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11/23/2012 11:18 AM
 

 Consider a .38 (or .357) Revolver


People who never thought about owning a gun, recently have been asking me what ONE handgun they should buy for home defense, home and outdoor protection. They would never use a handgun for big game hunting, but would carry it when working outdoors, traveling on vacation hiking, fishing, boating or camping trips, and depend on it, if needed, for home or personal defense.

 They don't want a gun "collection," or “battery” but ONLY ONE handgun to serve multiple needs in a family where shooting is not a hobby activity. The requirements are safety, reliability, durability, accuracy, and modest cost of gun and ammunition.  Also important is ease of use by the "female significant other" or adult children also may wish to learn. These parameters haven't changed since Smith & Wesson first introduced its Military and Police Model in 1903. Julian S. Hatcher said, in the Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers (1935), "Were it necessary for the average shooter to own and use but one revolver, it should be a .38 Special." This remains true today.

 

The  .38 Special is generally deemed the minimum revolver cartridge suitable for personal protection. Used fixed sight “former cop” revolvers in sound mechanical condition cost about half what a new 9mm, .40 or .45 combat auto-pistol does.  Ammunition for the .38 Special is common everywhere and still remains relatively inexpensive.  Factory loads available provide greater variety than for any other handgun cartridge. 


While no longer the “duty gun” of choice among police or military units, the .38 Special enjoys great popularity in states where civilian concealed carry is legal.  While compact pocket revolvers are available chambered for the more powerful .357 Magnum, but using .38 Special ammunition in revolvers which weigh less than about 20 ozs. makes more sense for a lot of reasons.

While a .22 rim-fire is most often recommended as an outdoorsman's “kit gun,” our owner of “one handgun” can use his .38 Special for this purpose and find it effective.  When outdoor trips are short, few rounds of ammunition are needed. In snake country I carry a Speer shot load first-up in the cylinder, with the rest of the rounds in it  being Winchester X38SPD or Remington R38S12 158-gr. lead hollow-point +P personal defense loads, Three TUF strips fit into into an A.G. Russell belt pouch, without looking like an ammo pouch, printing "speed loader bulge" or rattling on your belt, in your coat pocket or day pack. http://www.russellsformen.com/small-...Lhhh575hhh042/ On longer trips I pack a box of full-charge wadcutters too.

The non-hobbyist seeking "one handgun" select a steel-frame, “police-service-type,” double-action .38 Special or .357 having either a 3" or 4" barrel.  I say “or .357” because the “Magnum” revolver of these general specifications can use any .38 Special ammunition, but is more durably constructed, so it won’t loosen up with frequent use of .38 Special +P loads.  In states where concealed carry is legal, a used 4” service revolver is about $100 cheaper than a 2” snub in similar condition, but has a longer sight radius for more accurate shooting and improved ballistics.  For the budget-conscious a used .38 Special is usually about $50 cheaper than a similar model in .357.

For field use fixed sights are more rugged, but for accurate shooting of small game adjustable sights are a plus.  A 4” barrel is easier to shoot accurately, and is easily concealed in a proper holster. Most users are  well served with an inside-waistband type with reinforced opening which permits one-handed re-holstering such as El Paso Saddlery's C-Force. http://www.epsaddlery.com/pc-78-21-c...e-holster.aspx

“Snubbies” are popular for concealed carry, but I do not recommend a snubby for field carry unless you are willing to practice with it A LOT.  A short barrel has advantages for weapon retention in close-quarter defense when rolling around in the mud and the blood, but requires frequent practice to maintain proficiency. Recall that our scenario here is ONE hand gun for a non-hobbyist.

Wadcutter ammunition is good for general use including field shooting.
It is accurate, gives a good knockdown blow on small game, and doesn’t destroy much meat. Wadcutters provide adequate soft target penetration with good “crush” and are a valid choice for defense carry in "air weight" or alloy-frame guns which cannot handle +P ammunition.  Novice revolver owners should train and practice with wadcutters until able to place six shots fired double-action, with a two-handed hold at ten yards into a 6 inch group fairly reliably.

