Small Thoughts on Controlling Guns – Does Size Really Matter?

One of the fun parts of my job is that I occasionally get to experiment with firearms. This month I compared a couple of Glocks with nearly-identical weight, but different barrel and slide lengths to measure the age-old question: does size REALLY matter?
I normally carry a Glock 26, but events in my life have pushed me to test whether that’s the best choice. I know I shoot my 26 fairly well. In fact, I’ve shot it in ASI matches more than any other gun. Unfortunately, those experiences are just anecdotes. They don’t answer: “Would I have done better with a larger gun?”
The Glock 19 is the next-larger Glock, and my test gun has a lightened slide, so the weights are almost the same. I’ve got similar experience shooting with each one, and size-wise the 19 is my next-most-logical carry choice.
I took an additional step and added a “sight block” which uses a threaded barrel to move the front sight out onto the barrel with the help of a shroud. The sight doesn’t move as much as a result, and the longer barrel offers multiple benefits.
Even with the extended barrel, my lightened Glock 19 still weighs ½ ounce LESS than my G26. The physics of that lighter slide/longer barrel combo means felt recoil is harsher – but since the 19’s grip is bigger, and the sights are further apart, when it comes to control . . . “it’s complicated.”
I decided to measure two things: 1. the energy produced by the shorter vs. longer barrels, and 2. my ability to control the pistol over multiple shots. The energy part was easy. I tested three barrels – the stock 26 barrel, the stock 19 barrel, and the threaded Glock 19 barrel. Each step up in length adds about 1/2”.

Take a close look at the difference between the top and bottom lines as far as energy goes – the longer gun kicks harder for a reason! It’s generating 16% more energy. Remember, that’s the same ammunition, the only difference is 1” of barrel length.
So how does that affect control? To experience what the real-world difference in control would be, I timed myself shooting strings of eight 8” steel plates on a rack at 15 yards.
For my test, I made sure I had similar experience with both guns, used identical front/rear sights, and rotated between the guns for each string to even out any affects of practice or fatigue. I started each string with the gun on the table, loaded with 10 rounds. Following a random start signal I would pick the gun off the table, and shoot until all eight plates were down.
In the end, the longer sight radius made a huge difference. Five runs yielded the following averages:
  • Glock 26: 8.6 seconds/run.
  • Custom Glock 19: 6.5 seconds/run.
  • Difference: 2.1 seconds (more than .25 seconds/target!)
Despite the increased recoil and energy the bigger gun offered a much better overall sight picture and seemed to recover almost instantly. It offered more light around the front sight, and the sight block reduced the gross movement of the sight in recoil.
What’s the lesson?
First, shorter guns are harder to shoot – but only if everything else is equal. In a recent experience shooting the Walther CCP versus the Springfield XDS, the smaller, awkward-looking XDS came out the winner thanks to a superior trigger and sights. You don’t need to be any kind of “expert” to learn stuff like that – just take the time to test what works. XYZ pistol might be all the rage with the gun magazines, but that doesn’t necessarily make sense for YOU.
Second, if you don’t already have one, get a timer. Qualitative testing is important (as in “that feels better”) but you can fool yourself. In my hands the little Glock 26 “feels” better – the bigger Glock 19 is harsher, and feels blocky — but when you look at my numbers, the less-comfortable 19 is absolutely the way to go. FOR ME it’s a better tool.
ASI carries Pocket Pro timers at a DEEP discount (often priced less than Amazon). We do that as a service to the membership, pricing them just slightly above cost. You’ll find them in the ASI store.

ASI Trainers Fly To Maryland!

Our thanks to the Hendershots shooting club in Hagerstown, Maryland for hosting our first East-Coast ASI Range Officer class! Sandy and Dustin Wylie flew out to team-teach and help the Hendershots crew (led by Ron David, redavid@icefdt.com) get their first match off the ground.

Sandy and Dustin blended classroom instruction with hands-on training – and students must pass both “halves” of the training to be certified. Every student runs the timer, does scoring, manages shooters, and helps respond to (simulated) unsafe behaviors!
Hendershots tells us they had strong attendance for their inaugural events, which has them off to a good start. If you’re anywhere nearby, we encourage you to drop by Hendershots and participate!
While he was in Maryland, Sandy Wylie stopped in to the Heritage club to check up on how things are going. The answer? Very well indeed!
Heritage is a thriving club, and if Hendershots can continue as well as they’ve started, between them the future looks bright for ASI in New England!

New Club in Minnesota!

A hearty welcome goes out to the East Grand Forks Rod & Gun Club in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Larry Manning is putting together a fresh program our there, and could really use your help! If you’re in the Minnesota/North Dakota era, contact Larry directly at (218) 230-4280 or lmanning@rrv.net . He needs shooters and volunteers both!

