The Cornered Cat
Speed and accuracy with small guns

Back when I was editing CCM, Karl Rehn wrote an excellent article titled, “Is a Pocket Gun Enough?” In it, he discussed many of the common experiences people have with little guns and some of the concerns people express about them (caliber, accuracy, capacity, shootability). It’s worth reading in its entirety, but one of the more fascinating things he did was that he ran a bunch of people through the same shooting test. Each person took the test twice: once with a full-size gun, and once with a pocket pistol.

He tested three groups of people:

  • new, inexperienced, and untrained shooters
  • intermediate shooters who had taken classes
  • highly skilled shooters

Rehn considers a score of 90 to be a passing grade on this test.

What Rehn found was that shooters who were not highly skilled — this would include long-time shooters who had taken no classes other than the basic carry permit class — gave up a LOT of skill when they moved to smaller guns. He also found that well-trained shooters could move down to the small guns with very little loss of skill.

Here’s the data:

"BUG" means "backup gun." These would be the small guns people shot for the test.

“BUG” means “backup gun.” These would be relatively small guns, appropriate for pocket carry or (in most cases) for wearing in a bra holster.


Note that the trained shooters did twice as well on the skills test as the untrained ones. It wasn’t a minor difference.

Bottom line is, learn to be a good shooter. This includes taking professional training classes that help you build your gunhandling skills to the point of automaticity, and practicing those skills on a regular basis. Then you can choose the most convenient gun to carry without giving up anything on the achievement side of the bargain.

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