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View Full Version : So What Makes A Great Handgun???


RCJeeper
08-03-2012, 8:24 PM
Some say Glocks are the best handguns there are. Some say 1911s. I really like my M&P. Others say the Browning Hi-Power is the pinnacle of 9mm HGs. So what are the tangibles that make a HG great? What is pointablility? So I've been thinking about HGs and what seperates the so-sos from the great ones.

In 2012 nearly every semi-auto is reliable. I can't think of any HGs that are unreliable (minus .22s). Shesh, most say even the hi-points are reliable. Most are considered very durable with few exceptions.

With that said, here is my list of what I think seperates the average guns from the greats:

1. Accuracy - Simple.
2. Trigger - Is it light and crisp? Does it break cleanly? How long is the takeup? Does it stack? How long is the reset? Is it consistant?
3. Ergonomics - some guns just feel great. Is the slide release under the thumb? Does it drop the slide without alot of effort. Is the mag drop in the right place? Does it protrude too little or too much?
4. Sounds - Does it make the right clicks and snicks? Or does it sound springy and clacky?
5. Sights - Do they enhance target aquisition or detract?
6. Mag Drop - Do the mags drop cleanly?
7. Mag well - Is there ample beveling to guide fresh mags in place?


Things that don't much matter to me:

1. Dissasembly - Most modern semis come aparts pretty easily. Some a bit easily than others but really, the difference is of little or no consequence to me.


The intangibles:

I never really got the 1911 thing until I fired one. You know immediately that there is something special about the platform. When it goes bang, it just feels great. Feels like you can point and hit, point and hit.

In the end, there are so many choices and good ones at that, some are $400, some are $1200. In the end, I get the feeling that all most manufacturers get most of the things right with 2 exceptions; A - Trigger. B - The intangible.

So which HGs get these 2 right out the box??

In my estimation, I can think of only the 1911s. Which is funny cause I don't own one. Am I wrong? Are there other HGs that are in the great status? If so, why?

Ribkick
08-03-2012, 9:32 PM
In my opinion, the 1911 design and the H&K P7M8 are the most advanced, perfect designs but pricy.

I own Hi-powers, Glock's, S&W 39/59, 1911's of various mfg's and H&K's. I like them all. To bad the P7 is discontinued. I think it's the most sophisticated/perfect design ever.

1911's and Hi-powers are of similar design and ergonomics with the 1911 having more accessible controls and feels better...to me.

Sights are a personal thing and are very customizable to your tastes so it's a non issue.

Fit and finish? If you buy top line that isn't a worry. If you try to buy on the cheap, you get what you pay for.

I do think a lot of the new offerings from the big mfg's are inferior in quality, fit, and finish.

Snoopy47
08-03-2012, 9:36 PM
We are all hypocrites, otherwise, wed all stop at one gun.

Ribkick
08-03-2012, 9:53 PM
We are all hypocrites, otherwise, wed all stop at one gun.

You're probably right and most would be a better shooter if they stuck to one gun and practiced. I drill with a 1911 and P7 because they are what I use and rely on.

FalconLair
08-03-2012, 10:37 PM
the great guns are the ones you can never seem to find for sell and when they are...$$$$

Synergy
08-03-2012, 10:47 PM
We are all hypocrites, otherwise, wed all stop at one gun.

I was a 1911 snob and only owned 1911's. Then I added a USP since it operates like a 1911, then M9, then XD, Now I just buy what shoots good. The key is to have enough trigger time to know the idiosyncrasies of each weapon.

SilverTauron
08-04-2012, 6:21 AM
I implore the OP to not become offended at the following statement, but I despise threads like "Whats the BEST handgun"..."Brand A is better than Brand B"... and so on.

Why? Because everyone has different needs, different tastes,different lifestyles and different physical abilities. A handgun must fit the owner's needs , and that is the primary criterion for what makes the "best" gun. As such no two people will have the same exact idea of what constitutes "the best".

Practical example:some of you posters prefer the 1911. For my life needs, .45 ACP ammo is far too expensive for me to comfortably retain proficiency at shooting such a pistol.Thus a 1911 is not my idea of a great handgun.For you, the situation can be totally different leading to a different handgun choice than me. Does that mean one of us is wrong? Absolutely not.

Find out what works for you and ignore what everyone else-including the pros-says.

Tank 57
08-04-2012, 2:13 PM
Only 2 things to me.Reliability and accuracy.

