Do you really think there is that much advantage to carrying a full sized pistol?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by bangbang01, Dec 15, 2017.

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  1. bangbang01

    bangbang01 Member

    Dec 8, 2017
    Let me start of by saying that I absolutely believe there is a HUGE advantaged to carrying a full sized service pistol if you work in LE or basically any field that requires one to carry a gun for a living.

    With that being said, is there really that much of an advantage to carrying a full size 1911 or Glock 17 over something like a S&W shield or a little snubby 38 for 99% of the scenarios that a regular private citizen might encounter. That just seems like a whole lot of gun to carry everyday that probably isn't going to help you anymore unless you're a really unlucky person or a risk taker. I could think of so many other things to worry about before getting caught up in a shootout

    I find it odd that you'll have one guy debating if a little 32 mouse gun is enough or if they should step up to a 380 pocket pistol, while you'll have another guy debating if 1 extra 20 round mag for his XD is enough.

    For those that Cary a full size service pistol everyday, what type of situation do you see yourself possibly encountering that warrants being perpetually uncomfortable? I'm not against one packing a full size duty gun every day, I'm just curious.
  2. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    In between the full size (Glock 17, 1911 Government Model) and subcompacts (Shield, Glock 43) are the compacts (Glock 19, M&P Compact). Compacts are easier to shoot than subcompacts and are easier to carry and conceal than the full sized.

    If I were a LEO, I'd want a compact duty pistol.
  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    DFW Area
    The only good thing about little guns is that they're easy to conceal and maybe lighter to carry. Bigger guns win in pretty much every other category. Easier to shoot accurately, easier to shoot rapidly, easier to manipulate, easier to draw, more capacity, more versatile, more fun to shoot, and often more reliable. Not all of those relate directly to self-defense, but many do and I think all of them are relevant to at least some extent
    I know exactly what you mean by this, but it's worth pointing out with the exception of those who carry for fun, or to show off, or intimidate people, everyone who carries is carrying for a living in one sense. ;)
    bearcreek, Delford, JR24 and 9 others like this.
  4. Swichblade

    Swichblade Member

    Nov 22, 2011
    Earth, maybe
    I do not believe full size handguns offer a significant advantage over smaller guns. When I turned 21, I was ready with my CZ P-09 and holster to carry because I thought that if I was going to carry a gun, I wasn't going to compromise on size. That idea lasted for a few months until I realized that carrying a full size handgun was just a hassle and any situation I might find myself in will likely not need 20 rounds. I ended up buying an HK p2000sk and I shoot it pretty well despite its size, the only challenge was adjusting to the short sight radius at first and I feel like I have plenty of ammo with 11 rounds ready to go. If somebody wants to carry a full size handgun then I won't tell them they're wrong, but I find that the advantages it offers aren't worth the cost to my daily comfort.
  5. Klint Beastwood

    Klint Beastwood member

    Jul 12, 2017
    Advantages would be:
    Higher muzzle velocity
    A longer sight radius
    Less snap or recoil per same caliber usually
    Mag capacity
    More frame to work with depending on hand size

    Significance is in the eyes of the tool user
  6. Gary Gill

    Gary Gill Member

    Feb 20, 2003
    I'll come at it from a different perspective. I have rheumatoid arthritis and my hands lack the flexibility they once had. I switched to a full size S&W M&P 9 mm because I can get a good grip with all four fingers. I carry IWB at 4:00 o'clock. This works for me. Find what works for you and stick with it until the need to change arises.
  7. BSA1

    BSA1 member

    Apr 20, 2011
    West of the Big Muddy, East of the Rockies and Nor
    Citizens are involved in probably more armed confrontations than LEO’s. At least in smaller communities and rural areas.

    So why carry at all?

    Anything that comes my way.

    Why is carrying a full-size gun “perpetually uncomfortable?”

