Thursday, June 4, 2009


I'll be honest. I've never been a fan of guns made out of polymer. But then I added this little S & W to the stable, and a couple of co-workers started singing the praises of their recent Glock purchases at gun shows.

When I saw my first Glock as a young woman back in the late 80's, the 1911 style .45 auto was THE defensive pistol to have things went south in a hurry. I still feel that way most days. Then some foreigner comes up with a plastic framed pistol, that holds lots of tiny bullets, and it's light and accurate. He's not a shooter, he's an engineer and well. . . .

It's PLASTIC. And frankly folks, it's the "Ugly Betty" of handguns. I love revolvers. I love 1911's. I take great pride in a well cared for Colt Commander. I love a gun with some character. I love old weapons, period. I love tools as well. Roberta X has some wood handled hand drills and other tools that just make me ache to craft something with them when I hold them. I love such things. Especially guns lovingly crafted with steel and rosewood, intricately machined forgings, polished flats and arcs cleanly intersecting, beautiful bluing and straw tempering, it is hard to find anything in a plastic pistol that speaks to me. Give me something made of fired steel and sweat, to be carried through generations, passed on from father to son, older brother to little sister, mother to daughter.
The history of personal weapons is one of honor, family, sacred duty, prestige and adornment. Warriors were buried with their swords, or they were handed down through generations. I have blades forged hundreds of years ago, as sharp as the day they were made. Somehow a personal weapon with the soul of toaster oven seems wrong. Besides, when you draw that 1911 , John Moses Browning is probably looking over your shoulder, smiling.

But a female friend, new to carrying for self defense, bought herself a Glock 27 and asked me to give her some pointers. I really wasn't excited about shooting that when I have bigger toys here, but I agreed. Helping a new concealed shooter or any shooter, of either gender, feel comfortable, offering support and encouragement, and sharing your own very real mistakes, is important.

With something like 1.6 million happy Glock owners, including the LEO community that uses them on duty, the least I could do was quell my reserve and show her some tips on her new purchase. And I analyzed the shooting as if I was in her shoes, new to smaller guns, with limited technical knowledge of the model and fairly modest hand and arm strength. And you know, it really was a good fit for her. Yes it was small, but you know, it shot easily and well. I could see her point about the size being good for for a woman as well as concealed. There are enough ladies (and gentlemen) who worry enough about our pants fitting comfortably without the benefit of another 2 and half pounds of steel inserted along the waistline.
I wanted to completely hate it, but I didn't, not for the purpose in which she was going to use it. Protection. Reliable self defense. The frame and slide were smooth and rounded. It fit well into her hand and it didn't have anything that could really catch on her clothes. For the money, a good balance of weight, concealability and accuracy.

For her, as her first concealed purchase, it was a decent choice. Not a "girl's gun" but simply a reliable defense rig without any surprises. The one drawback I saw for her personally - she has to be aware of "Glock wrist" This is a gun, that if you don't hold it stiffly, it may, on occasion, not cycle completely, causing a stovepipe (failure to completely eject a round - NOT where you want to be in a defense situation. So I had to caution her to not noodle-wrist it as well as keeping the slide lubed properly. (Just a note - in about any gun the culprit in "limp wristing" isn't a weak wrist, it's usually an improper grip on the gun. When people try to accommodate a gun that they can't get a comfortable grip on, they don't get the gun lined up properly with the forearm, preventing them from controlling recoil well and leading to malfunction.)

If she watches her grip and doesn't use crap ammo, she should not have a mis-fire. It didn't seem to like the non-brass, CCI Blazer rounds someone offered her to use, but pretty much ate up everything else of quality. As a concealed pistol for someone with limited weapons knowledge, one that requires little attention and will be there for her if she needs it, this gun will work for her. It may not be pretty but it keeps going "bang". Simple to use and one that won't choke if she doesn't clean and maintain it herself as carefully as serious shooters do.

