March 05, 2008

Down to One

A little over a month ago, shortly before taking my concealed carry class here in North Carolina, I put up a post asking for advice on a carry gun, something small enough to carry concealed, but large enough to shoot accurately without discomfort.

What I learned during the class is that getting a concealed lawyer was perhaps my best bet, "if I could only find one small enough to shove in a holster.

As that wasn't practical, I was back once again to deciding on a sidearm.

After a lot of Internet research, and talking to fellow shooters, I'd narrowed down my choices to three sidearms: the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact, the Springfield Armory XD, and the Glock 23, all in 40 S&W caliber.

I went with the 40 S&W as a compromise between the higher magazine capacity of 9mm pistols and the bigger hole of the a .45 ACP.

I liked the subcompacts from Springfield Armory and Glock, but didn't like the shorter sight radius or the fact that my pinky finger curled under the magazine. I also realized that because of my lifestyle, a slightly larger gun was not a limitation in where I could carry. The Smith, while an interesting design and a handgun that fit my hand very well, was simply too new of a design for me to feel comfortable staking my life on.

So it was down to the service model Springfield XD and the Glock 23, and from there, it was simply a matter of what fit my hand best, and which might be cheaper to shoot.

The winner?

Both the Glock and the XD fit my hand well, and in the end, the availability of a .22-caliber conversion kit sealed the deal in favor of the Glock 23.

While the addition of a conversion kit means more initial capital outlay, it also means that I can afford to practice far more frequently over the long term, an important consideration for a shooter on a budget. To be honest, if the XD had a reliable conversion kit available, I probably would have selected it, as it fit my hand just as well and I would have preferred the XDs fully-supported chamber.


Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 5, 2008 01:10 PM

The Glock is a great choice.
My old glock 21 will feed a box of rocks without a hitch.
I would skip the 22 conversion though. The experience is so different that I think the practice far less valuable.

Posted by: iamnot at March 5, 2008 02:14 PM

Glock 26 here. Makes a good compact pocket pistol. All Glocks are fit to carry. I think the 22 conversion is a good idea. It changes the gun, and the firing report, but allows you to focus on gun handling without flinching at the costs.

Posted by: bill-tb at March 5, 2008 03:07 PM

I got my bride a little hammerless .38 snubby for Valentine's Day. It's all what you're comfortable with.

Posted by: Tony B at March 5, 2008 03:15 PM

You can't go wrong with a Glock, and the midsized 19/23 are the most versatile and easy to use for most. I'd say stay with the G19 in 9mm since it is cheaper to practice with and live targets can't tell the difference when good quality defensive ammo is used, but rock on if the .40 makes you feel more confident.

The 22 conversion kits have a pretty spotty reliability reputation, but at least they will keep your malfunction clearance skills fresh. I spend a lot more time practicing presentation from concealment and dry firing than in live fire, so I don't feel cheap 9mm FMJ ammo is too expensive to use for practice. Glocks will use Wolf just fine, and that is still

Posted by: karlj at March 5, 2008 03:38 PM

Be sure to fit the conversion kit in the store, just in case.

Posted by: David at March 5, 2008 03:47 PM

For some Glocks in 40 S&W I believe you can purchase a 9mm barrel which is easy to swap in and out. This would give you practice ammo which is cheaper than 40 S&W but more realistic than 22LR. That said, having 22LR for practicing the basics is a very, very good idea. Even cheaper would be a good Airsoft clone of the Glock. The manual if operations is identical. And, depending on local laws or your willingness to ignore them, you can practice in your basement.


Posted by: Wince and Nod at March 5, 2008 05:19 PM

+1 on airsoft. I do, in fact, use one in my backyard. For practicing tactics, movement and scenarios it's both cheaper and safer than .22. My airsoft G19 fits my kydex holsters as well as my real G19 does.

Posted by: karlj at March 5, 2008 06:01 PM

Personally, I still favor the .45 ACP. Taurus makes a beautiful 1911 A-1 design weapon in stainless steel for well under $600. Guess what pistol special forces carry? 1911 A-1. The reason? Reliability, accuracy and stopping power. The .45ACP is subsonic, which enhances accuracy. If you have a heavy frame, the Taurus will conceal very well. I shoot 3" groups at 15 yards, which is all you can expect in a heavy caliber pistol. The recoil of the Taurus is very light, even with 230 grain bullets. If you carry a weapon with a dark finish, the holster will eventually mar the finish of the weapon.

Posted by: jackv at March 5, 2008 09:43 PM

I'd recommend skipping the conversion kit, if that's your main selling point go with the XD. I've talked to a couple of people about the conversion kit and it turned out to be a jam-o-matic. Basically a waste of cash.

If you're looking for something cheaper to feed, go with the a 9mm. You've fired mine, so you're familiar with the XD. If you're worried about stopping power, go with a +P+ load (which the XD is rated for) when you're loaded for home defense. That and remember to space out your groupings on a live target.

Watching Personal Defense TV last night and the "expert" said the actual stopping effectiveness of one shot varies very little unless you step up to the .50 cal. Then they demonstrated that the time difference between one and two shots into the same target was virtually nill.

Of course as your CC instructor said. If you aren't comfortable with it and haven't put a lot of practice in it won't do you any good. Which was one of the main selling points on the 9 for me.

