Do you have a friend or family member who is just getting started in handgunning? The NSSF has created five Handgun 101 videos that cover the basics of handgun shooting, starting with key principles of firearms safety. Hosted by Top Shot Season 4 Champion Chris Cheng, these videos explain the important fundamentals of pistol shooting. If you will be taking a youngster (or novice adult) to the range for the first time, it would be a good idea to have him or her watch one or both of these videos. CLICK HERE to view all Handgun 101 videos.
Handgun 101: Rules for Safe Firearm Handling
Handgun 101: Single Action vs. Double Action Explained
Quadruple Distinguished Marksman
You are looking at a very special human being — the world’s only holder of FOUR Distinguished Marksmanship Badges. While competing in the 2016 National Trophy Pistol Matches at Camp Perry, Team Lapua’s Steve Reiter (Tucson, AZ) became the first Quadruple Distinguished Badge Marksman in history. This past week, 74-year-old Reiter received his most recent Distinguished Badge, the new .22 Rimfire Pistol Badge, which has only been in existence since 2015. Before that, Reiter had earned his Pistol Distinguished Badge in 1972, his International Badge in 1973, and his Rifle Distinguished Badge in 1998. Over his four-decade competitive career, Reiter has competed in free pistol, standard pistol, air pistol, and centerfire events as well as rifle.
Earning FOUR Distinguished Badges is a great achievement — something that has never been done before, much less by a Senior shooter. We offer our congratulations to Steve for achieving this first-ever, shooting milestone.
Practice and Hard Work Were Key Says Reiter
Reiter told us: “It’s a big honor, really. When you’re the first at anything, it’s a big honor. It feels great to be the first.” Steve added: “Most people don’t understand how much work it is. And it being a CMP badge … it means something.”
To be a successful marksman, Steve explained, it takes dedication and lots of practice: “You have to work pretty hard. More or less, you have to do a lot of practicing and a lot of dry-firing, and actually work at it. You can’t come out here and just shoot. You’ve got to really work at it, like anything else, to get to the top of your field.”
A former U.S. Army Reserve Team member, Reiter’s list of shooting honors over his 40-year competition career is truly remarkable:
Member of the 1980 Olympic team in Free Pistol
Five-time National Champion at Camp Perry
34 Overall National Championship Titles
44 National Records
40+ Regional Championships
Two-time President’s 100 Champion in Pistol
Two-time National Trophy Individual Match Champion in Pistol
10-time Winner of the National Match High Senior Pistol Trophy
Five-time Winner of Citizens’ Military Pistol Trophy
Canada International Service Pistol Champion
Two-time Free Pistol National Champion
Standard Pistol National Champion
Seven-time Interservice Championship Team Member
In addition to these titles, Reiter also set other numerical scoring records, including the best .22 Aggregate (899), and the best Three-Gun Aggregate Score (2671).
Team Lapua — Supporting Excellence
Lapua, or more officially Nammo Lapua Oy, is part of the large Nordic Nammo Group. Our main products are small caliber cartridges and components. The Lapua cartridge factory was established in 1923. From a modest and practical beginning, Lapua has grown into one of the most respected brands in the industry. The best shooters in the world choose Lapua cartridges and components. In 2014, Nammo acquired the Vihtavuori smokeless powder factory.
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Do you shoot a .45 ACP? We love this short, fat cartridge because it is inherently accurate, it makes big, easy-to-see holes in paper, and because it it works so well in the classic 1911 series of pistols. It is hard to beat a good, tuned model 1911 when it comes to trigger pull/reset and natural pointing ability.
Once you get the hang of it, 1911-type pistols are also easy to field strip for cleaning. Here is a video showing how to disassemble and reassemble your model 1911:
Model 1911 Field Stripping and Reassembly
.45 ACP Ammunition Loading Guide
If you “roll your own” .45 ACP cartridges, there are many good powder choices. Our favorites are Vihtavuori N320, AA No. 5, and Hodgdon TiteGroup, but there are many other good choices. You’ll find these three recommended powders (plus seven others) in this .45 ACP Reloading Guide from Nosler:
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A California company, CaseCruzer, makes the nicest multi-pistol hard cases we’ve ever seen. With capacities from 3 pistols to 6 pistols, these lockable range cases hold handguns securely in angled “quick-draw” slots. In addition to the molded pistol carriers, there are slots for magazines together with a separate compartment for muffs, ammo, and other accessories. Starting at $240.00 MSRP for the Quick Draw 3-Pack, these boxes are expensive, but they offer great protection with great usability. Water-tight and dust-proof, CaseCruzer cases are airline approved (ATA 300).