 

After developing basic skill and some confidence it is OK to experiment with +P defense loads, in suitable guns, to become accustomed to the additional recoil. The “lead FBI loads” Winchester X38SPD, Federal 38G and Remington R38S12 158-gr. represent the upper limit of power which the non-expert person can handle.  +P ammo is not for casual shooting, but for defense carry against two or four-legged varmints when more power is needed.

Twenty years ago the market was flooded with police turn-in .38 Specials in good condition selling for around $200. Today prices start about $100 higher and you must shop carefully. If you don’t know revolvers take a retired cop with you who carried one. You do not want to buy into a "gunsmithing project," because you can spend more fixing a “basket case” than it is worth.

In new guns look at the Ruger SP101 with 3 inch barrel.  In used guns the S&W Model 36 or Model 60 Chief's Special, with 3" heavy barrel, and the older K-frame Models 10 and 13 heavy barrel, or the stainless Model 64 in 3" round butt, or 4" square butt configuration are good choices, if you can find one in good mechanical condition.

Simple is good on your ammunition supply. Use wadcutters for  practice and carry in the light alloy frames. In steel frame guns use  wadcutters or standard pressure semi-wadcutters for field loads, but carry factory +P lead hollow points for personal protection.  You may want to keep a few Speer shot shells around if you live in snake country. These really handle all uses of a .38 revolver.  Competent use of .357 ammunition requires a higher level of training and expertise which departs from the our "non-hobbyist" scenario.

The muzzle of a revolver should always be elevated when ejecting fired cases. This ensures that unburned powder particles fall out with the empties, rather than under the extractor, or between the crane and frame, which could tie up the gun.  Carry a toothbrush in your kit for cleaning residue out from under the extractor.  If you don't own a handgun, but have been thinking about getting one, you can't go wrong with a sturdy 4" .38 Special (or .357).

 

 
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11/23/2012 3:16 PM
 

 Observations On Handgun Shot Loads

Handgun shot loads in calibers smaller than .38 Special are virtually useless because they don’t hold enough shot to throw a useful pattern. The .38 Special is the smallest handgun cartridge for which a shot load makes any sense. While you can load your own, the CCI-Speer loads are readily available and realistically  you will use few of these. If you live in snake country buy a box of ten, shoot a few to see what they do, then tuck the rest in your kit for future use. They are effective on snakes and small rodents within only 10-15 feet.  

Speer shot loads were introduced in 1972 and hold 105 grains or about 147 pellets of No.9 shot.  Patterns are even and 85 percent of the shot hit within a 15" circle at 15 ft. Their velocity is about 1100 f.p.s. from a 6" revolver and 950 f.p.s. from a 2." Fired from a 2 inch snub the shot penetrate about 1/2" into soft pine. Fired from a 6" revolver a dozen or so shot will perforate and exit a 3/4" pine board at 10 feet. While they are certainly dangerous at short range, they are NOT effective as defense loads. I keep a few rounds in my kit and load one first round up in the cylinder when in snake country. I've  put rabbits and birds in the pot with them, but no farther away than 15 feet!

The Speer .44 Magnum shot loads can carry enough pellets to have potential as a small game load to 25 feet or so and will rabbits positively. They also make a .45 ACP shot shell which works better than the WWII M15 survival shot loads, and about as well as the .38/357s from a revolver.  I recommend getting a few you shoot a .45 auto. But the Speer .45 Shot cannot be used in revolvers, because they will jam the cylinder.

Any outdoorsman who carries a handgun afield should get a box, try a few and have them available. I don't use all very many, a half-dozen a year. But when I get surprised by a rattler in the woodpile or outhouse, they are comforting! And then, there's always the hope that a fat grouse may appear directly under my tree stand...

