Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Downsizing

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 mm
South Georgia summers can be brutal, and carrying a heavy firearm in this heat and humidity doesn't help. Before this summer even got warmed up, I decided I wanted a smaller, lighter carry gun for summer carry and for anytime around the house. I have always tried to remain a one caliber household, so I initially concentrated my search on .45ACP pistols. 

I have never been a fan of Glock. Sorry Glock fans, they just don't feel right in my hand, and I can't shoot them as well as others. So, I steered away from them. The only other pistols readily available on the shelves in my area are Ruger, Springfield Armory, and Smith & Wesson. I got a few recommendations for Kahr pistols which I'd like to explore in the future, but I’m a touchy feely consumer. I have to lay my hands on some things before buying blindly. So, of those makers, the choices in .45ACP were slim.

I had to rule out compact 1911's. They're still too heavy for what I wanted, and I've read too many complaints about reliability problems with short barrel 1911's. The only way to get lighter was to go with a polymer pistol and the latest craze of a compact single stack. Of those, I was really apprehensive about that small of a pistol in .45, because of the recoil. I didn't want a pistol that I was going to shy away from practicing with because it kicked like a mule. To get away from that, I'd have to increase the weight, which is just what I didn't want to do.
Ruger LC9
My only choice then was to downsize in caliber. Having only shot full size .40 S&W pistols, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to get anything smaller in that caliber. What I wanted was something that would be easy to conceal in my summer wardrobe, comfortable enough to wear all the time around the house, still have good terminal ballistics, and not be painful to shoot/practice. So I started looking for a small, single stack 9 mm pistol.
Springfield Armory XDS 9 mm
Knowing the general idea of what I needed, I went back out to fondle inventory at all my local gun stores. The Ruger LC9 was actually too thin for my liking. For me, the manipulation of the slide and controls were difficult at best, and my pinky half dangled. Next was the Springfield Armory XDS 9 mm 3.3. It felt much better in my hand than the LC9 with no dangling pinky. The grips felt a bit aggressive, but they weren't horrible. The XDS also seemed a bit wide for a single stack 9, but it was still thinner than my EDC. To say the trigger on the XDS was heavy would be an understatement. I liked the fiber optic front sight on the XDS better than any of the other pistols I looked at. Last to hold was the M&P 9 Shield. It fit well in my hand, with no dangling pinky on the shorter 7 round magazine, and the trigger wasn’t as heavy as the XDS. I wasn’t fond of the external thumb safety, but it seemed easy enough to swipe off with your thumb. The grip is aggressive enough for a firm purchase, but wouldn’t be abrasive against your skin.

About this time is when I hear of the XDS 9 4.0 coming out of Shot Show. So now I’m really conflicted. Is it worth the heavier trigger for the extra inch of barrel and less felt recoil and better accuracy? Hmmm. I sure wish they would come out with an XDS 45 4.0. What’s this? SA has no plans of releasing one? Bummer. I’m back to shopping for 9 mm. I've pretty much decided now that I’ll go with the Shield, but do I want to drop that chunk of change when my EDC is getting me by outside the house?

Well, I probably shouldn't have gone into the local gun store that late June day, but I did, and I managed to find the Shield on sale. So I pulled the trigger, so to speak. I actually saved enough to provide food and shelter (ammo and holster) for my new pet. My range report is coming up next.
Oh, and it wasn't until after the purchase that I found out there is an XDS 45 4.0. Oh well.

Be safe.