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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The subject has arisen with increasing frequency over the years since I first got into firearms within threads pertaining to self-defense, with many folks basing their choice in firearms around how pleasant they are to shoot at the range, particularly for extended periods of time.
Personally, this has never been a factor for me when choosing a firearm for self-defense, and I'm honestly a bit confused why so many people concern themselves with such a seemingly irrelevant detail.

Perhaps it's due to the fact that my interest in firearms was born out of necessity and driven forward by raw survival instinct, ergo comfort was never a factor since at the time in my mind I would only fire it with a purpose, not for recreation.
However, even now that I have long since discovered the recreational side of shooting, there still seems to be a disconnect in my mind between firearms for self-defense and firearms for recreation, ergo when choosing a firearm for self-defense, shooting comfort is not an immediate concern. I'm far too concerned with the overall effectiveness of the firearm to think of how pleasant it may be to shoot for extended sessions at the range and I suppose that in my mind I just sort of interpret things such as sharp recoil as being a proportionate reaction to the amount of energy the firearm is putting out, so I just write it off as the nature of the beast.

I just can't grasp the concept of compromising or otherwise sacrificing effectiveness for comfort, so when I see folks talking about how they traded in a .40 S&W for a 9mm Luger because .40 S&W was unpleasant to shoot, it just leaves me scratching my head. I'd sooner keep the .40 for self-defense then buy a drop in 9mm barrel or get a .22LR conversion kit for fun at the range.

The only compromise I ever made which sacrificed effectiveness/practicality for personal satisfaction was in regards to aesthetics, opting for more attractive-looking firearms over otherwise plain-looking or even ugly firearms, but seeing as open carry was on the forefront of my mind at the time, aesthetic appeal did have at least some merit.

At any rate, my question to you, my fellow forum members, is how important is shooting comfort to you when selecting a firearm for self-defense?
 

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I cannot speak for everyone, but enjoyability does enter into my decision. On Armed Forces Day at the local Army Depot, a decade or so ago, they let me fire the 155 howitzer out of one of those mobile artillery tanks. The concussion nearly floored me, but the rush was like nothing else since I flipped that hydroplane in 1960. Now I wouldn't get one for my own use, of course, and I'd probably be able to afford the powder (and just load solid inert projectiles) to fire it once every other year or so. But, nevertheless . . . . .

But in the calibers you are discussing, I really do enjoy shooting every gun I own, from the .25 ACP right up to the big, 10" Ruger Blackhawk Though after about 50 or 75 rounds of that at full-house loadings, I'm ready to switch off to something milder, now that I'm past 80 and my arthritic hands and wrists complain a bit.

However, for self defense, the requirement is that it be both accurate and effective and that I can also be both with it. Self-defense will hardly require more than one magazine full if the histories and statistics are fairly correct, and if it does need more than that, I'm afraid my only rescue would be close air support.

I am of the opinion that esthetics as such, IS pretty far down on MY list of desirables. Durability, dependability, function, lethality, efficiency and my performance with it would scale much, much higher.

40 vs 9? A NON-ISSUE to me. I had a pair of them in S&W Sigmas a few years ago and (to me, anyway) I found just about NO DIFFERENCE WHATEVER. My son wanted one or the other, so I kept the 9 because: 1). I had several extra magazines for it; 2) It was cheaper to feed, now that I'm retired, and 3) It had the black slide, and the 40 was shinier stainless.

I've probably not gotten anywhere near the answers you seek, but that's the way it works for me.

Flash
 

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For self defense my only concern regarding recoil is my ability to get back on target for follow up shots in a timely manner. I wouldn't choose a .44 magnum for self defense, but do carry .40s, .357s or .45s.
 

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My EDC is a KelTec PF9. Definitely not a range toy, very uncomfortable to shoot. I can hit what I aim at consistently and I am very comfortable with it's reliability. As for caliber/recoil, I am confident that my ability to effectively and repeatedly place my shots where they will do the greatest good will more than make up for any of the shortcomings that a 9mm load the perceived to have.
In a high stress situation I probably won't even notice any discomfort... My PT92 is my range toy..
 

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It's nice when weather and clothing allow for carry of a larger more comfortable in the hand personal protection IE: conceal carry choice. However this is often not the case, at least here in the Texas heat. I have found myself more often in the last year tucking one of my small .380 weapons in a pocket, side holster, ankle holster or belt clip as I head out the door.

These small framed pistols are not comfortable for me to shoot for extended periods of time due to their size and my hand grip. But then I can hit my target, they are dependable and that's what matters to me for conceal carry duties.
 

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Enjoyability to shoot equates to frequency of shooting - if a person likes to shoot a particular gun, they are much more likely to shoot it more frequently and hence be better practiced and more proficient.

Also, the 9mm vs .40 trade off is usually a round or two more capacity for a maximum of 50-150-ish Ft-lbs of energy (depending a LOT on load) so for me it's 6 of one, and a half dozen the other....
 

