new one). there are a couple more i can get comfortable with, and not hesitate to edc. i just don’t want to switch back and forth between fire control systems, hoping to remember which is which when the crisis comes.

      • I know people are flipping out about this in the comment section, but i think you hit the nail on the head with this article.

        People say things like “i only trust brand X, because they’re the only manufacturer who makes guns reliable enough for me” all the time. Even though reliability differences between major manufacturers are negligible.

        When something truely unreliable comes onto the market, it doesn’t last. When the R51 released , people called it out for being shit within days, and the gun was recalled within a few months.

        If a firearm is still in production, its reliable enough.

        • As a group, that is true, but even within a group of reliable guns, you can find one or more less-reliable examples.

          People should test THEIR gun, with THEIR carry load, and use those results to determine whether or not THEIR gun system is reliable. Then they should re-rest it over time, to make sure it remains reliable (parts wear, ammo changes, and maybe your gun is not being lubed well enough or often enough; you’ll only find out by checking it periodically by shooting it).

        • Sorry, but anything you can say about the overall reliability of modern handguns you can say about overall accuracy, particularly in reference to the relatively mundane degree of accuracy that is really necessary in DGU-type situations. At this point, I am seeing the argument as conceptual rather than practical (as someone else noted, the general run of decent modern handguns are both “reliable enough” and “accurate enough” to successfully serve in DGU). And conceptually, the bullet has to leave the barrel before accuracy ever comes into play. I am now thinking it all comes down to this: Glocks are “accurate enough” as well as being “reliable”. RF’s 1911 is “reliable enough” in addition to being accurate. Both are “good enough”, then. RF prefers his 1911, but that is a matter of personal preference; to try to go beyond that and posit that, as a general matter, incremental increases in accuracy (insignificant in a DGU, essentially) are more important than incremental increases in reliability (again, insignificant once you reach a certain level of reliability, which pretty much all first-tier modern handguns have) is just puffing, and invites the kind of “angels on the head of a pin” back-and-forth that I found myself indulging in. But it is fun, up to a point, I guess.

  3. It’s all about probabilities. Nothing is absolute, except for Glocks. Glocks are absolute.

    I’m with you at least where defensive shotguns are concerned. If your autoloading shotgun isn’t reliable, get one that is. Buying a pump gun instead, for the sole reason of “reliability,” is foolish in my book.

    Defend your life with whatever tool you can use with confidence.

      • I own over a dozen Glocks, and I usually carry one (if I’m carrying at all). Glocks can have problems too, just like anything else; I’ve owned at least one that wasn’t reliable with any common defensive load, so I converted it to a range-only gun, useful only for target-shooting and for stoppage-clearing practice. Unreliable Glocks are much more rare than unreliable pistols of other types, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and the only way to find the “bad” ones is to shoot them regularly.

        Remember, too, that the gun is only one part of the combo; if you use crappy ammo, or by luck of the draw get a bad batch of ammo, the best pistol in the world can’t overcome it. Same thing for poor maintenance; if your Glock is clean and bone-dry, you’re asking for problems (if not in the first few rounds, then shortly after).

      • My plastic is Springfield and it is as reliable but it has a better trigger and is more accurate. However if you want to shoot 45 ACP there is no better platform than a 1911. Far superior trigger, more benign recoil so you will put more rounds on target in shorter period of time. And if you really want accuracy with a 9mm than there is no substitute for a Browning Hi Power.

        • Agreed on the reliability of the Croatian wonders. Pretty nice trigger, too.
          More accurate? That depends on how well you can handle a Glock trigger.

      • My plastic is Springfield and it is as reliable but it has a better trigger and is more accurate. However if you want to shoot 45 ACP there is no better platform than a 1911. Far superior trigger, more benign recoil so you will put more rounds on target in shorter period of time. And if you really want accuracy with a 9mm than there is no substitute for a Browning Hi Power.

  4. “reliability is only one variable in a defensive gun use, and far from the most important one . . .” you need to put down the pipe and step away. I guess you guys sometimes just write stuff to get a reaction or to see if anyone is listening/reading. Accuracy is just like great customer service…neither is worth a intercourse if your gun goes down and you are up to your neck in bad guys.

    • I don’t care about reliability either. I think a gun should be satiny and blemish free first. Then, I want it to be clean and lubed. I hate carrying a dirty gun. Third, a gun should have adjustable sights and excellent checking or stippling. I prefer guns with big billboards on the side so everybody knows what I’m OC without having to ask. Also, did I get it on sale? That’s huge in determining if I carry it! Most gun fights never happen and the first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun.
      In fact, this is how I practice: tap, rack, tap, rack, tap, rack, tap, rack, tap, rack, tap, rack, tap, rack, reload. I’m not dead yet. Must be doing something right.

  5. I understand the point that weapon reliability is not the prime consideration in the whole scheme of self-defense, but it is, in my opinion, the most important matter regarding the gun itself. With that said I don’t think the 1911 is inherently unreliable, but it is far more demanding in terms of maintenance and fine tuning than are modern designs. If you are willing to spend significant time at the bench the 1911 is still a perfectly viable defensive gun. It is still the top dog for shoot-ability, but it is a commitment to keep it running reliably. If you are willing to make the commitment it is an awesome gun.

  6. Usually your articles are on point, but in this case I completely and unequivocally disagree.

    I define my gun’s reliability as the confidence I have that when I pull the trigger, the gun will go bang. Until the gun is actually drawn, you are not in a defensive gun use situation, so variables 1-3 are not applicable in a DGU but rather negate the DGU completely. It is certainly possible that you may be able to draw the gun and point it at a perpetrator (variable 4) and in doing so, intimidate him/her into surrender or flight. But all the accuracy and shot placement in the world (variable 5) won’t help if the bullet doesn’t leave the chamber when you pull that trigger.

    Is there a such thing as 100% reliability in a handgun? Of course not. But if I’m not confident in a gun’s reliability, it doesn’t matter how accurate I am, it doesn’t matter how fast I can fire and get back on target, I’m simply not carrying the gun.

    • William,

      Mr. Farago is NOT advocating that people carry defective handguns. Rather, he is prodding people to think about other extremely important variables of self-defense that many people overlook.

      The generally accepted wisdom is that a self-defense handgun should exhibit no more than 1 failure (failure to feed, extract, stove-pipe, go into battery, light primer strike, etc.) in every 200 shots with your self-defense ammunition. Fewer failures is frosting on the cake. If someone thinks their particular handgun will exhibit even fewer failures, great! Either way, the chances of a handgun failure causing you to loose an attack are acceptably low. And more importantly, less critical than the other factors like avoiding stupid people/places/times, maintaining situational awareness, and the king of all factors — MOVING if an attack occurs (e.g. “getting off the X” as many people say).

      • Mr. Farago clearly stated in the article “I value accuracy over reliability”, which I believe is not only a false choice, but a darn poor one. Accuracy is only a factor after the bullet leaves the barrel, therefore the pistol must be reliable before we can even BEGIN to discuss accuracy. If it isn’t reliable, try different magazines or ammo, or get a new pistol and start over with your testing.

        It all begins with reliability, and either it is, or it isn’t. Period.

  7. In my view, reliability is by far the most important feature of a defensive gun. If you need it and it goes click, nothing else about the gun matters, except how well you can throw it.

    • To somewhat quote Joe Biden here…

      “Buy a Hi-Point, buy a Hi-Point!”

      Now you have a funny shaped brick that occasionally can fire a bullet or two.

    • ok, so my 1911 doesn’t fail even once every 200rds (should i get a different one?). samples of my 1911 are used in competition, and have not failed in 10s of thounds of rounds. am i overlooking something to believe my 1911 is reliable?

  8. Wow really? I don care how accurate your 1911 is if you cant rely on it! Reliability is by far the most important feature of a defensive gun!

    • You can rely on any decent 1911. If a gun is basically reliable extra reliability versus extra accuracy becomes a value judgement.

      • That only applies if you judge reliability on a linear scale.

        If you judge it as pass/fail, either it is or it isn’t, there is no “extra reliability” or value judgement to be made.

        • That would be silly. There is no such thing as 100% reliability. As such, binarizing the value makes no sense. Is gun A that’s 99.9975% reliable a liability compared to gun B that’s 99.998%? What if Gun A is significantly more accurate?

          Combat value is a combination of effectiveness, availability, and reliability. You’re taking the Soviet approach that reliability is the ultimate deciding factor. (That’s the mentality that led to the AK series.) Robert is willing to trade a sliver of reliability for an increase in accuracy. (That’s how we got the AR series.) I’m willing to take a slight hit to both in favor of a gun I can routinely carry and conceal.

        • Accuracy only matters once the bullet leaves the barrel.

          The bullet you never get to shoot due to a stoppage cannot be considered an “accurate shot”, so reliability MUST take priority over accuracy. Period.

          Guns are good enough nowadays that we no longer have to trade-off practical accuracy for reliability. 2-inch tighter groups at 25 yards isn’t needed to defend your life.

          Especially when you take into account that you may only get once chance, one single moment, to defend your life, knowingly choosing a pistol that might not allow you to take advantage of all your training and super-duper accuracy due to it being jammed seems more than a little bit silly. It’s irresponsible, in my opinion.

          It all starts with finding the most reliable gun/ammo combo possible, or everything else is potentially wasted.

          “If it doesn’t go ‘BANG!’ when you need it, you might not ever need it again.”

        • But the point remains that all the “reliability” rep that Glocks have is surplus to requirement. We’re not going to abuse them nearly that much. It does not matter to me that a Glock will fire submerged in lava while my P99 won’t. I don’t plan to be shooting submerged in lava. I do, however, plan on being able to hit what I’m shooting at, which I am far better at doing with my P99 than I am with my Glock 19.

        • If your P99 is reliable with your carry load, then that’s not what I am talking about. What I’m talking about is HIS pistol/ammo combo in the article, where he says “Again, I value accuracy over reliability”, firmly implying that (with that pistol and his chosen ammo) he feels he must chose between the two. Not that he had some stoppages when submerging his pistol in lava, but that he’s seen stoppages on the range in the course of normal firing/training.

          THAT’S the problem — thinking that any small increase in accuracy is worth ANY decrease in reliability.

          It’s not.

        • pwserge,

          “It does not matter to me that a Glock will fire submerged in lava while my P99 won’t.”

          I love it. I am still laughing out loud. You sir win the Intertubez for the day!

        • NineShooter,

          You are failing to consider the reliability of the ENTIRE SYSTEM which consists of both the firearm and the operator. A firearm which goes bang every time and never hits the attacker is an unreliable system. A firearm which hits the attacker every time it goes bang but only goes bang once out of every 7 times the operator squeezes the trigger is an unreliable system.

          The ideal system goes bang every time the operator squeezes the trigger and hits the attacker every time. A reduction in the frequency of either event (going bang and hitting the attacker) is a reduction in the reliability of the system.

          Thus, a system where the operator hits the attacker 9 out of 10 times and the gun goes bang 49 out of 50 times is much more reliable than a system where the operator hits the attacker 5 out of 10 times and the gun goes bang 999 out of 1000 times. Get it?

          Now, I didn’t include any possible benefit of a system where the gun goes bang and misses the attacker and nevertheless psychologically stops the attacker. That would be yet another factor for each person to consider. At any rate, I wanted to illustrate that going bang isn’t the only factor to consider.

        • MORE false choices.

          You cannot evaluate the accuracy of the system, until the system functions. Poor accuracy is one thing, but a failure to fire is ALWAYS a miss, a failure to stop, a chance for the opponent to score a life-altering (or life-ending) hit.

          You also falsely equate a complete failure to fire (reliability) with a failure to hit the target due to accuracy problems. No one is saying folks should use highly inaccurate pistols, nor do any pistols with this level of accuracy problems exist in our world. I’ve seen and owned some really, REALLY poor-shooting handguns, but they ALL would hit a person-size target at 3-5 yards, given the correct guidance by the shooter. The “accuracy” that Robert is referring to is either his personal level of accuracy with a particular pistol type (which can be improved with training), or is a totally meaningless fraction of the comparative group sizes of the pistols he’s tried on a square range under calm conditions, which has NO bearing on how well they would shoot or perform under defensive conditions.

          I believe Robert carried a Glock for a time when his Caracal went down, so he simply can’t be THAT bad with it that he’d be worried about missing an entire person-sized target, so I’m leaning toward the inconsequential-fraction-of-an-inch-more-accurate theory, which should have NO BEARING on defensive gun selection.

        • NineShooter,

          I used the extremes to illustrate the point that the reliability of the handgun-operator system is what matters. You keep stating, incorrectly, that the only outcome that matters is whether or not a handgun goes bang because you assume, incorrectly, that all operators only care about engagements at 3-5 feet.

          And I am telling you that the outcome which actually matters is whether the operator can place accurate hits that will stop their attacker at the engagement distances that the operator expects to encounter. If an operator wants the capability to stop attackers during engagements at 40 yards, a firearm that goes bang every time is useless if the operator cannot place accurate shots on their attacker at 40 yards.

          Look at this very simple and very realistic real world example. Suppose an operator is considering handgun A and handgun B. Handgun A always goes bang when the operator squeezes the trigger. And the operator is able to put 1 out of 10 shots on human attacker sized targets at 40 yards. Handgun B goes bang 98 out of 100 times when the operator squeezes the trigger. And the operator is able to put 9 out of 10 shots on human attacker sized targets at 40 yards. Which is a better choice for that operator? The obvious answer is handgun B which goes bang 98 out of 100 times and with which the operator can place 9 out of 10 shots on target.

          Saying it another way in that previous example, there is a higher probability that the operator will stop the attacker faster with handgun B than with handgun A, even though handgun B only goes bang 98 out of 100 times. If you only expect engagements at contact distance, then yes, accuracy is irrelevant and the most sensible option is to choose the handgun that goes bang the most often. When accuracy is relevant for longer engagements, the handgun that enables the operator to place the most shots on target is the best choice.

