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GUNS Magazine March 2013 Digital Edition - Page 8
CompaCt Handguns Have tHey enougH accuracy potential for all around use? H Massad ayoob ard to shoot “snubbies” had a rep for being close-range guns. Modern subcompact pistols are changing this paradigm. Back in the day, the short-barrel handgun was seen as short in range as well. In the off-duty matches for snubnose .38s during the PPC matches, our hosts would generally set the targets no farther than 25 yards and sometimes no farther than 15, on the theory that if we shot them at 50 yards like we did the “big revolvers,” accuracy would be so poor we’d crossfire on each other’s targets. We knew that in a machine rest, a J-frame with a 1-7/8" barrel could group along with a 4"-barrel K-frame .38. Instead, it was the human factors inherent in the small grips and the short sight radius that made them hard to shoot. Over the years, I only won a single match shooting snubbies against 4" service revolvers: a New Hampshire Police Officers Association state shoot. I was using a 2.5" Colt Python with an action superbly tuned by the great Reeves Jungkind. I’m not sure that counted. The small autos of the time were in the same boat. The shorter you made a 1911 (the auto of the day), the more poorly it seemed to group. From the 1903 Colt .32 to the Walther PPK, the pocket autos were inherently accurate—but still hard to shoot with their tiny sights. As time has gone on and handgun tastes have changed, the paradigm has changed, too. When the “baby Glocks” came out in the mid-1990s, shooters noticed that they were remarkably accurate for their size, indeed, often more accurate than their big brothers. My two came out of the first production run for a gun magazine article, and I liked them so much I bought them both when the test was over. My 9mm Glock 26 subcompact averaged around 2.5" for five shots off the bench at 25 yards, a little better than my full size Glock 17 in the same caliber. My .40 S&W Glock 27 once gave me a 1.5", 5-shot group with 155-grain Winchester Silvertips, distinctly tighter than any load ever did in my full-size .40 S&W Glock 22. It was theorized the double-captive recoil spring Glock put into these supersmall pistols (and would much later install in all the Gen4 guns) was holding the barrel locked more uniformly before the bullet departed the muzzle. A few years after the baby Glocks, the company came out with their subcompact .45 ACP, the Glock 30, which was more accurate yet. Mine Mas’ 15-year-old box-stock Glock 26 has just given him a perfect 300 score with 60 shots (above). His pleasure at this performance is evident. Steve Denney used this S&W M&P Compact to shoot a 1.6", 25-yard group (below), with three hits in the aiming square 0.55" apart. Ammo was Winchester Ranger 125-grain .357 SIG. A spent .45 ACP hardball case (arrow) heads toward camera as Mas shoots a 300/300 qualification with Glock 30 in Arkansas. twice gave me 5-shot groups that measured 7/8" center-to-center, once from the bench and once from the barricade, and both at 25 yards. In addition to the double captive recoil spring, the Glock .45 barrels are built with more “flats” in their polygonal rifling than Glocks in the other calibers, and this seems to work very well with that size bullet. I usually shot the bigger Glocks when I chose the brand in competition, just because I thought they’d be faster since they fit my hand better and had a longer sight radius. I began to question that when I won a couple of matches with the G30, a “police shoot” and an IDPA match shooting against fullsize 1911 .45s in the Custom Defense Pistol division, and won an IDPA Stock Service Pistol division event with a Glock 26 that I shot just for the hell of it. And then I saw an interesting phenomenon in GSSF. Danny Ryan runs the GSSF (Glock Sport Shooting Foundation) section 8 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • M A R C H 2 0 1 3