What's a "Combat Handgun"?


July 18, 2004, 10:00 AM
I see this term referred to all the time on forums and in the gun rags. At first, I thought it referred to Military Service handguns, but I often see it associated with short barreled revolvers as well.

I'm assume now that it usually refers to a somewhat compact handgun (ie. not a Desert Eagle or 6" N-frame, but not a Khar MK9 or J-frame either) that can be conveniently carried concealed or open, packs a relatively powerful bite and is used to defend one's self whether you happen to be civilian, military or LEO.

Is this a correct assumption, or am I off base here?

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Jim Watson
July 18, 2004, 10:15 AM
Hey, if that is what you want to call them, it is fine with me.

There is no REAL definition of "combat handgun." It is a catchword used by advertisers and magazine writers to make sales.

July 18, 2004, 11:22 AM
Hey, if that is what you want to call them, it is fine with me. Thanks for your support Jim. :D

July 18, 2004, 11:24 AM
Whatever gun you have in your hand when you really need it.:)

July 18, 2004, 11:33 AM
Combat guns typically are not pretty or capable of one hole groups at 50yds
Thay are built to perform in adverse conditions where extreme accuracy takes a back seat to flawless reliability.
Combat accuracy means that it can put all rounds into a pie plate at typical engagement distances.
Combat reliable means that they can perform their assigned task covered in mud, dirt or you or your buddy's blood and body parts.

But mostly it's just a sales gimmick

R.H. Lee
July 18, 2004, 11:40 AM
But mostly it's just a sales gimmick

I think not! I hold in my hand a Colt "Combat Government Model" 1911.
If it don't say "Combat", it's just a copy.:neener: :D

Jim Watson
July 18, 2004, 12:04 PM
My point exactly.
It does NOT say "Colt Combat Handgun."

July 18, 2004, 12:09 PM
Catch-phrases and marketing ploys aside...here's my definition.

The sidearm...whether revolver or autopistol...should have ample power
to stop an attack in a reasonable amount of time by a relatively determined foe of average size and strength. It should be capable of shutting him down with the fewest number of rounds fired as possible...preferably one. A reasonable amount of time is two seconds or less from the time the first shot is fired. It'll take the average human being about that long to recover from the shock of being shot and get you back
on screen. If he doesn't fall at that point, you need to take evasion steps and prepare to fire again.

It should be reasonably controllable in the event that a second or third shot is needed to stop the aggressor's actions. This factor will vary from person to person, and can only be determined by the individual.

It should be accurate enough to engage the target at the distance which the target is engaged. This will vary according to the person carrying the gun. Police officers will likely have need of engaging a target at a longer distance than a private citizen who will be using the gun as a purely defensive tool, and will thus have a more stringent accuracy requirement.

It MUST be reliable above all other concerns. Match-grade accuracy
and pretty finishes and "tactical" affectations don't mean a thing if the gun can't be counted on to function. A pistol that has even one stoppage can get you killed. A pistol that has had repeat malfunctions on the practice range doesn't inspire confidence. One stoppage in 500 rounds is acceptable...barely. One in a thousand is gettin' there. One in a thousand over the course of 3 sessions without cleaning the gun is close
to ideal.



July 18, 2004, 04:25 PM
It is marketing “wordsmithing”, nothing more, since there are no recognized, quantifiable criteria for this “distinction”.

July 18, 2004, 06:10 PM
If it's in a non reflective black coating and has carbon fiber grips:evil: :D

July 18, 2004, 06:21 PM
What's a "Combat Handgun"?

Handgun used by a "Combatant" with very poor planning skills ;)

July 18, 2004, 07:19 PM
You might read George Nonte's "Combat Handguns" 1980, to get an idea what makes a combat handgun.

July 18, 2004, 07:36 PM
Blueduck said:

Handgun used by a "Combatant" with very poor planning skills

Now, I LIKE that one...:cool: May I quote you?

Dave R
July 18, 2004, 08:05 PM
I thought a combat pistol is:

-bigger than a concealed carry pistol
-small enough to carry on a hip (i.e. not a "hand cannon")
-Has a reasonable ammo capacity (i.e. not a single shot)
-Designed for military use (whether it actualy was used in a military application or not)

July 18, 2004, 08:22 PM
Now, I LIKE that one... May I quote you?