          Each operator has to decide which engagements they are most likely to encounter and prioritize proper cycling versus accuracy accordingly. If they find a solution that delivers both proper cycling and accuracy — great! If not, well they can evaluate and decide.

        • Accuracy is more than mechanical accuracy, 1911s despite being more mechanically accurate are also more practically accurate. The Glock grip angle with the fulcrim trigger leads to most right handed shooters throwing shots left. That can mean the difference from a centermass fight stopping hit and a hit on a shoulder or grazing the rib cage at handgun distances beyond bad breath range (40-50 feet). Most people can pick up a 1911 and shoot it more accurately than a Glock. Most people can pick up a CZ and shoot it about as well as a 1911 and better than a Glock.

        • uncommon_sense,

          40 yard defensive handgun shots are “very realistic”? *snort*
          Fact is, to try to even make this faintly equal, you had to stretch the range to a ridiculous engagement distance. Fail.

          A failure to fire means 0 out of 10 hits, and giving your opponent much more of a chance to hit YOU while you clear the stoppage or go to plan B. And that’s AFTER you realize there is a stoppage, which may take far longer than you expect. As a trainer, I’ve seen folks pull the trigger again and again on a jammed pistol, not immediately realizing that they were no longer firing shots. How do you figure THAT kind of problem into your stats?

          It all starts with reliability. If a person had gone so far as to figure the reliability stats you quoted, the same smart person would have tried different ammo or switched guns to get the same (or better) reliability out of the good-shooting gun.

          There is no reason to have to choose between accuracy and reliability in this day and age. Start with reliability, and find a reliable gun/ammo combo you can shoot well. Again, a “click” is ALWAYS 0 out of 10 hits, AND THEN letting the bad guy have one or more chances to kill you.

        • NineShooter,

          Yes, some people could realistically expect 40+ yard engagements. I do. It all depends on where you are and what you do.

          And a failure to extract is one miss, not 10 misses. If you want to add a time element to the model, if an operator needs 4 seconds to clear a failure to feed and that operator normally shoots 1 carefully aimed shot every 2 seconds, then you could say a failure to feed is equivalent to 3 misses, not 10 misses, because the operator would clear the malfunction and be firing again.

          Furthermore, who is to say that a handgun which only goes bang 98 out of 100 times will fail on the first shot? It could fail on the 5th shot or the 8th shot. Meanwhile, if you hit your intended target 9 out of 10 shots with a decisive fight-stopping hit, either your first or second shot should have connected and stopped your attacker. The fact that your handgun would have failed on the 5th or 8th shot had you kept shooting is irrelevant since you never needed to put that many shots on target. Now contrast that with the handgun that always goes bang and with which the operator only hits their intended target 1 out of 10 shots. They might connect on the 1st shot or the 5th shot or the 8th shot or it might take 10 shots to stop their attacker. In simple terms, using the less reliable handgun, you are almost guaranteed to stop the attacker within 2 seconds (on the first shot). With the perfectly reliable handgun, you are almost guaranteed to need 10 seconds stop the attacker (on the fifth shot on average). I’ll take almost guaranteed to stop the attacker within 2 seconds over almost guaranteed to stop the attacker within 10 seconds every time.

          In other words, you have to look at the probability of a desired outcome as well as how long it takes (on average) to get your desired outcome. Fast misses are not a desired outcome.

        • Misses from a reliable pistol are worth far more than no firing from an unreliable one. Misses might encourage the opponent to keep their head down vs. returning fire, they can force movement which makes incoming fire less accurate/effective, they might even encourage the attacker to break off the attack completely.

          Standing around (or diving for cover) while trying to fix your pistol gets you none of these possible results.

          There is NO upside to having a less reliable pistol. NONE. And many, Many, MANY possible downsides. Any significant accuracy problems are far more likely to be shooter/stress-related than gun-related, and apply equally whether the pistol is reliable or not.

          You MAY be able to hit a target at 40 yards on a calm square range (I can, every single time, even with my box-stock Glocks), but I’d bet that level of SHOOTER accuracy goes right out the window when you’re on a two-way range, so making sure your pistol is capable of 40-yard accuracy at the cost of ANY increased level of reliability is a fool’s errand.

    • [humbly] I believe that the most important PD factor, is your familiarity with it. It could be a million dollar comp race gun that aims itself, if your hands haven’t held it too much, your brain is going to be performing (at least in some small way) a portion of that function, when it should just be telling your hands “now do like we said before”.

      May your weapon never fail your hands.

  9. For the reliability over all guys,

    It’s not like he is talking about a Jennings that is made out of Zinc. A well put together 1911 has been plenty reliable for many military and law enforcement users over the course of over a century. Is it as abuse tolerant as a Glock? No. Does that make it unreliable? Absolutely not. Reliable enough for the task at hand is a real thing. We don’t all drive Toyota Tacomas because they are the most reliable. We drive other vehicles that suit our needs and are acceptably, if not perfectly reliable.

    • Using military and law enforcement users as a stand-in for personal carriers is a poor comparison. Historically, those folks simply used what they were given — period. And in the case of military folks, if their weapon didn’t function reliably in wartime, they weren’t around to b!tch about it later.

      I personally don’t care how well a firearm has worked historically; I care about how well MY EXAMPLE OF IT works. I’ve seen a few Glocks that didn’t work reliably, so it’s not limited to 1911s or cheap/crappy guns, either. Bad guns happen; make sure yours isn’t one of them.

      Test your pistol and your carry ammo, and if it doesn’t work all the time, fix it or replace it. Full stop.

      • Way back when I qualified for my CHL, two guns completely failed on the range, instructor had to give the guys loaners to finish. One was a Glock, the other was a Charles Daly 1911. Your point is well taken here as far as “no 100% reliability”. But I’m happy with 99% out of my comblock milsurp.

      • Oh come on. There were PLENTY of guys still around to bitch about the M16 when it had reliability problems in Vietnam. Even if the guy who had the malfunction got killed, his buddy was there to bitch about it afterwards. If a military-issue gun is unreliable, there is always an uproar from the troops. If the 1911 were an unreliable piece of junk, we would have heard about. It would not have served for 80 years and survived two world wars in abysmal conditions if it were unreliable.

        You still have to choose the right tool for the job. A match-tuned 1911 is not the best choice for a defensive handgun. (Neither is a match-tuned Glock.) A lot of 1911’s on the market today are built to be target guns, so it’s buyer beware. A 1911 built to service specifications is a better choice. I would trust one as much as I would trust a Glock to go bang when I need it to.

        • “A 1911 built to service specifications is a better choice. I would trust one as much as I would trust a Glock to go bang when I need it to.”

          And if we were talking about 1911s built to service specs, feeding ball ammo, than I’d probably agree with you. But we’re not. Not in this day and age.

          When you see the “average” 1911 at the range nowadays, we’re talking about an “improved” 1911, built (usually) with lowest-bidder contract parts that in no way resemble original mil-spec parts, assembled in a foreign country by low-paid laborers unconcerned with anything but the most minor fitting, with a contract magazine made who-knows-where, not tested with the latest defensive loads (as they are quite different from the ball round that this design was made to function with).

          Even the expensive hand-fitted 1911s will often choke on certain loads, needing occasional tuning (extractor tension, for instance) or product-improved magazines to work reliably.

          If yours works with your carry loads, no problem; that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the line in the article where he says “Again, I value accuracy over reliability”, as if he has no choice but to choose between them. I say with modern pistols and ammo he shouldn’t have to choose, but even if he does end up being forced into making that choice, he should NEVER give up any level of reliability for some small increase in square-range accuracy.

        • As I said, you have to pick the right tool for the job. There are more variants of the 1911 on the market than any other gun. Some are built for self defense and carry and will be reliable with most ammunition types. Others are match guns with tight tolerances. And plenty more try to split the difference. Whatever gun you carry needs to be broken in and thoroughly tested with your defensive load.

          On your point of accuracy vs. reliability, I agree with you. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other with a modern defensive handgun, and that includes a well made 1911. If you need more accuracy than a reliable modern platform can deliver, then you are overestimating the need for accuracy.

  10. I don’t disagree with your carrying a 1911, but I disagree that reliability isn’t as important as you say. I sold my P3AT piece of crap because of reliability. I fully disclosed reliability issues. It wasn’t a problem because all P3ATs are pieces of shit.

  11. I use a Glock for a defensive handgun because of simplicity, not reliability. You pull the trigger, and it goes bang. A 1911 has various gadgets that must be manipulated before it will fire (unless you want to carry it safety off, hammer back, and grip safety taped down). I prefer the simplicity.

    Also, according to the published research, the vast majority of defensive gun uses happen at very short distances, so I’m not sure prioritizing accuracy makes all that much sense, from an objective standpoint.

    Ultimately, just carry what you like, and call it what it is: a personal preference. There’s no need to rationalize a personal preference or make it “right” or better.

    Now, just to fan the flames, ever notice how folks that don’t like Glocks are always coming up with and writing about reasons why their guns are better than Glocks, but people that like Glocks don’t do this.

  12. Reliability in a firearm doing its job when needed is the #1 criteria, if the weapon Goes South while headed North then is the time to improvise, adapt and overcome! yes you should have other means available, Pepper spray, collapsible baton, Belt with sharpened buckle, pocket knife, monkey fist , roll of dimes in a scarf etc, not trusting a carry weapon is like not being armed at all, Gee I have a problem here but maybe my weapon won’t work, so I’ll chose another weapon, this sounds defeatist

  13. IMRO (In My Retarded Opinion) Carry what your hands like. They know (so you might need to try a few). Your eyes can fool your brain, but your hands know pretty quick. One of the OP’s here (forgive me for not immediately recalling his name) even said it. Your hands know, just by picking up a weapon, what the quality is [although Kel-Tec Sub 2000’s can deceive you even there : ) ].
    Don’t just train your hip or appendix or your kidneys, or your ankle to ‘tolerate’ a holster. Carry your weapon around, out of your holster, in your hand while you are at home / alone, and do everything possible to make your hands as intimately familiar with your weapon as you can. Clear and safe your weapon. Verify function checks, disassemble and reassemble the weapon. Present / Point / Aim, with each hand. Practice reloading (semi’s) with empty mags. Inspect it, clean it, put it on safe and put ammo back in it.

    May your weapon never fail your hands.

  14. The cognitive dissonance required to say this:

    “Defending your life with a firearm is all about minimizing risk.”

    in the same breath as this:

    “And that’s why I’m not bothered about my gun’s reliability”

    Is about the same as an Hillary Clinton saying she supports the 2nd Amendment, but she supports banning assault weapons.

    Reliability is something you can control – why not minimize the risk of that too?

    Glocks aren’t the only ultra-reliable handguns out there that are better than 1911s.

    • I was going to say the exact same thing, but since you said it first, I’m going to just echo your comment.

      When it positively, absolutely has to go “bang” the first (and second, and third) time(s), then grab a DA revolver.

      There’s no “tap, rack, bang” drill on a DA revolver. There’s no FTF, there’s no stovepipe, there’s no magazine issue. There’s also no safety to disengage, (at least on the pre-lock S&W’s, and Colts, etc).

      DA revolvers: The “original point-and-click interface.”

      • They are also difficult enough to shoot with their long/heavy trigger pulls on a short/light handgun that many shooters will actually miss a full-size target at defensive distances. And once you miss a few times, that lack of capacity comes into play. Not to mention that revolvers are only as reliable as the ammo you stuff into them; ever had a bullet back out of the case and prevent further rotation of the cylinder? You are DONE when that happens, as it did to me with my very expensive titanium S&W 337 PD (happened on the range, thankfully; another example of why we must test all guns with our carry loads).

        I carried a revolver for Uncle Sam for a decade, and shot PPC-style combat courses for many years, so I know the accuracy and reliability of a good revolver. But I also know that ease of hitting the target (trigger pull), capacity before reloading, and ease of reloading should it be needed, all favor the autoloading pistol over the revolver. I’ll not speak ill of a person who carries a good revolver if they can hit with it, but the vast majority of people simply CANNOT hit with it. Even those of us who CAN shoot a wheelgun well can still see and want the advantages in a good reliable autoloading pistol.

        • Which is where I think RF is on point that the gun is only one component in the self defense system. Weapon, ammo, holster, and operator.

          He doesn’t get into the cost/resources issue but I inferred that putting money into training and improving the operator component of the system is more important than some increase in reliability over what most modern firearms already provide.

        • NineShooter,

          In our other long thread where we went back and forth, you argued that reliability is all that matters and accuracy/ability to put rounds on target are irrelevant. Now you are saying that reliability isn’t so important as being able to put rounds on target. Which is it?

          What you are really arguing is that a person needs to balance reliability with their ability to shoot a particular firearm accurately … which is also what I was arguing. Saying it another way, we are both arguing that a firearm needs to be “reliable enough” as well as “accurate enough” for the particular operator and their intended application. While double-action revolvers are uber reliable, many people cannot shoot them accurately so they would be an unwise choice for some.

          Firearms like Glocks that are reliable may fit the bill much of the time … and sometimes they won’t if the operator cannot shoot them accurately at the engagement distances that they anticipate. Sure, Glocks themselves have ample inherent accuracy. That doesn’t change the fact that some operators cannot shoot Glocks accurately — just like some operators cannot shoot double-action revolvers accurately. IF that is the case, a Glock would be an unwise choice for that operator.

          In the final analysis, one size does NOT fit all. It is up to each person to evaluate their skills, ability to master malfunction drills, their actual marksmanship at the distances where they want to be able to engage an attacker, how much ammunition they think they need to survive an attack, and how they want to carry — e.g. concealed versus open, inside versus outside waste band, etc.