 
New Post
11/23/2012 3:19 PM
 

The Full-Charge Wadcutter

My most-used .38 Special hand load is a load full-charge wadcutter.  In load the Saeco #348 double-end bullet, as-cast from wheel weights, unsized, and tumbled in Lee Liquid Alox lubricant. As-cast bullet diameter is .360", and I use the Lee Factory Crimp die so rounds are full-length profiled, and bullets are sized, if needed, by compression inside the case.  Load 3.5 grains of Bullseye, 4.2 grs. of W231 or 4.5 grs. of Unique at an overall cartridge length not less than 1.20”.

This is a  "standard pressure" (not +P) .38 Special full charge load  which approximates the velocity and energy of the old 158-grain RN service round, safely useable in any sound .38 Special revolver - including light alloy frames such as the S&W Airweight or Colt Agent and Cobra.  Cast bullets may be as soft as 8 BHN or 1:25 tin/lead or 50-50 plumbers lead and wheelweight with only enough tin added, about 1%, to get good fillout. Velocity is about 850 f.p.s. in a 4 inch revolver and approaches  900 in a 6 incher. Penetration is 30 inches in water-filled milk jugs with a crush cavity which equals .45 ACP semi-wadcutters.  DO NOT exceed these charges with the Remington HBWC bullets. No other brands of soft swaged HBWC bullets will stand this charge without skirt deformation which may result in gun damage.

If you want a +P equivalent load for  900 f.p.s. in a 4 inch barrel, in a steel frame revolver you can increase the charge to 3.8 grs. of Bullseye, 4.5 grs. of W231 or 4.8 grs. of Unique. NO SHORTER THAN 1.20" overall cartridge length. Do NOT flush seat, because doing so dangerously increases chamber pressure.  These loads are safe in sturdy .38 Specials such as the Colt Official Police, S&W Model 10-6 or later, Model 60-3 or later and Models 64, 65, 66, etc.

For use in .357 revolvers ONLY, with a CAST bullet not softer than 10 BHN, (no swaged factory bullets) a charge of 9 grs. of Alliant #2400 will give 920 f.p.s. in a strong 2-inch snub, such as the Ruger SP101, or 2-1/2" S&W Model 19, 1000 f.p.s. in a 4-inch revolver and 1200 f.p.s. when fired as a "two-shooter" in the 1894 Marlin carbine. Pressures of this load exceed industry +P standard by about 15%! so I shoot these +P+ loads in RUGER .38 Special revolvers only, or others originally designed and chambered by the manufacturer for .357 Magnum ammunition. 

 
New Post
11/3/2013 2:16 PM
 

 Thanks for this great summary. I am new to shooting and have spent the last few months getting some training and shooting a variety of guns. I am ready to buy my first handgun now and find that I am your prototype “One Handgun For The Non-Hobbyist” guy. I wholeheartedly agree with this from the Colorado Backcountry Carry thread:

[quote] My biggest takeaway from this thread so far is: pick one, regardless of the caliber, and get good with it.[/quote]

After trying 1911s, full sized and compact semi-automatics, and full sized and compact revolvers I always gravitate back to the S&W Model 19 that is available at my range. I even got a kick out of testing a Governor with shot loads and .45ACP. I guess that I like revolvers the best.

My question: I am not looking for concealability; in the context of the woods carry discussions on this site, if I go the revolver route is there any down side to starting off directly with a larger N-frame, eight shot Model 27 variant? Or, does one need to “grow into” a gun this size making it ineffective until quite a lot of training takes place?

Many thanks.

 
New Post
11/3/2013 3:02 PM
 

My take is that you are better off with a semi-auto, but if you want a revolver, make sure not to get one with a lock, and I also recommend against scandium. The first because it is a reliability issue, and the second because it is both a reliability issue and they are harder to shoot well. There is nothing wrong with an N-Frame, but they are bigger, and generally heavier.  Personally, I find them a bit easier to shoot rapidly and control recoil.  Oh yeah get a semi-auto.... 


