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While I've since decided for other reasons to move away from the idea that inspired this thread, I feel that an issue I pondered is one I'd like to ponder with the experts.

I've been looking into just what kind of sub-compact I'd like to have when I get home from this deployment. I've decided I need a full-size pistol, and a sub-compact, to begin with. I'm willing to bear the load of a .45 full size pistol of some kind (not that I've actually decided which one in the months I've wondered), but I recognize that many situations will call for a sub-compact. You can't always conceal or even comfortably carry a full pistol.

One of the first sub-compacts to catch my eye was a European Armor 10mm ultracompact pistol. Now while I'm aware that most people would consider this a bad idea, and strange, my relatively amateur knowledge allows me to pose the question, why?

I'm a huge advocate of Jeff Cooper's 10mm. It's shortcomings are all operator-based, in my opinion, and can be overcome with training. I only walk away from the caliber now because it's so rare and expensive, and I won't own a person defense weapon I don't intend to train extensively on. But, it's that way because of it's shortcomings ... shortcomings that were addressed with the 40 S&W cartridge. But the most prevalent of these is recoil, and follow-through.

If, for example, I were to shoot someone at a far enough range with a sub-compact 10mm pistol that the recoil made it impossible to make a second shot in time despite my training, I could only presume this was a situation in which they were running away.

However, I believe that any situation in which I'd engage a target with a sub-compact pistol, or any pistol at all, would likely be at VERY close range. Less than five meters. I feel I could empty the magazine of a 10mm sub-compact despite it's recoil, quickly, into a target five meters away. I could do it faster and easier with a 9mm, of course, but how big of an issue is that, when you factor in the superior stopping power of a 10?

I understand why recoil is an issue in assault rifles, and it's another reason I feel the Army is using 5.56. I can keep a burst of 5.56 on target, and that's very important at the intermediate to long ranges you'll engage a target with an asault rifle. Does this principal really apply to personal defense pistols?

Do you really need low recoil in a pistol? Of course without training, the kick of even a .45 will take you several seconds to overcome. That is why you TRAIN. The people who wanted what Jeff Cooper delivered in 10mm, rejected it because it required "an excessive amount of training for agents to deal with the recoil of the high-powered round". This implies to me that they could have been trained. But, their situation is different, they may be the offender.

Anyone can argue that you'll get more 9mm rounds accurately into a target, faster. Can anyone argue that this will deliver more lethality in a given time frame than the smaller amount of vastly more powerful rounds? And in what situation do you really need to accurately fire multiple rounds from a pistol, at such distance, quickly?

And I'm still on the fence about my subcompact. 9mm, 380 ... maybe. But I COULD have one in .40S&W, or even .45ACP. This thread will influence my decision on that ...
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

"2-1 Golf"

Taking a break for lunch and only have a moment but I should tell you first off, that I do like the 10mm cartridge and the potential it represents. A while back, a thread here on the .45 Super drifted into this area and I had the time to post a few things about it then: viewtopic.php?f=178&t=62087&p=3413718&hilit=peen#p3413718

You should read that whole thread and maybe do a search for 10mm on this site as well as I think you will find there are a lot of insights offered to it.

That said, it is a difficult cartridge to recommend today.

I still think it is a fine hunting cartridge and with the right promotion at the time (some twenty-thirty years ago), I think it could have become a tremendous law enforcement and personal defense cartridge. Today, however, it is overwhelmed by the number of factory loadings (and platforms to put them in), offered up by the .45acp.

Your choices in guns and features are almost endless. And if you feel that you really need these two sizes, they could be "paired up" in terms of features, trigger pulls and sight pictures so that the issues involved in switching off between them would be minimized. Furthermore, if both of them are engineered correctly, you should be able to use the same cartridge in each of them as well.

And those cartridges offer something of an endless array of options and design considerations as well. You are starting out with a big hole (obviously bigger than the 10mm) to start with and generally, with the bullets offered today, very likely ending up with a still larger one.

The .45 is an extremely manageable gun-and-cartridge combination (not that the 10mm is that bad) and at the distances a civilian personal defense gun is generally employed in the real world (there are always exceptions), it would be a fine choice. Additionally, while all ammo appears costly these days, I believe the .45 is still a more affordable caliber to practice with than the 10mm; something just as important as any of the other well-founded considerations expressed in your post above.

Two things, however, you should keep in mind.

