I have heard a lot of shooters and experts talk about the G19 and how it is the only gun you really need. Granted, if you could only have one pistol, and you knew nothing about pistols, buying a Glock 19 is not the worst decision you could make. But what everybody learns when they start shooting regularly is one pistol does not meet their needs. And usually their first pistol is nowhere near their last.
FIT, FIT, FIT
The most important thing in pistol accuracy, which is the most important thing for a shooter, is the fit of your gun in your hands. Nothing else matters. You give me a tricked-out, custom G19 with so many upgrades I hardly recognize the form factor and I would trade it for an out-of-the-box P320 any day. Does this make me a Glock hater or a Sig fanboy? Neither. I love Glock, and Sig. With the exception of High Point, I can find something worth peeling the dollars from my wallet to purchase.
But I choose the P320 for its fit. My first love was the G19. Still have the first one I bought, albeit a little customized now. That said, it worked for me at the stage In my development when I needed a solid platform.
When the P320 came along, all that changed. I remember asking the guy in the stall next to me if he wanted to swap guns for a minute so he could shoot my G19x while I secretly coveted his P320. Serendipity! My 19x was gone the next day.
Almost immediately the gun melted into my hands. Sure you can train to overcome just about any short-coming in a gun, but why? I choose my pistols based on their natural design. And I never look back.
FINDING YOUR GUN
Fact is, you can only determine your optimal gun, at least for now, by shooting other guns. As I stated at the outset, the G19 is not the worst purchase you could make. It’s also, guaranteed, not the best for many shooters. There is a reason why a 9mm pistol can be found in so many form factors. The grip angle, slide serrations, ambi mag release, manual safety, milling, stippling, etc. I could go on for a while. All this is because there is no single gun that fits every shooter. And there are a lot of shooters.
Which is why I always maintain a wide variety of pistols and sizes for my students and friends to experience at the range. I also encourage shooters to rent guns from their local range. Especially if they need a different pistol or are in the market for a new one. Nothing says money down then drain like buying a gun sight-unseen or one you’ve never fired.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There are a few things you should check-down when looking for a pistol:
1.) Grip - When you clutch the grip with your Primary hand, does it leave enough room for the palm of your Support hand to sufficiently contact the grip as well? The general rule is you should have at least one inch of grip still exposed for your Support palm.
2.) Trigger - Making contact with the trigger, how much finger can you put on it? If you can only reach it with the tip of your finger, the grip is too far from the trigger. You need a smaller gun. If the gun is too small, you may not be able to get your finger into the trigger frame easily. The P320 has three different grip frames for less than $50 each. My wife shoots a small, I shoot a large. The medium comes with the gun.
3.) Length - The length of your pistol should meet your shooting intent. A 5” barreled gun will be difficult to conceal, and a 3” barreled gun will likely be painful to practice hundreds of rounds at the range or in a class. This is why I recommend most shooters purchase a full-size or compact gun for the range and home defense, and carry a compact or sub-compact. All of this depends on your size of course.
4.) Height - The height of a gun is determined by the height of the grip. Too short and your man hands will dangle off the bottom. You need all four fingers on your grip. Too tall and you will find it difficult to conceal. A taller grip is fine for the range and home defense.