.45 vs. .38 Shoot-Off

Having tested the 9mms the other day I decided to test the Detonics Combat Master .45 using the same tests. I also decided to try the Combat Master slide on a full-size 1911A1 frame. In the 9mm test the Beretta M1951 was the dark Horse; today I included my custom 3″ barrel S&W Model 1902 .38 Special.

The loads used were a .225gr LFP bullet over 4.2gr. of red Dot in .45 ACP. The .38 Load were 125gr. SJHP defensive ammo. These standard-pressure loads make FBI standards in testing from a 2″ gun, so they are a good choice in a 3″ gun.

So, without further ado…

3-at-3

Exactly as yesterday. The first drill was three shots at three yards The drill was to load three rounds in each of the guns for each string, then the guns were set on the table next to my phone. When ready I would press the ‘start’ button with my right hand, grab the gun and fire three shots without using the sights, repeated this with both one and two handed grips.

Somehow the targets for the Combat Master didn’t make it home with me to be photographed but they were noticeably less good than the Detonics slide on the 1911a1, as you might expect. The longer grip just gives better control.

Not bad at all.

This ‘hybrid’ performed very well, and was very quick even taking into account the heavier recoil of .45 ACP compared to 9mm. It was in fact just a hair quicker than the CZ P-07 yesterday.

Adequate, but not as good as the 9mm CZ P-07 or the Hybrid .45

The .38 was surprisingly fast, but accuracy suffers compared to the autos.

Once again shooting two-handed was more accurate rather than faster. Here are the averages:

Combat Master- 1.42 seconds

Hybrid .45- 1.31 seconds

Model 1902 .38- 1.47 seconds

The .38 was not as good as the autos, but it was closer than I’d have expected.

5-at-25

For this test each gun fired five timed shots at a rate of 1 shot per second. Guns were fired standing unsupported using a two-hand grip. All shots fired with the S&W .38 were Double Action.

Not bad, but I had one miss just off the top edge of the target.

Not bad; the short sight-radius was not as much of a disadvantage as I anticipated. The Combat Master’s shots were more scattered, but all on target. Again the shorter grip impeded control.

The Model 1902 was the surprise of the bunch, turning in the best group of any of the guns tested. I did mess up and without thinking I loaded six rounds instead of five, but that really doesn’t change anything. I really do like this revolver!

Five-Yard Rapid-Fire

Though none of the guns we DA/SA I adhered to the same standard as with the 9mms. One fast shot followed by two matched-pairs of shots.

The Hybrid’s performance was very good indeed. The sights are very fast to pick up and the gun stayed dead on through all five shots even though the last four shots were actual double-taps rather than a ‘matched pair.’ I attribute hitting low to me rather than the gun.

The Detonics was similar but larger; well within acceptable limits but not as good as the Hybrid.

The model 1902 was not tragically bad, but not as good as the autos.

The Conclusion-

The Hybrid was the winner by a significant margin, with the Detonics second and the revolver a surprisingly close third. The hybrid’s performance even surpassed the CZ P-07, so it’s the overall winner.

Now, I am not going to snag the Detonics slide to mount on the 1911a1; that’s not a band I’d break up. But I think it’s worth pursuing a full-frame/3.5″ barrel 1911a1, either in .45 ACP or 9mm. The 9mm allows two more shots, so that’s the best option but I might have a line on a 3.5″ complete slide assembly with a barrel in .45 ACP that might be significantly more affordable.

In the meantime the CZ came in a close second and has significantly greater capacity, so it will be taking up the EDC duties until I get the Hybrid together.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 30 May 2022

9mm Shoot-Off!

I have three 9mm pistols that would be reasonable to carry for self-defense. OK, the Beretta Model 1951 is pretty questionable. The three guns are the aforementioned Beretta, a Sig-Sauer P-6 and a CZ P-07.

Both the CZ and the Sig-Sauer have better features than the Beretta for a carry gun. The CZ has a capacity advantage. Theoretically being a single-action the Beretta has an advantage there; the other two both have a double-action first shot.

The ammo I used was a random mix of standard-velocity 115gr. Ball, 115, 125 and 147gr. JHPs and 125gr. SJHPs. None of the guns experienced a malfunction that was not directly ammo-related; a couple rounds were underpowered and one was a squib. (some of the ammo was quite old.)

3-at-3

The first drill was three shots at three yards, with some complicating factors. Managing three holsters was more of a pain than I wanted to deal with today, so the drill was the load three rounds in each of the guns, then the guns were set on the table next to my phone (I was using the the Make Ready .app.) When ready I would press the ‘start’ button with my right hand, grab the gun and fire three shots without using the sights. I repeated this several times with both one and two handed grips.

