“Go ahead, skin that smokewagon and see what happens” by Secret Squirrel

As you might’ve guessed, this is a post about handguns. I asked a very close friend and accomplished handgunner to write a piece specific to it’s own and he’s what I would consider a subject matter expert. If there’s one topic that might be worse than the “whut carbine is bestest” nonsense, it’s people squabbling over handguns. But since a handgun is going to be the most likely used firearm in close or unexpected contact, and takes a higher amount of training to master, it warrants discussion.

I would like to first say I have the distinct honor to call the man that is NCScout my best friend. Not just a friend but a brother in all but blood. I know of no other person I would be more apt to follow to hell and back (again no less) than he. So to say it is a huge compliment for him to want to publish any of my babbling is no small matter. Thank you brother.

I try my best to keep up with the Brushbeater blog as much as possible but sometimes I get behind. Most of the time we are talking about the various topics over a craft beer and good homemade food anyway. But I did catch the “So You Want A New AR, Huh?” story yesterday and as with many conversations in the past the same kind of discussion came up about handguns. I told him I’d be happy to do a similar piece on handguns so here we are. What he is with rifle and carbine I am with handgun in our fold. My background aside from military includes prior Law Enforcement, Private Security, and my fair share of IDPA, USPSA, IPSC, and other various handgun competitions. I am by no means a handgun god but I do know a thing or two of what I’m talking about. This is also an account of my experience, observation and opinion so take it as you may. This post will be about defensive and/or fighting handguns, anything else like handgun hunting is a whole different can of worms for a different time and place. Let’s jump in.

First things first, yes I love my handguns and have the ability to stretch their limits, but do I think a handgun with ever replace a main weapon like a rifle/carbine or even a pistol caliber carbine? That answer is a very resounding NO. But I do think every person’s kit is not complete without a proper handgun, even their everyday kit. I can’t recommend enough to get your concealed handgun permit (in areas where you can) and carry as much as the law allows. Always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. As a backup to a main weapon I feel it is an indispensable tool to have especially after personal experience of being in a situation where M4 could not be used and hand to hand was extremely dangerous but a sidearm would have been the Goldilocks of the situation. Alas the Army did not see fit to issue a sidearm to all of us and luckily I was able to get out of that situation unscathed. But that situation made me further solidify in my belief of a sidearm backup. [Green on Blue incident, on case anyone is wondering- BB]

To kind of follow the AR post, he speaks of not getting into a caliber war. This will not either as there are only really three calibers to focus on; 9x19mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. Yes I know there are plenty of revolver cartridges that are plenty effective but unfortunately the capacity argument will beat revolvers every time with today’s available handguns. I say today’s available handguns because inevitably the argument will come up about revolvers reliability over an auto. Years ago that was a viable argument but not so much anymore. In my life I have had revolvers fail, and not just cheaper ones, we’re talking S&W and even a Colt. Also in my life there are a few manufacturers of autos that have NEVER failed me aside from ammo related stoppages. I’m not bashing on wheelguns, I’m honestly a huge fan with possibly a unhealthy obsession with pre lock S&Ws and Colt snakes, I just feel in today’s world they are outclassed as a fighting or “combat” handgun.

So we have 40 S&W. Wonderfully effective, inherent natural accuracy and higher capacity than 45 ACP in comparable frames. Something along the lines of 65 to 70% of law enforcement agencies use the 40, I did, being issued one in the Glock model 22 flavor as a Sheriff’s deputy. But that is starting to change. More and more agencies are dropping the 40 in favor of other calibers. Reason being other calibers previously thought to be ineffective are not so anymore. More about that later. Not to mention it has never standardized as an issue round to any standing military in the world. Logistically, sure you can find 40 on most shelves just about anywhere, but for how much longer? Not just LEOs are dropping 40 but I am seeing many private individuals dropping it as well. I did, with my last 40 being traded off several months ago. The problems with 40 are not just what I see to be a pending logistics problem (think 357 Sig) but also the recoil. That may sound funny but 40 is a bit snappier in recoil whereas 45 ACP and 9mm more push. That all has to do with muzzle rise and how quick one can get back on target for follow up shots. Also in my experience 40 tends to beat the weapon up a bit quicker than others, so less of a potential round count out of a given weapon. 40 is good without a doubt, still hits hard on the business end, but I feel it has run its course and is starting a slow road to die.

Next is an oldie but a goodie, 45 ACP. Not much needs to be said about the 45, most anybody knows its pros, its huge and hits like a sledgehammer at velocities as low as 450 fps. Everybody knows that one guy that always says “If it ain’t got a 4 and a 5 in the caliber I ain’t carryin it”. But the 45’s biggest advantage is also its biggest disadvantage, its sheer size. The cartridge itself not just the diameter is pretty massive and requires a huge frame to fit it in and not everybody can wrap their hands around one. Unfortunately the easiest to comfortably grip for most ends up being a single stack magazine frame, and that of course drops capacity. Logistics of it are great, it can be found pretty much anywhere. It also still sees widespread use in LE and various armed forces around the world. It’s been a reliable cartridge for over a century, always been more than accurate enough, surprisingly mild recoil for its size and you won’t be under gunned by any means but you may need to practice mag changes more than others.

Now we have 9mm; or 9×19, 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, your preference of what to call it. I once talked to a guy that refused to own a 9mm because it was a “Nazi German” round, which yes is true and the popularity of 9mm rose in no small part to the Luger P08 and Walther P38. Whatever. We fought Japan too in the same war but that doesn’t make Toyota trucks any less reliable or hard to kill. The fact is it works. The argument was made for years that 9mm only punched holes with no real stopping power. If it didn’t work it wouldn’t have endured up to this point. Plenty of “good” rounds went the way of the Dodo because they weren’t effective but somehow the 9mm endured. And same with any good enduring thing it has evolved. Fast forward to today and now 9mm is the king of auto calibers. With modern expanding ammo it has been found to be plenty effective on soft tissue for stoppage, per the gold standard of ballistics testing the FBI’s ballistics lab. Hence why the FBI is looking to go back to standardizing the 9mm for its agents. Don’t believe it’s becoming king of the auto world? Take a look at the amount of LE agencies going to it or going back to it. Look how many militaries around the world still have it standardized. Go to your local range and see how much 9mm brass is lying around. I frequent a public range local to me and every time I go I go clepto on the range brass cans. For every 45 ACP case I get I get at least 50 9mms. For every 40 it’s at least 100 9mms. Logistics behind it are endless. It’s everywhere and it has gotten insanely cheap. It’s pretty fast, it’s naturally accurate, it’s low recoil and you can pack a serious amount of rounds into a pistol frame. It is here to stay, and for a long time.

