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I dropped into my friendly neighborhood components dealer last week to buy some exorbitantly priced #8 lead shot. As a commodity, lead seems to have been every bit as good an investment as gold. If only I’d known. Anyway, when I schlepped my 25 pound bag up to the counter to pay for it, I couldn’t help but look at the pistol display. I don’t know about you, but for the life of me, I can’t walk past a gun counter without pressing my nose against the glass. There, lying in all its Teutonic glory, was a Glock 19 Gen 4. I hadn’t had a chance to check out any of the Gen 4 guns yet, so I asked the sales guy if I could fondle it for a minute or two…

Unlike previous Glocks I’d held and/or fired, this one felt particularly good in my oh-so-dainty little hand. I caressed it as long as I could without annoying the counter dude and left the store. I was intrigued, though.

A few days later, I headed to my favorite local range to rent a 19 and get some trigger time with it. Could it be that it feels as good to shoot as it was to hold? Oh, yes. It could be. I brought along my Kahr CW9, too, because 1) I didn’t want it to feel left out, and 2) I wanted to see how the Glock-ish Kahr compared to the Gastonian wunder-gun. That’s when something weird happened.

I put more than 100 rounds through the Glock which, as you’d expect, performed flawlessly. It pointed naturally and was a joy to shoot. Nice trigger and less felt recoil than the smaller CW9. Only one problem: I wasn’t nearly as accurate playing der Glockenspeil as I was when cruising with my Kahr.

I shot both guns from 21 feet using the same Remington 9mm range ammo. I’ve always shot the CW9 well, keeping the little holes consistently in the 10 ring (or darned close to it) unless rapid firing. The CW9 fits my hand really well and just feels right to me. While the 19 is the next step up in size, it’s definitely the best-feeling Glock I’ve shot.

The Kahr has a long smooth trigger pull like a revolver. The 19’s lighter pull weight – theoretically, anyway – should make for better shooting results. But for some reason, the Glock consistently shot 2-4″ left of center.

Sure, the Glock’s results were still well within a minute of bad guy, but I don’t understand what was going on. Maybe the sights were off on the 19, but I doubt it. Standard Glock sights suck, but I don’t think they were misaligned. When I really slowed down and held my hands as rock-steady as possible, I was able to get the gun to hit dead center.

Not being the experienced shooter that many Armed Intelligentsia members are, I hereby throw the question open to the group…WTF? Why wasn’t I able to shoot as straight with a lighter-triggered, gently-recoiling Glock than with a jumpier, longer-pulling Kahr? I’m pretty sure it was me but…why?

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  1. You are likely just pulling your shots to the left. Try using more finger on the trigger and you should see noticeable improvement.

    • I agree because I do that. It’s easy (for me at least) to pull to the left slightly and not realize you’re doing it.

  2. I have the Gen 4 G23 and experienced the same issue. I have installed the medium back strap which moves my index finger back just a tad, centering the pad on the trigger. I haven’t been back to the range yet to see if this makes a difference. I am thinking maybe the short frame grip (standard on the Gen 4) may be an issue for me, though I am not certain as this is my first Glock.

  3. Pretty sure this is a common issue for people new to shooting glocks. I had a similar issue with my XDm. Since I didn’t know any better at the time I just always used some Kentucky windage to get my shots centered instead of actually fixing my trigger pull issues.

  4. You were pulling (or pushing depending on whether you are right or left handed) your shots because you were not used to the Glock. Its probably as simple as that.

    Round up a 500ct of 9mm ammo and go back and spend the whole day with the Glock practicing slow fire. Really work at it. After you complete that exercise I would not be surprised if you were better with the Glock and now found yourself worse with the Kahr.

  5. 1. Sight picture.
    2. Trigger control.
    3. Follow through.

    These are the fundamentals. What you describe is a failure in step #2. The giveaway is that it disappeared when you really slowed down. Trigger control has two sub-parts:

    2A: Take up the slack.
    2B: Smoothly apply pressure until the trigger breaks.

    Glocks are excellent for teaching trigger control because they have 2-stage triggers, much like older military rifles. By comparison, the Kahr is a single-stage, double-action trigger. If you simply try to slam the trigger back in one motion, that hitch between the two stages will throw your shots left or right, depending on how much finger you’re using. Take your time, make it a conscious, two-step process: slack-smooth. Eventually, this will occur so rapidly it looks like a single continuous trigger pull, and you won’t even consciously think about it, but you’ll still be doing it.

    Step 3 is also essential. Follow-through is just as important as in any other sport. With a handgun it means keeping the trigger held back through the recoil, getting your sights on target, then letting it up just enough to reset. At this point, the slack is already out of the trigger, and you can immediately begin applying smooth pressure to the rear. Glocks have a good, positive reset that is easy to feel. Again, perfect for teaching the fundamentals.