Still, I won't be a huge fan. I don't like the grip, it just feels "blocky" to me. And yes, there's that plastic issue, even though it's not the whole weapon. Just about every plastic pistol I've worked with is no-deposit/no-return disposable handgun and I still can't wrap my head around the concept. But it seems everyone is jumping on the plastic (excuse me. . polymer) bandwagon. S&W has it's Sigma line, and H&K offers the USP. Walther, and Taurus also has versions. In many ways, like its imitators, the Glock is a disposable gun. Though the slides are CNC milled, most of the internal parts are stamped, or molded. The mechanics of the guns do not lend themselves to hand fitting or tuning. I hate the trigger. This is not a trigger that encourages precision shooting. I prefer a crisp, clean breaking single action trigger pull. I also miss a hammer. In a smaller gun for carry, I prefer something with a DA/SA pistol that can be carried with the hammer down over a loaded chamber when carrying. But that's what I like; buy what works for you. Buy what you feel comfortable in using safely and always. . . practice.

In any event, I was pleased for the progress she'd made and for making the choice to carry, even if I won't be buying one for personal use for carry. For her, for many people, it's the perfect choice. It may, in my opinion, have no character and likely isn't going to have people over oohing and awwing over your purchase like a fine revolver might. But you won't regret the experience. It's like that long time boyfriend in high school. You realized you were never going to love him madly, but he was strong, dependable, and there for your defense from bullies and bad buys.

For me though, I want something made out of real steel with a bigger hole in the barrel. I don't wear tiny little skirts and clingy little tank tops when I'm carrying. When I conceal, it's usually larger, and it usually comes with hollowpoints.

For those other times.

For I'm occasionally in places where I want some heavier fire power. Something that stirs the soul with steel and strength. A firm weight against my leg that's there if I need it.

Because . .


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  2. When Glocks first came out I didn't care for them being a Gunsite Graduate under Jeff Cooper. But then I shot one, then bought one, and now it is my preferred weapon. I know the trigger will never be as nice as a worked over 1911 and the factor sights are a POS. Replace the sights, provide minimal maintenance and decent ammo and the gun works and works well. It also feeds hollowpoints better than any 1911 I have had with any brand of magazine and I have tried them all (well almost all). In the Arizona desert the polymer is also more comfortable than a metal frame and repair, if ever needed, does not require any fitting. The only check an armorer has to make is to ensure the trigger bar engages the striker sufficiently. A Glock may not be pretty, but as a defensive pistol it is hard to beat.

  3. I love my Glock 29. 10mm. Compact. More energy delivered to the target than a .45. Trigger as smooth as a woman's legs that haven't been shorn in a week.

    In my experience (i.e. for me, not for every last person on the planet), I have never had a Glock jam, fail to eject, or fail to feed that wasn't the fault of the ammunition (my reloads, to be exact). The loose fit of the barrel allows a larger range of ammo to be used at a cost of precision.

    My 1911 is a Para with the LDA trigger which is similar in feel to the Glock, only smooth as glass with a crisp break. The angle of the grip is better. The heavier pistol feels more at home in my large hands. The pistol is more accurate than I can shoot. It is my competition piece.

    The 1911 has required extra work. The ammo selection is more limited. It has required work from the factory to function properly. But now that it's been given a little extra loving, it is a dream to shoot.

    Then there's the Kel Tec, which takes the best parts of both weapons and completely does the opposite...

    I love the Glock. I trust my life to it every time I walk out of the house. It will go bang with every pull of the trigger and during a situation where self defense requires it, I assure you the gritty trigger and grip angle isn't going to be an issue. There's a Crimson Trace Laser on it and the dot shows exactly where the hole is about to appear. I have 10+1 rounds of 10mm bad assery on hand. If I need more ammo than that, I should have brought a rifle.

    Some day, I want a nicer 1911 for carry. Something like Brigid talks about, something worth looking at and admiring. But in a world where finances are tight, $1000+ for such an item doesn't make as much sense at this time (However, there is a Dan Wesson Bobtail Commander in 10mm that is screaming for my affection. Some day... Some day...).

    Every person should pick up some of each. 1911's. Revolvers. Tupperware. Shoot 'em. See which ones feel right to you. See what works best for you. Then practice with what you're going to carry, regardless if it's a high end Kimber or a second hand Beretta PX4 Storm. Practice until you no longer notice all the quirks.

    The gun you can shoot well enough, goes bang each and every time, and will carry everywhere you go is the right gun.

  4. I always hated Glocks.


    I wanted to like them, I really did. They're inexpensive, reliable, and (as you mention) disposable.

