How To Rack Your Handgun Slide Like A Boss

Rack [rak]
verb

  1. to torture; distress acutely; torment: (His body was racked with pain.)
  2. to strain by physical force or violence.
  3. to strain beyond what is normal or usual.
This Beretta PX4 .40 S&W has a strong recoil spring, so proper racking technique is important. First, Keep the gun close to your body to gain leverage.

This Beretta PX4 .40 S&W has a strong recoil spring, so proper racking technique is important. First, Keep the gun close to your body to gain leverage.

In the shooting realm, rack has a different meaning (although the classic definitions of torture, strain and torment still apply for some people). For shooters, rack simply means to cycle the slide of a semi-auto handgun manually. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, racking the slide is a source of pain, angst and frustration for many new shooters. Far too often, it causes people to make buying decisions that compromise what the really wanted for a model with an easier slide racking motion.

What if I were to tell you that anyone can easily rack most any slide using the right technique? Alright, that’s a pretty bold statement, and I realize there will always be some exceptions. Heck, right now I’m battling a shoulder injury that has me reduced to a whimpering puddle of whine and complain. But for the vast majority of folks, technique, body mechanics and simple physics make all the difference when it comes to successful racking.

First, let’s clarify racking, so we’re all on the same page. Racking the slide refers to the procedure of smartly (that’s a power word, isn’t it?) pulling the slide back in order to eject an empty cartridge case (if present) from the chamber. The passive part of racking refers to releasing the slide, allowing it to sling back into position, picking up and loading a new cartridge on the way. As you can tell by the description, racking applies to semi-automatic pistols, not revolvers.

If you use a semi-automatic pistol, effortless racking is a critical skill. Sure, it’s required to load the first round in the chamber. Just as importantly, it’s used to empty the gun after the magazine is removed. Racking is often required to clear a malfunction, and if you compete, it’s how you show the range safety officer that your gun is clear after completing a stage.

So why does racking the slide give so many people grief?

I think it’s a result of the curse of opposable thumbs.

Since we have them (opposable thumbs), we want to use them and pinch things between our opposable thumb and index finger – like babies noses, hors d’oeuvres and pennies. Unfortunately, we also want to pinch things like the back of pistol slides to draw them away from the frame. It’s only natural.

Here’s the problem. Thumb and index finger muscles are tiny and weak, at least compared to other muscles in the body.

Keeping that in mind, let’s walk through a simple way to use bigger muscles, the mass of your body and motion to rack even the most difficult slide. After all, we’re much stronger than recoil springs, so it’s just a matter of technique.

Read the rest at Beretta USA.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

How To Choose The Best Handgun For You

The good news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices. The bad news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices!

The good news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices. The bad news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices!

What defines the “right” gun for you?

The “right” gun is the most powerful one with which you can hit your target consistently. If that’s a .22 caliber pistol, then so be it. A .22 pistol that hits your intended target is more effective than a .45 caliber that misses. Make no mistake, bigger and more powerful is always better for self-defense, right up to the point where you can still safely and properly handle the gun. But many new shooters need time, training and experience to reach their “full-power” potential. Start with what you can control and move up from there.

Bigger is actually better.

There is an assumed myth that large guns are too much to handle. First, let’s define two types of “large.” The first type is large size – as in length, height, width and weight. The second type of “large” refers to caliber or power. For the first type of “large” bigger is actually better. Here’s why. Remember that guy Newton? Not Wayne Newton, the older, English one. He figured that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So let’s consider an extreme example. If you fire, say, a 9mm bullet from a 1 ounce pocket wonder gun, the same force as the 9mm bullet going 1,200 feet per second forward will be transmitted backward towards your wonder gun. Weighing only 1 ounce, it’s probably going to fly at you like a drunk pterodactyl. Now, think about firing the same 9mm bullet from a 20 gajillion metric-ton pistol. The same force is being transmitted backwards, but you’re not going to feel that gun move very much. All this goes to illustrate that while the recoil force of a given cartridge is the same, a larger gun will “soak it up” a bit more and the shot will feel less forceful to the shooter. Here’s how it all nets out. A cute and portable 10 ounce pocket pistol will kick like an ill-tempered mule. The same cartridge fired from a full-size steel handgun will be quite comfortable to shoot. Make sense? So, don’t choose a smaller caliber just because you tried a pocket cannon that weighs 4 ounces. Try a larger gun in the same caliber first. As you become more experienced, you can reduce the size and weight of the gun you carry with your chosen caliber.

Choose your own gun!

Ladies, we’re generally speaking to you here. Husbands or boyfriends are NOT allowed to choose a gun for you! It’s important for you to choose your own. The very best way to do this is to invest in the last item on this list – spending some quality time with a trainer. Preferably without your significant other there.

Try it on for size.

Just because a gun does not have room for all of your fingers, that doesn't mean the fit is wrong.

Just because a gun does not have room for all of your fingers, that doesn’t mean the fit is wrong.

Just like a pair of boots or that cute little cocktail dress, you’ve got to try it on before you buy. It has to feel great in your hand. Even if you are not able to test shoot it, check to make sure that the grip fits your hand comfortably. Can you reach the trigger without stretching or changing your grip? Does your trigger finger rub along the side of the gun? If so, the grip is too large for you. Can you operate the controls easily with a normal grip? Can you rack the slide without weight training? If the answer is “no” don’t rule out that gun just yet. See our tips on racking the slide like a pro. Using that technique, just about anyone can manage just about any modern pistol slide. Check out our article on how to make sure your handgun fits you for more information.

Carefully consider whether the price is right.

Most consumer product buying decisions don’t have life and death consequences. Except of course Shake Weights. With guns, your life may very well depend on the quality of gun you buy. This is not a place to save a few bucks for the cheapest gun out there. The good news is that modern gun manufacturing techniques allow gun makers to produce fantastically reliable guns at very reasonable prices. If you stick with a big brand name, it’s hard to go wrong these days. If your friend’s cousin Cleetus bought a lathe and wants to make you a pistol, run, don’t walk away.

Think about ammunition availability.

You also may want to consider availability of accessories like these Crimson Trace light and laser products. More popular guns will have more accessory options.

You also may want to consider availability of accessories like these Crimson Trace light and laser products. More popular guns will have more accessory options.

