British Pistol Use During WWI

Here’s an interesting piece of research, done in 2010 by one David Thomas as part of a degree in British First World War Studies:

The Pistol in British Military Service During the Great War (pdf)

This is a well-footnoted 38 pages, covering the British procurement of handguns, the different types of handguns use, and the training methods used with them. To me, the most interesting part was those training methods – I had not realized British training was nearly as elaborate as it really was.

The influence of [Captain Charles] Tracy is as the bringer of pistol fighting technique. In 1915 he wrote a simple instructional handbook for more advanced training, drawing attention to his skills and knowledge. He advocated the use of instinctive shooting at close ranges and using the sights for longer distances. Tracy’s stated “War Shot” standard was the ability of a man to hit a 12” by 16” rectangle, with one pistol shot at ten yards, in one second. He is acknowledged as the writer of the 1916 Addendum to Musketry Regulations, which improved pistol training enormously.

…Issued with Army Orders as a separate 15 page close-typed document, it was intended to be enclosed with Musketry Regulations. It included a much more advanced and demanding set of practices and tests than before the war.

These cover grouping, rapid and snap shooting, at a variety of ranges, and engaging targets whilst advancing on foot. Shooting is to be conducted with both right and left hand, single and double action, to tight timings. One practice involves firing at targets whilst moving down a trench. There are mounted practices for those for whom they were appropriate.

The Boer War had involved relatively little use of handguns, and their training and procurement lapsed between the end of that conflict and the beginning of World War I. At that point, though, it seems that the British really put in serious work to improve handgun shooting skills with their troops. Handguns were used extensively by officers of course, but also by naval troops, aviators, tank crewmen, and machine gun crewmen. As the author says,

From a somewhat simple and unsuitable procedure at the start of the War, British pistol technique developed along parallel but complimentary official and private lines, to a sophisticated level. Safe use, allied to skilled tactical methods produced first class combat shots. Anyone passing out from a revolver instructional course in the latter half of the War would have been better trained with a pistol than all but special forces personnel in the modern army.

Definitely worth a read!


  1. Modern day qualifying is just as tight. Here in North Carolina you have to draw and fire two rounds at three yards in two seconds for armed security certification.

    • How large a target? There’s a pretty big difference between 1 shot in 1 second on a chest sized target at 10 yards and two shots in 2 seconds on a similarly sized target at 3 yards. That said, I doubt the former was from draw.

  2. How many pistol rounds would a British officer expect to fire before going into the trenches?
    How many pistol rounds does a modern soldier fire before going out on his first patrol?
    How any pistol rounds does a modern special forces breacher fire before his first raid?
    What is the relative cost of training with pistols versus carbines?
    Finally, how well do pistol skills translate into shooting long guns?

    • Don’t know, none if you aren’t an officer, don’t know (although I’m not sure how often pistols are actually used in combat, even in SF), pistol training < SMG training < Assault rifle training, barely if at all.

  3. It would be nice to find an online copy of Capt. Charles D. Tracy’s “Revolver Shooting in War – A Practical Handbook” — and hopefully this century-old publication is not still locked up under copyright (as apparently no one is selling it).

    I wonder if the two handed pistol grip back then was considered the rough equivalent of the low blow in boxing — definitely ungentlemanly “cheating” despite its effectiveness. While I can understand how one-handed training (both left and right hand) builds useful skills, it must have been obvious to them that unless someone has nerves of steel, it helps accuracy to steady a pistol with the other hand (or even resting it against a solid object). The only possible advantage I can see in teaching one-handed (standing) shooting as the preferred pistol technique is that it allows the shooter to turn sideways and present a smaller target to the opponent. Shooting from a prone position is of course much easier with one hand, and perhaps this was highly factored into the equation back then?

    I often wonder why the decisionmakers of old made the decisions they did, especially when such decisions go against modern-day thinking. I tend to doubt that it was simply negligence or stupidity, but more likely a different order of priorities, as well as perhaps a different type of enemy they were fighting.

