When you first start practicing with a handgun, the oft-heard instruction for defensive shooting is “aim center mass.” This is good advice for someone who knows nothing about armed defense and who will likely never seek training for and never practice for armed defense. Beyond this limited context, however, it is poor advice.
The purpose of defending with a handgun is to stop the threat. This is specific: to end it—to make it cease to be a threat. In the case of human threats, this means to render the individual(s) incapable of continuing to be a threat. Context is everything, so “ending the threat” may be as simple as deploying your firearm in a compelling manner and issuing compelling verbal commands for the individual(s) to cease and desist. At the other end of the spectrum is the requirement for accurate shots on target to stop the threat.
The specifics and totality of the context (and laws) may guide you in determining what level of force is appropriate, but it is the more violent end of the defensive spectrum that I want to deal with in this article. Specifically, we’re going to examine the few, small targets that when attacked with a handgun allow for a quick end to threats. Again, they are specific and few and almost never are they accounted for when aiming center mass.
Above: Don’t use this target for your practice. Rather use one that does not focus on center mass, but instead has specific, effective target areas as outlined in this article – or – targets that are either simple outlines or are photorealistic and have no target areas defined (which makes for very good practice!).
Context: Handguns, Not Long Guns
It is important to understand that the context for this article is for handguns only. Rifles and shotguns introduce different contexts and I’m not going to deal with them here.
A handgun, generally, will put holes into people and animals. There are many handgun round calibers and slug types, but popular carry-handgun trauma characteristics are somewhat similar with regard to the specific and effective target areas of the human body. Rifle rounds, on the other hand, introduce far greater temporary-cavity trauma and generally put holes through people and animals. Shotguns, in addition to putting holes into people and animals have the added gruesome aspect of potentially taking chunks of anatomy off of the body, at close range.
Suffice it to say that we’re only going to deal with the most likely form of defensive targeting, which is that with a handgun.
Stopping a Human Threat
If you put several rounds into an armed assailant’s center mass it may incapacitate or even kill him eventually, but real-life example after example demonstrates that he will likely suffer no diminishment or only mild diminishment of ability for minutes or even hours. In other words, you can shoot him in the belly and he can keep shooting at you or attacking you with a knife or with a crowbar for as long as it takes to kill you. “Center mass” will often do very little to stop the threat.
Serious trauma to the chest, even directly to the heart, has an unusually low mortality rate. One study noted that of 1109 patients with severe and puncturing trauma to the chest, only 18% died. Generally located defensive shots to the chest can be largely ineffective. Shoot a man in the left lung, he’s still got one good lung and another with diminished function. A lung shot is going to give the assailant a problem, but not immediately and it will seldom stop a determined assailant quickly; and then only if they decide to. Renowned instructor and self-defense legal expert Mas Ayoob said it quite well:
“The way to stop a criminal from shooting at you is to deliver your bullet to a part of the body he needs in order to keep shooting at you, and to make that part of his body stop working.”
In essence, you need to instantly turn the machine off. There are a couple of very good ways to do that; one is to traumatize the nervous system and the other is to traumatize the circulatory system. Again, neither of these is possible when you aim center mass with a handgun.
The Circulatory System
Attacking the circulatory system with a handgun in order to immediately stop a threat is not so easy as it might sound. True, any round you put into someone’s body will likely induce bleeding trauma, but most bleeding occurs too slowly to have any timely impact on the threat at hand. Effective attacks are possible at only a couple of small targets.
The heart is a primary circulatory target, but even to say “the heart” is to be far too imprecise for quickly stopping a threat. The large heart muscle can withstand quite a bit of trauma before it stops working well. Shooting someone in the heart will most likely not even kill them. As has been documented:
“Specifically, the mortality rate of gunshot wound of the heart 24.5% and that of stab wound of the heart, 11.5%.”
Though you’re not trying to kill anyone, your defensive aim is to immediately incapacitate. Rather than traumatizing muscle, incapacitation is best achieved by causing a quick and dramatic loss of blood pressure. This means attacking the upper venous and arterial structure of the heart.
Trauma to this upper structure of the heart has the greatest chance of causing internal bleeding to the extent of causing a quick drop in blood pressure, greatly slowing down the assailant or causing loss of consciousness.
Locating the Target Area
On a human male, the proper target area for the upper structure of the heart is located midway between the nipples and the clavicles, roughly in the midline, as you can see here:
In your range training, do not aim for center mass and do not aim merely for the chest. Instead practice aiming and hitting this proper small target area exclusively. Regard anything else as a miss.