First, your "Less than five meters" distance is very realistic. In the civilian word (and not the one often seen on TV or in the movies), attacks are usually "up close". And while probably everybody here on this site is more aware than most of their surroundings, their personal space and things that invade it (thereby making the potential for responses to deadly force threats to take place sooner and, therefore, at correspondingly slightly increased distances), the restrictions the law places on you in regard to establishing/recognizing that threat and the options open to you to deal with it will generally not allow you to engage threats at great distances. Additionally, and I am not attempting to play lawyer here nor give you legal advice as you must learn what the laws are that affect you, I would tend to think that (as opposed to certain, very restrictive law enforcement situations), your example of "a situation in which they were running away" is one that might not ever happen (legally). You need to get formal, legal advice on that.

Second, and I think as part of something from this forum, I have been re-evaluating my belief in Officer's Model type (not brand) .45's, for after quizzing a number of friends of mine (off-site), I am hearing from a lot of people who are not too keen on their "as made" reliability. I used to shoot an S&W 4516 (an original with the lighter slide) and for all the horror stories I have heard about them (granted a much different action than the Colt-Browning design), it ran fine. So, at the moment, I don't know what to believe about the 3.5" 1911 types but people I do know and respect are a bit less than enamored with them as they (generally) come from their respective factories.

So in closing, there are two other options to consider here. Perhaps looking at something like a Commander-sized 1911 (still in .45 and with a lightweight frame) that might be small enough and light enough for all of your applications. Or look to some of the truly small, non-1911 platform, single column 9's and 40's out there today and perhaps optimize both the size and reliability of the package. I say that also because many people find that the chopped butt government types (while controllable) just don't feel all that good in the hand either because they are too short or because the sharp corner of the mainspring housing does not sit well in the heel of their hand.

Just a few things to think about. I hope these suggestions help.
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

I've talked until I'm blue in the face about my distaste for "ultra" or "sub" compact anythings... but especially 1911s. Reliability today is much better than it was when they first came along but the limitation of slide travel means they are always on the hairy edge of failure and the least little thing can cause a failure to feed/function.

I didn't have any trouble with the 4516 either but never fell in love.

But to the question: recoil is always going to be a factor and I don't care how much one shoots there is always an inverse relation between recoil and accuracy.
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

Anyone can argue that you'll get more 9mm rounds accurately into a target, faster. Can anyone argue that this will deliver more lethality in a given time frame than the smaller amount of vastly more powerful rounds??
Yes, the argument has been made that lethality may be greater if the surgeons have more wound tracks to repair before the patient can expire.

We can go on ad infinitum about rapidity of incapacitation...
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

Charlie Petty said:
I've talked until I'm blue in the face about my distaste for "ultra" or "sub" compact anythings... but especially 1911s. Reliability today is much better than it was when they first came along but the limitation of slide travel means they are always on the hairy edge of failure and the least little thing can cause a failure to feed/function.
Agree completely which is why I won't go below Commander length. :thumbsup:
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

"2-1 Golf"

Another meal, another break. So let's see how confusing I can be this time.

Not wanting to speak for anyone here but I am glad the both Charlie and "Snake45" spoke up with far more experience than I about these subcompact platforms. Some things can be scaled up or scaled down and some things are just better off being left alone.

That was the reason for my bringing it up in my first response to you about this matter and for my other comment within that post about how you might want to consider "some of the truly small, non-1911 platform, single column 9's and 40's out there today and perhaps optimize both the size and reliability of the package". There are compact guns out there today that were designed from the ground up to work well and fit the hand better and they deserve consideration.

For the umpteenth time, I will tell you that I am a big bore fan but that said, there are some really interesting (and not just small but flat) 9's and 40's that bear looking into. You mentioned .380's in your opening post and while they are better than nothing, unless size truly does trump everything (and you absolutely must have something no bigger than a Kel-Tec or a Ruger LCP - both good guns by the way) then I would seriously go no lower than 9mm.

Today, compact 9mm's and their (often but not always) companion and identically sized .40cal counterparts offer a huge variety of sizes, action types and features in packages that are amazingly small. I use a slide in one of my lectures that shows a rather famous cased set that Browning once offered with a "Vest Pocket" .25acp Baby Browning, a "Pocket" Model 1955 in .380, and their best known "Service" weapon, the 9mm Browning Hi-Power. Then, in the same scale, I show a slide comparing that set to a trio comprised of a Kel-Tec 32, Kel-Tec 9mm and Kahr .45. Going one step further I then show, in the same slide, the same .25/.380/9mm Browning set next to a Kahr .380, a Kahr 9mm and a Kahr .45; with the latter guns offering a lot more caliber for their size.

