So, Grant, have you joined the Dark Side? No, but many people think I have!

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I get emails. Crazy, some of them. (Not that I’m pointing any fingers, but watch out for pharmacists.) After I said something nice about the Steyr autopistols, some assumed that I’d somehow lost my bearings or that I’d been abducted and replaced by a lookalike with absolutely no taste in firearms.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I’ve said more than once, I’ve been known to carry a high-capacity autoloader when the circumstances were such that I felt it more suitable than a revolver. I in fact started my odyssey in defensive handgunning with an autoloader, and for many years competed with single-action autos. They are tools, just as the revolver is, that have their own set of attributes that are different from those of the wheelgun. A well-rounded shooter should be familiar with both.

It’s worth remembering Tom Selleck’s great quote from Quigley Down Under:

So, what autoloaders do I like?

Efficient, reliable, accurate – those are the things I look for in an auto. The Steyr impressed me because it possessed those attributes in a decidedly different shape, and threw in an advantage or two of its own. It owes its existence, though, to the phenomenal success of another Austrian import.

Someone once told me that one of his instructors said that all defensive handguns should be Glocks, and all Glocks should be Model 19s. I won’t go quite that far, but the 19 is a superb choice. I’ve often been found with one on my belt, and it’s hard to imagine a better choice for the job of protecting life and limb. I’d trust a Glock beyond most autos I’ve used.

It’s worth noting that the Glock isn’t the first autoloader I’ve owned; I’ve carried and competed with a bunch of different autos over the years, and some are more memorable than others.

I have a soft spot in my hear for the HK P7, though it’s awfully heavy for a low-capacity autoloader. It also gets unbearably hot after a few magazines have been fired, has a horrendously heavy recoil spring in the slide, and the version with the thumb-operated magazine release has a disturbing tendency to drop said magazine at inopportune times. On the plus side they have beautiful triggers, are phenomenally accurate, and the low bore axis (combined with the aforementioned weight) make for very pleasant shooting. I carried one for many years, but have long since moved on to more practical armament.

As I said, I competed for many years with cocked-and-locked autos. Of course I went through the obligatory 1911 phase, but mine was less protracted than most. My father, a WWII Army Air Forces vet, used to complain about the 1911: “you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with one of the things, but that’s OK because they didn’t work half the time!” That didn’t stop me from lusting after one, but the affair was short-lived. Perhaps Dad had an influence on me after all!

After that I did the Browning/Saive Hi-Power thing but settled on the CZ-75 pattern for competition. My favorite incarnation was the 5″ Magnum Research Baby Eagle, aka the IMI Jericho. It was, in my experience, the most reliable CZ clone as well as being the most comfortable to use. (I remember trading my last one for a S&W 625, which I later sold.)

Today, though, it’s either Glock or Steyr. They are a superb defensive tool for those times when a revolver isn’t a good choice.

-=[ Grant ]=-



About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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