It is all the rage these days to pack small pocket size compact 9x19mm pistols. Nearly every manufacture offers one in the lucrative CCW marketplace. Most are good, some acceptable, and a few terrible. Competition between handgun vendors pretty much insures that only quality pistols last very long in the marketplace. Two pistols that seem to have captured wide acceptance the American market are the Smith & Wesson Shield and the Glock 43. Both are really good choices.
I own samples of both and have to admit that while I was not really excited by the Glock 43 when it first was introduced, after taking possession of one, I am now a big fan of the G43. What has gotten my attention is the fact that these really small compact pistols have very reduced slide travel, and extremely fast cycle time. The result that they can be ammo sensitive if you choose to feed your pocket rocket +P or +P+ 9x19mm ammo. Understand that really hot ammo can speed up slide velocity to the point that the slide is moving faster than the magazine can feed the next round up to the proper position in the feed lips for proper function. The result can be a bolt over base feed way stoppage or even the slide closing on an empty chamber.
Based upon my observations, I will select only standard velocity 9x19mm JHP ammo. Do to the real short barrels of these pocket blasters, many folks think that going to a real high velocity round will make up for a lost in impact velocity do to low velocity in a 2″ barrel. The barrel on these little guns may be listed as three inches or so, but remember that includes the chamber; actual bore length is much less. Ammunition makers have went to great lengths to provide hollow cavity bullets that expand properly in flesh-like mediums, but this is very much a function of velocity. Slow a 9x19mm down because of a very short barrel, velocity suffers and expansion fails as well.
So, ammo selection is an issue with these little ‘pocket rockets’. Select yours carefully and most important, test fire the ammo you select in your pistol to insure that it works the way it is supposed to when you need it.
– Ken Hackathorn
Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.
Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.
Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.