The smart design of the “Quick Draw” CaseCruzer cases lets you keep your pistol locks in place during transport. There is enough clearance to stow the pistols securely even with bulky trigger-guard locks.
Why are there 7000 records? Start with the fact that there are a host of different NRA disciplines: Air Pistol, Action Pistol, High Power Rifle, Smallbore Rifle, Fullbore, just to name a few. Within each discipline there may be records for metallic sight, any sight, rapid fire, slow fire, prone, standing, and other variations. And then there may be separate records for indoor, outdoor, distance, and number of shots fired. Then add team records on top of the individual records. Finally, there are separate records for all the NRA classifications: Open, Civilian, Service, Woman, Junior, Senior, Police, and so on….
The task of validating and registering so many different records is daunting. And the work never stops. Consider this — the NRA sanctions 11,000 tournaments each year. This means that new record claims are being submitted throughout the year.
While AccurateShooter.com focuses on rifles, we know that a large percentage of our readers own handguns, with 1911-style pistols being particular favorites. For you 1911 owners, here are six short videos from Brownells showing how to customize a 1911-style pistol with after-market upgrades.
How to Accessorize Your 1911
This six-part series by Brownells provides step-by-step instruction on how to accessorize your 1911. The videos cover changing out the mainspring housing, magazine release, slide release, hammer, guide rod, and installing a group gripper.
Each Wednesday the USAMU offers tips for handloaders on the USAMU Facebook page. This article from the “Handloading Hump-Day” archives should interest pistol competitors, an any shooter who enjoys getting the best possible accuracy from their fine pistols. In this article, the USAMU’s experts share key tips that can help optimize your pistol ammo. Follow this tips to produce more consistent ammo, that can shoot higher scores.
Optimize the Taper Crimp
One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of crimp and its effect on accuracy. Different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors. It is not unusual for our Shop to vary a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ and re-test for finest accuracy.
Use Consistent Brass
Brass is also important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor/handloader to use brass of the same headstamp and ideally one lot number, to maximize uniformity. Given the volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea.
Importance of Uniform COAL
Uniformity of the Case Overall Length (COAL) as it comes from the factory is also important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, and so on. Cartridge case-length consistency varies from lot to lot, as well as by maker. Some manufacturers are more consistent in this dimension than others. [Editor’s note: It is easy to trim pistol brass to uniform length. Doing this will make your taper crimps much more consistent.]
Primers and Powders — Comparison Test for Accuracy
Pay attention to primer brands, powder types and charges. Evaluating accuracy with a Ransom or other machine rest at 50 yards can quickly reveal the effect of changes made to handload recipes.
Bullet Selection — FMJ vs. JHP
Bullets are another vital issue. First, there is the question of FMJ vs. JHP. A friend of this writer spent decades making and accuracy-testing rifle and pistol bullets during QC for a major bullet manufacturer. In his experience, making highly-accurate FMJ bullets is much more difficult than making highly-accurate JHPs, in large part due to the way the jackets are formed. Small die changes could affect accuracy of FMJ lots dramatically.
The CMP now allows “safe, jacketed ammunition” in Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Service Pistol matches, although wadcutter ammunition is prohibited. Thus, the option to use very accurate JHP designs simplifies the life of CMP Service Pistol shooters in pursuit of the prestigious Distinguished Pistol Shot badge.
Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to any pistol shooters interested in accurate handloads, not just “Bullseye” shooters. Small tweaks to one’s normal routine can pay big dividends in improved accuracy and make practice and competition more rewarding.
Stay safe, and good shooting!
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Todd Jarrett is one of the world’s best handgun shooters. A multi-time World Champion, Todd knows a thing or two about semi-auto pistols, particularly 1911s and 1911-based raceguns. Jarrett holds four World titles, nine National titles and has won more than 50 Area championships, as well as many other action shooting events. Jarrett is the only USPSA Triple Crown Winner and he holds four USPSA National titles: Open, Limited, Production, and Limited-10. Jarrett revealed in an interview that between 1988 and 2001 he shot about 1.7 million rounds during practice: “I had a gun in my hand for two hours every day for 10 years to develop my skill level”.
