The Guardian Broadcast
"Providing Concealed Carry & Armed Self-Defense Wisdom."
A podcast by Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University.
"The Perfect Handgun"
This week, Pat talks about the limitations of simply looking for a quality handgun. The reality is, a tool can be judged by how well it does something just as definitively as it can for how much abuse it can take.
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Note: 100% accuracy on text transcription is not guaranteed.
This week, I want to discuss the perfect handgun. To begin, I want to recall to our minds the Concealed Carry University concept of the 3-Tier rating system for handgun quality, which we define as durability and reliability.
Durability is your pistol’s ability to sustain hard external abuse. This is delivered through the use of costly, high-quality materials, weighty and bulky over-engineering, and weighty and bulky redundancy in systems.
Reliability is your pistol’s ability to function through internal obstructions, whether it is unrefined ammunition, dirty ammunition, or the introduction of debris such as dust, sand, water, sweat, lint, or body-hair.
We’ve talked many times about how choosing a concealed carry handgun isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, an emotionally-driven decision, such as an attempt to find the coolest looking gun or an attempt to define your personal style or proclaim your individuality. There is room for that, but it’s not a starting point for the wise armed citizen as it is for so many others. Choosing a handgun should simply be a mathematical attempt to find the best quality gun that works best for you.
The 3-Tier rating system seeks to strip all traces of brand-loyalty and stigma and history and bravado from handgun selection. It simply states that Tier 1 guns are those deemed durable and reliable enough to serve reliably in the horrific conditions of a war zone. Tier 2 guns are those that you won’t find fielded in a war zone by any modern and well-funded army because of durability and reliability compromises they’ve made, but when kept clean and carried security, are probably sufficient for self-defense. Tier 3 guns are those that have made such deep compromises in durability and reliability that malfunctions are common even at the range.
The rationale behind this system is this: handgun malfunctions in combat are very bad for you. Surviving a self-defense encounter is going to be challenging enough with a gun performing flawlessly – if you experience a malfunction, your odds go down. Some malfunctions will put you out of the fight. The conclusion is that we want the most reliable gun possible. Well, if a gun is designed to operate with life-saving reliability in combat conditions, then it is the safest choice to give you life-saving reliability in concealed carry self-defense. So, we fork over the extra money, we accept a little more weight and bulk, and we choose Tier 1 guns. That’s the Concealed Carry University way.
That said: reliability and durability should not be the only goal of handgun selection. I believe reliability and durability should be expected – they should come without saying, and any handgun designer or manufacturer should be embarrassed if their weapon’s reliability and durability fall below a certain threshold.
Reliability and Durability are needed for a handgun to perform its duty, but that’s only part of the equation. To borrow from my Essential Guide for Handgun Owners, the purpose of a handgun is what: To send projectiles downrange as quickly and as accurately as possible, in a way that is as safe for you and as dangerous for the target as possible.
Well, reliability and durability are great: we can’t gunfight without them. But they do not contribute to your speed or control or accuracy. And it is these three things that allow a handgun to be a tool that is effective at saving your life… and it is these three things that are not measured by the CCU 3-Tier rating system for handgun quality.
So that begs the question: what does the perfect handgun look like? If we assume legendary Tier 1 combat durability and reliability, what other factors would make up the perfect handgun? One that allows you to fire the fastest, with the most control, and with the most accuracy? Isn’t this the question we should be asking ourselves when searching for the gun that we want to carry?
I think so. And so at this point, I want to refer you to the pencil drawing you found in the email that delivered the Guardian Broadcast today, and I want to quickly explain why I believe this handgun would be superior to every other handgun on the market.
First, is what you see ‘the perfect handgun’? No. Because this is still, like every other pistol, an unbalanced firearm using explosive powder to propel a bullet, this handgun is still going to suffer from the two most limiting qualities that all handguns have: trigger-press-induced barrel wiggle, and detonation-induced recoil. Barrel wiggle and recoil rob us of having truly exceptional accuracy and control with our handguns. And until technology allows us to use electromagnetic counter-balanced rails to fire projectiles with electric triggers – a design I’ve also conceptualized – we’re going to be locked into a state where the best possible handgun is simply one that mitigates the barrel wiggle and recoil of gunpowder handguns most efficiently.
So that is what you see here: My attempt to mitigate these accuracy and control destroying forces as much as possible to give us a pistol that maximizes our SPEED, CONTROL, and ACCURACY.
First, let’s discuss CONTROL.