        • uncommon_sense, you’re doing your very best to put words into my mouth, but I know what I’ve said. You may well be interpreting what I’ve said in that manner, but it is definitely NOT what I have been saying. Pay attention this time:

          There is no reason to accept a less-reliable pistol to gain a small increase in accuracy. Virtually all pistols, both in a general sense and including all specific examples (with some simple ammo-testing), are accurate enough for personal defensive use, if the shooter is up to the task. If the shooter’s lack of accuracy (as in panicked trigger-slapping) is the problem, then any minor improvement in the gun’s mechanical accuracy will NOT fix that problem. Then you’ll have misses AND less reliability.

          If any one person, who has used any specific platform (revolver, for instance) for decades, has learned to master and use it effectively, then telling them they have to change to an auto because “That’s what all the cool kids are doing” is counterproductive. They have a level of confidence in their choice, built up by long use and practice, that they would probably never achieve with an auto in their remaining years. However, that doesn’t mean we tell the new shooters that DA revolver shooting skills are the path they should be pursuing.

          Along the same lines, we should NOT be telling ANYONE that they should gladly accept a lower level of reliability in defensive autoloading pistols to get some slightly higher level of mechanical accuracy that they can probably never take advantage of in a real-world situation. Yes, some folks will be able to take advantage of a more accurate pistol than other folks. And if they can find a more-accurate pistol that is equally reliable as the less-mechanically-accurate one, and they can demonstrate a likely ability to be able to actually USE that increased accuracy, then they should use that more-accurate pistol.

          However, if they cannot find a pistol with equal or better reliability than the less-accurate one, they should NEVER, EVER trade ANY reduced level of reliability for slightly better accuracy. They don’t NEED to (there are other ways to address this type of problem; new ammo, new mags, accuracy tuning, whatever), they certainly shouldn’t WANT to (it is counterproductive, as you can’t make up for poor reliability with better accuracy), and for us (or anyone) to allow the problem to be framed as “this vs that” is doing everyone a disservice. YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE — YOU CAN HAVE BOTH, as long as your standards for both are realistic.

          And to be clear — reliability testing is NOT 1000 rounds of FMJ/target loads through your pistol. It’s 100-200 rounds of your selected carry ammo. If that doesn’t work reliably, get new mags, try again. If it still doesn’t work, get new ammo, try again. If it STILL doesn’t work, and you think it’s a gun-specific-example problem (a lemon of an otherwise good/reliable pistol type), you can try another pistol of the same (or a similar) model. Finally, you can try a gunsmithing solution; but for me, after trying new mags, new ammo, and new gun of the same model, I’m probably jumping to a new platform at that point in time. To that gun I’d say Buh-bye, see ya later, don’t let the door hit ya where JMB split ya.

          Please note, I’m not arguing for Glocks, here; find what works all the time and use it.

        • NineShooter,

          I get that you prioritize reliability over accuracy and I see a lot of merit in that. I also see a lot of merit in prioritizing accuracy over reliability. Failing to stop an attacker is failing to stop an attacker. Failing to put shots on target is failing to put shots on target. Whether a defender fails to put shots on target because they cannot hit their attacker or because the slide didn’t go into battery, they still failed to put shots on target.

          Sure, in a perfect world, a person can invest the significant amount of time and money it takes to overcome their inability to put rounds on target and focus only on reliability. In the real world where someone is not willing to invest the significant amount of time and money it takes to overcome their inability to put rounds on target, a slightly less reliable gun that they can shoot much more accurately may very well be a better choice for them.

          The key here is degrees. A gun that is a lot more reliable and which the operator shoots only slightly less accurately is an obvious choice. A gun that is slightly less reliable and which the operator shoots a lot more accurately is also an obvious choice if the operator will not invest the time and money to overcome their inability to shoot the more reliable gun accurately. A gun that is slightly more reliable with which the operator shoots slightly less accurately versus a gun that is slightly less reliable with which the operator shoots slightly more accurately: who knows. That might come down to other factors, such as which one conceals better, is more comfortable, or costs less. At that point you would be splitting hairs.

          At any rate, I don’t think it reflects reality to say that everyone can always acquire a more reliable handgun. Many people have external constraints that severely limit their choices. For those people, choosing the best handgun could be a difficult process and I can envision situations where some of those people may accept a slight reduction in reliability for a large gain accuracy.

          Take a real world example. A person struggling financially finally scrapes together $200 to purchase a used firearm from the local small town gun store. Their only options are a subcompact semi-auto pistol and a full size semi-auto pistol. The subcompact pistol always fires when you squeeze the trigger. But due to its poor trigger, extremely short sight radius, feeble sight (a groove machined into the slide), and sloppy lockup into battery, the operator can only hit human size targets on 10% of their shots at their maximum expected engagement distance. The full size semi-auto pistol suffers from light primer strikes about once per 100 rounds. But due to its excellent trigger, long sight radius, quality adjustable sights, and consistent lockup into battery, the operator can hit human size targets on 80% of their shots at their maximum expected engagement distance. If I were that person, I would take the full size semi-auto and accept the fact that it will fail to go bang once every hundred rounds … as well as accept the fact that I can actually hit an attacker 80% of the time at maximum range. Someone else may opt for the subcompact and accept the fact that they will typically miss their attacker at maximum range and hope that their “suppression fire” is good enough. To each his own.

        • @uncommon sense I don’t think the example you give is even remotely fair. You are talking about drastically different (accuracy wise) pistols as opposed to accepting a failure rate of one percent, with the failure being the EASIEST sort of malfunction to clear (rack the slide), particularly since you specified the gun won’t ever jam or fail to go into battery (which is the endemic problem with many 1911s).

          In that lopsided a comparison, where you simply CANNOT hit with the crappy shooter, yes I’d go with the full size. But that’s not what’s being discussed by Robert; it’s two acceptably accurate guns, with the more overkill-accurate gun being less reliable than the less accurate (but still accurate enough) one.

          There’s never a principle for which you cannot imagine a case so ridiculously off kilter it ends up being violated. That’s all you’ve managed to demonstrate here. What it has to do with what Robert F chose to do is beyond me.

  15. I carry a Glock 1st gen model 17 ((mm) for warm weather and a 1911-A1 in .45 for cold weather. Both guns have been utterly reliable in my hands, and I choose the 1911 for cold weather to better penetrate multiple layers of clothing with full metal jacket “hardball” ammo and still make a big hole.

  16. “Never give a weapon a second chance.” — Dr. No (the book)

    Whatever the odds are, there is a strong psychological component to equipment reliability. If I doubt, however slightly, the reliability of my gun when I draw it, how will that impact my response?

    I have sold two guns that gave me chronic trouble. These guns have stellar reputations for most people, but for whatever reason, they gave me trouble. Why put up with that?

  17. Levels of reliability are important.

    If your gun runs smoothly without issue through all the ammo you feed it great.
    I won’t carry a gun that won’t do that.

  18. With all due respect; I used to feel the same way about 1911s and Glocks. Then I realized that having a reliable gun was more important than what other people thought of me.

  19. Robert’s particular 1911 is a rather expensive example of that gun type, and I must believe that a good bit of the premium went towards reliability.

    Also, Robert’s daily schedule does not appear to involve dragging himself and his gun through sand and mud or doing other dirty activities which could jam a more finicky gun. Given his gun’s cost, I must assume it’s fairly well cared for.

    So – given all that – while Glocks are more reliable (or perhaps one should say more resilient under extreme mistreatment), in Robert’s circumstances Glock’s edge in reliability doesn’t really come into play.

    Or to put it another way, he’s giving up a heoretical reliabiliy edge, but not a practical one.

  20. I think the point is being missed here. I think where he is going is that the best way to deal with armed confrontation is to try and avoid it in the first place.

  21. Reliability is not the issue with a 1911, it is the grip safety!!! And for every “It’s a training issue” comment, just let me say this. At the range is WAY different that a defensive situation. You are relying on getting a good grip on the firearm. A good grip is not always going to happen. Personally how I hold a 1911 in a defensive situation is not how I would hold it in competition. At a match i have my thumb over the safety as I get higher hold and better accuracy and recoil management. The problem is that with the thumb up higher, I get less pressure on the grip safety and if i do it wrong, no bang bang. If I started carrying a 1911 I would have to retrain, I would need to reevaluate the size of the safety. And that grip safety would still make me question if this is really a good idea.

    As to reliability, I have 1500 (including 100 Critical Duty)rounds threw my Rock Island in IDPA matches. No failures other that one bad case (and me not seating the magazine). Personally I think 90% of the reliability issues are with magazines. Mine loves the “cheap” Chip McCormick Shooting Star 8 rounders. And I keep the gun clean, Nice thing about a 1911 is they are very easy to detail strip ( something I do every 500
    rounds).

    • I was considering an XDs, but when I rented it at the range I tried something that I was very glad I thought of. I set the loaded gun down on the little table, then tried to pick it up and fire it quickly.

      My panic-speed grip did not disengage the grip safety.

      So much for THAT idea.

      • my 1911 goes bang every time i pick it up from the tray at the range. it goes bang when the back strap is in the web aligned with the arm, or when the back strap is mashed against the pad below the thumb. i don’t even think about the grip, just grab and shoot. all main body strikes at 30ft or less. all head strikes at that distance when i want to show off to myself.

        • [Goddamn POS “You are posting too rapidly” bullshit!!! Let me try again.]

          You are fortunate then, or at least more fortunate with your 1911 than I was with the XDs.

          I suppose there’s a way to make the XDs grip safety work better with my hands and my sloppy-when-rushed grip…but I have better things to do with my time and money than chase rabbits down that hole, trying for a solution. If I could try them out all at once and pick one, it might be worth it. If I have to experiment with replacement part after replacement part, which I have to sink money into every attempt… not so much.

        • no experience with XD, at all. didn’t even know there was a grip safety on anything but a 1911. shot a different 1911 (diff manuf), and had the same result. maybe the 1911 grip safety works for me because it is a hammer fired weapon? think i was trying to point out that maybe the grip safety for the 1911 would be more to your liking. but then plenty of striker-fired units have double-stack mags, which may be more interesting. i am also fortunate there are three ranges nearby that have rental guns allowing quick comparison of types.

        • Not sure why you chose to bring up striker fired weapons, as if they were the only alternative to 1911s.

          I carry double stack CZs. Even the polymer ones (which I don’t care for, but seem to be sterling performers) are hammered. Someone who is used to 1911s would probably be fairly comfortable with one, provided he picked the one with the cocked-and-locked safety, not the decocker (that, I know, would drive a 1911-ite nuts).

          (As an aside, This seems to be a blind spot that 1911 owners have; when someone attacks their preferred gun, they assume its some Glock (or at the very least, striker fired) fan. Personally, I never saw why people made such a fetish over either system, to the point where they’d refuse to say anything good about the other one and assume that operationally (as opposed to gunsmithing-wise), it’s the important one.

          As for me, I only commented on this particular thread of conversation to point out that grip safeties as a class can be finicky (as can anything, if it’s poorly engineered). I don’t believe I’ve ever had a 1911 fail to go “bang” because I wasn’t properly disengaging the grip safety, but I’ve probably only put a few hundred rounds through all of them, total, and I never tried a “quick grab and shoot” with one. I’ve had plenty fail to go bang a second time for other reasons, but that’s a different subject.)

        • Not sure why you chose to bring up striker fired weapons, as if they were the only alternative to 1911s.

          I carry double stack CZs. Even the polymer ones (which I don’t care for, but seem to be sterling performers) are hammered. Someone who is used to 1911s would probably be fairly comfortable with one, provided he picked the one with the cocked-and-locked safety, not the decocker (that, I know, would drive a 1911-ite nuts).

          (As an aside, This seems to be a blind spot that 1911 owners have; when someone attacks their preferred gun, they assume its some Glock (or at the very least, striker fired) fan. Personally, I never saw why people made such a fetish over either system, to the point where they’d refuse to say anything good about the other one and assume that operationally (as opposed to gunsmithing-wise), it’s the important one.

          continuing the aside: As for me, I only commented on this particular thread of conversation to point out that grip safeties as a class can be finicky (as can anything, if it’s poorly engineered). I don’t believe I’ve ever had a 1911 fail to go “bang” because I wasn’t properly disengaging the grip safety, but I’ve probably only put a few hundred rounds through all of them, total, and I never tried a “quick grab and shoot” with one. I’ve had plenty fail to go bang a second time for other reasons, but that’s a different subject. End of Aside.)

  22. QActually, in general I agree with RF’s orientation here, especially the biz about carrying is a matter of cutting the odds against you. But within that context, I can’t see how accuracy trumps reliability, especially in your typical conversational-distance DGU. At that range, I would think “more likely to launch lead” is better than “more likely to hit bullseye at 25 yards”. Just me, and my utilitarian view of SD carry.

    • All this talk of reliability is not the issue, TRAINING is. I you don’t believe me, You should see all the double misses we get at targets under 25 feet away. Hell, I was doing it at after not shooing a match for 6 months.. Yes I know a match is not training but it will tell you real quick if you are going to hit your target. FYI I sometime wish the Range Officer would let me shoot a match from the hip. I did some training drills like that one time and you would be surprised how accurate you can get. But we have new shooters at every match, and i would be a bad idea.

  23. Wow… The reliability Über Alles crowd is out in force today. Way to not read between the lines guys.

    Let’s break it down to simple math. Your gun’s capability in a self-defence scenario can be defined by the following formula.

    C = R x A x E

    Where
    C = Capability
    R = Reliability
    A = Accuracy
    E = Ergonomics (aka how likely you are to actually have it)

    What Robert is arguing is that a ΔR is acceptable as long as it produces a larger corresponding ΔA.

    To give you an example… Let’s take a hypothetical gun. It’s 99.5% reliable, 80% accurate, and it is carried 70% of the time. By the above formula, the capability would be 55.72%

    Let’s then compare it to a more accurate, but slightly less reliable gun. 99% reliable, 95% accurate, and the same egos of 70%. That gives us a capability of 65.84%

    Is the gun significantly less reliable than our earlier example? No. Is it significantly more effective? Yes.

    This holds especially true when you’re not dragging a gun through the mud and blood. For all you reliability aficionados… When was the last time you used the forward assist on your AR?

