Finding the hangun you shoot best with....


August 9, 2011, 12:01 AM
Question for all those out there that have done a lot of range time:

Do you have a handgun that you just shoot really well with and others that you don't shoot so well with?

If so, how many rounds did it take you to figure out this gun was right for you?

Did you know as soon as you picked it up? Did it just "feel right" in the gun shop? Or did you just start shooting and ended up being surprised at how well you did?

Or are you one of those people that can shoot any quality firearm equally well with practice.

Finally what gun/caliber is it?

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August 9, 2011, 12:22 AM
Some guns are easier to shoot but, I think you have to have shooting skills. there is not a gun that will make you shoot great. Practice is key.

August 9, 2011, 12:26 AM
I can shoot most handguns well with a lot of practice and at least well enough to know how well the gun is shooting with about a box of ammo. I shoot any semi-auto with a decent semi-auto trigger pretty well but DA triggers on a semi-auto are harder for me. I just sold a LNIB M&P9 because I simply couldn't shoot it worth a damn. OTOH, my DA revolver shooting is improving. Go figure...

One thing that will help you immensely is if you get a gun that fits your hand well. I have big hands but smaller grips tend to fit me well and so does the SIG P-226 and Browning Hi Power. Others... I'm still experimenting with.

August 9, 2011, 12:33 AM
I shoot 1911s better than anything else, and it did not take much effort to discover this.

chris in va
August 9, 2011, 02:01 AM
Rented a CZ 75B in 40 a few years ago, trying to find something I could shoot better than my XD9. I knew instantly it was 'The One', so I sold the XD and got a CZ in 9mm.

I can shoot it like a laser. Probably should get better sights at some point.

I keep hearing all these reports about BG's walking into malls and such mowing down patrons at will. I sift through all my handguns (what I have left) and the CZ is far and away the one I would need for that 50 yard shot. Hopefully that never happens, but I know I can do it with regularity. Under stress...dunno.

August 9, 2011, 06:42 AM
I like to shoot revolver more now. Tend to spend more time shooting those. I'm accurate enough to shoot man sized targets at distances of my hallways. But with my revolvers, especially my 629, I'm deadly accurate.

August 9, 2011, 07:59 AM
I shoot a variety of handguns, primarily in IDPA competition. I usually expect that it will take me ~5,000 rds to really get into the groove with a new gun, to the point that I am at the top of my game with that particular gun.

When I switch between guns I've already become "proficient" with, I generally expect that I'll need ~1,000 rounds of solid practice to transition from one to the other -- to get back on top of the skills curve. So I tend to shoot one gun per season or so, to get the max out of my skills with that gun before switching platforms.


Now, as far as just "shooting" goes -- i.e. plinking bulls-eyes on a square range -- I can usually shoot 'most anything with some reasonable expectation of success. The basics of marksmanship are the same. But that's not how I evaluate my abilities with the gun. There's so much more involved with manipulation of the gun ("gun handling") and "running" the gun in a practical scenario, against the clock, and those are the skills that really require development and intensive practice.

To answer your other question -- NO, I don't shoot run all quality guns equally well. That's what the whole 5,000 round trial period is about: proving whether or not I can make this gun run as well/fast/accurately as I can make other guns in the stable run.

I like to use the IDPA "Classifier" match as a standard. I follow my ability to shoot that course with different types of guns, and measure progress against the par times established for that COF. Last year, for example, I bought a CZ-75B Omega and "campaigned" it through a ~5,000 trial period, where I shot that gun only, that included 3-4 months of practices and matches. (No, I don't shoot nearly as much as I should to be "good.") At the end of that trial period, I'd developed my handling of that gun to the point where I felt I was as relatively smooth and quick with it as I was with other guns with which I believe myself to be "proficient." My test times in the Classifier COF proved that I was unable to shoot that gun within ~15 seconds of my best runs with other guns like my xDM or an M&P.

