Recently, I decided to put four different quality 9mm pistols through the Bill Wilson 5X5 test. I would have never guessed the results. Maybe I should have. If you’re not familiar, here’s the 5×5 Skill Test protocol which, oddly enough, was designed by Bill Wilson.
Range: 10 yards
Target: standard IDPA target (4” circle head, 7” circle body)
Start position: hands at your sides facing the target. No concealment garment necessary.
Rounds fired: 25
The test is intended for a service pistol of 9mm caliber or larger, a concealed carry suitable holster and ammunition with a power factor (bullet weight x velocity) of 125,000 or more. Scoring is standard Vickers with a half second penalty per point down and a full second for any round that misses the target entirely.
There are four strings of fire, each for time:
Draw and fire 5 shots freestyle.
Draw and fire 5 shots strong hand only.
Draw and fire 5 shots freestyle, reload from slidelock and fire 5 more shots freestyle.
Draw and fire 4 shots to the body and 1 shot to the head freestyle.
The winning time: 19:45 shot by…the Wilson Combat Beretta 92FS. No, I didn’t time myself, I had someone else do it right. Yes, I was very surprised.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the 92FS, always considering it acceptable, but not exceptional. I would have guessed it would have come in third in this particular group. Guess I’ll have to rethink that. Of course, it probably also helps that I have over 100,000 rounds through this platform, and the Wilson Combat version pretty much solves all the problems I had with my service model.
Here are the results:
Wilson Combat Beretta 92FS
Total time: 19:45
The real difference: accuracy. This was the only gun that I shot without dropping a point. I shot this gun last in the series, but by the time I was to the test cycle, I was pretty sure this gun would end up first or second. I never had to fight the gun. It felt natural, I was relaxed shooting it, and I could just focus on the sights and the target. That made all the difference.
It should be noted the test gun gun was used as I carried my M9 in combat. Hammer down, safety off, with a round chambered.
Wilson Combat CQB Tactical LE
Total time: 21:31
The Wilson Combat CQB Tactical LE was actually faster than the 92, but I’m still having a little trouble with my point of aim. When I speed up, I’m often shooting nice tight groups, they’re just too low. This was especially true with single-hand shooting and my first shot out was always the fastest with this gun. I think I’ll swap the sights with a set-up I’m more familiar with, such as Heine Straight 8s. If I can get that sight picture right, this will be the gun to beat.
SIG SAUER P229 Legion
Total time: 23:48
If you didn’t show me the time I would have told you the Legion was the winner based on feel alone. The 229 Legion just feels so good to shoot, and that trigger reset is perfect. That makes the gun feel exceptionally fast and it’s every bit as fast as the larger Beretta. I’m just not as accurate with it. I shot the single-hand round without losing a point, but then dropped two during the test cycle. D’oh!
Lone Wolf Distributor’s Compact Timberwolf
Total time: 25:28
One of the very few things left stock on this gun was its trigger, and that was a challenge for me. After my first few absolutely abysmal rounds with this gun, I spent a few range sessions and a week’s worth of dry fire time getting used to it. In those two weeks with the gun, my time came down almost a full class. This particular gun also has a big bright circle front sight. In low light, that sight is awesome. But in the daylight, it’s a little big for me, obliterating the four-inch head circle even at 10 yards. Between the trigger and that front sight, this gun will take a lot more work on my part. Considering all the gun has going for it, that work will be worth the effort.
My methodology was pretty simple. After a familiarization, or refamiliarization, however long that took, I did four practice rounds timed with each pistol. The fifth round was the one I recorded, no matter if it was the fastest or not. No two tests were done on the same day.
Every gun was drawn from an OWB holster made for that gun, without specific retention features. None of the guns were drawn from concealment and I started from the interview position every time. All the tests were shot on the same range, at the same target, using the same Sinterfire Reduced Hazard 90gr Frangible 9mm ammunition which I’ve grown to really like for shooting steel at close range. I’ve been hammering steel targets even at seven yards without any splashback.