I am a firm believer in reasonable gun control. Now, before you get your tonsils in an uproar, let me explain my idea of gun control.
My old Border Patrol shooting instruction used to say that the only things you needed to master to be a good shooter were trigger control and sight alignment. While it really isn’t quite that simple, that pretty much explains what true gun control is. If you properly align the sights and release the trigger without disturbing the sight picture, you will hit the target ̶ period ̶ gun control. The trick is doing this with a pounding heart, panting lungs, and raging nerves.
I used to practice trigger control when dry-firing my double-action revolver. I’d place a coin on the front sight, then squeeze the trigger until the hammer fell, all without the coin falling off the front sight. After a couple of years of practice I could accomplish this feat several times in a row.
This practice greatly enhanced my qualification scores, but I doubt it did a thing for my accuracy when someone was shooting at me. Actually I don’t know whether it did or not, since I never had to use my handgun in a fight. Mostly because if I thought there was a chance in . . . well, a chance at all, I had a long gun in my hands – usually a 12-gauge shotgun.
The only time I ever had to fire a handgun in self defense wasn’t against an armed attacker, but against a water moccasin.
Several of us, including my children, were sitting under a huge willow on the bank of a stock tank in South Texas. We were fishing and just enjoying the peace and quiet when a small cottonmouth crawled up on a limb of the willow that was sticking out in the water about ten feet from the bank.
One of the kids in attendance had a pellet gun and before anyone could say no had plinked the snake with the pellet gun. The snake didn’t take too kindly to this, and with its head out of the water, hissing in a most frightening way, it came at us in a rush.
People scattered to the four winds, scattering lawn chairs in their wakes. I stood up, surprised that the snake was actually, for lack of a better word, charging. Then, the next thing I knew there was a loud noise and the snake was floating at the edge of the muddy bank. I actually had to look down to realize that my Glock 17, which habitually rode in a pancake holster on my right hip, was in my right hand. I did not remember drawing and shooting, but my reflexes had taken over and done the job. Thank God for all that practice. I hit the snake about three inches behind its head, killing it instantly. Again, gun control.
Trigger control can be anything from a slow squeeze and a surprise break, to a quick draw and shot in less than a second. But one thing it absolutely must be is controlled. A jerk can cause a miss, even at knife fighting distance. The trigger must be squeezed, not jerked, but the squeeze can be condensed until it doesn’t take much more time than a jerk. That is where the practice comes in.
I once read a story of a professional hunter in Africa who had a client who wanted a big elephant. The client was carrying, if memory serves, a .465 double rifle. The professional had a .375 H&H, usually considered minimal for charging elephants. They had stalked up to within about 30 yards of a big bull and the client was getting ready to shoot when, without warning, the bull whirled around and charged.
The pro was screaming for the client to shoot as the bull ate up the 30 yards. The client, obviously not a coward, didn’t cut and run, instead he raised his cannon and shot. The first shot hit the ground about halfway to the bull, the second shot just grazed the bull’s head, not slowing it down at all. With about 10 yards left, the pro raised his little .375 and killed the bull in its tracks with a frontal brain shot. The bull fell close enough that the pro could reach out and touch it with the barrel of his rifle.
The moral of this story is that the client managed to miss once and almost twice at an animal the size of a small summer cottage, all from about 25 yards. Why? He yanked the trigger. The professional hunter did not jerk his trigger, which is why he survived to write about the incident.
In the good old days the first part of the Border Patrol combat course was six rounds in six seconds, fired from seven yards. If you wanted to shoot a decent qualification score you had best put all six of those shots in the 10 ring, and the X-ring was even better.
After a bit of practice it was possible for most shooters to cut one ragged hole at the seven yard line. This was all double-action shooting. No cocking the gun, at all. Today, with a good single-action trigger on a 1911 .45, I can do even better. But I practice a lot. And the young shooter who shares this column with me practices even more.
The old saying is that gun control means hitting what you shoot at. I am often amazed at the shooters who come by my place and cannot keep all their shots on a combat target at seven yards when firing from the leather in rapid fire.
If you carry a gun you need to develop the skills necessary to make those shots count when someone is attempting to stamp out your life, just as surely as that elephant intended to stamp out the life of that professional hunter and his client. Trigger control and sight alignment is gun control. I guess it really is that simple.
Walther PPQ M2
We are blessed to have such a huge variety of firearms to select what fits each one of us perfectly. There is an endless supply of calibers, actions, finishes, frames, sizes and even colors to satisfy most every shooter. I’ve attempted to stay away from any type of brand loyalty and just recommend that folks buy a quality gun of their preference yet I keep getting drawn back to the Walther P99 series and their new PPQ line is no exception.
I think Walther has been left out of becoming a huge hit like Glock, M&P and XD simply for lack of marketing. I’ve owned a P99AS for years and it’s always been my “go to” range pistol because of its ergonomics, reliability and crisp factory trigger.
Although many folks find this handgun attractive, some don’t because of the ambidextrous, lever-style magazine release located below the trigger guard. I think lever style releases are great and that most shooters just don’t know how to use them correctly, which is to activate it with their trigger finger. Instead they attempt to manipulate it with their thumb which forces one to awkwardly change their grip. But once again this is more of a training issue, not an equipment issue.
So in adapting to better serve the American market Walther decided to embrace the ever-popular push-button magazine release with their PPQ M2. They also modified the trigger over the P99 predecessor. While the P99 had a great crisp trigger it also had an unusually long and light “anti-stress” take up that some users might find undesirable.
The new PPQ’s trigger has a built in Glock-style trigger safety bar with about ¼-inch of take up and a very crisp, five-pound break. Its break, over travel and reset is far superior to every other mainstream striker-fired polymer pistol. The factory Walther trigger’s clean, short break surpasses some custom jobs I’ve had on other striker-fired pistols.
The PPQ has excellent ergonomics and gives the shooter lots of contact. You can see just by a picture that it seems “curvy” and that it should fit your hand just right. Like several other pistols on the market the PPQ comes with three different replaceable backstraps to fit to any hand size. But if memory serves me right Walther was one of the first to offer replaceable backstraps when they introduced the original P99 back in 1996.
The controls are easily reachable. The ambidextrous slide stop is large and long, yet doesn’t stick out in a cumbersome way. The reversible magazine release button is large enough but again, doesn’t stick out too much to be accidentally depressed. Rear sights are adjustable for windage, and the pistol comes with a set of replaceable front sights of different heights for tuning elevation. And of course it also comes with a full standard picatinny rail dust cover in case you feel the need for any attachments.
Walther also beefed up the variety with the M2 series. Not only do they offer a standard version in 9mm and .40, but they have the “Navy” version with a threaded barrel perfect for attaching a sound suppressor as well as including an extended 17-round magazine vs. the standard 15 rounds of 9mm. Then they also offer a competition long-slide model that will attract many speed shooters for the longer sight radius.
The PPQ should be making a few waves in the shooting community. If you like your polymer pistols with a great trigger pull and excellent ergonomics you should really check them out. They also have the new more inexpensive PPX and compact slimline PPS perfect for concealed carry. Find out more at www.waltherarms.com.