August 9, 2011, 10:34 AM
With concentration most guns can be shot well, but some designs are easier to shoot well for many people, while some are not as easy, in general of course.

There are certain guns that are extremely popular, and with good reason, they work well for a great many people.

I shoot some guns better than others. Some guns just "fit" me better.

August 9, 2011, 01:14 PM
I can shoot most handguns acceptably. If I want to shoot well, I pick up a 4" barreled .38 special revolver.

August 9, 2011, 04:12 PM
I went and made a list of all the firearms I have owned over the years starting in 1970 till today .80 PLUS most of them REVOLVERS .44MAG OR 357 MAG.1/2 DOZEN AUTOS . REVOLVERS RULE

August 9, 2011, 06:35 PM
For auto's Ruger .22 MK2 5" bull, Colt .45 acp sieres 70. My favorite revolver is a S&W 6" 10 shot 617 followed by a Ruger SBH 4.5" shooting .44sp, and a Ruger 5.5" Redhawk using .44mag. I would really like to see a 6" in .32 H&R mag or a .327 6".

August 9, 2011, 06:49 PM
For me, at least, "feeling right" in the gun shop has not necessarily resulted in good performance when shooting. The Browning High-Power and Kahr K-series would be good examples of that. Both felt like instant winners, but owning and shooting them both, over time, resulted in performance plateaus well below my performance with the relatively less-right-feeling 1911, as well as the revolvers that DID feel very right.

I thought the SIG P229 E2 would be better than the standard P229 grip, based on how it felt, but it reality, it squirms in my hand during the DA trigger pull, and the SA pull was just too close to the palm of my hand. I sold the E2, and stayed with my existing P229 pistols.

August 9, 2011, 06:55 PM
To better finish answering the OP's questions, yes, I have handguns that perform better for me than others. Ruger SP101 and GP100, the 1911, and the SIG P229 come to mind, and with the right aftermarket or custom grips, S&W K/L-frame revolvers. These performed well for me from the start. Trying other, more trendy weapons, which felt right, but just did not work out so well, made appreciate these familiar weapons much more, over time.

August 9, 2011, 07:55 PM
I started with several autos and they were ok but when I got my first revolver, a GP100, shooting a handgun all came together. The 357 takes you from pop guns into the real stuff. The 38 feels like a cap gun now. If there were a perfect revolver and caliber, in my opinion, it would be the 357 GP100. It's the best of both worlds.

August 9, 2011, 07:56 PM
Like Rexster posted, the feel of the gun in the store is not a good guide to how well a gun will shoot for you. I've had guns feel great that just didn't work for me (FN P-35) and others that felt like blocks that shot very well (Beretta 92)

As Sam1911 has posted, you really need to shoot a gun for a while when it is different from what you are used to shooting. The hardest thing to learn is the trigger travel, reset, and pressure. It doesn't make much difference if it is SA, DA or some combination, it just takes time to get a feel for it before you can even fairly compare them.

I usually try out a new gun for 4-6 months before I'm ready to compare it to another. 5000 rounds sounds like a good number...but I usually think in terms of trigger presses, because I dryfire much more than I shoot a gun I'm trying to learn. I don't really practice enough to be good either

August 9, 2011, 08:00 PM
I will add the classic Colt SAA design to handguns that felt right, and then shot very well for me right off the bat. My first example was made by U.S. Patent Firearms, which evolved into U.S. Firearms.

Capt. Ct.
August 10, 2011, 03:19 AM
The first time I took my new Ruger 22/45 to the range I put 80% of my rounds dead in the bullseye. I never shot it that well again. :mad:

August 10, 2011, 01:08 PM
S&W models 17 (.22) and 14(.38).

I exchange the magna grips for targets when I go plinkin' with these two. They make me look like I know what I'm doing.

August 10, 2011, 02:03 PM
I was looking for a 1911 for my first center fire pistol. I happened to try on a CZ75b and bought it on the spot. It's a natural pointer for me. Thirty five years ago I was given a S&W 15 by a good friend. I really sucked with it, and never used it. A few years ago I bought some Pachmayer grips for it, it's much better, but I still prefer the grips on my semi-auto's.

