Beware the Man with Just One Gun: Not Exactly

There is a saying that gets thrown around a lot within the gun community that goes something like “beware the man with only one gun because he probably knows how to use it.”  Well, I have always found that somewhat amusing because there are no serious shooters that have only one gun.  Guns are tools, you need spare tools if you rely on a tool.  Therefore, this saying is somewhat ridiculous, but it can be made a lot better.  Here is how it should go:

Beware the man who uses only one gun platform because he probably knows how to use it much better than the guy who rotates between different guns all of the time.

That is the saying that makes sense.

As shooters we have an innate desire to screw around with a lot of gear.  Guns are like Legos, let’s face it.  We all like gear.  The issue that I see again and again is that the vast majority of shooters would be far better served by minimizing how many weapons platforms they train with.  Those who carry a different gun every day of the week will say “I shoot them all well, when my hand hits it I know what it is.”  I have news for you, if you think this way then you are only shooting at a mediocre level.  Seriously.  Sorry if I offended anyone with the truth.

A good shooter can shoot anything well, but to shoot at a level of excellence you need to spend significant time with a single platform.  Take a look at the top competitive shooters.  Some of them do switch guns but you will notice they tend to do so seasonally based on what matches they are shooting and what divisions they want to shoot in.  They don’t go out and train with a different handgun every day of the week.  Guys like Bob Vogel and Ben Stoeger, the best of the best, don’t really change guns at all.  They spend years using the same platform.  That should tell you something.

I find this is consistent among the top “tactical” guys as well.  The high-end trainers who can really shoot well (not all of the top names are that great, by the way) stick to a single handgun platform for long periods of time, if not indefinitely.  Every individual handgun has individual features, be it the exact trigger pull, the exact sight picture, etc…, and you will always cripple your own performance to some degree if you jump around between multiple guns.  Realistically most of us need more than a single gun to meet all of our carry needs, but we should minimize how many weapons we rely on so that we can maximize our training with these individual weapons.

I even propose minimizing your deviation within the same platform as individual guns can be quite different.  For example, my primary handgun platform is the Glock 9mm family.  I tend to carry and train with only a Glock 19 or only a Glock 26 and this is usually based on the weather as I favor the easier-to-conceal 26 in the warm months.  I do often need to carry a very small gun, not because I want to but because I must due to concealment constraints.  Therefore, I carry a small revolver sometimes and while the bulk of my training is done with my auto I do run ammo through my small-frame revolver as well.

Some may say “why not use a Glock 43 since it is similar to the larger autos but very small.”  For myself only the small revolver conceals in the modes I must use when I need to use it so I am essentially stuck with the second platform.  I am not just adding it to my rotation for fun.  However, such a line of thinking is perfectly sound.  Let’s say you can accommodate all of your carry needs with a full-size Smith and Wesson M&P and an M&P Shield.  This is a great scenario as both weapons are quite similar despite the significant size difference, thus minimizing the transition from one to the other.  Does that not make a lot more sense than rotating between a Glock, a 1911, a Beretta, and a Sig every week?

I truly promote a three gun approach which I have written about before as it applies to your defensive firearms.  I am not referencing the sport of 3 Gun, rather, I think most gun people who are invested in self-defense need three different defensive firearms: a primary handgun, a very small and concealable handgun for times when you can’t conceal your primary handgun, and a defensive long gun in case things get serious.  Choose your favorite weapon in each of these three categories and stick to them.

Give this some thought.  I know it is tempting to experiment with a lot of different handguns but it makes good sense to rely on as few platforms as possible so that you can maximize familiarization.  You realistically may need a full-size and a very small handgun to accommodate all of your needs, but there is no reason to be rotating between multiple guns in the same class just because you like playing around with a lot of different gear.  While we all love toys it is important to prioritize your performance over gear, remember why we carry in the first place.

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