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Dispelling Myths: Big Gun vs Little Gun

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Often I'll hear someone say "I just want something little and easy to handle". While little may seem easier, I want to take a moment to dispel that urban myths within the gun industry. People who sampled many different firearms and calibers understand that the small, lightweight firearm, can in fact be much more difficult to handle than the big clunky firearms. If these two different firearms are running the same ammunition, meaning if both firearms are of the same caliber, there will in fact be a difference in how they recoil. So if you guessed that is the case you would be right, just not in the order you think.

Most new shooters tend to steer clear of the "big" guns. The size of the gun itself somehow becomes the indicator of how the gun will react in the hand upon firing. But as the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. And in the case of handguns what you see can be quite deceiving!

In truth, it is the smaller of the guns that you will experience more felt recoil from. You read that right. Sure the little gun has smaller moving parts so you would think that less movement will cause less movement in the gun. But that's not quite where it begins and ends. Think about it in terms of energy. When the shot fires, there is energy which is expressed throughout the firearm. A heavy bulky gun has mass and an longer recoil spring that will do a lot of work to absorb the energy produced in recoil. With the little gun on the other hand, there is little in between you and the gun to absorb that energy, so you get more of a direct transfer. We call this "felt recoil". That's not to say that you cannot hang onto either gun during the course of fire. You can in fact do so successfully with either one if you have received the right instruction on how to grip the gun. As a side note, this is where a qualified instructor comes in handy. So if you find yourself with a tiny gun for Christmas, your birthday or just due to a recent purchase, and you have minimal or no experience, you can always reach out for a lesson. Otherwise, if you have not made the "little gun" purchase and are looking to just pick up a fun range gun, the smallest gun is not going to be your favorite option, so consider avoiding it.

With all that said, if you are a concealed weapons license holder and are looking mainly for concealability, sometimes you cannot avoid but going with the little, lightweight snappy gun. So just get some lessons, and plenty of practice to gain some confidence with your gun.

Author: Sherry Myers, instructor of Shooting With Sherry

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