August 11, 2011, 06:05 AM
Iggy those are very nice. I woke up this morning to the photo of your two handguns. It will be a great day. Thank you very much, Sir.

August 11, 2011, 10:40 AM
Over the years, I've shot a lot of different handguns. I can get them "all" to group at or under 4" at 7 yards which is more than adequate for self defense. Most I shoot much better than that. The one I fell in love with took less than 100 rounds for me to decide. I've bought others that I can shoot well but don't feeel as nice in my hand. It doesn't mean I won't use it, its just there are others tha fee better to me. I've had some tha I hae wanted to like more and probaly shot over 3,000 rounds through but my inital impressions didn't change on how they felt. The semi auto pistol I take as a backup when I hunt isn't my favorite buts reliable and robust and I shOt it well. I prefer 45s for selfe defense and often take it to the range. For much of the range work, I use a 9 mm model of my 45 selfdefense model. With the price difference in rounds, I have shot enough where the 9 mm is esentially free. You'll notice I haven't named the brands because what I like is irrevalent to what you may like. The vast majority of pistols are reliable so a lot of it comes down to how it feels. The more you like it the more you will likely take it to the range.

August 18, 2011, 01:22 AM
ok, any recommendations on how I should pick out my first 9mm? Sounds like I should buy used. Then used again 6 months later.... and so forth.

August 18, 2011, 03:05 AM
I am best with my 629 followed by my 1911. Both guns I was shooting pretty good groups with first time out, the others took a little practice. Can't wait to get my new 625 out to the range and see what I can do with it.

Also, I can hit a 12" target at 75-100yards with the 629.

August 18, 2011, 08:03 AM
ok, any recommendations on how I should pick out my first 9mm? Sounds like I should buy used. Then used again 6 months later.... and so forth.

As a complete "clean slate" I'd let the market guide me. There are many, many 9mm handguns available, but the general trend seems to be in the direction of polymer-framed, striker-fired service-style autos. Many shooters start out with them, and find success with practice -- and many shooters discover that they are all the handgun they need, even into Master-class competition. They are simple, rugged, not too expensive, and capable of perfectly fine accuracy.

So for my advice, I'd say head down to the local gun shop and handle a Glock, an M&P, and an xD (or xDM). See which just feels best in your hands. Pick one and start shooting! And shooting, and shooting. (And dryfiring...)

As time and circumstances allow, you may want to try other styles as you progress. Once you have the basic skills really solid, you'll be in a better position to play with a few other guns and decide if you could improve your abilities by switching to a DA/SA gun (Sig, H&K, older S&W auto, Beretta, CZ75, etc.) or a SA pistol you can carry "Condition 1" (1911, CZ75, Browning HiPower, etc.).

Good luck!

August 18, 2011, 08:09 AM
I shot 1911s and Browning Hi Powers for thousands of rounds. There was nothing I didn't like about them. Out of the blue, I picked up and shot the CZ PCR. From shot #1 I was as good or better than the BHP. I was shocked, actually. I had other guns that didn't "shoot" like my 1911s and BHP but I never could get a Glock to mimic them. I'd buy one, shoot it for 1000 rounds and sell it, swear off Glocks and then the bug would bite again and I'd buy another and shoot 1000 rounds and sell it and swear off Glocks again. I tried the 9mm and .40S&W and neither one shot like my 1911s, BHPs and now CZs. I did go out and get the big brother to the PCR in .40S&W and it was just as accurate and felt just as good as the PCR. To this day, I shoot the CZs better than any other gun I own. I am so happy I think I'm going to sell all my other non-1911/BHPs I own because I just won't shoot them any more... well, except for my PM9 and LCP for CC when needed... and of course, my .22s for general plinking... or my .357 S&W.... but that's it... well, I do need to have a .25ACP and a .32ACP just because but that's all I need to keep... well, everyone needs a .38 Special, right?

