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Old November 9, 2013, 08:58 PM   #1
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What makes certain handguns more accurate than other handguns?

What are characteristics of a handgun that makes it more accurate than other handguns? (discounting the skills of the person shooting it)
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:37 PM   #2
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Most quality handguns have the potential to be just as accurate as the next. But generally what makes a gun easier to shoot more accurately are a

- Smooth trigger
- Light trigger
- Full size grip (preferably one that comfortably fits your hand)
- Long or adequate sight radius
- Good set of sights (preferably adjustable if going for accuracy)
- Good build quality (a well fitted gun with tighter tolerances can be more accurate than one that is not).
- Match grade or after market barrels if you choose

Now of course you don't need all of these to shoot a gun accurately, but they certainly do help.

Last edited by Dragline45; November 10, 2013 at 12:38 AM.
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:49 PM   #3
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I think weight counts also; it doesn't really make the gun more accurate, but a heavier gun (within reason) can be held more steadily and is less sensitive to normal human movements, like heartbeat.

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Old November 9, 2013, 10:24 PM   #4
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Dragline45 - what handguns would fit those criteria?
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Old November 9, 2013, 10:25 PM   #5
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Hand fit and perceived recoil.

The better the weapon fits your hand, the better you shoot it.

Also, IMHO, a single-action hammer cired is easier for me to fire accurately than a DA striker...but this is just a matter of the long trigger pull.

Now, Hickok45 does brilliantly with a DA Glock, which is contracting virtually all of my comments, so what do I know??
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Old November 10, 2013, 12:25 AM   #6
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what handguns would fit those criteria?
Way too many to name, but personally I like the Beretta M9 or 92 pistols, Sig Sauer P series pistols like the P220, P226, and P229 which I prefer in 9mm. 1911's are a good choice too, but just about every company makes one so deciding which one you want is a whole other story. One thing I will say about the Beretta, replacing the factory hammer spring with a lighter D spring is a must, it lightens and smooths the trigger out tremendously.

But first and foremost, figure out which type of trigger/action you would like. Personally I like DA/SA pistols, but that's my preference and you may find you do not.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with firearms, but this video should do a pretty good job at explaining all the different types of actions.

As far as trigger/action types, they all have their advantages and disadvantages. You need to figure out which best suits your needs. Whether it be for a defensive pistol, or strictly a range or target pistol.

As far as grip, this is subjective. What might feel comfortable in my hand, may not feel comfortable in yours. But generally a full size grip that you would see on a large full size handgun will be more comfortable than a grip on a compact or pocket gun.

Along these same lines, a large full size handgun will give you a longer sight radius which can make it easier to shoot a gun more accurately. Most full size handguns especially these days have adjustable sights, and if you don't like the sights on the gun, most times you can switch them out for aftermarket sights that you do like.

Last edited by Dragline45; November 10, 2013 at 12:36 AM.
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Old November 10, 2013, 04:22 AM   #7
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There are two ways to look at the question. One has been addressed in the previous posts... Let's call it practical accuracy and those qualities of a particular handgun that allow it to be shot more accurately than another.
The second way to look at the subject is inherent accuracy. This is best tested by using a machine rest which eliminates the human element. When you get a test target with a firearm, it was shot with a machine rest.
Precision manufacture - precise fitting of quality parts - make for repeatability, every part of the gun is in the same place for every shot. A good trigger, good sights, and a good grip allow a shooter to take advantage of this.
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Old November 10, 2013, 04:40 AM   #8
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There's two sorts of gun accuracy - mechanical and ergonomic. Ergonomic is my term for the things that makes it easier to sight, hold and fire a gun on target. That's the things mentioned like trigger pull and feel, grip, sight style and radius.

Mechanical accuracy are all the things that aren't about getting the most out of the shooter. This is the way the barrel stabilizes the bullet, how consistently the barrel and sights come back to each other from shot to shot, how the consistently barrel moves during recoil and how well everything returns to alignment with the sights after firing.

All fixed barrel guns are generally very accurate. This includes revolvers, HK P7s, Walther PPK, Makarovs and .22 autos. The super cheap Hi Point pistols are pretty mechanically accurate because of the fixed barrel.

With most 9mm and larger auto pistols the barrel moves around as you fire, so the most accurate pistols tend to do something that causes the barrel to move and return to fire very consistently. That can be because of a very snug fit between the parts, like on a nicer 1911 or Sig P210, or because firing forces are allowed to align everything in a looser system, like a Beretta. Just about any handgun can produce 4-5" or smaller groups when shot by an expert at 25 yards, some will get around 2" and only a very few will get down to 1" (though most .22s will do that).

