Gun Review: Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Pistol

Suggested Retail Price: $1,345.00

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:


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.
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! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

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.


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!


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! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Coonan .357 1911-ish

Coonan has a bunch of new models out this year: compensated, colored, digital camo patterns and the like.

Why a 1911-ish style .357 Magnum you ask? Because we still can in this country. It’s cool and I can’t wait to shoot one. Unfortunatey, the NSSF folks frowned upon my desire to test fire one in their SHOT Show establishment.

The grip is about 1/4″ deeper than a 1911 to allow room for the long .357 Magnum cartridge. I was still able to get a proper grip with medium dude-sized hands. Compared to a revolver, you can expect about a 25 feet per second increase in velocity due to no cylinder gap gas loss in the semi-auto design. Oh, and you can shoot .38 Specials put of it. Same magazine even.

On the First Day of Christmas… A Smith & Wesson M & P


On the first day of Christmas, I hope my true love gives to me…A Smith and Wesson M and P…


We’ve got a love / hate relationship with the .357 Sig cartridge. Love the power, feeding characteristics, reliability, .357 Magnum-like ballistics from a semi-auto, and sheer joy of shooting it. Hate the price of factory ammo, leaving precious .357 Sig brass on the ground at lost-brass matches, and some of the quirks of reloading.

However, we’re thinking the Smith and Wesson M&P would make an outstanding platform for this round. There’s something about the shape of the Smith and Wesson M&P grip that is just, well, shootable. The more round profile makes it particularly comfortable and facilitates control under recoil We’ve shot the M&P in .40 S&W and found it outstanding. And fun.

Smith and Wesson’s M&P in .357 Sig offers a polymer frame with 15+1 round capacity. Tritium sights would be on it – of course. And ours would not have the optional frame mounted safety. Personal preference there.

Want that.

Half-Cocked: Concealed Carry Season Opens in Wisconsin

Concealed Carry Begins in Wisconsin

Gun Review: Ruger LCP .380 Auto – Le Canon Petit

Approximate Street Price: ~ $290.00

The Good The Bad The Ugly Our Rating
The standout feature of the LCP was its fit and contour. until you shoot it, you don’t appreciate the importance of smooth finish and curves in all the right places. It’s comfortable to shoot for a pocket gun. Our only gripe with the LCP was inclusion of just one magazine. It’s not an issue of money, but one of convenience. Yep, we’re lazy and it’s just a hassle to go out and find an additional magazine or two to have a complete package. Hmmm. Need to get the Crimson Trace LG-431 laser. Just because it looks awesomely cool. There goes another couple hundred bucks. 3 Nuns Four Nuns!


Ruger LCP .380 ACP with ammunition

We tested the Ruger LCP with a wide variety of ammunition. It didn’t care.

Ruger refers to it as the LCP.

Light Carry Pistol?

Little Combat Pistol?

Lilliputian Centerfire, Puny?

Le Canon Petit?

Lowering Criminal Productivity?

Yep, we could go on all day with the Lame Comedic Puns, but no matter. The Ruger LCP fits (most of) those descriptions.

We really like this Lovable & Cute Projectile launcher. OK, no more bad jokes. Promise. Maybe.

The Ruger LCP is a well made pistol and we found that makes a noticeable difference on the range. Yes, it’s technically one of those guns to carry a lot and shoot far less frequently, but we were pleasantly surprised by its ergonomic friendliness over long shooting sessions. No, we would not want to crank off a few hundred rounds of high-pressure self defense ammo at a single sitting, but shooting lower recoil practice loads exhibited a low level of self abuse.

Initial Observations

  • Ruger LCP .380 ACP pocket pistol

    One of the nicest features of the Ruger LCP is the attention to detail in shape and finish. It’s smooth where it needs to be for more comfortable shooting.

    It’s small. Really small. And light.