    Self-defense survival is much more than simply having a gun.
    bearcreek, JR24, Ironicaintit and 3 others like this.
  8. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    As long as a good belt and holster are used the only disadvantages to a full sized pistol are a little more weight and a little less concealable. My favorite carry gun is a Steyr S9 which is G19 size. My full size Steyr M40 fits in the same holster and feels almost the same to carry.
    Odds are I won't face a self defense situation today but I'm still going to carry.
  9. milemaker13

    milemaker13 Member

    Jan 14, 2013
    Chicago suburbs
    If I commonly wore larger cover clothing, suit jacket or such, I might consider caring a larger pistol. Maybe in a shoulder holster?
  10. huntsman

    huntsman Member

    Apr 11, 2003
    ohio's northcoast
    Full size, compact or subcompact so many choices. Then we delve into caliber and capacity, why gun guys do what they do believe what they believe?

    Questions that before the intra-web were answered by mentors not anonymous screen names.

    IMHO weight is 50% of the equation if I’m toting a 2lb+ gun it’s because it has capacity, 9 rounds and a S/A trigger makes no sense when balanced against the weight liability.

    Triggers are mechanical devices that high functioning beings should beable to master while gravity is really a bitch.

    For me it’s a rational decision stripped of emotion or some sense dedication, if I don’t like the total package(weight, capacity, functionality ) I don’t use it.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  11. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

    Mar 15, 2009
    Free State USA
    I've been carrying about 25 years.
    Started out with 38 snub / 380
    Moved up to Glock 26/27 for many, many years (I still regard these as good minimum).
    About 5 years ago I decided that I could conceal a Glock 19/23/32 or 30SF size about as easy as the 26/27.
    I prefer the full grip, but if under a 10 round mag limit I'd go Glock 26 rather than 19 on principle - a Glock 19 was designed for 15 rounds.
    If carrying appendix IWB then a Glock 26/27 or 19/23 is easy to conceal.

    Couple years ago, for approximately the 3rd time I was approached in a parking lot / pumping gas by someone asking for money despite me shaking my head "NO" as I saw them approaching. I decided then that being able to put my hand on a gun in pocket without revealing I'm carrying would be a nice option so I started carrying a "pocket option" - option to put my hand on it without revealing I'm carrying.
    Two examples that reinforce the value of a 2nd pistol: I had a factory squib load, "premium" SD bullet that lodged in the barrel, pistol was not use-able until I tapped (with force) the bullet out. Also had an extractor edge break after only about 500 rounds fired through pistol, case failed to extract and next round was rammed into it causing a jam that was not quick or easy to clear.

    About a year ago, after over two decades of appendix carry, I decided to go with strong side IWB. I've tried various Glocks, but the 1911 is more comfortable for me; slide length is just long enough to get the muzzle off/past my hip rather than on/in it with a shorter length pistol, thinness is an added bonus.

    As far as scenario, the scenario I envision is someone(s) threatening or using lethal force against me - that simple.
    I desire to stop the use of lethal force against me ASAP.
    Assuming same shot placement, a 9mm has more ASAP potential than a 380 - IMO.
    I'd rather have a 9mm pocket pistol in my hand than a 380 if I had to defend my life so the pocket option is a Kahr PM9 - that simple.
    And I'd rather have a full size pistol (Glock 19/23 or 1911) in my hand than a pocket pistol, so I carry a larger gun IWB - that simple.

    For the TL/DR folks: carrying 25 years, carry pistol got bigger over time despite not needing it even once.
    JR24 likes this.
  12. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    Sullivan County PA
    Whichever size is going to facilitate regular carry, my choice is pocket sized, is best. I have a full sized FN but it is for range use only.
  13. 444

    444 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    The advantages of carrying a full sized pistol are obvious and most of the reasons have already been given.

    For me, they typically have better sights. And, they have a better sight radius. What this means from a practical standpoint is that you can shoot them much better. And hitting the target is the whole point of the exercise. This isn't any revelation to anybody that has done much shooting on the range.

    With concealed carry, people typically try to get some tiny little gun with tiny little sights. And if they actually take them to the range and SERIOUSLY shoot them, they will quickly find that they are difficult to shoot well. Then they take that same gun that is difficult to shoot well under the best possible circumstances and expect to shoot it effectively in the worst possible circumstances.

