Written by: Greg Ellifritz
I recently got this question from a reader:
“Here’s a topic I’d love to see hear your opinion on:
For someone new to training and looking to get the most out of defensive handgun courses, should I use the smaller pistol that I carry (P365) or larger bedside pistol (P320) that the instructor recommends?
I know much will depend on the course/instructor, but in my case, this is a two day Defensive Pistol 1 Course where we will be firing at least 500rds per day.
The stated ranges from from 5yds to 50 yds.
All I can attest to is that at 15 yards or less, I shoot evenly with the pistols.
I’d *guess* that using my EDC would be the way to go, even if it was more difficult.
By the same token, I’m green, so I’m not sure what to expect, or how much of the training will translate, and I don’t want to disrespect
the instructor or fail miserably at the course.
My solution is to prep both pistols for the course (with matching AIWB rigs), and to get as deep into it as I can with my EDC with the larger
pistol as a fallback.
Am I making the right choice?”
This is a very good question and one that I wish more students would ask before attending a high round count shooting course.
It may seem slightly counter intuitive, but I would advise this student to shoot the full size gun (P320) in this class, rather than the gun he actually carries (P365).
In a weekend shooting class that involves firing more than 500 rounds a day, you will get incredibly fatigued. You will get blisters on your hands. You will be sore from the recoil (even from a 9mm). Shooting 500 rounds in a day while actually concentrating on learning new skills is a demanding endeavor both mentally and physically. Recognize that most gun owners will never fire 500 rounds out of a single handgun in the course of an average lifespan.
Anything you do to make this process easier will aid in your retention of the new information you are taught. If you are fighting torn ups hands, a heavy recoiling pistol, small magazines that are difficult to reload, and a pistol that requires more effort to get good hits, learning the presented material is going to be more difficult.
A course like this is challenging enough for most shooters with a full-sized weapon. Make it easier on yourself. Use the P320.
You are taking the class with the purpose of learning new skills. It’s easier to learn those skills if you use a full-sized gun. After you learn the skills, you can then transfer them to your smaller carry gun.
The process doesn’t work in reverse. If you never learn the new skills because you are too busy fighting a compact pistol, those skill sets are useless no matter what size pistol you ultimately decide to carry.
The absolute best solution to this problem is to first take the course with the full sized pistol. Take a year and practice the skills you’ve learned. After you think you’ve mastered all the new concepts, take the class again with your actual carry gun.
Doing something like that will significantly accelerate your learning curve.