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What are your priorities for choosing a handgun?
 an editorial by Mark Freburg

It's easy for me to see the big picture
, I think, because I've actually used all these platforms for periods of years in most cases (I only used a DAO pistol for about eight months).

What I actually believe is that the manual of arms of the single action auto, traditional double-action auto, striker-fired auto, DA-only auto, even the DA revolver, can all be learned and mastered by any intelligent and determined man or woman--with success.

SA pistols require practice to manipulate the safety off and on again. It becomes second nature.

TDAs require learning the trigger transition (child's play if you accept the modern way of manipulating the trigger) and the important decocking of the hammer.

 DAOs, striker-fired pistols and revolvers require nothing other draw, aim, bang as required.

Where then, the differences? Is it all manual of arms? Some see that manual of arms equates to safety, and legions of users of pistols and revolvers other than striker-fired guns claim the latter are unsafe. To this I'm going to take the hard line and say that all tools are potentially dangerous if used improperly, and that only people are safe or unsafe. Yeah yeah yeah, I can hear a thousand people out in the world telling me that regardless of that TRUTH, in "reality," whatever that seems to be in their world, stuff happens. And because stuff happens, we need to protect people from themselves. And because of that, we are actually adopting a mindset that chooses to protect armed soldiers and armed policeman and armed citizens from themselves by making guns less likely (in theory) to be discharged through completely negligent action. Does anyone else see the sheer stupidity in all of this?

But, as my ever-patient wife likes to say when meeting an immovable mountain, it is what it is. We have choices. If you think manual of arms equates to safety, have at it. I think manual of arms is really all about your personal preferences, what you started with, what you were convinced was best through your training and practice. Go for it.

However, it's not all manual of arms. Shooting, specifically, has nothing to do with safing and unsafing your handgun. Shooting is about aligning your sights on the target, holding them there, pressing the trigger, and following through until the bullet leaves the bore.

What does that require?

It requires that the handgun fit you well enough the you can point the pistol toward the target with the long bones in your forearm aligned with the barrel, without having to creep your hand around in order for your trigger finger to reach the trigger. The grip frame should not be so large as to prevent that, nor so small that your trigger finger is interfered with by the rest of your strong hand gripping the frame. The frame-to-bore angle should facilitate natural pointing without causing excessive wrist gyration. The handgun should not be too heavy to hold nor too light that it will not absorb some of the recoil push when fired. Fine, anything else? No need to discuss sights because those are essentially interchangeable these days.  But there is something else, of course.

The most important thing of all is your trigger.  Now that you have the gun that fits, the gun that is an extension of your hand, as it were, can you put the front sight on the target and press the trigger straight back? Not down and back and over and through and round the mulberry bush, but straight back? Smoothly, no digression, no weird gyrations going on, just smoooooth...clickBANG, follow through. And a hole appears where you intended a hole to appear.

There's where I kinda sorta think the field thins. Most handgun users have nine million reasons why they choose the pistol or revolver they choose. Eight million nine hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-five of them have nothing to do with the trigger, because handgunners have different priorities. Sometimes those priorities sound almost logical. Most of the time they just sound strained. What are your priorities?

copyright 2013 Mark E. Freburg and

Uploaded: 10/16/2013