My second attempt at renting a Glock 19 was more successful than my first—and what a great little pistol.
If you’re not familiar with the Glock line, they make a range of pistols of varying sizes and calibers, designated by the model number. The Glock 19 is a 9mm pistol with a roughly 4 inch barrel, a little smaller in length and height than a full-size service pistol like the Beretta 92 or the 9mm Glock 17. With a shorter barrel, you tend to get lower muzzle velocities, all else being equal, but you also get a more concealable weapon.
Glocks are well known for their minimum of external controls, and the Glock 19 was a snap to operate. Recoil felt very manageable compared to the Taurus 92 I had fired previously, which was not what I expected, given the Glock’s smaller mass–but hey, what do I know? The sights were fantastic, very high contrast. I felt myself to be a better shot with this gun than anything I had tried before—though of course, at least some of that could be the effect of practice.
From a usability perspective, this is definitely a gun I would consider owning, but I"m conflicted about the absence of a manual safety. The theory behind not having one is that in a high-stress defensive situation, you may forget to disengage the safety before trying to fire, potentially losing critical moments at a time when you can’t afford them. The flip side, some argue, is that a Glock carried with a round in the chamber, and ready to fire with a pull of the trigger, may be more subject to accidental discharge. Definitely a matter for further thought.
Having concluded from my revolver experiment that I prefer a semi-auto, I headed across town to an indoor range that I had read has a wide selection of guns available to rent to see if I could get my hands on a Glock 19. They had one, but unfortunately it was already checked out—perhaps to someone who was smart enough to call ahead. The guy behind the counter offered an alternative: a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, which he observed is similar in basic design to the compact Glock.
This was only the second semi-auto pistol I had fired, and I’m a novice shooter, but I my initial impression wasn’t very favorable. The sights were marked with low-contrast orange that I couldn’t see well in the shadows at the firing line, and out of 50 rounds fired, I had four rounds stove-pipe on me. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that this was my fault, and that I was limp-wristing—defeating the proper operation of the slide and ejector by gripping the gun too loosely. But I hadn’t had this problem with the Taurus 92 when I fired it, and I haven’t had it with the compact autos I’ve fired since. Maybe it was a bad box of ammo. Or, given that it was a rental, of course, maybe it just needed a good cleaning. Whatever the cause, the experience put me off the pistol. I resolved that next time I went shooting, I would wait to try the Glock.
For my fourth visit to the gun range, I decided to try something a little different, and try shooting a revolver instead of a semi-auto. The range rented me the specimen you see to the right, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special.
The gun shot fine; I was about as accurate with it as I was the Taurus 9mm I had shot before. I suspect that given my relative inexperience with handguns, my skill or lack thereof has a lot more to do with where the rounds land than any variations in accuracy inherent to the gun.
Recoil felt to be about the same as with the 9mm as well, which for some reason surrpised me a bit. I was expecting a .38 to kick more. For one thing, I was thinking that .38 rounds were significantly larger than 9 mm rounds. (In fact, .38 caliber is 9.13 mm, barely enough difference to notice.) I had also expected a revolver to transmit more of the force of the shot to my hand without the recoil mechanism of a semi-auto absorbing some of the energy. I didn’t find this to be true in practice, either. If anything, without the distraction of the action moving, it was easier to stay sighted in on the target for consecutive shots.
On the other hand, I found the gun less comfortable in my hand than the Taurus. I’m not sure why; it wasn’t actually uncomfortable per se, it just didn’t feel as "at home." I also found I like that with a semi-auto, the slide locks open when you’re empty, eliminating the question of whether you’ve fired off all your rounds.
On the whole, I think I like the semi-autos better. But it was a good experiment.
I went pistol shooting for the first time a couple of weekends ago, at an outdoor range not far from my house. This was inspired partly by the notion that being minimally proficient with a firearm is, like knowing first aid, a useful life skill in case of emergency, and partly out of curiosity. Specifically, I was curious whether I could hit the broadside of a barn. I won’t bore you with the various things that are wrong with my vision, but they are many and varied, and I was by no means confident I could even land a shot on the target.
The range loaned me a Taurus PT92, a Brazilian version of the Beretta 92F/M9 pistol used by the US armed forces, and I ran a box of 50 rounds through it. All in all, I was pretty happy with my first time out. Most of the time I was shooting from about 10 yards, and as you can see from the picture, I was indeed hitting most of the time. The key seemed to be that while the target was a good distance away, the sights on the pistol are only inches away, and its the forward sight, not the target, that you need to focus on to aim accurately. I was a bit unprepared for how loud the gun was when it fired; 9mm rounds are a lot louder than .22s. I know I’m flinching, and I found the muzzle was climbing to the right. I’m sure I have all manner of bad habits, though I did enough research before I went to know at least roughly how the gun should be held, what propers stance should look like, and so on. I could do a lot worse than get a few lessons if I keep at this.
I’ve been back a couple of times, including once with my Dad, and I seem to be getting better. All in all, it’s been fun, and challenging. I may just have found myself a hobby.