Alright, so take a look at this gun. You’ll notice first of all that this pistol features two striking design elements. First, the barrel is below the recoil spring. Second, the slide of the pistol has a very low profile. Not visible is the opposite side, which would feature a gaping hole mid-pistol that would serve as the ejection port, which would be necessary to make the bottom-barrel design possible. This would require some deflection to block ejection gasses from burning the hand. Achieving a reliable ejection port and engineering an arch inside the slide for the recoil spring to brace against are engineering challenges, but certainly are possible, and well worth the effort given what we get in return.
Okay, so why the barrel on the bottom, and why the low-profile slide? Why is this so beneficial?
Well, we all know that every action is opposed by an equal and opposite reaction. So the energy of the bullet leaving your gun is matched by the energy being pushed back into the pistol. Now, the problem is that this force is pushed rearward directly in line with the barrel of your gun. Well, if we trace a line rearward from the barrel, what do we get? A line that is above our wrist. So what happens when we fire a shot? The gun pivots in our hands, with the center of the pivot, or the fulcrum, being at the webbing of our thumb.
Some forces naturally oppose this pivot. A strong grip anywhere on the handle, for example, and most significantly, the lowest point on the forward face of the handle, where your pinkies wrap around the frame. As we discuss in Master Accuracy, this is why pinkie extensions on sub-compacts are so important. Other mitigating factors on muzzle climb can include the length of the slide (where force is spread out over a greater distance and more energy is allowed to absorb into the recoil spring), the mass of the slide itself, where a heavier slide works in tandem with the recoil spring to make for a smoother recoil, and even attempts to port barrels, which gives the handgun barrel the role of a compensator, by offsetting the muzzle climbing forces with downward gas pressure.
But all of these factors come with heavy trade-offs or compromises. Guns with long slides shoot like Cadillacs in the hand, but they are harder to conceal. Guns with heavy slides recoil softer, but make the pistol more of a burden to carry. And porting makes shooting from the low-retention position or from within a confined space downright dangerous to your eyes and ears and face, and so isn’t a standard practice on self-defense guns.
Hence, this barrel-under, short-slide concept is born. These two factors serve to reduce the height of the recoil force above the natural fulcrum of your thumb-webbing, which I call the pistol’s recoil axis, which drastically amplifies your handgun control. Most of the firing energy is directed straight back into your hand. In all shooting positions, but especially when firing with a locked pair of wrists and elbows, this design would result in less muzzle climb than virtually any other handgun, which would allow for extremely fast and accurate follow-up shots and rapid fire, by comparison.
Next, we see that the pistol does have a comparatively long slide. Proportionately, this pistol has a slide that is as long or longer than an average full-size duty pistol, with a handle that fits into the compact size category. This is accomplished by extending the slide rearward of the handle’s back-strap, which I find to be very cheap real-estate, since it doesn’t impede concealment. Having a longer slide, again, serves to move some of the handgun’s mass to the slide and, along with the barrel-under design, nearly doubles the length of the recoil spring, which can run nearly from front to the back of the pistol. Given the difference that a ½” increase in recoil spring allows, the felt recoil of this machine would simply be astounding. One round fired, and we would never want to shoot another handgun.
Another factor contributing to control is the handgun’s grip. Here you see that I’ve given this gun detachable and customizable grip plates on both the front and back strap. Remember that handgun control is largely a function of the amount of skin you can get in contact with your gun. Therefore, I believe finger grooves on the face of the handle to be very important for recoil control. However, the problem with finger grooves, and the main reason aggressive ones are often not used, is because everyone has different sized fingers. Well, this pistol would allow you to revert to a smooth handgun grip face or choose from a number of finger groove configurations in order to find the one that best conforms to your hand. The same is true for the backstrap, which would provide the user with many options.
Okay, that’s CONTROL. Between all of these factors, I believe this pistol would allow for an exceptional and unprecedented level of shooting control. I believe muzzle climb would be nearly nonexistent, and therefore that blazingly accurate fire could be achieved with even the fastest shot tempo humanely possible. That’s CONTROL.
Now, what makes this design shine with regard to ACCURACY?
First, I point out that this pistol is in the STRIKER-FIRE family. This design allows the gun to rest in a completely inert and safe state, where there simply is not enough force inside the half-cocked gun to produce a discharge. In other words, the striker design makes sure that only with a trigger press can the gun ever be fired. This is opposed to single-action guns, where the hammer is carried in a cocked state, in which no trigger press is technically needed to discharge a round. All that is required is for any of the components that hold the hammer back to fail. This design is also superior to double-action handguns, in that the force required to pull a double-action trigger is often substantial – well over 5lbs, often 10lbs or more. The striker concept gives us the ability to have a lightweight trigger in a gun that is safe to carry, provided it’s carried in a kydex holster where the trigger-guard is totally enclosed. This design is made even safer with the inclusion of a trigger-safety, which required intentional force on the trigger to allow it to move, and also a grip safety on the back-strap of the pistol, which requires another element of intentionality for firing.