August 18, 2011, 09:23 AM
I have one gun I shoot extremely well with. There are a lot I do 'ok' with. I am not one that shoots everything like a pro, but I've tried. :D

When I first started shopping for a handgun, I went to the range with my brothers and rented every gun in the case. We did this about once a month. Everyone talked up the Glocks, and I shot every variation of them trying to find one that 'felt' right. I got pretty good with the Glock 22 (full size .40 cal).

One day the range had a Springfield XD, and I shocked myself with how well I shot with it. It just seems to 'point' better for me. I shot better with it on day one than I had after 6 sessions with the Glock. After the 3rd or 4th time I rented it, I decided to buy one.

I bought an XD 9mm 4" 16rd in OD green. To date, Im probably high in the thousands as far as round count. I've gotten lots of compliments from the range guys when I shoot it. At 10 yds I can keep them in the "X" (2"x3" oval) on a B-27E target. The range goes out to 50 yds, and I never leave without shooting at that distance. If I shoot slow I can keep the rounds in the "X" and the ring around it (isnt marked(4"x6" oval)), with the occasional round in the "9". But this is after having the gun for 3 years, and shooting it every time I go. Some day I'll shoot a 'half-dollar' hole at that range.

I can shoot my S&W 637 (.38spl) at 5 yds about as well as I can shoot my XD at 50yds. But cannot shoot as well with factory grips. I've only had this one a year and hope time/practice will let me become more proficient.

I am NOT good with the horsetail revolvers. I have to make such a consious effort to hold it correctly that I often focus less on the target and more on my hold. I dont put much faith in "it felt right", I put my faith in "it shot right". Looking at it in the gun store is one thing, shooting it is another.

If you're shopping for a 9mm, go rent every one in the range. If your place is anything like mine they swap/add new guns every now and then. Dont jump into one, it was nearly a year between 1st shopping excursion and actual purchase, for me. YMMV Good luck! Have fun!

August 18, 2011, 10:11 AM
When I took my CWP class I had an older FNP-9 that I had bought cheap and never shot. In fact, I had only fired a half dozen rounds, total, through pistols in my life and all of those had been 35 years before. The first time I fired the FNP-9 was when I took the live fire portion of the CWP test and I shot the highest score in the class. I just couldn’t miss with that thing, I had 43 out of 50 inside the 9 ring at ranges from 5 to 25 yards. Dumbest thing I ever did was to sell it to a friend who was drooling over it and use the proceeds to buy a FNP-9M with factory night sights. I’m just not quite as accurate with the 9M and it’s not enough smaller to make any difference in carryability. I still shoot the 9M better than my striker fired handguns or my Security Sixes but nothing like I shot its bigger brother, even though the sight radius is exactly the same with both pistols.

Come to think of it, the first time I took my FNP-45 Tactical to the range I tore a ragged golf ball size hole in the target with the first three magazines at 10 yards. I can shoot all my handguns competently but those two FN pistols just seemed to suit me without having to adjust to anything. I used to drive NASCAR Stock Cars locally and I can still hustle even a very average mundane vehicle pretty quickly through the twisty parts but with some cars it’s just effortless to drive them quickly and crisply. Some mechanical devices just fit and feel right for an individual, and they provide exactly the needed feedback at the right time. That intangible feel is different for different people, and what works for me might not work for you. It’s amazing when you achieve the proper match, though.

August 18, 2011, 11:13 AM
I'm one of those people who have to practice a lot with any gun I buy before I can hit what I aim at. The one gun I've picked up in the past 3 years (besides the S&W target pistol), that didn't take a lot of range time to fire accurately is the old 2003 CZ 75B. It just seemed to fit my hand, my eye (and see with one of them) from the first time I pulled the trigger. It's taken me hundreds of rounds to get proficient with my Glock 23 enough to carry it. Now I really like it. I'm not counting revolvers here. For some reason they are just a lot easier for me. Maybe because I didn't touch a semi auto pistol until the mid 80's and I gave up on them until about 3 years ago.

