Why Are Handguns So Hard to Shoot Well?



This is relative, and they are not that hard to shoot correctly, but at every training session I go to it seems there is some guy that is great with the carbine and shotgun, but is less so with his sidearm.

It seems that there are three main contributing factors to this:

1. There are generally only two support and reference points connecting with the handgun.

-It would be three if you are using a support, and only 1 if you are shooting one handed and standing.  This the handgun at a slight disadvantage when compared to the carbine and shotgun; guns that generally have 4 points of support and reference: both hands, your shoulder, and your cheek.

2. Shorter sight radius.

-There are some really long handguns out there (some S&w and Taurus revolvers come to mind) but handguns are generally lacking in this department.  Yes, you also have those 11″ SBRs that begin to fall into the same pit: when using iron sights a shorter sight radius is less precise than a longer one.

I was reviewing some training notes I had taken and somewhere Travis Haley of http://www.haleystrategic.com mentioned that another reason is the “trigger weight vs weapon weight” ratio.  So I hearby add that to my list…

3.  “Trigger Weight vs Weapon Weight Ratio” or TTvWWr for short.   😉

-Here we are, with a handgun that weighs less that 2 lbs. with a trigger weight ranging anywhere from 4  to 12 lbs.  You do the math.  My thing is guns and gear, not physics, although I love physics.  Picture having a stick with a breaking strength of 4lbs. and trying to snap it using nothing but a twig with a 2 lbs. breaking strength.  It would be hard right??   This kind of parallels into trying to pull a 12 lbs. double action pull on a handgun that weights a 6th of the pull weight.  When that trigger breaks, the gun is moving.   On the other hand, with rifles, you have a 7-12 lbs rifle and breaking a 4 lb. trigger.  I mean jerking the trigger on a rifle is still going to have bad results downrange, but this is even more true with a handgun.

 Maybe I’m over-thinking it?  I think not.  I feel this is an important realization,  as the handgun, for many of us, is the primary weapon in our daily armament.

-Stay Safe,


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