Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Myth Of The “Girl Gun” – Why Semiautomatics Are Great For New Shooters Of Any Gender

When a new woman shooter begins shopping for their first pistol, invariably someone will steer them toward a small snub-nosed double-action-only revolver that is usually decked out with pink grips. But is that really the best choice for a lady looking for a self defense or concealed carry pistol? Small hammerless snub-nosed revolvers are obviously an easy to conceal and often lightweight option, but many experienced shooters and notable bloggers, including a few women, have raised concerns over the ability of an inexperienced shooter, no matter if they are male or female, to effectively and accurately employ the pistol.

Gun Nuts Media quoted Tiger McKee who said:

Most people think revolvers are easy to shoot and operate, and for some reason they think this is especially true for women shooters. This is simply not the case, regardless of the shooter’s gender. The trigger on most revolvers is longer and heavier than the majority of semi-autos.

Double-action triggers present a unique challenge when it comes to getting an accurate trigger pull. The trigger on most double-action revolvers is long and heavy, sometimes weighing in around 12 pounds or more. For a new shooter trying to be accurate with a pistol is tough enough without needing to master a difficult trigger.

The size and weight of a .38 snub nose also presents a unique challenge, as recoil and muzzle blast are much more pronounced than on a heavier pistol with a longer barrel. This effect is even more pronounced on extremely lightweight revolvers such as Smith & Wesson’s Airweight line. These are great revolvers for concealed carry as their small size and light weight makes them versatile enough to be worn with just about any wardrobe, but they are not ideal for someone just learning to shoot a pistol. The short sight radius and even shorter barrel also make this choice revolver more difficult to aim and less accurate than their longer barreled cousins.

One of the main reasons given for recommending a small revolver to a new female shooter is the simplicity of the design. While it’s possible that at one point this may have been a valid point, as technology has advanced there is really no benefit in “fool proof reliability” for choosing a revolver over a modern semiautomatic like a Glock 19. It is no more difficult to teach any new shooter to rack a slide in a semiautomatic than it is to teach them to swing a cylinder out on a revolver.

And what about reloading? It is arguably much easier, not to mention faster, to eject a spent magazine and slam in a new one than it is to swing a cylinder out, eject the spent casings, grab a speedloader and get it positioned just right before releasing the rounds into the cylinder, and then closing it back into place.

Pro shooters such as Randi Rogers use the Glock 19 for concealed carry, and for good reason. It’s simple, reliable, and easy to carry concealed. The 15 round capacity means you have to reload much less than with a .38 caliber revolver, and the longer barrel and longer sight radius make it easier to aim and more accurate.

The Glock 19 is no panacea for beginners, however good it might be. Everyone has different sized hands and will find different guns that fit them well. Personally I find that Sig Sauer pistols fit my hands extremely well, while my wife loves her CZ-75. The point is that a new shooter will need to try many different guns and find what fits them best. There is no perfect gun that fits any beginner. More importantly, when introducing somebody to firearms for the first time, the experience needs to be positive. Lightweight snub-nosed revolvers have enough fire-breathing kick to scare off a newbie. A bigger, heavier, soft shooting autoloader is much more suitable for the first time out, and you’ll find that they are no more complex or difficult to use than a hammerless revolver.

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