    A friend who was moving out of MA offered me his G19 (that's the mid-sized 9mm for those not familiar with the Glock nomenclature) for replacement cost (I won't get into the MA Approved Firearms Roster nonsense...)

    Well, to make a long story short, I *hated* it. It didn't feel right. I shot it marginally at best, with my 25' targets looking more like a pattern than a group. The trigger "safety" just dug into my finger.

    So I passed.

    A few years went by, and I happened across a G30 (double-stack .45 ACP subcompact). The asking price was, for MA, quite reasonable, and as it turned out, the guy selling it lived in my town.

    I went over to look at it with the intention of buying it and then turning it around quickly for a couple hundred dollar profit.

    Except that I took it to the range. And carried it.

    It's only marginally heavier than my SW99 compact 9mm that was formerly my cooler weather carry gun. And I shot it better than the SW99. And it's 10+1 rounds of .45 ACP vs. 10+1 rounds of 9mm. And there are plentiful pre-ban 13 round magazines from the G21 available...

    So I have a Glock for my cool/cold weather carry gun.

    And I like it...

  5. The next time you have a desire or chance to try a plastic gun, try the Springfield XD, a gun that might just make you think twice about polymer.

  6. Great post; very informative. I'll stick with my 1911 for everyday carry, but it's nice to know what else is out there - and I LOVE the poster at the end!

  7. Sometimes, perhaps often, it comes down to money. I share your love of steel and rosewood, and the 1911 and some revolvers really tease me. However, a .45 acp with 13 plus one in the tube, at less than $600, is what drew me to the Springfield XD. (No good against bears though, not really. I think I will go with a S&W .500, especially since I have a reloader, for that. Urhm, if primers ever become available again!)

    Though I do not have a cc license currently, I plan on that. For now, in my house and in my yard, I keep my pistol with me, and ready. And, for now, that is enough. I do love shooting the thing, even if it isn't pretty.

    I have too many other guns on my list to consider a fine 1911 for a long time, but I still look them over then sadly move on from time to time. I think I have 1 or 2 pistols, 2 or 3 rifles, a couple of scopes, a spotting scope, a chronograph, and maybe an extra .45 XD (and two good laser sights for the lower tube or tubes if I get another). I'll probably be dead before I get to pretty guns! But I will have efficient, clean, functional pieces. I guess that will be as good as it gets.

    But never worry, I would never begrudge someone who has earned their way to beautiful equipment. That is a part of the American dream I hope my children might find their way toward.

    Good shooting and travels...

  8. I didn't like Glock until a freind let me shoot his. It was sweet! The sights were great (Heinie's I think) and very fast to aquire. For me the grip angle worked well with my hand. A gun I didn't like before trying it made a very good impression on me. In a place that is a lot of sweat and dust (AZ) I appreciate the polymer frame. I don't have one yet, but it's on my short list.

  9. When I was looking for my first centerfire pistol I rented various Glocks (followed #1 of the .22 Things..) and shot well with all of them. I then tried a lightly used Taurus PT945 (1911 variant, DA/SA) that was in the case at the range. Shot better with it and liked the feel much better. Much less pricey than the Glocks so I bought it. Haven't regretted it. But I think it all comes down to personal preference.

  10. Yep, I am not really a fan of the Glock either -- because of that blocky grip and water-gun trigger -- but I won't deny that it's a great weapon. I would not be averse to buying one, but even the Ruger P-Series aluminum-frame pistols feel better to me, and you know what the reputation is of that line, I am sure -- a weapon that's about as dependable as a Glock but so big and bulky it's rather unsuitable for CCW.

    I love my Glock 29...
    That's 'cause you don't have a Dan Wesson Razorback, Mr. Allen. ;-)

  11. I never wanted a Glock. But a friend was moving to California and didn't want to mess with it. He sold it too me for a very reasonable price (I feel like I stole it now), and I couldn't let it go for what he offered.

    I shot it some, then ran it through a very intensive training class, and competed with it.

    Its ugly as sin, the trigger sucks, and I wish it was a 45. But I wouldn't trade my Glock 19 for anything now. I have almost complete confidence in the gun, and my ability to shoot it.

    There's a lot to be said for that.