We’ve run across a lot of people who have bought some super-cheap surplus gun for self-defense. At deal time, buying a gun that was used in the battle of Stalingrad sounds charming and pocketbook-friendly. However, when it comes time to find self-defense ammunition, things aren’t so rosy. Sure you can get 64-year-old crates of surplus war ammo, but finding modern expanding ammunition that is safe and reliable is about as easy as getting Dianne Feinstein to speak at the NRA Annual Meeting.

Try before you buy!

The very best way to buy your first gun is to hire an instructor for an hour or so and ask him or her to bring a few different guns. Any experienced instructor will have a variety of guns. If they don’t, look for a new instructor! Have them show you some of the basic shooting skills with a couple of different guns. You’ll quickly see what you like – and what you don’t. As an added bonus, having a qualified instructor supervise you will ensure that you are handling each type of gun correctly so you can make a fair appraisal. Many a fine gun has been tossed aside when a new shooter didn’t know how to handle it properly.

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

How To Make Sure Your Handgun Fits You

Today’s handguns come in more shapes and sizes than a random assortment of Wal-Mart Thanksgiving sale shoppers. Not only that, many modern handguns come with replaceable grip panels so you can adjust the size to fit.

When deciding what’s best for you, comfort is a factor, but it’s not the definitive method of fitting a handgun. Just because one grip or another “feels good” doesn’t mean that you’ve got a proper fit. To be sure, you’ll want to check a couple of other things to help you decide which gun, or grip panel configuration, is right for you.

Trigger finger placement

Some experts will insist that you should press trigger with the pad of your index finger. Other equally credible experts insist that you should use the first joint in your index finger. Some of the difference in opinion stems from the anticipated “style” of shooting. Are you at a range doing slow and methodical shots? Or perhaps you plan to compete in bullseye target competition? Or you want to take up action shooting sports? Or maybe your interest is pure combat or self-defense. I don’t particularly care which trigger press placement you prefer. Settle on one, then let’s check to see if your guns grip size is too big or small.

With a very, very unloaded gun, assume a normal firing grip and point at a safe backstop. Now move your finger to the trigger as if you’re going to fire. Hold that position.

I want you to look at the lower portion of your index finger – the area from where it plugs into your palm up to the first joint. When your trigger finger is ready to press, do you see daylight between the gun and your finger?

Notice the gap between my whole index finger and the side of the gun. If I press the trigger correctly, only the tip of my finger will move against the gun.

Notice the gap between my whole index finger and the side of the gun. If I press the trigger correctly, only the tip of my finger will move against the gun.

If your finger looks something like the picture here, you’re good to go. If the bottom surface of your lower index finger is pressed against the side of the gun, you’re having to reach for the trigger. This means that your grip is too large for your hand size. That matters because as you flex your finger to press the trigger, your index finger will be contacting the side of your gun and gently encouraging it to move off target! The good news is that if you’re a lousy shot, you can blame the fit of your gun.

Alignment with your arm bone

This second test is a little less obvious. At the range, I see all sorts of shooters struggling with accuracy and ability to control recoil as a result of a crooked arm / gun relationship.

What does this mean? It’s simple. When you hold your gun in a firing grip, with your trigger finger placed to pass test one above, the gun barrel should be in perfect alignment with your “radi-ulni.” That’s short hand for the two bones in your forearm – the radius and ulna. You don’t just want the gun barrel to be parallel to these two bones, you want it to be a direct linear extension of these bones.

If your gun grip is too large for you, there will be a necessary tendency for you to grasp the gun so that the web of your hand wraps around towards the trigger, so your index finger can reach. This means that your thumb moves around and is directly behind the gun. Check out this picture to see an exaggerated view of what I mean.

If you have to “reach around” the grip to get your finger on the trigger, you might end up supporting the back of the gun with your thumb! Note how the gun will recoil in a direction with no support. Also, you’re fighting the natural pointing position of your arm.

If you have to “reach around” the grip to get your finger on the trigger, you might end up supporting the back of the gun with your thumb! Note how the gun will recoil in a direction with no support. Also, you’re fighting the natural pointing position of your arm. That means you’ll miss more.

With a properly fitted grip, you won’t need to reach around to get proper access to the trigger. Your natural alignment will look more like this.

Here’s what you want to see. Everything is in one straight line. You’ll control recoil better and have more natural ability to aim. Why is this so important? In the first photo, you can see that when the gun recoils, it’s going to press right against your thumb. There’s not much body mass in your thumb to control that recoiling gun, and you’ll feel the recoil. More importantly, your gun will be likely to jump radically off target with each shot.

Here’s what you want to see. Everything is in one straight line. You’ll control recoil better and have more natural ability to aim.

Why is this so important? In the first photo, you can see that when the gun recoils, it’s going to press right against your thumb. There’s not much body mass in your thumb to control that recoiling gun – even if you’re all thumbs. You’ll really feel that recoil. More importantly, your gun will be likely to jump radically off target with each shot.

By aligning the bigger and heavier parts of your body directly behind the recoil impulse of the pistol, your body mass controls the recoil. Additionally, the gun benefits from your natural pointing direction. If you close your eyes and try to point your fist at something, you’ll notice that your arm bones end up pointed directly at your target. Why not make the gun a simple extension of that natural process?

So pick up your verified unloaded handgun and try these two tests. If you struggle with either, try a different gun. Or, if yours has an adjustable grip, try a different size.

 

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

How To Deal With Gun Terminology Snobs

Half-Cocked: Gun Terminology Gone BadWe’re not going to get wrapped up too much in the specifics of proper gun terminology. It can be intimidating and quite frankly, it’s not all that important as long as people know what you’re trying to say. But we will try to be accurate most of the time so you have the full picture.

Right off the bat, we’re going to run into a problematic situation. You see, some gun folks are so darn persnickety about using the correct words that someone, somewhere, is bound to correct you on your use of a gun word. Maybe you’ll walk into a gun store and ask if they carry extra clips for your Springfield XD handgun. Or perhaps you’ll refer to your Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight as a “pistol”. Do they know what you mean? Yes. Is it really necessary to cop an attitude and correct you? No.

Here’s one way to deal with that kind of thing should you walk into a gun store and get the terminology treatment…

You: Hi! I have a question…

Surly Gun Store Clerk: (Ignores you and continues talking to the gun shop groupies behind the counter)

You: Ummm, hello! I was wondering if you could help me out?

Clerk: Yeah, what?

You: I need to see if you have some extra clips for my new Glock.

Clerk: (Slowly turns to friends and does a full-body eye roll…) No, sorry, we don’t.

You: Aren’t these Glock clips here in the display case?