The Nervous System
Trauma to the central nervous system can essentially turn off the machine, causing a sudden loss of consciousness and a corresponding end to the threat. As defenders, this is what we want. As with the circulatory system, there are precious few targets for effective nervous-system attacks and none are large.
On the front of the head, the best target area is between the pupils of the eyes and down to the bottom of the nasal area. The reason this is the best target on the front of the head is because the bone structure here is comparative thin and there are voids behind the frontal bone structure, allowing for easier access to the most effective target of the cranial area: the brain stem.
On the side of the head, this same target is located at the top of the ear, where the skull is relatively flat, with the important target—the brain stem—just behind it.
Note that other areas of the head are not good targets, as the human skull is designed to deflect energy away with its rounded structure. There are many examples of people being shot “in the head” where the bullet simply fails to penetrate the skull and either glances off or is caught under the skin where it travels around the skull rather than penetrating.
It is true that the impact of a high-energy projectile to many places on the head can induce quite a shock to the system and even move the head so violently that one loses consciousness, but this is not a sure bet. As one defending his or her life, you want to cause an immediate end to the threat. You need surer targets.
Angles Change Things
Given the specific scope of this article I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, but it is important for armed defenders to understand how various body angles change your target areas. Targets on the front of the body are not necessarily the same as on the back of the body. They’re similar, but not identical. Learn them and adjust accordingly.
For instance, it is difficult to attack the upper spine from the front with a handgun. Other than the neck, the spine is protected by various anatomical elements. On the back, however, the spine is somewhat exposed so the upper spine can be an effective rear target.
Note, however, that it is highly unlikely that any assailant will simply be standing facing your or away from you, with arms at his or her sides. More likely they’ll be both at some sort of angle and their arms and or weapons will likely be in the way of certain important target areas.
Notice here how useful target areas change as the body angle changes:
In addition to body angles, the fact that they’re attacking you or someone else means that they’ve got their arms and some sort of weapon in use, likely in front of their body. Additionally, their upper body is likely to be in a position other than simply ramrod straight and vertical. Notice how the assailants depicted on these training targets present far fewer effective target areas.
If you’re going to carry a concealed handgun, don’t live and train with the illusion that simply putting holes in your attacker, even in center mass, will do anything to stop them attacking you before they’ve done great harm.
Effective targets on a human attacker are few and they are small. Get training that focuses on effective target areas and practice for good hits on these effective, small target areas exclusively. If you’re going to defend your life or someone else’s life, know what you’re doing and acquire the skill and discipline to be effective.
I was an XD-S owner for a couple of years with the original model. As I’ve detailed before, I was a big fan of the XD-S 9mm and trained with it regularly, ultimately putting thousands of rounds through it. As they’ve done with other XD models, Springfield Armory has now released an updated version of the XD-S, called the Mod.2. They first released the XD-S Mod.2 in .45 ACP and now have made the 9mm model available.
The Springfield XD-S has been a popular model since its arrival. It lives in an increasingly crowded class of EDC pistols, but the XD-S has generally been at or near the front of that class. I recently spent a few days shooting and getting to know the updated Mod.2 9mm version and present my thoughts from that experience here. Hope you enjoy.
Why Consider the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 9mm?
The XD-S platform has a specific purpose: concealed carry. This is a single-stack, subcompact, striker-fired pistol that is both relatively thin and relatively light. It is made for easy concealment with everyday clothes and even with light clothing or formal wear. Like others in its class, the XD-S pistol is a carry gun for when you can’t carry a larger double-stack pistol, or maybe you just want to be less encumbered.
The XD-S model has a very good track record of reliability (except for the early recall issue in 2013 that Springfield handled quite well) and it has no major design flaws or troublesome design issues. Overall, it’s a solid platform. The Mod.2 update is mostly an exterior and aesthetic update, so it should only bring benefits. Time will tell. Here are the specs:
Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 3.3″ 9mm Specs:
Barrel: 3.3” hammer-forged, Melonite finish
Weight: 21oz. (w/empty magazine)
Slide Finish: Black (Melonite)
Magazines: One 7-rd mag w/pinky extension and one 9-rd extended magazine, plus one flush base plate
Before pulling the trigger, I noticed that the Mod.2’s redesigned frame offers a grip that is much more comfortable and natural feeling than the original model. I’ll talk about specifics in a moment, but suffice it to say that I immediately liked the redesigned grip. But as you can see from the specs above and the photos here, there is very little basic design difference from the original model here.