    For instance, years ago, revolvers were the preferred self-defense pistol in th USA (at least in the Southern states) because people believed that utmost reliability was essential. Today, it seems much more weight is placed on high capacity and fast reloading speed, which revolvers do poorly. So we have seen this huge switch from revolvers to semi-autos, even though the actual guns as well as the conditions they are used in has changed very little — it’s mainly just the theories and perceptions that have changed people’s conceptual strategies of the “optimum” handgun.

    Which brings me back to the ‘lost art’ of the one-handed pistol grip … was there something more to it than we know about?

    • “one-handed”
      From weapons evolution: revolvers (and earlier single-shot pistols) in Europe were mainly used by cavalry which caused single hand usage, it was also used by officers but rather as badge than actual weapon.

      “switch from revolvers to semi-autos, even though the actual guns as well as the conditions they are used in has changed very little”
      However automatic pistol evolved, single-stack generally does not vary vastly in magazine capacity from revolvers, staggered magazine is required for better capacity without size increase, some early double-stack magazine automatic pistol available on U.S. market has some reliability issues, additional – depending on design – some automatic pistol will have boosted malfunction-rate if loaded with not FMJ rounds.

    • Definitely, the one-hand-grip has a decisive advantage in the trench-warfare (which, we were told, by that time was a predominant form) when you are turning the corner to hit your foe.
      A great idea, Ian.

    • I wouldn’t say the switch from revolvers to semi-autos is due to “the theories and perceptions” – there’s quite a bit of empirical evidence that 6-8 shots isn’t enough for a person with average police/military (or above average civilian) marksmanship to have a very large chance of disabling a determined attacker. Quality semi-autos shooting quality ammunition (as anyone reasonably would for self-defense or duty) with good mags are also very, very reliable these days.

      Humans just aren’t good at hitting the small target zone required for instant incapacitation when they’re wired with adrenaline and busy trying not to get stabbed, shot, strangled, etc. Having more ammo on tap helps.

      • “there’s quite a bit of empirical evidence that 6-8 shots isn’t enough for a person with average police/military (or above average civilian) marksmanship to have a very large chance of disabling a determined attacker.”

        I would like to see some statistics showing the percentage of home burglaries in which the homeowner faced a “determined attacker” — and therefore lost the fight (and probably life) despite firing six or more shots. It’s always seemed to me that the vast majority of bad guys tend to get a sudden ‘change of heart’ and run for their lives the instant the first shot is fired at them. By coincidence, I was just reading a newspaper article about a late-night burglary a few miles from here where the intruder ran after being shot once in the arm. (But maybe my impressions are wrong, and modern day burglars are much more suicidal than the burglars of times past?)

        Years ago I used to argue with revolver die-hards I knew (which was basically everyone back then) that if semi-autos were really so unreliable, then militaries and police around the world would not likely have been using them for so many decades (to which they’d respond that US law enforcement couldn’t all be wrong).

        Much of people’s reasoning seems to be driven by the fear of what they see as the worst-case scenario in a self-defense situation, no matter how unlikely it might be. Back then it was fear of a semi-auto pistol jamming just when their life depended on it, while today it’s the fear of running out of ammo — and in both cases ending up dead as a result.

        As the contrarian I’ve always been, I tended to argue against the herd mentality then just as I tend to argue against it today. Like everything else, revolvers and semi-autos have their particular strengths and weaknesses, and although few would ever agree with me, I’ve always thought that for self-defensive, either could certainly do the job well enough in the vast majority of cases.

        As to the one-handed pistol grip being the defined standard, that makes sense that it may have simply been a holdover from cavalry days when such a skill was essential — even if one-handed shooting did linger on well past the demise of horses as a major component of warfare. I’m curious if soldiers were even allowed to “cheat” once in awhile, for instance by grabbing their shooting arm on the wrist for extra support in target practice. The acceptance of the 2-handed pistol grip seemed to come about at roughly the same time as the acceptance of the 2-handed tennis racket grip — odd coincidence?

