We’ve all met them. The ‘back in my day…’ guys. Sadly, shockingly and to my surprise I have joined the ranks of that hallowed and totally annoying brotherhood. Here’s how it happened.
I’m 59 years old. My military experience started in 1980. My competition shooting experience started in 1984 and my law enforcement experience started in 1985. I worked on the street for months as a small-town cop before I went to the Police Academy. It’s a cliché, but things were different back then.
If you were ‘trained’ on a firearm it meant you knew the manual-of-arms for the weapon inside out, backwards and sideways. We called it muscle memory. Under stress, when injured or befuddled you would just do it, because under stress you do what you are trained to do. You didn’t ‘forget’ because it was all done unconsciously while your brain was busy doing other things. Sometimes working the situation, sometimes running in circles screaming. Whatever. Needless to say this was an ideal, and not everyone was up to that standard, not by a long-shot. But it’s what we strove for.
That being where I came from, when someone on the internet said a well-trained person would forget to activate the safety under stress I disagreed. No matter how much training someone had if they would not automatically use the safety under duress they were not ‘well trained.’ I pulled up my ‘old-guy pants and started ranting.
Then the power went out for several hours and I had time for a nap and a good think. When I came back online someone had pointed out it was 2021. That brought me up short.
People know I’m a ‘gun guy,’ so when considering buying a gun for home defense or carry they often ask for my opinion. What do I invariably recommend? A modern, polymer framed framed pistol, which generally don’t have a manual safety. Why? Because modern pistols are very, very good and the simplified manual-of-arms is easier for a novice.
Uh… yeah. Oops.
I like older guns. I carry older guns. But I frequently say that if I were back on duty I’d carry a Glock 17 with an optic. Why? Because as a specific tool for a specific job, by any objective standard modern guns are better than the old guns I love. They are lighter, more reliable, and hold more rounds. The same is true of their smaller, more civilian-oriented brethren.
Old guns may be more interesting, more attractive and have more ‘character,’ These days I’m a civilian, and my self-defense needs are served perfectly well by my beloved old guns. But as a modern tool for serious use in the modern world why would anyone choose one over a modern pistol? I can’t think of a single reason. Hell, I wouldn’t. Time and technology have moved on, and they’ve done so for good reasons.
I still maintain that a genuinely well-trained person won’t experience issues if their gun has a manual safety. Bone-deep knowledge of your weapon’s manual of arms should be the starting-point for considering someone ‘well-trained.’ But honestly if someone isn’t me or someone like me why would they choose to bother? They probably wouldn’t; it’s the 21st century and they have other, better options.
It’s been a humbling evening. Gotta go… that pie won’t eat itself.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 15 November 2021
Sorry to say this Tinker, but now I disagree. I happen to also love older guns, especially those that have stood the test of time and still maintain their relevance today. Yes, I am talking about 1911s. Yes, I also carried a Glock (G21) as a duty weapon…only because my chief would not let me carry my cocked and locked 1911. He thought it was scary looking, and wouldn’t allow his officers to be scary looking. The Glock, despite its reletively crappy trigger was the closest thing to a single action trigger to be had “back in the day.” So I carried it in lieu of my 1911. Not because I thought it was a better choice, it was a compromise for an accurate first shot.
Now I know many of the modern pistols are really awesome guns, and the 9mm has improved its bullet design for terminal ballistic performance to finally become a good defensive caliber…I still prefer the 40S&W, 10mm, and the 45 ACP (11.5mm). These calibers have also improved their performance as a defensive cartridge too.
The “issue” of having a safety, or not is not necessarily relevant except in maybe…a wrongful death lawsuit (regardless of the merit of the lawsuit).
I train a lot. With the exception of when I was on duty, I have generally carried a 1911. Granted, I have also carried a 357 snubbie, and a Glock 27, but my primary EDC for the last 35 years has been a 1911. Flicking the safety off and on during a presentation or reholstering has never been an issue…it’s just an automatic muscle memory response when needed.
But back to my original disagreement, the 1911 is still a top dog as a defensive handgun. There are others almost as good, but they’re not 1911s. And the 1911 has improved over the years just like those cartridges have. If you don’t believe me, why are 2011s in such high demand today, why is nearly every major production gun manufacturer producing 1911s today, why are so many military special operations still using 1911s?
No matter what gun you chose to carry, training with it is what makes it viable and safe as a defensive handgun. Notice I didn’t say defensive weapon, because John Steinbeck said it best, “The final weapon is the brain, all else is supplemental.”
Bruce- I think in trained hands a modern 1911 is still an excellent choice for civilian self-defense. In the hands of an expert a modern 1911 2011 is damn hard to beat. My statement that I would choose a Glock 17 is complex, but boils down to it being a solid, reliable, lightweight proven hi-capacity weapon with a long track record of good service AND… I could afford one and a LE agency would let me carry one. The needs of a LEO or soldier are different than those of a civilian and, call me paranoid, but in this day and age I am a fan of high-capacity for these roles.
I was taking an advanced training course years ago. I was using a 1911 I built in 1980 with great sights, trigger, extended thumb safety. Lovely blued finish, flat checkered main spring housing, lapped slide, fitted bushing and barrel. You know. Everything we did back then. I kept getting beat by a guy with a long slide Glock. His double taps were faster. No safety to think about. Keep your finger out of the guard and your set. Humbled repeatedly. My house gun is now a Glock 48 because it sorta feels like a 1911. As for caliber don’t kid yourself. 9mm is the most evolved and advanced pistol cartridge there is. Bar none. I’m also well beyond 1 shot 1 stop foolishness. I did upgrade to Sentry Arms 15 rd mags. So now I have good feel and good capacity. 9mm 124 Speer GD and I’m better armed than I’ve ever been. Hard to admit.
No doubt Glocks are fantastic guns.