In the video below, Todd explains how to get the proper grip on your handgun, and how to employ a proper stance. We’ve watched many videos on pistol shooting. This is one of the best instructional videos we’ve seen. Todd explains, in easy-to-understand terms, the key elements of grip and stance. One very important point he demonstrates is how to align the grip in your hand so that the gun points naturally — something very important when rapid aiming is required. If you watch this video, you’ll learn valuable lessons — whether you shoot competitively or just want to have better control and accuracy when using your handgun defensively.
Related Article: Thumbs-Forward Shooting Grip for 1911s
“Shooting semiautomatic pistols using the thumbs-forward method really becomes useful … where speed and accuracy are both needed. By positioning the thumbs-forward along the slide (or slightly off of the slide) you are in essence creating a second sighting device: wherever your shooting thumb is pointing is where the pistol is pointing. This makes it incredibly fast to draw the pistol, get your proper grip, and press forward to the target without needing to hunt around for the front sight.” — Cheaper Than Dirt Blog, 9/13/2010.
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Here is Ernie Bishop’s pride and joy, a specialty pistol nicknamed “Batman” because the black carbon-fiber stock looks like the Batmobile. This is one sophisticated handgun. Complete with scope, the Batman pistol weighs under 7.5 pounds, thanks to the ultra-light stock. The carbon stock is 6 inches wide at the fore-end, yet weighs just one pound. Ernie tells us: “This gun shoots amazing and is easy to shoot especially with my SEB MAX Rest.” Ernie adds, “The gun will soon also have a field-usable rear-grip stock so I can shoot it prone from a bipod as well.”
The Batman pistol is chambered for the 6mm “Long Dasher”, a 6mm 40°-shouldered variant of the 6.5×47 Lapua. Ernie loads Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets pushed by Hodgdon H-4350 powder.
The gun, crafted by Eric Wallance of Nawaka Firearms, features an XP-100 action, Jewell trigger, and 15″-long, Brux 1:8″-twist barrel with aluminum muzzle brake. Interestingly, this gun does not have a traditional recoil lug. Instead, gunsmith Wallace milled out a lug from the bottom of the XP-100 action to save weight. On top of the action, the rig carries a Sightron Inc S-III 6-24X56mm scope in Kelbly rings on a custom +20 MOA rail.
Long Dasher Wildcat
Shown at right is a “Long Dasher” 40° wildcat created by Forum member Sunbuilder. This is very similar to Ernie Bishop’s chambering, though there may be small variations related to reamer design (such as freebore). Sunbuilder’s 6-6.5×47 Improved (aka “Long Dasher”) reamer was made by Dave Kiff of Pacific, Tool & Gauge. This wildcat cartridge adds about 2.0 grains capacity to the 6.5×47 necked down to 6mm. The case certainly is impressive with that 40° shoulder. We’re just waiting for the tactical guys to starting run this improved cartridge with its original 6.5mm bore.
Here are three FIVE-shot groups at 500 yards, shot by Ernie’s Batman pistol:
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Federal Ammunition is releasing a new line of range ammunition with polymer-encased projectiles. American Eagle Syntech is the first range-specific factory-loaded ammunition designed to reduce fouling and extend barrel life with a high-tech polymer bullet coating plus specially-formulated clean-burning powders. The potential for reduced wear and fouling is real — when tested against conventional FMJ ammunition, Federal claims Syntech produced an average of 12% less barrel friction and 14% less heat. Also, since Syntech bullets lack a metal jacket, there is less chance of ricochets on steel targets. Initially, three (3) types of Syntech ammo will be offered: 9mm Luger (115 grain); 40 S&W (165 grain); and .45 ACP (230 grain).
For years this Editor has loaded his .45 ACP and .44 Mag handguns with polymer/moly matrix-coated bullets from Precision Bullets in Texas. Those poly/moly-encased lead bullets shot VERY accurately and I found that my barrels fouled much less than with conventional lead bullets. Likewise, there was much less cylinder fouling on my revolvers. If the American Syntech bullets work as well as those Precision bullets, I think the Syntech line will be a winner. Syntech bullets should benefit any shooter who frequents a range where lead ammo is not allowed.
Features & Benefits
• Polymer-encapsulated Syntech bullet prevents metal-on-metal contact in the bore, eliminating copper and lead fouling, while extending barrel life.
• Exclusive primer formulation provides reliable, consistent ignition.
• Clean-burning propellants minimize residue and fouling.
• Significantly reduces the required frequency of cleaning.