Clerk: Nope, those are magazines.

You: Well, do you have any that fit a Glock 17?

Clerk: Yeah.

You: Bless your heart… Now will you be a dear and sell me some of those MAGAZINES?

See what you did there? Here in the south, the phrase “bless your heart” loosely translates into something along the lines of “you’re really a clueless jerk, aren’t you?” The beauty is that you can say it with a bit of an accent and dripping with more sweetness than an extra large Chick-Fil-A iced tea. It’s a beautiful solution to many of life’s challenges. While we’re on magazines, let’s define “magazine” and “clip.”

Gun Terminology Alert!

Magazines and Clips

You know how you can spot a high school prom couple at an exclusive restaurant? Like when the pimply mannish boy requests A-1 Steak Sauce with his Chateaubriand?  Well, there’s a similar thing in shooting – when people carelessly throw around words like clip.

Clips and magazines are both legitimate shooting related objects. While sometimes subtle, there are differences.

A clip is a device used to hold cartridges for the purpose of storage, packing, and easy loading into a magazine. Clips were a big deal back when the world had anger issues expressed by frequent large-scale wars. Five or ten rounds of ammo might be attached to a clip, which would allow a soldier to slide the rounds into the magazine of his rifle or handgun quickly and easily. Clips are still used today. Some .223 or 5.56 ammunition comes on clips to make it easier to load lots of rounds into a magazine at once.

A magazine is the container that holds cartridges for the purpose of feeding them into the chamber of a firearm. Magazines can be built into the gun, as with many rifles, or they can be removable, as with most semi-automatic pistols and AR type rifles. That thing that falls out the bottom of a Glock? That’s a magazine.

Confused? No problem. We’ve got a near fail-safe tip for you. These days you’re pretty safe referring to most things that hold bullets as a magazine. More often than not, you’ll be correct referring to it that way.

Read more about guns and shooting, in plain English, in our newest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition.

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: An Undisciplined Muzzle

Discipline is one of those words that, more often than not, conjures up unpleasant thoughts.

Muzzle-discipline-laser

Imagining a giant lightsaber extending from your muzzle helps you think about where that muzzle is pointing!

When you’re trying to enjoy a quiet dinner date at Applebee’s, undisciplined children at nearby tables can ruin the ambiance and atmosphere you tried so hard to obtain with your careful choice of a romantic restaurant. Of course my own children were never undisciplined in public places. Just ask them about the “you better stop that tantrum right now because we’re in public” secret pinch. As soon as they get out of therapy, they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about that.

As I live in Charleston, South Carolina, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pat Conroy’s epic novel, The Lords of Discipline. While a fantastic read, that book is filled is bad imagery of discipline gone wild. Spoiler Alert: While seemingly polite and disciplined, Tradd St. Croix turns out to be a bad guy who was disciplined ineffectively as a child.

And of course, there’s Piers Morgan. Talk about an undisciplined muzzle! If he was really disciplined, perhaps be would have celebrated Independence Day by independently deciding to go back to his old job in England fabricating the news.  But that’s beside the point.

Most disciplinary issues are simply annoying. When it comes to gun muzzles, disciplinary failures can be really, really bad.

So what is muzzle discipline? Simply put, it’s making sure that the muzzle of your gun obeys your safe intent – at all times – no matter what. It can never, ever, ever point at anything you’re not willing to destroy, not even for a split-second.

Every time I take a new shooter to the range, I give them a lecture about Obi Wan Kenobi. I have them pretend that their gun has an infinitely long light saber inside the barrel. This light saber is always on and swishes through the air as an extension of the barrel, destroying everything it crosses. Besides being  cool fantasy, this imagery seems to help people understand that “pointing” a gun at something is more than just aiming deliberately. Pointing involves every movement of the gun. That means every movement from table or holster to shooting position and back. And removing the gun from a case and putting it back. And handling it for cleaning. And showing your buddy. And any other movement.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

A Brief History of Guns, The Early Years…

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s part of the Insanely Practical Guides series and is loaded with light-hearted education, lots of helpful photos and some comedic relief. Hope you enjoy!

Before there were guns...

Before there were guns…

Guns have been annoying politicians longer than you might think. Before we jump into modern day firearm knowledge, let’s take a look at the long and winding road of gun history…

1,100 BC

Legends of the earliest known uses of guns have been passed down through generations of Zoran women. Historians believe that many women folk of Zorah, then near Philistine, gushed and swooned at the sight of Samson’s guns. According to the folklore, Samson had two guns, of exceptionally large caliber. Also according to history, he used those guns on more than one occasion – smiting at least one lion and many Philistine warriors. Sadly, the Zoran Congress, led by Senator Delilah of Timna, Philistia, soon enacted an assault hair ban and Samson was stripped of his guns.

 

1250 AD

Most historians believe that the key ingredient required to make all those useless guns work was invented around this time. In fact, NRA National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica claims that Franciscan monk Roger Bacon wrote of the mixture shortly before 1250 A.D. That was an awfully long time ago – just after the birth of Joan Rivers.

Anyway, according to Bacon’s ancient texts, the lute and dulcimer trio of Guns and Roses discovered gunpowder while searching for better ways to wow the crowd at outdoor concerts. The forward-thinking band found that a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and salt peter provided plenty of noise and flash for bitchin’ stage theatrics. Salt Peter, Saint Peter’s long-lost stepbrother, was not at all happy about this recipe and he immediately started work on development of smokeless powders that did not require any of his bodily parts. Progress was slow as smokeless powder was not invented until the late 19th century.

 

1300

The earliest cannons appeared on the scene. After all, what good was the newly invented gunpowder without something to shoot it from? Early cannons were quite simple – nothing more than a tube open on one end and closed at the other. A small hole near the closed end allowed cannoneers to light a powder charge inside. Crudely constructed from iron, wood and sometimes Mighty Putty, these weapons applied the same basic principles used by guns today.

 

1350

While loud and impressive, early cannons did little to meet self-defense requirements. Since gun holsters had not yet been invented, concealed carry was not feasible. Hunting with the newly invented firearms was also problematic as many animals were reluctant to stand in front of cannons long enough to be converted to SPAM. In response to complaints of supermarket butchers everywhere, the “hand-gonne” was invented. Simply a downsized cannon mounted on a pole, the hand-gonne struggled for popularity mainly because no one knew how to pronounce the word “gonne.”

