SIG Sauer P226
In the great flourishing of automatic pistols that followed World War II, no so-called modern design ever surpassed the SIG Sauer P226 in my affections. Although the entire line of SIG shows a host of innovations, the one with the greatest real-world implications is the model with a decocker and without a safety. I have done some of my best shooting with a P226 in .357 Sig, or with the same gun and a different barrel in .40 S&W. Good springs are the key to keeping an auto working and this one was redone at about the 6,000 round mark (zero malfunctions, by the way). If I paid attention to Clint Smith’s famous rule about getting at least two samples of the ones you really like, then it’s time for me to go shopping.
Smith & Wesson 686
The 686 is a lot handier moniker than Distinguished Combat Magnum, but Smith & Wesson used both to describe a .357 Mag. revolver introduced in 1980. Made on a new frame, bigger than the K and smaller than the N, the 686 came in various lengths over the 30-plus years of its continuing production. They’re all accurate, but the early ones were scary accurate. My 6-inch 686 produced the smallest six-shot group I have ever seen—.29 inches at 25 yards. This is a great all-purpose revolver, and if you are put off by the size and weight of a 6-inch gun, S&W makes them with shorter barrels and even with lightweight Scandium frames. It’s a classic gun of a classic style.
It just plain stands to reason that the next to the top gun has to be a .45. I kicked this one around for quite a while before I settled on the Commander, as made by Colt’s of Hartford. I have genuine Colts in both steel and alloy. I also have Commander-style .45s from other makers, but tend to stick to the original Colt brand. In a powerful .45 Auto, the light Commander is my idea of the very best mix of size and weight for easy carry and control. One of my all-time favorites, the Colt Commander is the best single variation on the beloved 1911 pistol.