Tuesday, July 02, 2013

"It felt best in my hand..."

One of the downsides to selecting a firearm based on how it feels in your hand in the gun store is that the only thing that tells you is that the gun feels good in your hand in the gun store.

It may feel great sitting static in your hand and be uncomfortable when you're actually firing it. It could torque annoyingly under recoil. It could pinch your finger painfully between the trigger and the guard.

One interesting problem I've run into is with the little tip-up double-action Beretta pocket pistols and their Taurus clones: If the shooter has long fingers and sticks their trigger finger in the guard up to the distal joint like they were pulling a double-action revolver trigger, the tip of their finger will bottom out against the left-hand grip panel or the frame before the trigger has moved far enough rearward to trip the sear. Not the kind of thing you notice just holding the gun in your hand.

A shooter in the class this weekend had a 9mm HK of some variety that was actually hurting her hand when she was firing, which wasn't conducive to accuracy. (It's hard to focus on the front sight and a smooth roll on the trigger when you're thinking "Oh, man, this is about to hurt!") She finished TD3 and shot her qualification on TD4 with my M&P and not only qualified, but was unanimously voted Most Improved by the staff*.

If you can get a chance to try before you buy, it can reveal things that just holding the unloaded gun in the store won't.

*The tradition in MAG classes is that the most improved student gets the target Mas shot on qual day signed by all the staff for a souvenir.


Scott J said...

I must have large hands but short fingers. I've never encountered that with my PT-22 which I shoot as you describe yet I don't find a N-frame Smith overly large.

I do find the reach to the safety on my CZ 75B a bit long and prefer to hit the slide lock of my 1911s with my off hand.

So I guess you could call me stubby :)

B said...

And you were right about the warning when you told me I'd be using too much trigger finger on the .32 Tomcat that I bought at the last 1500.

(BTW, I finally found some .32 ACP hollowoints.)

SteveG said...

My wife has been looking for a .38 special revolver to use as a camp gun and decided she really LIKED how the S&W 642 felt in her hand. In spite of my protests (she's not much of a handgunner) she wanted to try it out so off we went to the range with a box of very light target loads (158gr cast lead round nose over 3.5gr Unique). Took about a week for the bruise to go away.

She's settled on a 3" SP101 after trying one at the range. Now to get her to attend a Cornered Cat or some other class.

BTW the GP100 was too big for her hands to reach the trigger as was a K Frame Smith.

Anonymous said...

One of the nice things about the gun shop I worked at was they had an indoor range, a large rental fleet and if you would pay for the cleaning, you could shoot the consignment pistols. I let one lady shoot my P-239 before she bought a new one.

The one pistol that still sticks in my mind was a Colt Pony. I ran out of finger pull before the pistol would go off. Bummer.


Eric said...

The H&K P2000SK felt great in my hand, but halfway through a box of 50, the magazine release mechanism under the trigger guard was giving my middle finger a serious beating!

Stuart the Viking said...

I have fairly large hands, and a little arthritis in my knuckles. I have that problem of running out of (non-painful) sqeeze before the trigger breaks even on some of my full size handguns, especially the ones that are double action.

A 1911 doesn't give me the same problem probably due to size and the single action trigger, although I'm looking for an extra long trigger to have fitted to it to make it even more comfortable to shoot.


M said...

Another issue: That which feels greatest in your hand, and even that which shoots best at the gun shop range, is not synonymous with that which carries best, or is most reliable, or is best-suited to the proposed task at hand.

If we only wanted to see what could be shot most comfortably, we'd tell everyone to get a heavy-barreled Ruger Mark II.

Tam said...

That is indeed another issue. :)

Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, on the Gripping Hand, I think it behooves one to SAFELY Fondle any Firearm one wishes to purchase. Case in Point: I thought about getting one of little Kel-Tec .32s a few year ago, but when I finally got to hold one, I couldn't even put my size 2X Fingers into the Trigger Guard, yet I have no problem shooting my Spanish Baby Browning Clone.

But of course, even if it fits, there's always the Test Drive to be done.

And then there's Jay G's INFAMOUS "SnubbiefromHell" demo that he likes to show New Shooters why a J-Frame might NOT be a "Good First Gun.

I recommend to all New Shooters to find a Range that has Rentals and take a Test Drive before Purchasing.

YMMV, of course.

Justin said...

Thanks for this advice. I'm curious (for anyone who knows these things): how does this work when buying at a gun show, or sight-unseen (from an online sale/swap board)? Is it best to hold off on such purchases until I can find a nearby rental-range or friend who will let me test a gun that's the same model as my intended purchase item?

aczarnowski said...

@Justin, it's best if you can test drive someone else's before buying your own. Unfortunately, that's damn difficult for most everybody. Especially, and double unfortunately, those just starting out. They rarely have a shooting group established to borrow from and ranges are imposing to new shooters.

If you happen to have a range that rents swallow the expense and do that. It's worth it.

If you really are on your own it's going to be a long road. Start a box for the pistols next to the box for the holsters.