  12. Great post.

    To my mind, Glocks are 100% function and 0% form. They work right out of the box, are easy to shoot and take down. They're light and flat and easy to conceal. They have no sharp bits to gouge me when I sit in a car. But they just don't have a soul. Mine's a G17. I used to have a G26, which I shot very well. It would also fit inside a Filofax or DayRunner.

  13. Boy, things sure are different to a wheelgunner. I joke about the trigger on my 4506, but honestly, I got used to it.

    I'm a bit bewildered by the arguments regarding grip preference. Neither of the aforementioned types are anything like a Colt Dragoon.


  14. Great post. My current carry gun is a Glock 26 in 9mm. I'm a fan of Glock, but I haven't had the koolaid.

    What a Glock says to me about someone (and understand I base this on myself and a few others I know) is a Glock owner is about results. Take it out and pull the trigger and it will go bang every time. Accuracy is enough for me, I scored a perfect score on the Texas CHL test with mine, which isn't saying much if you've seen the test.

    Glock is a no nonsense, working gun.

    All that said, I have a project coming up; A 1911 officers frame to be built with a commander top. I hope to start that project in a month or so. If it turns out as I think it will, I will have a new primary carry gun.

    Mr Fixit

  15. I carry a Glock 21. It’s big, heavy, and has the aesthetic appeal of a brick. It has no character. It’s not going to impress firearms aficionados the way a high-end 1911 or a fine revolver might. No matter how long I carry it, it’s not a gun I’m ever going to love. None of that matters. What matters is that I shoot it well, it will go bang every time I pull the trigger, and it carries 14 rounds of .45 ACP. I have concluded that it’s the handgun I want to have in my hand if someone is trying to kill me.

  16. As Commander Zero put it 'the Glock is the AK47 of the pistol world. No personality but it goes bang every time.' Like the AK I don't think anyone will be disappointed in owning one.

    Duno about them being disposable. I've heard of several folks who have 100k rounds through a Glock without any issues. Very few pistols can do that.

    I own a 1911 and love it. Also got my fair share of revolvers. However I carry a Glock because they go bang every time and there is no need to worry about rust/ corrosion.

    They definitely lack personality and that wonderful aesthetic thing some older guns have. However at the end of the day are we trying to get something aesthetically pleasing or an utterly reliable pistol for self defense?

  17. Do I spy some Schmidt-Rubin ammo along with chargers in that picture?

    Sorry, gun-geeked out there for a second :-)

    I used to hate plastic pistols, not too fond of 1911's either. Carried one in the Army. My main battle tank of a handgun is a CZ-97B, double stack .45. Holds 10 rounds. As for my carry piece, it's a plastic Springfield XD Compact .45. I really like it a a carry piece, but it will never compete against my CZ. The CZ-97B is an incredible pistol for the price. Don't think about it if you've got small hands though.

  18. I'm a 1911 guy, so I too resisted Glocks for a long time. But then I figured, heck, y'oughta be able to shoot anything y'might have to pick up. So I sucked it in, and borrowed a buddy's G17. Then his G35. Then his G20.

    Now I've got half a dozen of the dang things myself; they're just the bee's knees as far as I'm concerned. I still tend toward the bigger bores tho: 10mm and .45 ACP.

    Someone said they have no soul. I dunno about that. While it's true they don't have the same kind of soul as a Gen 1 SAA, or a C96, or an Inglis P35, they do have a soul - it's just a Terminator kind of thing. Or maybe old school Cylon.

    Once you get to know them, they will talk to you. But they're more likely to speak CNC Machine than Steam Locomotive.

    An LE friend of mine said: heaven forbid you ever have to use one in defense of your home and family, but if you do you'll feel a lot better about surrendering up that Glock, than that Les Baer TRS, or that Remington Rand. True that.

    With a 1911, I can punch you a single hole wherever you want (within reason) halfway in my sleep; with a Glock I gotta be a bit more awake. But having made my peace with the trigger, I can still get that same job done real regular like.

    At the range I'll often alternate between one of my 1911s and one of my Glocks; keeps the mind and manual dexterity sharp - anyway, so I prefer to think, rather than just flat out admitting I'm a gun nut...

  19. I have three carry pistols.

    Springfield XD-45 Compact which is just my favorite one. Plus I can stack the extended mag in it and have 13 available.