So let’s look at the guns themselves. Much like the question asked to NCScout about ARs, I get asked about handguns the same way all the time. “What’s the best handgun” or “What should I get” comes more frequently than I care to count. There is no holy grail. Sorry, just ain’t going to happen. What I tell most everybody that comes to me about it is this: Go to a well-stocked gunshop or to the next local gunshow and get your hands on different ones. Find one that fits your hand and feels good. Then, if you can by any way possible, give it a test drive. If it feels good, buy one. Now with this discussion I will say there is one caveat, and that is if you are within a group it is VERY wise to get standardized across the board for ammo and mag commonality. But for an everyday carry potentially anything could go. I have my personal favorites and for good reasons; they are Glock, CZ and H&K in no particular order. The venerable 1911 still seems to be the standard for 45s. I know I will probably get blow back and hate mail for this by some but the 1911 ain’t that great anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a wonderful piece and it will always hold a place in my heart and in my safe but there is more advanced 45s out there now. I still have a Springfield Trophy Match that has seen an ungodly amount of rounds and untold number of matches, and the old girl still shoots great. But for a fighting 45 my H&K USP 45 runs circles around any of my 1911s. For me it’s been 100% reliable no matter what, honestly more accurate than I am, and the biggest thing is a standard 12 round mag vs 1911s 8 round. Those extra 4 rounds will keep you in the fight that much longer. The downside for most is that it is a BIG pistol. That doesn’t affect me so much because I have big hands and actually find the big frame comfortable. Same can be said for the Glock 21. Not everybody can fit a double stack 45 so the go to if one wants 45 is the 1911. Some will say “OK, what about the double stack 1911s, the 2011s?” They are fine if you intend on competition or maybe even carry but they have not been combat or field proven by anyone I know of like H&Ks, Glocks, Sig 220s or similar. Even in competition they can be finicky beasts, needing constant tweaking and magazine tuning. Not reliable enough for me to trust it in the field. So for me H&K gets the nod for fighting 45s. In the 9mm realm my personal favorite is the CZ 75 series, with Glock a close second. In the beginning I actually hated Glock. I didn’t want Tupperware in my holster. The grip angle was funny. The trigger was weird. Then I had to carry one as an issue weapon. After I learned a bit more about it, got more trigger time on them, they really started to grow on me (taking the Glock armorer course helped too, highly recommend it to anyone contemplating taking it). My hatred turned into a humbling respect for them. It is really hard to kill one, I’ve tried. Accurate, simple, AK of the handgun world reliable, they are a no brainer. The biggest point of Glock to me is the magazines. The compatibility amongst same size frames. It’s nice to carry a 26 with a flush fit stubby IWB and have a 17 round G17 mag as a spare for the 26. Well done Gaston. Not to mention ammo and mag commonality with how many millions of people in the US and around the world? Can’t swing a dead cat anywhere without hitting a 9mm Glock. I just still can’t see spending $3000 plus on a customized Glock when a $500 factory will do more than what the average shooter is capable of anyway. I’d dare just about anybody with a $3k Salient to go up against Dave Sevigny with a box stock G34 and see how far that 3 grand got them. My absolute favorite by far though is the CZ 75 series. The ergonomics, the natural accuracy of the design, the toughness, all of it is hard to beat. One of its biggest criticisms is the weight being all steel or steel/alloy mix. That doesn’t bother me, it still carries great and the little extra weight helps negate felt recoil. Top of the list is the CZ 75 SP-01. It’s even a little heavier than the standard 75 due to full length dust cover with rail but after you start shooting it all the negatives go away. The felt recoil is almost on par with say, my Browning Buckmark 22 LR. The accuracy of this thing is somewhere between a laser guided smart bomb and a James Bond harbinger of death super sophisticated ray gun. NC Scout was a witness to it dumping a mag full (19 round mags by the way, take that Glock 17) of 147 grain handloads into a group that could be covered with a quarter at 25 yards. It’ll ring a 15 inch gong at 100 yards with such frequency it gets boring. At $650 out the door it’s amazingly affordable and to date has never failed once. Obviously I can’t speak highly of it enough. All that is just an example of my findings and personal preferences. There are many others that work very well that others can shoot just fine. Sig for example is a fine company that makes a fine weapon (albeit overpriced but fine nonetheless). The recent hype over the non-German made Sigs being worse in quality has some truth to it but in my experience has been blown out of proportion. I recently had an Exeter made P226R with the newer E2 grip and it was just as good as any German made Sig. Alas, I don’t run Sig because no matter how hard I try or how many I get that I want to let my big hands leave my thumb sitting on top of the slide lever, inadvertently engaging it when it should last round lock. That is a no-go for me in the field or in defensive situations. But they still shoot great and many do like them. Other companies make fine products like Ruger, S&W and FN to name a few I just don’t run them for personal reasons. I still own/have owned many of them just regulated to range or match work. The point is, try some and find what works for you. Then train with it.

Which bring me to the next and probably the biggest point of them all, practice and training. Get out and shoot the things. 9mm is cheaper than 22 LR per round in many cases right now so that’s not an excuse. Rainy day and can’t get to the range? Sit in front of the TV and do dry fire practice to on screen “targets”. There’s no excuse to not train. It’s not always practical (or legal) to carry your fighting rifle or carbine every day, and if you are using handgun as a backup to it things have gone bad to worst fast so there is a very big chance you may need to rely on that handgun for your safety and the safety of those around you. So training with that weapon is a must. Learn to point shoot for close range targets, I teach that and it is extremely effective and fast once learned. I mentioned earlier that I have done quite a bit of competition in the past. Competition can teach you some good practices for handgun but DO NOT take it as gospel. I always found competition to be fun and it did help train me to be a bit faster but after real world experience I found it is lacking for real world scenario. The biggest way is that it can ingrain bad habits. Let’s look at IDPA. It was originally created by Bill Wilson and friends to be a defensive minded set of competition. So started with excellent intentions it has fell off a bit. My biggest gripe with IDPA is the course of fire. You never have a set course of fire in the real world. There is no rangemaster saying “you engage this target then this target then this target with X number of rounds in each etc. etc.” when you have the unfortunate circumstance of having to defend yourself in an actual shooting. So I wonder why IDPA doesn’t run its course of fire by means of say engaging the worst threat first and going down the ladder of threats from there when IDPA is supposed to be a “defensive” organization. That can set bad habits that can confuse a shooter when presented with legitimate real world threats. Maybe I’m picking nits but that is something I have always looked at and deemed a problem. I also feel that some of the strict rules can get in the way of practicality. Like if a particular holster that I like is not on the “approved for competition” list. If that’s what I like and what I use then I should be able to use it. I completely understand some not being allowed for safety reasons, like a crossdraw that could potentially flag bystanders or range officials on the draw but that is a little different. If you want to try competition then by all means do so, it is a helluva lot of fun and you get the chance to meet some truly wonderful people. I don’t compete at the moment, mainly due to life happenings, but I won’t say that I’ll never compete again. Just don’t take it as the things to do for the real world. I could probably write a book about handgun training so for sake of sanity I will keep it simple here. Bottom line is get out and use it, don’t let it become a paperweight on the nightstand or a permanent addition to the sock drawer.