Scott J said...

"I recommend to all New Shooters to find a Range that has Rentals and take a Test Drive before Purchasing"

I've said that many times. If the newbie is local I offer to take them to the range with items from my collection exactly like or very similar to whatever they're considering.

If I involve friends we can probably get them a free test drive on exactly the model they've been eyeing in the gun counter.

This is how we discovered my boss shot the Glock 17 better than either the XD-9 or the pre-10 M&P like I started with (single action on the revolver).

*sigh* I guess not everyone takes to "an elegant weapon from a more civilized age" like I did :)

Anonymous said...

I had a deal with the range in town; if I signed a business card to take with them, a prospective buyer would get a free rental of a like model in exchange for signing up for an NRA class. I get a customer, the range gets a customer, and I, the range, and the customer could all take comfort in the knowledge that a suitable gun would go to someone who would learn at least rudimentary use and safety practices. Win/win/win. And a fourth win if you count that society at large was also better off with another armed and capable citizen in their midst.

An aside: am I the only one who finds that one of verification words is now what seems to be pictures of google drive-by address numbers is a tad spooky?

Al T. said...

"Now to get her to attend a Cornered Cat or some other class."

Free plug for Pax. At MAG40 last fall, a young lady who had recently taken a class from Pax tied for second. She was a new gun owner and ran her SP101 like a boss.

GreatBlueWhale said...

Picked up a Steyr pistol at a gun show and loved it. Best feeling gun I ever held. Fantastic price that day, too. But I put it back on the table.
Fast forward a couple of months to a meeting I attended at a local shop/range. After the meeting, I was looking over the rental guns, and behold, there was the Steyr in 9mm.
I immediately rented the aforementioned weapon, and purchased a box of 50 to try it out. The result? Unadulterated disappointment. Function was fine, but I had to really work to hit anything. As good as it felt, and as good as it felt while shooting, I had a devil of a time keeping it on target.
I shot the entire box of 9mm. Never got better. I considered another box, but figured it just wasn't worth it. Buddy that was with me loved the pistol. He ended up buying one in .40, and it still aggravates me when he takes it out of the bag at the range and turns around and smiles at me.
That being said, I'm very glad I didn't buy the pistol at the show. It would have ended up in the back of the safe until traded or sold.

Sherm said...

Another thing often not considered is the affect of all that grip "texture" after shooting a few hundred rounds. My wife took a class where one gentleman's hand was bloody raw by lunch from where the texture had sandpapered the skin off. He had a very uncomfortable afternoon. I've felt a grip or two that looked very cool but I'd never want to handle under recoil.

Will said...

On Beretta's Jetfire, I could drop the mag with either hand holding it. Putting the mag button in the side of the LH grip, and sticking above the surface(!), seems a bit silly. Palm with the left hand, and fingertip with the right, just squeezing it like you would in a tense situation. I had the button reduced to just under the surface, which fixed the problem. I've got long fingers, and thin hands, it seems.

Shooting a 1911 left-handed taught me to not use the joint for trigger contact, as I kept on bumping the slide lock with my knuckle during recoil. Self-induced malf gets old, quick!

Removed the raised section of the barrel release lever at the same time. It would trip while holstered, locking it into the holster very effectively!

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if they actually intended for that gun to be used/carried in real life. Maybe just an inexperienced engineer's design.

Scott J said...

"The more I think about it, the more I wonder if they actually intended for that gun to be used/carried in real life. Maybe just an inexperienced engineer's design."

I think the original tip barrel designs were intended for use by dainty ladies with dainty hands lacking the strength to work a slide.

But that's just more picked up over 20+ years of gun ownership. I can't cite a definitive source so apply appropriate sized grains of salt.

Paul from Canada said...

I have a Steyr GB.

I fell in love with it as a young teenager and one of my espionage RPG characters dual wielded a pair of them. I lusted for one for years and finally got one last year.

I still love it. It is accurate, reliable, cool etc etc. but I don't shoot it very much because it beats the hell out of the inside of my thumb. It hurts from the first shot and I can't shoot more than a couple of mags out of it.

There is just something about the grip plate that concentrates the recoil right on the bone, nothing I can really do about it, since the gun is so long out of production and no Pachmeyer grips available.

Luckily this is more a collectable for me, and far from my only gun, but for those on a tight budget, or a non-gunnut who needs only one pistol for protection, I totally agree with everyone who says try before you buy.

Windy Wilson said...

I went this weekend to the range with a friend; I with my Savage MK 2 rifle, he renting a Glock 17.
Glock 17. Fits the hand nicely, controls easy to hand, even for a lefty. Awfully whippy recoil, though, something I didn't notice with Springfield GI 1911.

fast richard said...

I find the trigger on the Ruger LCP quite awkward. That little grip and long trigger pull doesn't work for me with a normal trigger finger position. I have good results with just the very tip of my finger on the trigger, much different than the way I shoot other small autos or small revolvers.