My first shots were not as accurate as I’d have hoped. I spent some time getting the hang of shooting this little pistol, and eventually I did, but it was a bit hard for me to stay consistent, I found. It’s a subcompact pistol so it’s going to be a bit snappier than a compact or full-size model, but it seemed a bit more violent than I remember the XD-S being. I chalk this up to the relatively high bore axis as compared to the Glock 43, which is the only subcompact that I shoot these days. By comparison, the G43 is a softer-shooting gun. Anyway, after 20 or so rounds I had it figured out, but my trouble was mostly from one feature: the trigger.
The trigger of the old XD-S was always a bit mushy and the new XD-S Mod.2 has that same mushy trigger. It’s true; this update was a cosmetic update. I confess that my trigger trouble stems mostly from the fact that I shoot so much with one specific trigger (on my carry G19) that different press characteristics throw me off a bit. No biggie, but it’s worth mentioning that the notorious trigger of the XD-S remains. I don’t like it, but others may. After all, the XD-S is a very popular pistol. When I concentrated it was easy to be accurate out to 10 yards on 2” circles so I expect it’d be no problem at 15 or 20 yards to get consequential, incapacitating hits. I shot the pistol using both the pinky-extension magazine and the extended magazine. Both were just fine and I was able to get my whole hand on the grip with the pinky extension.
I enjoyed the bright yellow (Tritium loaded) front sight against the blacked-out rear and found it easy to get a good sight picture every time. The new XD-S Mod.2 9mm is available in three different sight configurations: yellow w/Tritium front sight, red fiber-optic front sight, or a fiber optic front sight with a Viridian red laser mounted to the front of the trigger guard.
Over a couple of days I shot a couple hundred rounds of Fiocchi 115gr ball ammo and a bit of Federal Premium 124gr HST and it all ran just fine. Springfield has already done an extensive 25,000-rd torture test without a failure (they say) and I have no reason to doubt its reliability (except that the old model did not run Hornady 135gr Critical Duty rounds – I didn’t check this time).
Overall, the gun ran fine and was easy to manipulate, load, eject the empty magazine, reload, and lock open. The controls seem well placed. No problems here.
Comfort & Controllability
As I mentioned, I found the grip to be very comfortable. I like what they’ve done with the contours and the change in textures. The original texture wasn’t grippy at all and the big, chunky “texture” was just knobby. This one, while not really grippy either, is at least comfortable. The comfort remains while shooting the gun, too. Good job.
The pistol’s snappiness is to be expected, but I didn’t have trouble controlling it or getting my sights back on target. I was able to easily shoot faster than 1 shot per second without sacrificing any accuracy. There’s really nothing up front on the frame on which to rest your support-hand thumb to help mitigate muzzle flip, but that’s not a grave error for a subcompact. I tried using the takedown lever as a thumb rest, but the recoil made the lever abrade my thumb more than I’d like. Again, no biggie, but that high bore axis has muzzle-flip consequences.
Concealability + Capacity
The XD-S Mod.2 9mm conceals very easily; it is purpose made to be easily concealable. Even the pinky extension on the 7-round magazine wouldn’t cause much of a concealability issue. But there’s also the flat base plate if you’d like to go that way.
At 7 rounds for the flush/pinky mag, the XD-S Mod-2 is pretty competitive for a single stack. The Glock 43 has only a 6-round capacity with the stock magazine and while the G43 is slightly shorter, the XD-S Mod.2 is not a big gun for the extra round. Good stuff. I must say that the inclusion of a 9-round extended magazine is pure idiocy. This is a concealed carry gun purposely made for deeper concealment. An extended magazine serves no logical purpose in that role and Springfield Armory needs to fire someone for that silly move. Subcompact pistols should NEVER have an extended magazine. A 1-round extension (like Taran Tactical makes) is often useful, but a 3-round (or more) extension for a subcompact is just stupid. Ahem.
Components and Materials
The slide and the barrel are Melonite treated/coated, and that’s good. The sights for the Mod.2 are good to come in different configurations; all with the blacked-out and textured rear sight. The grip texture is far better than the old model, but this is still a grip that you’ll want to stipple if you’re going to carry this gun. The GRIP ZONE texture looks and feels nice, but it is inconsequential for actual grip. It’s nice, though, that this XD-S does not have “GRIP ZONE” emblazoned on the grip for this model like they do on others in the line. :)
Changes for the Mod.2 include the profile of the rear sight, a slightly extended beavertail configuration, and an extension designed into the grip safety. All of these are positive changes and all of them are mere slight improvements. That’s not a dig, just a fact. It’s all good stuff.