    • Reliability is a pass/fail. 1 or 0. What’s 0 x A x E? Yep, 0.

      Your standard for pass may be higher or lower than someone else’s, but ultimately if you can’t count on the thing to reliably go bang, then how wonderful it feels in your hand (E) or how awesomely you shoot it at paper targets (A) doesn’t mean a damn.

      • By that logic accuracy is pass fail. You either hit or you miss. So are ergonomics, you either carry the gun or your don’t.

        That’s an absurd argument. Reliability can only be evaluated as a probability of failure. For modern firearms, that probability is so low as to be rounded to zero for all practical purposes.

        But I take it from your response that you can’t accept the need for a forward assist on your AR and have completely switched to AKs or bolt action rifles for your long guns?

        • Accuracy means squat if the bullet never leaves the gun. A person’s standard for “reliable enough” is up to them, but if a person feels the need to hem and haw about how reliability isn’t that important, all that means is they’re too emotionally attached to their gun. Play with it at the range all you want, but as a life-saving piece of equipment, get something that you can rely on without having to make excuses.

        • Again John… Nobody is trying to make excuses for unreliable guns. What we’re saying is that a gun that runs 100% of the time and is more accurate than a gun that runs 100% of the time and has reliability fanwank is a better gun.

          Most of the uber reliable guns are tested to standards that are absurd for anyone using it as their daily carry. We’re not going to bet getting into hundred thousand round shootouts in the middle of a sandstorm. Thus, the reliability features necessary to make a gun function in those conditions are unnecessary and can be sacrificed if it improves our chances to hit what we’re shooting at. Otherwise, everyone would be packing Mk23s and all other factors be damned.

        • Again, not what the article is about.

          Robert’s quote was “I value accuracy over reliability”, not “in addition to reliability.”

          The person with a pistol he feels is 100% reliable doesn’t make that statement.

    • pwrserge, I absolutely knew you would break this down to math eventually, and you are the only one here that seems to even understand the point of the original post.
      I remember, many posts ago writing about what is accurate. http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/02/jon-wayne-taylor/question-day-edc-reliable/
      The 1911 that RF disparages in the original post went 615 rounds without any malfunctions using different types of ammunition. On the 616th it had a FTF. Is it reliable? Hell yes it is. My STI went 2,000 rounds without a failure until I just gave up. Is it more reliable? Sure. But at that point, it just doesn’t matter.
      Reliability is absolutely not a binary variable. If it was, no firearm on the planet would pass, as all eventually fail.
      Given that reliability can not be perfect, some arbitrary, subjective measure has to be placed on it. RF is saying that something like 500 rounds without fail is good enough, and he’ll take that 500 rounds with a 2″ group over 2000 rounds with a 4″ group.
      And that only makes sense, because you are giving up something real with the loss of accuracy, but at those failure rates, you are giving up nothing real with the “loss” in reliability.

      Also, just reminding everyone, including RF, because based on his first comment he seems to have forgotten it.
      http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/01/robert-farago/lesson-from-a-glock-42-fail/
      http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/05/jon-wayne-taylor/jon-wayne-taylor-takes-the-glock-20-for-a-ride-and-shows-it-the-door/

    • Your formula has a fatal error.

      Any reduction in R results in an immediate, catastrophic reduction in A.

      Gun don’t go bang? > No hole in target > Accuracy score = ZERO.

      • That’s true for any of the variables. A gun that goes bang and sends the round into orbit is just as useless as one that just sits there.

        • No one is claiming that the gun by itself is that inaccurate, and if the shooter is the source of the accuracy problem, then it applies to both sides of the equation equally.

        • Once more–it takes a helluva lot more “fail” to send a round into orbit from a properly-pointed gun than it does to pull the trigger and not get a “bang”.

    • Again, pwrserge,I agree with you to a point, just as I agree with RF to a point. And when it comes down to it, as a practical matter (and, as a matter of “cutting the odds”), the difference between 99.5% reliable (or accurate) and 99% reliable (or accurate) is not worth wrangling over. My point is, conceptually, how can the question of whether or not the bullet leaves the barrel at all be less important than the question of whether the bullet will go more or less exactly where you want it to go? To put it another way, in DGU terms it would take a nearly impossible degree of accuracy deficiency ( ie your gun is so inaccurate it will miss a man-sized target at conversational distance even if aimed correctly) to equal a not-that-uncommon degree of reliability deficiency (you pull the trigger for a second shot and the gun jams).

    • The premise of RF’s argument is that a 1911 is better for defense than a Glock because it is easier to hit a target in a defensive situation with a 1911 than with a Glock. I am not aware of any objective evidence to support this premise. I think the real problem with RF’s argument is there is no functional difference between the accuracy of a 1911 and a Glock in a defensive situation.

      If all RF is really saying is that he has a personal preference for 1911s for defense because he believes he is more likely to hit his target in a defensive situation with a 1911 than a Glock, then just say that. But don’t dress up a personal preference as an objective argument, which is how I see the article.

      • That’s only true if you ignore the importance of shot placement in a defensive situation. A bullet center mass is not guaranteed to stop an attacker. A bullet to vital organs, is. There’s a reason I aim for the upper chest.

  24. The reliability of your gear, not just your gun, is something you can control well before the fight, so you should. If you have are having “reliability” problems with a quality auto (HK, SIG, Glock, S&W, 1911, etc.) then it is probably THAT gun, and you need to have a gunsmith look at it, send it back to the manufacture, or sell it and get something else. Those major players have been making awfully reliable guns for the past two decades and some even longer.

    So I just don’t see the relevance of “worrying” about reliability if you are buying from a well-known manufacturer with a strong pedigree of building reliable guns. Far more important to get a gun that naturally fits your hand, that you immediately understand and can access its controls, and points right for you, rather than trying to figure out whether Gun A fails 0.3% of the time after 50K rounds and Gun B fails 0.6%. Because those are the types of failure rates you are talking about, which is unlikely to be an issue. If you have to use it, you will – in most, but not all, scenarios, be firing 4 shots or less.

    And if all you can afford is some variation of an SNS (Raven, Lorcin, or whatever crap is out there today), I’d say do your darndest to save up for something better, or buy a used wheel gun.

  25. No way. For a defensive handgun and short range shooting, I’m for reliability over accuracy. If you can rapidly put three rounds in the space of a paper plate at 7 yards, that’s pretty awful, but good enough. But if it malfs, you’re not holding a gun any more, just a rock.

  26. All this talk of reliability is not the issue, TRAINING is. I you don’t believe me, You should see all the double misses we get at targets under 25 feet away. Hell, I was doing it at after not shooing a match for 6 months.. Yes I know a match is not training but it will tell you real quick if you are going to hit your target. FYI I sometime wish the Range Officer would let me shoot a match from the hip. I did some training drills like that one time and you would be surprised how accurate you can get. But we have new shooters at every match, and i would be a bad idea.

  27. What was that song? How bizarre, how bizarre…

    Any of the attributes you place above reliability are completely unaffected by reliability. I can’t even see that reliability sits on the same table as variables 1-4, to be compared with them… As to variable number 5, the first thing that has to happen to achieve good shot placement is for there to be a shot in the first place…we could call that PGGO, or, Probability of Gun Going Off, or, more simply, reliability.

    Also sort of bizarre was comparing GLOCKS (why is it all caps?), which are all more or less the same thing, and made by one maker, with “1911’s”, which have been made by everyone everywhere forever, in every conceivable format between 3 inches and 6 inches or more.

    Also REAL bizarre was the announcement, now seemingly disappeared, of your new effort to collate news on marijuana. Not a hell of a lot of overlap between the POTG and the pot world, thank goodness.

    A bizarre day at TTAG.

  28. There may be a Glock somewhere that never fails, but I’ve not owned it. It’s in a footlocker with the Grail. No mechanical device with multiple moving parts is failure-proof and every shooter has to decide what’s “good enough” for their comfort level. While it’s axiomatic that highly accurate shooters, firing from cover, have a sudden problem with failure to fire, well, that’s why we have clearance drills to quickly get back in the fight. If you can’t hit POA, that’s going to take more time than you have, so for me, accuracy is more important. For a pistol, if it can cycle through more or less 150 rounds without failure in multiple sessions, and isn’t manifesting some mechanical issue, I’ll carry it. A revolver, I expect more because they’re less finicky about ammo and there’s no magazine. If a revolver misfires, and it’s not a bad cartridge, it’s highly likely to require major surgery.

  29. Spot on. Who needs a gun that works?

    Seriously though, if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at with a Glock, you don’t know how to shoot.

    Also, you missed the biggest point about carrying a modern firearm. More rounds on tap before the necessity to reload occurs. Then again with the stupidity of this post, it wouldn’t be surprising if you subscribe to the old red neck axiom of “If I can’t get it done with X (insert single digit number here) rounds, it ain’t gettin’ done!” Which of course completely ignores the possibility of multiple assailants.

  30. “And I am mentally prepared to continue fighting if it doesn’t function.” Being mentally prepared is one thing…being physically prepared (and/or capable) is quite another. Lots of people buy handguns because they cannot physically take on some aggressive male attacker, especially one who may have spent the last few months in prison pumping iron at taxpayer expense. No machine has 100% reliability, but unless you are an MMA fighter with ninja skills and hand-to-hand combat experience under your belt, its best to go with a handgun that you can have some real confidence in.

    For the fanboys and fangirls, I am NOT disparaging ANY brand, type, or caliber of handgun. If YOU feel confident carrying a Lorcin or Jennings, go for it.

  31. “A GLOCK is significantly more reliable than a 1911.”?????
    No, its not. It might be more reliable than a cheap knock off 1911 COPY, but that is a different issue. Just look at the video you posted. It shows a 1911 functioning flawlessly, even with the slide and frame cut to pieces! Half the locking lugs are cut away. The frame barely has enough material to hold the hammer and safety pins. It still functions. That should tell you something. Jennings and Raven striker fired .25s are jam city, but they are the same system as the Glock, just smaller(and built a lot crappier). There’s a lesson there about build quality vs design.
    If you really want reliability, get a DA revolver. They fail also, but significantly less than any semiauto. Revolvers jam, but autos have stoppages. There’s a difference and its not just semantics. Anybody who carries should know the difference, or they aren’t qualified, no matter what the license in their wallet might say.
    All the variables listed are true, but are just as true with a semiauto as with a revolver. I prefer that extra reliability, but then I have had failures with every type of firearm design known to man(even bolt action rifles), and I know that they always happen at the worst possible time. Mr. Murphy loves to show up when the situation gets critical.
    That’s why there are so many designs. Different strokes for different folks. Carry whatever you like. Carry it because its what you have, or because its comfortable, or because its accurate, or because it’s cheap, or whatever. For me, it’s the reliability.

  32. Amazing object lesson in cognitive dissonance and faulty, self-serving logic, and well-written nonsense.

    The TLDR summary: “I LIKE 1911s, so I’ll make any excuse necessary to justify carrying one, even though I wholly admit that it’s an inferior choice”.

  33. This is absurd analysis and no one should give it a moment’s credence. Most of the factors listed apply whether one has a butter knife or a cannon. None of the factors listed, including placement of shots and ability to bring the gun to bear, support deemphasizing reliability. An unreliable gun completely undermines confidence in a rational shooter, not to mention the dire effects when the gun actually fails under duress.

    Reliability is critical.

    I’ve said it recently, and I’ll say it again. TTAG is at its best when it is reviewing guns. It is less than stellar otherwise. It’s time to apply a bit of editorial supervision. Contact me if you need help.

  34. Silly me- I thought reliability was everything. Oh wait-it is. It trumps the “cool” factor of having a high-end 1911. Isn’t that why a lot of folks rag on Taurus? “You trust your life on THAT?” Yep I do. It’s 100% reliable for ME. Your chances of being in an altercation are slim-but it’s never none. My neighborhood has gone down hill in the 13 years I’ve lived here so I get it. Whatever folks-nothing made by mortal men if perfect…

  35. First off I do not think you were serious in your article. I think it was done to stir up 1911 lovers and have a big fight with the Glock lovers. If I am in error I apologize in advance but here is some good news if you were serious. The 1911 is actually more reliable in the ignition department. If you want to conduct a simple experiment you can load a high primer in an empty case with no powder or bullet for safety. Point the gun in a safe direction after loading the empty case with high primer in the chamber and gently pushing close the slide. I guarantee you even if you try with a Glock to set the same high primer off as many as 3 times in a row the primer will not fire. Now try another empty case with high primer and put it in the bone crushing hammer fired ignition system of the 1911. The 1911 will drive the high primer down into its pocket in the case and still have enough momentum to crush the primer and set it off.

    Ah ha the Glock lovers will say. All you have to do is just use factory ammo and you will not have this problem. Well wrong again. Not only have I seen high primers in factory ammo but when a gun gets extremely cold in the winter time any oil on the gun can congeal and slow down ignition. With the Glock you have no ignition energy to spare but the 1911 has plenty to spare and will work when the Glock will fail, ditto for all other pre-loaded striker fired weapons as well. I tried the same test with a Walther P99 and it too failed. I tried the test with quite a few classic hammer fired 9mm guns and every one of them passed. The only striker fired weapons that did pass were the old classic full cock striker fired weapons like the Browning .25, Browning 1910 .380.

    Modern throated 1911 pistols using also the more modern magazine not the old WWI Style feed lips will feed hollow point and soft point ammo. So again it is a reliable gun with such ammo and modern magazines and a throat job which most factories these days do anyway.

    The 1911 will not fire out of battery either. The Glock sometimes will. Again if you doubt my word take an empty case with a normally seated primer, no powder or bullet and then almost but not quite close the slide and then pull the trigger and you will see a small dent in the primer. No it usually does not fire but it can if the primer is a sensitive one. And yes there is such a thing. I once bumped a primer with my finger on my workbench and it exploded, nothing touched it but my finger when my finger jiggled it. When you have such a primer and it gets dented from the striker before the slide closes you get a blown up gun.