• Absence of a copper jacket minimizes splash-back on steel targets.
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At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Midsouth — Lyman BoreCam Digital Borescope, $222.46
The Lyman BoreCam is an electro-optical borescope with a digital display. You can record “stills” on a SD card. This is one of the hottest products on the market right now — so hot that it has been back-ordered at most vencdore. But we found some in stock at a great price. Midsouth Shooters Supply now has the BoreCam for $222.46. Grab it while you can at that price. Other online vendors are charging a LOT more (e.g. MidwayUSA price is $259.99).
The system really works. A few of our Forum members have the system and they say it functions very well and is “very easy to set up and use”. Here’s what an Optics Planet BoreCam buyer wrote: “I have used Hawkeye borescopes and know their quality. The Lyman worked as advertised and is a great tool for checking for leading, cleanliness of bore, and bore wear. The compact size, ability to take pictures, and store them are a big plus.”
2. Grafs.com — NEW Nikon Wind Meter for SmartPhones, $28.99
Here’s a great new gadget for under $30.00. Nikon’s new Spot On™ Ballistic Wind Meter plugs directly into the headphone port on most popular smart phones. The Spot On Wind Meter reads both wind speed and direction and inputs the data directly into Nikon’s free Spot On Ballistics Mobile App (available for iOS and Android). This allows you to quickly determine and calculate wind drift corrections without needing a separate, dedicated wind meter. When not in use, the Nikon device easily fits in a pocket.
Video shows use of Nikon Spot On Wind Meter starting at 2:35 time mark:
3. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99
This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, which is on sale for $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supply. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you many want to add an additional large heavy press, but this will get the job done. This kit includes an RCBS Powder Measure, Digital Scale, Powder Trickler, Hand Priming Tool, Load Manual, Loading Tray, and more. It’s hard to beat this combination of tools for under $200.00.
4. CDNN Sports — Remington 597 for $149.99
Looking for a “first rifle” for a family member? Consider this semi-auto Remington 597. It currently retails for just $149.99. That’s right, for under $150 you can get a reliable, self-feeding rimfire rifle that will provide years of fun for a young shooter. The 597 has a stock that’s sized right for both youngsters and adults. Receivers are dovetailed for standard rimfire rings and are also drilled and tapped to allow mounting of Weaver-style bases.
5. Walmart — 14-gun Stack-on Gun Safe
If you need a smaller, secondary safe that can fit in a closet, here’s a 14-gun Stack-On Safe that is a great bargain right now. The safe is on sale at Walmart for $399.00 — nearly $200 off the regular price. And Walmart offers FREE shipping or FREE Pickup. Don’t expect this to hold anywhere near 14 scoped rifles — 8 or so long-guns will probably be the most you can fit comfortably. But that’s fine for a secondary “closet” safe that will also articles such as cameras, jewelry, and important documents. One verified safe purchaser states: “This safe is 300 pounds, not too hard to move around, took it home in my truck.”
6. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $17.16
Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With over 1500 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.16, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.
7. Amazon — 34 NRR Top-Selling Ear Muffs
If you want serious hearing protection, and can tolerate large muffs, these Clear Armor earmuffs are hard to beat for the price. They seal very well and carry an unsurpassed 34db Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). These are the #1 Best Selling Safety Muffs on Amazon. Yes they are big and bulky — but you only have one set of ears. These are a good choice for loud magnum rifles and noisy indoor ranges.
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A new statute passed in California will bar state employees (as well as teachers, police personnel, and health care workers) from using a variety of firearms terms in official communications. California Assembly Bill 2243, authored by Assemblyman Tony Fulenzo (D. Los Angeles), defines over 30 gun-related words as “hate speech”. Under existing California law, any words/phrases defined as “hate speech” are proscribed (forbidden) in official publications, school textbooks, and all public-sector communications (including email). By effect of AB 2243 then, dozens of gun-related nouns, verbs, and adjectives will be banned, and “shall no longer be uttered or used in the State of California by any public agent or employee”.
Assemblyman Fulenzo said his intent in sponsoring AB 2243 was to alter public attitudes toward firearms, and in particular, to convince school children that firearms are bad. “We want to prevent young kids from perceiving firearms as ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’. The best way to do that is to bury the subject altogether. We need to dismantle the ‘gun culture’. That begins with banning the words themselves.”
