Each year at the start of summer I offer a small gun oriented defensive pistol class. The intent of the course is to provide an opportunity for people to practice with the smaller gun that is more convenient to carry in the hot weather. Use of pocket holsters, purses, fanny packs, and any other mode of carry that’s not a traditional belt holster is allowed and encouraged, since practice drawing from those methods is typically not allowed at commercial ranges and discouraged in other defensive pistol classes due to range safety concerns and the additional time/complexity associated with reholstering.
Part of the course includes shooting our 3 seconds or Less test (3SL) with both the small gun and a full size gun drawn from a belt holster, to measure the performance change (usually a loss) that occurs when switching from the larger gun to the smaller one.
Data from the May 2018 session:
Small Guns: 6 striker fired (Glock 42, 43, Ruger LC9S, Shield), a SIG 938, one S&W Bodyguard 380, and two S&W J frame revolvers.
Large Guns: 9 striker fired guns (Glock, M&P, XD) and one SIG P229
Average small gun score: 74.0/100
Average large gun score: 83.5/100
Performance gain from shooting the larger gun: 8.5%
The best shooters in class shot the same score with both guns (but no perfect scores on the 3SL test); the worst dropped 20% more points with the smaller gun.
Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their small gun: 8 of 10.
Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their primary gun: 10 of 10.
Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level (desired) using their small gun: 0 of 10.
Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level using their primary gun: 3 of 10.
Accuracy, not draw time, was the biggest issue in this year’s class. Many chose to take the course drawing their small gun from a belt holster. Most students in previous sessions have used pocket holsters or other methods.
Historical average of the entire data set of 60 shooters:
Small Gun score: 78/100
Larger gun score: 86/100
This year’s class numbers were remarkably similar to data from previous classes and the historical averages. All the shooters in this session were intermediate or higher level. Each person attending had taken at least one class past the state carry permit level. Several in this class had taken the course in previous years and were attending as refresher/tune up training with their small gun.