 

1400 to 1639

Clearing up name confusion, people stopped making “hand-gonnes” and replaced them with matchlocks and wheellocks. Matchlock guns featured an exposed flash pan filled with fine – and easy to ignite – priming powder, which would light the main charge to fire the gun. A dangling, and lit, fuse was suspended over the flashpan. A mechanical linkage was used to lower the smoldering fuse into the highly combustible flash pan. Occasionally, the matchlocks would fire when the user wanted, but usually before, after or not at all.

 

1526

The gun company Beretta is founded in the Foccacia region of Italy, in a town called Brescia. Having made guns prior to this date, company founder Ben Cartwright achieves his first commercial success with production of 185 Arquebus Matchlock barrels for the Arsenal of Venice. The British Secret Service, Double-0 branch, is issued the 186th Arquebus. England quietly canceled the Double-0 program when it was discovered that matchlock rifles concealed poorly under dinner jackets.

 

1640

The first kinda, sorta reliable flintlock was built. Some astute marketers even guaranteed their flintlocks to be 31% reliable, 67% of the time. Offering major advancements in luxury and comfort, such as heated drivers-side seats, the flintlock allowed shooters to carry their guns pretty much anywhere, except schools and government buildings, of course. As the flintlock features a covered flash pan for priming powder, users could even take their guns into rainy conditions. No longer would major World Wars endure rain delays, thereby minimizing network television scheduling challenges.

As a side note, the phrase “keep your powder dry” came into vogue during the flintlock era. As guns of the time relied on ignition of two separate powder charges – one in the flash pan and one in the barrel – keeping powder dry and flammable was a requirement of guns going bang instead of fzzzlpphhtt.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: Bleeding All Over the Range

Crossed thumbs shooting grip

This grip technique may cause you to bleed all over the shooting range. Not recommended.

This week’s Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting Tip involves keeping (most) of your body parts attached.

Specifically, we’re talking about your thumbs. You see, opposable thumbs are one of the things that give us humans a real advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom when it comes to important things like opening Pringle’s cans and getting those straws into juice boxes without making a big mess.

Dan Akroyd Julia Child SNL

Don’t do this! Image: NBC / Saturday Night Live

Admittedly, the odds of actually slicing off one or more thumbs is fairly low, but the wrong thumb position may cause you to bleed all over the shooting range. We don’t recommend it. I can share this new-shooter tip from a vantage point of, ummm, let’s call it personal experience.

Remember Ghostbusters? And how it’s really bad to cross the streams of the Proton Pack particle accelerators? Well there’s a similar rule of thumb (pun fully intended) for shooting semi-automatic pistols. Don’t cross your thumbs as in the picture. Sooner or later, that thing called a slide is going zoom backwards at Warp 17 and slice the dickens out of the webby, sensitive skin between your thumb and your index finger. Again, trust me, I know this from experience. And as a side note, the bottom of the slide on a Series 1 Colt Woodsman is really, really sharp. Just as a disclaimer, this happened a really long time ago – back when I thought I did not need any instruction on how to properly shoot a pistol. Don’t worry, I’ve learned many things the hard way since then.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

New Book: The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

If you’re thinking about buying a gun, are new to shooting, or have had a gun forever but just want a refresher, this book is for you. Heck, even if you know a lot about guns, it’s still entertaining – to read yourself or give to a friend.

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

In light-hearted style, it will give you easy-to-understand and insanely practical tips about topics including:

  • Types of guns
  • Gun safety tips
  • Things to consider when choosing a gun
  • How to buy a gun
  • How to handle a gun
  • Getting started: A fistful of shooting tips
  • What to expect at the shooting range and what to bring
  • What you need to know about ammunition
  • How to clean your gun
  • Cheat sheet resources to help you find training, ranges and local gun stores

We’ll help you make sense out of all that complicated gun stuff while having a laugh or two. From the chapter “Gun Holsters – Do It Right!”

“Far too many new gun owners purchase a really nice gun, but then skimp on the quality of their holster. Seriously? You wouldn’t drink a Louis Roederer, 1990 Cristal Brut from a red Solo cup. Unless of course you’re attending a Real Housewives of Yulee, FL baby shower. If you’ve been invited to carry the Dubai First Royale MasterCard, you certainly wouldn’t whip it out at the Monte Carlo Van Cleef & Arpels from a velcro wallet. Unless you’re total nouveau riche like Justin Bieber. So why do people think it’s no big deal to buy a $9.95 holster from K-Mart for their brand new gun? It’s not like it’s a life and death investment. Or is it?”

Why do you need “The Rookie’s Guide To Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition?” Go to any shooting range and observe what happens when folks show up without knowing the first thing about their new gun. Not only will you be safe by comparison, you’ll look like a seasoned pro.

The editors at MyGunCulture.com have painstakingly documented all the experiences, mistakes and learnings we’ve seen over the years. In other words, we’ve tried just about everything. We’ve had great successes. We’ve experienced colossal failures. We’ve listened to so many gun show huckster sales pitches that the late Billy Mays would be impressed. And the result? “The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition.”

Loaded with pictures and the comedic illustrations, this book will tell you just about everything you need to know to get started with the shooting sports.

Enjoy!

 

Gun Review: Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Pistol

Suggested Retail Price: $1,345.00 www.springfield-armory.com

The Springfield Armory EMP – What’s in a name?

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Enhanced Micro Pistol gold dot ammo

The Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Pistol

Contrary to popular belief, the Springfield Armory EMP will not generate a burst of Electro-Magnetic Pulse radiation, thereby knocking out any still-operational Chevy Volts on the eastern seaboard.

Nor is it named after the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, originally conceived to recognize the mind-blowing music of Jimi Hendrix.

It’s not related to the Emporia Municipal Airport (EMP) in Lyon Country, Kansas.

Some think that the EMP was named in reference to the Earth Microbiome Project, whose mission is to identify and catalog all microbial life on planet earth. Including those elusive cooties.

And no, the original Springfield Armory EMP design was not sketched out on a cocktail napkin at New York’s swanky Eleven Madison Park Restaurant.

While closer to home, it’s not an homage to the Erma EMP-35 submachine gun manufactured by Germany from 1930 to 1938. While it’s a 9mm also, the Springfield Armory EMP has no full auto selector. Nor does it have a 32 round magazine like the EMP-35.

Give up?

It’s the Springfield Armory EMPEnhanced Micro Pistol – chambered in 9mm or .40 S&W.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm features

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm ambidextrous safety

The Springfield Armory EMP features ambidextrous safety levers

Like the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP we recently reviewed, the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm is loaded with custom features and extras. A dollar store handgun this is not. You will get what you pay for in feature set and quality of construction.

The Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol was designed from the ground up to function reliably with the shorter cartridge size of the 9mm and .40 S&W rounds. With a wide variety of 9mm ammo we tested (outlined in more detail below) we did not experience any function problems from the first round on. The Enhanced Micro Pistol demonstrated no ammunition preference in terms of reliability. Other small 9mm pistols have been known to require certain projectile weights or weight / power combinations in order to function, so we found the ammunition indifference to be a big plus with the Springfield Armory EMP.

Like the Springfield Armory TRP, the Springfield Armory EMP, or Enhanced Micro Pistol, features fully ambidextrous safety levers. Both are extended, but the right hand lever is ever-so-slightly narrower. Most likely to favor the majority of shooters who are right-handed. In our testing, we did not find the right hand lever to get in the way of holsters, nor did it hang up on clothing when carrying concealed.

Springfield Armory EMP does not use a barrel bushing

The EMP design does not use a barrel bushing. Barrel to frame fit is tight with no discernible movement.

The sights are steel and mounted front and back via dovetail cuts, so they are easily adjustable for windage. No adjustment was necessary on our test gun – with all ammo tested, windage was dead on comparing point of aim and point of impact. Like the TRP, the sights are manufactured by Springfield Armory, but are supplied with Trijicon tritium inserts. The ramped rear sight has two tritium dots while the front sight features a single tritium dot.

The magazine release button is checkered, and due to the reduced grip size, we found it easy to activate without changing our firing grip. Magazines drop freely from the EMP to facilitate rapid mag changes.

The trigger is aluminum and features three hole cutouts for a bit of weight reduction, but mainly to add to its sexy appearance. There is an adjustable over-travel screw. The EMP came from the factory with no detectable over-travel, but if you like a little, feel free to adjust.

Springfield Armory EMP accessories and case

The Springfield Armory EMP includes 3 magazines, holster, dual magazine carrier, a lockable hard case, and more.

The frame and slide are well-rounded and optimized for carry. The back strap is checkered, while the front strap is smooth. The EMP features and extended beavertail and the grip safety offers a memory bump that makes safety disengagement positive. During our testing, we had no issues getting reliable and consistent grip safety disengagement, regardless of grip style.

Springfield Armory does a swell job of providing lots of goodies in the box. You’ll get the pistol of course, You’ll also get 3 magazines manufactured by Mec-Gar for Springfield Armory. These are embossed with a large EMP logo to help you keep them straight from any other 1911 magazines you may have lying around. You’ll also find a kydex paddle-style belt holster and dual magazine carrier. And of course a cleaning brush, instructions, a coupon sheet for lot’s of discounted accessories like extra factory magazines, a couple of keys for the integral lock, and allen wrenches for sight adjustment and grip removal. All of this comes packaged in a custom foam-lined and lockable hard plastic case.

You look marvelous darling!

One of the things that drew us to the Springfield EMP 9mm for a full evaluation is it’s appearance. Yes, we’re that shallow. We’ll test just about any gun if it looks hot at the range.

Springfield Armory EMP frame front strap cocobolo grips

The Springfield Armory EMP 9mm is one great looking pistol. The cocobolo grip panels really complement the matte black frame and satin stainless steel frame.

The grips are a thing of beauty. We’ve always been suckers for nice wooden grips. The Springfield Armory EMP features Cocobolo hardwood grips. As everyone know, Cocobolo is a tropical hardwood derived from the heart of the dalbergia retusa tree. In fact, if you hold the grips up to your ear, you can hear the ocean and smell pina coladas. More importantly, Cocobolo is not only beautiful and sexy, it’s hard, durable and loaded with oils. The oils serve to protect the wood from water, sweat, cleaning solvents, and other abuses. The grips are checkered, except for smooth diamond-shaped areas around the mounting screws. There is also a really sooper dooper Springfield Armory logo embossed into each grip. Did I mention that these grips look marvelous?

The frame is constructed from forged aluminum alloy with a black-anodized hard-coat finish. With the 1,000 or so rounds we’ve shot and plenty of daily carry, we’ve not had any issues with scratching or chips.

The slide is forged stainless steel. It’s got a satin finish. In average Joe’s English, satin finish translates to not shiny.  We observed at least two practical benefits from the satin stainless finish. First, the top of the slide does not produce glare in sunny conditions. The front and rear sights are a black matte finish, so visibility in bright conditions is great. A second benefit is that the satin finish hides things that might detract from the EMP’s marvelous appearance. Fingerprints don’t show, holster wear will be nearly invisible, and micro-abuses will be subdued in appearance.

The aluminum trigger finish matches that of the slide, so it makes for a nice visual complement.

What can we say? The EMP looks marvelous!

Note: The Springfield Armory EMP is also available with the same frame and slide finish, but with grey-toned G10 grips for extra durability. The G10 model is also a fantastic looking gun – just a tad more tactical in appearance.

9+1 capacity

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm magazines

The Springfield Armory EMP ships with 3 magazines.

There are at least two benefits to having a 1911 platform gun chambered in 9mm. First, you can make it smaller, as evidenced by the Springfield Armory EMP. The smaller diameter and shorter overall length of the 9mm cartridge allows for a grip that is both shorter front to back and narrower side to side. The second bennie is that you can fit more bullets into the same amount of space, all other things being equal.

One thing to note, if you’re topping off the full 9 in the mag plus 1 in the chamber load, don’t be a sissy when you seat the magazine. Inserting a magazine full with 9 rounds into the EMP with a loaded chamber requires a vigorous spank. This is a good habit with any gun as many undesirable malfunctions are caused by improperly seated magazines. If your smack a full magazine into an EMP, it will seat with a satisfying and positive click, so no worries there. Just don’t coddle it. It’s a gun after all and designed to be handled with authority and confidence.

The EMP’s three included magazines are manufactured in Italy by Mec-Gar especially of the Springfield Armory EMP. One side is stamped accordingly while the other features a large EMP logo. One minor frustration with the EMP magazines is the lack of witnessing holes to see how many rounds are loaded in the magazine. Even one hole towards the bottom that allowed a quick visual confirmation of full magazine status would be nice to have.

Shooting the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm pistol

We headed to the range on several occasions to run the EMP through its paces. The velocity testing was done after two previous range trips where we had put about 200 rounds through the Springfield Armory EMP. As a side note, no cleaning has been done to date. Just because we’re curious to see how long it will go without getting finicky.