  • The fit and finish is surprisingly good for this relatively inexpensive handgun. One of the things that has given us grief about similar models from Kel-Tec is the rough seams inside and outside the trigger guard where the polymer frame material is molded. It’s tough on the fingers after a few shots and manicures are getting more expensive by the day. The Ruger LCP was noticeably more comfortable to shoot than the Kel-Tec P3AT.
  • A lot of thought has been put into placement of texture on the frame. It’s smooth where it needs to be, like where your strong hand thumb rides, and rough where grip is needed. This goes a long way to making recoil more comfortable without sacrificing surety of grip.
  • There is a small cutout in the slide which allows you to see if there is a cartridge in the chamber. While it can’t tell you if its a live or spent one, it’s a nice touch to verify that something is in there.
  • The LCP comes with two different floor plates for the single included magazine. One is flat for maximum concealability and the other has a hook shape which allows your ring finger to get a firm grip. We preferred using it with the hooked floor plate. Even with the longer magazine plate, this pistol is effortless to conceal.

The Specs

Caliber: .380 Auto
Weight, unloaded: 9.4 oz
Capacity: 6+1
Length: 5.16″
Width: 0.82″
Height: 3.60″
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Finish Blued
Slide Material Alloy Steel
Slide Finish Blued
Grip Frame Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon


Ruger LCP_Finger-Grip-Extension-Floorplate

The Ruger LCP comes with both flat and extended magazine floorplates.

Features Overview

Weighing in at just 9.4 oz, the Ruger LCP is a reinforced nylon frame gun with a steel slide. The slide features an open-top ejection port design to enhance reliability and ease clearing of malfunctions. The slide also contains integral sight nublets. That’s our word, not Ruger’s. For readers not familiar with sight nublets, that’s a very low profile front sight matched with an equally low profile rear notch cut into the frame. No room for dots, paint, or tritium toys here. The LCP is primarily aimed by pointing in the general direction of evil d00dz. In daylight and lit conditions, the sights are in fact useful for more precise aiming.

The capacity of the Ruger LCP is 6+1 with either magazine plate installed. The hooked profile plate simply adds a little more finger room, not additional magazine capacity. We found the magazine easy to load without loading assist tools – even the last round.

The slide operates surprisingly easily for such a small gun. A great gripping surface and relatively light spring tension make it easy to rack the slide. None of our shooters had any trouble with this. The LCP features a manual slide lock button. This means that it is designed to keep the slide locked in an open position only when the user engages the slide lock lever. By design, the slide will not lock back when the magazine runs empty.

The Ruger LCP is a single-strike hammer fired design. The hammer is cut and designed to be completely shrouded by the slide. At no point in the hammer travel cycle is it exposed, nor is it able to be cocked by hand. Nor should it.

Ruger LCP_Fixed-Front-and-Rear-Sights

While the LCP has front and rear sights, they are not fast to acquire.

The trigger is surprisingly smooth. As its a double action only gun, it’s heavy as expected, but the pull is mostly even with a bit of stacking right before the sear releases. There was no perceptible over-travel.

Shooting the Ruger LCP

We were pleasantly surprised by how soft-shooting the LCP was. That’s a relative description of course. We were expecting handgun brutality at minimum, but it was comfortable to shoot even with defense loads. We shot the following loads through the LCP:

Doubletap 80gr TAC-XP (910 fps – This is supposed to be a 1,050 fps load in the LCP. We’re in contact with Doubletap Ammo to sort out this issue.)

Cor-Bon 90gr Self Defense JFP (1,024 fps)

Federal 90gr Hydra-Shok JHP (850 fps)

Georgia Arms Gold Dot (857 fps)

Hand Loads, 95 grain lead round nose over 3.6 grains of Alliant Unique (925 fps)

The LCP did not seem to have a preference in terms of ammo selection. It shot what we loaded and did not malfunction.

Ruger LCP .380 ACP pistol dimensions

The Ruger LCP is definitely pocket sized!

Our Price Point Theory

We had one minor complaint about the LCP and that was related to packaging. It only includes one magazine. In our view, this means its not yet ready to go. Even a pocket pistol carrier should have at least one spare magazine for either reloads or malfunctions. It’s just a good idea. We’re not sure why Ruger only includes one magazine, but we suspect it might have something to do with meeting a target street price point. With a little shopping, the base model can be purchased for just less than $300. Including a second or third magazine would probably push the street price of the LCP over the $300 barrier. Rather than get in a psycho-analysis of buyer behavior and perceived price ceilings, let’s just say we understand if the price point is the real issue. More importantly in our view however is the convenience factor. We’d rather not have to do a separate shopping and purchasing event to get an extra magazine.