Fulenzo said AB 2243 was inspired by existing bans on racist “hate speech”: “We don’t want children to read about guns or talk about guns. The first step, therefore, is to remove firearms-related words from textbooks, classroom presentations, and state documents. This is not something new. California has done the same thing with hateful words directed at minority groups. In California, by law, we have banned the use of the ‘N’ word (and other racist terms) in official state publications and school textbooks. Now we are just following that practice and banning the ‘G’ word (i.e. ‘gun’) and similar firearms-related hate speech”.
Ban on Gun Words in Arizona Next?
Meanwhile, in neighboring Arizona, anti-gun groups have called for the passage of similar legislation banning the use of firearms-related terminology.
Permitted Word Equivalencies for Banned Firearm Terms
When enacted into law, AB 2243 will ban more than 30 firearm-related words, including “gun”, “pistol”, “rifle”, “bullet” and other commonly-used words. Where it is necessary to reference a firearm, as in a police report, AB 2243 provides for substitute words or phrases. AB 2243 recognizes that, in some instances, it will be necessary to mention firearms-related facts in official documents. By using these officially-designated substitute words, firearms-related facts can be logged without resort to banned “hate speech”.
Gun = “Gunk”
Pistol = “Piddle”
Rifle = “Ripple”
Shoot = “Suit”
Bullet = “Mullet”
Cartridge = “Partridge”
How to Use CA-Approved Substitute Words:
Under AB 2243, if an official report requires description of a hate speech item, then the approved replacement words shall be used instead of the prohibited terms. For example, if a state-funded hospital treats a pistol wound, this shall be listed as a “piddle wound” in the medical report. Likewise the recovery of cartridges at a crime scene by police shall be recorded as a “partridge recovery” in the incident report.
New Law Does Not Restrict Speech by Non-Governmental Entities
This new law only applies to “public sector” entities (schools, police/sheriff agencies, hospitals/health clinics, state and municipal agencies). Private businesses, including newspapers and web sites, will still be allowed to use firearms-related words without the threat of prosecution. Likewise, private citizens will still be allowed to say “gun”, “pistol”, or “rifle” etc. in their own private communications. However internet posting of hate speech involving forbidden firearm words will be monitored by a new California State Agency. This new Agency, the California Office of Firearms Hate Speech (COFHS) will be funded by a new 5% sales tax on firearms ammunition and components.
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If you shoot a pistol, you should watch this video. It covers the key fundamentals of handgun shooting: stance, arm position, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control. This excellent video features USAMU shooter SGT Shane Coley.
Arm/Elbow Position: You should not lock your elbows says SGT Coley: “Because my elbows are slightly bent, it allows the recoil to transfer into my shoulders, down my core, into my legs and to the ground, allowing me to maintain a flat-shooting gun … on multiple targets.”
Grip (Hand Position): SGT Coley explains how to divide the support between both hands: “In terms of grip pressure, I’m applying about 60% to my support hand, and 40% to my strong hand. This is because I need to maintain dexterity with my strong hand to operate the trigger at high rates of speed.”
Trigger Control: The placement of your finger on the trigger blade itself is very important notes Coley: “Putting too much (or not enough) of your finger on the trigger can cause you to pull or push your shots. When you squeeze the trigger, make sure to squeeze it all the way to the rear, in one smooth motion. A quick dry-fire drill to help you with this is to take an empty piece of brass and place it on the front of your slide. Aim at the target, and with the proper trigger control, you should be able to break the shot without the piece of brass falling.”
On the web, you’ll find hundreds of pistol shooting videos — some good, some not helpful at all. In some of those “not helpful” videos the featured shooter has bad habits, or more often than not, he exhibits poor accuracy on target. You won’t find those kinds of shortcomings in this USAMU-sponsored video. SGT Coley doesn’t make foolish mistakes, nor does he exhibit bad habits when shooting. And his accuracy is outstanding. When you look for a pistol trainer — stick to someone like SGT Coley, who has solid fundamentals, the complete skill set, and superior accuracy. A trainer can’t teach a skill that he doesn’t understand himself.
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Train Online, Then Register for a Range Session
For the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course, Phase 1 is conducted in an online environment, completed on your own time (cost is $60.00, non-refundable). After successfully completing the online exam, students can register for Phase 2, the instructor-led training session. Phase 2 is conducted at your local range with an NRA Certified Instructor. You must successfully complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 in order to receive your NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course certificate.