I feel that I am starting to drone on about a topic that I could talk about for days so I will wrap it up. Handgun is an oft overlooked tool that should be just as important as anything else in your kit or in everyday life. No, they aren’t the end all be all but all tools have a job to do and I feel that the handgun’s job is an extremely important one. Find one that fits you. If need be acquire similar pieces to others within your fold to keep commonality. Then train. Then train some more. Do drills, do buddy drills, then train some more. Make that hawgleg become an extension of your arm. It could potentially save your bacon one day or even more important someone you care about.

Everybody be safe, watch your backs, and have a wonderful day!

-Secret Squirrel

85 thoughts on ““Go ahead, skin that smokewagon and see what happens” by Secret Squirrel

      1. Steve

        Interesting post. I’ve always heard that the CZ line of handguns were a well kept secret, as far as reliability/accuracy are concerned. Thanks to this post I now have first hand proof. This past weekend I checked out two of the CZ line at the local gun store (They had an SP-01 & the subc-ompact model who’s name escapes me for the moment) and I was impressed with the feel/build quality. The jeune fills working behind the counter was carrying the sub-compact model and she couldn’t stop raving about it. She did say that she shied away from the larger 75 models only because they overwhelmed her hands.
        I’ve been carrying a Steyr L9 A1 for a number of years now. I like the feel/shooting smoothness of the line compared to the Glocks, as they tend not to jump as much as the Glocks. I have never had an issue with the gun other than the fact that one is limited in their choice of holsters. The sights also took a bit of getting used to because I’m used to the three dot setup, but once I got the hang of them, grouping was fine. One of the other big draws of the Steyr line is the fact that I was able to get my hands on the L9 A1 for around $375, spare mags were around $10-$15 each.

  1. Nobody

    What a timely and relevant post.
    Far too many folks are all in for tacticool and ninja boomsticks, not realizing that the greatest threat, for the moment, is the psycho who decides to pay back all those “evil trump supporters” at some random event or place when you have your family with you and your kids hanging off your neck.
    Ya, hold on there mr bad guy, I need to go get my boomstick with all my load out gear in the trunk of my car, cause I suck with handguns.
    Excellent post.

    1. prcd

      My thoughts exactly. Moreover, as the “Practical Scrap Metal Firearms” series has proven, there’s no way to really disarm pistol owners – the guns can be manufactured in a pinch with hand tools and will be serviceable (ie, the action will cycle), concealable and disposable in a non-permissive environment (an increasing portion of the world).

      Far too much emphasis is placed on the tactical level of war and not the operational or strategic levels or (from Boyd’s paradigm) on the physical level rather that the mental and moral levels. Mistakes made at a higher level make winning at the lower levels (tactical/physical) pyrrhic victories.

  2. Very good article Secret Squirrel. I think you did an outstanding job on walking the handgun and caliber line so that you should receive minimal arguments.

    My standard EDC was the old 1911 in .45 ACP until I went to MVT camp and was out shot by folks sporting 9mm due to more rounds in their magazines than my 8. LOL, those mag changes add to your recovery time.

    Liking the 1911 ergonomics I switched to my Browning Hi-Power using 15 round mags. That served the purpose both for my EDC and my duty kit until I tried a friends S&W M&P. It seemed to fit my hands like for the aforementioned handguns plus it had two more rounds. It was also lighter that those handguns too. At 61, my hips like that.

    So I went out and bought one with a threaded barrel and I love it! I swapped out the trigger and added a StreamLight TR-1 and carry all with ease using a Bravo IWB holster.

    My challenge though, and maybe you might have a suggestion, is finding a holster for the handgun for my duty belt. The challenge is the extended threaded barrel, the light, and add to that equation I want a low or mid-ride configuration – I do not like drop thigh carry.

    Their are quite a few holster companies out there that meet my needs however the low or mid- level carry is a tough one. They are all high ride or are thigh carry.

    Safariland was supposed to have one out that met my needs in June, then it was September, and now they tell me it will be January. They even have a part number: 6360 RDS-2191-131. LOL, but no cigar.

    So based on your experience maybe you could suggest a holster maker that might be able to help me out.

    Thank you for taking the time to write and then have NCsout publish it,


    1. Secret Squirrel

      JohnyMac, my first suggestion would have been Safariland. Good company and I’ve always thought their products were top shelf retail. But, that being said, until they release theirs you don’t have many options like you say. To find low or mid, threaded barrel and light bearing seems to be a unicorn. I checked my usual suspects, and about the only thing I could find from a company I trust is the Blackhawk Epoch.
      Even with it, I say you could possibly use it simply because it could be modified for the threaded barrel by possibly drilling out the muzzle end for the barrel stickout. Still can’t say for sure as I don’t have exact experience with that, just a guess. Besides that, or big money for a custom, not sure if you have options yet. Know that’s not really what you want to hear. I feel your pain though, CZs can be murder to find good holsters for. Good luck, and thank you much for the kind words!

      1. Thanks for the suggestion Secret Squirrel.

        Chuckled over the “unicorn comment”.

        Even with the Safariland model, customer service over there told me i would have to drill out for the 4.75″ barrel, “…but you will void your warranty” they told me. Which is no big deal.

        Thank you for the BlackHawk suggestion. I will check it out.

        Going to The Shot show in January and while there, I hope to track down a holster company that may meet my needs. We will see.


      2. anonymous

        No CZ 9mms here, but have owned a TZ-75 since the early 90’s, one of the Italian clones sold when CZs were behind the Iron Curtain. Now that model is called the Witness.

        I use a Bianchi UM-84 flapped holster for my TZ. It is not quick to remove from flap, but protects the pistols pretty well when not in use (and not paying attention) and the integral cleaning rod design is handy. The flap is easily removeable and can be replaced with a retention snap if you prefer, but you lose a lot of protection for the gun. Your choice.

        What handgun would you pick as a back-up / hide-out ? Would it be another 9mm, or something different ? Some people recommend the .22 rimfire because of extreme common round availability, as well as low sound signature.

      3. I have owned a few Witness pistols. Good guns.

        For a ‘back-up’ handgun, it would really depend on the task. Just like I’ve got several hammers for different tasks, and knives too, handguns are no different.