No +P Ammunition

The owners manual warns “Do not use +P ammunition” but offers no additional clarity on the +P issue. The manual does clearly state the following:

No .380 Auto ammunition manufactured in accordance with  NATO, U.S., SAAMI, or CIP standards is known to be beyond the design limits or known not to function in these pistols.

Our Accuracy Testing Protocol

Ruger LCP .380 ACP included - gun case, magazine base plates

Included: A gun! 1 magazine, flat and curved magazine base plates, zipper case, and gun lock.

To test the inherent mechanical accuracy of the Ruger LCP, we shot from a standing position at 25 yards, using a weak hand side hold and balancing on one foot while eating Deep Fried Snickers Bars. We’ve found this to be a great test of a guns inherent mechanical accuracy. Our best groups measured 4 and a half feet, more or less. OK, tongue out of the cheek time. We’ve got a pet peeve about gun reviews by aging gun writers that claim to test mechanical accuracy by sighting in at 25 yards with aging eyes, holding in a weaver or similar stance with aging hands, and firing with an aging trigger finger. Right, that method pretty much removes all potential variables that might impact group size and tells us much about what a gun is capable of. By the way, being off a perfect sight picture by just the width of an average human hair creates over a one inch change in point of impact at 25 yards. If a gun isn’t in a Ransom Rest, don’t tell us about its mechanical accuracy. OK, rant over. Did we mention that we’re sick and tired of reading gun reviews that tell more about the reviewers braggadocio than a guns capability?

Since it would be a bit silly to put the Ruger LCP in a Ransom Rest, we thought a more realistic and helpful commentary might involve documenting our subjective findings on the LCP’s ease of shooting accurately at realistic distances for this gun. We did most of our shooting at 5 to 10 yards at range trash targets such as cans, plastic bottles, and other un-tiny objects that we deemed fun to shoot.

Once we found the right hold (see He Said comments below) it was surprisingly easy to hit with the LCP – even out to 25 yards or so. The sights are small as this gun is designed for up close self-defense use, but they are workable.

Bottom line? We’re confident that the Ruger LCP is “Minute of Evil d00d” capable. That’s why someone would buy it, right?

Bottom line?

We liked it. So we bought one.


He said She said
I found that I had to experiment with grip and trigger a bit to find a hold that allowed me to shoot accurately on a consistent basis. I wear a mens large glove so while my hands aren’t huge, they are larger than average. As the Ruger LCP is so small, simply grasping the frame and letting my trigger finger fall naturally caused me to pull the trigger with the fleshy fat between my first and second joints. I found I could shoot this gun much more consistently using the first pad of my finger by deliberately withdrawing my finger further from the trigger. Just a practice issue like with any new gun. Once I figured that out, I was able to hit small targets at reasonable distances with ease. It’s not a ‘shoot for fun’ gun. It’s a ‘gets the job done’ gun. However, it feels substantial for its size. The contours were smooth and comfortable, and while it’s a two-finger gun, I found it easy to control and aim. There are a lot of options for us ‘she’s’ to conceal this gun – Looper Flash Bang, thigh holster, purse, ankle, and waist. It’s thin and light. Lot’s of possibilities to match nearly any wardrobe selection.As a side note, look for a review by me (not Him!) on the Looper Flash Bang paired with the Ruger LCP soon!


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! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Glock 17 Generation 4 9mm Full Size Pistol

Approximate Street Price: $549.00

The Good The Bad The Ugly Our Rating
The new grip texture is exceptionally effective. We really like it! We found the ejection pattern to be a little wonky and erratic with most types of ammunition. The VPC, CSGV and Brady folks still can’t claim that Glocks can pass through metal detectors. Truthfully anyway. 4 Nuns Four Nuns!


The Glock 17 Gen IV

The Glock 17 Gen IV

When the folks at Glock sent us a shiny new Glock 17 Generation IV to evaluate, we were obviously excited. After years of refinement, the Glock would now be able to pass through metal detectors and make true all those hysterical, pantie-wetting exaggerations we’ve been hearing for years. Right? Well, unfortunately no, but a lot of other enhancements have been made in the new models. Let’s take a closer look.

