The most effective weapon for self defense
To conduct our investigation, we turned for help to the SKAT Firm near Moscow, which produces a wide range of various pistols. The first thing we want to find out is which caliber to choose. The .22 LR small-caliber cartridge is inexpensive, the recoil and volume of the shot are minimal, the weapons for this cartridge can be very small - some models even fit on a belt buckle! But will it provide the desired effect? Or maybe you should pay attention to something like .357 Magnum? For tests, we stocked up with special ballistic gelatin, weapons of various calibers and a variety of cartridges.
The first thing we shoot at the gelatin block is from a small gun. The .22 LR cartridge itself is very weak, especially when shooting from a short barrel. We take its reinforced version of High Velocity with an expansive bullet, which should provide the maximum effect. But the result is still not shocking: the “wound” in the gelatin looks like a thin thread. Despite the fact that the bullet revealed a beautiful "fungus", the imaginary enemy will not have much blood loss. The only plus: the bullet got stuck inside the gelatin, passing 27 cm in it, so that accidentally killing someone standing behind the enemy’s back will not work. For greater objectivity, we look at frames of high-speed shooting: there the result already looks better - in the place of opening the bullet for a couple of milliseconds, the wound channel expands to 5-6 cm in diameter. However, to stop the enemy under the influence of alcohol or drugs, such a bullet will only be able to hit a large bone, heart or brain, so move on to 9 mm cartridges.
Ammo caliber 9 mm invented a lot. Apparently, this caliber should be considered optimal for pistols: large enough to make an extensive wound (especially if you shoot with an expansive bullet), but at the same time not too large, which allows the use of a compact, multiple-charge weapon. For the test, we choose a relatively weak .380 ACP cartridge (aka 9 x 7 K), a 9 x 19 Parabellum cartridge (the most common pistol cartridge in the world) and, finally, a .357 Magnum turret, which is three times more powerful than a .380 ACP!
The revolver hits right through
To fully evaluate the effectiveness of each of the cartridges, you need to test them with conventional whole-shell bullets as well as expansive ones. Alas, ammunition with expansive bullets was found only for a revolver, so pistol .380 ACP and 9 x 19 have to be turned into an expansive artisanal method: cut the bullet nose, make cuts in the shell and drill a small indentation on the nose. Nobody can guarantee that all this will work as it should, but we have no other options.
Firing pistols with different cartridges and bullets gives an unexpected result: the "wounds" are almost the same! Only a careful inspection allows you to notice the difference. When shooting with conventional bullets, the inlet hole is very small, only a millimeter, and with expansive ones - about 5 mm. In the second case, blood loss will be significantly greater. But is that all? High-speed video recording brings clarity.
It seems that artisanal expansive bullets did not open up to the end. Tests conducted in specialized laboratories show that cartridges with good expansive bullets have an almost explosive effect at a certain depth, creating a thin wound channel. An unfolded “fungus” bullet stops at a depth of 20-30 cm, that is, it does not kill an accidental passerby behind the criminal. This is exactly the picture we observed in the factory expansive .22 LR. Our bullets easily pierced 35 cm of gelatin and flew further without any explosive effects. But even so, they worked better than the standard ones! The standard .380 bullet for a millisecond or two stretched the “wound” along the entire length up to 5 cm, and our artisanal expansive one was already up to 6 cm. From 9 x 19 the situation is slightly different. The diameter turned out to be 7 cm both here and there, but the standard bullet showed itself only in depth, and the “sawn” one - along the entire length.
Now go to the revolver. Surprisingly, the final form of “injury” from a standard bullet looks more serious than from an expansive ... But high-speed video again gives a more objective picture: if a standard cartridge has a temporary cavity diameter of 8 cm in places, then with an expansive hole reaches a diameter of 10 cm! In both cases, the "wound" turned out to be through: this cartridge is too powerful for self-defense on the street - random people may suffer.
So what to choose in the end? We rejected the .22 LR as insufficiently effective, and the .357 Magnum as too dangerous for others, but the .380 ACP and the more powerful 9 x 19 Parabellum remained. The second is more effective, but it has more impact. Will it lead to problems?
The main products of SKAT are copies of Glock pistols. And if the original Austrian pistol in Moscow can be found only in the form of a full-size army model 17 caliber 9 x 19 and even less comfortable to wear purely sporting options, then SKAT produces a variety of different ones. This range allows us to determine how recoil will affect the accuracy and speed of fire.
The test is very simple: a target is located three steps from the shooter - most often you have to shoot at such a distance in self-defense. At a certain point, a hand with a pistol rises sharply, and two shots are fired immediately. There is no question of any grip with both hands and the more so the use of the sight: when the enemy is three steps away, there simply is no time for this. All this is carefully recorded on video, then to see the effect of bestowal. The distance between the holes on the target is also measured.
Firstly, the test showed that in such conditions you stop noticing returns. Even recoil .357 Magnum! What can we say about a real attack when you will do everything on adrenaline?
Most manufacturers divide their guns into three categories according to size: full-sized, compact and subcompact. The specific sizes of the pistols of each category vary from one manufacturer to another, but usually full-sized have a length of 19-21 cm, compact 17-17 cm, and subcompact 14-17.
Full-size pistols are weapons for soldiers, special forces officers, and other people who carry weapons openly. To the trained shooter, a full-sized gun allows you to shoot with maximum speed and accuracy.
Compact pistols are designed for hidden wear and are considered the best compromise between wearing comfort and fighting qualities.
A subcompact gun provides the least efficiency, but it will be with itself when any other remains in the safe.