      4. Secret Squirrel

        Anonymous, I like back-ups from the same family as the primary. Such as a Glock 26 backing a 17 or 19, a CZ 75 compact backing a fullsize or SP-01, a S&W 6906 backing a 5906, ect ect. Anything that will accept mags from the larger siblings. Makes the logistics behind ammo and mags so much easier. 22 rimfire is a wonderful little round and has its place in the gun world for sure, but for a back up weapon one from the same family makes more sense.

    2. scttmtclf

      Lucas Bodkin at T Rex Arms makes some of the finest kydex holsters available. The IWB Ragnarok line is specifically designed for weapon mounted lights, and custom fit for Glocks, Sigs, and S & W M & P. They have the TR – 1 option for them, too.

    3. jackalope

      Hey JohnyMac,
      There is an outfit in central Washington State, Gunfighters, Inc., that makes high quality custom kydex holsters in many configurations. They offer a variety of colors and camo patterns. I had them make me 2 for my M&P9 with threaded barrel. They turned out great and are quite durable.
      Worth checking out.

  3. Pingback: Pistol Advice From The Brushbeater Blog – Mason Dixon Tactical

  4. “Always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
    In life there are no reset buttons. If you can pay insurance each month to a company (in case) something happens, you can carry a sidearm (in case) something happens. Not only carry it, know it, clean it and train with it. Training is never done.

    Great article, sharing this!

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Thank you soulrebel for the comments. It really is #truth. They are words I’ve lived by for many a year, and it has saved my behind more than once.

      1. You’re wwlcome 😊
        Words to live by indeed. I get a lot if criticism from people for carrying everywhere. Especially around the house, folks can’t seem to wrap their head around that one. I honestly dont care, I take no chances.

  5. Bear with me on the numbers, as my memory is not what it used to be.

    Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) for 1911: IIRC, 7 or 8 thousand rounds.

    MTBF for Glock 17 or 19: 33 thousand rounds.

    What is the most widely issued police sidearm?

    Cost for 40 rounds of ammo storage:
    1911 (5 or 6 mags needed) $75 to $120
    G19 (3 mags needed) $45 to $60.

    I like the 1911 but when I’m carrying, I carry a Glock.

    With regard to all who serve the Light,

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Good point, and it shows just how far technology has come in our history Historian. In the heyday of the 1911 a MFR of less than 10,000 was considered state of the art. Now it’s horrendous. I would have liked to have seen JMB finish the Hi Power himself all together to see how it would have stacked up. After the learnings made with the 1911 it was supposed to be his masterpiece. But, the Belgians did a pretty good job nonetheless.

  6. Mike

    Vote for follow up articles from ss.

    Great content and info at bb blog. Even more on the ‘non weapons’ and comments.

    Switched out all pistol and mag holster loops for these soft iwb loops. Super handy and secure enough. Can only be opened in one direction.


    One can put a sigle loop on a mag holster that allows the mag to sit at an angle at the appendix. Rides well. Good price for a 10 pack.

    Kramer holsters makes great leather holsters that will probably last 20 years. They are comfortable, quiet, stout, and can rack a slide with ease. They sometimes have 20% off sales about 3-4 times a year.

  7. Great piece, and even better that it backs up what I’ve been saying to people for a while. 9mm is really the king of the pistol rounds, and RIGHT NOW, Glocks are at or near the top of the heap for 9mm pistols.

    I carry a Glock 19 at all times for several years now. Before that it was a Glock 17. In the Army I was issued the Beretta M9, and I liked it too. My wife has the Sig Sauer P320, and it’s a fine pistol as well.

    All 9mm.

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Thank you for the kind words. My every day carries vary, I like variety and the ability to go cross platform easily. Any of the Glock 9mm family is in the rotation somewhere, hard to go wrong with them. I’m not going to say that my wife gives me crap about me “accessorizing” worse than a woman but it can happen….

  8. Pingback: Guest Post From Brushbeater’s Place: “Go ahead, skin that smokewagon and see what happens” by Secret Squirrel | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  9. ApoloDoc

    Excellent content, as usual. The standardization issue finally moved me to get a Glock and it does shoot well. My aging eyes are the issue, I find. Having played with a micro red dot (Burris Fastfire rear dovetail mount on a Springfield XD) the accuracy this offers seems to be worth the added hassle and cost. Time to get the Glock slide machined, it seems!

    1. Secret Squirrel

      ApoloDoc, might I give a suggestion before you spend heavy coin on machine work and cost of a dot sight. I have worked with many over the years with the “aging eyes” problem, including my father. Something that has helped plenty in the past save folks from big gunsmithing bills is XS Sight Systems AKA Ashley Express Big Dot Sights.
      Very easy to spot even under duress. Highly recommend trying them as a more inexpensive option to optics. Just a thought, good luck!

      1. ApoloDoc

        I have TruGlow on my XDm and they are great. The combo of fiber optics + a tritium capsule works well. However I can shoot with much greater accuracy using the 3″ barrel + red dot than I do with the 4.5″ barrel and TruGlo sights. The red dot gives me the focal plane out at the target, and I see quite clear at a distance. No matter what sights I use 2′ away from me, they are blurry and cost accuracy.

    2. RDS-equipped pistols are the future. I was highly skeptical at first, until I had the opportunity to try one of a buddy’s RMR’d G19s.

      If you go the machining route, call Mark Housel at L&M Precision:

      [email protected]

      Mark’s work is second-to-none.

  10. Hypo

    I am picking up a CZ75 Shadow 2 next week.
    Started out with a Tri Star T-120 CZ75 Clone for my carry. Alloy frame and Steel slide.
    The Tri Star C-100, P-100 compacts are less than $400 if you shop around.
    Cajun Gunworks carries parts for them if you want to change out springs and grips and such.
    CZ/ Mec-Gar magazines are a perfect swap.
    So if you are on a budget consider them. $150-$200 more for the real deal CZ.
    It was a way to get a feel for the CZ ergonomics at a lower price point.

    Will be buying CZ from this point on.
    Started off with Bolt action 22LR CZ 452s.
    Can’t say enough good things about them either.
    CZ 527 bolt Carbine in 7.62 X 39 is a sweet little rifle.

    1. CZ is like a virus. A really, really virulent virus…that’s horribly contagious 🙂

      Try the P-07 as a carry option. I love mine, and in the upwards of ~2k rounds through it, only one malfunction- a FTF from a dead Wolf primer. My EDC is a Glock 19, however only due to the fact that it’s standard in my group.

      Then again, we each have a CZ series handgun as well as higher-end 1911s. One thing to note about the P-07/09 is that you can run the inexpensive Mec-Gar mags in them, but they’re slightly too slim to fit perfect. The 07/09 series magazines are proprietary and kinda pricey, but I expect that to come down as they ramp up production in Kansas City and have the P-10C out now.