First Impressions of the Glock 17 Gen 4

  • Our G17 test gun came with three (17) round magazines. And a Glock magazine loader tool. We appreciate that as three magazines represents the minimum configuration for a self-defense gun. As a side note, we also really appreciate the street price of additional magazines for Glocks. $20-25 if you shop a bit. Compared to $40-50 magazines from other manufacturers who-will-not-be-named, that’s pretty darn reasonable.
  • Shooting it sideways did not make us look any more fearsome on the range. Nor did any Hollywood producers call offering us bad guy roles in new action films. We did get puzzled looks from other shooters at the range however – and one tried to sell us some crack.
  • The new G17 is a really comfortable gun to hold, and more importantly, shoot. It feels solid in the hand and has no tendency to slide around. No skateboard tape or rubber grip sleeves required, even if you’re a nervous sweaty-hand type.

Differences from Glock Generation 3 models

  • The Glock 17 magazine release is a subtle, yet effective change

    The Glock 17 magazine release is a subtle, yet effective change

    Magazine Release Button: It’s been embiggened, but in a really useful way. It’s got about twice the surface area of the previous design. We love the feel and ease of one-handed operation of the newly designed mag release. By the way, it’s also reversible so righties and lefties have an out-of-the-box solution. Very nice – a minor, but very noticeable enhancement.

  • Glock Gen III vs. Gen IV Grip Texture

    Glock Gen III vs. Gen IV Grip Texture

    Grip Texture: This is perhaps the most noticeable change from the Generation III models. The new pattern is the same on the sides, front, and back of the grip unlike the Gen III models which had a different pattern on the sides. The molded “skateboard tape” pattern on the sides of the Gen III grip never did much for us. Not enough grip. The Gen IV models use an entirely different pattern – raised dots that are completely separated from one another. We found this new pattern to be exceptionally effective for maintaining a solid grip – even here in the humid (and sweaty) lowcountry of South Carolina. The pattern almost feels rough and we had concerns that extended shooting would be tough on the hands, but it wasn’t. For that one person out there who still shoots with the support hand index finger on the front of the trigger guard, the new texture pattern there is comprised of a series of horizontal ridges. Just saying.

  • Recoil Spring Assembly: Like the Generation III models, the Gen IV features a captive recoil spring assembly that makes field stripping a little less embarrassing in the event you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing and let the spring fly. Unlike the Gen III models, the new Glock 17 utilizes a dual spring design. An inner full-length spring is partially surrounded by a metal sleeve, and both of those are surrounded by a partial length outer spring. According to Glock, the dual spring design not only reduces felt recoil, but increases the lifespan of the spring assembly. One item to note if you own or buy a Gen IV Glock 17: Glock has released several versions of the spring assembly and will supply customers with the most recent one if you call customer service at 877-745-8523. Have your model and serial number handy. Our test gun was fitted with an earlier model spring assembly version and the replacement set did not arrive in time for this review. However, we did not note any reliability or other problems, excepting the erratic ejection pattern discussed in this article. When the new assembly arrives, we’ll see if the ejection pattern issue changes and post and update if appropriate.
  • The new Glock Gen IV recoil spring assembly

    The new Glock Gen IV recoil spring assembly

    Modular Back Strap System: This is a fancy marketing term for ‘different grip sizes.’ We know this because we’re marketing people by trade and words like ‘modular’ are very much in vogue on Madison Avenue. Lot’s of current generation pistols offer this feature, but the Gen IV Glocks take a different, and we think better approach. The default grip is a solid, one-piece, molded assembly that’s ready to go out of the box. This default size is a tad (a tad is about .08 inches by the way) smaller than the Gen III Glock 17 in terms of distance to trigger. Adding on the included medium grip panel makes the Gen IV exactly equal to the standard Gen III in terms of trigger reach. The large grip panel makes it a tad bigger. The difference with the Glock approach is that the smallest setting is permanent – you simply add to additional panels to that to make the grip larger. Compare to a Beretta PX4 for example. On that pistol, the back of the grip is ‘empty’ and you insert one of three different size panels to size the grip. Not a huge deal, but I kind of like the idea of having a very solid and complete grip as a starting point from which to build. An interesting and efficient approach to the  problem of multiple grip sizes.

