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Ported Glock. There are two main arguments against porting a pistol: the possibility of injury to the shooter during close quarters combat and the degradation of night vision. Top (as opposed to side) porting takes the steam (i.e. hot gasses) out of the first objection. Shooting a pistol next to your hip—the draw, pivot your arm and fire technique—isn’t as potentially injurious with top porting. The cloud of searing heat loses some of its destructive fury by the time it nears your face. At least in theory. With side porting, the gasses are headed east west; west being inches away from your torso. The second concern, night vision loss, is less easily quantifiable. Well, until now . . .

This weekend, TTAG’s trio of VA-based testers did some no-light tests with three revolvers: the top-ported Smith & Wesson Model 67, a Gemini Customs east-west ported Model 642 and a non-ported Ruger SP101. We’ll have their full report for you next week; pictures, stats, the works.

Meanwhile, one wonders about the “problem” of recoil. As Brad pointed out in one of our recent chin wags, recoil “is what it is.” You practice and manage it. If you can’t manage it, you need more practice. And instruction.

“Unless you’re talking about really small guns, I think there are more important factors,” Brad told me. “Grip size, concealability, the sights, things like that.”

There is certainly a lot of psychology at play. I remember offering my Smith & Wesson 686 to a newbie struggling with a snubbie. She took one look at the 4″ barrel and shook her head like I was trying to hand her the keys to a B52. She refused to accept the idea that it would have less recoil than her small gun.

Last night, a couple of Row Deyelanders were shooting a new SIG .40 quickly and more-or-less indiscriminately at a target 20 yards away. When I offered them the chance to fire the XD-M .45, they approached the task with trepidation. After a little grip and stance modification, they fired off 2″ groups (at five yards, thank you very much). “I told you to buy a .45,” one told the other.

Obviously, if you’re particularly frail, recoil becomes a concern. So get a smaller caliber gun. The question remains: is barrel porting a solution in search of a problem? Is it just a style thing, like those cool[ing] fender vents designed to chill the brakes of race cars, now used to make SUVs look sportier?


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  1. Porting (to me) makes as much sense as firing a revolver. In both cases you are releasing hot gasses and high-speed debris to the sides of the weapon instead of downrange. Tell me again why this makes sense?

    • Revolvers are some of the most accurate and dependable guns ever made, if you know what you’re doing you can never go wrong with these babies. As for the ported Glock I’m not sure about any benefit that can be gained.

  2. A friend of mine had his Glock ported by a mohel in a traditional religious ceremony. Now he shoots straighter with less recoil and his hand doesn’t hurt as much.

  3. Don’t knock porting until you’ve tried it. A short-barreled Springfield Ultra Carry .45 with ports kicks less (meaning faster followups) than a steel Government Model without the porting.

    I didn’t find muzzle flash to be a significant issue with the ported .45. Other than the magnum pistol powders (which perform best behind heavy bullets, with heavy crimping, in magnum revolvers) most defensive handgun ammo is formulated for low flash.

    Ported .357s, .41s, .44s and .45 Long Colts might not be a great idea for self-defense, but in lesser calibers all shooters can benefit from reduced muzzle flip. Remember the Rhino? I’m still hoping they’ll fix the trigger and send it back…

    • I’m not against porting since all my 500’s are ported and it helps because of their extreme power and recoil, but I haven’t had any experience with how well it may work on a regular gun. RF’s points make sense in CQB and how it may affect nightvision, because I know that the 500’s produce a huge fireball.

  4. TTAG needs to write an article about the biggest mistake those new to firearms make SO often – that smaller guns are somehow easier to manage or shoot.

    I cannot tell you the number of women I’ve seen at the local gun store who think that a Ruger LCP or S&W J Frame is the only firearm they can deal with. Little do they know that the lack of mass and grip to distribute the forces of recoil into the hand make these weapons FAR more painful to shoot than that M1911 clone sitting in the same case. This says nothing about the inherent reliability issues in small guns…

    Than again, does it matter? I would venture to say that 75% of the firearms bought for self defense become nothing more than rarely shot nightstand flotsam, kept as a sort of talisman to keep the evil away.

    • It has worked for my eldest sister and her husband for 20 years. Their guns are stored in the attic. I nearly gave myself a concussion by facepalming when I found out.

    • You’re right on point about gun size GAK. When I let people use my S&W 500’s (4 in snubnose, 8 3/8 in and the 10.5 in BONE COLLETOR) at the range, the newbies always think that the snubnose is the easiest to shoot. The snubnose is the one of the nastiest handguns that you will ever shoot (especially with the 700 grain ammo). The 8 3/8 in is easy to control up to the 600 grain ammo. The BONE COLLECTOR is very accurate and easiest to control with almost any ammo (the 700 grain is still very accurate in the BC, but it packs one hell of a kick.)

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