    Of course Glock fanatics will refuse to acknowledge that there Glock is anything but perfection simply because the advertisements tell them so and after all advertisements never lie now do they? And lets not forget the multitudes of recalls over the years called “upgrades” which do not faze the Glock lover even a wit.

    Accuracy. Well that is controversial. Now how much do you really need when a gun fight is often in less that just a few feet. Here I give something back to the Glock. They can be a lot more accurate than many people think as I have shot my model 19 and 17 against other 9mm pistols and accuracy seems to vary more between individual guns rather than from one brand of gun to another if we are talking about the more modern plasticky, stamped sheet metal and cast steel stuff being rushed out of production today, I am not talking about such wonderful works of art of long ago like the “original” Browning High Power not the altered and cast gun being made today or the “original” Sig-Neuhausen P210, not the altered and cast gun being made today. And remember if we are talking about a stock not custom 1911 the accuracy is often no better than the stock Glock.

    Weight: Here again I give something back to the Glock not only is it lighter in weight than the 1911 but you do not have to worry about a rusted frame either.

    Cost: Again I give something back to the Glock, as you will not have to take a second mortgage out on the house like you would to buy a custom built 1911.

    Aesthetics: Carrying a pistol and constantly taking it in and out of a holster can cause wear or scratches and the Glock is so ugly in its plasticness that the wear does not bother most normal people but do the same thing to a custom built all steel 1911 and its the end of the world to most normal people.

    • Why do you imagine that only Glock lovers think the 1911 might have shortcomings in the reliability department, compared to other handguns?

    • True dat.

      If you are PLANNING on using your gun for a club, the 1911 is a better choice.
      And carrying a 1911 makes it more likely you’ll have to use your gun as a club.

      Coincidence?…

    • It’s also true that even a properly built and reliable 1911 will become empty faster than almost any other semi auto out there, almost all of which are double stacks. It’s not just Glocks. Imagine, a double stack made of metal that would make an excellent club when it eventually runs out, and it’s likely to do so without failing on the way! They DO exist, the world isn’t all 1911s and Glocks.

  36. Saying a Glock is totally reliable is like saying a Toyota is totally reliable. Only the fans of each would believe that drivel. They are both more reliable than most but they all break. My very similar to Glock S&W SD9VE has never malfunctioned but that doesn’t mean it won’t. My RIA 1911 has never malfunctioned but that doesn’t mean it won’t. I trust both with my life just as I do with my little Taurus TCP. The difference to me is that I am more accurate with the 1911 because it is heavier. The SD9VE shoots very much like a Glock because it is almost exactly the same size and weight of a Glock 19.

  37. IMHO, reliability is of the utmost importance. Imagine performing the Tueller Drill with a failure-to-fire. (OK, maybe “the elite” can experience a failure to fire, chamber another round, and pull the trigger a second time during the course of the TD. I could not.)

  38. Just my humble opinion, as a firearms instructor who has seen plenty of malfunctions on the range, you will never convince me that reliability is not the most important factor for a defense gun. Most defensive shootings take place at such a close range its point shooting anyways. So accuracy is less important than reliability here.

    However, I also agree that with a little time and money you can run your defense ammo in your carry gun enough to provide satisfactory (reliable) results (or not) and that this is achievable with 1911s, Glocks, and just about any firearm made today by a reputable manufacturer.

  39. Hmmm… I guess I’m strange here, as I’m totally opposite.

    When I test my carry weapon, I purposely put in as much reasonable user error in there as I can. for one obvious example… a firmly held handgun can generally operate better than one held kind of loosely. I find ways to test it with as many “less than perfect” conditions as I can reasonably throw at it.

    I will not carry a weapon that cannot prove to me that it can consistently absorb a reasonable amount of bad conditions that it is likely to encounter in the real world. It must still consistently go bang every time for a long string of shots using both the carry ammo, and the magazines I’d be using. The weapon must have a certain amount of headroom in its functioning ability. “Bang” is job one, I then have to evaluate if I can at least be accurate to within minute-of-bad-guy, from reasonable DGU distances.

    I’ve had lots of guns that satisfy the accuracy and other kinds of tests… but very few that satisfied the functional “headroom” requirement.

    Obviously, there are many of things to evaluate. But for me, the “bang” reliability, is without exception, an ABSOLUTE SHOW-STOPPER with regard to qualifying something to depend life on.

  40. I want it all. But there is one factor that must be considered: the human. I have had failures at times but for only a couple reasons. I have had ammo problems, but rarely. Most issues have been with me; not seating the magazine properly, getting limp wrist after several hundred rounds, those things. I shoot an XDs 40 (EDC), Beretta PX4 9mm (back up), Colt 1911 Gold Cup MKV .45 (range), and multiple other semis. I also have a few revolvers. I would feel comfortable carrying any of them. Guess I’m fortunate in that all my weapons are reliable, and accurate. Not sure what the problems are with the 1911s. Then again, I don’t believe in buying cheap bottom rung weapons. I always research to see what others are saying, just like I do when spend good money on anything. I’m not saying you can’t end up with a lemon. I know it happens. But in that case I personally would get rid of it. I have no interest in owning something that I cannot count on, regardless of what it is.

  41. I’m not going to get involved in the Sturm und Drang here. You folks already know where I stand. The US Army tested the 1911 over 100 years ago and found the reliability quite good. The design has been proven. What people did with it after that… oh well.

    I do wish to call people’s attention to the film footage that RF has linked at the top, however. In particular, please look at the footage from 1:32 to 1:38. NB that the bullet has exited the barrel BEFORE any movement of the barrel upwards is seen. Someone else and I got into this issue a couple years back on what is most important for accuracy in handgun shooting, and they were maintaining that one must control the recoil in order to be accurate.

    As you see from 1:32 to 1:38, nothing you do in controlling recoil will make any difference to where your bullet is going. The bullet is gone, left your barrel, and is headed downrange by the time the gun starts moving from recoil. You need to work on your fundamentals of shooting in lining up the shot and controlling your trigger press/squeeze to put rounds on target. The recoil? That’s just going to happen, with or without you. Sir Isaac ain’t budging on that issue. How you get the gun back on target for the follow-up shot is up to you, but when you light off the follow up shots, you need to go through the fundamentals again. Once you get the fundamentals right on every shot, executed slowly, you can speed up how you recover, still getting the sights lined up and controlling your trigger squeeze, as you work your way up to become the next slow-talking, aw-shucks, inhumanly fast shooter like Jerry Miceluk.

    • “The bullet is gone, left your barrel, and is headed downrange by the time the gun starts moving from recoil.” I may agree with not being able to affect it much, but the basic statement is incorrect, and easily demonstrated as such.

      Example #1: A short-barreled revolver has a barrel that points below the point-of-aim of the sights at all distances. If you insert a snug-fitting straight rod into the barrel that extends about a foot out of the muzzle, and lay a straightedge along the top of the sights that extends about the same distance, you’ll see that the two form an ever-increasing angle. If the revolver did not begin to rotate before the bullet left the barrel, the bullet would never impact the aiming point on the target. Short-barreled magnum revolvers will show the largest angle between the sight line and barrel line, as they rotate in recoil the fastest and farthest before the bullet leaves the barrel.

      Example #2: Load your semi-automatic pistol with the lightest and fastest load you can find (something like a Glaser Safety Slug, or Magsafe Defender), and shoot a group on a target from a rested position. Load it again with the slowest AND heaviest (not +P!) load you can find, and shoot a group at the same target from the same position.

      The slow/heavy bullet will hit higher on the target than the fast bullet, due entirely to the time it spends in the barrel, and that fact that the pistol has already begun rotating about its axis as the bullet travels down the barrel. The light/fast bullet has far less time-in-the-barrel, so it exits sooner in the rotation and strikes lower on the target. The slow/heavy bullet stays in the barrel longer, so it exits at a higher point in the rotation, striking higher on the target.

      If you intend to try this with a shooter who is denying the effect, have someone else randomly mix the loads when filling the magazine, but write down the order in which they will be fired, so the shooter will not know in advance which load is being fired (so they can’t adjust grip pressure or “aim off” to affect the test).

      This test will also work with a revolver, for those who wish to try it, but the difference in barrel time is the key, so loads must be selected with this in mind. Heavy-but-fast (magnum hunting loads, for instance) and light-but-slow (some target loads/handloads) will muddy the results.

  42. Agreed and well said. I’ve shelved guns that couldn’t handle quality ammo, never to be carried again. The ones I do carry have been 100% as long as I’ve fed them what I carry, and that’s all that matters for reliability. Beyond that, I focus on the same points RF mentioned: speed, accuracy, one handed…

    • I’m actually willing to accept crappy reliability for target shooting, using crappy ammo like Federal Aluminum Cased Champiosquibs, so long as I know the gun WILL function with carry ammo.

  43. “Defending your life with a firearm is all about minimizing risk. ”

    Yep. And in Operational Risk Management (ORM) terms
    1. What can go wrong and how likely is it to occur?
    2. How bad would that be?
    3. What can I do to avoid/mitigate it?

    Risk is a personal decision and judgment call. Some folks look at the risk and likelihood of being attacked and decide it’s so low it doesn’t warrant the time/hassle/cost of carrying a weapon.

    Reliability of a weapon takes care of a whole lot of risk concerns. And it is one of those things you can control prior to an incident occurring.

    But a lot of the above article and comments devolve to semantics
    – What is reliable and what is reliable enough? (under what conditions- I liked the molten lava dipped comment)
    – What is accuracy and what is accurate enough? (under what conditions- distance/lighting conditions etc.)
    – Draw/presentation time and what is fast enough?

    As Robert touched on- it’s a system. Weapon, ammo, holster and operator. A specific reliable and accurate weapon may not be the most useful in a self-defense incident if it can’t be drawn and brought on target quickly enough by the operator and shot accurately/reliably themselves. There will be compromises and folks have to use their judgment in making those tradeoffs.

    A gun has to reliable and accurate- enough. Neither can be sacrificed. But reliable and accurate enough. By me under the conditions I will be using it for self-defense. As RF mentions, the accuracy (as well as reliability) of the weapon will be dependent on the operator and how well trained/prepared they are.

    So- what’s the better use of my resources in improving/optimizing the system to maximize the chance of success in an actual HD situation? As folks have said over and over again– buy enough gun, than invest in training.

  44. 1911s have a reputation for being somewhat unreliable, the Glock range have a reputation for being somewhat more reliable; the 1911 carries a relatively smaller than average payload, the Glock range generally carry relatively larger than average payloads.
    I wouldn’t consider pistol shooting to be primary expertise in marksmanship, but would be confident in putting repeated rounds from a reliable pistol of average modern accuracy into a one inch radius circle at 10 metres or a 6×6 inch square at 25 in controlled conditions… it’s a toolbox though, confidence is a mental product of various influences – personal experience can make reputation irrelevant.

  45. Glock or 1911? Or reliablility over accuracy? They’re all accurate enough and mostly reliable enough. A couple of range trips will show the reliability issues, if any.

    Now which would I rather lose to the cops if reliability and accuracy are at least comparable? A 125 dollar Makarov? A 199 dollar Sigma(Scoff if you must. It’s never malfunctioned in any way.) A 550 dollar Glock brand Glock or a 3000 dollar 1911.

    I’ve done the math for me.

    • Just as an aside, can you tell me where you found/can find a $125 Mak? I would like to have another myself 😉

      • Just step into the Wayback Machine, Bob. Mosins were 60 bucks. An sks could be had for 99 and I just missed the 99 dollar maks.

        • Back in those $99 days, people in my circle of friends would sometimes find themselves owing one another $100 and Makarovs were actually used as payment.

    • My 1911 only cost $350, and it’s 100% reliable since I fixed what the factory wouldn’t under warranty… AndI got learn all about 1911s, so I’ll never post some dumb crap like “Gun X is more reliable/better than Gun Y.” Like anytihng else a person owns, if you have no clue how it works, no clue how to take care of it, any problems are YOUR OWN FAULT.

  46. Lame blog post. Your post can be broken down into the logical steps (stay in nice areas, during the day, walk away etc) and mechanical steps (Pulling the gun fast, hitting your target etc).

    The problem is what if you did all you could to avoid the situation but now you must draw your weapon and fire it. You state “If you can hit the bad guy or guys with bullets” well what if it is NO or ONE bullet because your 1911 jams??

    Thanks but no thanks, if and when I get to the mechanical part, my G26 or G17 is going to work.

    • why would you expect this mythical 1911 to jam on the second round? why would you expect it to jam at all? performance on competition courses should give us some relatively useful comparison (i have no info on this). how many competitors use blocks vs. 1911? how many malfs are experienced by the shooters? if one machine “out-performs” the other, why? else, we are just engaging in another caliber war.

      • This isn’t a caliber war.

        I can’t speak for him but I would expect this “mythical 1911” to jam on the second round, because I see them do so frequently. I really don’t care what the $3000 (and up) race guns do in competition, but when someone brings their less expensive (but still gun-porn-ish) 1911 in and proudly brags about how they carry it and it never jams…and I see it jam less than five minutes later…and this happens again and again…it ain’t “mythical.” There’s a real issue here, though it isn’t necessarily a ding on all 1911s. One could argue whether there might be some brands that are reliable and others that are not (as opposed to all of them being crap) but crappy 1911s are anything but mythical.

        • was it the gun, the ammo, the mag, the user ? failure tells us nothing. analyzing causes is where we learn things. all we know when any gun stops running is that it stopped…until we investigate. at my range, i have never actually seen any 1911 fail (obviously, i haven’t seen everything). this entire discussion of reliability is chock full of sound and fury, but no data. you say you expect the “mythical” 1911 to fail because you have seen so many. but have you seen the “mythical” 1911? without knowing the gun and its history, it is difficult to credibly say that you expect every 1911 to fail (especially the second shot?). again, without knowing the cause of failure, it is all raw speculation.

          btw, there are a bunch of non-1911s sold because of a “second strike capabiity”. why is that necessary? what is the problem “second strike” is solving? if that type gun fails to fire the round the first time, is that gun unreliable? even if the round fires the on the second trigger pull? did the gun fail, or the ammo? are all guns supposed to be able to overcome bad ammo and/or complete misuse and abuse?