August 19, 2011, 08:19 AM
I buy and trade a lot of pistols. I can shoot most all pretty well. However, it's been my experience that absolutely nothing is as easy to shoot accurately as a 1911. That's why I have three 1911's that I shoot at the range. However, much of the time I carry a Glock for reasons other than accuracy.

August 19, 2011, 11:46 AM
While I can manage to shoot just about any handgun decently to do so from a draw and under the stress of a competition is another thing. Some guns just "fold into the hand" easier than others. Those that don't require either more practice to get used to or are just the wrong size/shape for the shooter's hand. For revolvers it's all about the shape of the grips since you can totally change the feel of the gun with a switch of the grips. For semi autos, like the 9mm you're shopping for, some of the guns don't allow you to alter the grips so the gun had better fit well right from the first time.

The best thing is to get out and shoot some different guns at a rental range. If it fits into your hand easily without the need for constant adjusting then it's a suitable gun for you. You can test this without any ammo. Just pick it up and present the gun to the target. If the sights are in line with your natural grip to a reasonable degree and you can repeat that same grab and present success a number of times then it's likely, but still not certain, that you'll do decently with that gun.

For me this came down to guns with relatively oval grip/frame feels. Like the CZ's (which I bought), 1911, Jericho/Baby Eagle, M&P and a couple of others. Guns with blockly feeling grips and frames like the many Glocks, double stack 2011's and a few others just didn't seem to fit me as well.

Oddly enough a gun which I shoot well, like the feel of but is just a bit "wrong" is my much loved Beretta 92fs. I really need to get some more oval shaped grips for it as the stock grips are a bit flat and hard edged.

Speaking of flat for my own part I found thin but flat sided guns like the Ruger SR9 also did not "index" into my grip well. I find that such guns fit fine at the front and back but the flat sides make it hard to get a nice even pressure on the sides so the guns are not as secure in my grip. That's where, for ME, guns with more of an oval shape to the grips and frame really shine. Such guns as the SR9 shoot well but I can't just "grab and go" with them. I need to conciously work at getting the correct hold on the gun both when I first pick them up and as I'm shooting them. Revolvers with the relatively flat sided Pachmayr grips are the same for me.

But it's all about you. I've related what I look for in the grip feel of a gun. I look for a fairly consistent fill and pressure of the hand with an all around "full wrap" consistent contact of the gun grip in my hand. If you can achieve that sort of feel with the gun it's likely that you'll find that it is a fairly easy gun to shoot well once you master the right trigger control.

The problem is that to test this you need to already know the correct grip method. There's no point doing that if you're not using a consistently correct gripping method.

Onward Allusion
August 19, 2011, 12:40 PM
wacki (
Finding the hangun you shoot best with....

Shot a lot of handguns but it wasn't until I shot an old beat-up S&W 5946 that I became what *I* would consider good. It took about 1,000 rounds to get there. On good days, I do 1" or less at 10 to 15 yards off-hand - all hitting POA. I'm sure there are a lot of other folks out there who can do much better, but for me this is good. I know the 5946 is far from a race or match gun, so that's how I know my shooting has improved dramatically. I now have probably around 10,000 rounds on that gun.

August 19, 2011, 01:17 PM
I had a friend offer to sale me a Glock-36. It just didn't feel right in my hand. He offered me a good price so I said I'd think it over. He was needing the money and I thought I'd buy it and sell it off if I didn't like it. It since has become my EDC. I shoot this as well if not better than any of my autos. I can't believe I almost passed it up because of the way it felt. A CCO size 45acp with mild recoil, I thought the recoil on such a light weight gun would be a lot worst.

I think with practice any gun can be shot well. I like to shoot big bore revolvers the most, but I can hit paper with all my guns at 25 yards. :D

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