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/3/2013 3:57 PM
 

 Get an L frame if you want an 8 shot.  You won't want to lug around an N frame for very long.

 
New Post
11/3/2013 10:03 PM
 

 I've got to agree with Scotts statement of "get a semi-auto".  

It's not a dislike for revolvers or anything else but trying to think about this from a user standpoint.  For a newer shooter it's been my experience that revolvers tend to be harder to shoot until there has been a lot of practice done with it.  Semi-auto's are easier to shoot, albeit more complicated to operate and maintain.  There are more moving parts but people are smart (most people) these days.  If you are smart enough to run a computer a little you're smart enough to load and fire a semi-automatic pistol.

I'm assuming for this exercise that we're talking strictly of double action revolvers and as a result you're talking about a long stiff trigger pull.  Combine that with that visual of the hammer moving back and the cylinder rotating and its easy to struggle with accuracy as a novice shooter.  

If it were me (and this is purely my opinion) I would steer the purchaser toward something striker fired.  Regardless of whether we're talking about glocks, ruger SR series, S&W M&P models, Kahrs, etc you will get a reliable shooting pistol with a fairly easy to control trigger that doesn't require tons of practice and experience to use effectively.  You can get them in larger calibers like 45 auto or 10mm so they can serve double duty in home defense or carrying in the back country.  You won't have safety levers to fumble with or hammers to cock.  In the heat of the moment fine motor skills suffer and only tons of practice turn the skills needed to operate these apparatuses (sp?) into muscle memory.  Removing them from the equation increases survivability and since casual owners generally don't spend hours at the range practicing I've always felt it best to keep it as simple as possible.

"But revovlers are way more simple than semi-autos"   Yes, this is true but I think the small amount of increased complexity is out-weighed by being easier to make the  bullet hit the target.  At the end of the discussion that's what it all boils down to.  Can you make the bullet hit what you want it to hit?

 

Anyway, that's my thoughts on it.  You'll get as many opinions and reasons as there are folks doing the talking but these were mine.  I hope it helps.  :)

 
New Post
11/4/2013 11:20 AM
 

Like El Mac said an L-frame will be lighter, and I am in no position to tell someone not to carry something just because in the end they like it better. However, I disagree that a revolver is less complicated. In my opinion it is about the same for manual of arms and maintenance both field and detail is easier on the Semi, as is shooting. Let’s break it down:

·        Trigger- in both cases you have to pull a trigger to make the gun fire. In both cases you have a choice of da/sa, sa only, and da only/striker fired. (I know that striker fired is not a da strictly speaking, but the effect for the shooter is the same.) If you are using a revolver for SD you need to be thinking using the da only or having a da only revolver.
 
·        Reloading – Both platforms require you to push a button to reload. On the semi it drops the magazine, and on the revolver it allows the cylinder to swing out (lets ignore SA wheel guns for this discussion). The revolver then takes the additional step of depressing the ejection rod. If the rod isn’t long enough you might then have to pull the cases, but if a magazine hangs up you then have to pull it out. To reload a wheel gun you have to align 6 rounds in six chambers (speed loaders or moon clips), or two rounds in two chambers (speed strips), or load six different chambers, and then close the cylinder. With the semi you insert a single magazine into the grip and then rack the slide. Speed loaders, speed strips, and magazines all have to be loaded. I know which I find easiest to load. A fully closed cylinder won't work, and a not fully inserted magazine won't work either.
 
·        Sights – both platforms have fixed and adjustable, although to adjust fixed sights on a revolver is not very easy (think turning the barrel and/or filing on metal).
 
·        Grip – the revolver grip places more of the firearm above your grip, which creates more felt recoil, and in a platform that general has more felt recoil to start with that is an issue. It also doesn’t allow you to shoot with a symmetrical thumbs forward grip with your weak hand, which personally I think tames recoil. Well to be honest I still do, but get minor powder burns on my support thumb. 
 