Very accurate guns combine mechanical consistency with good ergonomics to shoot accurately. Some handguns will work better with slow fire - always shooting small groups when you take your time. Other guns make it easy to get reasonable groups when firing very rapidly. Not all accurate guns will necessarily do both equally well.

That's the low down, but it doesn't really predict anything on its own. There are very well designed guns that are hard to shoot accurately and basic guns that shoot very well. The best thing to do is narrow down to a type of gun you want and then ask around what model in that type seems to really make small groups. The problem you'll have at that point is deciding if the people that are advising you are good enough shots to know what they are saying. And you'll run into individual guns that shoot much better or worse than average for their model line.

My experience:
Astounding accuracy - HK P9S, Ruger MKII .22, Sig P210, HK P7, revolvers
Really good - HK USP, Sig P22X, CZ75 and clones, Browning HPs
Very good - Berettas, Glocks, Rugers, Smith and Wesson autos, Walther, etc.
Okay - Kahr, etc.
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Old November 10, 2013, 09:59 AM   #9
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I see that Glock SF models come only in Gen 3. How would Glock gen 4 models compare with SF in grip size?
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Old November 10, 2013, 10:33 AM   #10
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Quality, consistantly loaded ammo doesn't hurt

Many firearms have an aftermarket parts availability that allows you to customize your gun to achieve certain ends. Accuracy included.
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Old November 10, 2013, 12:03 PM   #11
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Handguns that were designed to be target pistols from the outset generally give the best performance. I like 1911s, the Sig P210, etc but remember they were originally designed to be military sidearms so they are converted so to speak to be target pistols which means some compromises are made. Service pistol based target pistols like the Sig X5 series and even to some extent the S&W 52 and 952s carry over some basic dimensions from there service roots that may not be perfect for target shooting.

On the other side of coin there are free pistols, standard pistols, center fire and match pistols that were designed from the ground up to be the most accurate in their discipline.

I have a Pardini rapid fire pistol, electronic trigger, chambered for .22 Short w/muzzle break that just does not hardly move when fired. It was designed to hit something the size of a 50 cent piece @ 25 meters, on 5 different targets in 4 seconds with no compromise. All this is not to say a modified gun cannot be outstanding, the odds just favor the one designed at the outset for target. YMMV...
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Old November 10, 2013, 12:20 PM   #12
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Fixed barrel guns tend to be the most accurate. Guns where the barrel moves, but does not move in relation to the sights are also very accurate.

Accuracy is consistency. The ability of the gun, ammo, & shooter to put the bullet in precisely the same place, each and every time. When this happens (to the greatest extent practical) we say its "accurate".

As already mentioned, there are a lot of factors involved. Leaving aside the skill of the shooter, there are two broad categories of physical features that affect accuracy.

Those that have an effect on the mechanical accuracy of the handgun, such as barrel quality, ammo quality, fixed vs moving barrel, revolver vs "solid" barrel, etc.

Then there are those features that have an effect on how well the shooter can use the mechanical accuracy of the handgun. Sights, trigger, grip size, etc.

Some people will talk about the "inherent accuracy" of the cartridge (particularly with rifles). When you are looking at large groups of arms, there is something to that. When you are looking at a specific gun, its basically meaningless.

The most accurate handguns I know of are single shots. Bolt action, or break action. I've got a 9mm Luger handgun that will (and has) outshot (group size) every 9mm semiauto I've ever seen, or heard of. Its a Contender.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old November 10, 2013, 02:01 PM   #13
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Seems to me that from the OP, discounting shooter skill, we are into "inherent" or "mechanical" accuracy.
Nothing counts here but the quality of the barrel, the quality of its fit to the action, and the quality of the ammunition.

If the shooter's skill is not considered, then the ergonomics of the "shooter interface" like grip, sights, trigger pull, weight, and balance do not come into play.

I recall the American Rifleman reporting that the Freedom Arms single action in .22 LR was The Most Accurate single handgun they had ever tested, dedicated target pistols included. But that was fired from a rest. Nobody has elected to shoot a SAA pattern revolver in high level target competition in a long time.
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Old November 10, 2013, 07:51 PM   #14
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"Nothing counts here but the quality of the barrel, the quality of its fit to the action, and the quality of the ammunition." [Jim Watson]

Agreed. Could not have said it better.
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