        • I agree. The “determined attacker” scenario usually assumes someone either high on drugs with an analgesic effect (such as PCP or high dose of amphetamine) or very pumped up with adrenaline. Those are probably the only people who could continue attacking after a solid hit to the torso with a .38 Special or more substantial revolver round at close ranges. Even a civilian who has trained a reasonable amount should be able to get one such hit out of 5 or 6 at typical self-defense ranges. Does it hurt to have more shots? Of course not, but I would like to see a record of a civilian self-defense situation where more than 10+ rounds capacity was actually needed and used.

    • I think the idea was that pistols were for short range shooting and there was no time to assume a two-handed hold. I can not speak for other countries, but in the US in WWII Col. Applegate taught a one-handed hold to his special troops. The FBI and police at the time were taught to shoot from the hip in a crouch. At mid-century lawmen (e.g., Bill Jordan) started suggesting a two-handed hold if the enemy was not at close range for better accuracy.

      Something that started creeping in around the 1960’s was a quest for more powerful cartridges, the 41 Magnum was supposed to be the perfect police round. After a bad shoot out in Newhall, California in 1970 police departments started mandating that policemen who carried 357 revolvers train with 357 ammunition, not 38 special. 357 and 41 magnum kick. Easier to handle with two hands. At the beginning of the twentieth century .32 was a popular police revolver round. Think about going from .32 to .41 in the space of a few decades.

      The third thing that happened was over at Big Bear, California a guy named Jeff Cooper had a strange idea. He started putting on realistic practical shooting competitions and watched for what equipment and techniques won matches. There is a photo of him early on shooting a Colt Peacemaker from the hip–starting off he thought that was the way to go, and it had worked for him in a shoot out in WWII. But a deputy named Weaver beat him in the matches. Weaver used two hands. So Cooper started using two hands the same way he did. It turned out that it really sped up subsequent shots–it controlled recoil better, and bringing the sights up to eye level actually helped with accuracy. Cooper started the first private combat shooting school in the country and taught the methods that worked in competition.

      The early use of only one hand, shooting from a crouch, had a mixed record. Some lawmen, especially in the pre-war Border Patrol, that used it had impressive records, with a dozen or more won shoot-outs. On the other hand, there were plenty of cases of policemen drawing their guns at a few yards, and missing. The use of both hands and the sights won out by the early 1990’s at the latest. Then lots of self-proclaimed experts condemned Cooper because he did not use the very same two-handed hold that they themselves had came up with, I think they sort of missed the point.

      • Those are some good points. My thinking is that in a high-stress situation, a person’s hands are usually going to be shaking, but not of course in unison, so the shaking of one hand will tend to cancel out the shaking of the other. I’m just guessing here, but I think this is probably a much bigger factor than the rather small difference between the best one handed vs. two handed target shooters.

        I’d like to think that we’re finally living in an era when provable results trump blind adherence to tradition, but I’m often reminded that we’re not quite there yet.

    • The WWI officer had a lot going on. Look at all the junk they had to schlep around with them. In most instances the only shooting they were going to do was one handed shooting.

  4. Do you know about any attempts, during WW1, to increase firepower of existing automatic pistols by:
    -using bigger capacity magazine
    -altering automatic pistol into machine pistol
    Either by Ordnance or field-expedient?
    I know that there was tripod-mounted machine pistol derived from Frommer Stop:
    which apparently was used with longer magazines, can they compatible with normal Frommer Stop automatic pistol?

  5. There was an extended mag version of the Steyr 1912 pistol and British made 20 rd mags for the Colt govt model as mentioned in the above article.