Designed and developed by experts to accommodate busy schedules, the web-based course takes a blended learning approach to firearms training with both online and physical components. Students have 90 days to work through 11 online lessons before registering for Phase 2, the NRA Certified Instructor-led phase at a local range. “America has more first time gun owners than ever and the NRA remains dedicated to being the number one provider of firearm training,” said Executive Director of NRA General Operations, Kyle Weaver. “Thanks to our online courses and network of more than 125,000 NRA Certified Instructors, it has never been easier to learn basic firearm skills.” The NRA offers other online training courses at Onlinetraining.nra.org. These offerings include a Range Safety Office (RSO) course, and a Range Development and Operations course.
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Jay Christopherson is AccurateShooter.com’s systems administrator — he keeps the servers up and running. Jay is also a very talented rifle shooter who holds a carry permit. Recently, Jay acquired a Walther PPS M2, a compact, defensive carry pistol. Here Jay reviews that pistol, which is now his “go-to” handgun when he chooses to carry a firearm pursuant to his CCW permit.
The Walther PPS M2, Single-stack 9mm is a Comfortable, Reliable Everyday Carry Pistol.
Looking for a new carry pistol in a single-stack, 9mm configuration, I tested out the slim (1″-wide) Walther PPS M2, with three different magazine capacities. For someone who has carried a 5″-barreled, .45 ACP model 1911 for the last few years, the switch to a single-stack 9mm was a big change — but a welcome one in terms of weight and comfort. I like my big 1911, but the PPS M2 gives me the feeling that if it’s needed, it’ll be a safe, effective, and reliable option. I still love my 1911, but when it comes to carry, the 1911 will stay in the safe while I “pack” the smaller, lighter PPS.
Click Image for Large View of Pistol Specifications Sheet
Like many of AccurateShooter.com’s readers, I have a permit to carry a concealed firearm and I use the privilege regularly. I’m no great shakes with a pistol, having focused most of my efforts on long-range rifle shooting, but I do spend enough time at the pistol range to ensure that I am familiar with my weapon and comfortable shooting it out to ranges where I might encounter a situation requiring its use.
Part of being responsible is selecting a carry weapon that you can be comfortable with, both using and carrying. Now, I’ll admit that I’ve focused a lot on the former, but not as much on the latter. I’m an unabashed fan of John M. Browning’s crowning (in my opinion) achievement, the Colt .45 ACP M1911. My current 1911, with a 5” barrel, is not the easiest pistol in the world to carry comfortably. While I love shooting it, carrying it is another situation altogether. I’ve tried many different configurations, but found myself carrying it less and less.
And so, I decided that I needed to enter the world of the 9mm single stack for a carry weapon. There are a lot of reasons why I chose to go that direction, but it’s a highly subjective and personal subject (some of the arguments out there are pretty heated), so I won’t bore you with mine. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of available information for you to make an informed decision. To help with testing, Walther Arms was kind enough to provide a new Walther PPS M2, in 9mm, for evaluation.
Three Magazine Options
Along with the PPS M2, Walther provided three magazines — the 5-round standard mag plus 6-round and 7-round extended magazines. I tried all three magazines, both for carry/fit, and at the range to see if they would affect my ability to shoot the pistol. For reference my hands are roughly 9.25″ wide — according to the Internet, the average hand size for a male is 7.44″, so I guess I’ve got larger than average hands. The shortest magazine was a bit too short for me to grip comfortably — my pinky finger had zero engagement and my two-hand grip suffered for it. The middle magazine let my pinky engage the grip partially, but was still not ideal. The longest magazine fit perfectly. My guess is that if your hand is in the average range, the middle magazine will work for you. For women, I think the smallest grip will work nicely. My wife has an average hand span for females and thought that the smallest grip felt pretty natural for her.
The trigger is fair — the takeup is smooth, the trigger breaks relatively cleanly and predictably, but a rough spot on the Glock-style trigger safety lever wore against my finger, leaving it feeling a bit raw. It’s fairly minor and something that can easily be resolved. And even with my larger fingers, I still had no problem with trigger guard clearance. Disassembly is fairly easy, though the take-down lever takes some effort to work. [Editor — on the PPS M2 I tried at SHOT Show, the small slide-stop lever was hard to manipulate.]
After having carried my 1911 around quite a bit, I found the Walther PPS M2 to be much lighter and easier to carry (I use a Clinger holster). I rarely notice it, even when getting into and out of a car. With the PPS M2 it’s easy to carry without “printing”, at least with the appendix carry method I prefer.