    The counter-argument to this is that someone will say: in a defensive situation you are going to be at very close range.................blah blah blah. I have never been in a shoot out, but I do know that there is no script. What you envision may not happen. I also have done enough shooting to know that even at close range, it is very easy to miss when you are under pressure and time is of the essence. I have been to classes where the instructors were purposely trying to pressure me with yelling and pushing me fast and I missed a target across a room with a shotgun. I have missed a couple deer when they jumped up (which startled me) right in front of me at distances of less than 10 yards using a rifle. I remember once I was walking through the woods hunting, very relaxed, not really caring if I saw any game or not, not really paying attention; just enjoying nature, and a grouse took off a foot away from me and startled me so bad that I fell down :) Now combine the need for speed and the surprise with the fact that you are fighting for your life and I can see things going bad quickly. Yet a lot of people, preparing for a scenario like that, purposely tie one hand behind their back by using a tiny gun with tiny sights. Of course this is not to mention that when you are startled, and scared to death, and you reach for your gun to defend your life, it is much easier to grab a great big pistol than it is to grab a tiny little pistol.

    One last point is that it makes sense to me, to carry a gun that you are familiar with and comfortable with as possible. People tend to shoot full sized guns a lot more then put that away and strap on a tiny little gun for carry. Small guns (to me) are not as much fun to shoot on the range. Again, they often have sights that are hard to see, the fact that they are small makes them uncomfortable to shoot a lot.............. So, you tend not to practice as much with the small guns; which is not a good thing.

    Finally we get into guns that are offered as full sized guns, then other versions of the gun are offered in smaller packages for carry. For example the 1911, the Commander sized guns, the Officer sized gun. Or the Glocks where they have three or more sizes of very similar guns. Traditionally they have the full sized version, they the next one down has a shorter barrel. This never made sense to me because the barrel is the part that is easy to conceal if you are carrying inside the waistband. The barrel (and slide) are down inside your pants. The part that prints is the grip frame. Ok, so you get a version with a shorter grip frame. Which results not only in less ammo, but it is not much more uncomfortable to shoot because the grip frame is small. So, you get a magazine with an extender for your pinkie, which brings the size of the butt of the gun right back to what it was if you just had a full sized gun as far as printing is concerned. ................ It's all a matter of trade-offs. Or you can just carry a full sized gun and not make the trade-offs.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
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  14. stonebuster

    stonebuster Member

    Jun 8, 2016
    I bought a 9mm full size semi-auto that I thought would be good for carry, home and range. I found it difficult to conceal and not that comfortable. Maybe I needed a better holster, but I found myself leaving it at home especially in the summer for fear of somebody spotting it and calling a cop. I bought the 9mm Shield w/8+1 capacity that I can easily conceal comfortably that I shoot well enough should the situation arise. So the $1200 full size gun has become a range/home defense gun and the Shield is my daily carry.
  15. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

    Feb 10, 2016
    Fl panhandle
    In Florida, where shorts and a t shirt is what most people wear most of the year, carrying larger, heavier, double-stack pistols or 4" wheel guns concealed is a tall order. My CCW/ EDC is a shield 9mm. I find it sufficient in power, reliability, capacity, and accuracy, not to mention ease of concealment. Would my Glock 19 be a better "tactical" choice? Yes, but impractical. As for the 380, 38 snubs, and smaller calibers, I don't find them sufficient for my needs. Full disclosure- a Glock 23 does live in my jeep.
  16. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    South Dakota / Black Hills
    31+ years LEO, most of that in uniform. For most of my career my off duty weapon was a 1911, my weapon of choice and I shot it very well. Today I have two and only two carry weapons. When pocket carry is necessary or preferable a Glock 43, otherwise it's Commander size alloy frame 1911 Kimber in 45 ACP.

    I require extreme accuracy from all of my weapons and the carry guns are no exception. Both above mentioned weapons make the cut. The Glock 43 is the only Glock I've ever had with which I can keep all rounds on an IDPA target at 100 yards. From 50 yards in, accuracy is amazing. The Commander size 1911 made the cut easily. At 100 yards I can keep all rounds in the A zone of an IDPA target. 25 yard groups are basically one big ragged hole.