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For me personally, being pleasant to shoot is a nicety not a requirement. However, i am one that likes guns of all types. For those that have a medical problem, i can see pleasant to shoot being a factor. I can also understand that there are people out there that arent what i call gun folk , where owning one gun that is "pleasant" to shoot, is the only way they are likely to own one!
 

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Being pleasant to shoot is nice, but not essential.

The one gun I wouldn't carry because it's so unpleasant is a View/non-View with the factory grip panels. Unshootable. With the modified M85 grip I have on it, it's shootable, but 50 rounds would be a chore. I'd carry it, if pocket carry and very close shots were the mission.

My PT740 was shootable, but don't expect split second double taps - until I put the Pearce grip extension on it. That really improves the ergos. I'd put 100 round through it at a range session and enjoy every shot.

But no, a carry gun doesn't have to be a fun range gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good answers all around.

To be honest, I posted this thread here as opposed to the forums in which I have seen examples of the subject at hand because I haven't really seen it here before, and I was pretty sure that even if there were folks here who feel that way then they would be more likely to explain why rather than get all offended and respond to a simple question by derailing the thread into an out of control debate. That or answer in the most uppity, extreme, obvious, insipid way possible as though my every statement were absolute and I was somehow saying that firearms which are outright painful to shoot or have such massive recoil that it negatively impacts the ability to perform follow up shots in a timely manner are better than more reasonable choices.

Within reason, I can understand the benefits/appeal of a firearm which is reliable, effective, and pleasant to shoot, but the former factors so greatly outweigh the latter that it has never been an immediate concern.
 

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Pleasurable to shoot is not high on my list, but I have sold guns that were extremely unpleasant. I had two double taps that I got rid of, very unpleasant to shoot, 2rd capacity, low velocity seemed like they sacrificed too much for the size. My record number of rounds fired in a range trip was 8 in the .45 and the 9mm was not much better.
 

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Plicking/range gun yes, it should be pleasant and fun. Defense/hunting not so much ass lead on target, one shot one kill. That said, I never want to shoot the 454 casull or single shot 10 ga. again. By brother in law has a rabbit eared side by side 10ga. he said we need to shoot someday. Sure, someday . Now the Barrett 82a1 is a go!
 

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When I was involved with security and LE the most uncomfortable gun to shoot in training and qualification was the 12 gauge shotgun. If however you had a situation where there was a good possibility it was going to be a lethal force encounter, (like man with a gun in a store, etc) it was much more comforting than any handgun. Being a long gun it was easier to get hits on target with for most people (if you aimed) and much more effective than any handgun.

As far as handguns though, the important thing is getting hits on target. If a gun is too uncomfortable to shoot it may affect how you shoot it, particularly if you have to shoot a lot of rounds, such as in a class or qualification exercise. I carried a lightweight 2 inch revolver when plainclothes and had to qualify with it, and it was really uncomfortable compared to my 4 inch Model 66. Still, I was able with practice to qualify with it, although my qualification score were not great. There's a pic of Mas Ayoob standing next to a target with holes spread all over the center of the target, and him holding a snubby and frowning. Mas said he was as happy with the results as he looked. :lol:

At the academy I saw a female student hit the X of a B27 target (yes it was back in the stone age) with her first shots, and her follow up shots all went progressively downwards, until the 6th round was down near the crotch. The instructor reloaded her S&W model 10 with skinny grips for her, handed it back to her, and told her to shoot. Her first shot was down low again. There was no round in the chamber next to the first shot and when she tried to fire, it was obvious she was flincing and pushing the gun downward to conteract for the recoil and muzzle rise. So comfort can be an issue sometimes, sometimes it isn't, particularly if you're not firing a lot of rounds at a single time with it.
 

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Thre's more than just on paper effectiveness involved.

If a gun is extremely uncomfortable to shoot, then it won't get shot. If you don't shoot it, you won't improve your capabilities with it. If you don't improve your ability to shoot the gun accurately, then you are just making noise and we all know that the noise isn't what does the damage, it's hitting the target. If you can't hit with it, then why carry it?

I'm not concerned with the 9 versus 40 argument. There's not enough real world difference between the two to make it a factor. The only one that could tell the difference between identical hits with them is the arm chair gun nut and the coroner that digs the slugs out.

Personally, I've never been fond of the .40. I don't like the way they recoil. I'm not recoil shy- I carry a 5 shot .44 Special daily- I just don't like the way the gun reacts under recoil. I'm the same way with .357 Magnum. I shoot it well and can handle it fine. I just don't like it. I'd rather shoot .44 Mags than .357's. I like the harder shove than the quick, lighter smack.

Concealed carry should come down to these questions in this order.

1. What can I hit with?

2. Out of what I can hit with, what can I hide?

3. Out of what I can hit with and what I can hide, then what is the most effective options out of the choices available?

After that, you have things narrowed down and you can make choices based on other criteria.

If you can't make hits, leave it at home. If you can't hide it, then it's not a concealed carry option.
 