The redesigned frame and grip are much more comfortable than the old model. It’s great that the XD-S Mod.2 9mm comes in three different sight/laser configurations. Some folks will like that the rear sight is A) blacked out, and B) has a bit of a flat ledge on the front for easier 1-handed racking of the slide. This pistol conceals easily and has decent capacity. It’s a small thing, but the pinky-extension mag plate is a nice and useful touch.
The trigger is not very nice and the relatively high bore axis gives this pistol a bit more muzzle flip than some subcompacts will have. The grip texture looks nice, but is not very grippy. But that’s just about all I can find wrong with this little gun.
So for rating the XD-S Mod.2…
This is a comfortable pistol to hold and to shoot. The update made good progress on this score.
The XD-S Mod.2 9mm is plenty shootable and easy to get back on target, but I took one star away for the mildly excessive muzzle flip. The variations in sight configurations can allow you to get the setup that works best for you; another plus.
For a shorty subcompact, it’s plenty accurate and the XD-S platform has long been recognized for being accurate. Any misses I made were entirely my fault.
There’s precious little available for aftermarket customization, save for a trigger kit (which is really not so good). The sight-config variations are a nice touch, but there’s really nothing that one needs to do to this gun.
The Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 is arguably one of the best single-stack subcompact pistols on the market. There are some very nice updates in the Mod.2 and I can easily recommend this pistol to you, provided you shoot it first and learn if it fits your hand, your style, and your needs. Rent it and find out.
Even though the Constitution of the United States recognizes and codifies your right to keep and bear arms—without infringement—your state and federal governments declare that you may under no circumstances keep or bear arms unless you and your arms are compliant with many, many infringements upon your God-given rights. And then only if those who manufacture the arms you might purchase can successfully navigate the intricate web of tyrannies upon their activities and operations.
Truly, this state of affairs seems strangely tyrannical for The Land of the Free.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are that of the author alone, and are not necessarily those of Eagle Gun Range.
The United States of America existed as a Constitutional Republic for 143 years—becoming during that time the greatest, freest nation on the face of the planet—without a single federal gun law. Then, in 1934, the federal government began perpetrating an unending series of federal tyrannies upon firearms models and configurations, firearms manufacturers, and the individual liberty of those who keep and bear firearms.
It should surprise no one that this tyrannical process of infringements began with legislation written by a Democrat from Connecticut, Attorney General Homer S. Cummings. This Act of Congress—the National Firearms Act (NFA)—was enacted by the Democrat-controlled 73rd Congress. From that point on, the U.S. federal government never looked back. It then proceeded to continually infringe on every individual’s God-given right to keep and bear arms; the only right referenced in our Constitution with the explicit warning that it “shall not be infringed.” In short, our government lacks authority to infringe upon our rights, yet members of state assemblies and U.S. Congress write and pass these infringements, Governors and Presidents sign these infringements into law, and these infringements remain and pile up, illegal law upon illegal law.
The Current State of Tyranny
Fast forward to today where, at the current end of a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object, the most recent human-liberty kerfuffle surrounds homemade and 3D-printable guns. Even though many Americans have no interest in making their own firearms (something that is now and always has been legal in the United States) or 3D printing firearms, the legal debate surrounding these issues is highly instructive and it exposes some key tyrannies and infringements that Americans may not have been aware of or may have long ignored.
A prominent argument against printed guns is that they are perhaps undetectable. And this is important because, according to U.S. Code, the only reason, apparently, that the US government allows citizens to keep and bear firearms today is that years ago someone invented the metal detector. I guess that was a fortunate event?
The United States Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 (18 U.S.C. § 922(p)) makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm that is not as detectable by walk-through metal detection as a security exemplar containing 3.7 oz (105 g) of steel, or any firearm with major components that do not generate an accurate image before standard airport imaging technology.
The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 was introduced by William J. Hughes (D-NJ) and it easily passed the Democrat-controlled 100th Congress. It was signed into law by everyone’s favorite Republican President, Ronald Reagan. This tyrannical and illegal law infringes on every individual’s right to keep and bear firearms if the model they prefer is not detectable by a walk-through metal detector.
Our Constitution places no limitations on our rights to arms and it grants no authority to any branch of the government to do so, but our government sees fit to do so anyway. But what if the metal detector had never been invented? It’s quite clear that government tyrants would have negated your God-given rights. Eric at Gunmartblog.com wrote a compelling piece about this very thing:
So seriously, what if metal detectors were never invented? Would the simple fact that we didn’t have the technology to detect firearms at airport checkpoints be a justifiable reason to completely end the inalienable right to keep and bear arms? Would we really outlaw all guns in an effort to ensure that we kept them off airplanes? Would we be willing to give up the second amendment in its entirety to ensure our safe passage on airplanes? I mean if we can completely secure our airplanes and make sure that these bad guys don’t hijack anymore planes, then we should definitely ban guns, right? We can’t detect them, so what else are we to do!