And that doesn't even begin to address my fondness for the small but perhaps now dated S&W family of 3913, 3914, 3953 and 1954 handguns in what today would be considered "compact" pistols. Yes, they are "only" 9mm's but just as I have talked about bullet design for different reasons elsewhere on this forum, we aren't talking about your grandfather's (or great-grandfather's) 9mm anymore. We are talking about projectiles that do some pretty amazing things.

And that brings me to your question "And in what situation do you really need to accurately fire multiple rounds from a pistol, at such distance, quickly?". All of them; regardless as to how well such ammunition is performing.

I would never recommend firing any gun indiscriminately or uncontrollably in the direction of a deadly force threat but the idea of shooting only once as a civilian responding to an "up close" deadly force threat where the handgun can be legally employed, could be an invitation to failure.

I just read a brief entry in one of the NRA's American Rifleman blogs that was pretty much in sync with what I was taught almost thirty years ago and that was if you have the right to shoot someone and can shoot that person effectively with one round, there is really no reason you shouldn't be able to learn how to shoot that person effectively with (at least) two rounds in pretty much the same time frame.

And you do this not only for the reason mentioned above by "spwenger" in response to something else you said but also because before one even considers the surgical implications that he mentions, well aimed multiple shots should, in theory, just do more damage upfront in an effort to stop the threatening action that required and allowed the use of your firearm in response.

Finally, while I agree fully with Charlie's remark "there is always an inverse relation between recoil and accuracy" none of the calibers we are talking about here (9mm, .40 and .45acp) should be a handicap in regard to being able to fire multiple rounds accurately into a life threatening target at the distances normally encountered in such matters and within the time frames that truly do decide life or death, if the gun is well designed, if it "fits" you in a way that it can be successfully pointed and adequately controlled, and most importantly, if you learn how to shoot it.

Well, back to work; I hope this helps.
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

When you get to the "sub-sub compact pistols such as the Kel-Tec 9mms, recoil definitely becomes a factor in the reliable operation of the pistol. This is because there is a lack of frame mass (hence inertia) for the slide to work with as it goes through the firing cycle. What this means is that, unless held still by a FIRM grip, the frame will move backwards with the slide in recoil, causing a stoppage. This type of failure is what is meant by "limpwristing".

As long as the shooter is aware of this characteristic and practices accordingly, it shouldn't be a problem. In my case, I carried a PF9, but went to a revolver (Bodyguard) when my practice time became curtailed.
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

I carried -and trained people to use (while laughing at a certain federal agency's attitude toward full power 10mm)-a 10mm for about 15 years-full size 1006. You have to evaluate the pistol not as you can control it with both hands on a good day, but as you can do so with one hand while attempting other things-like holding on to your kid. Your ability to run the pistol with accuracy and reliability trump any possible illunsions of "power" issues.

I will add my vote to the concept that as auto-pistol size goes down so does reliability unless the cartridge size is also downsized. Frankly, I can't think of a worse cartridge to downsize the weapon on than the 10mm. There are a whole lot of good 9's in that size category.

There's really nothing the matter with J frame revolvers if you've gotta have something small. They may not hold as many shots, but if stuffed in a pocket (not recommended if a primary weapon) they don't really look like guns.
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

William R. Moore said:
I carried -and trained people to use (while laughing at a certain federal agency's attitude toward full power 10mm)-a 10mm for about 15 years-full size 1006. You have to evaluate the pistol not as you can control it with both hands on a good day, but as you can do so with one hand while attempting other things-like holding on to your kid. Your ability to run the pistol with accuracy and reliability trump any possible illunsions of "power" issues.

I will add my vote to the concept that as auto-pistol size goes down so does reliability unless the cartridge size is also downsized. Frankly, I can't think of a worse cartridge to downsize the weapon on than the 10mm. There are a whole lot of good 9's in that size category.

There's really nothing the matter with J frame revolvers if you've gotta have something small. They may not hold as many shots, but if stuffed in a pocket (not recommended if a primary weapon) they don't really look like guns.
2-1 Golf

Lunchbreak and while I should be watching the Ohio/Michigan State game, I figured that I'd take a fast look thru here and see what was up. And what I discovered is that once again, I couldn't agree more with "William R. Moore".