    2. Secret Squirrel

      Hypo, you suck. Shadow 2 is my unobtainium right now. I’d offer a kidney in trade I want one so bad.

      In all seriousness, enough can’t be said about CZ’s entire product line. From their handguns, to the skorpion, to their long guns, all are top not and SEVERELY underrated. Plus 1 to Mec-Gars, they are the factory supplier to CZ and any of their own branded mags are 100% GTG. I’m a fan of their anti-friction coating too. Thanks for the comments!

      1. Hypo

        They guys at Moss Pawn on the South Side of Atlanta got one in and held it under the counter until I walked in. “Hey, we have something to show you. You are one of three customers that we know will buy it on the spot. You walked in first so here is your chance. ” They let me make a down payment and my Birthday is next week. They are CZ fanatics there but are big 2A supporters all around. Local guy on the North side is working on an integrally suppressed CZ455 Varmint for the lady that runs the store. KG was in there picking up the 22 one day when I was making a payment and delivering a 455 American Ticho for Chad. Test firing was amazing for how quiet it was. All I heard was the wet splat into the dirt back stop. I need to go ahead and set up an NFA Trust since it looks like we aren’t going to get suppressors off of the NFA any time soon.

  11. June J

    Great, informative post. Thank you. I keep hearing good things about the CZ 75 and that makes me want to try one out, even though I don’t want to start buying a new line of handguns.
    When I started shooting last year, I did exactly what you said, went to a gun store, handled every pistol and then found a range where I could shoot the one that felt right in my hands. That was a S&W 9mm Shield. Then bought the full size M&P 2.0 when it came out and will add the 2.0 Compact as soon as I have the money saved up. The S&W M&P line feels good in my hands and I can shoot them with both hands. I’ve tried friends’ Glocks but just don’t feel as comfortable as the M&P to me.

    1. I’ll tell you this June, and SS will back it up because he was there-

      We had an ‘incident’ when I was stationed at Bragg and my wife needed a carry weapon. My 45s were too big and she’s recoil shy. She did very well with a Sig 226 that belonged to a friend, but thought it a bit heavy for carry. After an afternoon at the gunshow picking up and handling guns, the EAA Witness-P CZ-75 clone fit her hand like a glove. She loves the pistol and shoots great with it. Most importantly, she has confidence in it, which gives me confidence.

      So go try one out. Feel it out, fire some rounds, see how you do. I think you’ll find the low recoil and natural grip angle of the 75 and it’s variants to be very much in your favor.

    2. Secret Squirrel

      June, don’t try a CZ. You will hate them in the end for draining your bank account. One multiplies worse than the black plague. You end up having to go to meetings and support groups. It truly is a disease. 😉

      Good job finding your first. A old handgun mentor once told me “Comfortable is smooth, smooth is accurate, accurate makes fast. Comfortable + smooth + accurate + fast all together = unbeatably deadly”. I’ve gone by that and taught it for a long time. It works. Thank you for your comments!

  12. Nice to see a discussion that doesn’t devolve into a rant about subjective opinion. By definition, the handgun is a compromise between what one can actually carry (esp. concealed) and the effectiveness of the platform (combined with its user.) My preference would be for an 18-shot CZ clone chambered in 9×23 Win running Buffalobore’s 147gr XTP at 1300 fps, but such a gun would be big, heavy, of unknown lifespan and end up being a logistics challenge to say the least. The reality is for me, the sweet spot in the compromise is a single-stack, 20 oz (unloaded) subcompact 9×19 offering 9 rounds in the gun and 9 in the spare mag. Unmodified, the platform plus me was unusable (crappy trigger + too squirmy in the hand = dispersion on the target) but a little judicious personalization yielded a very useful compromise.

    Knowing that I’m “undergunned” across a broad swath of possible problems is a continuous reminder that avoidance is by far the first priority when it comes to all this, as I’m not paid to wade into conflict.

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Dc. sunsets, thank you for the comments. I would not say you are “undergunned” per se. You are using a substantial weapon that is effective. Undergunned would be a 9 shot 32 ACP a la early 20th century European law enforcement. Have a late 20s to early 30s French MAB in 7.65 Browning (32 ACP) that comes to mind. All you may need to deal with is expedited mag changes. And even before that I’d say with a proper training and practice regimen you’d be good. Bubba Leroy local meth head busting in your front door having to spray cuz he can’t shoot, or Katlin Winner tranny SJW antifa brigade leader confronting you on the street that again can’t shoot cuz guns are scary and make him/her/it jump when it goes bang will not stand a chance against a well trained handgunner with either 9 round or 90 round mags. Effective or efficiently gunned is more a state of mind rather than a state of equipment. The average defensive shooting is 7 yards or less with 3 to 5 rounds being expended. Although I do promote as much capacity as possible (because it keeps you in the fight longer if need be) not everyone can use that. Doesn’t necessarily mean you are undergunned. Be safe, watch your back.

      By the way, I also like 9×23. Absolute mini howitzer for the hand.

  13. Ace Frehley

    I picked up a Pre B (1990) CZ 75 on the cheap a while back.. I’ve owned Colt in .45 and Glock in 9mm among others and it has easily become my favorite pistol.

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Warning. It will turn into another one. Then they will double and so on. Next thing you know you’ll be scratching your neck, rubbing your nose and trembling uncontrollably waiting for CZ to release your next “fix”.

  14. I shoot a lot. However not near the experience as the author. I made the long migration from 1911’s to Glocks. I hated them at first too, but sooner or later the light comes on. My EDC is a G19 now. I occasionally have people ask for a recommendation on a hand gun too which is nearly impossible to do. An inexperienced shooter is not going to grab the gun like an experienced or trained shooter. When you start getting your grip straightened out the uncomfortable feeling Glock suddenly feels pretty damn good. I now recommend they take a combat pistol class first and then decide on which gun is best for them. Just a thought.

    1. Secret Squirrel

      I honestly think it’s the trigger that gets the most people trying Glock for the first time. The grip angle can be gotten over fairly quickly but that trigger. After being shown by a Glock factory rep the “proper” way of running the safe action trigger and doing some practice on my own the light did come on. It really is/was a game changer for pistol technology. Only other thing I would say is I agree with one taking a pistol class, but be picky about the instructors. Some can be very overbearing, and the ones that have the whole “my way is the only way” attitude really piss me off. The bad ones make me want to start my own classes. I’ve always taught handgun on the individual not as my way. Thank you for the comments!

      1. Those Glock triggers definitely take some getting use to. It’s certainly not a 1911 reset. You are right about instructors. I’ll go a step further and say some of them have no business instructing. We had a new instructor discharge a students weapon UP RANGE about 6 months back. The round went through some guys truck tire and into a porta potty. Needless to say he no longer instructs there.

