The Problems with Small Guns In Big Hands

In many situations carrying a smaller gun can be more comfortable and easier to conceal.  It is common sense for the most part.  There are times, however, when small guns can be more of a liability than you might think.  It isn’t all that different from the challenges people face when they try to carry a gun that is too large.  Or maybe the challenges are as different as can be.  The point is if you have a big pair of hands and you try to carry and shoot a small gun, there are some things that you need to think about.

Handgun Fit

Handgun fit is an important topic in efficiency.  When we face a violent attack we want to solve the problem efficiently, with as little time, effort, and energy as possible.  Our mindset, tactics, skills, and tools can all play a role in how efficiently we can respond to that threat.  Handgun fit is an important aspect of efficiency.  The better our handgun fits, the more efficiently we will be able to employ that gun.

Handgun fit isn’t a simple topic.  It really comes down to selecting a handgun that, in order of priority, makes it easy for you to press the trigger smoothly to the rear, manage recoil for fast follow-up shots, and manipulate the magazine release and slide stop without shifting your grip.  If you want to know more about the topic you can read this in-depth article on handgun fit.

We typically think about handgun fit problems in terms of folks with little hands facing challenges when they are forced to operate big guns.  However, big hands and trying to shoot small guns can be a problem as well.

Big Hands with a Little Gun

I see these problems often.  Folks in search of the simple carry solution set themselves up with a difficult shooting situation because their hands are oversized for the diminutive gun that is easy to carry.

I have experienced these difficult shooting conditions myself.  Although my hands aren’t Goliath hands, when they are wrapped around a Glock 43, it is a whole different story.  It seems that the size of the single stack 9mm GLOCK magazine and the grip that wraps around it leaves plenty of dead space inside my grip.  With the recoil of the 9mm in such a small package, the 43 loves to squirm side to side in my grasp.  It’s manageable, but I tend to see groups that open up in width compared to pistols that tend to fill my palms.

I recently saw another challenge with a student in a course.  It was a repeat of what I have seen many times before.  Reloading a small pistol can be difficult for those with larger hands.  In this case, the offending tiny automatic was an S&W Bodyguard .380.  The issue was that the grip and the magazine of the Bodyguard .380 were so short that the primary hand extended well below the grip of the gun.  The result was difficulty in the insertion of the magazine.  The weak hand just didn’t have space to fully seat the mag because of the strong hand.

S&W Bodyguard .380
The weak hand just didn’t have space to fully seat the mag because the strong hand extended below the grip.

These problems aren’t impossible to deal with, they simply need to be dealt with and they need to be understood.

Final Thoughts

When we take a look at concealed carry from a balanced point of view it is easy for us to see that every choice is a compromise.  A bigger gun might be harder to conceal, but at the same time, it could be easier to shoot.  Just the opposite, a smaller gun might be more difficult to shoot while at the same time it is easier to conceal. 

Of course you might find the exact opposite is true for you.  The key is to understand the impact that your decisions have on your ability to deal with a lethal threat and to make the choices that will help you prevail when you need to most.

Paul Carlson, owner of Safety Solutions Academy, is a Professional Defensive Shooting Instructor.  He has spent the past decade and a half studying how humans can perform more efficiently in violent confrontations and honing his skills as an instructor both in the classroom and on the range. Through Safety Solutions Academy, Paul teaches a variety of Critical Defensive Skills courses in more than a dozen states annually.  Courses range from Concealed Carry Classes to Advanced Critical Defensive Handgun Courses and include instruction for the defensive use of handguns, rifles and shotguns.  Safety Solutions Academy regularly hosts other industry leading experts as guest instructors to make sure that SSA's students have the opportunity for quality instruction across a broad range of Critical Defensive disciplines.

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