        • I see feed ramp jams, failures to go all the way into battery. I see them happen, a lot.

          The point is, 1911 failures are hardly mythical, as you originally claimed. They are quite common. And pointing out they’ll be better at avoiding light primer strikes than Glocks doesn’t change that fact.

        • again i ask, did the mechanics of the gun fail, or did the user, magazine, ammo ? do you blame the engine when the car is run without oil?

  47. Glocks: The best $400 gun $550+tax can buy…

    I used to carry a 1911 for accuracy, then i went to the beach with it and sand got in the grip safety. It still would work, but the reality that some sand could potentially work it’s way into the grip safety and seize it scared me.

    I now carry a CZ because I like the feel of a 1911, and the accuracy but no grip safety. You can concoct scenarios where a hammer will snag/fail whatever, but put simply, a CZ handles recoil better and is more practically accurate while yielding next to zero academic reliability.

    • CZs (metal 75s, I mean not the P07/09) with the safety (not decocker) option, are the guns for people who wish they could trust 1911s.

  48. “If you own a GLOCK because you believe it will never fail, you are making big mistake. All guns fail..”
    never more true words spoken. if its made by a man, it will fail.

    • True indeed. So the real questions are: Which guns will fail more often? Will any fail unacceptably often? What do you consider unacceptable? Is your judgment being colored because you have a fetish for a particular style or look? Should you be willing to trade X amount of relliability for Y amount of something else?

      The fact that Brand X fails once in a while will NEVER be an adequate excuse for brand Y failing FREQUENTLY.

        • Yes and no.

          Usually, a failure is a failure; here’s an exception, though, to start out with. If it can be determined that the ammo is simply a crappy, underpowdered brand, or this particular round was defective, I won’t blame the gun.

          If the failure is the gun refusing to cycle even though an adequately powered cartridge just went bang, it’s the gun, and I really don’t care past that point unless I am hell-bent on repairing the gun. But right now, in its present condition, the gun is a crappy gun. And I’ll give you this, if the gun is failing to strike the primer with a force that most primers would find sufficient for detonation, that too is the gun. I don’t know why you are so obsessed with this particular failure mode, other than striker fired guns seem more prone to it. (Let me give you a little hint here: not all guns that people recommend over 1911s are striker fired, and not all people who pooh-pooh the 1911 are Glock, or even striker-fired gun fans.) That has been, in my observation, a fairly rare sort of failure, I see more outright dud ammo than light primer strikes, and I see far more feed ramp jams (on 1911s), failures to go all the way into battery (on many guns including 1911s) and failures to extract or eject (on many guns, including 1911s). Feed ramp stoppages are practically the stereotypical 1911 failure.

        • the non-1911 hammer-fired gang is usually silent in these discussions, thus the attention to striker guns.

          you almost made my point. if the ammo is bad, you wouldn’t blame the gun. all i am pointing out is without knowing the reason for failure, it is dishonest to claim a gun is unreliable because there was no boom. if data can support that one gun is truly bad, great; let’s have it. in this group of gunnies who bitch and moan that the anti-gun crown needs to look at facts and data, way too many want to declare one weapon or another inadequate, without data (not personal experience) to support their statements.

          to be intellectually honest, someone who wants to claim a particular gun is bad needs to come-up with the data to prove that when every other factor affecting a gun is removed, the gun fails mechanically at a rate unreasonable to trust the gun for self-defense. as before, if the contention is that in order to be considered “reliable” the gun must be able to overcome every imaginable obstacle WITHOUT HUMAN INTERVENTION, then the discussion is hopeless.

          btw, the “second strike” capability becoming more available in striker and hammer guns, my question is, “does not the second strike capability mean the gun is unreliable”? if not, what non-mechanical factor is “second strike” supposed to overcome? after answering that question, the next is, “does a non-mechanical failure in other guns render them unreliable?”.

  49. Okay, I’ll bite. What is the accuracy difference between your Wilson and the proverbial Glock? How does this difference play into self defense? FWIW, I have a few sub 2 inch groups (25 yards, right hand only) with various Glocks.

    And, I’ll raise you a question. How many fewer rounds are you willing to carry in order to pack your Wilson?

    I’ve never been in a gunfight, nor do I fantasize about them. However, I would imagine that running out of ammo in one would pretty much peg most people’s “this sucks” meter.

  50. Are Glocks reliable? Yep, they sure are, in my experience. So are 1911s, Springfields, Rugers, S&Ws, and even Bersas, to name just a few.

    If you insist on Glock solely because you believe they can’t possibly malfunction, like any other gun can, then congrats; you’ve been suckered by clever marketing. Let me also assure you that despite claims to the contrary, Gillette is not the best a man can get, Avis doesn’t try harder, and plenty of things run like a Deere.

      • vickers and hackathorn do not see even a statistically significant number of 191s. they have no empirical data, only anecdotal. how many 1911s (or any firearm for that matter) have been sold? how many malfunction per time period? what type of malfunction? what was/is the skill level of the 1911 owner? how many gunfights involved a 1911? how many of those resulted in a malf? what type? why?

        if the idea of a reliable self-defense gun rules out anything that cannot be effectively used by the owner right out of the box, first time, then maybe there is something to discuss (except, you can’t overlook how many first-time users cannot effectively use the gun). so far, this discussion seems to be the successful employment of CLICK BAIT !!

        • George: I’m going to disagree with you on Larry Vickers having a limited cross section of experience with 1911’s. I’m not a Larry Vickers Fan Club guy, but he does possess authority on this subject. According to Pat McNamara (with whom I actually had this discussion) during the time Vickers and McNamara were with Delta, the unit shot more rounds through 1911’s than anybody, anywhere, anytime on earth. Delta used 1911’s for many years in nearly every plausible condition or situation. Vickers built and maintained 1911’s for several decades during his career. While Mr. Vickers is somewhat of a celebrity now and I understand we all may have mixed feelings on celebrities, he does have extensive, vetted experience with the 1911, and is probably one of a handful of people on earth most qualified to comment on the use of a 1911 in the real world shooting at people that need to be shot.

          Now, I completely agree that the gun must be effectively employed by the shooter. In our drive through, maintenance free world, the 1911 is usually best suited for shooters who WANT to spend the extra time to learn the idiosyncrasies of the platform. I like my 1911’s and have shot them regularly for over 25 years, but I must be locked on regarding their particular issues (extractors, ammo compatibility, small parts breakage, magazine compatibility, proper lubrication, correct springs and timely replacement thereof). I have been in classes with people that had no business running a 1911. During stress inoculation drills I have seen inexperienced 1911 shooters fail to properly grip the pistol in order to engage the grip safety (I did this myself after a long layoff, to my disgust) and react in horror and confusion when the pistol would not fire, or get the same result by forgetting to disengage the manual safety. There are many people that shoot a 1911 on flat range that would not be able to effectively employ the 1911 if they were fighting for their life with a 1911. For these people, the 1911 is a bad choice – they didn’t really learn to use it. I think the best course is to carry the pistol you train with, are effective with and can operate under duress. If I can’t do that with the pistol I’m carrying, then I need more training, or another pistol and more training. My ego or brand loyalty should have no place in the equation.

        • there are not enough special operators in all the world to equal a significant number of 1911s as opposed to the installed base. shoot forever, and the limited experience tells you very little (which is not nothing) about the reliability of the 1911. that is because you must include every current holder, and all the users throughout history. point being, a two sample test base is not statistically valid. if the goal is ultimately no user needs experience or training to effectively use a handgun, we are a long way off from comparing guns of different types. while i do not like complicated weapons because they are just really cool, the idea that a tool is unreliable because sheer novices can’t operate it properly is just dumb. take someone off the street, and put them in front of a reloading press, and ask them to produce 10,000 flawless rounds in a given time..with no training.

          so the current argument is insoluble because it is really apples-oranges. one side favors no-brainer arms, the other favors on that is quite effective in the right hands. in computerland, this argument is generally between those who think no one should have a compter if they cannot operate at the command-line level, and those who think computers should be simple tools to use achieving a goal.

          i like my 1911 a bunch. i understand it has complexity, and small parts, and is not equal to a 30rd sub-machine gun in a fight. i am not a competitor, just a citizen. since the gunfight that consumes more than 8rds is a really negligible for the general populace. and since my first rule of a gunfight is “don’t be there”, i do not prepare for the battle of the alamo.

        • I think Vickers is still somewhat relevant, in that he tells us that our life is hopeless without the latest gear from Vickers Tactical, Blue Force Gear, Bravo Company, TangoDown, Wilson Combat, Raven Concealment, FireClean and Aimpoint. I was told by a person that took one of his classes that Vickers routinely insults people if they run a 1911 other than Wilson in his class, particularly if it’s an Ed Brown pistol. Stay classy Larry!

        • Thanks for the comment. I will not tolerate any instructor who insults any student. Nothing to be learned from such a person.

  51. This is like sitting around the fire at deer camp, while everyone is quietly watching the fire, and blurting out “Ya know, I think the 30-06 is about the best deer caliber in the world. I can’t imagine why anyone would hunt with something else.” just to freak everyone out. I love it. I once learned this sage wisdom from a class I took with a former career SF/Delta guy: “The pistol you train properly and frequently with is probably the most effective one for you.”

  52. Glocks do fail, but a whole lot less than most other firearms, including 1911’s. If you don’t believe James Yeager, ask Rob Pincus, or anyone else with extensive forearms experience.

    I carry a G19, and a S and W shield when the G19 is too bulky to conceal reliably.

    M and P is basically a shameless plagiarism of the glock, the only functional differences being the takedown lever and the trigger safety. Even the thumb safety can be eliminated in the NTS version.

    Yes, they can fail, but I haven’t encountered a misfeed in either one, with about 1000 rounds thru the glock and 2000 thru the shield.

    My advice is to practice clearing stoppages woth your 1911, so you’re ready in the rare event that your glock jams.

    Most issues with glocks are with the gen 4’s. I have a gen 3 and it’s been flawless (fingers crossed).

    • anyone who looks at a glock and an m&p sees the diff right off. and once putting both in the hand, can certainly feel the difference. the mechanics of all handguns are essentially the same ( launcher, firecontrol, ammo), once both are fired in the same session, the difference becomes much more pronounced. and the m&p looks better.

      yes, i shot both (.40), in one range session. the glock owner was surprised the m&p was so easy to adjust to.

      • I agree 100 percent. M and ps also don’t feel like you have a brick in your waistband.

        I like my glock better for shooting (I can repeatedly hit a silhouette at 20 yards with it), but I like my shield better for carrying.

  53. My 1911 has been 100% reliable since I Fixed t factory problems that were neglected under warranty attempts… Best handgun I own. Wish it could be carried in Floriduh, but can’t…

  54. My real-world experiences with carrying for almost 20 years now… Anything I carry is subjected to the acquisition of dust, grit, crud, lint, goo, etc… Enough of that will gunk up any gun to the point of non-functionality. That includes a Glock 32 OCed in a Serpa CQC for only a few months. Even my PT738, which is deep concealed in a lint and sweat factory almost 24/7, ran fine after 2 years of neglect… The Glock, in a much cleaner environment, gave up after just a few months… Not that I’m advocating advocating neglect. It’s just that Glock owners tend to fondle their guns a lot more because they think it’s so perfect, and that might contribute to the matter.

    • Wow, it’s getting pretty deep in here now, and I’m wearing my good shoes, too.

      A Glock that “gave up” after a few months of external belt carry in a mostly enclosed holster, and a Taurus that ran fine (for any length of time?) in ANY conditions?

      Yeah, right, whatever; BTW, what color is the sky in your little world? Just curious…

  55. I competed with a 1911 on a Navy team and I have owned one for years. But I won’t carry one, and I won’t carry Glocks or any other striker-fired gun. I know they can both be handled safely, but they are not safe enough for me. And the 1911 has the added issue of having to get the safety off to get it into action and getting it back on to take it safely out of action, which I don’t want to mess with in the heat of an engagement.

    I carry revolvers. A clean revolver is the most practically reliable handgun there is IMHO, I can shoot them accurately and I’m not as worried about NDs with them. I may get an auto at some point for carry, but it will be a high-quality DA/SA if I do. It’s what I feel comfortable with, and that’s what counts.

    • da/sa auto-loaders are not the same experience as with a revolver. with semis, the da may be mostly pull length, rather than pull effort and length.

    • DA/SA is a smart choice if one applies one’s self. I see too many beginners shoot DA/SA SA only at the range. I am not saying you do. However I asked one of my students once if she ever practices DA with her P220 (fine pistol, BTW). She said “no.” Then I asked if she cocked it before investigating noises at night. She said “no” again.

  56. I forgot to mention that my Gock 19 failed to fire when it got cold and it had light oil in the firing pin channel. Since then I put no lube in the firing pin channel. I have lubed the hell out of the firing pin channel in the Browning High Power and the 1911, CZ 75, Star Model 30, P38, Luger, Walthers P5, P88 and P99, Beretta 92, Polish Radom, French MAB PA 15, Sig P220 and P 266 and P 228, Neuhausen P 210, to name just a few and never had a problem even when the guns were fired in the dead of winter. Again not so with the Glock because of its open firing pin channel and very weak ignition system. Burnt powder in the channel also slows down the ignition as well even when the channel is not lubed.

  57. The forty yard shot??????

    Ok being a gun owner I could sympathize with that statement but a Jury in a wrongful death trial sure would take a dim view of someone shooting at someone else at 40 yards especially if they were taken to the seen and observed how far 40 yards really is.. The Jury would think why did he not leave the seen or take cover and call the police. You would really have to have a gun savvy lawyer in the Masaad Ayoob class to get you out of that fix.