All other stuff is secondary.Has to work and you have to be able hit what you are aiming at.

mexicancolt1
08-04-2012, 2:25 PM
I'm a huge Colt fan. Autos and Revolvers. Love them both equally. There's something to be said when you are holding a 6 inch Royal Cobalt Blued "Python" in your hands. The action, weight and dependability "Unmatched". Collectors are also investors. On average Colts have appreciated 9% per year (over the past 20 years) Can't go wrong with a Colt.

nhattran_1528
08-04-2012, 7:10 PM
7. Mag well - Is there ample beveling to guide fresh mags in place?

Disagree with #7. Magwell bevel is more important on a single stack magazine gun but not as important on a double stack magazine gun. Take a glock 17 for example #1. The magazine well on the glock is wider than a 1911 so one example why a mag bevel isnt as important for the glock. #2. The double stack magazine on the glock is already tapered on the end so another reason why mag bevel isnt needed. So to conclude, #7 would be important for a 1911 but not so important for most double stack handguns.

jyo
08-04-2012, 7:51 PM
What makes a great pistol/revolver? Any gun that works well, shoots to point of aim and just gives you the confidence that when you pull the trigger, its going to hit what you aim at!

jlbflyboy172
08-04-2012, 9:50 PM
A great gun is the one that works well for the shooter that is shooting it. That's it. There are so many different hands sizes, preferences and tastes. That is why there are so many darn different handguns. The one that you shoot well is the best - FOR YOU.

Find out what it is, train with a professional to get the technique right and then practice often and enjoy the ride.

TempleKnight
08-04-2012, 10:34 PM
We are all hypocrites, otherwise, wed all stop at one gun.

That made me laugh. I was perfectly happy with my S&W revo's back in the day. Now all my competition guns are 1911/2011 platform because I like the trigger and I have a bunch of STI 140mm magazines. There have been quite a few in between.

I don't believe there is a "best" gun, but there may be a "best gun for you". You may or may not like a gun with a safety versus a "safe action" like Glock. The grip angle and the size of the grip are personal preferences. The location of controls (Sig v 1911 v Cz etc) are personal preferences. Many handguns are good to go right out of the for SD; very few are GTG for competition with a trip the 'smith.

schneiderguy
08-04-2012, 10:48 PM
So What Makes A Great Handgun???

A revolving cylinder and "Smith & Wesson" stamped on the barrel seems to do it ;)

Oceanbob
08-05-2012, 4:59 AM
Early on for me personally:

1. Colt 1911 Series 70 national match that Jim Hoag worked over. Still have it but it has some wear and tear. Love that platform.

2. Browning Hi Power. A perfect single-action hi cap pistol with incredible pointability. Mine is old as well; still runs perfect. Mine has a Barstow barrel, removed mag disconnect, adjustable sights, hoag grips. Was my briefcase weapon back in the 80s early 90s.

3. Then GLOCK came along. Bought my first in 1987 from George over at Saddleback Valley Guns. I was amazed at how well it handled. Never failed and was so light weight.

The above three are my favorite and perfect handguns.

They are tools before Art.

Merc1138
08-05-2012, 5:35 AM
1. Accuracy - Simple.
2. Trigger - Is it light and crisp? Does it break cleanly? How long is the takeup? Does it stack? How long is the reset? Is it consistant?
3. Ergonomics - some guns just feel great. Is the slide release under the thumb? Does it drop the slide without alot of effort. Is the mag drop in the right place? Does it protrude too little or too much?
4. Sounds - Does it make the right clicks and snicks? Or does it sound springy and clacky?
5. Sights - Do they enhance target aquisition or detract?
6. Mag Drop - Do the mags drop cleanly?
7. Mag well - Is there ample beveling to guide fresh mags in place?


1. Most guns are more accurate than the people shooting them. This really isn't an issue for most people(we aren't talking about something shooting 5" groups at 10 yards from a rest or something).
2. Personal preference. The configuration of the safety(or lack of) in combination with how it's being carried can affect what people want in a trigger.
3. Again, personal preference. Not everyone likes the feel of a 1911, not everyone likes the feel of a glock. People have different shapes and sizes of hands. Fortunately ambi and extended controls can help some people make a gun work better for them.
4. Still a matter of personal preference. Ideally my perfect gun would be dead silent(except for the shot of course). I don't need a safety or trigger that makes audible noise.
5. And again... personal preference. Combat and bullseye shooting aren't necessarily the same thing. Some sights may also not be as durable as others, and in some situations it doesn't matter.
6. I would hope any modern gun has mags that drop freely.
7. As pointed out by someone else, it doesn't matter on a double stack gun if it's magazines are tapered at the top, unless maybe you're shooting competition and you feel that a huge funnel for a mag well helps you reload a hundredth of a second faster, which is a matter of personal preference.

The "best" or "greatest" gun, ignoring technical aspects like being able to operate reliably, is one that fits the shooter and the application that the shooter intends to use it in.