Speeding Up A Carbine Match

In my recent travels I’ve run into situations where mis-handled carbines slowed down an otherwise speedily-run match. Sometimes it’s a prop gun used in official ASI courses like “Carbine Failure” and other times it’s a dedicated carbine-only match. In either case, the carbine requires special care.
Prop Guns
When the ASI founders offered to help run the Hand Sized Handgun championship, we focused our efforts on the prop gun stage.
We’ve got two major suggestions:
  1. Assign a “prop gun handler” that will deal with all the unloading/reloading/stowage/reloading/re-prepping tasks. Just having a designated handler will increase your “throughput” tremendously, and adds an extra layer of gun handling safety.
  2. Don’t rely on the shooter to understand how your prop gun operates. If possible, put an identical carbine in the safety area so shooters can get a chance to handle it at their own pace. If a staged back-up gun isn’t an option, encourage your prop gun handler to explain the gun to people between shooters/stages as time allows.
Carbine Match Pro
Different matches handle carbines different ways. Some require safety flags, some have ready tables, others use a gun case like a holster. Carbines are still new in ASI, so the “process” for handling them is in flux.
Jay Grob runs the Carbine match for Heritage Shooting Center in Frederick, Maryland. “When we first started, Carbine took forever,” Grob says. “We’d have 11 shooters and struggle to get done in two to three hours.”
Today, the Heritage match has their “flow” down to a science, having done away with the major time-sinks of the carbine (casing/un-casing, electronic sights, and handling mags).
Three Secrets To Carbine “Flow”
  1. Ready Table: When shooters arrive at the match, all the carbines get uncased and laid on one of two long benches along the wall. The carbines
  2. must point directly at the wall (which is bulletproof), and must have a chamber flag inserted.
  3. Dots On: When the carbine is uncased, the shooter activates any electronic sights they might have, and leaves them on for the duration of the match. According to Grob, this one thing is a HUGE time-saver, and has some real-world lessons as well.
  4. Ready Area: Once the shooters lay their carbines down, they carry the rest of their gear back uprange to some benches where their gear will remain for the duration. Doing this keeps the shooter from carrying their (big, awkward) gun case to the firing line and fishing around in it to find their magazines. When the shooter is called, they walk forward to the side table with a loaded magazine or two (only) stuck in their pockets. They pick up the carbine, point it skyward, and walk directly to the firing line – no muss, no fuss, no time wasted.
Heritage has a corporate focus on the home-defense and concealed-carry customer, which dovetails perfectly with the skill level required to shoot ASI. Additionally, it gives the local crew an opportunity to talk about real-life situations that aren’t part of ASI.
As Grob says, “If you’re in a home defense situation, you don’t have time to turn your sights on — it’s go time. Using a ready table where you leave your sights on reinforces that issue.”

New Stages Coming, New Stage Designs Sought!

Over the next few weeks look for fresh stage designs (like the above) to appear in the ASI stage library. ASI welcomes submissions from club
s around the country – including yours!
Dustin Wylie will be leading the charge on implementing new stages, so even if you have submitted a design in the past, please re-submit it (to Dustin@asi-usa.org). Past submissions ended up going to different people, and we know we lost track of a couple in the hand-off process. We’d much rather have two copies of your designs than none at all!
When you’re drawing up a stage, keep in mind that ASI stages are designed to be “shoot-able” by entry level people. Movement is minimized, targets have ample scoring surfaces, and the shooter is not required to perform complex skills. Advanced tasks (like shooting on the move) should be made optional. Many of our stage instructions say things like “shots to be fired while moving or stationary” in order to keep from pushing the new shooter too far out of their comfort zone.
Right now the founders are discussing adopting stages from the Hand Sized Handgun championship 2017. Rick Breneman’s flair for challenging low-round-count courses underpins a lot of his success!
We particularly value stages like Breneman’s that come from outside the founders’ circle. We need fresh perspectives and the particular “style” of regional course designers (like Rick) to keep ASI vital.

What Happens When Someone Accidentally Shoots a Prop?

When Du

stin Wylie and Robin Taylor were teaching the RO course in Alaska recently, a question came up about “what happens when someone accidentally shoots a prop?”

The answer comes down to context. If the shooter fires a shot while not aiming at a target, that’s an accidental discharge — and the hole in the prop is evidence of the fact that they weren’t aiming at a target. However, it is possible to lean around a barricade, and simply misjudge whether one’s barrel has totally cleared the edge.

The shooter shown below is a participant at the USPSA PCC National Championship. (Remote camera.) He has a clear line of sight to the target with his sights, but unbeknownst to him, his barrel is still aimed at wood.

You can see wood being blasted off the barricade as he valiantly tries to make that difficult off-balance shot.

If you’re concerned about people blasting the edge of your barricade (like this) we suggest extending the edge of the barricade slightly with a bit of easily-replaceable trim. Cardboard works well too!

Because of this phenomenon, ASI barricades are meant to create a vision barrier only — declaring the barricade to be “hard cover” makes scoring much more difficult. (The RO’s that had to sort out the below situation for USPSA had their hands full!)

The ASI rules are full of not-so-obvious policies like this one, which flow from the Founders’ many years of match experience. They’re designed to make the match easier to run, and easier to understand for everyone — without a lot of unnecessary rule-making.

New Rule “Book” Released

ASI Releases Newest Rule “Book” and Keeps Promise to Maintain Short Rules for Competitive Sport While Promoting Gun Safety Education in a Fun and Social Setting.

The 1.5 rule book is still only 8 pages and streamlined compared to the 1.4 version. You can read it here: https://asi-usa.org/rules/

“We’ve opened up the playing field to allow the ’30-something’ calibers that are often banned by other sports,” says ASI CEO Robin Taylor. “Examples include the .32 ACP, .32-20, 7.62X25, .30 Mauser, and the entire .32 S&W family, including the .327 Federal Magnum. Also, the rule allowing revolver shooters to use a frame-mounted optic appears in print at last, along with a handful of minor corrections and fixes.”

If you find any errors or problems (typos included) Mike Meisner is working on putting together a “fix list” for next year’s release. He can be reached at mmeisner@asi-usa.org.