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J frame vs compact pistol ... expectations

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Waveski, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    I have long been an advocate of a J frame revolver as a carry gun. Revolvers are simple and reliable to operate , and I tend to shoot revolvers better than semi-auto pistols. Over the course of time , however , I arrived at the conclusion that 5 rounds is not prudent or sufficient in some situations. (I will not expand on that ; that is a whole separate discussion.)

    So , after most of a decade of carrying a small revolver I did something I never thought I would do - I acquired a striker fired polymer compact pistol - a Walter PPS M2 LE. I am very satisfied with the function of the Walther ; I am not seeking a discussion of it vs other pistols.

    For me , a revolver seems to point much more easily and naturally compared to a semi-auto. I believe that is because of the sight picture looking down a barrel vs a square section slide. I have had good results from a couple of pistols with longer barrels and contoured slides , namely Beretta 92 and Browning High Power.

    I have been practicing with the Walther in preparation for using it for concealed carry. The practice thus far has spanned about 4 months and approx. 450 rounds. By comparison , and in fairness , my J frame experience spans most of a decade and who knows how many rounds - lots of rounds.

    Yesterday I did a comparison exercise. The target was a steel torso silhouette about 2/3 life size (approx 18x20"), the range 50 ft. At about 1 shot per second , unsupported , my hit rate with the pistol was about 65% , with the S&W m.60 J frame (da) 90% .

    Given the fact that I have been shooting the Walther much more than the revolver of late , the 3.2" vs 1 7/8" barrel length advantage of the Walther , and the superior sights of the pistol , I'm still markedly better at putting rounds on target with the J frame than with the semi-auto. I am not satisfied with the results ; I feel I need to close that gap. At this point I have essentially the same number of shots on target with a 5 shot J frame as with an 8 shot mag from the pistol. I have improved , but not enough.

    So , as to expectations .....
    Given my long term experience with revolvers vs semi-auto pistols I have to wonder if I will ever achieve the success rate I have with the J frame revolver. I feel as though I can point and shoot with the revolver , but I need to visually access the front sight with the pistol. I think it's the barrel vs square section slide factor as previously mentioned. I really want to reap the benefits of higher round count (8+1) and light weight of the Walther. In addition , I want to get off the schneid , so to speak , and expand my shooting skills.

    Commentary and advice is welcome.
     
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  2. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    I'm with you. For me, I think grips make the biggest difference. I can shoot small revolvers better than an automatic I'd actually carry. I shoot the Ruger Mk much better than the 22/45, and a Single Six better than either. Shot a Colt Commander poorly enough that it is gone, regardless of how badly I wanted to love it. My lifestyle does not lead me to value capacity over competency.
     
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  3. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    During one of the best days of my shooting life, I got to take a few lessons with some guys from the Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU has National Match / bullseye shooters, Olympians, and defensive pistol game shooters). One of the sergeants had a really good saying that I'll try to paraphrase here: 'People like to say that practice makes perfect, but it's not true. Heck, if you have bad habits practice might just be engraining them. The real truth is that good practice makes better, and good practice is built on good training.'

    I think you could achieve the same success rate. You're obviously capable of evolving your thinking over time, so now it's just a matter of letting that translate to skill. The easiest way to do that might be to spend some time with a trainer. That investment would then get you higher quality practice, and that time spent practicing would have you where you want to be more quickly.
     
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  4. WisBorn

    WisBorn Member

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    I think in many cases we get hung up on the number of rounds. We need to stay with what we will carry do to size and comfort. We also need to carry what we can shoot well. It sounds like the j frame is a good choice for you.
     
  5. film495

    film495 Member

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    do the find your natural point of aim check, where you close your eyes - aim, then open your eyes to see where you're pointing - then adjust your grip and stance to get the actual point to where you think it is pointing with your eyes closes. you probably could do this with the revolver and be spot on from years of practice - with the new pistol I bet you are way way off.

    you may also benefit from doing more dry fire practice and just aiming practice to make it more familiar. just me - but I'd also practice at 10 or 15 feet, no more than 20 until you get the kinks worked out. if you keep working at it - you'll be there before you know it.
     
  6. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Since your plan is concealed carry, and we presume, lawful self-defense, it would probably be a good idea to focus most of your practice at ranges reflective of that purpose.

    I would try twelve to fifteen feet, at 2 to 3 shpts per second, using a target about the size of a small pie plate--upper chest area, if you will. Try for a 100% hit rate if you can.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    In 1997 I got into Cowboy Action Shooting. Before that I used to shoot Tactical Pistol and NRA target matches. In 2000 I started shooting “Duelist”, which is shooting one handed. I practiced and practiced. I shot right hand, left hand and I shot both hands.
    That practice of shooting one handed carried over into my IDPA, target and all other shooting in general.
    Then I found I had severe Arthritis in my right wrist where the base of the thumb meets the wrist. So I started practicing two handed shooting again about a year ago.
    I am just now doing as well as I used to shoot before the year 2000.

