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Full-size, compact, sub-compact?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by cwmcgu2, Dec 4, 2007.

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  1. cwmcgu2

    cwmcgu2 Member

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    I keep putting my first handgun purchase off due to a tight college budget and various long arm purchases. I plan on purchasing a 9mm semi-auto for high volume round dispension (i.e. practice). For a dedicated practice gun to hone general handgun skills I am curious to know if my judgements regarding the size are correct:

    -Full-size: I assume that the longer barrel and sight radius and uncompromised ergonomics of a full-size handgun are the most ideal for general/initial practice.

    -Compact: The shorter barrel and sight radius make for somewhat lessened accuracy although the grip remains full-sized and as such the ergonomics are not compromised.

    -Sub-compact: shorter barrel and sight radius make for less accuracy, and ergonomics are compromised by a abreviated grip to maximize concealability.

    Are my judgements correct? If so am I also correct in assuming that it is best to go with a full size model of the 9mm semi-autos I have in mind for general practice? Thanks in advance, I know this is a stupid question but I am warry of assuming such things.
     
  2. astocks2622

    astocks2622 Member

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    well we all know what assumptions do... but your assumptions are correct. the compact and sub-compacts are not best suited for accuracy and honing handgun skills in a beginner (which I would still consider myself). I'd definitely go for a full size 9mm for basic handgun practice. good luck.
     
  3. jeepmor

    jeepmor Member

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    I'd personally pick a compact CCW pistol first, then practice with it....A LOT. Then, when you start getting full size pistols as your finances allow, you'll be impressed with how well you shoot them.

    This is what I did. It took me hundreds of rounds to get good, but I'm real confident with my CCW now, and being a CCW, it's the one I'm going to need in a pinch anyway because I'll actually have it with me.

    Not sure if your pursuing a CCW permit in your future, but I would encourage this path if you are for the simple reasons I've stated.
     
  4. Michigunner

    Michigunner Member

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    I think your views are sound.

    The Glock 19, in my opinion, hits the sweet spot just right under the full-size category. It is fine for range work, and the barrel is some 4 inches long, so you can expect "full" muzzle energy, since published data is often based on a 4 inch barrel.

    Many people think it is the most popular 9mm pistol in the world.

    Bill
     
  5. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Member

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    Another thought to toss at you...

    The hardest part of the gun to conceal is the grip (with most concealment/holstering options). Given where the barrel goes (down your leg/etc), a 3" vs 4" vs 5" barrel isn't really that much of an issue.

    That being said, there are some guns out there that combine the longer barrel with a shorter, compact grip.

    some 1911s do it...
    Springfield XD's do it... you can get the short, subcompact grip w/ 4 and 5" barrels. they also have hi cap mags to give you the "full size" grip.
    You can get a grip chop job done on some glocks. not as familiar with them.
    May be others that i'm not aware of.

    In theory, this may be the "best of both worlds" for some people. longer sight radius/accuracy + compact grip for concealment. Higher cap mags for full grip when you need it to.

    In practice, i shoot my XD subcompact (short grip, short barrel) just as well as my Service model but that could just speak to my lack of shooting skills. YMMV.
     
  6. ExSoldier

    ExSoldier Member

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    LOL my first CCW handgun had triple duties: I chose a S&W M19 357 magnum with a 4" barrel because I needed a duty weapon for my job as an armed guard while I was in my senior year of college. Then, too, the area surrounding Tuscaloosa was thick with huge deer and I wanted to be able to hunt them with a handgun and the 357 fit that bill. Finally I wanted a good ccw weapon. Since most of the year at BAMA was pretty cool, cover garments and holsters weren't much or a problem. My first two holsters (which also did service for the other purposes) were a Bianchi "Pancake" Hi-Rise strong side hip and a Safari-Land shoulder holster.

    I guess these days, most young college students don't think about hunting much (unless it's for the female of the species) so as an instructor, I'd also advise a full size 9mm of good quality and go for correct technique and accuracy first before you shorten the barrel for comfort. My old 357 had adjustable target sights and I worked them so much that within a few years, after my graduation and commissioning as a US Army Officer, I was made XO (Executive Officer -- 2nd in Command) of the Division Pistol Team (Bullseye not combat). Concealment is thought to mean carry is supposed to be comfortable when in fact it really means "comforting." Short barrels and comfort is fine. But combat accuracy is FINAL. Accuracy comes with implementing the basics taught to you in proper form enough times to provide a valid platform of experience. Valid experience is born of a decent sight radius plus implementing the basics of the entire shot cycle. I'm a former US Army Infantry Captain and have been an NRA Instructor for over 20 years. But still, it's just my .02.
     
  7. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    I think your judgements are pretty sound as well. In the end, though, I suggest going with the one that feels best in your hand. You might find, for example that after holding (and even better, shooting) each, the full-sized Glock 17 doesn't feel as "right" as a 19. Maybe not, though.