·        Malfunctions – With the revolver you are dealing with 5-8 chambers and one barrel, and how they all interface together. With the semi you have one chamber and one barrel to deal with. If your cylinder is out of time (chambers don’t line up right with barrel) it is a gunsmith fix. The semi equivalent can generally be fixed with a new magazine or magazine spring. If you get a bullet that jumps crimp on the revolver, and this happened to me with a scandium revolver, it is a gunsmith fix. With a semi it won’t feed into the chamber and it is a tack/rack drill. You can get cases stuck in a chamber of a revolver, just like with the semi. Typically with a semi you can try racking it again, and that may work, before going to gravity and or hand tools/fingers. If a case gets stuck under the ejector on the revolver it is typically hand tools time from the word go. Crane on a revolver can get bent.   Both can get hammer follow and sear issues. Semi needs springs changed, but revolvers typically don’t. 
 
·        Cleaning – both can be wiped down and relubed without disassembly. For a full tear down most semis don’t need any tools or maybe a punch. The revolver needs tools and if you are tired or in inclement weather fine screws can get buggered up easily. That is if you even have a screw driver small enough. I don’t remember the exact count, but a glock actually has less parts than a revolver. The other thing is the parts on a revolver, in my opinion, are generally finer and metal, which means they are more in need of lube and easier to damage. Reassembly, having spent a lot of time trying to get the crane lined up with the other parts before putting the side plate on a revolver, because I couldn’t remember the trick, I will tell you it isn’t easy. A trained monkey can put together a glock or M&P. Yes, a revolver needs to be taken down cleaned and relubed just like a semi.   Leave either alone long enough while you carry it stuff will get where you don’t want it. Which will keep shooting longer is really something no one has adequately answered, since some tests say one and some the other. At one point revolvers were used in the SEAL Teams for certain applications like surf zone and swimming, but aren't any longer. 
 
·        Carry – Semis are generally flatter, more compact, and lighter
 
·        Shooting – Semis let you grip higher, and are generally lighter with less felt recoil.
 
·        Field finishes – other than a couple of limited runs revolvers are generally stainless or blued. With a semi you have a number of finish options straight from the manufacture and in some cases that is over stainless. 
 
·        Versatility – Sure you can use .38 or 357 in the same revolver, but in a 9mm you can use everything from 85gr up to 147 so you still have a wide bullet selection. A reliable semi will generally run most loads well, but maybe not the extremes. A revolver that can mount a light is pretty limited to one maker and like 2 models and makes a pretty darn large package. Seeing what you are shooting at is important, and lights help with that. Shooting with two hands is also better for accuracy, and a light on the gun allows that.
 
·        Power – This is the place where a revolver flat out wins, but you have to go to a .41 mag or above in my opinion to beat out the semis available. Over that there is no way to get the power available in a semi that is available in the revolver. Whether or not it is usable power is another discussion.
 
Like I said, if you just like a revolver, get one and figure out how to run the crap out of it. Jerry Mickluek has proven time and again that a revolver in the hands of someone who knows how to run it ain’t no slouch. Not everyone is Jerry, but he proves what can be done with time and dedication (and in his case probably a natural gift, but make no doubt he puts in the practice time). Just don’t buy into the hype that a revolver is somehow less complicated, simpler, and more reliable. 

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/4/2013 8:15 PM
 

Thank you for the thoughtful replies, gentlemen. The quality of information and friendly exchange of ideas at Hill People Gear is why I joined this forum. Scott, that is probably the most concise analysis of revolver mechanics and operation I have read.

As I mentioned, I plan to make one purchase. learn the weapon and “figure out how to run the crap out of it”. I have more homework to do before settling on the type of gun. I sure have plenty to consider before I make my choice. Again, thanks to all.  - Bob

 
New Post
11/4/2013 8:31 PM
 

bob1grant wrote

Thank you for the thoughtful replies, gentlemen. The quality of information and friendly exchange of ideas at Hill People Gear is why I joined this forum. Scott, that is probably the most concise analysis of revolver mechanics and operation I have read.