Here are the results:

Load

Springfield Armory EMP
(3” barrel)

Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ TAC-XP 95 grain 1,360
CorBon 9mm +P JHP 115 grain  1,228
Federal 9mm FMJ Round Nose 115 grain  1,097
Federal Hydra-Shock 9mm +P+ 124 grain  1,094
Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115 grain 1,041
Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P 135 grain 1,120
Remington UMC 9mm 115 grain 1,108
Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P Short Barrel 124 grain 1,159
TulAmmo 9mm FMJ 115 grain  1,106
Winchester PDX1 9mm +P 124 grain 1,147
Winchester Target 9mm 115 grain 1,069

We really like the handling of the Springfield Armory EMP chambered in 9mm. While we did a lot of general target shooting and good old-fashioned plinking, what was most enlightening was running through some simple practice drills. We shot the Dot Torture drill a number of times to get a more subjective indication of how the Springfield Armory EMP feels.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm ammo left side

We tried a wide variety of 9mm self defense and practice ammo with the Springfield Armory EMP

If you’re not already familiar, the Dot Torture drill is a series of 50 shots at small targets placed 3-5 yards downrange. The sequence of shooting requires the shooter to fire two-handed, strong hand only, weak hand only, perform target transitions with single and double-tap shots, and perform reloads between targets. In other words, it’s kind of like a complete practice session in a box. Shoot a Dot Torture drill and you’ll spend a bit of time on a number of different shooting fundamentals. You’ll also get a good feel of how a handgun “feels” with several different shooting scenarios. We found it easy to complete the Dot Torture drill with the EMP.

Here’s why.

The 9mm chambering helps a lot, but what really makes the EMP a pussycat to shoot is the ability to get a full and comfortable grip. It’s a compact pistol, but none of our shooters had any trouble getting all fingers placed firmly on the grip. The result is a pistol that is very gentle to shoot and this made a noticeable difference with the Dot Torture double tap shot strings. It was easy to place multiple rounds virtually on top of each other at high-speed and with relative ease.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm trigger

The EMP’s aluminum trigger features and overtravel adjustment screw.

The sight picture is excellent. The sharp cuts of the rear notch and front sight make for a crisp and fast to acquire sight picture. The tritium filled tubes are outlined in either white or metal (hard to tell) and stand out fine in daylight.

Just as a side observation, the beavertail grip safety allows for high hand placement. We found that one can shoot the EMP with the strong hand thumb either riding on top of the frame safety lever or below. If you choose to place your thumb below, you won’t risk advertently bumping the safety upwards. We’ve seen this on some 1911′s, but the contour of the Springfield Armory EMP seems to prevent this.

The checkering and grip surfaces are designed with carry in mind. While the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP we recently reviewed was clearly designed for tactical use with sharp checkering and heavily textured G10 grip panels, the Springfield Armory EMP achieves more of a balance between comfort and grip. The back of the mainspring housing is checkered while the front of the grip is smooth. The Cocobolo wood grips have mildly aggressive checkering, so you can carry the EMP using an inside the waistband holster without rubbing any nearby love handles raw. Even with the toned-down textures, we had no problem keeping a firm and stable grip through fast strings of fire.

How to field strip and clean a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm pistol

With a couple of minor exceptions, field stripping a Springfield is like field stripping any other 1911 design pistol. The Springfield Armory EMP uses a dual spring, captive mechanism which adds a bit of a trick to fully field stripping the pistol.  To relieve spring tension and make things a lot easier on the fingers, Springfield Armory includes a plastic takedown assist bushing piece that greatly facilitates ease of takedown. You can remove the slide with or without the takedown assist piece, but it will be hard on the fingers to remove the spring assembly and barrel from the slide without it.

Here’s how you do it.

Springfield Armory EMP takedown piece

First, after making double-secret sure that the gun is fully unloaded (chamber too!), pull the slide back to expose some of the guide rod. When enough is exposed, snap the takedown assist piece into place. That’s shown in the next photo.

Springfield Armory EMP takedown piece step one

The takedown assist bushing is designed to hold the spring in the right position for takedown, while being small enough in diameter to pull back through the slide opening. Now remove the slide just like you would with any standard 1911. Pull the slide backward until the round takedown notch is directly above the slide lock tab. Remove the slide lock lever and slide the slide off the front of the pistol.

 Springfield Armory EMP takedown piece spring

Since you used the takedown assist bushing piece in step one, it will be easy to pull the spring assembly out.

Springfield Armory EMP remove spring assembly

Pull the spring assembly out towards the back of the slide.
 Springfield Armory EMP takedown remove barrel Now the barrel can be removed through the front of the slide. As the Springfield Armory EMP has no barrel bushing, you don’t need to worry about that.

There you have it!

To put things back together, simply reverse the order. When you’ve got the slide back on and slide stop lever replaced, snap the takedown assist piece off and store it in a safe place for next time.

Closing arguments

Here’s the quick summary.

Springfield Armory EMP size with Springfield Armory TRP 1911

The Springfield Armory EMP is designed for the smaller 9mm and .40 S&W cartridge length. Shown here next to a full sized 1911.

If we could wave a magic feature enhancement wand, there are only two things we would change on the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. First, it would be great to simplify field stripping. It’s not hard when you use the included takedown assist bushing, but chances are that thing is going to get lost at some point. Is this a big deal? Not really, as the EMP is not a finicky gun. We didn’t clean it at all until it had about 1,000 rounds through it – and we had no problems whatsoever with function. So it’s not a high maintenance gun that will have to be cleaned after every range outing. Second, we would love to have one or more holes in the magazines to easily check round count. The magazines are well made and solid as a rock, but you can’t easily verify that they are filled to maximum capacity.

The form factor is a great tradeoff between size and self-defense capacity. Overall size is smaller than a compact Glock 19, but it still provides 9+1 rounds of 9mm. It’s thin, well-rounded where it needs to be, and therefore exceptionally easy to carry. We used it a lot with various inside the waistband holsters and it virtually disappears.