But wait. Even in Bizzaro World a complete and total ban on guns would not stop airplane hijackings. Not having guns on the planes did nothing to stop 9/11. That all went down rather easily without the need for one single firearm… 3D printed or not.
So why ban 3D printed guns? It certainly doesn’t solve the problem. Terrorists have proven that they certainly don’t need to sneak some 3D printed gun parts and one lone bullet onto an airplane to hijack it. Why would we let this ridiculously low level of justifiable “need” go forth and set such a dangerous precedent? And if we are not willing to apply it to everything, across the board then why are we so quick to throw 3D printed guns under the bus?
The danger with throwing 3D printed guns under the bus is that it will have a catastrophic impact on every aspect of liberty in this country… it will be an incredibly dangerous precedent going forward for any and all pieces of technology. We are not just talking about second amendment rights here either. We are talking about giving our overbearing, ruling class politicians the A-OK going forward for any piece of future technology that may come along that might affect any of our unalienable rights. ‘Well, we can’t fully oversee it and control it, so we must ban it‘… is now going to be the standard going forward for everything…
So does this ridiculous and illegal precedent for reliance on detecting technology clear the way for tyrannical tech-related mandates? You bet it does. And what if that tech hasn’t even been invented? There is a provable answer to this question, for indeed, they already have created law that requires compliance with a yet-to-be-invented technology—in Commefornia.
More Tech Tyranny
Tyrants in California have already written a law that requires manufacturers include in their firearms a technology that does not yet exist. Just as stupidly, this ridiculous law has been upheld by the courts.
In 2007, the California legislature approved a law, enacted as Cal. Penal Code § 31910 (b)(7)(A), on “unsafe handguns.” New models of semiautomatic handguns could not be sold unless the gun was equipped with “microstamping” technology that allowed the make, model, and serial number of the pistol to be imprinted in “two or more places” internally so that, theoretically, this information would imprinted on each cartridge case when the gun was fired. (The bill was amended to add the “two or more” requirement after it was pointed out that a single microstamp on the firing pin could be easily defeated by defacing or replacing the firing pin). Any semiautomatic handgun without this “dual placement microstamping” capability not already on the state roster of handguns was automatically an “unsafe handgun,” which exposed manufacturers, importers, and dealers to criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
The law became effective as soon as the California Department of Justice certified that the technology used to create the imprint was available. When this certification occurred in 2013, the State clarified that the certification confirmed only “the lack of any patent restrictions on the imprinting technology, not the availability of the technology itself.” In layman’s terms, the state was saying that nothing was stopping someone from developing the technology, so it was “available,” even though it wasn’t.
That’s right; the law requires a technology that does not currently exist. For this and other reasons (detailed in the article—please do read the whole thing), it is impossible for anyone to comply with this law. Even so, as is detailed in the article, litigants appealing the law before the Court are prohibited from arguing against the law on grounds that the law is impossible with which to comply. I’m not kidding.
What good are rights when with them we have no way to comply with the law?
We citizens have the right to keep and bear arms, but arms deemed “safe and legal” may not be manufactured or used in California. Those that are non compliant and allowed (another scary bit of tyranny) to be manufactured must remain on the Roster of Unsafe Handguns. With this mechanism, for reasons that defy logic and morality, the manufacturers can be held liable for any use of these “unsafe” guns…guns that are in no way unsafe. These kinds of requirements are important components of fascism, by the way.
Oh, and this law does not apply to any firearms used or purchased by any law enforcement agency. Well played. Yet another example of something that is allowed for government and not allowed for the people; a practice known by a specific term: tyranny.
When Legal Victory Just Reveals More Tyranny
In the District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008),, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, “unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes.” There are many specific details covered in this case and its ruling—one that is mostly viewed as a victory for human rights—but there are some very scary and tyrannical precedents there, too.
Firstly, and this is more of an aside, the Second Amendment doesn’t “protect” anything. It is merely a reference to God-given rights possessed by each individual inalienably, whether our Constitution exists or not. It is moral men and armed citizens that protect everything worth protecting. The court’s ruling here invests authority in words on paper where there is none. Ahem.
The primary perversion of law in this case is that much of the reasoning referenced in the case for upholding an individual’s right to keep and bear arms was that a handgun is a firearm that is “in common use at the time” (something that emerged in the 1958 United States v. Miller case). I’m compelled to point out that there is no “in common use” clause to the Second Amendment. Rather, it says “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” It does not describe or limit which kinds of Arms nor does it describe under which circumstances these Arms may be kept or borne. It simply states that this right of the people may not be infringed. And yet, the highest court in the land has declared an assumption to which all Americans must adhere: that the wording is, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms that are in common use shall not be infringed.” This is an outright lie and perversion, and court rulings and legislation that assume this lie are pure tyranny.