The Tactical Light Issue

We’ve had personal experience with older style Glock 22’s with mounted weapon lights. Utterly reliable without a mounted light, we’ve seen the same gun deteriorate to below average performance once a light was attached. According to X-Box geniuses with additional Mall Ninja certification, this had something to do with polymer frame flex characteristics on recoil. Whatever. In any case, we decided to give the Gen IV G17 a thorough workout with a Streamlight TLR-1 – the same light that has given us fits on older Glocks. Results? Awesome. We couldn’t make it fail. And we know a lot about failure. We shot an array of 115 grain and 124 grain high velocity self-defense ammo using a variety of grips (limp-sissy, medium, and strong) and function was flawless. Just for fun, we tried some ultra-light hand loads with the light mounted – 124 grain plated bullets loaded to about 1,050 feet per second. Again, function was flawless with weak and strong grips – even with ammo than can barely cycle the action.

Ejectile Dysfunction

Before our test model arrived, we had seen plenty of internet Couch Commando discussion about Gen IV Glocks having a tendency to eject brass straight back at the shooter. Other, apparently more knowledgeable, Recliner Rangers dismissed these observations as shooter error and ‘limp wristing.’ While we’re as limp wristed as the next guy, we decided to put this claim to the test. For starters, our model did have a bit of erratic ejection. With same bat grip and same bat ammo, ours would eject 80-90% of the brass out and back at about a 45 degree angle. No problem. The remainder did have a tendency to eject straight up. While they did not eject towards the face, they did on occasion land on top of our head. Good thing we’re not bald. We did a little experimentation on the Recliner Ranger limp wrist theory – shooting a series of rounds with a grip so solid that aim was impossible and another series with the most fairy-like hold we could muster – without getting beat up by other nearby shooters. Interestingly, there was no difference in the ejection pattern of significance. The solid grip did have a tendency to shift the pattern a little more to the side, but did not stop the occasional up and on-the-head brass fling. Our test gun came with an earlier version of the recoil spring assembly and when the newer recoil spring assembly arrives, we’ll run the test again – just for fun. In any case, this turned out to be a practical non-issue as no steaming hot brass hit us in the face. Internet myth in our opinion.

Relative Velocity

We thought it would be fun, and a great excuse to turn more money into noise, to see if the hexagonal rifling of the Glock 17 yielded any velocity difference one way or the other compared to something with similar barrel length and standard rifling – in this case a Beretta 92FS. While the Beretta has a potential velocity advantage with a 4.9″ barrel compared to the Glock’s 4.49″ barrel, we proceeded to try a few 9mm loads to see what happened. OK, we admit it, this test had no real practical or scientific value, but it did give us a great excuse to break out our Shooting Chrony Beta Master. Might as well share the results though:

Georgia Arms 124 grain Gold Dot
Glock 17: 1,235 fps
Beretta 92: 1,235 fps

124 Grain Berry’s Plated Handloads
Glock 17: 1,082 fps
Beretta 92: 1,082 fps

Interesting that the (non-scientific) results came in almost identical with the Glock having a half inch shorter barrel. Again, no real conclusions can be drawn, but this exercise did impress a number of novice shooters at the range today – and that’s gotta count for something.

Glock 17 Gen 4 Basic Stats:

  • Weight: 22.05 oz unloaded, 31.92 oz loaded
  • Length: 7.95″
  • Sight radius: 6.5″
  • Barrel length: 4.49″
  • Height: 5.43″
  • Width: 1.18″
  • Trigger pull weight: 5.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 17+1 rounds


He said She said
I really like this gun and don’t tell her, but I bought the evaluation sample. I hope to use it as my new Steel Challenge gun. One of the things I like about it is the crazy reliability. I like a gun that shoots equally well from any shooting position. As discussed in our review of the Glock 32, I tend to favor a gun that will still function and cycle no matter what type of grip I have. Just for fun, I tried this one with the most pathetic and lame grips imaginable and was unable to make it fail. That’s a good thing. I really like this one as well. Too big for most of my concealed carry needs though. Don’t tell him, but it’s going to become my new Steel Challenge gun! I really like the default (smallest) grip size. Gives me a perfect reach to the trigger with a natural grip. I also really like the default Glock sights. The “U” shaped rear sight with the white dot in front is really fast to pick up and great for Steel Challenge shooting. We’re reloaders and it would be nice to be able to shoot lead bullets as they are cheaper, but not a huge deal. I’ll just make him order plated bullets instead!