  6. To respond to aa on one handed grips. A significant reason for shooting one handed was to leave the other hand free to control a horse. Also I think some of the one handed, “bladed stance” technique is a hold over from dueling, and continues in bullseye shooting.

    Back to my main thought. I think the emphasis on pistol shooting in WWI is partly because there were no intermediate weapons between the pistol and rifle in most armies. While the Germans did have shoulder stocks for the P08 and C96 to make them into a sort of carbine, they were rare. The rise of things like the M1 carbine, submachine guns and specialist pdws make the pistol, and pistol skills less important.

    • In addition to cavalry practices, it was common for infantry officers to have their sabre drawn ready in the left hand when going into combat. Reloading a hand gun was simply too slow in many situations even with metallic cartridge revolvers, because as a rule they were loaded one cartridge at a time even after break-open and swing-out cylinder models became available. Having a sabre ready to engage any enemy soldiers who managed to got into bayonet range made very much sense, even if in European style large scale warfare (including the ACW) such situations were relatively rare. They were, however, more common in the colonies.

      • The recent M. Moss Historical Firearms/ The Great War channel production indicates an anecdote of 9 officers in 1914 “waving sabers” being killed, and noted that by 1916, officers were ordered to ship all swords back to Blighty.

        • WW1 was, of course, pretty much the end of the line for swords as military weapons in the infantry. Waving a sword was a good way to become a target for snipers and machine gun fire. The importance of an officer’s sword as his self defense weapon had been steadily declining since the introduction of revolvers, but only by WW1 had it finally reached the end of its usefulness.

          In cavalry the sabre remained useful even in WW1. Cavalry was successfully used in the Eastern Front and Middle East, and while it was mostly employed as mounted infantry and scouting force, successful cavalry charges with sabres and/or lances did happen.

  7. Weapon of choice scenario:

    We’re raiding the enemy’s dark trenches and infiltrating their command post to abduct (or assassinate) the commander [sigh] again! Rats, flares, artillery from both sides, and enemies you can’t see! If you’re stuck with me here away from the sentry’s lamp, which will you carry? Rifles are practically useless in this stealth mission, so I recommend getting a handgun and some cold steel…

    1. Webley Mk VI and Pattern 1907 No. 1 sword bayonet
    2. Colt M1911 (or M1917 Revolver, Colt or Smith & Wesson) and M1918 Trench Knife
    3. Modèle 1892 revolver and Lebel spike bayonet
    4. Suppressed Nagant 1895 and a sharpened tent peg
    5. Artillery Luger (or Walther P-38) and a “butcher blade” bayonet
    6. Gasser revolver (or Steyr Hahn) and “gravity knife”
    7. Hamada Type 2 with Type 30 bayonet (and a Type 94 Nambu as a surprise weapon)
    8. Beretta 1934 with suppressor and a bootlace garrote
    9. I’m sick of sneaking! Schnellfeuer and lots of grenades or a Browning wz.1928!
    10. Or per the usual, screw the budget and add your favorite toys to this list!

    This activity is voluntary. You are not required to participate if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you.


    • French nail, sharpened spade, Rast Gasser 8-shooter or better yet, Mauser C96 with shoulder stock… Or an M1903 Mk.I with Pedersen device fitted…

      • I assume you left no witnesses. Since the artillery would hide the Pedersen device, you could go about capping every target of priority without the danger of getting a squad of vengeful soldiers alerted to your presence… Or am I wrong?