And this is not all, not by a long shot. There are many other state and federal infringements on your rights not detailed here; even though no government has authority to infringe on your rights, and violating your rights is a crime. So, yes, your God-given rights are infringed upon. They are severely infringed upon. The government has invoked a series of infringements since 1934 and there will continue to be more and more unconstitutional, tyrannical laws enacted until…what?
That’s the question: how will this long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object be stopped? And when? And by whom? Will Americans be able to successfully appeal to the better natures of our elected representatives to right these wrongs…or will Americans, in that proudest of American traditions, be again forced spill the blood of tyrants in order to secure our liberty?
It’s an important and very serious question. It will have to be answered, for liberty is not negotiable.
The first time I picked up a Glock 30 pistol some years ago I noted that it felt like I was holding a potato. The grip filled my hand and seemed fat as compared to other pistols I’d held in my hands. Not bad, just more robust than most. I must have liked that because it was only a couple months later that I bought one.
Full disclosure: most of the pistols I review are new to me and my review is about first impressions. Not so with this one. I owned an original G30 before the 30S was released and in 2014 I sold my G30 in order to get the G30S model. It’s lighter and slimmer than the original model and it’s a gem of a pistol; a .45 caliber thumper in a compact frame that, to me, just feels right. Except for the fact that it’s chambered in .45 ACP, the Glock 30S is perhaps my all-time favorite pistol.
Why Consider the Glock 30S?
The first and last reason to consider a Glock pistol of any variety is the simplicity and reliability. There is no more simple and reliable a pistol on the planet than a Glock. That aside, the G30S is purpose made for concealed carry—it is the compact version of the Glock 21 duty pistol. So you might consider carrying the G30S for its easy concealability (it’s a bit smaller than a G19).
You might consider the G30S for its .45 chambering, as many folks prefer to have fewer large-caliber rounds rather than more smaller-caliber rounds on their hip. If you have larger hands, you might consider the 30S for its robust grip radius. It’s a double-stack .45 so it has a meaty grip that fills the hand. Despite the large chambering, double stack of large rounds in the mag, and meaty grip, the G30S is a relatively lightweight carry pistol at just over 30 ounces, loaded.
Capacity: 10+1 (9-round flush magazine is available)
Price: ~$499 – $550 (often found for more and for less)
Compared to the original G30:
The Glock 30S is a slightly downsized version of the G30. The primary features are the slimmer slide width (1” as opposed to 1.12”) and lower slide-assembly weight (it’s a full 3.5 ounces lighter than the G30 slide assembly) and with the SF frame, the 30S has a slightly shorter trigger reach and overall grip radius as compared to the plain G30.
My Glock 30S as I carried it and keep it today.
Shooting the Glock 30S
Comfort & Controllability
The Glock pistol frame is not what most would call comfortable. Rather, it’s serviceable, but it has the saving grace of being very easy to contour with a Dremmel sander for perfect fit and comfort. I believe that every Glock pistol frame needs contouring as well as stippling, so that’s how my 30S is set up. So for me, my Glock 30S fits like a glove.
I expect that some will find the G30S grip to be more comfortable than that of other Glock models, owing to the additional girth. I do and my medium-sized find the girth and trigger reach to be just fine.
The .45 ACP round has a bit of a punch as compared to 9mm and any .45 shot from a compact, polymer frame is going to deliver a bit of pop. That said, the G30S is in no way harsh or uncontrollable. The slightly wider-than-normal grip and the softness of the plastic render the pistol quite tame. I have no trouble whatever shooting an accurate Bill drill as fast as I can pump my finger with this pistol and, provided your grip is proper, this is an easy to control gun. As with comfort concerns, one can contour the frame to allow for better purchase of the support-hand thumb to assist with recoil management.
One thing I’ll point out is that while the 10-round magazines allow for a full grip on the pistol for just about anyone, the 9-round flush magazine leaves a short enough grip that one’s pinky might not have good purchase on the grip. For those with large hands, the pinky might have no purchase at all. The result is not so short as, say, a G26, but the fact that this is a .45 may mean that some folks will desire the full grip provided by the 10-round magazines to help with managing the recoil impulse.
