Thoughts About Self-Defense Pistols (but your mileage may vary)

—by M1911A1—

If you ever have to use your self-defense pistol in real self defense, you will be in a panic. Your brain will not be functioning rationally. Your “small-motor” skills will disappear. Your fingers will feel thick as sausages, and you will fumble a lot. Assuming that you have practiced your skills, you will be running on “auto-pilot.” Think about these facts, when you choose your self-defense pistol.

I am of the firm opinion that, of the rolex replica three possible trigger actions, the one that you should not choose is the so-called traditional double action (TDA) in which the first shot is fired using a long, relatively hard, double-action (DA) press, while all subsequent shots are fired with a short, less weighty, single-action (SA) press. When you’re in a save-your-life panic, you have more than enough to deal with already, and don’t need the further complication of having to change trigger actions in mid-fight.

Choose one of the two remaining trigger actions, either SA or double-action-only (DAO), and stick to it. Learn to competently deal with only that one kind of trigger press. But bear in mind that all SA semi-auto pistols also present you with a safety lever which needs to be manipulated at some time during the process of firing a shot. Most DAO pistols neither need nor have safety levers.

If your choice is a DAO pistol, reholstering it requires attention and care. You need to make absolutely certain that there is nothing on your person, or on your holster, that can slide itself into the pistol’s trigger guard and press upon its trigger as you push the gun down into its holster. Even a shirt-tail can catch the trigger, and cause the gun to discharge. Ironically, holster retention (“safety”) straps are a particular hazard.

I prefer metal-frame pistols. Aluminum? Steel? It doesn’t much matter because in either case it’s easy for the end-user change some things to suit his taste. But if you choose a plastic pistol, its unitary frame is already shaped — and checkered, stippled, or textured — according to the preferences of the pistol’s designer. Altering any part of replica watches it, except in some cases its circumference, becomes a major modification, and can get pretty expensive. But some metal-framed guns have separate constituent parts that can be swapped out, or even separately modified as low-cost gunsmithing jobs. Think of changing a pair of grip panels, for instance.

I prefer smooth grip panels, particularly on pistols with hand-filling grips. Experience has taught me that on a semi-auto pistol, the real areas of control are the front- and back-straps. The sides of the grip don’t really do much. In fact, if the side panels are textured they can interfere with reloading quickly. If the gun’s thumb-button magazine release is sufficiently protected from accidental actuation, so that you have to shift your grip in order to press it, textured grip panels actually prevent your hand from moving quickly and smoothly to get to it. Instead of checkered, stippled, or textured grip panels, I suggest smooth panels and checkered, stippled, or textured front- and back-straps.

And speaking of metal-frame versus plastic-frame pistols, has anyone seen a plastic pistol that has been softened by the heat of the summer sun, perhaps after being closed up in a car all day? I’ve only seen it in one photograph, only once, and the problem could’ve been faked. But you might want to think about that possibility. If the frame softened, distorted, and then cooled-off and re-hardened, you might find yourself in one heck of a fix when save-a-life time arrives.

When acrylic “light pipe” glow-sights first appeared, I was a party to a rigorous test of the concept by a master of practical pistol shooting. We discovered a couple of problems with them. The master shooter didn’t like the discrepancy between the apparent center of the front sight light-pipe and the actual top of the sight. Under certain lighting conditions, the very top of the light-pipe holder was more distinct than the glowing dot was, while in other situations the light-pipe’s dot took visual precedence. In terms of head-shot accuracy, you had to be very careful which sight picture you were using. The other problem was the action of ultraviolet light upon acrylic: Sunlight makes acrylic brittle, and eventually it yellows and cracks. When that has happened, the light-pipe could fall out in the middle of a fight. Ours broke during the test.

I find glow-in-the-dark night sights more a distraction than an aid. In the dark, their glow tends to pull my eyes away from my, um, target, and some of the brighter ones even swamp my night vision. If there’s light enough to actually see my…target, there’s light enough to see either my ordinary blackened-steel sights or the silhouette of the rear end of my gun. If you practice the skill, sighting using only the silhouette of the pistol can be accurate enough at close range.

And finally, here’s something that I want to know about red-dot pistol sights: In a darkened space, can an opponent see either the red light of the LED or its reflection on the sight’s lens? If even the smallest amount of red light can be seen by an opponent, then I think that the sight is useless — even dangerous — for self defense.

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