    • seems to me, anything beyond the longest shot in your home would qualify as not immediate threat (and if one is attempting to aid someone else at 120 feet, how certain would one be that the threat is real, imminent and deadly?).

  58. Quite possibly THE dumbest article I have ever read.
    Reliability is the most important concern for ANY defensive weapon. If your life depends on it, wouldn’t you rather KNOW it’s going to go band (ie Glock) instead of praying to God that it does (ie weapon design that’s over 114 years old).

      • Guess that would mean the plastic strikers are just cooler.

        Which is not really true: Luger P-08 Parabellum is just the way coolest striker-fired machine.

      • Yes, but the Glock is not all that similar to that first striker-fired gun, whereas 1911s made today are very similar to those first 1911s. So your comparison is silly. (Hammer-fireds in general are far older than striker-fireds, in general.) Fortunately, it’s also irrelevant since it IS just as silly to use age as an argument in the first place (which may be the point you were trying to make). There are plenty of designs considerably newer than 1911s that just absolutely suck by anyone’s standards.

        • the mk1 pen and paper are in many ways superior to computers. which is why we still have 5000yr old technology for communicating. the point was/is that age of technology has no negative bearing on reliability. in all cases, it is how you construct and make use of whatever technology (are knives obsolete in the self-defense role?).

        • On this point, George, we are in agreement.

          If you want to argue the merits of Type A over Type B, the ages of the two make no difference.

  59. Fail.
    How is reliability not the most important concern about any weapon you will be using to protect your life should the need arise.

  60. 1911’s are not reliable for me, especially the A1 version with the rounded mainspring housing. It makes my meaty hand fail to depress the grip safety reliably. I have owned about ten of them. Don’t own one now. The polymer framed pistols are more reliable and their safeties are easier to use.

  61. As I have read through the replies to the article I have noticed the comments have been more about what pistol is better. The truth is that every firearm will fail at some point, and even factory ammo will have a bad round now and then. A well maintained firearm that is properly cleaned, and lubricated should fire 50 – 100 rounds at a stretch with out any mechanical failures.

    • It should fire a lot more than 50-100 rounds. You standards are really, really low here.

      I get sorely disappointed in any gun that fails with quality ammo in less than 200, preferably 500, rounds after a cleaning.

  62. From the number of comments I’m guessing that the author’s position is what news people like to scare-head “Controversial”. He states that he would rather have accuracy than reliability. This is a logical paradox: False Dilemma. An either/or choice is offered when more choices are available.

    My first semi handgun was a Llama 32 ACP (cheap, I know). It was extremely concealable. Hell, I could tuck it in the back pocket of my jeans and draw it just that quick. But I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it and it liked to stovepipe every fifth round or so. So I sold it to an optimist.

    Do I prefer my handgun to be accurate or reliable? Yes. 🙂

    • actually, he was implying that reliability is already built into the handgun, and accuracy is dependent on the gun barrel, with 1911s inherently manufactured better for accuracy than striker guns. therefore, reliability for handguns is not a discriminator (of course, he was probably unintentionally ruling out crappy guns of any type).

      • I dunno. I think accuracy is built into the entire mechanism. You can have the finest barrel on the planet, but if your slide/frame fit sucks then accuracy is not in the cards. Conversely, a tight slide/frame fit can contribute to poor reliability. So accuracy and reliability depend on some of the same features. And I’m really sorry, but the 1911 is an antique. Fancying it up won’t change that, and there is much better equipment available.

        I do speak from some experience: I have owned two Springfield 1911s and one Colt 1911. I have also owned two of the derivative Browning Hi-Power models (1976 Belgian Nickel adjustable sights, P35 Inglis slotted tangent). They were good enough in their day, but all of them suffered from the same faults. J. M. Browning may have been the whiz kid of his age, but others have bested his design. If they stood on his shoulders to do it then that’s just the way it goes.

        I have several handguns that combine both accuracy and reliability. I freely admit that none of them are striker fired because I don’t like their balance (and I prefer the DA/SA designs). But there really is no need to compromise.

        • i didn’t really read ‘compromise’. more like quality/reliability is a floor, settled discussion. from there pick the most accurate gun available. don’t know the stats, but if the 1911/2011 style is the majority competition winner, that would be a great argument for them being more accurate. if not, then the issue is that the entire system is better when a reliable 1911 can be deployed/used to gain notable increase in accuracy vs. striker stuff.

        • 1911s may win a lot of competitions.,, but THOSE 1911s tend to be $3K or more race guns that no one carries in real life. So it’s really rather irrelevant what wins competitions, unless it’s stock guns you are talking about.

          I’d love to see a new competition start up, the competition that IDPA failed to be. Competitors have to sign an affidavit that what they are wearing and what they are carrying, and how they are carrying, are the way they actually carry. No stupid shoot me vests, no race gun you wouldn’t dream of letting out of your safe other than at the range. Then we’d see some useful information come out of competitions.

        • agree completely. if i remember right, jeff cooper’s competition was designed for only actual issued service weapons, because “race guns” tell us little about the utility of a particular gun for defense in military, law enforcement and self-defense applications.

        • I’ll just take a moment to note here that when IDPA was started, they had to INVENT a classification/category/division to keep 1911s and similar autoloaders competitive, otherwise the Glocks and other modern designs would have eaten them alive.

        • they really did create a special category for unreliable guns? really? i am a fan of gun competitions, beginning with jeff cooper. do you have any references i can consult?

        • Are we talking mechanical failure of only the gun? There are thing that will cause an autoloader to “fail” that are not due to the mechanical aspects of the gun. Not polishing the feed ramp in a back & forth motion can cause a feeding jam. Not properly lubing the slide, not cleaning everything else.
          Ammunition is a prime cause of failure.
          And yes, a revolver can malfunction also, BUT! Unless it’s the last round in the cylinder that missfires, giving you nowhere to go, except your speedloader, The wheelgun gives you a chance to redeem yourself, A simple pull of the trigger, and lead is on it’s way!

        • Just reporting I have never had a failure, of any kind, induced by any condition, with an auto-loader. Not sure that is meaningful, but just as meaningful as someone who has not yet encountered that rare revolver malfunction.

          Plenty of successful killings through use of a revolver. Plenty of successful killings via auto-loaders. But the article was essentially a discussion of things related to auto-loaders. In the military, I had a terrible time controlling the puny .38spl; moved too much in my hand with every shot, long hard trigger pull did not help accuracy. When we moved to auto-loaders, the gun was way easier to control and shoot well. (BTW, I was more accurate/comfortable with the revolver in SA mode).

          So, just saying that one person’s experience is one person’s experience. Which may establish nothing useful.

        • If you never had an auto loader fail you do not shoot much. They all fail its just a matter of when not if. This comes from over 54 years of shooting with them.

        • the response was based on the same statement made regarding revolvers “never seen a revolver fail”. all that means (in either case) is that neither of us has seen enough. our combined lack of experience doesn’t mean one system is superior to another.

          trying to point out the folly of endlessly repeating anecdotal information as scientific certainty. “everybody knows…” is the sort of mush-brained pablum the anti-gun crowd relies on to convince themselves they are better people. and we want to use a similar approach to firearm reliability?

        • no, no, no, no. you can’t make exceptions/conditions. 100% reliable is 100%, in all conditions. glock guys have set the standard. if your revolver can ever fail, it is not 100% reliable, and you shouldn’t bet your life on it.

        • George,
          So I am wondering if there ever has been a study to find out what the cause was, when an autoloader didn’t go bang. That is, was the failure due to a breakage of one of the guns parts, was it due to the owner not taking proper care of the gun, or was the failure due to a fault with the ammo. The last of which brings up a whole new list of possible faults.
          Off hand, I’m guessing ammo causes more problems than the gun it’s self.
          No matter how good of an autoloader you have, no matter how much you fluffed and buffed it, no matter how well you kept it lubed, if the the ammo is bad, and it doesn’t go bang, you are Shit out of luck! Your only hope is if your adversary stumbles over a sleeping wino, and you have a very brief moment to jack in a new round!

        • based on a whole lot of reading, bad mags and bad ammo are apparently the most frequent problems for/with non-revolvers (reckon bad ammo would be a problem for revolvers, too). but ammo is not a gun failure, is it? 1911s and strikers all fire boxed or home-loaded ammunition. if an ammo failure is counted against the 1911, it should count against the glock (which has a ‘weaker’ firing system). operationally, i would think revolvers would be less likely to have a mechanical failure (a revolver for a house gun might be a good idea, too). but the article was addressing semi-automatics. for the general population, using ammunition that works with the gun (semi-auto) should be dogma (and yes, the reliability of the ammo is a big factor in the reliability of self-defense). i cannot find any practical or useful purpose to demanding that a handgun be able to successfully fire any ammunition, anywhere, anytime. the self-defense scenario does not include crawling on the pavement or through the grass looking for ammo randomly dropped as a means to replenish a mag. you are onto something discussing the influence of bad ammo on the ‘reliability’ of a particular handgun. it is even more data that we do not have in this blog string.

        • George,
          Here’s another way of looking at it. I know we are not really discussing auto vs wheel gun, but, as admitted, ammo is a very real issue in auto’s. However it is relatively a small issue in wheel guns, I say that because in a wheel gun, another round is usually just another trigger pull away, whereas in an auto more things must be accomplished to insure lead going down the barrel.
          So, to sum it up, If we say that both guns are about the same as far as reliability is concerned, forgetting about the ammo. then that would seem to make the autoloader, less of a contender, simply because defective ammo is going to be a much bigger problem in the auto.
          Of course I know the main problems with wheel guns is the inventory of ammo at hand, and a little more bulge near your belt line.
          My self, I carry at least two speed loaders. My little NAA back up, in my pocket doesn’t use them!

        • can we allow ammo to be a determinant as to the reliability of any gun? a strike failure can happen with any gun, due to ammo construction. so if a gun demonstrably proves the mechanical parts can function properly 100% of the time, does a misfire due to poor ammo really count against the handgun reliability? again, chasing the idea that a ‘reliable’ handgun (or long gun) must be able to overcome the poorest of ammunition is just silly. indeed, a number of striker guns market on their ability to provide “second strike”. why? if second strike is needed, is it because the gun failed, or the ammo failed? these are important questions to pose when deciding between auto-loaders. i agree the revolver poses a challenge in ‘reliability’ vs. the semi. a revolver is good to have in the nightstand. but the discussion here is auto-loaders (actually, it is a discussion of preferences for glocks, and anything else). if someone needs a gun that requires no skill to use effectively, then they should buy nothing until that simple as a rock gun is available.

          on the whole, the article seems a good method of challenging our thinking about readiness for self-defense, using the whole conglomeration of person, weapon, ammo, situation.

    • All high-quality, well maintained handguns are reliable. It’s the user who makes them fail to fire, by the way he holds it, the way he loads it and what he loads it with. A revolver is just less prone to user and ammunition induced errors.

  63. At the short less than 30 feet ranges pistols are usually utilized, reliability is going to be more vital than accuracy.
    With the adrenaline dump which people will encounter; accuracy with the sights will go out the window and multiple rounds will be expended.
    Just look at a lot of the cop cam videos which are just not textbook.

  64. I think you need both accuracy and reliability, but I would put reliability first. A gun that won’t fire is a paperweight that has no chance of putting bullet in a BG. Most gunfights occur within three yards. Any gun is that accurate. Even if you miss, the BG is probably gonna be duckin’ and runnin’. But if you go “click,” you could be in a whole lot of trouble.

    • yes, you need it to go boom. why would you (or anyone) suspect modern 1911s wouldn’t boom? everyone talks about percentages; what is the sample size whereupon the rating is based? where else in life do you hesitate based on a one in millions failure rate? even the glock boys admit sometimes they fail (which makes them not 100% reliable). what are the conditions guaranteed to cause a failure? what are the conditions guaranteed to not cause a failure? where are the valid stats regarding static test firing (no user involvement) that demonstrate a recognizable rate of mechanical failure? so far, we have seen/heard everyone talking about something no one has data to support.

      • One in millions failure rate? On a 1911? Don’t try to make me laugh. I see far more 1911 jams than anything else, and I’ve seen far fewer than a million shots fired. (I’ve seen more Glock failures than that too, but it’s just stupid to claim 1911s fail only one in a million times.)

        • anecdotal. given the number of 1911s produced since 1911, millions of rounds fired. what is the failure rate? and what caused the failure? can any other semi-auto claim the same population numbers since first introduced? (asking, ‘cuz i don’t knkow). as to personal experience, i have been going to the same three ranges for 5yrs. lotsa 1911s, never saw one fail, haven’t heard an owner or instructor talking about actual 1911 failures. the “i hate 1911 because new is cool” crowd talks about 1911 failures, but dismiss their own as not applicable to the gun (but vague on what the actual cause is). point is without considering the entire deployed population of 1911s since introduction, and analyzing the causes of failures, we have no real basis for believing 1911s are unreliable. if a gun (any type) can “run forever” with a given user, magazine set, ammunition selection (but coughs with other elements), is the gun reliable or not? that is the reason we need FMEA (fah me ah) (failure modes and effects analysis) to have a valid conclusion on any gun.

          and we don’t have it.

  65. I’ll admit I skipped to the end after reading one particular comment. I will go back and continue to read… but if you have only had 2 guns not be reliable you haven’t shot enough guns and I would think you have being the owner of this site. When I get a gun I like, I sometimes buy a second, because… America? I’ve had the second gun be unreliable in more than 1 gun. I had a sig 1911 that I still own, the second one shot 6-8 inches low at 25 yards. I’ve had a Para that was a jam-o-matic. I’ve had a ruger sr22 that the barrel would loosen itself every 100 or so rounds I’ve had an Ak clone that would fail to feed all the time. These are examples off the top of my head and all were second guns of ones I already owned. I know they send you test guns, and many are probably cherry-picked, but in my limited experience, I would say 20-30% of my gun purchases have required some work to make them more reliable. (including every SA 1911 I’ve ever owned, they all needed their feed ramp polished)

  66. This was a Jeff Foxworthy joke: If you can argue 1911 v Glock for more than an hour, you might be a redneck. (His actual joke, if I recall correctly, was “If you can argue about mud tires for more than an hour…)

    Hey, y’all watch this.

