My husband and I went to the indoor shooting range at Iron Sights for the third time this weekend, and shot three different 1911s. We rented a SIG Sauer Nitron, a Kimber Eclipse Ultra II, and we brought along my husband’s customized Springfield Armory. We also rented the Beretta Cougar in .40 S&W to get a taste of a slightly lower caliber and a handgun with a little less distance from the back of the grip to the trigger. I’m still searching for the right home-defense handgun, and the purpose of this trip was for me to try out some different all metal semiautomatics, since I didn’t care for the composites we tried on our last excursion to the range.
I have VERY small hands, my index finger isn’t even 2 1/2 inches long, so finding a high caliber semiautomatic that fits me has been a little difficult. I have trouble gripping the gun properly and reaching the trigger at the same time. The smaller looking grip was why I was hot-to-trot about trying the Beretta Cougar, and that’s what we started the evening off with.
Although the width of the Beretta Cougar‘s grip was smaller, it was much wider across the back because its magazine is double-stacked. This means that instead of the rounds being stacked in a straight column, they alternate left and right, making the grip wider. This is done because the magazine can hold more rounds in a smaller area. Since I’m looking for a home-defense weapon, I don’t feel that being compact is as important a factor for me. The Beretta Cougar was also a double action-single action; the first shot is double action and the rest are single action. I couldn’t shoot the Beretta Cougar accurately in double action mode. In fact, I could barely pull the trigger because my hands are so small. I have to twist my hand around the front of the grip in order to reach the trigger. This makes controlling the handgun difficult because it forces my wrists to take the impact of the recoil instead of my shoulders. However, in single action it was the most accurate handgun of the evening, due to the way the trigger changes when the gun is in single action mode. When it is in single action mode, the trigger pulls back a long way with no resistance. This allows me to reposition my hands into the correct position. Unfortunately, I do not think the Beretta Cougar is the gun for me. In a tactical situation I would have to fire once before I could even get a correct grip, let alone aim at a dangerous moving target.
Next we brought out the SIG Sauer 1911 Nitron and the Kimber Eclipse Ultra II. Again, I had the same problem with reaching the trigger. Even so, shooting was much easier on the 1911s than the double action Beretta Cougar. At first I made sure to hold the 1911 correctly, and pull the trigger with the very tip of my finger on one side of the trigger (all I could reach). It let me feel how my hand fit, and how it felt when it went off. Since I had poor trigger control holding the handgun like that, my shots didn’t hit the mark very well. Next I gripped the handguns slightly crooked, which allowed me to reach the trigger better. This threw off my accuracy a little, but I still got a good feel for how the triggers felt. The SIG was fun to shoot, and it had some really nice sights on it. I also thought it shot very smoothly, and was definitely a very well-made semiautomatic.
We had rented the Kimber Eclipse Ultra II because we thought it would be easier for me to properly contact the trigger. Upon comparison, I found that it was smaller than the other 1911s everywhere EXCEPT the distance to the trigger; the only place I was really having any trouble. It still shot well, but not quite as nicely as the SIG Sauer. It was a little bit lighter and would be easier to carry around because of the smaller size. Again, since I’ll be using this semiautomatic for home-defense, overall size isn’t the most important thing for me to consider. Having a good fit and a comfortable feel is what matters most.
After shooting a few magazines on each of the rented handguns, we got out my husbands Springfield Armory 1911. The frame on all three 1911s are practically identical, but my husband’s semiautomatic is heavily customized. The grip safety is flatter and presses further into the back of the gun, and his trigger is lighter and has a shorter pull than what is standard. It only takes three pounds of pressure to fire his .45. The trigger was still a little too far forward for me to really hold the gun perfectly, but it was a MUCH better fit; which goes to show, a fraction of an inch can actually make a big difference. His .45 also has large slide and magazine releases, which makes operating the gun with long fingernails and/or dainty fingers much easier.
Overall I had a really fun time at the shooting range, and I learned a lot about what’s going to work well for me. I know what I need to have a handgun with the “perfect” fit. I’m still going to do a little searching to see what else is available, but I think I’m going to end up purchasing and customizing a 1911 .45 semiautomatic for my primary home-defense firearm. Between putting in a grip safety similar to that of my husband’s and replacing the standard trigger with a thinner one, the distance to the trigger should be shortened enough for me to shoot it correctly, accurately, and confidently.
P.S. Did you get the Cheesy Star Trek reference in the title?