How do you effectively evaluate a defensive handgun to see if it's right for you? One of the principal issues I see is people who "buy poorly" and have too little or too much gun. Interestingly the smarter some people are when it comes to purchasingTVs, cameras, clothes, or cars...the dumber they act when buying a gun.
I'm particularly talking about first time buyers who often just follow the advice of the dude in the gunstore or a local cop.
That's why we developed the Reed Ergo-Power Ratio tool. It fairly assesses your ability to adequately utilize the gun you are considering for CCW or defensive carry and gives equal standing to capacity as it does to caliber.
It’s subjective of course because it's YOU assessing YOU.
The tool has four Sections or paragraphs each with a potential of 5 points for a total of 20. Once you select a defensive carry (CCW) handgun you like, ensuring it fits your hand, has a good trigger and set of sights, and of course is ergonomically (to you) conducive to a proper drawstroke and presentation, see if you can manage it by the test below. You'll quickly see how small caliber, low capacity, bump-sighted guns may conceal well but are not the most practical defensive concealment weapon.
Start with Sections A. and B. scoring your firearm objectively. Then with seven rounds, (ideally of your chosen defensive carry ammunition), head out to a safe shooting area and fire Sections C. and D. Here’s how it works
A. Power Factor: Identify the power factor from the caliber. 357, 45 and up are a ‘5’, a 40 cal is ‘4’, 9mm/38 Special is a ‘3’, 380 is a ‘2’, 32 caliber and under are ‘1’. This section favors major calibers.
B. Capacity: Identify the capacity including a chambered round. Over 14 is a ‘5’, 9 to 13 is a ‘4’, 6 to 8 is a ‘3’, under 6 rounds is a ‘2’, derringers and single shots are a ‘1’. This section favors higher capacity and somewhat balances the formula for smaller calibers.
C. Recoil Management: Assess the manageable recoil by time and accuracy, firing 2 shots into a 3X5” index card at 7 yards. Both shots must be fully in (no cutters) to count. Within 2 seconds is a ‘5’, within 3 is a ‘4’, within 4 is a ‘3’, and within 5 is a ‘2’. Over 5: stop! Go get training. If you miss one immediately fire again but count the total time to get two in. This favors shooters with good recoil management ability.
D. Practical Accuracy. Assess the practical accuracy by shot group and time, 5 shots slow aimed fire with not more than 3 seconds each and also not more than 15 seconds altogether into a 3X5” index card at 7 yards. No pausing between shots more than 3 seconds. All 5 shots fully in (no cutters) are a ‘5’, 4 is a ‘4’ and so on. No additional shots like above, if you miss one you miss one. Shots fired over the time limit count as out. This factors your sight focus, your trigger control, and thus accuracy.
Are you a Pro? Divide the card vertically in half with a pen. If you can fire all 5 shots into the remaining 2 ½” X 3” target: add 2 points!
Scoring: It's really up to you. If you score a 15 or higher you may be on to something. A '13' is my personal cutoff for any serious defensive carry. But that’s up to you. What is your risk analysis or tolerance given this weapon and ammo will be used to save your own life or the life of a loved one?
For instance, I scored my 5 shot S&W Model 442 in .38 special like this: A=3, B=2, C=5, D=5. (C & D are high because I shoot a lot.) So my Snubbie scored a 15. Pretty good.
You could shoot the same gun and ammo and only get a 12. So yes, this is subjective. I could also change ammo and not shoot as high a score.
But it has to be because it’s YOU assessing a defensive handgun for you. Obviously training and familiarization will mean you can move up, change calibers or ammo, or move downward as skills diminish.
Remember, this is a practical test to determine if you’ve selected a gun that will work for you right now.