    So, I am sure with practice you will overcome your 65% number. :thumbup:
    Just shoot your Walther for practice and don’t stress about numbers. Carry and shoot your J Frame and one day soon you will find you shoot the Walther just as well.

    Is there a rule that one must be accurate with any given firearm in a given amount of time?

    Nope! :cool:
     
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  8. Targa

    Targa Member

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    I had, (had being the keyword) a 642 s&w, other than the looks it was not in the same league as my Kahr CM9 . The Kahr carried better, was accurate, and had an excellent trigger. The J frame was not accurate and had a terrible trigger although an Apex trigger kit helped a bit. After numerous rounds to try and like that nice looking little revolver, a tired trigger finger and sore hand trumped the gun and I gladly sold it.

    With that said, the M60 is a much nicer shooting revolver than the 642 so I can see how you were better with it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  9. IdaD

    IdaD Member

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    Tighten up the distance a bit and keep practicing. As you get better you can stretch out the distance a bit but I'd stick to 7 yards until you're comfortable with your accuracy. 450 rounds isn't that many.

    You might also need to work on your grip a little bit. Warrior Poet Society on Youtube has some helpful videos on gripping a semi-auto.

    A lot of it might be getting used to a different trigger. I haven't shot snubs a ton and I'm not very good with them. I think a new shooter coming in without any experience is going to have an easier time mastering a single stack 9 like a Shield or your Walther versus a double action snub 38.
     
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  10. tubeshooter

    tubeshooter Member

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    I do feel that you can get as good with your semi-auto as you are currently with your revolver, given enough practice and effort.

    I have some of the same capacity concerns that some others may have as far as a revolver... but on the other side of the coin there are downsides to having a semi-auto as well. Everything is a compromise.


    It's good that so many options are available nowadays. As long as you are happy with your (informed) decision, that's all that matters.
     
  11. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Waveski

    I'm just the opposite; I tend to do better with my Kahr CM9 semi-auto than I do with my S&W Model 638 revolver. Both have decent DA trigger pulls with a slight edge in smoothness to the CM9. Weight is about the same with the Model 638 (15.5 ounces), weighing about an ounce and a half more than the CM9 (14 ounces). The all steel S&W Model 649 tips the scales at around 22 ounces.

    I find the CM9 to be a bit more ergonomic and comfortable to shoot though the Model 638 also benefits somewhat from having a decent feel to it with the rubber boot grips it comes with. The older factory wood grips along with a Tyler T-Grip adapter also makes for good grip while not adding anything in the way of bulk to the gun.

    I definitely prefer using the sights on the Kahr versus looking down the groove in the frame at the narrow front sight of the S&W. Also quicker reloads favor the pistol over the revolver. Either gun is light enough to be pocket carried though I like to use a DeSantis SOF-TUCK IWB holster for the two guns.

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  12. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    psyopspec - Come to think of it , I haven't spet time with an instructor in several years. My local club provides that resource - good advice.

    WisBorn - The J frame certainly has it's merits - I've been a proponent of that particular handgun. That said , I am determined to to become proficient in the higher capacity platform for certain situations. I'll never quit the revolver entirely.

    film495 - I had forgotten about the eyes closed drill - that may help better understand the use of the different platform. Thank you.

    Kleanbore , and others who suggest shortening up the range. I does make semse to do that ; better feedback on the off center shots.

    Pat Riot - Your persistence is admirable. I've said before : When God was handing out patience I think I was goofing off somewhere and never got in line. I'll work on that.

    IdaD - Thanks for the lead on grip technique info , I will check that out. I also need to compare grip angles of the 2 guns.

    bannockburn - The not too artistic image shows the grip of my 60. I also have a Chiefs with original grips and an adaptor , but the pinky-accommodating rubber grip shown is my best J frame shooter - very secure in the hand and carries well . IWB just inboard of my hip bone. The revolver has had action work ; about 8# and silky smooth in d.a. Everything about the 60 feels natural to me. Took me a while to get the gun and me to that stage.

    It's pretty clear that I have work to do to get there with the Walther. Good thing I have a trusted friend reloading 9mm for me at .12 per round.
     

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  13. Olon

    Olon Member

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    I agree. My J frame actually fits my hand quite well, whereas the tiny autos I've shot are pretty uncomfortable.
     
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  14. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Historically, I shoot a semi-auto pistol better than a DA revolver but several years ago I practiced alot with a DA revolver and got competent with the revolver to be similar with the semi-autos.

    I like my J-frame Model 642 S&W for a bedside gun, but I prefer to carry a compact semi-auto. The semi-auto is a bit smaller and easier tp carry than the J-frame.

    On the plus side, I have gotten myself to be confident using either.
     
  15. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I carried an SP101 and latter a 642 for years. Then the XDs came out and I was hooked. Now it’s a P938 Legion.

    I struggled a bit at first too, but trigger time made it better. So practice lots more. I also hit a wall as far as speed, accuracy, and split times go, until I started using a thumbs forward grip.

    You are probably very used to a DA revolver trigger also, and may just need more time on a striker trigger.

    Be patient with yourself and practice, and I bet you’ll see rapid improvement. 450 rounds isn’t a high round count.
     
