…with a subcompact?
Awhile back, I decided to upgrade the little 3.42″ barrel in my Glock 26.
I changed the ammo I was carrying from 124gr to 147gr and the stock barrel didn’t seem to like it as much.
Specifically, I have steel in my back yard at 55 and 85 yards and my hit percentages dropped considerably with some 147 grain ammo.
So, I ordered a KKM match grade replacement barrel.
But what does “match grade” mean on a defensive pistol with a 3.5” barrel? Does it mean anything on a gun that small?
I decided to find out.
I got a couple of 4’x4’ sheets of corrugated plastic, ran 1” blue painter’s tape horizontally and vertically to make a target that I could see at 85 yards, cut a slit in the plastic so I could hang them over the heads of my steel targets, and started shooting.
I’m aiming at the 55 yard 4 foot x 4 foot target and the 85 yard target is to the left of it.
What I did was shoot 3 rounds of 124gr at the 55 yard target, then 3 at the 85 yard target.
Then, I got on my spotting scope and recorded the hits.
Then I did the same with 147gr and 165gr, except I shot 4x165gr at the 55 yard target.
The specific ammo doesn’t really matter, because the performance is specific to my barrel, but I used Freedom Munitions 124gr SuperMatch, 147gr Hush, and 165gr Hush. Use my DOPE (data on past engagements or data on personal equipment) as a guide, but you need to know your own gear.
The test was barely what I’d consider semi-controlled. I sat on a step-stool and rested my hands on the railing of our deck. I limited some of the variables, but not all.
I’ve got a couple of other modifications on this pistol…a Glock extended slide release, a Zev Fulcrum trigger, and a tungsten guide rod.
I don’t own and did not use a ransom rest or sand bags, which would have improved performance, but the results were eye opening, even without a rest or sand bags.
Here are the results from 55 yards with a Glock 26 subcompact and a KKM match replacement barrel. 124gr hits are red, 147 are green, and 165 are yellow. The tape is 1″ painter’s tape and the head is 6″x6″ for scale.
I’ve been shooting steel with sub-compacts at 100-200 yards for a few years, and I’ve taken a few coyote at 85+ yards, but I’ve never shot paper, so I didn’t know what to expect.
For comparison, a 6″ group at 50 yards and a 12″ group at 100 yards from a rest is pretty good with a defensive pistol.
Frankly, I was shocked at the results.
7/10 hits were within 2” of the midline. It’s pretty clear that the 2 “flyers” were user error. Keep in mind that a 1/64” shift of your front sight on a subcompact will move your impact 6” at 55 yards. That’s less than half a millimeter.
The 85 yard target was just as surprising…the 147 grain was able to hold well under an 8″ group, and I’ll claim responsibility for the flyers which are 7″ left of the centerline. That 7″ at 85 yards represents a 1/82″ shift of the front sight.
So, what’s this tell us?
- Since I didn’t use a ransom rest or sand bags, I can guarantee you that the gun/barrel is capable of even more accuracy than what you see in these pictures.
- Until you know exactly what your gun is capable of, it’s easy to blame your hardware for software (you) related problems. This is a natural tendency, but it will limit your ability to identify problems and improve. Any time I miss a target at these distances, I can skip the gun as the reason and go straight to diagnosing what I did wrong.
- There’s a tendency when shooting at a distance to have a friend call where your shots are hitting so that you can adjust your aim. That ONLY works when the misses are happening because of hardware issues. If the misses are software related and you try a hardware fix, like changing where you aim or your hold, you’re going to spend a lot of time chasing your misses.
- If the subcompact version of a gun that many call a “plastic piece of junk” can shoot like this at 85 yards, it’s fair to assume that ANY gun can shoot tighter groups than this at 21 feet. And, if it’s not, making changes to your fundamentals will tighten your groups faster than making changes to your gun.
- It’s good to know YOUR DOPE for your gear. The drop at 50 yards for my pistol SHOULD be a couple of inches. Instead, it’s 5-7 inches high. Barrels, sight heights, and how your particular eyes interpret your sights are going to make your specific performance different than average performance. If the black paint is worn off of the top edge of your front sight, it can cause an optical illusion that makes the sights appear level when the front sight is really elevated. I go over the edges of my sights with black appliance paint or black “sharpie” paint every month or two to make sure they’re true. In this case, it’s been about 6 weeks since I’ve touched up my sights.That being said, here’s a drop chart for pistols that will get you in the ballpark out to 200 yards. With pistol ammo at these distances, the biggest factor is muzzle velocity and not bullet weight or BC, so that’s what I use on the chart.
(Update: These now come with every order of 21 Day Alpha Shooter and Dry Fire Training Cards. Get yours now by clicking >HERE<)
- I know, with my Glock 26 and this KKM barrel that if I line up my sights with the belly (from 50 to 85 yards) or the base of the neck (at 100 yards), I’m going to get hand sized, center mass groups, as long as I do my part. This is DOPE that ALL law enforcement should learn about their sidearm and that’s not bad for anyone who carries to know…but more importantly…
- If you practice dry firing precisely at the center of a 1” target in your house and take that exact same skill outside, you’ll be able to aim at the center of a man sized target anywhere from 1” to 100 yards and expect to make good hits. The exact same fundamentals work in both situations.
What’s it look like with sub-second splits?
55, 85, and 100 yard gunfights with a pistol are the definition of extreme and unlikely. But knowing your gun develops earned confidence which, in and of itself, increases high stress performance.
But more importantly, distance shooting with a pistol tests your ability to execute the fundamentals precisely.
Can you keep a hard, clear focus on the front sight, or will you fall for the siren song of glancing at the target?
Can you press the trigger smoothly and straight back to the rear while maintaining perfect sight alignment, or will lateral movement in your trigger press, torque in your grip, or wrist movement cause the bullet to miss the mark?
When you train to be able to execute the fundamentals precisely and automatically, without having to think about them, you’ll be able to perform at a much higher level in a self-defense situation where speed and stress are too high to think through the process.
For the ordinary defensive shooter, long range shooting is a good and fun way to sharpen your skills.
For the 60% of my audience who are military and law enforcement…you go to war with the gun you’ve got. If you’re in a big box store minding your own business when a threat presents itself, you need to know your limits. Can you take care of the threat with the pistol you have on you, or do you need to exit the building, get to your rig, get your long gun, and make re-entry?
Our at-home training curriculum will help you make shots like this…in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost of traditional training. It’s specifically designed for shooters who neither have the time nor money to do the volume of live fire training needed to develop this kind of skill. For most shooters, it will help you shoot 2x faster and 2x more accurately in 21 days for less than the cost of a single trip to the range (fees, ammo, fuel). In fact, most people see a dramatic improvement in the first 3-5 days. Get signed up now by clicking >HERE<
by Mike Ox
Mike Ox is an avid defensive and competitive shooter who has co-created several firearms training products, including Dry Fire Training Cards, https://se965.infusionsoft.com/go/dftcmedia/loadout
Dry Fire Fit, 21 Day Alpha Shooter, and See Faster, Shoot Faster. His brain based training focuses on accelerated learning techniques for shooting as well as controlling brain state and brain chemistry for optimal performance in extreme stress situations. Learn more about dynamic dry fire training for defense and competition at www.DryFireTrainingCards.com/blog
Photos by author