General Function and Accuracy Testing
I took the pistol down to the range to test it out and get a feel for it. I bought a variety of 115 grain FMJ ammunition to test including PMC and Blazer brass-cased 9mm. I ran about 400 rounds through the little Walther. None of the ammo experienced any sort of issue and the pistol never failed to perform flawlessly. With 400 rounds through the PPS M2 cleanly, I am confident to carry the PPS M2 when I feel the need to carry.
I set up targets at 15 feet and 30 feet — remembering that I’m looking for a personal defense/carry pistol and that I don’t practice for competition! At both ranges, shooting all three magazines, I had no problems putting together groups that are more than accurate enough for “center mass”.
During a second testing session, I shot the pistol for accuracy with my forearms rested on sandbags. The results were impressive. Above is a seven-shot (7-shot) group at 10 yards (30 feet) with the CCI Blazer Brass ammo. At right is a group shot at 5 yards (15 feet), forearms rested, with the PMC ammo. The one shot that went up outside the group was probably me, the shooter. Remember this is a very small, light-weight pistol that does have some muzzle flip. I’ve seen other tests done with the Walther PPS M2, at longer ranges in the hands of skilled shooters and producing much cleaner groups.
Summary — Walther PPS M2 is a Keeper
Overall, I really like the 9mm single stack Walther PPS M2. It’s a very handy, manageable pistol. After testing the gun for AccurateShooter.com I decided to purchase the pistol and keep it. That’s the ultimate vote of confidence. This gun shoots comfortably, accurately and reliably, and most of all, the PPS M2 is comfortable to carry. When I choose to carry, should I ever need a firearm, I have every confidence in the Walther PPS M2.
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Here’s a handy product for pistol shooters and 3-Gun competitors. The NRA Handgunner Backpack provides a convenient transport solution for your pistols, magazines, and assorted range gear. This product offers all the carrying capacity of a large range bag, in a design that, when worn on your back, leaves your hands free to haul long-gun cases, target frames, spotting scopes, or other bulky hardware. Measuring 17″ wide, 22″ high and 9″ deep, the pack has plenty of room for your gear.
Quad-Pistol Gear Hauler
The cleverly-designed Handgunner Backpack carries up to four pistols. Undo the zipper, slide out the compartment, place your pistols in one of the four foam gun cradles. Store your magazines in a zip-up side pocket with six (6) individual mag sleeves. There are also specially designed compartments for ammo boxes, muffs, protective eyewear, target stapler, and more. You’ll find handy embroidered patches showing the right spot for each gear item.
Lars Dalseide, editor of the NRAblog, tells us this pack is comfortable and sturdy. The shoulder straps and the rear back panel feature moisture-wicking padding and the pack comes with a waterproof cover. And the pack won’t collapse when you set it on a bench — it stands up on its own.
We’re impressed with the design and features of this pack. A lot of smart thinking went into its design. As you might expect though, because the Handgunner Backpack has so many features, it’s not cheap. This specialized backpack sells for $119.95 at the the NRA Online Store. We don’t think that’s too much, considering what this pack can do. This could be a sweet Xmas gift for the pistolero or 3-Gun shooter in the family. If you are running a shooting match, the Handgunner Backpack would make a great prize — way more useful than a walnut plaque.
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One of our Forum members asked: “Are there any good books on pistol marksmanship? I’m looking for a book that covers techniques and concepts….” Here are our recommendations — six titles that can make you a better pistol shooter. These books run the gamut from basic handgun training to Olympic-level bullseye shooting.
Good Guidebooks for Pistol Shooters
There are actually many good books which can help both novice and experienced pistol shooters improve their skills and accuracy. For new pistol shooters, we recommend the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting. This full-color publication is the designated student “textbook” for the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course.
Serious competitive pistol shooters should definitely read Pistol Shooters Treasury a compilation of articles from World and National Champions published by Gil Hebard. You could work your way through the ranks with that book alone even though it is very small. It is an excellent resource.
If you’re interested in bullseye shooting, you should get the USAMU’s The Advanced Pistol Marksmanship Manual. This USAMU pistol marksmanship guide has been a trusted resource since the 1960s. Action Shooters should read Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos, and Ben Stoeger’s new-for-2013 Practical Pistol Book. Brian Enos is a well-known pistol competitor with many titles. Ben Stoeger is a two-time U.S. Practical Pistol shooting champion and a member of the USA Team at the 2011 World Pistol Championships. Last but not least, Julie Golob’s new Shooting book covers pistol marksmanship, along with 3-Gun competition. Julie holds multiple national pistol shooting titles.
