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Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Range report: Father edition

Posted by Lissa on September 22, 2009

Saturday morning Mike and I met my father up at Manchester Firing Line for some father-daughter-son-in-law bonding time :)  Sadly, they didn’t have the Smith & Wesson M&P Mike wanted to play with, so we settled for the Sig 226 (.40).

Sig 226

I hate to say it . . . but I did NOT like this gun.  I thought the sights were wretched and the kick was serious enough to screw with my aim.  Shot after shot would go low and/or wide.  After we’d jointly put 50 rounds through it, I said the hell with it.  Why beat up your hand, beat up your wrist and not enjoy yourself?  I walked out and rented the little Sig P239 darlin from my last trip.

Maybe I just can’t shoot .40?  Or I’d have to get used to it?  I understand that it has a lot more stopping power than 9 mm, but I think everyone agrees — better to get one 9 mm with less stopping power on target than to have .40s hitting low and wide.  It was a wise decision on my part; I went from being frustrated and disappointed to happily hitting the target.

(It may also have just been a bad day to try .40; I overdid the coffee Saturday morning and my hands were quivering no matter how hard I gripped the gun.  It was easier to control with the 239 than the 226; my hands were noticeably trembling with the bigger gun.  I know it was noticeable, because Mike noticed and commented on it.  Q.E.D.)

After I finished off my box of 9 mm — and yes, I did let Mike run through ten shots on the P239 compact; he was more accurate as well — we cleaned up our lane and went to go bother my father.

Daddy rockin' the Glock

(I also took a gun-profile pic of his piece, but . . . dude.  It’s a Glock 19.  It’s very functional and it has no soul.)

Daddy was West Point, so he’s been shooting guns just a wee bit longer than we have.  Just a wee bit longer than we’ve been alive, actually; tack on a few extra years for his being an Army brat.  Anyway, for the most part he let us just have fun, but every once in a while he would give us tips on our shooting.

Having ascertained that Mike (and I) tend to anticipate the shot and therefore dip the muzzle while squeezing the trigger, he ran through an AWESOME exercise with Mike.  He removed all the bullets from the magazine and handed them to me, clearing the gun and locking the slide back on an empty chamber.  He had my husband face forward towards the target and proceeded to hand him the Glock a number of times.  The first time, the gun was empty; we all clearly saw the muzzle dip as Mike pulled the trigger.

We repeated the exercise a number of times, with a twist.  Sometimes Daddy would take a bullet from me and put it in the chamber before closing the slide.  Sometimes he would simply pause a few seconds before closing it.  At all times Mike faced forward, so he didn’t know whether he’d be dry-firing or shooting an actual bullet.  (I don’t really need to say so, but — of course the gun was treated as loaded whether it was or not.  Duh.)

I thought this was a FASCINATING and very helpful drill.  Watching Mike go through it and applying the lesson to my own habit of anticipating the shot, I changed my firing method.  Instead of squeezing the trigger smoothly, I concentrated on pulled it back as slo-o-o-o-o-owly as I could.  The results were IMMEDIATE:

Glock 19 at 5 yards

The center bullseyes were all from the first magazine I shot with the new slo-o-o-ow trigger pull.  I did that consistently with my next few turns, too.  (I could hear my father even through my ear protection, commenting to my husband that he was a little scared of me.  *grin*)

So . . . if a goblin ever breaks in, I just need him to stand very still at five yards for the ten seconds it takes me to pull the trigger . . .

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9 Responses to “Range report: Father edition”

  1. Jeff said

    That drill is called ball and dummy. The way to do it by yourself requires two magazines and some dummy rounds. You mix the dummy rounds in with the live ones in each magazine. Then you grab one of the magazines at random. That way you don’t know which shots will be live and which will be dry. I think it’s the single most important drill for trigger control.

    The stopping power if 40 vs 9mm is pretty overrated IMHO. With modern hollowpoints, 9mm is an excellent defensive round. All pistol rounds have low stopping power compared to a rifle or shotgun; the differences between them are vanishingly small by comparison.

  2. If memory serves correctly .40S&W is only about 10% more powerful than 9mm energy wise.

    With the use of good hollow points a 9mm will get the job done quite nicely. And this is coming from a guy who carries a 1911 in .45acp.

    • Mike said

      Whether or not 9mm will get the job done, .40S&W is more like 30-40% higher energy. They travel at similar velocities, so the physics of mass x velocity say the bigger bullet hit harder. There were very good reasons that .40S&W and Sig .357 were developed, but a lot of those bear on law enforcement use cases and not standard self defense cases.

      The rest is a matter of preference, so maybe the solution is to have two guns, one 9mm and one a bigger caliber and fire both at the bad guy Tomb Raider-style. That way you don’t need to worry about which option was better.

      More seriously, since each one has its positives and negatives and they offer similar all-round value in the unlikely event of self defense use, just go with the one you like to shoot more? As long as it’ll do the job if you need it, get the one you like and you’ll probably practice more and be better with it in the long run anyway.

  3. secretlivesofscientists said

    Actually, the balistic advantage of .40 over 9mm is vanishingly small. You can look it up on teh interwebz. It’s practically a myth that there’s an advantage when it comes to “stopping power” of the .40 over the 9mm. The 226 also comes in 9mm, fyi :-) I’m looking into getting my hands on one of those…

    I’m surprised that you found frustration with the sights on the 226. THey should be identical to the 239.

    As for the slow firing, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d say it’s exactly the right thing for you to do. It’s almost exactly the same as when you practice a sport: you’ll gain the muscle memory of the action, and eventually, your speed will pick up.

  4. This is why I tend to keep clear of high-pressure loads. I personally find that the fat-daddy .45 ACP has noticeably less “kick” than .40 S&W. I believe this is on account to the pressure levels in the case that deliver more of a KICK than an SHOVE. YMMV, but in defensive auto-chuckers my personal preference is .45 ACP first, 9×19 second, and frankly if you can’t find a gun in one of those calibers that doesn’t fit your niche, it isn’t worth your bother.

    And in the end you need to understand that if you want REAL stopping power you’re going to need a long-gun. Handguns SUCK when it comes to delivering stopping power, and every handgun round WILL be a compromise of some sort outside of the MONSTER revolver department (and those come with their own issues).

    Try a 226 in 9×19 (Jay has one IIRC) and see if you like it better. And certainly I think you should give the M1911 a swing as well (Wait I think you did shoot mine back at one of the Blogger shoots….) and see if they feel better for you.

  5. ZerCool said

    I shot a friend’s Sig in .40 … 226 maybe? I didn’t like it. At all. Harsh snappy recoil, uncomfortable grips, weird sights… went back to my GI 1911 and kept on rockin’ the .45. I would like to try a Sig in 9mm and in .45 for comparison, though.

  6. Borepatch said

    Nice shooting there. Slow squeeze, “surprise break”, X-Ring!

    And we’re all scared of you …
    ;-)

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