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! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – Judging the .410 Handgun

hCharter Arms El Presidente 40mm Grenade

What’s the effectiveness of your 40mm handgun?

Ever-vigilant in our efforts to bring you the latest shooting industry scoop, we recently crashed the POMA Annual Conference in Ogden, UT. In addition to learning that POMA is a front for a top-secret Zombie Apocalypse Preparation Society, we met some interesting folks with new ideas.

One of those was Gil Horman, frequent contributor to In his spare time, Gil has designed and built a new standard testing methodology for the slew of .410 handguns and ammunition now entering the market such as the Taurus Judge, Smith & Wesson Governor, Magnum Research BFR and Bond Arms Snake Slayer. This new performance measurement philosophy is highlighted on a new site,

As long as we can remember, standard testing protocols for standard handguns have been widely abused used. Set up targets at 25 yards, shoot at them from a free-handed hold position, report two or three inch groups, and not-so-subtly hint to the world what a great shooter you are while claiming to have ascertained the mechanical accuracy of the gun in question. Right.

But we digress. Whether or not the standard handgun testing protocols are horse-hockey or not, there is no real standard of any value for objectively measuring .410 handguns with various loads. Enter

According to Horman, the idea is to establish meaningful measurements for different types of loads – bird shot and buck shot pellets – while documenting performance at varying real-world combat distances. The FIST Test Protocol establishes both percentage of strike and group size standards depending on the load type. does not only propose standardized testing methodology, it puts it to work. Having tested hundreds of gun / load combinations, presents tabular results that allow site users to see how various loads perform in their handgun, or vice-versa. Handy stuff.

Pressed to share in about future enhancements to the site, Horman was reluctant to offer details. However, we’ve learned that work is already under way on development of where the Charter Arms El Presidente Model will be tested with a variety of high explosive, incendiary, and armor penetrating loads. Horman refused to confirm or deny speculation that the site would launch at SHOT 2012 Media Day. Calls to the Las Vegas High-Explosive Zoning Commission have not been returned.

Horman was able to confirm some details of short term plans. Next on the testing agenda is .410 Rubber Buckshot. will be validating the relative effectiveness of the classic  “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you shoot bounces off me and sticks to you” defense. Results should be published shortly after infinity plus one.

Gun Review: Glock 32 .357 Sig

Approximate Street Price: $525.00


Glock 32 .357 Sig

Near .357 Magnum ballistics in an auto pistol

The .357 Sig line of Glock pistols including the 31, 32, and 33, besides being the only Glock models with a coherent naming strategy, are earning a unique following due to chambering in the smokin’ hot .357 Sig round. Intended to be comparable (give or take) with the long-proven .357 Magnum 125 grain loads for revolvers, the .357 Sig allows pistol makers to create auto-loaders with capacities equal to .40 S&W designs.

Numerous law enforcement organizations including the Delaware State Police, United States Secret Service, Montana Highway Patrol, and Tennessee Highway Patrol, to name a few, have switched to .357 Sig configurations.

One of the common elements of these groups is the desire for a round that will penetrate obstacles like car doors. While you may not encounter car door obstacles with most self defense scenarios, the extra velocity offered by the .357 Sig helps assure reliable expansion performance. And of course, it provides impressive statistics to share with your buddies at the range.

Glock 32 General Impressions

The Glock 32 is the midframe form factor, just like the Glock 19 and Glock 23. In our view, it’s the perfect size carry gun. Large enough to comfortably handle full power loads, but small enough to make concealment a realistic possibility and not pure fantasy. If you carry on a belt holster, the grip is just short enough where it won’t print too obviously out the back end – and it has room for all fingers, unless of course you have more than five per hand. The size allows it to work equally well in a belly band or shirt holster like the 5.11 Tactical Holster Shirt or a Concealment Shirt from A Better Holster.

The ‘oomph, bang, and blast factor of the Glock 32 doesn’t require too much explanation. The .357 Sig cartridge out of the Glock 32’s 4″ barrel, intended to approximate the sheer awesomeness of the .357 Magnum, is formidable. And like it’s ancestor, the .357 Sig cartridge has the ability to end non-civil disagreements quickly.

