A few weeks ago, I managed to make two trips to the range… I shot the same drill each time with two different handguns that I commonly carry, and I thought I would discuss my experiences here in this post. The August Drill of the Month from Tom Givens’ Rangemaster Newsletter was his “Five-Second Standards.” The drill is shot on a B8 repair center at five and ten yards. The par time for the four strings of fire is an eponymous five seconds. The drill practices the draw at five yards, freehand shooting at five and ten yards, shooting from the ready, and strong hand only and weak hand only shooting at five yards. All of this is accomplished in 20 rounds. Tom pointed out in his description of the drill that it was applicable to everything from full-sized duty guns to the ubiquitous five shot revolver. Follow the link above to read Givens’ description of the drill, along with a lot of other good material in the newsletter.
The first time I shot the drill, I shot it cold with my M&P9 2.0 Compact, from AIWB concealment, with the ammunition I carry everyday, Federal HST 147 grain 9mm. I went over time on the weak hand only string, and with that penalty, managed a 171/200 (perhaps a bit higher if you count cutting the line… I didn’t). I did manage to keep everything in the eight ring of the B8. Not my best performance, but I was okay with it. I need to do a lot more work with one-handed shooting. One of the reasons that I really like this drill is that it tests a lot of areas of gun handling and your performance lets you know what you need to work on.
Later in the week, I repeated the drill, except I shot it with my S&W 642-1 J-frame. I often carry the revolver when I’m just hanging out around the house and occasionally when I’m out and about. It’s one of the few guns that I can successfully pocket carry, and it virtually disappears AIWB in a Harry’s Holsters Icon holster. Having said that, I am under no illusions regarding my ability to respond to a threat when I’m so armed, and that is the point of this post. Compared to my M&P, capacity is compromised, sights are compromised, grip is compromised, and the trigger is compromised. In a word, the gun is a compromise. Sometimes that compromise is worth it.
Having not shot my revolver in the past several weeks, I went over time on three out of four strings of fire, and my score was nearly 100 points lower than I managed with my M&P! In looking at my performance on each string, I can really only consider this gun for car-length affairs. Fortunately enough, that’s probably all I would ever need. Now, if I happened to find myself in a Wal-Mart the next time some deranged maniac decides to impose his malevolent will on society, I’m potentially screwed. But for thwarting the robbery at a gas station or ATM, I’m comfortable with the J-frame. Nonetheless, shooting the drill was a wake-up call that I need to practice more with the revolver.
This brings me to the point of this post. If you carry a gun for defense of yourself or others, you need to know what you can do with it, on demand. You may discover that making compromises in your choice of a carry gun compromises your ability to respond to life-threatening events. Dedicated practice and having a well-rounded skill set can somewhat mitigate that compromise, but often the reality is that smaller guns are harder to shoot well. My reality is that I am measurably slower and less accurate with the J-frame revolver. Sometimes that’s a choice I make. To paraphrase some of Mike Pannone’s wisdom, know what your are doing, know why you are doing it, know how to do it well, identify the potential failure points, and train to mitigate those failure points. That’s what it’s all about.
Shooting skills are perishable. I mentioned above that I had not shot my revolver in several weeks, and it showed. If you are going to carry a smaller gun as a compromise, then you need to devote a commensurate amount of time to practice with it, both dry fire and live fire. Interestingly, this can benefit your proficiency with larger guns as well. I personally noticed a slight improvement in my skill level with my striker fired handgun after spending several weeks with the smaller revolver. Shooting such a gun quickly and accurately requires virtual mastery of the fundamentals. You can’t get sloppy. That practice translates well to shooting a larger gun with better grip, sights, and trigger.
I hope that this post provided some thought provoking material for some of you. Thanks for reading, and as always, we welcome comments, questions, and civil discourse. Note that some of the links above are Amazon Affiliate links. By clicking through to do your online shopping, you can support our efforts here at the blog at no extra cost to you! We appreciate the support.