Sarges Roll Call

My Photo
Location: United States

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More “Service Pistol” Ramblings…

And just what, after all, is a service pistol? The name implies that it should serve some function, and logic tells us that it should protect the wearer assuming he is competent in its use.

Usually when we think of such an implement, the typical sidearm you might see hanging off a soldier or policeman comes to mind. We think of a gun that works reliably, hits with sufficient force to resolve personal difficulties, and possesses adequate accuracy to accomplish the task at fifty long paces. Or at least we used to. For the past 15 years, I have noticed a trend by a certain gunwriter to keep expanding the definition of “service pistol accuracy.” I was a little worried when he started postulating that sixteen minutes of angle was acceptable; and now recently it has grown to eighteen. This translates to four and one-half inches at twenty-five yards.

I have either owned or been issued a passel of different duty guns over the past 30 years and any of them would shoot better than that, at twice the distance. I would have fixed or gotten rid of any of them that wouldn’t keep five shots in three inches at twenty-five yards. Now I know that ‘statistics’ say that the average lethal force encounter occurs at at dart-throwing ranges- but what about the “un-average” ones? I can think of few things less pleasant than having to shoot at someone who was in the process of trying to kill me, and having no idea of whether or not I was hitting them, while I was waiting for my fire to take effect. Nonsense like this is why you see 10-30 shots fired in police shootings. The proliferation of events like this should also be telling us something else- we need to return to basics. Folks who carry sidearms in harm’s way, should be trained to use those sidearms with precision.

Such training is now the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of police firearms training which I have attended, involved shooting Very Large Humanoid Targets at 40 feet or less. I have seen a lot of “spray and pray” at these events- and unfortunately in the street, too. If you are a soldier or policeman who is issued a pistol, you will probably have to train yourself in precision shooting at distance. You can always practice the fast/close drills, once you master precision shooting. There is a tremendous satisfaction to be had from hanging a B-27 target at fifty yards, and knowing that you have the capability of placing every round through the middle of it.

Fortunately, most of us will never need to protect ourselves against anything or anybody, so we’d like for our everyday sidearm to offer some recreational value as well. The “icing on the cake” is that most of them are capable of decent accuracy, are just flat fun to shoot.

So take that handgun to the woods or the range a little more often, and become genuinely proficient with it. It’ll be a lot more comforting friend in troubled times, once you do.

See you next week.