Posted by: phineas g. at March 6, 2008 08:13 AM

I use a Glock 36 in .45ACP. Sure, it has less mag capacity but as they say "if you cain't hit 'em with the first 7 shots, what makes you think you can hit 'em with the second 7?" With a .45 you only need hit 'em onc't.

Posted by: Fred Ray at March 6, 2008 09:31 AM

One problem with .40 or .45 is over penetration. Best to know a good lawyer if you use one anywhere near other homes, cars etc.

9mm with hollow point rounds has plenty of stopping power and you can use FMJ ammo for practice. It's a personal choice, of course, but why practice with a round whose power and recoil is significantly different than the one you'll carry?

Posted by: molon labe at March 6, 2008 01:46 PM

Good call. The mini Glocks are bullet proof - proven, reliable, and have a design others just can't match. I'll have to look into that .22 conversion kit. That could be a lot of fun!


Posted by: Karl at March 6, 2008 08:15 PM

I really do not like Glock. But that is a personal preference thing. I really do not think it is ergonomically friendly. Good choice not going with the XD. They are not made very well, and can be put together wrong. If you put it together wrong, then you have to send it to the factory, and puchase a replacement weapon, at reduced cost.

I am a big guy, so I really do not have a problem CCing my Kimber Custom Covert II. I also really like the HK USP .45.

Remember a few things here. Extreme shock rounds are a hoax. Hydros do not expand reliably. Federals HSTs are ok, but they only test in gel. In flesh they only expand .50 percent of the time. And the faster the round, the more it will open up, and the less it will penetrate.

Posted by: Matt at March 7, 2008 06:18 PM

Sorry, that should have read 50 percent of the time. not .50 percent. My bad, I hate not having an edit function.

Posted by: Matt at March 7, 2008 06:19 PM

All in all, you need to get something that YOU CAN HIT THE TARGET WITH. But I am sure you already know this. A hole in the chest from a 9mm is better than a hole in the arm from a .50AE.

Under stress your accuracy will degrade to about 40%. You need to have something you can shoot with when you can see straight.

Lastly remember one thing, NO ONE knows how they will react to a situation under stress. Training can help. But it is still not a positive. Before you carry, be sure that you are ready to kill someone, or that weapon WILL kill you.

Good luck brother. It is good to be a sheepdog.

Posted by: Matt at March 7, 2008 06:38 PM

"That and remember to space out your groupings on a live target."

No, hydrostatic shock is a hoax.

Posted by: Matt at March 7, 2008 06:45 PM

I'd go with the Springfield XD. I've got a Glock 23 (.40 S&W) with Tru-Dot night sights that I carry most of the time but if I was to do it over again I'd go with the XD. The XD has more safety features and the trigger is much better than the Glock. I bought a Sig P229 in .357 Sig but I had to send it back because it shot way low from the factory, something was wrong with it. I was in the middle of trying to qualify for my concealed carry permit in Iowa at the time and only had 30 days and it was going to take at least 6 weeks before it came back. My dealer gave me my money back and I bought the Glock 23 as it's replacement. If time hadn't been an issue I would have kept the Sig. The Glock has been very reliable but the trigger just sucks in comparison.

Posted by: Brent at March 7, 2008 09:12 PM

"The XD has more safety features"

Ok, I will give you that. The XD has two buttons, the Glock has one.

"I had to send it back because it shot way low from the factory,"

Never in my ten years in the Corps have I ever actually seen someone not hit center because there weapon was messed up from the factory. Check your grip, and your sight alignment. Just because one grip works well on one weapon, does not mean the grip will be the same on another. Remember recoil takes the path of least resistance. This will throw your shots off.

Posted by: Matt at March 7, 2008 10:14 PM

It was definitely the gun, not the shooter, especially since 4 people all had the same exact results with it. It shot so low that even if you put the bottom of the front sight just above the top of the rear sight it would still shoot nearly 18 inches low at 20 yds. One guy that I let shoot it was practicing for deer season with his big Ruger and he was deadly accurate at 50 yds. He couldn't hit anything with my Sig. That gun is long gone now, it happened back in 2000.

Posted by: Brent at March 8, 2008 12:18 AM

Ok cool. As I said, one thing will work for one weapon, but not the other.

For example.

I have big hands. Now when firing my Kimber, I have to overlap my palms to keep on, but if I do this with my USP .45 Tac I shoot right center. If I do this with my 92FS I shoot low right, USP .40 (smaller than the .45 Tac) dead low. My dad who is also a big guy (go figure) has this same problem. Changed up the grip, shot dead on with all of em. Each weapon fires differently. No two fire the same when they are of a different make. Hell, even sometimes the same make will fire different. You can't change the gun (without spending money) so change the way you shoot.

I know the gun is gone now. But do ya smell what I am stepping in?

But yeah. I guess there are lemons for cars, there can be lemons for firearms as well.

Posted by: Matt at March 8, 2008 01:31 AM

Since a Glock compact was one of my recommendations back when you first brought up this subject, I can only say I'm happy with your choice. Be sure to shoot at least 300 rounds through it before trusting it as a carry gun. If you have any problems with it, first try switching ammo, then try switching to a new magazine. Reliability is the first requirement of a semiauto.

Posted by: Robert at March 8, 2008 05:50 PM

I volunteer to be your "concealed lawyer." I am slight of build and write an anonymous blog whose genius is largely unrecognized in the blogosphere.

Posted by: Tertium Quid at March 10, 2008 11:41 AM