      2. Secret Squirrel

        Brad, yikes. Hope the instructor paid out for a new tire. I do agree many do not need to be instructing. Seen several myself. Dangerous individuals and practices have no place on the range.

  15. The CZ-75 SP-01 makes me look like I spend far more time at the range than I do. The accuracy is uncanny. So uncanny in fact that I just bought a second one, obtained a threaded barrel and a laser/light and keep it in my nightstand next to my 9mm suppressor. And If you thought the recoil management was good before, with a suppressor it is down right ridiculous!

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Completely agree. Would love a can for mine but just not in the cards at the moment. But, the load I referenced in the article being so accurate in mine was a 147 grain subsonic. I dare say mine will be cremated with me. No other pistol for me gives the sheer performance it does. When I pick it up it reminds me of the old Megaman video game from the 80s/90s and the SP-01 it built into my arm somehow. It’s rediculous.

  16. Bruce

    I’ve been buying a lot of guns lately. Somehow, I’ve become a collector. I’ve been working through handguns in the last few weeks. Just bought an Arex Zero 1 (less expensive and even more reliable variant of the Sig 226) and plan to make that my new CCW. Next steps:

    1) Crank up the reloading press and reload those 3000 9mm cases I have with my cheap cast lead bullets. I powder coat them and they are as good as FMJ and a lot cheaper. My 9mm is way cheaper than the cheapest 22LR.

    2) $200 annual indoor range membership. I’d rather shoot outdoors, but can’t currently do that in my back yard. The indoor range is three miles away and on my commute, so I can shoot every week, rain or shine.

  17. Desertrat

    Very good article.

    My take: “The best handgun is the one with which you can best hit your intended target.”

    For years I carried a Lightweight Commander. I once played around with a 1911 in 9mm and if the bullet R&D of today had been around then, it would have been a definite keeper. Today? I’d be happy with my LC in 9mm. (After 50 years of messing with 1911s, my hand is sorta married up with them.)

    1. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, there was a retired SF guy SS and I were talking to not that long ago who’s exact words were “I can’t hit shit with a Glock so I carry a 1911.” Point is, it’s more important to run what you’re competent with and confident in, rather than hanging your hat on what someone else says you should be doing.

      Experience trumps all.

    2. Secret Squirrel

      Desertrat, thank you for the kind words. I do still carry the occasional single stack 1911. Have a soft spot for a Colt Defender in the safe, still very accurate in my hand and surprisingly mild to shoot for its size and length even with higher pressure like a Cor-bon or Buffalo Bore +P. I actually have never owned the Browning Brainchild in 9mm, but it is on the wish list. Shot plenty but never owned. If you ever get the chance, try a double stack 2011 9mm, it will feel very familiar just a little chubby. Rock Island does make a good inexpensive product and their 2011 is a good one.

  18. There ain’t no such thing as “the one best handgun” for everyone, but there is such a thing as “best handgun for you“.
    Determining which one that may be, for both pistol as well as rifle, requires asking questions, and particularly, the right questions.

    SS is asking the right questions, and anyone else who does that will also come up with the right answer for themselves.

    Great guest post.
    Moar! please, gentle host, as the opportunity arises.

    1. He’s got a lot on tap…and many thanks for the warm words of encouragement for him. I’ve been *gently* prodding him to write something for a while.

  19. 10mm is the only way to go. A 10mm in your holster and a subgun in same means you can have a full power handgun and a reach out there carbine in one. 45 ACP is over a hundred and showing its tooth in its limited capacity. The 40 S&W is a girls cartridge, adopted by the FBI when the full power 10mm threw the affirmative action hires out of qualifying cuze it went bang! too loud. The Feds have gone back to +p+ (superduper!) 9mm, still chasing the 357 magnum in an auto.

    The 10mm has it all. Most efficient cartridge (.22LR is second) in terms of powder usage, flat trajectory to 100 yards, .357 Mag power at close range, while same bullets (135gr Underwood factory load) leaves a subgun barrel at 2050 for over 1200ft/lbs energy and has 45 ACP muzzle energy at 250 yards.

    Hunt deer, shoot targets, defend home, load in carbine for SHTF, the 10mm does it all.

    1. How common is 10mm?

      What is the frame life of say…a Colt Delta Elite 1911 in 10?

      How about a Glock 20?

      [Hint- I know these answers, from experience, and so does my buddy who wrote the piece for me. Do you?]

      I knew there’d be that one guy.

      1. Sam Cafffer

        I’ve been running Glock 20s for many years now. Did have an early one blow up in my hand, but got excellent service from Glock, . . . and a new pistol.

        Other than that (Mrs Lincoln), I’ve had no problems at all. I use a somewhat heavier spring set with mostly reasonably hot hand loads. It is my on-site carry pistol. Kills what it hits.

        In town, concealed, I do carry a Glock 23. Don’t need the extra capacity of the 9mm, because I tend to hit that at which I shoot.

        I was raised with the 1911 and because distinguished with it many years ago. It is a beautiful piece of machinery, especially when worked up by someone like Wilson (also many years ago), but Glock works, it’s inexpensive, and with better sights and some trigger work, it does the job.

        However, when asked, which is fairly often, I usually recommend a Glock19 with decent ammo to my students for everyday carry. When they get better than the 19, they can do whatever they like.

        To repeat, I’ve many rounds through my 20s, and more than a few through a 10mm Infinity (heavy, expensive); reliability was never a problem.

    2. Secret Squirrel

      Women were not the only reason the FBI dropped 10mm, the S&W 2nd and 3rd Gen autos that were chambered for it were FAILING at a astonishing rate with any moderate round count (and that’s saying something cuz 1st through 3rd Gen S&W autos were built like Sherman tanks). Not to mention things like muzzle flash blinding during nighttime shoots, the increased recoil slowing follow up shots, the bystander danger of overpenetration ect ect. 40 is a girls cartridge? If I can find the report from the ME in a LE shooting I know of I’ll be glad to share it. He went into court trying to get the officer caught on charges because this ME was ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED the officer had put some kind of explosive in the hollow cavities of his rounds. It was box stock off the shelf Cor-Bon 165 grain jacketed hollow point. As far as the “superduper” 9mm the FBI is going back to, I won’t argue with folks that have rediculous amounts of ballistics and real world shooting knowledge. I can’t remember for the life of me a dead suspect ever complaining about how 9mm was underpowered or anything. NCScout also brings up a excellent point of logistics. When the SHTF and you run out of your stock of 10mm, where you going to get more? I rarely see 10mm on the shelf anywhere anymore. There will still be millions of 9mm left when everything else is dried up. Is 10mm efficient? Yeah sure. Is it practical? No. Will it do the numbers you quoted at 250 yards? Yeah, but most any rifle caliber will easily best it at 250 which is what I will be using at that distance. Will 10mm suffice for someone that can’t get the best shot placement or is in need of compensation for something? Sure. But good luck when it runs out, don’t shoot it on night missions or when overpenetration is a concern, hope you have spare parts or spare weapons…..