The double-action guns tended to throw the first shot a bit wide, the Beretta held the tightest groups but was strangely the slowest. None of the guns exhibited unacceptable accuracy or handling characteristics.

This was timed, and one-hand shooting was not notably slower than two-hand. Here are the averages:

Beretta Model 1951- 1.87 seconds

Sig-Sauer P6- 1.62 seconds

CZ P-07- 1.37 seconds

The CZ stood out as the easiest to grab and get on target. Given that all guns achieved acceptable hits, so I have to call the CZ the winner of round one.

5-at-25

For this test each gun fired five timed shots at a rate of 1 shot per second. Guns were fired standing unsupported using a two-hand grip. First shots for both Sig-Sauer and the CZ guns were fired double-action.

First the Beretta-

All five rounds hit to the right and one was off-target.

Next was the Sig-Sauer P-6-

The partial red dot at the bottom-left indicates the shot that missed the target.

This gun grouped low but reasonably well-centered. Two shots were off-target.

Last was the CZ P-07-

The CZ performed decently, but I need practice.

Once again the P-07 takes the field; I suspect the comparatively lousy sights on the Beretta made the difference here.

Five-Yard Rapid-Fire

This is where the Beretta really distinguished itself. I shot these at the back of the target to distinguish them from the previous hits. These were five shots also; in deference to the DA/SA guns it was a single shot followed by two paired shot groups. I’m only showing the Beretta’s target because after that it got too hard to separate out the hits by gun. I’ve marked the five shots that struck the paper from this side.

The Beretta is a rapid-fire machine!

The Beretta rocked this test, shooting a remarkably tight group very, very quickly. The others were acceptable but two to three times this size.

The Conclusion?

The CZ P-07 won two of the three tests, so it seems like the way forward. Next I think a shoot-off between this and the Detonics Combat Master .45. That should be interesting.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 29 May 2022

Uvalde, Active Shooters and Re-Thinking Some Things.

I have long said that as an armed civilian my job in an Active Shooter event is to use my firearm to defend myself and others while getting as many people as possible out and safe. Going after the shooter is not the smartest thing to do, and for a variety of reasons I think this is the most sensible course of action. I have a responsibility to my family and loved ones to survive, and a duty to help as many others as possible without compromising that primary mission. Going after the shooter is the police’s job.

My evaluation that a J-frame snubby generally suits my self-defense needs might be flawed, because there is a real possibility I might be stupid.

Except apparently they might not do their job. In the wake of the Uvalde shooting rumors were flying, allegations of cowardice were made. Knowing how chaotic things can get I advised people to ‘wait and see’ before passing judgement. Well, we saw.

Many of the allegations are true according to official sources. Two police officers actually did enter the school and evacuated their own children. The Uvalde authorities acknowledged that they made a mistake by not breaching sooner. Apparently the agency that finally did go in to take out the shooter did so in violation of their orders because they just couldn’t keep standing around.

I’m not going to analyze the scene further. I’m not going to say any of the things I feel about it. They are best expressed with profanity anyway. What I am going to talk about this is how it affects my personal responses to such a scenario and how I need to deal with them.

My original plan is still the smartest choice. Use my firearm to cover a retreat, getting out as many people as possible then immediately holster the weapon before police contact occurs. This is sensible and within my abilities. It’s the smart plan.

The problem is that events have proven that in the heat of the moment I might not be that smart. It seems I am what is called a ‘High Responder.’ A couple years back I witnessed a domestic in a parking lot. I knew the smart thing to do would be to discretely observe and call the authorities. But when it became apparent the man was trying to force the much smaller woman into his car the ‘sensible thing to do’ went straight out the window and I intervened directly despite knowing I shouldn’t. In the heat of the moment I discarded my plan and winged it. Fortunately it worked out with no further violence or injuries, but it gave me pause.

Over the years this pattern has been repeated. I’m not a hero and I am not saying I am. What I am is a person who cannot reliably count on following the plan of doing the most sensible thing in the face of events. It’s better to acknowledge that and deal with it.

In the face of the fact that I may not do the sensible thing it might make sense to re-evaluate my ‘needs.’

I’m not saying I’m going to chuck ‘the plan’ in the unlikely event that I need it. I still think it’s the sensible thing to do and it’s still the plan. But I need to acknowledge that in the moment I might not, despite my best intentions, follow that plan and do the sensible thing. Better to prepare for that possibility. As the reverend said, “If you can’t do something smart, do something right.”

This means I need to rethink a lot of things, not the least my concept of what sort of carry gun and personal gear meets my needs, because my needs might not be what I thought. I need to plan for the possibility that I might not be able to follow the plan, which is actually good advice in general.

Just some early morning first-cup-of-coffee thoughts.

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 28 May 2022