    BTW, since you're on a budget, consider a 9mm for which a .22LR conversion kit is available. If you find you're shooting a lot, but the cost of 9mm ammo is pinching, you'd have the option of springing for the conversion and shooting .22LR. The switch is easy, so you could even shoot both at the same range session.
     
  8. redneckrepairs

    redneckrepairs Member

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    You mentioned practice and not CCW . If CCW is not a consideration you will be better served with a full sized handgun for range and home defense than you will with a compact or sub compact . Its only when you go to carting the dammed thing around that the sterling quality's of small pistols begin to shine.
     
  9. glockman19

    glockman19 Member

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    I think your views are sound.
    +1
     
  10. cwmcgu2

    cwmcgu2 Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. I just wanted to note that the postulated handgun purchase is not a future CCW gun. I do intend on getting my CCW at some point but I will probably go with a snub-nose .38 as my CCW gun since I am already quite familiar with them and I like the KISS (keep it simple stupid) concept. What I was asking about was a gun intended to build foundational handgun skills.
     
  11. possum

    possum Member

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    i personally don't really care for fullsize guns the majoriy of the time. in 1911's that is a different story as i thik 5" fullsie models are best. i normally perfer compact size guns for general use. for exy of my handguns for example the majority of my handguns have barels 4" or less i don't know they just fel better to me better balanced and just easier to shoot. and i find that the added barrel and sight radius of fullsize guns really don't give e that much advantage as far as accuracy.
     
  12. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    Barrel length affects velocity, not accuracy. A 3” barrel isn’t any more or less accurate than a 6” barrel. It’s easier to be accurate with the longer barrel because of the longer sight radius.
     
  13. CountGlockula

    CountGlockula Member

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    Despite the whole frame, receiver, slide, sights, beaver tail, trigger safety, blah, blah, nuts, screws, bolts, diameters, bore size, velocity, fps-mumbo jumbo...just make sure your hand fits well with either of those sizes.
     
  14. Baneblade

    Baneblade Member

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    I actually choose a compact gun over full size for duty use. My agency issues the Glock 22 to everyone except those who wish to carry a Glock 23. I find it to be just big enough to feel like a real gun, but not so big that it is bulky. You specifically mentioned a 9mm... you can't go wrong with a Glock 19.
     
  15. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Here's what I'd do on a limited budget.

    First, I'd consider the bulk of a revolver cylinder when CCW'ing. It can be done, though. If you're sold on a .38 revolver for carry, it's not a bad choice at all.

    Buy the largest .38 you think you can conceal. I'd probably start with the 4" barrel models, work down if you have to. Buy the best you can afford, then shoot it a lot. I'd also consider getting a .357 instead of a .38, you'll be able to shoot both .357 and .38Spcl in it.
     
  16. Polish_Pounder

    Polish_Pounder Member

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    For non-CCW, anything with a barrel about 4" or longer will be fine for target shooting and casual plinking. The Glock 19 is high on my list of future purchases because it is inexpensive, accurate, cheap to shoot, and can also be carried if you choose.

    -Polish
     
  17. R&J

    R&J Member

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    Mainsail said, "Barrel length affects velocity, not accuracy. A 3” barrel isn’t any more or less accurate than a 6” barrel. It’s easier to be accurate with the longer barrel because of the longer sight radius."

    Ahhh, there are a lot of rifle people that would differ you there. :scrutiny:

    Greater velocity equals higher accuracy at greater distances. ;)

    --Ray
     
  18. Autolycus

    Autolycus Member

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    Check out the HK P2000. I think it has better ergonomics than the GLock 19 in about the same size. However there are less rounds in the magazine.

    Or you could look at an HK P30. It will hold 15 in the magazine and it has great ergonomics.
     
  19. R&J

    R&J Member

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    One More Vote For G19...

    I got into shooting in October 2005. I started with a Glock 21 .45 ACP, which I shoot very well.

    I added a G17 as a dedicated range gun, and while being every bit as much fun to shoot, it has paid for itself in a year on ammo savings alone! :)

    Enter Judy's G19. This is The Little Engine That Could! For all practical purposes, it does everything my G17 will do, and fits in my coat pocket! I've never produced a bad target with this gun!

    Fitted with Trijicon night sights, LaserMax, SureFire X200B, and the proper ammo, this little jewel works fine for home defense, as well as a CCW. 33-round magazines work flawlessly in it, as does +p ammo. It does everything well! :cool:

    If in this setting, I were limited to one handgun, I'd keep the G19!

    I've concluded many times, Everybody Needs A G19! :D

    Start here; then add another later--you'll need something for your sweetheart, anyway! ;)

    --Ray
     
  20. glockman19

    glockman19 Member

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    I still would recommend the Glock 19 in a 9mm pistol, a HK P2000 or Sig P229 in .40 and 1911 in .45.

    They can all be had with 4" barrels in a compact design that is small enough to Carry and large enough to handle.

    Polish_Pounder has it correct when he says:
     
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