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Of course comfort when shooting is important but not an absolute. Comfort when wearing is more important for EDC, to me. If it’s “uncarryable” it won’t do much good if ya need it. I practice with 38 SPL +P but carry my 101 with 357 Mag. If I’m absorbed in what I’m doing during a defensive situation, I’ll probably not recall the recoil or muzzle flashes “during the act of shooting”.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
When I was involved with security and LE the most uncomfortable gun to shoot in training and qualification was the 12 gauge shotgun. If however you had a situation where there was a good possibility it was going to be a lethal force encounter, (like man with a gun in a store, etc) it was much more comforting than any handgun. Being a long gun it was easier to get hits on target with for most people (if you aimed) and much more effective than any handgun.

As far as handguns though, the important thing is getting hits on target. If a gun is too uncomfortable to shoot it may affect how you shoot it, particularly if you have to shoot a lot of rounds, such as in a class or qualification exercise. I carried a lightweight 2 inch revolver when plainclothes and had to qualify with it, and it was really uncomfortable compared to my 4 inch Model 66. Still, I was able with practice to qualify with it, although my qualification score were not great. There's a pic of Mas Ayoob standing next to a target with holes spread all over the center of the target, and him holding a snubby and frowning. Mas said he was as happy with the results as he looked. :lol:

At the academy I saw a female student hit the X of a B27 target (yes it was back in the stone age) with her first shots, and her follow up shots all went progressively downwards, until the 6th round was down near the crotch. The instructor reloaded her S&W model 10 with skinny grips for her, handed it back to her, and told her to shoot. Her first shot was down low again. There was no round in the chamber next to the first shot and when she tried to fire, it was obvious she was flincing and pushing the gun downward to conteract for the recoil and muzzle rise. So comfort can be an issue sometimes, sometimes it isn't, particularly if you're not firing a lot of rounds at a single time with it.
On the bright side, shooting an attacker in the crotch area could be potentially incapacitating if sufficient damage is dealt towards the pelvis, a shot to the bladder would be devastatingly painful with long-term ramifications, and a hit to the family jewels will certainly prevent sexual assault, hopefully permanently. ;)
 

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Yes, they all must be pleasant to shoot.
On the firing range.........you betcha. I want to have fun while I'm working on my accuracy.
Self defense...................you betcha. How am I suppose to be confident and efficient with a
firearm I don't like to shoot? I really don't want to risk my safety using a gun I don't like.
I have plenty of pistols I love to shoot, in all calibers, without having to carry one I am not fond of.
 

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On the bright side, shooting an attacker in the crotch area could be potentially incapacitating if sufficient damage is dealt towards the pelvis, a shot to the bladder would be devastatingly painful with long-term ramifications, and a hit to the family jewels will certainly prevent sexual assault, hopefully permanently. ;)
Maybe but missing by 2 feet is never good.

Matter of fact, that is usually considered a very bad thing.
 
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Several years ago I was fixated on buying a S & W .44 magnum. Went to my LGS with cash in hand. As I was fondling the pistol the clerk looked at me and said "you aren't going to enjoy shooting it". Never did buy that .44.
 

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Personally I feel that with the absolute abundant amount of choices there are in the realm of firearms, not to mention that many options allow for an extremely wide array of customization to fit your required needs, there's absolutely no reason why you wouldn't choose something that's comfortable and pleasant to shoot. And that's before you even start factoring in the ammunition manufacturers. Hell you could lose yourself on Midway just by going through their ammunition section, and modern ammunition is leaps and bounds from where it was just a few decades ago. 9mm has become an extremely reliable self defense round provided you make a wise choice, and it's not a hard thing to do with an hour or two of research on your computer. Even .380 can pack quite a wallop these days and expand pretty remarkably.

For me, I would never own a firearm that I couldn't shoot reliably and comfortably, and that allows for enough manageable recoil where I could place quick follow up shots if needed. I own firearms in .38, .357, 9mm, .40, .45, and .357 SIG, and I consider each and every one of them a joy to shoot at the range, and also consider each and every one of them up for the job of protecting me and my loved ones if God forbid I ever needed to rely on one of them for such a task. I also own an old .22 S&W revolver which is the only firearm I have that I wouldn't keep bedside for the boogieman, but then I didn't buy it, it was a gift from my father. Great plinker though. Having said all that, which gun is my go to for guard dog duty? My .45. Yeah it's a bigger round, but for me in a full size 1911 with good grips, a beaver that rides over your web allowing to really get into it and gain purchase for control, I don't find it difficult or even remotely unpleasant to fire. I've dropped 250 rounds through it at the range before and went home smiling and smelling of cordite. I'm a big guy though, and have big hands, so it works well for me, but for my wife, not so much. She likes the .38 because it's much more accommodating for her size, and the truth is if I was going to carry concealed that's the gun of the ones I currently own that I would. Bottom line is, if you can't shoot comfortably, chances are you aren't going to shoot nearly as often, and practice and having skills you feel you can rely on confidently with a specific firearm is much more important than throwing high speed ashtrays at someone if you are going to be much less likely to hit your target.
 

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My full power 44 mag loads in the Super Blackhawk kicks like a mule. It's enjoyable, however do I shoot it as much as my 9mm and 45? Nope. If it goes bang, I like it though.
 
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