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Gear Posted 01-17-2011

Media Day at SHOT Show 2011 - Looking for a handgun that fits

Written by Lindsay Promack, OutdoorChannel.com Web Editor

Boulder City, NV - Arriving at the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club, I was excited to see all of the new, big guns - the new shotguns, the big guns from Barrett, the sub-machine guns, and more. But beyond this excitement, I was a woman on a mission - I was going to look for a handgun that actually fit me. As a woman, my hands are already smaller than those of my male counterparts. Add to the mix that my hands are smaller than most other women's hands, and I have a terrible time finding a handgun that fits my small hands. I have a strong grip, but that strength is negated if I can't get a good hold around the grip. Three years ago, I finally was able to find a gun I liked after about a year of testing out different models. I didn't buy the newest gun, or the fanciest gun, or even the most expensive gun - I bought the gun that had the smallest grip, and while shooting it, felt I had maintained the most control over the handgun. Walking up to Media Day Monday, I wanted to find a good, full-sized handgun, one that would work for me and for other women in my position.

The first place I stopped at was the Heckler & Kock (HK) booth. I surveyed their tables, with handguns set out, looking for a handgun that looked like it had a relatively small grip. I found their P30 model in 9mm, which appeared to have a smaller grip, and I asked the rep for a magazine so I could test it out. The P30 is a full-sized handgun and had a nice weight balance. The rep told me that the P30 has interchangeable grips (changes on the backstrap insert), and I was actually shooting with the smallest inserts. No wonder the gun felt so nice. I picked the gun right up, stepped up to the line, and shot the entire magazine in a pretty tight group. The gun didn't have much of a jump, and because of the small grip, I felt like I was able to maintain good control over the gun after each shot. Although the P30 I shot is a full-sized model, the gun didn't feel heavy or bulky or too big. The feel of the gun was so good, I honestly felt like I had shot this gun before. The HK P30 has a retail price of $1,005.

After my good experience at the HK booth, I couldn't wait to see if I could find another handgun that had a good grip size, good weight balance, and had a good shooting experience. I eventually ended up at the Beretta booth. I remembered seeing their PX4 Storm from last year, but I didn't get a chance to shoot that model. I surveyed the guns out on the table, and found the PX4 Storm. It too, like the HK, looked like it had a good grip size. The PX4 Storm has interchangeable grip sizes as well, and I used the smallest sized grip. To change things up from the HK booth, I asked to shoot the PX4 Storm in .40 S&W. The gun felt about the same in my hand as the HK, so I wanted to see how the gun felt with a different load. The gun had a good weight balance, and the small grips felt good in my hands. I stepped up to the line and emptied out my magazine. The combination of good weight balance, with grip size I could manage, allowed me to shoot another close group. Even though the gun is full-sized, the grip-size options in addition to the good weight distribution made this gun feel like another winner for me. The Beretta PX4 Storm retails for $550.

Mission accomplished. I was able to find 2 handguns that fit me quite well. I was happy to see more handgun manufacturers embracing the interchangeable grips option, helping people like me have greater access to a variety of full-sized handguns. It was a successful day on the range at Media Day 2011, and I have 2 more handguns to think about purchasing.

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