    I just bought a Sig Sauer P229 in .40S&W. It is sweet and I love it. I can buy a barrel in .357SIG for fairly cheap that drops right in. Uses the same springs and mags. No muss no fuss. I also can get (in the future) an aftermarket 9mm barrel and springs for cheap. So, I get 3 for the price of 1 1/2 or thereabouts. Not bad.

    My throw in the jeans for a trip to the 7-11 gun is a Bersa Thunder in .380ACP. It eats anything, cheap or expensive. I know, I know. It's a .380 but it is reliable and I am not scared to drop it on the floor.

    It is all what you like.

    I don't like Glocks.

  20. As I headed for bed last night, I looked at my Virgil Tripp-assembled Commander, and thought, Well, it's nice...but it's no Glock.

    Incidentally, a Glock 27 will probably be the least likely Glock to have a malfunction caused by limpwristing, because of the short barrel and relatively violent recoil impulse. I really didn't find the 27 appreciably smaller than my beloved 23, though. The only malfunctions I ever experienced from my 23 were mag-related, though I had multiple malfs in a single mag with a 17 after only shooting M4s for a couple of years.

    That 23 is one of three firearms I really regret having sold when I first entered the army in late 2001. (The other two I regret are a SKS "Paratrooper" in which I'd installed a 20-rd mag, and a Kel-Tec P11.)

    I'll probably get either another 23 or a 19 eventually.


  21. First handgun I ever shot was a police issued Glock 40 and I loved it. Seemed to work well for me. I might buy a glock but I also have an aversion to the polymer guns. My grandfather had S&W revolvers that are long gone, but I loved to look at them when I was a kid. There is something about a metal gun, a revolver, a 1911, that attracts me to them. Not sure what my first handgun will be, but I am saving up for it. If it is a polymer gun, I have my sights set on a Springfield XD over the Glock. But maybe I will be led in a different direction and get a 1911 or something of the sort.

  22. I suppose I should try one one day.

    All the Glock owners I know rave about them.

    But I'm not about to trage my 1911 on one!

  23. I understand the utility of plastic but I just can't abide plastic in a gun. Not big on stainless either. Love beautiful wood and deep rich bluing, which is hard to find these days. Kinda like the idea of the short skirt and clingy tank top tho. That dress on the sidebar is- wellll how its supposed to be. the mushroom

  24. I enjoy walnut and blue steel but I'm a klutz. I need the durability and ding resistance of the polymer and stainless to keep me from turning a beautiful piece of the gunmakers art into a banged up example of why I can't have anything nice...The S&W M&P autos have polymer frames, stainless slides, and are teflon coated to boot. My kind of gun! (plus they have great ergonomics)

  25. I love my Wilson 1911's. They run flawlessly as long as I feed them good ammo.

    Glocks eat up the web of my hand as that slide reciprocates. I don't shoot them enough to modify my grip to accommodate them.

    The XD satisfies any polymer yearnings I may have.

    The Glocks though are a nearly perfect carry gun IMHO. Lightweight, accurate and above all, reliable. Hard to pick agin' 'em.

  26. As usual Brigid's highly evocative writing style is at the top of her game in this article and the reason that I read Home On the Range every day.

    Shot a couple of buddies XD and they are very nice. It will take sometime to wrap my brain around them as the allure of steel and wood are very deep.

    I just recently added a Sig P220 Elite to my collection and the Rosewood grips with the black hard finished steel has the look and feel of what, to my way of thinking, a gun should be.

    But her story has opened my mind a bit more and perhaps the next time at the gun store I will take more than a cursory glance at composite guns.

    Keep up the great writing.

    Angry Conservative

  27. I have nothing against plastic, after all GI Joe's and Green Army Men are made of plastic, I just like metal better I guess.
    Chuck Z. likes his Glocks, and with parts of his hand missing from the IED blast they still go bang each time. Like Quantity has a Quality all of its own, Dependability is a virtue all its own.
    As a design-side artistic guy who's worked with a lot of engineers I can appreciate both aesthetics: the genius and old-world artistry of the 1911, and the results-driven engineering-oriented dictates of the Glock Umstände.
    Maybe I should ask my buddy Baxter if I can try his, and he can try my Sig, or the '43 Colt.