  8. I may have told this story before, but it bears repeating as it boils all the essential truisms about pistol shooting vs rifle shooting, close combat and actual one-on-one gun fighting.
    As a very young youngster I recall reading my Dad’s citations and military awards and being amazed .
    Time passes and I got more “sophisticated” (read “sophomoric” as only a adolescent can be) and decided this particular incident was likely exaggerated.
    The scene is the taking of Kwajalein Marshall Islands. Dad is platoon leader and at this particular juncture, point-man. The island is as devastated as only modern warfare can make it…16 inch naval shells, M10 tank destroyers, and DD Shermans,…and a very few Palm trees remain but not much foliage more than waist high. The platoon approaches an apparent fuel dump and is about to pass a very dead field gun with the Japanese crew still in attendance…even deader than their gun.
    (How do I know all this detail you ask? It was one of the rare occasions when a Signal Corps photographer was documenting the proceedings. It’s how I know about the field gun, the dead bodies, the DD Shermans and the M10s used for bunker-busting.)
    20 yards in front of the Platoon, Dad is surprised as the sole unexpected survivor of the gun crew steps from behind the wrecked truck, one handed levels his Nambu pistol and empties it at near point-blank range.
    And misses every time. (You’ll notice it’s his eldest son relating this story.)
    “Ever so slowly, while all this ruckus is going on,” he said to me many years later, “for time had seemed to slow to almost nothing, I raised my Garand, carefully aimed for his mid-section, and at a distance of maybe ten yards shot him exactly between the eyes.”
    He then told me, “Don’t take a pistol to a rifle fight. If you have only a pistol to make do, sure as hell use both hands, …but only if you want to successfully hit something with it.”
    For my part, the real pay off came 50 years after this gunfight and I attended the reunion boasting the surviving Platoon members.
    Every single one of them had to relate to me their personal witnessing, of my Dad, cool as a cucumber, and his toe-to-toe shoot-out on Kwajalein in 1944, exactly as he’d related
    It to his “sophisticated ” 17 year old son.
    “Don’t tell them that I actually missed my point of aim by a good 18 inches at a range of 10 yards. Tney’d be very disapointed.”

    • Uh, twenty yards is pretty darn far for a Nambu. If this were at twenty FEET or in the middle of a grappling scuffle over anyone’s gun your dad would be missing an eye or worse.

    • Thanks for the anecdote 103david! Your Dad’s deviance from intended aim is a good illustration of why the Japanese officer missed: adrenaline shakes . Adrenal dumps evolved around tooth, fang and sharpened stick combat, not fine motor skill ranged combat. You learned more than I managed to from my Grandfather, whose descriptions of WW2 amounted to remembering being loaded on trains in desert uniforms and winding up in the Aleutions . And also recognizing a photo from D Day and stating he was in the wave right after that. He did teach me how to live in the woods though!

      • Adrenaline rush is not bad just for ranged combat. Even in the age of cold steel soldiers, especially professional ones and those belonging to warrior classes (noblemen etc.) trained a lot with their weapons. The reason was to make the combat techiques so automatic that they could be retained even in the heat of combat. Anyone who devolved back to caveman bashing would we in a distinct disadvantage against someone who retained at least a modicum of proper technique.

        I wonder if the guy was actually an officer. Did’t the Japanese issue pistols to artillerymen as self defense weapons? I might be remembering incorrectly, though.

  9. Uh, Chern buddy, if you read again, the twenty yards was Dad’s lead from the platoon, not the distance from the judgement-challenged Japanese officer from my Dad.
    And by the way, a Nambu pistol, is quite accurate enough to pot a rabbit at 20 yards much less a human. Assuming, of course, a reasonably practiced Nambu user.
    In essence, the point of the story.
    How do I know this?
    You can see it coming, can’t you?
    The Nambu remained in the family for many years and more than one rabbit, not to mention a number of “Rodents of Unusual Size” met their own subsequent doom down at the junkyard. Eventually ammunition became too hard to find and where it is now, I don’t know. But I still have a picture of my cousin JohnDean brandishing the Nambu in one hand, and the sword in the other. It should be mentioned the photo was taken in 1947. Pistol, and sword and standing all at the same time were a bit too much for a three year old and JohnDean was happily sitting at the time.
    Ah, the sword. Another story and a different campaign for another day.
    But I still have the sword. ;):)

    • This blogger had much worse results, although still good enough to hit a man-sized target at the ranges indicated:

      He was was using modern ammunition mmade from .40 S&W brass, so we don’t know if the bullet diameter was correct. I assume he checked the rifling so that it wasn’t badly worn out. He does repeat the old story about the 8mm Nambu ammunition, comparing it to .380 ACP, but in reality the military loading used in WW2 was very close to 9mm Ultra in power (100 grains @ 1000-1060 fps, where the lower figure is for Type 94 and higher for Type 14).