  67. I’ve never posted a reply on this site, but I almost feel an obligation to do so here.

    Robert is absolutely full of BS. So full that he is able to fool himself through willful rationalization. It’s dangerous for him and dangerous for anybody who takes him seriously, and makes the same choice. I assume that most readers here are fairly experienced with firearms, but there are some newbies reading this, too. Those folks, I fear, may get infected with this awful thinking.

    Reliability is critically important, and is (by far) the most important equipment-related issue. Yes, I’m sure there are good reliable 1911s out there. Robert’s isn’t one of them. How do I know? Because he talks about the “significant” difference in reliability between glocks and 1911s. Do you think he would be mentioning this at all if his weapon were 100%?

    It’s incredible to me that the man justifies this reliability issue by pointing out his mental preparation to overcome it. Mental preparation is critical, and malfunction drills are essential training, but they aren’t s a substitute for weapon reliability. Deep down, Robert has to know this.

    It’s more incredible that there are some comments that support him. “Every gun will fail” is a BS argument. Just because it’s true, doesn’t make it an argument. “If you own a GLOCK because you believe it will never fail, you are making big mistake” is more of the same BS. Nobody thinks that a human made machine will never fail. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that he owns a weapon “significantly more reliable” than his 1911, but ignores that, and carries the 1911. That’s the type of tombstone courage that gets good men killed.

    And no, we’re not talking about dragging a weapon through sand, mud, or lava. We’re talking about simple reliability- the gun goes bang when the trigger is pulled. If it doesn’t do that every time at the range with SD loads, fix it or get rid of it.

    What Robert needs to consider is that if his gun were to malfunction in an SD encounter, there is an unacceptably high likelihood that it’s going to cost him everything (in spite of his mental preparation), and his family is going to be left picking up the pieces after the absolutely preventable tragedy. I doubt they’d forgive him for it. There’s no room to trust your life, or the lives of those you love, to a weapon “significantly less reliable” for any reason. Period. Glocks are great weapons, but far from the only ones. So many are out there, in fact, that there is no need to compromise on anything- reliability, comfort, accuracy, etc. Find one that works (as in 100%) and works for you, and train- a lot. Train for accuracy, train for speed, train for malfunctions, and train like your life depends on it, because it does. That’s the big boy responsibility that goes along with the decision to keep and bear arms.

    It’s unlikely that the author will ever have to pay the price for his fatal thinking. SD weapon use is rare. But someone who reads this article might. This article needs to be pulled. It isn’t just off-base, it’s precisely and completely wrong. Delegate your potential expensive paperweight as a range toy, because it is. Then find something that simply works, and carry it.

    • More speculation. Where is the data? What is the sample size? What is the environment? Skill of the user? Type ammunition? There are too many reports all over the internet of handguns firing upwards of 30k rounds per year with no malfunctions. What do we make of that? Robert’s position seemed to be that any modern handgun (since 2000? we don’t know) is de facto reliable enough to bet your life on, and from there (baseline) we need to focus on inherent accuracy.

      Used to be in the airplane business. We would pre-fight an aircraft, toggle all the switches, apply electricity to activate the rest of the systems, and tell the pilot everything worked….the last time we used it ! Which had absolutely no bearing on whether those gizmos would work the next time. But, reliability being what it is, everything worked. Pilots know/knew no system was 100% reliable at all times, but the systems were reliable to the point the pilot would bet many lives on those systems.

      Thinking any hand gun is inherently 100% reliable is no more reasonable than dismissing caution because no gun is inherently 100% reliable. So back to basics…find a gun you can shoot well, keep running and practice continuously with.

      • Nobody here has the money, time, and equipment to test the reliability of firearms to provide a conclusive answer as to what is the most reliable. That doesn’t mean that we can’t say that Robert’s 1911 is less reliable than his Glock. He says so himself! It’s not speculation, it’s fact, if we assume that he’s not lying.

        I’m sure there are plenty of reports of guns of all types failing on the first time at the range, or never failing after an extremely high round count. There are reliable Kias and unreliable Toyotas, so I agree, a brand name is not sufficient for determining reliability.

        I have only carried Sigs and Glocks. Never experienced a failure, even with quite a few rounds, with any of them. If I were experiencing failures, I would not rationalize the problem away with my mental preparation or with the statistical infrequency of an SD incident. Robert most certainly is, and that is dangerous, even if he never has to learn it the hard way.

        • Thinking Robert threw a bone to the Glock crowd, then went on to point out that reliability is not an issue worth much consideration, given modern guns. He then addressed the whole system of self-defense. Then he noted that with modern gun reliability being good enough to bet on (while likely thinking of guns costing more than a family night at the movies), one can move on to examine/evaluate other factors in the self-defense system. Getting stuck on reliability nits is not useful in discussing overall preparedness along the whole system. Robert did seem to indicate accuracy (but at what distance, in what circumstance?) is a factor as important as an other element in the SD system. The article is a good thought-provoker regarding how much attention I give to all the elements of SD. Do i address one factor to the exclusion of everything else? Until this article, hadn’t given “the system” as much attention. As expected, the post then degenerated into the gun equivalent of caliber wars. But anytime someone tells me something is so much better than something else, I need more than opinion. Few people explained here just how they arrived at their conclusions, other than words. When the Army decided to find a gun with “more stopping” power, nowhere was there public information about determining why the M9 was not a sufficient handgun. What were the operational parameters that make the M9 inferior? When the specs were published, there was much more attention paid to operator usability, rather than putting “knock down power” as the first and most significant evaluation factor..which made me suspicious of claims that the M9 was inferior in stopping the threat.

          So, to determine what is best, starting with definable and defendable statistics should be required, then a careful analysis of the variables, then a trial of the gun in the hands of the user. But overall, focusing only on “reliability” is not the most practical way to chose a handgun for defense.

      • I think we’re more or less in agreement.

        I don’t think reliability is an issue that people should focus on when choosing a weapon. Most modern weapons are plenty reliable. Nobody can accurately rank brands and models by reliability based on word of mouth. Glock has proven reliability, and many others do, too. One caution is that even if a 1911 were manufactured recently, it’s still a 1911. Inherently more complex, and inherently more of a tinkerer’s gun. The big trend is the shift to polymer framed, striker fired pistols, which are inherently simple in design. That is a good thing for reliability, in general, though nothing is a sure thing. But as to ranking Glocks, sigs, walthers, h&ks? Pick the one you like and then make the gun prove its reliability, as you said, the user with his particular weapon.

        After you find that right pistol, train with it and shoot the snot out of it. If there is a reliability problem, you’ll see it. If, after x thousand rounds, it’s damn near 100%, then you’re good. Just keep training and maintaining. Who cares if somebody else has a problem with the same model. I’m sure there are some unreliable Glock 19s out there, but mine is not one of them, with any ammo or environment it has encountered.

        I just can’t imagine that this piece would have been written if the author’s 1911 were truly reliable. He finally hedges with “it’s acceptably reliable. In other words, the chances are high that it will function when I need it to.”
        What the hell does that mean? 51% reliable? 80%? Or is his 100% but he’s heard a lot of horror stories? “acceptably reliable” sounds like a euphemism for “not a total paperweight” or maybe “goes bang occasionally”.

        I just don’t think “most of the time” is acceptable when your butt’s on the line. No amount of rationalizing can make the risk of having a non-functioning weapon acceptable. Reliability is not an issue until it appears in training, and it will, if you’re practicing enough. Then it is absolutely a deal breaker for any weapon carried for SD, no matter how perfect otherwise.

        • The article seemed to cover a lot of ground, and may not have been as tight as intended. I discounted all the Glock noise and unsubstantiated claims of (undefined) reliability. From there, it was easy to see RF was trying to point people toward looking at handgun self-defense as a whole system, rather than starting and stopping with arguments over brand/type. As it happened (predictable?), a large number of responses were shouts of infallibility based solely on marketing claims. As someone curious about handguns and weapons in general, I have no dog in this fight (semi-autos). I do have a stake in having gun owners make more sense than the anti crowd. Emotional arguments can be effective, but all this screaming at each other over unsupported opinion makes us look like other side. Using emotion backed by provable fact might be a winning combination when explaining ourselves to the other mob, but just yelling about stuff is a mirror image of what the sheeple on the other side do. Even in talking about how best to defend ourselves, we should be more circumspect.

          Thanks for the chat !

  68. It is possible that a person could fire his handgun 10,000 times, and then say “This gun is absolutely 100 % reliable!”
    He then sticks it in his belt, and on the way home, a carjacker shoots and kills him, because his 100% reliable gun failed to discharge on the 10,001 st. shot!
    Was it a spring that grew weaker till it finally broke? Was it a round that nosedived while in the magazine, on the way to the feed ramp? Did the shooter fail to add lube to the slide after 10,000 rounds? Did some lint get into the mechanism? Was it bad ammo? We will never know.
    Point is: There is no such thing as 100 % reliable.

    • I agree that your example could happen. But it’s far more likely (probably talking orders of magnitude) that if you had misfires in the past, that you will have misfires when you need it.

      Nobody believes in 100% reliability in a firearm. But if someone has other than near 100% reliability in those 10,000 rounds, they’d be foolish to depend on that weapon for SD. We can’t eliminate risk, but we can prepare for it. Refusing to carry a weapon that already proved to you that it’s not dead-on reliable is one obvious step.

      • the problem with “reliability” measures is we haven’t clearly defined what that is. if a gun fails to go boom 10 times of 100, is the gun unreliable? no, it is not. the determination must be made that the failures (all of them) were caused by mechanical failure. if ammo or handling contributes to the failures, we do not know if the gun is “reliable”, or not. all we can say is that we experienced 10 failures to function as designed. then, after we analyze the conditions, we might be able to isolate the problem to the mechanics of the gun. some people believe, fervently, that a gun that cannot be run over by a tank and subsequently fire any quality level ammo is not reliable. others contend (probably more properly), the gun must be capable of being run over by a tank, and successfully firing the ammunition which has proven itself to be usable “reliably” in that gun.

        • The only thing I would add, is that any gun will simply wear out. There are folks out there that put 5,000 to 10,000 a year. After several years of that, metal fatigue may effect some of the parts.
          Extractors may loose their sharp edges, and fail to yank the case out. Springs can fail.
          If I wanted to do a lot of shooting, and also carry the same gun for self defense, I would buy two of the same weapon (We are talking autos here) Then put a thousand rounds through each. If there are no issues, pick the one you like the best. Then shoot the hell out of the other one. If it fails, and you know it’s probably not the ammo, you will not have to pay for it with your life.

        • oh yes, i like the idea of two. really do. been thinking on that since first recommended on this posting string.

          two would be good.

        • If a person can afford to shoot that many rounds per year, they can also afford to replace the pistol and/or have a backup gun ready and waiting BEFORE their primary pistol wears-out/breaks.

        • yeah, i really do like the idea of two guns of the same type. one for shooting, one for carry.

  69. the original response was related to notice of difficulty with the grip safety on an XD. my point was that grip safeties were not inherently bad, and my 1911 grip safety has not presented any difficulty, regardless of how i acquire the grip. was presenting the 1911 as an alternative. as to “striker” guns, it was a substitute for the more accurate “plastic guns” badge.

    • I’m guessing that this was intended as a reply to the chain wherein I told about my experience with the XDs, and somehow ended up at the bottom of the whole post.

      I don’t, actually, hate the idea of grip safeties. I think I’d probably prefer to have one on a gun with no safety lever, provided it’s well executed and it and I “fit” well together. The XDs wasn’t it, though I give it credit for trying. 1911s DO have a safety lever and thus don’t need a grip safety…or maybe the other way around. Though given the tendency of many owners to make the trigger weight about 0.3 ounces (OK, I’m exaggerating there, but not all that much) I think it’s best those hair trigger ones probably ought to have both, a trigger that light can be tripped inadvertently much more easily.

      • yep, just wanted you to know if you like the advantage of a grip safety, 1911s might be good to investigate. some people crap all over the idea of any mechanical safety for a gun (even though their fave has three). some 1911s have only the grip safety and the thumb safety, some have another feature designed to prevent drop-fires (nothing the user needs to employ, it is just there). you originally noted that grabbing the XDs from a table did not result in a sufficient grip. i was comparing that the 1911 can quickly come off the table/out of the drawer with just about any grip hold, and function as designed. many (all?) non-1911s can be similarly deployed.

        • My new LCR has a grip safety! If I don’t grip it tightly and shoot +P it’ll fly out of my hand.

        • have heard that complaint a coupla times. friend had one, hated it and sold it. had him try the mp shield and sig 238 and 938 (both look like mini-1911, but no grip safety). the two sigs were intriguing, but don’t know yet which he bought. the sigs are much better with the extended finger pad and 7rd mags. both armscor and browning are producing 3/4 size 1911s in .380. those should be fun.

      • update:

        to the consternation of many gunsmiths, i want to increase the trigger pull effort, just a bit. OEM setup is a wee goosey for me.

  70. I just spent more than an hour reviewing a lot of the comments, many of which I find were quite interesting and rewarding, and I have actually learned something. After seeing so many comments about all the things that can go wrong with an autoloader, plus how finicky they may get over ammo issues, I’m just glad that I have my wheel gun and the speed loaders that go with it.

    P.S.
    I still love autoloaders, and I think there fun to shoot, just don’t want my life to depend on one.

  71. I have been carrying my new-to-me Walther PPS 9mm for 2 weeks now. Which reminds me… I should probably take it to the range to see if it works. Oops.

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