    I'm 68 years old, as age increases my shooting skills try to diminish. Now instead of keeping sharp with a couple day a week on the range, I shoot every day, weather permitting, guess I'm getting a bit soft. The last time I qualified, required for my "federal permit", I easily cleaned the course on time. Point is, if you are going to carry you have an obligation to practice and stay or become very proficient with your weapon, otherwise you are likely to become part of the problem rather than the solution. But that's just me, your mileage will likely vary.
  17. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Apr 24, 2007

    Did it for a number of years when I didn't have all that many guns to choose from for concealed carry (mainly Colt Governments and occasionally a Browning Hi-Power). Always thought that the Colt Commander was a good fit between full size in a single stack to a bit more compact and a bit less weight with the shorter slide and aluminum alloy frame. Still had the same capacity magazine, decent sights, and a smooth single action trigger to work with. In a compact polymer framed 9mm. I liked how ergonomic the Ruger SR9c felt in my hand. With it's 17 round spare magazine it had all the capacity of the larger SR9 but in a much more concealable package.

    When I went to smaller and lighter handguns it was usually a .38 Special snubnose revolver, like a Charter Arms Undercover or a S&W Model 36. Nowadays I prefer the shrouded hammer configuration of the S&W Model 649 and Model 638. Liked the Colt Government .380 with all of the attributes of a 1911 but in a much more miniaturized design and loved the Colt Mustang even more when it came out as to me it was the perfect size for a .380. Found the Kahr CM9 also to be a great choice in subcompact 9mm.s as it is very small, extremely easy and comfortable to carry concealed, and has an incredibly smooth and easy to use DAO trigger.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  18. Tirod

    Tirod Member

    May 24, 2008
    SW MO
    I've yet to hear all the reasons why a large service pistol is expected to have a "huge" advantage. What is issued for service use is usually a badge of rank in the miltary and in LEO circles the gun is more often not used well. Too much administrative and vehicle expense is placed in priority over marksmanship and it's a national issue that LEO's are less accurate than a regularly practicing private citizen.

    When the majority of confrontations are 21 feet or less, the incremental difference of another inch and a fraction of sight radius means little if the presentation is point and pull. Having adopted a much larger magazine from combat oriented weapons fielded in armies since the 1930's - IE the Browning HiPower and all it's descendants - what we now have is too much ammo and not enough decision making.

    Since thugs adopt what cops carry all we have done is escalate the armed confrontation arms race and there can only be parity, at best, at any given time. We've gone from European authorities being content with the .32 ACP for decades, to 9mm single stacks, to 9mm double stacks. In America, it was the .38 Special in a six shot revolver with one reload - and despite the .357 and .45 ACP, that was the standard pretty much nationwide until the Illinois State Police adopted the S&W auto pistol in 9mm.

    That isn't to forget that the M39 was intended as a response to the Army soliciting a trial after WWII and their criteria were 9mm, light weight, and DA/SA as it was expressed in the Walther P38. Colt invented the Commander with alloy frame as a result of the trials but having 3.2 million 1911's and handguns being a low combat priority, they tabled the search in 1955. The Army was not pleased with the 1911 as it was a large, heavy, and aging fleet of handguns even then.

    Those educated in tactics are more than aware the handgun is second best in armed confrontations, you are undergunned in any matchup with rifle caliber weapons. We basically carry handguns out of convenience - we are less likely to get tangled up exiting the family car or inadvertently smacking one of the kids with a front sight dangling down behind us. Same with shopping - carrying a rifle is being a bull in a china shop. So, we DO choose smaller weapons for personal defense, and our history has been to choose less than ten rounds carried in the gun. Only in recent history have we adopted large frame double stack weapons - and for the most part those who do carry them absent the badge of authority do so because they choose to, not because of some "huge" advantage. A rifle gives you a huge advantage, another inch of barrel not so much.

