The Guardian Broadcast

"Providing Concealed Carry & Armed Self-Defense Wisdom."

A podcast by Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University.


"Guns That ‘Don’t Malfunction’"


This week, Pat continues to divulge some little-known reality based observations about handgun performance during reactive scenarios.

The Guardian BroadcastPatrick Kilchermann
00:00 / 01:04

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Hello again, my friends and fellow guardians. I am Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University, and your host here of this Guardian Broadcast: Motivation for those who carry concealed.

Okay, I ended last week’s broadcast on a cliff-hanger. We had been talking about limp-wrist induced pistol malfunctions, but from the standpoint of what I’m referring to as a “combat grip.” For our purposes here, we’ll define Combat Grip as that pistol grip which you obtain in the heat of a reactive self-defense incident, or a reactive gunfight.

The concept of the Combat Grip seeks to inject a little bit of reality-induced wisdom to the idea that we shouldn’t draw our handguns until we’ve obtained the perfect grip on them. We should certainly do the best we can, but in our experience with both Sim and live drills, it’s just not reliably realistic. And as I said last week, the problem is: the further down on your pistol’s handle you end up, the more likely it is that the slide won’t retain enough energy to cycle all the way back, resulting in either a failure to extract, or a failure to feed. And let me tell you – you only have to botch your grip by a quarter inch before this becomes more and more likely… to the point where grips an inch or more below the pistol’s dovetail make it more likely than not that – regardless of your grip strength – that you’ll have a malfunction.

So, what can we do? Well, we have two options: you can train your draw stroke enough times from massively moving and dynamic body positions until you’re drawing as quickly as you can without botching your grip – OR you can make sure the weapon you’re carrying is as least susceptible to grip-induced cyclical malfunctions as possible.

Because: I’ll tell you, they’re not all created equal in this regard. We’ve discovered that not all handguns can continue to operate as well as each other with imperfect grips. Some require very tight grips even when you ARE choked up into the dovetail, others can handle a looser grip, while others will essentially fire reliably with the worst possible grip, under any circumstance.

And let me tell you all something. I’ve observed enough imperfect Combat Grips in realistic training enough to know that this is a VERY important consideration. What we need is both: plenty of dry practice, and also a gun that can perform reliably with an imperfect grip.

Okay, so: the results.

Well, at CCU, I like to be scrupulous and scientific. I like to isolate variables and test each one of them until good data can be obtained that can then be compared across the board. And with that said, the tests I ran on these pistols to see how well they could accommodate a Combat Grip was NOT super scientific. Nor was it super scientific. I have many pistols in my safe that we did not test, or have not tested yet. I do believe this matter warrants thorough testing, but I am sharing this prematurely so that you can see the direction I’m thinking in. The test was my former Director of Operations Caleb Skaggs and I, testing three GLOCKs, a Kriss SDP, and a CZ75.

We found that the GLOCK 17 was moderately sensitive to a combat grip. Meaning that if we choked down on the gun’s handle to within the range that is plenty possible during a combat draw-stroke, it was easily possible to induce a failure to feed malfunction, no matter how firmly I gripped that pistol. And this was a religiously cleaned and maintained, highly tuned GLOCK 17.

The results with the factory stock GLOCK 19 were a little better – but it was still very easy to provoke a limp-wrist induced malfunction. If you grip low enough on the handle, it simply becomes impossible to ensure reliable cycling. And fellow guardians, this is not a matter of one in a thousand. I’m talking: every other shot; sometimes two shots in a row resulting in a malfunction. Granted, this is when you’re in the worst possible grip scenario, choked down a full inch or more on that pup, but I’ve seen and have even obtained grips that poor when in face-to-face Sim combat scenarios.

Then, we tested a highly tuned RMRd GLOCK 19. The results were a little better, but I was still dismayed at how easily malfunctioned could be ensured with a slightly loose, or an imperfect combat grip.