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The NRA Blog ran an feature on Silhouette shooting by NRA Silhouette Program Coordinator Jonathan Leighton. Here are selections from Leighton’s story:
NRA Silhouette Shooting
The loud crack from the bullet exiting the muzzle followed by an even louder ‘clang’ as you watch your target fly off the railing is really a true addiction for most Silhouette shooters. There is nothing better than shooting a game where you actually get to see your target react to the bullet. In my opinion, this is truly what makes this game so much fun.
Metallic Silhouette — A Mexican Import
Silhouette shooting came to this country from Mexico in the 1960s. It is speculated that sport had its origins in shooting contests between Pancho Villa’s men around 1914. After the Mexican Revolution the sport spread quickly throughout Mexico. ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ uses steel silhouettes shaped like game animals. Chickens up front followed by rows of pigs, turkeys, and furthest away, rams. Being that ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ was originally a Mexican sport, it is common to hear the targets referred to by their Spanish names Gallina (chicken), Javelina (pig), Guajalote (turkey) and Borrego (ram). Depending on the discipline one is shooting, these animals are set at different distances from the firing line, but always in the same order.
Before Steel There Was… Barbeque
In the very beginnings of the sport, live farm animals were used as targets, and afterwards, the shooters would have a barbeque with all the livestock and/or game that was shot during the match. The first Silhouette match that used steel targets instead of livestock was conducted in 1948 in Mexico City, Mexico by Don Gonzalo Aguilar. [Some matches hosted by wealthy Mexicans included high-ranking politicians and military leaders]. As the sport spread and gained popularity during the 1950s, shooters from the Southwestern USA started crossing the Mexican border to compete. Silhouette shooting came into the US in 1968 at the Tucson Rifle Club in Arizona. The rules have stayed pretty much the same since the sport has been shot in the US. NRA officially recognized Silhouette as a shooting discipline in 1972, and conducted its first NRA Silhouette Nationals in November of 1972.
Now There Are Multiple Disciplines
The actual sport of Silhouette is broken into several different disciplines. High Power Rifle, Smallbore Rifle, Cowboy Lever Action Rifle, Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, and Hunter’s Pistol are the basic disciplines. Cowboy Lever Action is broken into three sub-categories to include Smallbore Cowboy Rifle, Pistol Cartridge Cowboy Lever Action, and regular Cowboy Lever Action. Black Powder Cartridge Rifle also has a ‘Scope’ class, and Hunter’s Pistol is broken into four sub-categories. Some clubs also offer Military Rifle Silhouette comps.
Where to Shoot Silhouette
NRA-Sanctioned matches are found at gun clubs nation-wide. There are also many State, Regional, and National matches across the country as well. You can find match listings on the Shooting Sports USA website or contact the NRA Silhouette Department at (703) 267-1465. For more info, visit SteelChickens.com, the #1 website dedicated to Silhouette shooting sports.
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If you’re looking for a space-saving handgun storage system, consider the Easy Use Gun Hangers from USA GunClub. These vinyl-coated, wire hangers organize handguns below the shelves in your gunsafe, freeing up storage space above the shelves. To use the handgun hangers, simply slide each hanger on the shelf and then slip your pistol’s barrel over the lower rod. Handgun Hangers are intended for guns with an overall length of 10 inches or shorter. They will fit shelves that are at least 11 inches deep and 5/8-1 inch in thickness. Handgun Hangers will hold handguns .22 caliber and up, though the fit is a bit snug on .22s. A four-pack of Handgun Hangers costs $9.95. This product is now Amazon’s #1 Best Seller among handgun storage accessories.
WARNING — Always Make Sure Handgun is UNLOADED when using Handgun Hangers!!
USA GunClub also offers an Over-Under Hanger that holds two handguns — one above the shelf, and one below. A two-pack of Over-Under Hangers (capable of holding four handguns) costs $9.99. This may be a good solution for you. This editor personally prefers the standard model, so I can use the upper surface of the shelf to hold odd-shaped items such as cameras, binoculars, and miscellaneous valuables.
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While AccurateShooter.com focuses on rifles, we know that a large percentage of our readers own handguns, with 1911-style pistols being particular favorites. For you 1911 owners, here are four short videos from Brownells showing how to fieldstrip, clean, lubricate, and re-assemble a 1911-style pistol.