After years of indoctrination that size equals stopping power, I have evolved quite a bit in the last few months. For ten years, I carried two full-size 1911s. Putting aside for a moment the Glock-versus-1911 debate (I’ll save that one for another post), I was always struck by how different my targets looked from the G19 dude shooting in the lane next to me. His target would look like it was attacked by needles, and mine would look more like it was attached by magic markers. Something about seeing those nearly-half-inch holes just gave me an extra boost of confidence that I could more efficiently convince a really bad person to excuse himself/herself or to fall down if the need arose.
Now that I’m a little tubbier than I used to be, the Kimbers’ sharp edges started getting greedy for my attention throughout the day. And the pistols themselves were becoming just a little bit finicky, which is quite charming until you need them in a pinch. So I crossed over to the dark side! Simple, unassuming, almost beautifully boring twin Glocks have now deposed Sam and Dave (my 1911s). Don’t worry, the Kimbers haven’t been abandoned. They’re enjoying a comfortable retirement away from the dust and sand and other pesky irritants they love to hate. And now I’ve got some gear that won’t leave bruises on my sides. Just one problem. Forcing a double-stack .45 into hands that are accustomed to a single-stack .45 was kind of like me trying to get into my old college jeans. So I went with the G22, which was only slightly smaller than the G21. Didn’t exactly melt into my palm like the Kimber did, but at least I could hold the thing.
I remember my very first target with that G22. It sounds really petty, but after shooting .45s for so long, I was really depressed at the loss of wound channel diameter when I downgraded to the .40-cal. What a difference 5/100ths of an inch makes (on paper anyway)! The only thing that pulled me out of my depression was the increased ammo capacity. In that department, going from Kimber to Glock was an upgrade of over 200%. Yay! Progress.
Then I took my first thousand-round course with the .40s. Um, ouch. By the end of the day the thing was leaping out of my hand like a hot potato. So I turned to one of my trainers and said, “Sensei, why, pray tell, am I powerless to get a grip on this damn gun?” And he replied, “Well, young Butterfly, you need some effing hand strength for one. And for two, the .40 is a much higher-pressure round than the .45, oddly enough.”
Really? Smaller round, bigger kick? Who knew? Well, you guys probably did. I sure didn’t.
So then the question became, do I upgrade back to .45 or downgrade to 9mm? With much hesitation and trepidation and a bunch of other -ations, I finally decided to drop to 9mm. At first, I beat myself up over it. Felt like I was being lazy. Rather than actually working to improve my grip strength, I had opted instead to just get a wimpier gun.
Aaaaaaand then I trained a few times with my G17s. Wow! I was faster, more accurate, and more in control. Confidence went up (so did ammo capacity, yet again). And the more I basked in that euphoric wonderland of palpable improvement, the less I dwelled on the relatively tiny holes in my target. Since then, lots of folks have told me that the 9mm duty round of today is a different animal than its predecessors from ten years ago. They say these days technology is such that a well-placed 9mm round is almost as effective as a well-placed .45. I suppose that also makes me feel better about my wee bullets. I never in a million years thought I would take that plunge, but I have. And so far, I’m not looking back.
Any thoughts on the triple trade-offs of caliber, capacity, and kick? Striking the ideal balance requires completely different calculus from person to person, I know. And then we could talk about velocity and weights and a bunch of other specs that are beyond my pay grade. I’ll leave that to folks who are way more experienced than I am.