    And as specifically demonstrated over and over, having the same amount of ammo in two mags or five isn't much different either. Once the first shots are fired people move to cover and there is time in a confrontation to change mags. Keeping the weapon weight and profile light and slim still has a priority, we don't see troops equipped with belt fed weapons each soldier in the squad.

    What gun forums like to do is quibble over the incremental details of ballistics and "power." Handguns are by and large on the short end of the stick in that regard, if you are carrying a 7 shot 9mm vs a 15 shot .40 I seriously doubt there will be an enormous advantage. In most cases the more accurate shooter will win, with the early shots. And that shot can be anything inside the 7 ring on a torso target, since a hit is much more effective than a miss. Simply having a big gun with big magazine does not make that man "better." What it makes is somebody who places more trust in his possessions than his skill.

    I've seen the subject discussed before in other forums - where people are talking edged weapons, the warrior with a scalpel is generally always given the win over the average guy carrying a zombie stabber. And yet on gun forums where we discuss the importance of practicing our moves and getting hits, the final answer is usually the reverse, Mr Big Gun is rationalized as the winner. And the more expensive the Brand the more likely the result, we all know that a $1,400 tricked out competition carry gun will outshoot a HiPoint. What we tend to forget is that the bullet has no idea what it's been launched from, barrels are pretty much agnostic in the gun debates of life. What the bullet hits and where inside that 7 ring to stop the opponent carries the day - not what brand or model has been engraved on the grips.

    If you choose to carry a compact or smaller model because it's less uncomfortable, you made the same decision as anyone would choosing to carry a handgun rather than a rifle. That was the huge difference - you chose to significantly downsize. And if you then keep carrying the compact gun vs a full sized modern duty gun, so much the better because you have it on you, rather than not having the option or being cognitively dissonant with a larger, bulky and difficult to carry one. Better you can hit inside the 7 ring under stress and in a rush to defend yourself with a small gun than have to make the same choice more difficult with a larger one and also try to make 9 ring hits with it. Don't set yourself up for a standard that precludes you effectively defending yourself. Raising the bar to include only combat double stack guns designed for military use is an option, but not necessarily a better one.
  19. coondogger

    coondogger Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    In places where people don't freak out and call 911 because they see someone carrying a holstered gun (New Hampshire and Israel come to mind), you may as well carry a full size weapon. With the proper rig (that means a proper belt as well) you'll find it's not at all uncomfortable. For most people, it's much easier to attain proficiency with a full size gun than with a small or very light weight gun.
  20. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    McKinney, TX
    James Bond, who constantly threw himself in circumstances of conflict, only carried a PPK/s...

    I am not big enough to constantly pack a full-sized (1911) pistol, and I don't live in a climate that lends itself concealing such an arm... not with what I do and how I dress. What I actually carry is, essentially, a down-sized 1911 type pistol... a Kahr CW9. It has the same ammo capacity as a full sized pistol (7+1) so I'm not gaining anything by going to the 9mm, as I would going to a full-sized 9mm, but what I get is a pistol that I have on my person, that I can draw and present reliably, that I can control in rapid fire. I don't normally carry extra magazines (although I have them sprinkled around the house and in my trucks) because I generally don't go places where I would anticipate a prolonged gunfight, although that is subjective... I'm taking a chance.

    As weather permits, I could carry my 1911... but I normally don't. Because I constantly train with my carry piece, I don't want to throw that variable into the mix at The Moment of Truth, so I am committed to my Kahr pistols (I have 4 of them.) I do not feel disadvantaged with either the 9mm (vs .45) or having a mid-sized pistol.

    Rule #1: Have a gun. I don't usually criticize anyone for what they carry... if you can carry a Desert Eagle appropriately, and know how to use it... that's great. If all you are able to pack is a .32, that's great, too.
  21. bassjam

    bassjam Member

    Sep 9, 2014
    I don't believe there is a significant advantage to toting around a full sized gun, but I do believe there still is an advantage there, however small it may be. Which is why my home defense handguns are larger than my conceal carry guns.

