I I Thought I Could Decide, But . . .

I’m a very fortunate guy. Because of the generosity of family and friends and the good fortune to be a firearms instructor and dealer, I’ve acquired some very nice firearms. I have three I consider my “carry guns.” Unlike many, who carry different sizes of guns based on the season, how they are dressed or what they think they might need, all of my guns are full-size, big caiber guns. My thoughts are “how can you know?” I’d rather have more gun and ammo than I need than to come up short while fighting for my life or protecting a loved one.

My carry preference on any given day is totally subjective. I walk in the gun closet, look on the shelf and say to one of them, “You haven’t been out for a while” and into the holster it goes. There is no one gun among the three I have found to be more reliable, more accurate or easier to shoot.

Yesterday I decided to revisit all three and see if I could come away with a favorite–the one gun I’d like to have with me in a crisis. So it was off to the range the three guns and an assortment of ammo:  defensive rounds, FMJ target rounds, and reloads. The three guns are a Smith & Wesson M&P, a Sig Sauer P226 Elite and a Springfield XDm:

The M&P and Sig both 40 S&W caliber guns with 15 round magazines. The XDm is a 45 ACP with a 13 round magazine. Plenty of firepower, either way.

I started out shooting the M&P. Nice feel, very manageable recoil and accuracy that was as good as I was. The target was 15 feet away. I shot a couple of magazines and was very pleased with the results. Then I switched targets and picked up the Sig P226. If my eyes had been closed when the gun was switched, I don’t know that I could tell the difference. Again, the accuracy was as good as I am, the recoil was quite manageable and as with the S&W there were no malfunctions of any kind.

When I put out the third target and got ready to shoot the Springfield XDM I had to admit it felt noticeably different. The grip has a totally different feel. When I pulled the trigger, felt recoil was a little lighter. It always seems to me that the 40s have a little more “kick” than the 45 when it comes to felt recoil. A few rounds with the Springfield and the center of the target was mangled, just as with the other two.

Here are the targets. As you can see, I’m well-protected with any one of these three guns:

Since all three guns have proven to be reliable and accurate, let’s look some other comparisons to see if I can come up with a favorite.

Weight is a possibility. Here the M&P as an advantage because it only weighs 24 ounces. The XD weighs 31 ounces and the Sig, which has more metal, weighs 34 ounces. I do have to admit the M&P is slightly more comfortable to carry, though all three wear well in my Crossbreed SuperTuck holster. Even though Crossbreed customizes each holster for a particular gun, I use the same holster for all three and have no issue with how they fit or how well the holster retains them.

When it comes to wearing the guns the Springfield sometimes gives me a problem in that it has ambidextrous magazine release buttons and the button on the right side is sometimes pushed by my belt, causing the magazine to unseat. I check for this often out of habit so hopefully won’t ever draw the gun only to have the magazine hit the ground, but this is never an issue with the Sig or M&P.

How about trigger pull?  It’s heavier on the Sig at around 10 pounds for the first double-action trigger pull. The double-action trigger pull on the M&P is 6.5 ounces and on the Springfield it’s somewhere between 5.5 & 7 ounces according to the factory specs. I don’t have a trigger-pull scale, so I’ll take their word for it. My only observation here is I’m okay with the trigger on all three guns. No issues with trigger pull, whatsoever.

Sights? I have the same tritium night sights on all three guns, something I consider a necessity with my aging eyes. All three shoot where they’re pointed as evidenced by the targets.

Grip comfort? With my eyes closed I can’t tell the difference between the Sig and the M&P. The XD feels different. I don’t like or dislike it’s grip more than the others, it’s just different.

This exercise has done three things for me:  1) given me renewed confidence in all three guns as far as accuracy and reliability go, 2) caused me to “get to know” my guns a little better, and 3) made me decide not to decide. I like all three and will continue to switch them out on a whim, or when I hear one of the calling out to me from the gun closet, “Take me! Take me!”