For accuracy then, this pistol offers four factors that help us to shoot significantly better:
First, an exceptionally smooth, adjustable 3.5lb double-stage trigger with a ¼” travel length and 1/10th” reset length. The trigger has a flat face, which allows for more comfort and precision. The trigger features a cammed design that allows the 3.5lb trigger press to manipulate a striker with 7lbs of force, ensuring reliability with even the hardest primers.
Second for accuracy, this pistol features an extremely long sight-radius. When shooting with irons, this is critical. Handgun accuracy all boils down to barrel wiggle at the time the shot breaks, and with short, snubby guns, one simply can’t detect (and therefore can’t correct) nearly as much barrel wiggle as someone can with a longer gun. The further away from your rear-sight frame of reference that front sight is, the more visible barrel wiggle is, which has a dramatic effect on your shooting accuracy.
But even more significantly than the sight radius, is an “infinity” RMR. RMR stands for ‘rugged miniaturized reflexive sight’, and my “infinity” concept here presents us with one that has no edge. If you haven’t yet fired a handgun featuring an RMR sight, you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s an instant 30% boost in your shooting accuracy. However, current designs feature thick metal frames that – while durable – cut into your vision. Far more destructively, RMRs make their presence so conspicuous that the psychological effect of having one mounted, unless one trains for dozens and dozens of hours, crushes your ability to shoot quickly. That’s because you find yourself searching for the dot, which is no easy chore.
This infinity design would not have a metal edge. Instead, it would be made of a scratchproof sapphire-like material that – while not as durable as a structured RMR – strikes a much better balance for the relatively light duty of concealed carry. The sight picture would present you with a clear field of vision, and when your eye naturally finds the front sight as it currently does, you’ll be rewarded with a 5moa red dot. You can choose to focus on the front sight for close range combat where sights are used, meaning 6 yards or more in my force on force experience, or for precision shots, you can focus on the RMR red dot. With this pistol’s trigger and infinity red-dot, I believe the average shooter would find him or herself capable of scoring reliable body shots out to 80 yards. The experienced shooter could probably score silhouette hits out to 200 yards. The infinity RMR concept would not be as durable as a rigid RMR, for sure. But this glass would be incredibly strong, far able to withstand drops from any average height. But when it does break, from extreme abuse, the glass would be designed to disintegrate into safety-glass fragments, leaving you with a clean pistol top and regular rear iron sight. If you survive whatever calamity managed to break that glass, replacement infinity RMRs could be purchased and fitted easily. You’ll also note that the RMR is fully recessed into the slide itself, keeping a very low profile and not adding much to the concealment challenge of this pistol.
So, we’ve covered control and accuracy. SPEED is achieved as a function of the handgun’s features already discussed: the short trigger reset, and the utter lack of muzzle climb.
Other things worth noting are the following:
First, I forgot to draw the magazine release button and the slide lock lever, but you can imagine where these would be.
Second, the extended, threaded barrel wouldn’t be purposed for suppressors, but rather to gain an increased muzzle velocity of 8% at a very small cost in concealment challenge.
Third, the pistol shown here would be for right-handed shooters, but left handed models would be a cinch, with the ejection port, slide lock lever, and magazine release button simply being switched to the left side of the gun.
Okay, that’s it for this week’s broadcast, and that covers what I believe would be the best handgun on the market, if someone can make it work. This design is not trademarked or copyrighted, and therefore I hope it is passed along, and some enterprising and motivated engineer can set to work on prototypes, and sell those prototypes to a renowned manufacturer. And, I hope that individual and company would become wildly wealthy as a result. For my part, I do not claim anything. The design is the easy part – making it a reality is what is challenging. Any reward I am owed would be more than covered with my purchase and use, at fair market value, of this phenomenal gun.
Alright, if you’re still with me, please keep your eyes and ears open for the July 10th release of Volume 2 of my 3 SECONDS FROM NOW series. This program, called INTENSITY, has turned out very well. I remarked to my right-hander Caleb Skaggs last week that I doubt very much that I’ll ever be able to make a more useful or pivotal contribution to the field of armed self-defense as what is contained within this program. I am terribly excited about it, and I can’t wait for you to see it an incorporate its game-changing message of INTENSITY into the way you think about and prepare for concealed carry combat.