  10. My original question was about how many pistol rounds a WW1 British officer would fire before going into the trenches?

    British officers were expected to lead men to kill the enemy. British officers were not expected to kill the enemy. Early in WW1, many British officers went over the top with cloth caps, swords, pistols or riding crops to make it easy for privates to locate them on the battlefield. Unfortunately, German snipers could also easily identify British officers and put them out of their misery. By late WW1, German snipers forced British officers to wear steel helmets and carry rifles, so that they blended in with enlisted men.
    “Jerry is short on ammo. Try not to look important.”

    Mind you, British officers frequently loaned pistols to privates and corporals and sargeants going out on trench raids. How many pistol rounds did British privates fire – in practice – before going out on their first trench raid?

    Single-handed pistol shooting evolved from cavalry practice and duelling traditions. When duelling, one-handed grip allowed duellers to stand sideways to their rival presenting a smaller target.

    As for Artillery Lugers ….. great idea, but only issued in small numbers. Eventually, Artillery Lugers evolved into Bergman submachineguns which set the pace for the next 50 years of SMG development.
    We wonder if pistol-caliber, bolt-action carbines would have proved as popular?
    Definitely weld bayonet lugs on the muzzle for those days when you start with a 10-round magazine, but find 11 enemy in a trench.

    • Ah, here it is. “September 9th to October 1st, 1916

      It was finally decided after trying all ways, to equip for battle as fllows:–
      NCO Haversack (to contain mess tin and reserve and iron ration), water bottle, revolver, revolver ammunition in 1 pouch and 1 short web strip of 25 rounds in other pouch, also entrenching tool and Very pistol with ammunition and spare water.
      Nos. 1 and 2. Carry gun (i.e. Vickers MG) with light tripod fixed on, also short web strip of 25 half loaded in feed block, gun in waterproof case with the spare parts case tied on to the handle bars, spare barrel, oil wallet, cleaning rod, and cleaning rag, all in the case. When the gun could be rushed up over a short distance, it was found it could be advantageiously and inconspicuously carried by No. 1 down the back by means of 2 rifle slings made into braces. The question of keeping the gun clean, and No. 1 becoming a casualty and falling down is rather against this method.
      No. 1. Haversack, water bottle, revolver ammunition and short strip, entrenching tool, iron ration, reserve ration and portion of day’s ration.
      No.1. The same, but in addition 1 belt box in pack.
      Nos. 3 and 4. Carry tripod so:–
      One behind the other. Some prefer to separate crosshead from socket, but do not consider this satisfactory if casualties occur.
      Nos. 3 and 4. Same equipment, only rifles and 2 short belts each, and 1 belt box each.
      Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. 2 belt boxes each, rifles and 50 rounds of S.A.A.
      Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, and NCO carried spare unfilled web belts slung across bandolier fashion; 2 shovels and a picke were also carried by the odd numbers.”

  11. EuroW,
    There was little mistaking a Japanese officer for a Japanese EM. The quality and cut of the uniform left little doubt. In this particular case the quality of the leather gear alone pretty much revealed a private purchase by an officer as the expectation of the “Powers that be” was officers were expected to purchase their own sidearms.
    In Dad’s recollection the crews of the Japanese crew served weapons were rarely, if ever issued supplementary arms much less actual pistols.
    How did the gun crew get dead? They were moving their gun, towing behind a pre-war GMAC truck when suprised by Dad’s platoon, and engaged at about 100 yards The crew had no personal defense arms, and they never had a chance. The Japanese were extrodinarily slow learners on the defense, but learn they eventually did with Okinawa’s defense in depth. But while Kwajalein had plenty of length, but almost no depth to defend in. The banana shaped atoll is less than a mile wide and you don’t win wars by being masters of defense.