    That being said, any handgun is a compromise of some sort. If any of us knew that on a particular day we'd need to defend ourselves, we'd carry a rifle or shotgun on that day. But we don't know, and that's impractical anyway so we all step down to handguns and our own level of comfort in regards to size and capacity.
    Fine Figure of a Man likes this.
  22. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    I'd just stay home.;)
    JR24, WYO, Sauer Grapes and 8 others like this.
  23. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

    Aug 30, 2011
    There is a very real difference in how well people can shoot with little tiny guns and larger guns. Very real. If you don't think there is, then you either don't run guns very hard in terms of demanding shots AT SPEED or you don't measure how you're doing.

    Is that incremental improvement in performance (not talking terminal ballistics - this is true with exactly the same ammo) worth whatever extra hassle/discomfort is involved with carrying a larger gun? There's no possible way to answer that question in a universal format. It will vary by individual and by particular circumstances.

    I will say that I do not carry every day, nor even most days. I spend too much time going in and out of secured buildings, work and live in fairly safe environments, etc., to juggle a gun back and forth between the glovebox and my belt all day... more risk of an AD/ND than of being caught in a confrontation where I really, really need a gun. That's for most days. There are some days where the places I am going or the times I am going there or the overall circumstances lead me to want to carry. If I'm going to bother carrying at all, I want a gun I can shoot well. So a commander-sized 1911 is currently the smallest gun I bother carrying.

    If I carried every day, regardless of circumstances, then something a lot smaller/lighter might make sense. Also, I'm naturally well-upholstered and currently am spared any chronic back issues, so the level of discomfort is pretty minimal (except for some car seats/seat belt configurations).
  24. z7

    z7 Member

    Jan 13, 2014
    advantage of a full sized gun:
    shootability....I get a first round on target faster and more accurately with my larger guns vs my subcompact. i also can fire more rounds faster, three or four controlled shots quickly with the bigger guns where the subcompact is a controlled pair then i need to regrip the gun. it is harder to fire 6 fast shots with the glock 27

    speed of draw....maybe (glock 26 vs 35 in same holster, 26 is out sooner"

    do you carry spare mags or ammo? if you use the mantra of what "most people will ever need" you won't carry a firearm. that is not why we carry. if you want to ensure that you are protected and can get out of a bad situation alive, then carry what you shoot best. I carry a Glock 23 probably 70% of the time. I shoot it really well and it is big enough to shoot but small enough to comfortably conceal. on road trips, hurricane evacuations, or anytime I think I am in a higher risk activity, I carry a glock 35. I always have one spare mag, sometimes two spares.

    if it is hot weather and I am going one place real quick somewhere i assess is "low risk" or I am wearing one thin shirt, i carry a glock 27
  25. bangbang01

    bangbang01 Member

    Dec 8, 2017
    LE is required to pursue criminals. There is a big difference between following someone to their home or pulling someone over after they just robbed a gas station and being robbed at a gas station. The element of surprise is gone, distances are more likely to greatly increase, and the chances of cover being involved greatly increase as well.

    While anything is possible, the odds that one would ever need anything more than 5 rounds in a capable caliber are literally less than dying from getting hit in the head with a coconut or being struck by lightning. When looking at most gun confrontations that take place the average is right around 3 yards, 3 rounds, and 3 seconds according to the so called experts.

    Physical assaults not involving a firearm are actually pretty common. I know multiple people that have been severely beaten over the years that wouldn't have had they been packing. The #1 reason I carry is to thwart off a physical attack or end a physical attack not involving a firearm. If I am unlucky enough to find myself involved in a gun fight, I will take the element of surprise over a larger more capable firearm any day. I just see dumping a pocket pistol into someones face while "giving them or offering them my wallet" as a better tactic than trying to draw a gun from my waist while someone already has a gun on me.

    I won't argue that.
    It's always been for me. It's also a big pain in the butt. That's a personal thing though. This certainly doesn't hold true for everyone, but I do know people that claim carrying a real gun is uncomfortable but still do it everyday anyways.
    Agree 100%
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