Next, I tested a freshly broke-in but otherwise brand new, factory stock Kriss Sphynx SDP. I was particularly excited to try this pistol when they were released, as I was looking to find a competition grade handgun that still possessed factory-stock, warranty-backed reliability; my tuned GLOCK 17 had, by this point, long since become something that contained only a couple parts that were actually manufactured by GLOCK itself. Well, the Kriss Sphinx performed much worse than any of the GLOCKs. It truly is a superb pistol in ideal conditions, but when the grip becomes imperfect, its tight tolerances and heavy slide really began to work against it. This pistol’s combat reliability was bad enough that without hesitation I dropped it from the line-up of carry pistols that I would recommend.

Finally, we tested a CZ75. And this is where it became very interesting: The 75 performed flawlessly, even with the absolute worst grip I could throw at it. Literally by barely pinching the bottom of the handle with two fingers, and pressing the trigger with the other hand, holding the gun so lightly that its recoil rotated it 90 degrees to point up to the sky, the CZ75 still fired, ejected a cartridge, and chambered a new one. It did it again and again and again.


We then attempted a quick field test of the extent that lubrication condition has on these tests; we attempted to oil and dry each of the guns, to see if they performed any better when lubricated versus dry. Well, each pistol definitely did a little better when lubricated, but the results were still essentially the same.


Okay, what does this mean, and where does it leave us? Well, it leaves me with a few things:

FIRST, I have to note that the CZ75 that we tested was not a factory stock gun but was one that had experienced a little bit of internal polishing. Now, neither Caleb nor I believe the modifications to that pistol would have affected its ability to cycle reliably with an imperfect grip, but I’ve already ordered a brand new CZ75 to put through a significant torture test, and you will certainly hear the outcome.

SECOND, I want to test all the most popular carry guns, to see if there are any others that perform horribly or outstandingly with this Combat Grip test. I plan on not only setting up good, laboratory conditions in which to test all these guns, including the insertion of pocket lint, sand, dryness and oil, and I even plan on filming this and making it available to the audience so you can see the results for yourself. I have no idea when we’ll be able to get to this, but eventually, we will.

THIRD, I personally felt that the factory, stock GLOCK performance with this test was satisfactory for concealed carry and combat applications. Meaning: no, I don’t think any GLOCK users need to change handguns based on this test. I *do* believe it warrants some added dry, draw-stroke practice, regardless of what you carry.

FOURTH, I will admit that I have been experimenting with carrying a CZ75, moving away from my heavily modified GLOCK 17. In particular, I’m carrying a CZ75D Compact, which is a decocker version of this single-action/double-action piece.  I hope this stands as an example of leadership against any notion of brand loyalty. I love GLOCKs and still own many of them, and when I’m going for a run or canoe trip or on a hike, I’ll probably always take a GLOCK 19. Part of the reason is because: a GLOCK can be disassembled by any educated person down to some very small part-groups, whereas the CZ75 is a much more complicated machine. But when it comes to loyalty, we can afford only to be loyal to the truth.

THAT SAID. The fifth point here is my big take-away, and that is of the reality of balance and compromise.

You see, I have always written off as massively disadvantageous, the very slim profile of the CZ75’s slide. It struck me as something that would be difficult to manipulate with club hands in the event of a malfunction in combat. Furthermore, the CZ75, with its low mass slide, always struck me as having quite a snappy recoil when compared to a more modern striker-fired gun. However, and while I’m sure there’s more to it than only slide mass, it appears as if the low mass of the CZ75’s slide is what allows it to cycle reliably, even when its frame is so weakly supported, as it will be with an imperfect Combat Grip. Meaning what? The slide on the CZ75 may be a little tougher or slower to operate than the hefty slide of the GLOCK or the massive slide of the Kriss Sphinx, but its very smallness makes it less likely that you’ll ever actually need to operate it in combat.


Okay, so, now you’re caught up. I will keep you posted on our continued testing, and as always: thank you for your time and attention here within the Guardian Broadcast. And remember what Sun Tsu said: Know Thyself. If you know yourself, you will always win. Well folks, this includes our equipment. It doesn’t matter what you carry; maybe you carry a Kriss Sphinx. It only matters that you’ve used it in simulated combat conditions and that you know what weaknesses its strengths bring to the table, and that you’ve trained yourself to mitigate the harsh consequences of those weaknesses. All platforms have these opposing weaknesses. Make sure you know them well.