    If you can shoot a Glock, you can shoot anything. And the 19 is the most conveniently sized of all the Glocks, not too big for carry, not too small to shoot comfortably. Congratulations, you have yourself an excellent pistol that will take you far. Be sure to keep it cleaned and well-lubed. While Glocks can take quite a bit of abuse, if you treat them well they will reward you. A slicked-up Glock is a joy to operate.

    • While I’m at it, let’s cover fundamental #1 too. Sight picture. You sights should be level, top of the front sight even with the top of the rear, with even amounts of light on left and right side of the front sight. With a Glock, both should be cutting right through the middle of the bullseye. (Center hold, as opposed to a 6 o’clock hold more common with target pistols, where the top of the front sight is just touching the bottom of the black bull. This offers more light and better contrast, but combat pistols generally aren’t set up this way.)

      Focus on your front sight. Ever since mankind first started chucking rocks at food, it’s been natural to focus on the target. But with a gun, the front sight determines where the shot will land. Keep it sharp, and allow the target to get blurry, if necessary. This is common if you’re older or on a dimly-lit range where your pupil is dilated and you have short depth-of-field. Don’t worry about it. The target is big, the sights are small.

      And here’s the trick: you have to stay focused on your front sight and maintain that sight picture while exercising trigger control. Most people will get their sights lined up, and then shift focus or blink as they work the trigger. You should be so focused on that front sight that the shot takes you by surprise, and you see the muzzle flash. You will see where the sights were when the shot broke, and will be able to call your shot, without even looking at the target. In fact, try not to look at the target. Practice your follow through. Hold the trigger back, get the sights back in focus after the recoil, get on the next shot without a pause.

      Load 10 rounds and give yourself a grade: 10/10 muzzle flashes, A+. 9/10 A. 8/10 B, and so forth.

      • Jason, you should write a book or teach, if you don’t already. That is a clear and succinct description of the process. Good job.

  6. I am by no means a trained expert, but I do shoot a lot and I feel like a pay a lot of attention to my body and how things feel. I also shoot a lot of different pistols, rifles, bows, slingshots, whatever… so I don’t look at is so much as what the projectile launcher is, but rather what things feel like when I hold them.

    My opinion is that getting a balanced grip is a key to accuracy. Different pistols fit different hands… differently. For a particular pistol it usually takes me a little while to work out how is best for me to grip it. If your experience is mostly your CW9, it may take a little bit to learn the thicker and differently-shaped glock.

    It is also my opinion that trigger pull is a key to accuracy. I think both long DA style triggers and SA style triggers, and everything in between can be equivalently accurate. But again, if your experience is mostly with one, it will probably take a little bit to learn the other.

    What I don’t believe is the idea that to be accurate you need to only shoot one kind of thing one particular way to carve some kind of immutable groove in your brain forever. This thought is very popular among target shooters of all kinds. I feel like it ignores the wonderful variations in hardware and style which make this sport so much fun.

    I think you can be accurate with all kinds of platforms. When you pick something up just put your mind in your hand to begin with. Pay less attention to the target and to aiming and stuff and really focus on where you feel pressure in your hand. Play with grip pressure a bit and look at the front sight, get an idea for what pressures create what kinds of variances. Work something out that minimizes these variances. When it comes to trigger pull, the first couple shots really pay attention to what the trigger feels like before it breaks, as you very slowly apply pressure to it. See if you can feel where it’s going to break, notice any little feelings of sears sliding through the trigger sequence. Also notice how much finger you are placing on it and what kinds of variances that creates (again by looking at the front sight). Work out something that minimizes these variances.

    My 2 cents,

    • Exactly wrong. Fit is nothing. Fundamentals are everything. A real shooter can pick up anything and start killing the bullseye with it. If someone is whining about fit, you know they’re an amateur. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a handgun a friend or student has specifically picked out because “It fits me like an extension of my own hand!” and immediately outshot them with it. Big, small, revolver, semi-auto, single action, double action, striker fired, hammer fired. As long as you can reach the trigger and the grip isn’t actually drawing blood, you should be able to shoot it.

      Telling yourself that a gun has got to fit perfectly is setting yourself up for failure. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Stop it. In particular, stop telling newbies that. You’re handicapping them unnecessarily.

      Yes, if you’re a top competitor, shooting in events where ties are broken by Xs or thousandths of a second, good fit is important. It’s a tiny factor, but tiny differences make a difference in those venues. For the average person shooting a combat pistol at the standard 7 yards, it shouldn’t be an issue. Once you are cutting the X or slamming 2 shots through a 3×5 card in 2 seconds from the holster, you can start worrying about fit. Until then put it out of your mind. That’s mental energy you could be using to work your fundamentals.

      • Jason,

        You have a nice knowledge base, but you’re letting your pet peeves get in the way of your reading comprehension. I’m aware from your postings in various places that you really hate the “how does it feel?” meme in handgun selection. I think you’re overly critical of the assessment of fit in evaluation, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. Because…Don is not talking about fit or feel in terms of good or bad. He’s talking about biomechanics and how the differences in physical contact points with different handguns can affect an individual’s application of…the fundamentals! Which was the point of your original post, yes?