His remark:
William R. Moore said:
...I carried -and trained people to use (while laughing at a certain federal agency's attitude toward full power 10mm)-a 10mm for about 15 years-full size 1006. You have to evaluate the pistol not as you can control it with both hands on a good day, but as you can do so with one hand while attempting other things-like holding on to your kid. Your ability to run the pistol with accuracy and reliability trump any possible illunsions of "power" issues...
Is a very good one for most people often assume that civilian anti-personnel engagements (while routinely practiced with multiple targets often set at varying distances) just involve them and not family or friends. Overlooking in my remarks here today that you also need to have a plan about what such people are supposed to do in case something comes up where a deadly force response must be employed, he is very correct in his mentioning that one-handed control can be lacking for even if one practices one-hand-only drills on the range, do they ever practice them while the other hand is doing something else? Not only are their issues of being unable to doing two things successfully at once (relating to multi-tasking) but there are also problems with (for lack of the real term) sympathetic reactions where what one hand is doing is influencing the other.

Surprisingly, in a response of mine to him in another thread elsewhere on this forum about "shooting from a position of strength" I posted these remarks a while back to "William R. Moore":
P. Marlowe said:
...That upper body business you mention and the range-of-motion issues I merely alluded to are a big deal. Ray Chapman was big on having a "solid shooting platform" and was always checking our stance and telling us (even when we were moving and shooting) to "shoot from a position of strength". It does make a difference but I think that we have to look at techniques that work for everybody; including those people who don't have the strength to muster or who are in positions where they can't employ whatever strength they do have.

This is one of the reasons that in my live fire classes, regardless of what the drill is, I tell my students (who, as I said earlier, are generally instructors and advanced shooters) to vary their stance, arm and hand positions before they start for in real life there is a very good chance that no matter how "aware" they try to be, they might get caught off-guard. And by encouraging them to await the command in something other than a "ready and waiting" position (facing the target, feet and hips set, hands prepped to grip and drive the gun), I think we are better if we prepare them for the day they've got a notepad in one hand, a pen in the other, they're leaning over to get a better look at something, and a threat comes toward them from the side. Not quite what I would call a "Position of Strength"...
And while that thread dealt with an entirely different topic (shooting effectively from a wheelchair regarding "IrishCop's" current, and hopefully short term, situation), in an earlier submission I made to the same thread, I said this to him ("IrishCop") about gun functioning in certain contorted positions (that also parallels what "William R. Moore" has said to you here):
P. Marlowe said:
...Second, you should "re-rethink" the 1911. As I have written elsewhere on this forum, I am a big bore fan and a fan of that platform. But not only is it big gun that I l believe would be hard to conceal in this situation, but it might also be hard to shoot. I don't know, but I am assuming if you are a regular here (the site shows 280 postings making me think that), then you know how to shoot. However just like getting thru those doorways that you mentioned (and that you were always good at before), there can be serious issues when trying to fire a semi-auto (any semi-auto) from the sometimes contorted positions one can find themselves in while seated.

This shows up most often in advanced classes where seated drills are more common and in programs dealing with shooting from the inside of vehicles. Standing drills almost always allow us the ability to turn to deal with the threat. So no matter what direction it comes from, we can somehow bring ourselves to bear directly upon it. However, people strapped into their car seats or seated at tables from which they cannot rise up learn the differences and difficulties quickly and you have probably already seen something of the same when somebody outside your field of view merely addresses you and you can't turn yourself readily to address them the way you have in your whole life up until now.

People in those classes, sometimes find that their semi-autos can malfunction. There can be a lot of reasons for this but generally, it is because the gun is not supported as strongly in these odd, upper body, arm and hand contortions than it is when one is holding it solidly and shooting straight ahead. You can't risk this happening to you. Again, I'm not saying you aren't a good shot but those people in advanced classes were good too.
So I suggest that you stick with the revolver...
Finally, in another unrelated thread on this forum dealing with nominating our favorite Pocket Pistols, I recently posted these comments about small revolvers:
P. Marlowe said:
...I know the title says to "Nominate One" so I will but I'll also mention a few "also rans" to better illustrate the logic behind my selection:

1) Any of the non-grip safety and non-key lock, alloy versions of the .38spl S&W Centennial with the original (non-oversize .357) frame and barrel configuration (if that's possible) with the earlier (harder Durometer) Uncle Mike's Boot Grips and maybe an XS Big Dot Front Sight tops my list. Carried in a pocket, I don't think there is a better choice to be had.