  28. Yep nothing like steel, added a couple of more 1911's since the first of the year, & sold one of the XD's
    Never been a fan of Glock, but the XD's have been good, had one before they sold by SA. I also like the new M&P, but can't talk myself into carrying one.
    The usual suspect is a Browning HP Hardchrome, Night sights & laser. But sometimes its a 1911 Commander type, ether S&W or Para

  29. The distaste for polymer construction extends to aircraft construction, too, for many of the same reasons.


  30. "I love a gun with some character. I love old weapons, period. "

    So let it be written. So let it be done.

  31. I think you've seen my writing on Glocks. Just in case you missed it though

    Word verification: inksies...inksies?

  32. I carry a Glock on duty. I also own three. I can't say I love them. But since I use one at work, it's nice to pick up any of the four I have available knowing they all work the same and I'm a decent shot with them.

    In a perfect world, I may have chosen something else.

  33. Hi Brigid,
    Here I am playing catch up again. Very informative post again. I keep learning things, just about every time I read your posts.

    I applaud your commitment to your parents. And no, not all "children" are as committed, and attentive as you, and some of the other of us are.

    My cousin, who shoots competitively got me into the The STI firearms. I have an Escort, and have a hard chromed, steel VIP, double stack on order. These guns are extremely well made, and pretty much competition ready out of the box. So far they eat anything I have put through them, and go bang every time. In the hands of my cousin, he can do what others are doing with Government model, and Commander model 1911's with the 3" barreled Escort, at up to 50 yards. When he finishes with it, he smiles, and just says sweet. I am trying to improve my skills to do justice to it. The trouble with the STI line is that they are expensive. I could have bought four good guns for the price of two.

    I've liked the 1911's, and the German Lugers since childhood, but I would have bought anything that I could have shot better. Tried the XD, and several of the Glocks. Didn't like them well enough, nor did I shoot them better than the 1911's. Need more time at the range, but have been having trouble getting the large primers. The axiom that the gun you shoot the most, is the gun you shoot the best is true. For the longest time the only "real gun" I had was the S & W, Model 27, "Highway Patrolman" .357 Magnum, with which I qualified Marksman. Unfortunately, the only way to carry something that big is in a shoulder holster, a la "Dirty Harry".

    Been thinking of getting a Walther PPS .40 as a back up gun. But now that I "discovered" the Bersas, after reading that you, and others think they are good guns worth a second look, I am looking into them. They appear to be a knock off of the Walthers. Are they?

    May your trip be productive, if not enjoyable. Stay safe.

  34. I love steel and “older” weapons plenty well and have my fare share of them in both autos and revolvers, but I also have no issue with “polymer” either. I have a “recycled” police issue Glock 17, v.1 with well north of 5000 rounds through it and a whole lot of holster time. Other than replacing a tired spring it remains 100% reliable with 100% of the ammo I have run through it and it remains reliable no matter how dirty it gets. Many “1911” shooters complain about the grip and grip angle, I don’t have a problem with either. Maybe my large hand is just more forgiving; I shoot equally well with a 1911 pattern pistol as I do my Glock. I also like that 17+1 of Hornaday "Critical Defense" gives me more comfort when not carrying a spare mag. Oh one more thing...I like how a Glock looks just fine, but then again I don’t have a problem with Saabs either ;-)

  35. I was the same way. I hated the goofy looking little pieces of plastic. I still hate them. I don't shoot as well with them as I do a 1911, they don't feel right, etc.

    Yet a Glock 27 has been my carry weapon more often than anything else, until suddenly a new Glock 36 (slim frame 45, 6 shots) suddenly appeared in my gun safe, begging for attention. It was like trying to resist adopting an ugly puppy.

    I guess I like the fact that I can beat the snot out of them, and they still work. Having had some failures with my 3-inch Kimber when the spring went bad, I don't trust it anymore. Even replacing the spring didn't help me feel better about it. The recommended spring life on it was pitifully short. I feel better with the dependability and reliability.

    I don't worry about scratching it up, because it's butt ugly anyway. I carry them in pocket holsters pretty often, and occasionally I forget and throw my keys in on top of them. Oh well. I'd freak if my Kimber got key scratches on it.

    They are also wonderfully light to carry, which is a biggie for concealment.

    But I still hate them...:)


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