by Mark Freburg
I am experiencing an evolution in my defensive carry handguns. I believe we all experience this as time goes on and our experience grows, but I thought I tell you what I'm currently going through and why. A forum member recently mentioned these as his current self-defense handguns:
Glock 19 Gen 4, Ruger LCR, S&W M&P Shield, Kel-Tec P32:
What jumps out at me when I look at those defensive/carry guns is the same thing that I notice when I look at practically anyone's battery these days. Without intending any pejorative, there is an element of "hodge podge" to these batteries. Why are we selecting the guns we select? And please note that I'm not talking about the beginners with one or two guns, I'm talking about more advanced gun guys, like most of you reading this.
It seems that people pick a battery based on handgun aspects such as size, shape, weight, caliber, carryability. If you look at an article I wrote in 2003 called The Four Gun Battery, you will see I was suggesting the same exact thing!
But at the end of that article you'll find an addendum I added in 2007 stating that I no longer bought into the subcaliber aspect of T4GB, so I was moving away from this standard even then. But that isn't the evolution I want to address here. My evolution, rather, is away from the the "size, shape, weight, caliber, & carryability" as the be-all and end-all for choosing defensive guns.
So what is this evolution I have gone through?
Number One: consistent triggers. I bought into this entirely by the time I started carrying only Glocks around...must have been 2005? I bought enough different Glock models that I had service size, compacts, sub-compacts, heavy calibers for winter, etc. I am a self-trained Glock armorer so I made every one of my Glocks identical in trigger type, feel, let-off.
Here are some of the Glock pistols I own(ed):
Of course I now had pistols with the same sights, similar feel, etc. That lasted for about 7-8 years until the next evolution, away--from Glocks. Why would anyone move away from the seemingly perfect handgun? Any caliber, any size, with the same feel, same trigger, same sights? I had one reason, and it isn't the fact that I had always compromised myself by accepting the feel of Glocks, which I never loved, especially the FGR frames. It was the pull and go, lightweight trigger.
As I age I become less likely to be able to kick the butt of a twenty-something criminal in a personal attack, something we simply must consider. The pull & go handgun makes less and less sense to me, because if, God forbid, I lose it in a wrestling match with a bad guy, all he has to do it point it at me and pull the trigger. Why would I be wrestling in the first place? Because I am a big believer in being very alert and watching my surroundings. No one is going to begin an attack from half a block away because I'll have time to get away. If I am attacked it will be up close, the one I didn't see coming--a surprise attack, an ambush. Ending up fighting for my own gun is not outside the spectrum of possibility.
To that end I've returned the world of handguns with safeties. For a year or so now I've returned to my roots, in a sense and have been carrying the excellent CZ P07 cocked and locked, using the safety rather than decocker (the pistol comes with both and the end user can change them out himself in less than a minute. Outstanding). The pistol is excellent in almost every way. When I got it I thought the reset was excessive, and really, it is, but I was used to Glocks. Shooting it over time, and not shooting Glocks anymore, I've grown accustomed to the CZ's reset and now handle it well. This speaks toward the need to spend time with your carry gun. The trigger pull is superb, short and light, the sights are "Glock" sights except with significantly more daylight for my older eyes. The ergonomics are so much better than the Glock it doesn't bear comparison. Fortunately for me personally, cocked and locked was in my muscle memory, and current practice refreshed me.
What's beyond the P07? They came out with a larger model called the P09, but it doesn't interest me. It would make a nice home defense pistol with 19+1 rounds on tap, but there is no subcompact, there is no family of guns in the Glock sense.
Because of my concerns of a pistol snatch I've actually considered going to a TDA carried on safe, but I've wondered if that wouldn't be an over-reaction. Frankly a TDA isn't as much of a limitation on shooting as you might think because I can off-safe a Smith & Wesson during the draw pretty well and have enough years of TDA ownership and use that the "dreaded TDA trigger transition" is no big deal to me. The S&W also allows one to "kill" his own gun if he feels himself losing it in a struggle by dropping the magazine, rendering the pistol incapable of being fired. Even without the magazine disconnect, a TDA on-safe is a serious impediment to a gun-stealer. But that might be too much. I'm not sure at this point if I want to go that far.
Here's a Smith & Wesson I'd be happy to carry, my M5904:
Where I really see myself going eventually is to M1911. I now have the collection I need. I have the small gun (Officer's ACP size) in 9mm, medium-small (Officer's ACP grip with a 4" barrel) in .45, and full-size 5" gun in .45. These are all pistols with good sights and the basic controls and finishes I appreciate. I think this will be the ultimate carry collection. The only real complaint people make about 1911s is weight, but with a proper belt and proper holster, I believe the weight is irrelevant. I think people who complain that a 1911 is too heavy to carry either have A) never carried one, or B) never carried one in a proper holster with a good belt.
Here's some of my 1911s I'm considering:
(factory photo of this Rock Island below:)
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