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Which Pistol is Right for You? Part 2 – The Grip and Magazine Release

In my first article I discussed how important a good grip is to provide the foundation for ease of operation and better grouping of rounds with your pistol. In this article I will discuss other issues you should consider with respect to a pistol’s grip and how it integrates with your hand to release a magazine. But first, here are one or two more thoughts on grips size as an update:

1) What about revolvers? The same fit questions apply. Here is how my hand fits a S&W model 29 .44 magnum. The grip is okay, but my trigger finger is still a little cramped: not the most comfortable set up. 2) Also, gun makers have figured out that not everyone is built the same, and are offering guns with grip sections that can change out to vary the size of the grip. I have seen M&P, Glock, and H&K models offered with this option, and there may be more. In my last article I mentioned that you should be able to easily reach things like the safety, slide release, and magazine release. This kind of goes without saying, but there is more to it than that. Here are some of tests you can do to see how you will get along with your gun when it’s time to reload.

First, lock the slide back with an empty magazine in the gun, and your finger off of the trigger. This is the state you will be in when the gun is empty after firing. Now try to actuate the mag release by only moving your thumb. How hard is the button to push? I tried this with the three guns from my last article, as well as with a Berretta P4 Storm. The only gun I could get to release by only moving my thumb was my 1911.

As the grips got progressively smaller, I had to move more fingers to get a mag to release. In some cases I had to place my middle finger on the trigger guard to offer some resistance so I could depress the release. Then, I had to start moving other fingers out of the way to keep the mag from hanging up (sometimes way out of the way!)

The choice now is which one takes less finagling to release a mag, and how am I going to carry it (see my last article on open vs. concealed carry)? You may have to make some trade offs between ease of magazine release and gun size.

Another thing you can do is hold the gun with the grip parallel to the ground and actuate the mag release. Look to see how far the magazine pops out. Some guns may have a spring assist to get the mag out under less-than-optimum conditions. Here are the same four guns lying flat after their magazine releases were actuated.

Note that the 1911 had the least extension of the bunch, and the P4 had the most: just the opposite of how many hand parts needed to be moved. I am not telling you which one of these grip and mag release set ups is better, but what you should be looking for is the mag to drop cleanly away when you want to reload. If it does not, you will have to spend more time, or do something more to get a fresh magazine in and be ready to fire again. The bottom line is if it’s not comfortable and easy to do, think hard about why you want that particular gun. If you still want/need it, then practice, practice, practice with it until all operations are second nature.

Next we will work our way up from the grip to discuss triggers. --Jon Boyd Raven One-Five 2IC

Copyright Jon Boyd, 2015

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