As I mentioned, I plan to make one purchase. learn the weapon and “figure out how to run the crap out of it”. I have more homework to do before settling on the type of gun. I sure have plenty to consider before I make my choice. Again, thanks to all.  - Bob

bold item 1.  Indeed Scott, a good breakdown.  Never been a revolver guy so I probably tend to over simplify.  

Bold item 2.  A good plan.  Practice, practice practice.  Pick what you want, don't settle and let it motivate you to keep shooting.  

 
New Post
11/5/2013 10:10 AM
 

Glad it was useful. It wasn't till I tried to sit down and figure out how the revolver was simpler, that I realized that manipulation wise there really isn't that big a difference. In each case you are preforming the same action, but you just do it differently due to platform.  I think the actions are more easily performed with a semi-auto, and that seems to be born out with the new shooters I see, but to each his own.  Writing it down really helped me clarify my thinking so it was as helpful for me as it was for you.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/6/2013 5:14 AM
 

I don't think a revolver is a bad choice for the non-gun-enthusiast that wants to have one "just in case."  But they are harder to shoot well and have limited capacity.  If you plan to hunt with your handgun then a revolver is almost mandatory, but if hunting isn't in the cards I agree- get an auto.  Many of these kinds of posts wind up with "I like __________ so you should, too."  In that way this one is maybe no different.  If you're going to have one handgun for everything I think an  HK USP in either 9mm, .40 or .45 ACP would be a good choice.  Dead reliable, accurate and about as durable as you'll find.  You can get many configurations from SA/DA to LEM.

 

I'm not a big Glock guy but you could certainly do worse.  A Glock is pretty reliable and dead simple to use.

 
New Post
11/6/2013 7:34 PM
 

I'm over the revolver is simpler thing. Back when the main semi-autos were Colt 1911s (only options were SA and Auto Ordnance for the most part) and Browning Hi-Powers and there was an inverse relationship between reliable auto ammo and terminal effectiveness, maybe. But now, not so much. I have successfully put a S&W N-frame out of commission by dropping it. While I don't recommend dropping a handgun, it can and does happen. The same fall would have done nothing to a Glock or similar pistol.

As to mechanical simplicity, Scot sums it up well. Most semi-autos are much easier for owner take down and service. Unless you are a handgun hunter, I see few advantages and numerous disadvantages for beginners and experts alike if the revolver is your choice. Most shooters just aren't Jerry Miculek.

 
New Post
11/8/2013 12:28 AM
 
Great discussion. I apreciate that for the younger generation who learned on autopistols that you should use what is comfortable for you. aka "dance with the girl you brought... " I am of another era and revolvers are what I grew up with. Enjoying reading the comments from others. I'm not going to trade in my Ruger DA Police Service Six, but appreciate where you guys are coming from. Carry on!
 
New Post
11/8/2013 12:07 PM
 

ke4sky wrote
Great discussion. I apreciate that for the younger generation who learned on autopistols that you should use what is comfortable for you. aka "dance with the girl you brought... " I am of another era and revolvers are what I grew up with. Enjoying reading the comments from others. I'm not going to trade in my Ruger DA Police Service Six, but appreciate where you guys are coming from. Carry on!

Actually, I grew up with a revolver, and at one point was way more comfortable with it than a semi. The handgun that I had unlimited access to when backcountry after a certain age was a .22 S&W, and unlimited ammunition as well. Shooting a semi-auto was a supervised activity and limited in round count. I am not sure if I have as many rounds through a semi-auto as I do a revolver because of that to this day. When I first started carrying I switched back and forth between a revolver and a semi.  The revolver got the nod for backcountry use as well as around town. It was during that period that I started growing disenchanted with the revolver, and once I got serious about getting better and carrying regularly that I made the switch completely. I still have several in the safe, but that is more because I just can't image the idea of not having one.  I even had several holy grail carry guns and they just didn't make the cut.  