      I’ll stick with my lethargic, anemic pussy wussy 9mm, thanks.

      1. Sam Cafffer

        Sadly, the FBI is now just another source of information, and nothing special. The story of the FBI’s search for an excuse for the Miami shootout is long, funny, and political.

        Even their Lab was found to be a less than reliable source of information. My guess is they started to go to hell when Hoover died and was utterly corrupted under Obama.

        Therefore, your recourse to the FBI as a definitive argument doesn’t impress me.

        Finally, bullet placement is the ultimate determiner of pistol effectiveness. The rest is incidential.

      2. Secret Squirrel

        First, thanks for replies even if I don’t agree with everything you say.

        Second, I really don’t care if you are impressed. I’m not here to impress anybody, I’m here to share opinion and professional experience. I use the FBI’s information because nobody else has the budget, resources or equipment to maintain a database of ballistics and real world shooting information that they do. So I use them. Find me somebody that has more info than them and I’ll be happy to use them. I agree they have long been corrupt politically and as a agency.

        Of course shot placement is one of the biggest keys to being effective, as I’ve mentioned a couple times.

        “Don’t need the extra capacity of the 9mm, because I tend to hit that at which I shoot.” I doubt many that visit this blog have a problem hitting what they are shooting at. The point behind lots of capacity for good handgunners ain’t inability to hit the target it’s how long you can keep yourself in the fight. Those of us that’s had to deal with that know that. Or maybe JSOC guys use high capacity 9mms cuz they can’t hit shit.

        I also agree Glock and 1911s are great pieces. And I will agree anything Bill Wilson’s company does is outstanding as is anything from SVI Infinity. But not everybody has thousands to drop on a single pistol, I know I don’t. I have other things I like to spend money on, like Harleys. Part of the point of all this is for folks on a budget. I also recommend the 19 to a lot of folks too, it works as stock and will continue to do so for life.

        Nobody ever said the 10mm is ineffective, the point is it’s impractical. There’s no sustainable logistics, and it’s excessive for practicality for a multitude of reasons. If being practical didn’t matter then everybody would be running around with 45 Win Mags or 50 AEs. But no, guys a helluva lot more tactically proficient than us are using high capacity 9mm, like aforementioned JSOC. That’s the real world facts and professionals opinions on it, so I’m done with the 10mm discussion.

  20. Hypo

    My only 1911 is a Kimber Rimfire Target 1911 in 22 LR.
    Same trigger as its bigger brothers. It breaks at 4 pounds.
    My wife loves it. Started some kids out with it this week.
    I say kids but they were 19 and had never shot a gun, friends of my stepson that is taking EMT classes.
    Even though they have been programmed by public education they were definitely of the NEVER give up your guns attitude.
    Had plenty of orange ear plugs to go around.
    9mm next time with the Clone.
    They were ringing the 7″ x 11″ X 1/2″ AR500 silhouette at ten yards after some basic instructions about function, grip sight picture stance follow through and an example of what a limp wrist will do.
    Second mag one guy was ten for ten on a one second shot cadence.

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Love my 22s. I still go back to them now and then just to work on essentials. They are pretty much lasers so it’s easy to stay in good habits. Really glad to hear others are getting the young paddiwans out and shooting and that they all ain’t falling into idiotic BS. I salute you.

      1. Hypo

        Got the Shadow 2 home but hasn’t had a chance to step out back and shoot it. Right now I have some Monarch 115 steel FMJ, PPU brass 115 FMJ, and some Browning brand brass 147 subsonic fmj. Was going to swing by the box store and look for maybe some 124 grain. Any recommendations? Get a Dillon? I only have a single stage Forster Coax now and a Redding measure plus all the other little tools. I have dry fired it probably 1000 times already though. Man what a difference between the stock Tri-Star clone and the Shadow 2. I need to put my gauge on them both and compare the pull.

      2. I won’t speak for Mr. Squirrel, but a single stage does the trick just fine…unless you want the Cadillac 😉

        That Shadow 2 will never leave you…and it’s miles away from anything Tristar is putting out.

      3. Hypo

        I got it earlier on Friday October 27 and couldn’t put it down. My wife got paranoid and asked why I kept cocking it and shooting people on the TV?
        Just feel it baby.
        I know you want to touch it.
        It is longer and heavier and more sensitive.

        She got up and left the room.

        DA pull is easily half of the weight of the clone.
        SA is better than my Kimber, way better.

        Found this great resource.

        Even a section covering the clones and apparently there is help for the Tri-Star available from CGW.
        Definitely going to do that spring kit for $15.

        Will probably grab some Fiocchi 124 FMJ tomorrow and give them a try too. I have some steel and a target frame and plenty of B19 targets and A23/5 50 yard small bore targets.

        I like to do a pumpkin on a post sight picture with the A23/5 from 10 yards.
        Can rapid fire my Kimber 22LR and get all ten in the 4.5″ circle from that distance.

        Doing it with a larger caliber is my goal.

        Oh. Turns out that the terrorist in NY used to live right around the corner from the trucking terminal I work out of in Tampa.
        Took some pictures today.
        CAIR has an office about 100 yards away and across the street from the apartment complex.

        Rolling back to Atlanta tonight.

        Ammo test this weekend.

      4. Secret Squirrel

        Hypo, I personally wouldn’t run the steel case in that Shadow. Not saying by any means it can’t run it or anything like that, it’s just personal preference. My match or precision pieces, handgun or long gun, I only run brass case in. I’m probably just overly anal about that, I just don’t like running steel in expensive guns.

        As far as bullet weight, as always try the different weights and see what it likes. In my experience CZs tend to like the heavier stuff. My SP-01 digests 147 grain like Rosie O’Donnell killin hot wings at a all you can eat buffet. And it dumps it into tiny holes if I do my part. I don’t remember exact loads, but Berry’s plated 147 RN and Hornady’s XTP 147 are stellar performers in mine.

        If you can afford the investment, you CAN NOT go wrong at all with anything from Dillon. I do think their 1050 is a bit much but the Square Deal B and the 650 are favorites. If you want high volume then they are the way to go. Hornady’s Lock-N-Load AP progressive is supposed to be a big competitor to Dillon and although Hornady makes excellent products I don’t think it holds a candle to Dillon. And the Hornady is more expensive than its competitive counterpart the Dillon 650, go figure. That being said you can turn out top notch loads with what you have. It may take a lot longer to load the same amount but a single stage kind of forces you to pay more attention to each component, therefore a little higher QC can be had over cranking out 1000 rounds a hour on a Dillon. Granted that comes into play a lot more with rifle rounds than pistol but still. I’d say load with what you have for the moment, then upgrade. But don’t get rid of the single stage even if you do upgrade, it still comes in handy more than you think.