  12. EuroW,
    One more addition, the aforementioned family Nambu was a a Type 14, not the cited blogger’s pathetic Type 94.
    If you can excuse the saying, it would be accurate to say the Type 94 always aspired to the lofty status of “pathetic,” but never achieved that promotion.
    The Type 14 was, in fact, rather a well made, reliable, accurate pistol, nothing remotely like a Type 94 and I wish I still had it. Its looks were somewhat exotic, something like the “John Carter of Mars” esthetic shared by the Type 11 LMG, but it does emphasize referring to the critter as a “Nambu” covers a lot of not necessarily relevant ground:):):)

    • Actually the Type 94 was inherently more reliable in that the weak striker spring was replaced by a concealed hammer. The Type 14 pistol had issues with not firing at the pull of the trigger when the striker spring was worn out. When you pulled the trigger on the Type 94, it was guaranteed to shoot provided that there was a round in the chamber and that the magazine was properly inserted. And no, that is not pleasant to anyone on the receiving end of the gun.

    • I believe the quality of the Type 94 Nambus varied greatly. The ones made prior to 1943 had a fairly good finish, but quality went downhill from there and the “emergency models” of summer 1945 are so bad that firing them is considered questionable.

  13. I must confess, I was in error on one point…I claimed the presence of Dual-Drive Shermans along with M10s and Amtracs on Kwajalein Atoll on Jan 31, 1944′ but was wrong. I was looking at a photo of a Sherman equipped for “deep wading” rather than actual flotation with propellers and stuff.
    Oops, sorry, my bad.
    The reason was while staring at a photo of of an otherwise entirely ambulatory “wadeable” Sherman,and wondering how the rear got so badly distorted, I recalled Dad mentioning he’d mistakenly trashed the greatly extended wading ducting by accidently directing the tank commander to reverse into a Palm tree.
    Well, fender-benders happen. Another “Oops” for the family history, and yet another story for another day.;);):)

  14. Fairbairn certainly suggested that two hands would make for a better shot, but realized that under full stress it was unlikely that there would be many opportunities. (Ayoob reported somewhere that duty videos of US law enforcement incidents failed to show a single instance of a ‘Weaver’ trained officer actually using two hands in a real-life incident…unless they were ‘pre-set’ in the trained grip)

    Fairbairn has an anecdote about a Sikh policeman in Shanghai in a running gun-battle with a local gangster. Despite hitting his opponent more than once with his .455 Webley, the officer achieved ‘knock down’ by slugging the perp with his (by then) empty gun.

  15. Lots of good questions and answers! One reason single handed pistol shooting with both left and right hand was taught is likely the realities of trench fighting. When one is in a narrow trench and the enemy is dropping in to visit most of your pistol shots will be close and in tight quarters. They will also need to be quick, so the single handed method was probably all you had time or room for anyway.

    As for the switch from the self defense revolver to semi auto, one of the big pluses for the auto is thinness. Most autos are thinner than a comparable revolver, thus easier to conceal. They also tend to be easier to hit with and faster to shoot. No DA trigger or thumb cocking to deal with on each shot. And of course, the 80s saw a massive switch from revolvers to autos by the Police. Many folks tend to mimic what the cops carry as they are seen as an authority on the best handguns to use.

    And the need for more ammo/quicker reloads is a valid one. Those who think a single hit to a person in ANY traditional handgun caliber will stop someone instantly need to do some studying of wounding effects. The only guaranteed “one shot stop” is to disconnect the brain from the body. Anything else can and has failed to stop an attack. And of course these days predators tend to hunt in packs.

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