Besides the fact that the subcompact pistol is lighter, which gives more recoil, and its handle is less comfortable, it still has a short barrel, from which the bullet receives less energy. However, in our “gelatin” test, a subcompact 9x19 caliber pistol with a makeshift expansive bullet showed itself worse only in the very depths, in the second half of the block. And the thickness of the block, 35 cm, is greater than the thickness of most people, so the difference in efficiency here is not so great.
The second unexpected result was that the rate of fire on the weapon was practically independent, excluding the revolver with its long and tight descent. As in the case of a small-caliber pistol, almost not giving recoil, and in the case of a subcompact pistol 9 x 19, briskly trying to jump out of his hand, between shots passed about a third of a second. Faster, you just can’t move your index finger ... Of course, there are arrows like Jerry Mikulek capable of releasing the entire drum of a revolver right on target in less than a second. But how many are there?
But what about the accuracy? There are differences ... First, we take a subcompact pistol with such a short handle that the little finger has no place on it. Then - the same gun, but with an elongated magazine, forming an emphasis for a finger. Then a compact model. And finally, a full-sized gun. Each subsequent accuracy is one and a half times better than the previous one! The difference between the .380 ACP and the 9 x 19 Parabellum is also 1.5 times.
So, the best choice is a full-sized .380 ACP pistol? No. Firstly, in the case of a full-size pistol, accuracy did not depend on caliber: even .22 LR turned out to be only a few millimeters more heaped than 9 x 19! The reason for this is the sharp movements of the index finger, from which the whole hand with a pistol shudders. Again, a long training session will allow you to press the trigger without pulling the gun, and do it even faster, but how many will weekly shoot a hundred or two rounds of ammunition in the shooting range, honing their skills? ..
Secondly, at this distance all the bullets of all the pistols fit into the dimensions of the human body. However, this is when shooting from three steps. Sometimes the distance can be two to three times greater ... So a minimum size pistol, which does not have a little emphasis on the little finger, is better to take in .380 ACP caliber. It’s definitely better to take a compact and all the more full-size pistol under a more effective 9 x 19 cartridge.
We pass to the test of the revolver ... Both shots went far down and to the left: from just three steps you can easily miss! As the video showed, the point here is a long and tight descent, and not in recoil. So, contrary to the opinion of many experts, a revolver is by no means an ideal weapon for poorly trained shooters: it’s easier to learn to shoot with it, but much more difficult to shoot quickly and accurately. However, if there is a ban on the wearing of a cartridge in the pistol chamber, and carrying cartridges in the revolver drum will be allowed (such laws cannot be explained by the incompetence of lawmakers, but this often happens), then the situation will be different. Pre-cock the revolver to get a short and easy descent, much faster and easier than pulling the bolt on the gun.
Steel and plastic
Both the original Glock pistols and their copies produced by Skat have a frame made of high-strength plastic. This does not affect the resource and strength of the gun, but the full-size Glock17 weighs 100 g less than our steel subcompact Makarov! But light weight is not only comfortable to wear, but also a big return ...
We are heading to the Object shooting range, famous for a wide selection of weapons, and then to one of the DOSAAF shooting ranges. Our task is to compare the sensations of shooting from the already familiar Glock 17 to other pistols.
So it is: steel weapons hit the hand much weaker than the "plastic". Alas, almost all the pistols tested here were full-sized, so the difference in shooting results was small. But there is reason to believe that even the smallest 9 x 19 caliber pistol made of steel will have an acceptable return.
As shown by the results of firing from a revolver, the trigger mechanism is important. It happens single action, double action and only double action. Along with the advent of Glock pistols, mechanisms like Safe Action began to gain popularity.
In a single-action mechanism, a shot is possible only when it is pre-cocked. The disadvantage of this design is that stowed weapons are considered potentially dangerous (although automatic fuses reduce the danger to almost zero), and if the mechanism is lowered, it is impossible to immediately open fire.
In a double-action mechanism, a shot is always possible: by pressing the trigger, the shooter will cock the mechanism first. In this case, of course, the pulling force is greatly increased. But nothing prevents you from cocking the trigger. Such weapons can remain at the same time fully ready for a shot and completely safe. In addition, in case of misfire, you can try to quickly re-shoot the same cartridge, which often works.
The mechanism of only double action differs in that it is not fixed in the cocked state, each time it has to be cocked by pulling the tight trigger. It is believed that it is ideal for poorly trained shooters, since the probability of an accidental shot is minimal, but our test showed that on the other hand, the probability of a miss is maximum ...
The Safe Action mechanism is a hybrid of a single action mechanism and only a double one. When jerking the shutter, it remains cocked in half. If for some reason the drummer breaks (which, however, is almost ruled out due to automatic fuses), then the impact force will not be enough to fire. Each time you press the shutter, the mechanism is re-engaged by the force of the shooter, but since it is already half cocked, this force is relatively small. Many experts consider Safe Action an ideal option for self-defense needs, but the double-action mechanism successfully competes with it.
What can be said in the end? Based on the test results, the compact or subcompact .380 ACP or 9 x 19 Parabellum pistol is the ideal choice. If the minimum weight of the gun is extremely important to you, take a model with a plastic frame. But the steel frame will make shooting more comfortable and more accurate, will allow the use of a more powerful cartridge in the most compact pistol. In reality, it is possible that everyone will have to determine the most suitable type of self-defense weapon individually.
The editors thank the public organization Civil Security, SKAT Firm LLC and personally Gennady Mikhailovich Kozhaev, as well as the Object shooting club for their help in preparing the material.The article “Save and Save” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 5, May 2013).