You can call them, “Gym guns,” or, “Gi Guns,” or, “Sweatpants guns,” or, “Board shorts guns,” but we are all talking about the same thing…an abbreviated version of a full size pistol, or a purpose built compact or subcompact gun, made for ease of carry, and less for ease of use. MANY folks are relying on these guns in the limited or specialized role of low profile carry to the gym/yoga studio (although how in the hell someone does yoga with a gun on, without everyone seeing said gun, is beyond me) or running in the park or the track. Along those same lines, many members of the Civilian Defender crowd rely on an abbreviated weapon, for everyday carry, either out of convenience (hey, smaller guns ARE easier to carry!) or because they don’t want to get made by their peers, or their employer, either out of embarrassment, or because they might lose their job. We’ve all got to put food on the table, and the best way to do that is through gainful employment! Luckily, I’m self employed.
I work out, five to six days per week, in a style of workout called, “High Intensity Interval Training.” I’ll make the caveat that HIIT workouts aren’t for everyone; either you love it or you hate it. I find that it works well for both my fitness goals, AND since I’m recovering (3 months now) from heart surgery, it allows me to give my recently remodeled and rebooted heart a good amount of stimuli, to encourage healing. On Mondays, the workout consists of a 60 minute interval of jogging/running and sprinting on a treadmill, and lifting weights, specifically focusing on the arms. There are a number of different trainers, who do a number of different workouts. It is really hard to get the same workout twice, even from the same trainer. So, I went to a trainer that has a VERY difficult arm day, in hopes that I would not be able to lift my arms afterward, and be really shaky. Of course, this feeling is transient, and is gone within a few hours. But, I thought it might be interesting to shoot a series of abbreviated guns, using the TACTICAL PROFESSOR’S BASELINE PERFORMANCE DRILL, and see how I faired, with noodle arms.
I shot the drills faster than I normally do. Normally, I really stress accuracy, and that is the point of the drill, but with my arms smoked, I didn’t really feel like holding them out in front of me, as long as I normally would in a non-tensed state! Not spraying and praying, by any means, but definitely faster than laying bullets on top of other bullets. On the 3 shot and 4 shot strings, I was going for .5 splits or better, regardless of range. The other complicating factor is that all of these guns have short sight radii, meaning that the distance from the front sight to the rear sight is abbreviated, and thus a bit of a wobble that might be barely perceivable on a 4″ barreled service pistol, is QUITE apparent on the shorter barreled guns…and even worse with the shakes.
I’m sure that there will be people who will disagree with me on this, but I find that in the majority of situations that a CIVILIAN DEFENDER will find themselves in, the choice of the pistol matters not. My personal caveats are that it is chambered in a round that is effective (READ: .38 Special is my minimum) and that it is controllable (READ: I don’t like Scandium/Titanium frame J frames…partially because they are brutal to shoot, which inhibits regular practice, and also because they are ammo sensitive; you cannot use certain bullets since they will pull, with inertia, from the cases). I don’t care if you use a revolver (duh) or a pistol for personal self-defense. Nobody is raiding a fortified Nazi castle here…we are just regular Joes and JoeAnne’s trying to get back to our car with a load of groceries. Tom Givens from RANGEMASTER keeps a database of all of his students that have been involved in self-defense shootings. Of all of his students, he has had 65, to date, that have been involved in armed self-defense situations. Of those 65, three of those students were murdered, for the contents of their pockets, because they were unarmed. The other 62 were armed, and were victorious. Of those 62, whether they had a pistol or a revolver, they made it through their nightmare. So, while it would be GREAT for everyone to pack a Glock 19 or a Smith M&P, I know that isn’t a possibility for everyone due to stature, or finances, or simply aesthetics. So whatever you use, make sure you can get it out of the holster and onto the bad guy quickly, hit exactly what you are aiming at, reload it if it runs empty, and fix it if it stops running. Make it a point to achieve a high level of mastery in all of those skills, and you’ll be well prepared for the majority of situations you’ll encounter. The choice of pistol is really not as important as most people consider it to be. Don’t buy or carry crap, but think of it analogously to a car, that you may have to drive across the country. Would you buy an uncomfortable, poorly functioning, piece of crap, made of pot metal and held together with wood screws? Guns in the same vein exist, and some foolish boobs use them for self-defense. Don’t be that guy or gal.
The Smith and Wesson M&P Compact 9mm. Similar in size envelope to the Glock 26 (sorta halfway in size between a Glock 26 and a Glock 19) is this handy little machine. My significant other has one of these as her carry piece, and although I’ve had this pistol for several years, I bought it, got distracted by something, and it just sat in my safe. I changed the sights from the factory Novak with 3 painted white dots (which I have found have a tremendous propensity to fly out of the sockets of the sights, while shooting) to the Dawson Precision, “Charger,” fiber optic sights. Partially because like I said, I don’t like the ejecting dots on the Novaks, and also because I wanted to test the utility of fiber optics on a carry gun. I REALLY like the rear sight on this. If the front sight takes a dump on me, I’ll just replace it with something that is the same height and width, but made of steel.
I know that someone with a science background is going to read this and flip their wig at all the variables that I threw in here. So, in that vein, no…it is not, “rigorous scientific testing.” However, it is reproducible to you, the reader. Go beat your arms to a pulp, in whatever form of exercise you prefer. Then take any accuracy intensive drill (preferably one you know how you shoot, “cold,” in a non-tensed state) and shoot it when your arms feel like limp spaghetti noodles. Compare your scores. MY TAKEAWAY from this is that sights and trigger manipulation will get you through, even if you’re not using a gun you’ve completely, “bonded,” to. Also, the acceptable, “wobble zone,” when you are in a post-exercise state, “moves,” quicker. The involuntary rattle in the limbs and hands does a pretty good job, I think, of simulating peri-incident stress. That makes the wobble zone, especially on the distant shooting strings, more difficult to manage, and really requires a sure grip, and careful manipulation of the trigger. A few readers have asked how I manipulate the trigger, and I use the, “flip and press,” method taught by Bill Rogers of the Rogers shooting school. I find that I don’t have the, “trigger freeze,” issue that some folks experience when switching from pistol to revolver and vice versa. I can also switch from DAO autos to DA/SA without a drastic transition.
But that wobble zone…shooting at distance, even only 45 feet, when your arms are burning and weak feeling, is difficult! Give it a try and post your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!