Feel free, gotta stay on your good side now that I've got a 1911 ;)

Brian Williams
July 18, 2004, 08:31 PM
This is a Combat handgun.
and this is a distinguished Combat Magnum
http://www.gunpix.com/gallery/Handguns/Double_Action_Revolvers/L586 and Camillus ArmyAirCorp.jpg

S&W used this as a Marketing ploy in the early 50's

If Mike Irwin still hung around he would have had this pegged.
Thought C.R. Sam would have stepped in but .....

S&W named the K frame line with adjustable sights in 22lr, 38 spec and 357

The Combat line
The Combat Masterpiece Model 15/67 in 38 and Mod 18 in 22lr
The Combat Magnum Model 19/66 in 357
The Distinguished Combat Magnum 586/686 with the heavy under lug barrel and heavier frame

If it's in a non reflective black coating and has carbon fiber grips Nope that is tactical, Combat is Blue Steel and Checked wood

July 20, 2004, 07:13 PM
GLOCK 19 :cool:

July 20, 2004, 11:15 PM
So you mean my S&W 686 isn't really a Distinguished Combat Magnum? :rolleyes:

Brian Williams
July 21, 2004, 12:28 AM
Only if it does not have the @#$@#$^ lock.

July 21, 2004, 01:34 AM
Well, I guess I'm sh*t outta luck then...

July 21, 2004, 10:11 AM
A lot of people tout Glocks as combat handguns.

I think the criteria of not looking pretty and functioninalism (is that a word?) when you need it to are met by Glocks. At least by the model 19 and 30.

July 21, 2004, 10:17 AM
Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find the definition by reading this...


July 21, 2004, 11:05 AM
I think "combat handgun" is like "Corinthian leather" -- a term that was just made up.

July 21, 2004, 02:05 PM
It's black. And you have to scowl when you shoot it.

Jim K
July 21, 2004, 02:16 PM
I side with Jim Watson and others on this one. "Combat" is a BS word, like "tactical" and "assault", used to sell stuff to the suckers and Walter Mitty types who think they are going to fight all the bad guys of the world.

Most of us have some idea of what type of gun we would like to have when/if a problem occurs, but real world considerations, like not being able to carry legally, tend to intrude on dream time.

As for military use, very few military personnel get to choose. You go with what is issued to you. You don't get to shop around, and if you carry unauthorized gear, you can get in a whole lot of trouble.


July 21, 2004, 02:31 PM
"Combat" is a BS word, like "tactical" and "assault", :eek: perish the thought! Woe is me! Can't we even trust honest manufacturers to tell us what we NEED? :eek:

lee n. field
July 21, 2004, 05:31 PM
What's a "Combat Handgun"?

A gun that you fight with. The one you have with you when the fight comes to you.

July 21, 2004, 05:44 PM
I heard this discussion the other day and one of the participants opined that the term "Combat Handgun" was interchangeable with the term "Fools Rifle."

Zach S
July 24, 2004, 11:31 PM
My definition is a handgun that accurate and reliable despite limp-wristing it and not cleaning it for about 800 rounds...

"Fool's rifle." Hehe, I like that one:D

July 25, 2004, 08:03 AM
It has to be either a 1911, P-38, or a Luger. Those were the only handguns used on the old tv show "Combat". :neener:

July 27, 2004, 01:47 AM
"Combat handgun" = whatever handgun the person(s) have during combat. Whatever that might be is a personal choice....or fate.

July 27, 2004, 11:57 PM
I have to agree with the 'marketing ploy' concept.

On the other hand, back in the dark ages when I was a humble but lovable Border Patrol Agent, we could purchase and carry our own sidearms (within limitations).

In that context, a "combat handgun" was one that was intended to serve a self-defense role for me. Note the word 'intended'. A couple folks have listed some qualities of a "combat handgun" (or "service handgun" in the more PC jargon). I don't have much in the way of quibble with those factors mentioned, but as long as I'm taking up space anyway, here's my list of requirements.

Power must be adequate to disable a determined opponent, yet not be uncontrollable.

Accuracy must be enough to deliver the round where it is needed, but not

Useability combines the controls and weight and shape of grip and sights that allow the handgun to be used quickly and properly.

Reliablity means the thing has to work when I need it to work.

The specifics of make, model and features are somewhat subjective. Some folks like one thing, and some folks like another.

July 28, 2004, 01:51 AM
For practical purposes the "Combat Handgun" of today and the "Service Pistol" of 20 years ago serve the same function.

Which makes the man behind the trigger more important than whatever is in his holster.

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