This week I received my copy of IDPA’s “Tactical Journal” containing a listing of all of the gear used in the IDPA worlds and Massad Ayoob’s newest book Combat Shooting. One thing that struck me as I was flipping through them was the fact that a grand total of 6 shooters at the IDPA worlds shot a Springfield XD series pistol while 142 were shooting Glock’s and 97 were shooting M&P’s, but the gun featured on the cover of Massad’s book was an XD(m)-45 4.5.
I have never been a fan of the XD’s because I think they look goofy, I think they are oversized and I hate that they are made in Croatia. Then there is the way they are sold… “This is like a Glock only safer! They have a chamber loaded indicator, a cocked striker indicator and a grip safety.” While this is all true you should never rely an a mechanical device to see if a firearm is loaded (plus the extractor on just about every model in the class will show you), it is stricker fired so if it is loaded it is cocked and even JMB didn’t want a grip safety on the 1911. (of course there was this too… HS2000)
That said I had posted a thread on the Down Range forums last week asking people to describe the features and benefits they wanted in guns of different classes and decided to do a little analysis to see if I was missing something. Since I like 9mm AND I like polymer pistol frames I decided to do a little objective comparison of a number of common 9mm polymer pistols.
My 1st step was to gather a bunch of data points on pistols I believed to be the set I would consider carrying. I didn’t include Bersa’s or High Point’s or PX4 Storms… well because I didn’t. If you think they should be on there let me know where they end up.
Next I went through each of the parameters and blindly rated them based on the figures listed on chart based on how I feel about the metric for concealed carry. Items in Green is Ideal(+1), Yellow is Desirable (+0.5), Orange is Acceptable (0.0) and Red is Undesirable (-0.5).
Lastly, I tallied them up and then tallied them up again ignoring all of the size factors for Home Defense and then lastly I combined the scores to identify a best 1 gun choice.
The 10 Factor I looked at are…
- LENGTH – Under 7″ is ideal. Length doesn’t factor into a CCW choice too much, but shorter does aid in concealment some. When it comes to single stacks I think all of the choices are really too big for pocket carry because of the slide length so I marked them all down.
- HEIGHT – While it isn’t a perfect system I gave anything between 4.75 – 5.25 a green because I believe that range strikes the balance between shoot-ability and conceal-ability. Under that and you have a 2 fingered grip above can be difficult to conceal.
- WIDTH – This may be the most important factor in convertibility. I find 1.2″ about the upper bound with a hybrid holster.
- WEIGHT – My upper bound is about 32oz unloaded and all of these met it so it isn’t much of a differentiator for me.
- CAPACITY – I believe all CCW options should have at least 12+1 with 15+1 or more ideal. That said I think a thin single stack serves a deeper concealment role so I never gave them an orange or red.
- TRIGGER WEIGHT – I think it gets too heavy after about ~6.5lbs. This really hurts the DA/SA guns, but I think the 1st shot is the most important so I am OK with it.
- CONSISTENT PULL – Yes you can learn a DA/SA trigger, but I find it be an unnecessary complication. (The four reasons I carry a Glock!)
- MANUAL SAFETY – For some this is the exact opposite and you may ding the Glock because it lacks a safety. That is fine. Feel free to send me you review and I’ll host it.
- GRIP SAFETY – I can not think of any redeeming qualities of a grip safety EXCEPT maybe not shooting your horse in the neck when you are reloading. They serve no purpose if you have a good grip and if you are holding your gun in a position with a bad grip, you probably really want it to fire.
- COUNTRY OF ORIGIN – I prefer things made in the USA but I require a consistent flow of parts.
You are probably thinking hey that does include things like reliability, accuracy, grip angle, comfort, trigger quality, stock sights, cost, IDPA/IPSC classification, color options, et cetera and you are right!
All of these guns should be reliable and accurate, we are living in quite possibly the best time ever for firearm quality and the reliability of the plastic fantastics are right at the top. If by chance you get one that is not (and you are sure it isn’t you) send it back.
Grip angle, comfort and trigger quality don’t matter for most people. If you shoot enough that you have an ingrained grip angle in you natural point of aim, you will adapt to a new one quickly. If you don’t then you probably don’t shoot enough, but unfortunately most shooters don’t.
The trigger quality and sights can be improved on most guns with aftermarket parts or with the help of a gunsmith. But as a word of caution… improved does not mean lightened.
Cost is a limiting factor for most people, but in reality the purchase price of the gun is one of the smaller costs you will face. A new SIG 250 2SUM kit will cost you less than a 1 week training class, less than the ammo that you will shoot at the class, less than you will spend on travel and hotel accommodations while you are there and potentially less than you would have made at work. If you are serious about training with a firearm, the variable costs will greatly outweigh the fixed costs (this is one of the reasons I shoot a 9mm).
Now, for the results… I went into this analysis hoping I would find out something like the worlds best sized/featured polymer 9mm is a CZ. That didn’t happen. World class IDPA shooters and Law Enforcement Agencies are right! Glocks and Smith & Wesson are the best double stack choices and Kahr Arms are the best single stacks for CCW. Additionally there more great choices for home defense because size doesn’t matter so much. Not exactly a bombshell, huh?
Obviously this “test” is highly biased based on what I look for in a carry gun (I carry a G19 or PM9) and you may have different tolerances and preferences that would lead to different results. I would love to hear about them and why I may have completely missed the boat in the comments below.