Concealability & Capacity
I’m used to carrying a Glock 19 all day and I find that the G30S conceals even better than the G19. This fact is mostly due to the shorter grip. The slide is about the same width as the G19, but the frame is slightly wider, but only just so and the concealability difference is nonexistent. Overall, this is an easy-to-conceal pistol; and only a tiny bit heavier than a G19. The G30S is actually a bit lighter on your belt if you carry with the flush 9-round magazine.
The typical, extended-looking magazines are 10-rounders, allowing for 11 in your gun. This capacity is not at all bad, especially considering the compact package and length of the grip. No complaints here.
Components and Materials
Well, it’s a Glock. The Glock 30S is built like every other Glock pistol and the frame has Gen 3 styling. The recoil spring is of the captured dual-spring variety. Like most Glock pistols, the G30S comes with polymer sights with the rear U-notch. You’ll likely want to replace these stock sights with some sort of iron sights.
The 30S slide has the bull-nose contouring at the muzzle port, but otherwise is like any other model. The slide-lock lever and takedown tabs are very low-profile, providing the simplest and sleekest external-controls complement in the business.
Despite its simplicity and reliability, customization is a Glock’s best friend. Virtually every after-market manufacturer on earth makes replacement parts and accessories for Glock pistols and if you are of a mind to replace or augment components you’ll have the widest range of options from which to choose.
Note, however, that unlike some Glock pistols the G30S does not have a reversible magazine release. If you’re a lefty, the G30S requires you use the magazine release as is. That’s no great hurdle, but it is a departure from nearly every other contemporary Glock model.
Some Customization Recommendations:
Do use a Dremmel tool to contour the bottom/side of the strong-hand side of the trigger guard junction with the frame. It makes a HUGE difference in comfort.
Do stipple the frame; both the grip and the forward area for your support-hand thumb. There is no pistol in the world (except the Glock RTF texture!) that has a frame texture that allows for enough grip purchase when your hands are wet (from rain, sweat, or blood) and the G30S is no exception. A stippled pistol is highly controllable and comfortable, to a degree not found on any non-stippled pistol. And, no, do not use adhesive grip tape. If you don’t train enough to melt or otherwise scrap it off, the tape’s grippiness is not going to help you much.
Do replace the plastic sights with iron sights of your preference.
Do not replace the slide lock with an extended slide lock. It’s a LOCK and not a release. An extended slide lock will get in the way of your manipulation of the pistol making it prone to not lock open on the last round of a magazine.
Do not put a plug in the bottom of the grip. That opening is there to allow for your thumb’s access to help remove the stuck magazine in the event of a double feed malfunction.
Do not replace your slide stop with a trapezoidal, extended slide stop. These extend too far out from the frame and are both uncomfortable for your hand when shooting and will destroy your holster…and will catch on things when you are manipulating your pistol. As for easy fieldstripping, you don’t need to do that so quickly that an extension matters.
As for Maintenance:
Do replace your recoil spring every 5,000-8,000 rounds – and use a factory replacement (only), not an aftermarket model of any kind.
Do replace your trigger spring and slide-lock spring every 10,000 rounds.
I carried the Glock 30S a couple of years ago and it was my daily carry pistol for about a year. I wore the pistol inside the waistband in the 5 o’clock position with a 9-round flush magazine in the gun and 2 10-round mags in an OWB mag pouch on my left side at about 8 o’clock. This rig concealed very well under a simple t-shirt, due in part to the compact nature of the G30S with the flush magazine. Even with the full-size magazine, the G30S has a shorter grip than a G19 (which is my daily carry now) so it is quite concealable no matter your carry location.
Fully loaded, the G30S is less than .4 ounces heavier than a fully-loaded G19, at 30.36 ounces. That’s not terribly light, but for a double-stack .45 pistol, it’s rather remarkable. I find that so long as you have a good carry belt it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it. And that’s not a glib platitude, but a fact based on prolonged experience.
The Glock 30S is an easily concealable, compact .45 with good capacity vs. size and weight. It is as reliable a pistol as was ever made and it’s easy to customize; with a wide variety of after-market components and holsters available.
Some with smaller hands may find the grip to be uncomfortably wide. The polymer sights just beg to be replaced with irons. The price may be a bit high for this pistol.
So for rating the Glock 30S…
It’s a Glock. It’s easy to operate and easy to shoot.
The Glock 30S is likely the most comfortable compact pistol Glock makes, but it still requires some slight modification to be a truly comfortable gun.
It is likely more accurate than anyone shooting it. I’m confident with it out to 50 yards.
There is no more reliable a pistol in the world.
The Glock 30S is among the most customizable pistols on earth.