The flip side of the .357 Sig cartridge is ammunition cost and availability. While quality defensive load prices are more or less on par with those in 9mm and .40S&W, practice ammo is not. At our local Wal-Mart, while Winchester white box 9mm is somewhere around $.24 a round, .357 Sig white box goes for just about $.50 a round. Quite a difference. If you reload, there is no cost difference of significance. Once-fired brass online works out to about $.04 each – which is similar to prices for once-fired 9mm and .40S&W. Projectiles are also on par price-wise. For us, the cost per cartridge to reload is not measurably different than 9mm or .40S&W.

My Gun Culture’s Limp Wrist Sissy Test

One thing we really like to see in a personal defense handgun is a very forgiving attitude when it comes to operating with less than ideal shooting form. In other words, will it work properly when you shoot like a sissy?

In all seriousness, the times that you would need to use the gun are perhaps the least likely times that you’ll have to opportunity to set up in proper shooting form, with a classroom approved grip and stance.

Scene: Middle of the night. Sound asleep. I’m dreaming about getting one of each randomly assigned model number in the Glock lineup… Oh, and a Glock Survival Knife.

Spouse: Honey, I think I hear something. It sounds like someone just broke a window!

Me: Can’t you just call the neighbors and tell them to have their cats neutered?

Spouse: (with more irritability and emotion this time) Someone is breaking in! Do something!

Me: (finally getting my gun and finding myself face to face with a boogey man) Hey would you mind taking a few steps backwards? I need to get into a proper shooting stance so my gun will work properly.

Boogey Man: Sure, let me turn the light on first though. I don’t want to trip over your shoes. I could hurt myself you know.

Our point is that we like to give extra special brownie points to guns that operate without requiring a a full Muhammad Ali boxer stance and Chuck Norris grip. We want them to work weak handed, upside-down, held with two fingers, and so on. In this department, the Glock 32 really shines. Even more than a Glock 22 recently tested. We suspect it’s due in part to the bottle-necked .357 Sig cartridge shape.

The Glock 32 .357 Sig just wants to feed easily. Kind of like Rosie O’Donnell.(Tweet This)

While we can make a Glock 22 fail with poor shooting form, this is really hard to do with the Glock 32.

Exhaustive Ballistic Testing

Speer Gold Dot 357 Sig

Figure 1: Speer Gold Dot 357 Sig (Post Water)

Well, we don’t have a lab, or facilities for producing large quantities of ballistic gel for performance simulation. And ‘she’ won’t let me do that in her kitchen. We’re a low budget operation after all. However, we do have lot’s of empty milk jugs as there are a couple of teenage kids around this household. So while blowing up plastic jugs full of water may not provide a gnat’s spit worth of scientific evidence, we sure can amuse ourselves doing it. Note the beautiful expansion from the recovered 125 grain Speer Gold Dot in Figure 1. Pretty isn’t it? We’re going to have to give our friends at Hot Caliber some of these to mold into fine jewelry pieces.

Glock 32 357 Sig Details:

Caliber: .357 Sig

Capacity: 13+1 (or 10+1 where required by law of the local republik)

Barrel Length: 4.02″

Overall Length: 6.85″

Weight: 21.52oz

Accessories Included: 2 magazines, magazine loader, plastic cleaning rod, nylon cleaning brush, hard plastic case

Final Thoughts:

The Glock 32 is one of those designs that really hits the nail on the head with respect to balance. The size is just small enough for easy carry and concealment. The size is also just big enough for good grip and control. And the caliber loading is aggressive but not too much so for the form factor. We really like it. The neat thing about the Glock family is that if you like a particular form factor, you can then select your caliber. The Glock 19 and Glock 23 are identical in size and offer 9mm and .40 S&W respectively.

The other standout points are reliability and ease of maintenance. Try as we might, we can’t make this one malfunction. And the finish is rock solid. Between the tough polymer frame and Tenifer finished slide, it requires no special care. Rain, mud, sweat – no problem.

Especially considering the price, you can’t go wrong. We highly recommend it.


He said She said
The blast of this gun in .357 Sig is just awesome! Love the noise, recoil, and feel of raw power. Manly stuff. Grrrrr!!! Although the recoil is noticeably snappier than a .40 S&W gun, it’s perfectly manageable given the size of the frame – although compact, you can get a solid two-handed grip. I’ve never been a Glock person because they look too industrial and manly for my taste. I have to admit though, that once I shot it, I really liked it. Great size, not too heavy. The shape and grip size make it easy to control.I’m a Steel Challenge shooter and I’m going to compete with this one for the next few matches – just for fun. He’s going to load me up some reduced power .357 Sig rounds so I am not at too much of a disadvantage against all those wimpy 9mm shooters.