Where the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm shines is with its handling. Simply put, it’s a joy to shoot. The combination of smooth grip panel checkering, backstrap checkering, and a smooth front strap provides for a firm grip, but without sacrifice of concealed carry comfort with inside the waistband holsters. The trigger is fantastic. Adjustable for over travel and crisp, it’s easy to hit things with the EMP. The ambidextrous safety levers are crisp and easy to reach. While we wouldn’t classify the EMP as a heavy pistol, it does a great job of soaking up recoil from full powered 9mm self-defense loads. Clearly the dual spring design has a lot to do with that, as does the near perfect contour of the frame.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! This gun carries, shoots, and handles like a dream. The grip, trigger, and sights achieve a balance that it makes it easy to hit your intended target. For all of its beautiful handling attributes, the real value of the Springfield Armory EMP is the confidence it inspires.
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Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig – Glock 357 Sauce Anyone?

Add some zest to your shooting with Glock 357 sauce

I used to be a lousy shot. Until I tried Glock 357 sauce with the Glock 31 Gen 4 chambered in .357 Sig. I’m still a lousy shot, but I shoot with a lot more zest!

Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 sig handgun review

We found the Glock 31 Gen 4 surprisingly comfortable to shoot – even with full power self defense ammunition.

As you may know, we kind of have a thing for the .357 Sig cartridge – as evidenced by some our our previous work including our review on the Glock 32, CorBon .357 Sig DPX ammo, Federal Premium .357 Sig ammo, and a less serious work with Hornady’s Critical Defense .357 Sig ammo tested head-to-head with a big jar of grape jelly. That one worked out pretty well for all involved, except for the grape jelly.

While our obsession for the .357 Sig round may not be completely rational, one valid reason we like it is the cartridge design itself. Being a bottle-necked pistol cartridge. It just wants to feed easily – like Rosie O’Donnell. The tapered profile of the cartridge, regardless of the shape of the projectile – round nose or hollow point – allows the cartridge to feed into the chamber very, very easily.

We’ve never had any reliability trouble with either the Glock 32 or Glock 31 chambered in .357 Sig. We’ve also found it amazingly insensitive to quality of grip. You can shoot it with a firm grip or the most dramatic limp wrist you can muster and it will work.

With all that said, we were just about as anxious as Lindsay Lohan at a Policeman’s Ball to get our hands on a full-size Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig model.

But first, let’s consider some interesting and useful facts about the Glock 31.

Pop Quiz on the Glock 31

Circle all true statements below.

  1. A number of state highway patrol agencies, including Tennessee and Mississippi rely on the Glock 31 for duty use.
  2. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg secretly carries a Glock 31 in his Kenneth Cole man bag. He calls it a satchel, but let’s face it – it’s a murse. (Tweet This)
  3. .357 Sig rounds launched from a Glock 31 are capable of Mach 17, but can be completely silenced by shooting through a Walmart Premium chuck steak. (Tweet This)
  4. The “SIG” in .357 Sig stands for “Shooting Is Great!”

If you circled number 1 only, you win the prize, the nature of which will be determined as soon as Congress votes itself a pay decrease.

What’s in Glock 357 Sauce? A Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig review

The Glock 31 is a full size model, identical in exterior dimensions to the Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm. It’s 7.95″ long, 5.43″ high, and 1.18″ wide. It features a 4.49″ barrel with 6.5″ between the front and rear sights. The relatively long sight radius is one of the features that makes the Glock 31 Gen 4 easy to shoot well. One notable difference between the Glock 31 and Glock 17 models is the weight. As the .357 Sig round operates at very high pressure, the Glock 31 Gen 4 is just a bit heavier, weighing in at 23.28 ounces unloaded and 33.09 ounces loaded with 15 rounds of .357 Sig ammunition. The Glock 17 is only a tad over one ounce heavier in loaded or unloaded configuration, and compared side by side, we couldn’t tell the difference.

Like the ubiquitous Glock 22, the Glock 31 holds 15 rounds in the magazine. Ubiquitous is a very important word that means ‘it’s all over the place’, kind of like how armor-piercing sand gnats are here in the lowcountry (swamps!) of South Carolina. Add a round to the chamber and you’ve got 16 total rounds in the Glock 31.

Like the other Glock Generation 4 models, the Glock 31 offers a number of enhancements to the Glock 31 Generation 3:

  • As we noted in our Glock 17 Gen 4 review, the magazine release button is significantly enlarged. While a seemingly minor change, it makes a big difference in usability. Ease of dropping a magazine is much improved. The magazine release button is also reversible.
  • The Glock 31 Gen 4 also features interchangeable grip backstraps with 3 size options, allowing the owner to customize fit to their specific hand size.
  • The recoil spring assembly is now a two-part spring. While we did not notice any difference in function from the single spring Glock Gen 3 models, Glock claims that the new spring assemblies will offer longer life cycle and reduced felt recoil. The Glock 31 is certainly a soft shooting gun, but we were only able to compare felt recoil to a Glock 32 Gen 3, which is not an apples to apples comparison given the smaller size and lighter weight of the Glock 32.
  • Also like other Gen 4 models, the Glock 31 Gen 4 features a new and improved grip texture. We really, really like the new feel. While personal preference rules and your opinion may vary, ours is that no grip tape, stippling, or other type of grip enhancement is necessary on the Gen 4 models. It’s solid in the hand and offers a positive feel even when the palms get sweaty.

Our evaluation model was equipped with upgraded Glock night sights. While the standard Glock sites are constructed of polymer with a single dot on the front, and notched rear sight surrounded by a white “U” shaped outline, the Glock night sights are steel construction front and rear. They are also of the 3 dot design, with a single tritium dot in the front and tritium dots on either side of the rear notch. With all the Glock carrying and shooting we’ve done, we’ve never had an issue with the standard polymer sights, but there is a certain, and probably irrational, level of comfort present with the upgraded steel models. Plus you can see them in the dark.

Our evaluation Glock 31 Gen 4 came with standard Glock packaging. You’ll get (3) 15 round magazines, a cleaning rod with brush, two additional grip backstraps for size adjustment, and the obligatory gun lock. This all comes neatly packaged in a Glock hard plastic case.

A serious moment – .357 Sig bullet setback

If you’re to become a .357 Sig cartridge aficionado, then you also need to understand the concept of bullet setback. This issue has nothing to do with the Glock 31 or any other handgun chambered in .357 Sig, but rather the .357 Sig cartridge design itself.

Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig Ammunition expansion

One of the benefits of .357 Sig velocity with the Glock 31 is very reliable expansion

The .357 Sig cartridge is a bottleneck design, much like many rifle cartridges. Bottleneck is a fancy Latin word that translates loosely to looks like a bottle.  (Tweet This)

We mention this because the .357 Sig is a pistol cartridge, and therefore much shorter than a bottle-necked rifle cartridge in all measurements. This becomes important as the straight walls of the top of the cartridge offer less gripping surface area than a traditional straight walled cartridge.