2) And for those of you who might actually know me, you know that before the Centennial "reappeared", on the scene, I was rarely to be found without an original Smith Bodyguard (in either Stainless Steel or Nickel Plated Aluminum) fitted with stock or high horn factory grips and a Tyler T-Grip adapter. I still like those guns but the Centennial (without a hammer shroud to possibly cause issues) is a better choice; in today's world...
And then in response to this question about them from "Tim Burke":
Tim Burke said:
I am curious about what has changed over time for you to say the Centennial's are preferable today. Lighter alloys? +P & magnum rated guns?
I said the following (illustrating once again my agreement with the logic of "William R. Moore"):
P. Marlowe said:
No, not the alloys or the +P & magnum related guns at all. In fact, in my preceding entry about the Centennial, I actually said that my interest in them was with the non-magnum frames.

I don't have a need for the single action mode on a gun like this and by eliminating it, one can both eliminate the shroud that could "possibly cause issues" (as I stated above) and we one can also employ an upper backstrap/frame/tang/knuckle profile on the gun that I think might be more helpful to the get-as-high-on-the-backstrap concept that was once emphasized when shooting DA revolvers and that I think still has a place in shooting such guns today.

I really liked the original Bodyguard and at one time owned several. They were a fine gun and for those people who feel they need the single action feature, they are perhaps ideal except for the obvious issue they share with the Centennial and that's the limited availability of holsters with thumb breaks or retention straps that both work and can be released fluidly as part of the drawstroke.

But carried in the pocket (as these shrouded-hammer guns were originally promoted), there is always the long term problem of lint and whatnot clogging things up within the tunnel formed by the shroud and the short term problem of a single object, like a bead-like breath mint, locking things up by getting under the arch of the hammer that is peculiar to these guns. In my years of teaching, I have seen both occur and while rare, such things do give me cause to be concerned.

I also have no need, nor do I recommend, a single action mode in this type of weapon for all kinds of reasons that I won't bore you with here. The only exceptions relate to rules for carrying that might require it (similar to the kind of rules that might require a thumb break or safety strap and forbid the use of an open top holster that could solve that other problem I mentioned above).

But one of the real benefits I see with the Centennial, is the swept back profile of the upper portion of the closed frame. I think that combined with the right set of grips (probably more of the "high horn" type that I mentioned in my original post and that Smith themselves saw enough merit in to employ in their original versions of this gun), the shooter can get extremely high on the backstrap and can further experiment with their thumb position in order to really lock down on the gun. I think this shape and resulting grip of the weapon can also allow them to perhaps better direct the recoil into their hand and arm. And depending on their hand size and shape, I think that it might better position their index finger in relation to not only the trigger face at rest but also to that trigger face as the trigger pivots and sweeps to the rear during the firing stroke.

In regard to carrying and producing the revolver, I also think that involving a pocket carry (and with a pocket holster), that same swept back shape might have a tendency to "print" less in the pocket and draw more easily (in a less encumbered manner?) if it's needed. Although this might be more "me" than anything factual...
Now, if I could only match his succinctness…

Anyway, time to finish lunch and see if anybody is leading in that ball game. Hope this helps.
 

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Re: The high-powered sub-compact: Is Recoil a Deciding Facto

Kinda late to come to this party but, hold your right arm straight out palm down. Make a fist. Now, move your hand up and down from the wrist. Now side to side. Want to keep being able to do that? Stay away from Compact and Ultra-compact Big-bore Semis. This is not the only Forum I lurk about, I'm on several 1911 forums, the S&W forum, etc. Peruse one or two of them and go through the different boards. You'll find alot of info on the operation of these guns, mainly the lack thereof. Everything has to be dead-N### on with these firearms for proper operation and then you'll still have problems. I haven't even addressed the recoil-factor yet.In a word....horrendous! People don't seem to realize that with firearms, like anything else, you reach a point of deminishing returns. With these small big-bores you end up with a hard-recoiling, difficult to control weapon in a greatly slowed-down velocity-level. 1911s are a different animals. Gov't models claim a five-inch barrel but, the chamber is part of that five-inches. You actually have less than 4" of rifled barrel. Now, picture that 3.5" barrelled Ultra-Compact. I haven't chrono'd any but, I'd be surprised if you see 600fps. Remember, you now have less than 2" of barrel. I doubt even the lighter 'Personal-Defense' loads will do much better.
As Charlie stated with that short-barrel comes a very short slide movement. Another problem with these lilliputian guns, Springs. Double and sometimes triple-spring setups that weaken quickly due to the violence of the recoil. If one small thing in this complicated Ballet is slightly weak or out of whack, the gun jams.
 
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