  16. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Where are the misses going?
     
  17. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    Ok, I watched some Warrior Poet videos last night, specifically on grip. Thank you for the recommendation. I am still not nearly as good with an automatic as I am with a J Frame, but the improvement was significant and something to build on and progress with. I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I believe I'm better served with a carriable automatic, but I may get to the point where I don't feel inept with one. Again, thanks for taking the time to respond to this thread.
     
  18. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    I tend to go low left. Mostly though , just poorer grouping. Less accurate in general.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  19. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Trust. You don't trust the gun yet. You're blinking when the gun goes off and shoving it low left. While a DA revolver trigger is definitely a challenge, some people who fight a blink-involved pre-ignition push struggle with shorter/lighter triggers because they have a better sense of exactly when the gun is going to go off. It's easier to fall prey to the entirely normal human impulse to blink and shove the gun down when we know it's within a few milliseconds of going off. Add an unfamiliar gun that your subconscious doesn't trust yet, and it gets really challenging to resist.

    Shooting at a fairly distant target at a deliberate pace (one shot per second is plenty of time for anticipating each shot and having the the blink/push impulse take over) is only adding to the difficulty.

    Bring the target in - or, better yet, dispense with the target entirely. Just shoot at the backstop. Rather than trying to aim or hit something specific, just pay attention to the gun going off. Try to see the muzzle flash. Try to see the brass ejecting. Try to see the slide come back. Try to watch the front sight lift and try to follow as much of its movement in recoil as you can. Don't try to do anything in particular - just observe all that you can. Train your brain that seeing the gun go off and not pushing around doesn't cause you any harm.
     
  20. IdaD

    IdaD Member

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    Low left is classic anticipation.
     
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  21. RavenTai

    RavenTai Member

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    I think revolvers have advantages in self defense, reliability with no cambering and ejection cycle, also simplicity and ease of use, my wife carries a titanium 38 J frame in her purse. I carry autos mainly because the cylinder is a lot of bulk when IWB, the round count advantage for autos is not that great when you are comparing to easy to carry micro compact single stacks. if you plan on carrying a reload, a spare mag is much faster and easier to carry and load than a speed loader.

    50' is an order of magnitude further than the typical self defense shooting. I would be more interested in how many rounds you can put on target at close range in a given time with the two platforms. not precisely aimed slow shots.

    Single anecdote: I have been in a self defense shooting, range was about 2 arm lengths, it was too dark and happened far too fast to use sights, also my girlfriend was between myself and the assailant, I had to shoot from above her head with 0 line of sight (her ears were not happy) my stance was horrible, I was halfway out of my vehicle with my body twisted 180 degrees from foot to hand, I had practiced drawing from a holster but in that moment I was retrieving the holstered gun from my console about to put it in my pocket when the assailant presented, I drew and the holster remained in my left hand as I did not know what to do with it. so there it remained killing any two hand grip, the obvious answer was to simply drop it, but in that moment there was far too much going on in far too short a time and my mind was too task saturated to spare the mental "CPU cycles" to think about what to do with the holster. and no previous training on drawing from a loose holster to fall back on. assailant survived but was immediately disinterested in fighting after being shot.

    From what i have read this is fairly typical self defense scenario, fast chaotic and close. 50' is not a distance I would base my self defense decision on.
     
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  22. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator Staff Member

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    I feel your pain. I hit low and left and have for years. Fortunately, my job puts me in contact with honest-to-goodness pistol trainers. I finally got fed up last week, went and spent about an hour with them and feel like I might be on the road to recovery. So, to echo the Training Chorus, get someone to actually watch you shoot and see if they can walk you through whatever it is that you need to improve. Don't wait years to get professional help. Don't be a Spats. :p
     
  23. BlueHeelerFl

    BlueHeelerFl Member

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    The only J frame that I currently own is a 4" model 63 which I shoot decently, it's closer to a mid frame sized revolver.

    I used to own a 340PD which was great to carry but a bear to shoot, even with standard pressure 38's. I was also one of the few foolish people to shoot an occasional 357 through it.

    I currently own and carry a great deal a Beretta Pico 380. It has a very revolver like trigger and weighs about the same as the 340.

    It's not as powerful but, for me at least, it is far more controllable and has much less felt recoil than the 340. At a practice session I am able to go through 100-150 rounds before I get tired out. I was lucky to get though several cylinders of the 340 before I would give up. (Having the 63 allowed me to get some similar practice in)

    The extra practice possible with the Pico itself is a big positive.

    That being said, I wouldn't mind getting another J frame, an LCR, or even a Taurus 856 some day. (Those new 3" 856 Defenders are nice!)
     
  24. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    I don't think that the OP is questioning whether he can defend himself adequately at 50 feet with his automatic. I do think he is questioning whether it is reasonable to expect his shooting with an automatic to match his competency with a j frame at a distance and rate of fire he routinely practices. That exercise might not be the ultimate self-defense simulation, but is it reasonable to expect the same performance from the automatic that he gets from a j frame?
     
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  25. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Thanks for sharing your experience.
     
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