Why should you care about this?

Other than accumulating obscure knowledge of pistol cartridge design, if you’re going to use a gun chambered in .357 Sig, you need to be aware of the potential for bullet setback. If your daily carry and storage method leads to a lot of chamberings and un-chamberings of the same cartridge, i.e. the one at the top of your magazine, there is potential for the bullet to become pushed back in to the cartridge casing itself over time. I say potential because with most quality factory ammunition this is not a serious concern. With cheap stuff, reloaded ammunition, or ammunition that has been cycled repeatedly, you want to keep an eye out for bullet setback.

If you do notice a cartridge where the bullet is compressed into the casing, do not shoot it! Instead, dispose of it safely. Most shooting ranges have a disposal container for live ammunition. The reason you should not shoot it is that as a bullet gets pushed into the casing, the volume of that casing is decreased. The same powder charge is still present, so that careful balance of interior cartridge volume and powder charge is now out of whack – and dangerously high pressure spikes can result. Abnormally high pressure is not healthy for you or your gun.

We only mention this as something that all .357 Sig shooters should be aware of. In all our shooting of .357 Sig ammunition, we’ve only spotted one mild case of bullet setback in years and years. Nonetheless, it’s always a good habit to visually inspect your ammunition whenever you load your gun. Keep an eye out for bullet setback and you’ll have no worries.

Feel the need for speed

Some time ago, we tested the Glock 32 Gen 3 and did some velocity testing with several different loads. So how much difference does the extra 1/2” barrel in the Glock 31 make? Here are the some of the results as measured by our Shooting Chrony Beta Master, placed 15 feet down range.

Load

Glock 32 Gen 3
(4.02” barrel)

Glock 31 Gen 4
(4.49” barrel)

Hornady Critical Defense 125 grain 1,231 1,257
Winchester PDX1 Defender 125 grain N/A 1,389
Speer Gold Dot 125 grain N/A 1,404
Federal Premium JHP 125 grain N/A 1,354
CorBon DPX 125 grain N/A 1,313
CorBon JHP 125 grain N/A 1,469
CorBon Pow’RBall 100 grain 1,623 1,620
Georgia Arms 125 grain Gold Dot 1,362 1,395
Remington UMC 125 grain 1,359 1,405

With the exception of the CorBon Pow’RBall, which showed an unexpected anomaly in velocity differences, we found that the slightly longer barrel in the Glock 31 increased velocity by about 30-35 feet per second on average.

Considering the real world velocities we measured out of a real world Glock 31, it’s apparent that the .357 Sig round combined with this Glock, meets the original cartridge design goal of approximating the velocity of a 125 grain .357 magnum round from a 4 inch barreled revolver. Three different loads we tested clocked over 1,400 feet per second – and that measurement was taken 15 feet down range. Not too shabby!

Handling

We took the Glock 31 Gen 4 to the range – a lot – to get a good feel for its handling qualities. While cornering was good, it really excelled in the straightaways.

But seriously, in addition to quite a bit of informal plinking, we ran through some drills with it to get a feel for the admittedly subjective measure of ‘shootability.’ We ran it through some Dot Torture drills and found the Glock 31 easy to control in all three dot torture scenarios: two-handed, strong hand only, and weak hand only. We found it easy to control this gun even when shooting full power self-defense loads.

We also shot the Glock 31 Gen 4 in a side by side comparison with a Glock 32 Gen 3 and a Glock 17 Gen 4. While the 31 was noticeably less snappy than the Glock 32, we weren’t sure if this was a result of the larger gun size and weight, new recoil spring design, or combination of both. We also did some side by side shooting with a Glock 17 and the Glock 31. With full power defense loads in each, it was hard to tell the difference in felt recoil between the 9mm Glock 17 9mm and the more powerful .357 Sig Glock 31 .357 Sig.

What if you want .40 S&W flavors?

One of the neat things about the Glock 31 in .357 Sig is that you can easily modify the gun to shoot .40 S&W. Simply swap out the barrel for a Glock 22 Gen 4 factory barrel, or get an aftermarket one from companies like Lone Wolf, and you’re good to go. The existing .357 Sig magazines will work fine. Depending on the loads you shoot, you may want or need to replace the recoil spring. Be sure to check with the experts at Lone Wolf Distributors or another reputable supplier before venturing off on your own!

Bedside bling

Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips LG-850 and Lightguard LTG-736

We “geared up” the evaluation Glock 31 with both Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips and Crimson Trace LTG-736 Lightguard. That made for a great nightstand package.

One of the benefits of the Glock’s ubiquity (there’s that word again) is the availability of aftermarket accessories like lights, lasers, fixed sights, and performance parts. The Glock 31 Gen 4 features an accessory rail that allows attachment of lights, lasers, and even bayonets. Why anyone would seriously want to put a bayonet on a pistol is beyond us, but you have to admit it sounds amusing. Maybe it would be handy for opening stubborn ammo boxes.

We went all out, but practical, in outfitting the evaluation Glock 31. For a laser, we added the Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips for Glock Gen 4 full size and compact models. For a tactical light, we mounted the Crimson Trace Lightguard LTG-736 for Glock full size and compact models. Both laser and light operate by instinctive pressure activation with the laser being activated from the rear of the grip and the light from the front. On other words, simply pick up your gun with a proper grip and both laser and light are on and ready to go. We wrote about this combination with a Glock 17 Gen 4 as Nightstand Perfection a while back, but we may have to reconsider in favor of the more powerful Glock 31 Gen 4.

Closing with authority

The really compelling thing about the Glock 31 Gen 4 is velocity. Arguments over the relative effectiveness of large and slow rounds compared to small and fast rounds will likely go on until the end of time, or until our Congress manages to pass a budget, whichever comes first.

If you’re a fan of velocity, then take a serious look at the Glock 31 Gen 4 in .357 Sig. With it’s 4.49″ barrel, you’re going to get fantastic velocity out of self defense ammunition – and at the same time, the pistol will be easy to control. It’s not an untamed beast, but rather a tamed one.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Like every other Glock we’ve owned or tested, reliability was not a question. It works – clean or dirty. We have yet to clean this one just to see. We’re giving the Glock 31 Gen 4 Four Nuns because of it’s combination of power with controllability. It’s easy – and pleasant – to shoot.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Accessories available at Brownells

Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

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