        Don says:

        Play with grip pressure a bit and look at the front sight, get an idea for what pressures create what kinds of variances. Work something out that minimizes these variances (emphasis added). When it comes to trigger pull, the first couple shots really pay attention to what the trigger feels like before it breaks, as you very slowly apply pressure to it. See if you can feel where it’s going to break, notice any little feelings of sears sliding through the trigger sequence. Also notice how much finger you are placing on it and what kinds of variances that creates (again by looking at the front sight). Work out something that minimizes these variances (emphasis added).

        Don is giving the same advice regarding the fundamentals that you gave; he’s just approaching it from a different perspective. Shooting any handgun accurately despite differences in configuration is a developed skill and Don is explaining his process. So, not exactly wrong, IMO.

        Also, it comes across as a bit crass to brag about out-shooting your students with their guns. In general I’d expect an instructor to out-shoot a student. The job of the instructor is to show the student how to get where he is, not prove his superior skill. In my mind, at least.


      • Well clearly you read like 2 sentences of what I wrote and went on a big know it all rant. I’m on your side dude. Read before you rant. Your dripping condescension in your post is extra obvious when you are (ironically) looking down your nose at points never made and advice never given. (The mark of a truly good trainer is humility.)

        I said specifically that different guns fit different hands differently (a mechanical reality), and made the point that if you focus on fundamentals LIKE grip (not THE grip, YOUR action of gripping the gun) and trigger pull (not THE trigger pull, YOUR action of pulling the trigger) then you can overcome these differences and shoot well with any platform. (duh, also the point you are trying to make.)

        If you are worried about confusing newbies, how confusing is it to read someone’s screed against the exact kind of fundamentals that they were just espousing themselves.

        I’d like to point out that being aware of how you apply pressure to the grip and the trigger is a top consideration according to other know nothings like Brian Enos, Rob Leatham, David Sevigny, Bill Jordan, Elmer Keith.

        As for this:”Telling yourself that a gun has got to fit perfectly is setting yourself up for failure. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Stop it. In particular, stop telling newbies that. You’re handicapping them unnecessarily.”

        Jason buddy, I DIDN’T SAY ANY OF THAT. In fact, exactly the opposite. So stop ranting at me. Stop it. Maybe apologize for being a jerk.

        Here’s some advice for an old pro such as yourself… you set yourself up for failure by shooting off before you get the full sight picture. (that’s a metaphor).


  7. What Mike OFWG said about your index finger is dead on Dan. When you put too much finger on the trigger there tends to be more finger pressing up against the frame of the pistol. Because of this your index finger squeezes towards your palm when you pull the trigger. This forces the gun ever so slightly left with every shot. Try thinking of your fingerprint as a target that you want to place directly on the middle of that trigger; you’ll get less of your finger pressing against the gun and should get a cleaner, more dead on trigger pull.

  8. Were you planning on breaking up with it using the old line, “Look, this isn’t working… but it’s not you, it’s me”

  9. Familiarity. I usually shoot Glocks, and when I compared back and forth to a Kahr, I could hardly keep it on the paper with the Kahr. I don’t think it was the gun, simply my unfamiliarity with the trigger.


  10. Dan, it might have been you . . . but the fact is that some guns don’t shoot straight and Annie Freakin’ Oakley on her best day couldn’t hit sh!t with them. I’m not just talking about second rate products from second rate manufacturers. Who knows why, but some guns aren’t accurate.

    Shoot the Glock from a vise, or have some well-practiced Glock pistoleros shoot it and see what happens. If they’re drilling out the red, it’s you. If they’re having the same problem that you are, it’s probably the gun.

  11. I had the same issue with my Glock 26. It was the nite sites – off to the left by a hair. had the damn thing months and noticed it while reloading my carry ammo mag at the range while on a trip home to visit family. barely noticeable, but the gun came like that. fixed it and problem solved.

  12. Has anyone had the same experience with Gen 4s as I have? I have a G19 Gen 3 that I shoot as well as full-size 9mms, but a Gen 4 Glock 17 is the only handgun that’s ever hurt my hand after 2 magazines (and that includes .40s, .45s and .357s). I felt a *lot* of sproingy kick and as a result, my groups were in the 5–6 inch range. I was surprised, as the whole idea behind the Gen 4 was to reduce felt recoil.

    A Glock apologist suggested it was because it was a rental gun, but it was near-new.

  13. Trigger control is of course key, however the customizability of the Glock’s trigger can also help in this regard. The factory triggers are ~5.5 lbs. and have some over travel. Fitting a high power trigger spring and some dry fire drops the weight to the correct 4-4.5 lbs. Install an over travel stop, either purchased, or DIY, and you have the perfect (IMHO) defensive trigger for only ~$3, and reliability is unaffected.

  14. I have a Kahr P9 and I love it. I had a Glock 19 and sold it. I could never dial it in the way I can with the Kahr. The only handgun I own that shoots better is my Xdm 5.25 and I am bot going to be carrying that any time soon.

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