Gun nuts often ask, Is a pocket gun enough? Karl Rehn ran an experiment with his concealed-carry class based on the three seconds or less course of fire, which is based on the “average” gun fight:
- Hands at sides, gun concealed, take one step to the left as you draw, three shots to the body at three yards.
- Hands at sides, gun concealed, take one step to the right as you draw, three shots to the body at three yards.
- Ready, two shots to head at three yards.
- Hand on gun, draw and shoot one-handed, three shots to body at three yards.
- Hand on gun, step left or right, draw and shoot two-handed, three shots to body at seven yards.
- Ready, one shot to head at seven yards.
- Hand on gun, draw and shoot one-handed, two shots to body at seven yards.
- Gun in non-dominant hand (only), in ready position, three shots to body at seven yards.
Each string has a three-second par time.
He compared how his class did with a full-size pistol and with a back-up gun:
A total pool of 18 students shot the test with primary and pocket guns, during and after the pocket gun course. The pool included those with very little shooting experience, intermediate level shooters, and a few IPSC/IDPA Master class level competitors. The detailed data, shown in the chart on the next page, includes some interesting trends.
Shooters classified as “low skill” had passed the Texas CHL shooting test, but had no training or practice drawing from concealment or in other defensive pistol skills. This group did not attend the pocket gun class, and were given limited instruction in safe drawing technique prior to taking the test. For this group, the average difference in scores was significant (20 points).
Shooters classified as “medium skill” had taken at least one defensive pistol course, or had IPSC or IDPA match experience, or both. The average performance loss was 10 percent, with students shooting passing scores (over 90 points) with their primary guns, but falling short with the pocket guns. Two shooters, each using a pocket gun with a trigger very similar to their primary gun, scored the same (+/- 1%) with both guns, but failed to reach the 90 point goal with either.
Shooters classified as “high skill” had taken more than one defensive pistol course in the last year, or were regular competitors in shooting sports. These shooters had an average skill loss of less than 3%, with all but one shooter passing the test with both guns. None of these shooters had done any practice with their pocket guns in the past year prior to attending the pocket gun class.
Highly skilled shooters aced the test with either pistol — because the test was too easy for them, I argued (there, but moderated into the ether), not because they shoot just as well with either pistol:
I love the fact that you ran an experiment with a decent number of shooters of various skill levels.
I would like to clarify though that your test — because it relies on a generous three-second par time, rather than a shot-timer, and “good enough” shots at short range — masks the difference in effectiveness between full-size pistols and back-up guns in the hands of highly skilled shooters. They were able to ace the test even with a handicap.
If you’d used a shot-timer combined with IPSC scoring — points per second — or IDPA scoring — time plus a half-second penalty per point down — then you probably would have seen a much bigger margin between the highly skilled shooters’ scores with a full-size pistol and a back-up gun.