I guess the analogy is that I was raised shooting Weaver, but I no longer do that either even thought the transition was tough since the isosceles felt so weird, and unnatural, but having made the switch I am a better shooter for having done it.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/10/2013 6:14 PM
 

I grew up reading Skeeter Skelton and Bill Jordan. Semi-autos were not universally trusted and certainly weren't the norm for law enforcement. My first handgun bought with hay baling money when I was 14 was a S&W L-Frame .357. Wanted to be able to learn to shoot with .38s, but have the power of .357s. Very nice gun that I could shoot quite well single action. That wasn't my only revolver, but over time I have found that when it comes to getting off shots with a combination of speed and accuracy, the semi-auto is best for me.

 
New Post
12/3/2013 4:39 PM
 
Thanks for all of the great information, everyone. After much consideration I have settled on 9mm caliber and have narrowed the choices down to a S&W M&P 9 or a Glock 17. While I am licensed to carry in my state I don't plan on doing so thus the full size models. In your experience am I giving up anything with these models vs the steps down in size, M&P 9C or Glock 19?
 
Also, a wild card question, I may have the budget to bump up to an HK30L. Its reputation is superb. I handled one at the local store last weekend and liked it. I understand that HK triggers are "different" but, as a new guy, I have nothing to unlearn. If I go with the LEM trigger instead of the DA/SA am I better off in the long run with the HK?
 
I appreciate all the help. - Bob
 
New Post
12/3/2013 5:07 PM
 

The only reason to go to the G19 or M&Pc in my opinion is concealment, and if that is not an issue no reason to go to that size. With a good belt and holster, a lot of folks can conceal those sizes just fine as well.

While I have shot HKs I don't have a lot of trigger time with them so I can't really comment on the learning curve. However, as a new shooter I would think it would be less of a curve as you aren't having to learn a new style of pull.  I will say the likelihood of a lemon HK is the lowest of the three.  In reality you probably can't go wrong with any of the three.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
12/3/2013 6:03 PM
 
Lots of good points by others here. Couple of thoughts which might help: S&W M&P9 and G19 are about the same size. In other words, an M&P9C is noticeable smaller than a G19. Standard size pistols tend to be somewhat more reliable than the compact models. A G19 with the addition of good aftermarket sights is good to go. A S&W M&P could benefit from some trigger work (Apex), and possibly sights. IMO night sights are a very good idea on most defensive pistols. I concur with your leaning toward the LEM trigger instead of DA/SA unless you are willing to spend a lot of time to master that transitional trigger pull. Within the LEM category there are two trigger pull weights: a Light one (4.5-5.5#) and a Heavy (7.5-8.5#). I think the Heavy is the standard one unless you request the Light one.
 
New Post
12/11/2013 10:30 PM
 

bob1grant wrote

Thanks for all of the great information, everyone. After much consideration I have settled on 9mm caliber and have narrowed the choices down to a S&W M&P 9 or a Glock 17. While I am licensed to carry in my state I don't plan on doing so thus the full size models. In your experience am I giving up anything with these models vs the steps down in size, M&P 9C or Glock 19?
 

I started with a glock 17 and bought a 19 for my wife. Having owned and carried both for awhile, I still have not made up my mind as to which I would keep if I could only have one. I conceal the 17 almost daily, and if I can conceal a full-size (6'2", 165# and I wear size small and medium t-shirts) anyone can. that being said, the 19 is SLIGHTLY more comfortable, and the 17 is SLIGHTLY easier to draw. While shooting the grip size is all but moot, but I am more confident drawing under stress with the extra tiny bit of grip. Having carried a full-sized for so long with such success, I see no real reason to sacrifice a full grip or capacity for a true compact.

 
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