Double Wide with Double Problems

by
posted on October 26, 2010
wiley-clapp.jpg

The high capacity automatic pistol is now an accepted necessity in the 21st Century gun culture. While it is most commonly done in 9 mm Luger, the double-wide pistol may or may not be a necessity in the real world. That's an opinion, so we had better take a deeper look at the virtues and vices associated with this class of gun. The advantages of a high capacity magazine should be obvious, but are best summarized in Wayne Novak's words: “the reload is in the gun.” Sure, there is a great potential for misuse in a seemingly endless supply of ammunition, but the answer to that one lies in good training. It doesn't make sense for the traditionalist to condemn the pistol's capacity for potential misuse when the gun doesn't have anything to do with the way it's used. In my view, the problems associated with this class of pistol are the physical characteristics that are by-products of those two columns of cartridges.

Many of the double wide service pistols have complicated trigger systems that are hard to learn. In great measure, this problem is being engineered away. The current trend is to simplify triggers that work on some form of DAO (double action only) system. In this kind of gun, pioneered by the Glock, trigger action performs two functions—fully cocking the hammer or striker, and releasing it to fire. This revolver-like simplicity does not require de-activating a safety, so it is essentially an aim-and-shoot drill. While the trend is toward the simplified triggers, they have disadvantages in that the triggers usually have to move through a long arc requiring considerable pressure. In short, they're harder to shoot with accuracy.

I am more concerned with the second high-capacity problem, which is the trend toward a thicker, harder-to-handle grip section. In law enforcement in particular, there are smaller officers taking up the badge. The guns that some of them are required to carry are just too thick for their short fingers and narrow palms. This trend is lessening with such guns as the Ruger SR9, S&W M&P, FNP, H&K, all of which use some form of adaptable butt section that lets the smaller shooters have a workable pistol. Even Glock has introduced a system to make the grip surfaces adaptable to a variety of hands. However, there was one pistol that had both a workable trigger system and extremely good ergonomics.

That pistol was the Peter Sodoma-designed Browning BDM. I may be a little like Don Quixote tilting at windmills to fondly endorse this gun, because it was not a great commercial success. BDMs were introduced almost 20 years ago and lasted until about 1998. I remember my review pistol very fondly, because it addressed both the trigger problem and the ergonomic problem—and handled them both very well. It had a slide-mounted catch that let you choose between a simple, revolver-like DAO system and a Wondernine-like DA/SA trigger system. One or the other, either-or, but a 90 degree catch took it back to the alternate mode. One of the great advantages of the DAO (revolver mode) was your ability to thumb cock the hammer for a more precise shot, should the tactical circumstances demand it. It was a good design, but its best feature was slimness. Sodoma used a different kind of hammer spring and therefore avoided a long coil spring on a strut behind the magazine. There was little more than the magazine in that skinny little butt section. My buddy Bob Hoelscher—who held a cop's badge for 50 years in Florida—was an advocate of this gun and got it approved in Dade County. The real proof of the radical Browning was the fact that cops, who could have handled anything on the planet, chose the BDM. I have no idea why it didn't last, but I suspect that too few people saw it and used it.

Latest

TangoDown Light Portal Front Sight
TangoDown Light Portal Front Sight

Preview: TangoDown Light Portal Front Sight

Due to their location on the gun, most front iron sights preclude the placement of a tactical light forward on a defensive carbine’s 12-o’clock rail, as they typically obstruct the light’s beam.

Holiday Gift Guide: Specialty Knives, Hand Axes & Multi-Tools

While smaller blades can be plenty helpful for everyday carry, sometimes bigger blades and tools are necessary. Here are a few larger specialty knives, hand axes, and multi-tools worth keeping in mind as the holiday season approaches.

NRA Gun Of The Week: KelTec P15

Watch American Rifleman staff on the range this week with the KelTec P15, the company’s first striker-fired handgun and also one of the thinnest 9 mm Luger concealed-carry pistols to ever hit the market.

The Armed Citizen® Nov. 25, 2022

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Hodgdon Powder Celebrates 75 Years

This year, Hodgdon Powder celebrates its 75th year in business, having grown from humble origins in 1947.

Handloads: Hunting With The .375 Winchester

Although it is often difficult to find components for reloading the .375 Winchester cartridge, this lever-action round is deserving of customization for hunting in today's game fields.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.