        I would love to hear what that thing will do after you find it’s pet load. The Shadow 2 is the Jenna Jameson of gun porn for me, tied with the Czechmate and a original Sig P210. At least till CZ releases something new…

  21. LodeRunner

    “Finally, bullet placement is the ultimate determiner of pistol effectiveness. The rest is incidental.”
    Training trumps gear, every day. ANY reliable modern pistol in 9mm/40S&W/.45ACP will do the job.

    With modern cartridges in modern pistols, the caliber debate is really a bygone question. The cat is so far out of the bag that many PDs are giving up their 40S&Ws and .45s to go back to 9MM. Two municipal PDs in my area have done it, and now the county Sheriff’s Dept. is following suit.

    For a self-defense and SHTF tool, it boils down to two things –
    1) What are you comfortable and accurate shooting? and 2) What will your local logistics support longest in SHTF?

    With regards to #2 above, 9mm is the hands-down winner in most of CONUS. This is a first-order deterministic factor – meaning it should have first consideration in your decision making process(es).

    And FWIW, if you can’t get comfortable and competent shooting a Glock, CZ, or Sig in 9mm, then may I suggest that you need more/better training.

    Fair Disclosure: I am a fan of big bore pistols. I have numerous 1911s, a Glock-20(10mm), .44Mag and .44Special revolvers, and a .454Casull. Back in the ’90s I used to carry a snubby .44Mag loaded with 240gr. Hydra-shok’s. But when I carry concealed these days it is a little Sig p938 9mm single-stack loaded with 147gr. Golden Sabers that I take with me most often. It conceals well, the reliability and accuracy are exceptional, and I know that if I do my part those 147grHPs *will* do theirs and down the attacker. Period.

    1. Secret Squirrel

      Loderunner, I agree. Training is paramount to anything. A highly trained professional with a 22 is deadlier than a ignoramus with the newest latest and greatest in any caliber at any given time. And you are correct, with modern bullet design and construction there really is no “caliber war” argument.

      Couldn’t agree more with your comments about your #2. I’d even go farther in saying not just CONUS, most anywhere in the world. Even the Russians and Chinese have gone to a standardized 9mm. By far the most popular and widely used pistol caliber in the world. Logistics are hugely important in more than just ammo and weapons too. Logistics, communication and intelligence (no particular order) are the 3 things any MUST have to operate and fulfill any mission. Whether warfighter, badge on the street or simple citizens defending and surviving.

      I too am a fan of big bores with standouts being 41 and 44 mags, 460 S&W, and 45 Win Mag. Like the Golden Saber too; along with Federal Hydra-Shok, Winchester Ranger SXT and my personal favorite the Speer Gold Dot. Any of those 4 in any caliber and the target is going to have a really shitty day. Thanks for your comments!

  22. LodeRunner

    In 9mm my first preference in the 147gr Golden Saber; in 40S&W however my preference is the 180gr Hyda-Shok, and in 45ACP I carry Magtech Guardian Gold 230gr +P. There are lots of rounds that run too close to call for second place in each caliber, but those all came in first after a lot of personal testing.

    It’s not incidental that in every caliber, I’m carrying the heaviest JHP bullet I can get; I’ve also selected for the highest muzzle velocity, because the terminal damage inflicted is determined by physics: Mass X Velocity = Kinetic Energy. The third factor is bullet expansion, but unless you have the energy to force the bullet to expand, it won’t happen.

    For defensive rounds, “Hot and Heavy” is the rule to abide by, based on my 30+ years of experience.

  23. Sum Dude

    Many thanks to Secret Squirrel and all the rest for a great article and discussion.

    I carried a gen 3 Glock 19 for the longest time, until one day, I saw a CZ P-01 in the display case at my favorite fun store. It was love at first sight/trigger pull. Its been my EDC piece ever since.

    As mentioned above, I too had trouble finding a good holster for my P-01, until I heard about these guys in a few CZ threads at ARFcom: clevelandkydex.com. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the quality and cost, not to mention support for a local, small business.

    Oh, and I’m not knocking Glocks, either. I plan on getting a 21SF in the future, as well as another 19 or a 17. You can’t go wrong, plain and simple.


  24. Hypo

    Going to pick up some 9mm dies and powder, primers, brass and bullets later this morning.
    Will be the first time loading a handgun or straight wall cartridge.
    Have been doing ammo for my Garand, K31 7.5 Swiss , M39 Finn , Winchester 30-30, 270, and 5.56 for my Colt HBAR.

    Any tips?
    Getting OAL and the crimp will take some initial testing by hand with the barrel pulled.
    I use Wilson case gauges for my rifles. Going to have to order one for 9mm.
    I have the Hornaday comparator sets for my calipers.
    I love my Lyman wet tumbler.
    It can handle 200+ 30-06 at a time.
    Going to go slow with my existing single stage.

    And No steel cases through the Shadow 🙂

    Anyone ever use a big tarp securely anchored on the ground to catch brass?

    Thanks for the advice.

    1. Secret Squirrel


      For 9mm OAL is only limited by magazine length, it headspaces on case lip so case length is somewhat critical. I say somewhat because I normally don’t run across any that have really stretched and need trimming. I’d say just set OAL to what your manuals say and that should be fine, it’s always worked for me. Straight wall pistol is easy that way, leaves it where you can focus on playing with powder charges and primers rather than other stuff. You could probably save the money not getting the case gauge, just check them with calipers. Something I do recommend to everyone loading is a Lee Factory Crimp Die. I use them for everything except precision rifle. Makes getting the crimp right really easy on high volume loading. Yeah, it makes and extra step and a extra die to keep up with but it’s so worth it.

      As far as components any 9mm brass pretty much is fine with Starline being the best I’ve ever used. There is entirely too many bullet choices out there to pick favorites but that’s ok because half the fun is trying a bunch of different ones to find your pet. Now powder and primer usage can vary. For me, and I stress for me and my loads since two weapons of same make/model/caliber can like completely different powder and primers, favorite 9mm powders are Hodgdon’s HS6 and Titegroup over top of CCI magnum small pistol primers. Even if not magnum loads I’ve found the mag primers to be great across the board.

      Overall 9mm is very easy to load for and very easy to get great results. Auto pistol loads are much more tolerant than others, not needing a high degree of precision, like say a match 308 rifle load. Just follow load manuals, find the bullet yours likes, and rock-n-roll.

      As for the tarp, nope never used one. Normally just end up picking them out of the grass or gravel, or dumping the unwanted range brass cans straight into my buckets.

      Good luck!

Comments are closed.