Watchwords: Compact Size and Commonality
While we’ve seen product style consolidation in the law enforcement/defense pistol markets and the law enforcement/defense rifle markets, a couple of tendencies are appearing – one is quite apparent and the other is a bit of a surprise, a welcome surprise.
It takes but a glance at gunmakers’ websites to see that the polymer striker-fired pistol dominates the pistol markets with a spread of other makers jumping onto the bandwagon. Similarly, rifles are either AR-platform for close and medium range use or they’re for long distance shooting using 6-6.5mm cartridge lines.
As to those tendencies we’re seeing now, the apparent movement is toward the smaller, more compact handgun. Aside from Mossberg’s surprising MC1Sc and the Springfield Armory 911 – now in 9mm – even GLOCK has moved more deeply into the single-stack auto space with the G43X and the G48.
The ‘experts’ all explained why it was a stupid idea. Those who really are experts smiled, hoping that the guns would work and knowing what was about to come. The smaller guns are more likely to be carried regularly. The better a fit they are in terms of size and weight, the more attractive they are to the greatest pool of likely concealed carry folks.
This is because most people won’t carry a fifteen-shot autoloader – even if it is the ideal tradeoff between size and capabilities – let alone a spare magazine and/or a spare gun. My favorite story about the advent of normalizing concealed carry is about the jazzbo who buys a 13-shot 40 Auto with the low-cost holster of the day and gets his permit. Within a few years, friends who know him ask about his success is carrying such a load.
“Too big,” he says.
They don't look different in terms of size, until you see the width difference. Putting them loaded upon a scale, tells you another difference.
He leaves it at home. When I heard the story, I shook my head. I know he doesn’t have to change a thing to dress around the guns – he’s not of the Brooks Brothers and evening wear set.
But that’s the exact person the new lines of compact/subcompact heaters will appeal to. Less capable guns, but more likely carried. There’s the medical aspect as well. Having routinely carried guns since 1977, I can tell you a bit about the wear factors on the human machine. Folks who are okay with ‘mouse guns’ tell me I shouldn’t carry something the size and weight of a brick against my side for hours every day. Revolvers are even coming back – “in a small way” -- with the K6S, Cobra and beefed-up King Cobra, as well as the continued lines from Ruger and S&W. Small is definitely “in.”
Looking at current law enforcement costumes – they look less like uniforms – the cops are wearing external vest carriers and getting more of the gear off the belts. They’re using suspenders, spreading the load to the shoulders from the hips. Mostly that’s not due to style and fashion, more due to worker comp claims.
Hence the smaller guns. For old-fashioned types like me, the fifteen shot striker-fired autoloader continues to attain with guns like Ruger Security-9 and the newly announced SIG P320 XCOMPACT. For the newer generation of pistol packer, the smaller guns are taking ground.
That other trend is toward commonality. Having unique holsters, magazines and other parts fitting only a single product line can get to be a problem in terms of costs, storage and fitting customers’ needs. We’re watching manufacturers begin to move toward commonality.
The Ruger PC Carbine accepts magazines from the SR-9 and the Security-9 (pictured) as well as the GLOCK with a mag well change. Below, the G43X has fit every G43 tried so far - like this rig from Simply Rugged meant for the G43 with the Streamlight TLR-6.
SIG made non-AR semiauto rifles that took magazines meant for ARs – that was a start and it was expected in terms of getting government contracts. Taking that cue and applying it to the consumer market, Ruger delivered their Pistol Caliber Carbine. Originally capable of using magazines from the SR9 Ruger pistol, it also used Security-9 magazines, a smart thing. But, as the man on TV said, “There’s more!”
Change magazine wells and you can use GLOCK 9mm double stack magazines.
Yep, arguably the biggest pool of new and used magazines can be used to run the gun. You can even order up the mag well for the Ruger American magazines, broadening the availability of magazines. I’m hoping they make a mag well for Beretta M92/M9 magazines too.
The GLOCK 43x/48 magazines won’t work in legacy G43 pistols – the magazines are different. But a G43X seems to fit in most holsters meant for GLOCK 43 pistols – all the holsters I’ve tried so far.
Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
The Mossberg MC1Sc apparently fits in G43 holsters. It feeds and functions with Glock 43 (legacy) magazines. In addition to the small size and light weight – appealing to that new group of defense practitioners, the gun takes sights meant for SIG pistols; the sights are SIG #8 compatible.
Consolidation is more than shrinkage in the number of manufacturers; it’s a collapse into accepted classes of product and commonality of parts and accessories. This may yet become a real thing in the outdoors industry.
- - Rich Grassi