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! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

The 1911 Pistol: 100 Years of Wild and Crazy Innovation…

US Army officer training with 1911 pistol in France circa 1918

US Army officer training with 1911 pistol in France circa 1918 (image:

Since the 100 year anniversary of the adoption of the John Browning 1911 pistol design took place on March 29, 2011, we figure it’s about time that we write something about this historic event. 2 weeks late? That’s pretty much defines our style here at My Gun Culture. Our culture is mellow after all.

Being the twisted cynical-sarcastics that we are, we thought it might be interesting to compare 100 years of 1911 pistol innovation to advances in other technologies – just to see if the 1911 has kept pace. Let’s take a look at this Carousel of Progress:

Medicine 1911: While we’re pretty sure leeches were out of vogue by this point,  radiation was in. Marie Curie figured out that there were things called Radium and Polonium and her peers were pretty sure that radiation was a bad thing for humans. Unless you’re Peter Parker of course. Duh. Oh, and by the way, dental braces had just been invented.

Medicine 2011 Innovations: You can have your gall bladder removed through a straw. Trust me I know. I just did this – hence my light posting the past couple of weeks. The cool thing is that I look like I have 5 gunshot wounds in my abdomen. That’s what I tell people anyway. Chicks are impressed I think.

1911 Pistol Innovation: The ejection port has been embiggened. For improved reliability. Or something like that. The engineering is a lot more complex than it sounds. This technology leap took decades of intense research and product development. Custom shops do this for large fees. Why the factory can’t just cut a bigger hole in the first place remains a mystery.


Personal Luxuries 1911: When no one is looking, you can take off your wool overcoat during the hot summer months. Coal is far more convenient, although dirtier, than firewood for cooking, heating your home, and warming your bed with a metal pan on a stick.

Personal Luxuries 2011 Innovations: You can order a Snuggie on TV in many snazzy colors – all from the comfort of your couch. Clap on. Clap off. The Clapper. iPhones. Enough said.

1911 Pistol Innovations: At least one company has en-widened the magazine to hold a few more bullets. Once again, the engineering involved is very, very complex.


Aviation 1911: Eugene Ely lands a bundle of fabric and sticks on a bunch of planks bolted to the top of a ship. The first undisputed aeroplane flight is made in New Zealand. There is no such thing as commercial air travel. The TSA has not yet started to molest children; although many important planning meetings are going on.

Charles Ritchel Flying Machine

Charles Ritchel Flying Machine (image:

Aviation 2011 Innovations: You can go to Australia in a large metal flying machine on an hours notice for a 90 minute business meeting that could have been done by video conference. If you’ve got enough money, you can experience space sickness on the International Space Station. Hint: The Russians are always desperate for cash. Or if you’re really fortunate, you can join the 173 to 286 mile high club. We send things to distant planets by remote control, and sometimes they actually arrive. You can pack personal items in something called a suitcase and have them immediately transported to any virtually any location worldwide – regardless of where you yourself are landing.

1911 Pistol Innovations: They made that beavertail thing a little bigger so the hammer doesn’t pinch your hand and interfere with your career as an aspiring gun writer. Again, the engineering involved is way more complex than it sounds.


Personal Fitness 1911: Throw 1 more bail of hay on your horse drawn wagon Gomer. And jog to the barn, instead of walking, when milking the cows. Hand cranking the car engine, if you have a car, is a great way to build sexy biceps. Churning butter works pretty well too.

Personal Fitness 2011: Chuck Norris is selling the living snot out of the Total Gym XLS. And you can buy battery powered things to sculpt your abs while watching Wheel of Fortune on Hulu – on your iPad.

1911 Pistol Innovations: There are now replaceable sights. And some of them glow in the dark. Some of the more advanced models actually have the safety on the other side.


Wow, innovation is an impressive thing! If the next 100 years of the 1911 pistol are anything like the first, we might end up with things like adjustable grip sizes. But that might be too much to ask. After all, you can only get so much done in just 100 years.

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