The Glock 30S is perhaps not for everyone, but everyone should try it. If you like the .45 ACP round and don’t mind its recoil profile, I think the G30S provides the perfect combination of size, weight, capacity, reliability, and concealability.
This is my process for every Glock pistol I purchase, taking it from a stock, uncomfortable, ill-fitting frame to a glove-like fit to my hand. The process involves removing the Gen 4 texture, contouring the frame to fit my hand and preference, and stippling for a sure grip in any conditions.
This was the Glock 19 Gen 4 fame as purchased.
The video shows, in detail, my process of turning this uncomfortable Glock frame into a carry-worthy frame that fits like a glove.
After some detail work and reassembly, here is my carry-ready Glock 19 Gen 4.
For some the question is aesthetics–so that my gun looks tacticaool! For me, the question is reliable grip in any condition while I’m trying to save my life or the lives of my family. The Gen 4 grip texture looks good, but it’s as slick as glass if your hands are wet. And when might your hands be wet? Think about it: if you’re fighting for your life it is quite likely that your palms may be sweaty from exertion and stress. It’s also likely that your hands may be bloody. Since it’s possible that you’re doing all of this outdoors, it is quite possible that it might be raining. All of these likely conditions require that your pistol’s grip be unfailingly grippy. Therefore, every carry pistol requires stippling.
In any event, this is my method. Hope you find it helpful!
Why make a low-capacity, mid-sized pistol chambered in .380? This was my first question when I saw the specs of the 380 Shield EZ. Well, Smith & Wesson are no dummies so there had to be some logic behind their move here. What I found when I got my hands on the gun and a few rounds downrange was that they’ve got something rather interesting here.
The frame is seemingly larger than would be required for this capacity and chambering, but there is a benefit. The capacity is seemingly lower than would be expected for a frame of this size, but there is a benefit. The result is an easy to hold, easy to manipulate, lightweight pistol that shoots a defensive round but feels like a .22 cal gun. Hrm.
Why Consider the M&P 380 Shield EZ?
The M&P 380 Shield EZ is a compact pistol purpose made for carry and for home defense. Though compact, it is longer and taller than the 9mm Shield most of us know, so there is more of the gun to hold onto. One of the primary features of the pistol is its easy-to-rack slide, seemingly tailor made for people without strong hands. Another feature worth consideration is the grip safety; a feature not often found on compact pistols. If you’re someone who values an extra layer of safety, the 380 Sheild EZ might just be the ticket for you. Finally, you might consider this pistol for its appealing price.
The combination of the slightly larger frame and the slightly softer round make this pistol a joy to shoot and very easy with which to be very accurate…all so long as you don’t mind the minimal defensive ballistics of the .380 round.
M&P 380 Shield EZ Specs:
Caliber: 380 Auto
Action: Internal hammer fired
Width: 1.15” (1.43” including the slide “wings”)
Barrel: 3.675” stainless steel Armornite™ finish
Sights: 3-Dot steel, adjustable rear
Safety: Grip safety + available with or without ambi thumb levers
Weight: 18.5 oz. w/empty magazine
Slide: stainless steel Armornite™ finish
Note that the model I’m evaluating here has ambi thumb safety levers.
Shooting the 380 Shield EZ
Shooting the 380 Shield is like shooting a .22 pistol. No kidding, the recoil impulse is almost nonexistent so the pistol is very easy to control and to maintain a high degree of accuracy. While some .380 pistols are a bit snappy, due to their subcompact configuration, this Shield model has both the size and weight necessary to mitigate all snappiness. This is an easy pistol to shoot.
The frame is larger than a typical Shield, but smaller than, say, the M&P 9. This mid-sized frame offers plenty to hold onto and allows the controls to be very comfortably positioned. I had no problem running the gun for on/off safety, magazine ejection and reloads, and locking the slide back. It all felt very natural and comfortable.
The trigger is actually quite nice and has a very short and crisp reset, but somehow running it fast did not go as smoothly as I thought it should. I did a few strings of rapid fire during which I wasn’t able to keep the gun as still as it seemed I should for being such a soft shooter. I chalk this up to my being familiar with my EDC gun and this slightly altered geometry of this 380 Shield EZ threw a wrench in my gears. Surely with a bit of practice shooting fast drills would become smoother.
Mostly, though, I just enjoyed shooting this gun. No kidding, outside of a precision .22 this is the softest gun I’ve ever shot. So fun.
Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
The 380 Shield is not at all heavy and lighter than even the smaller Shield 9mm. Though it is named for the Shield, it feels less like that model and more like the M&P 9 in the hand. It’s a single stack gun, but the grip is not overly thin. For my medium-sized hands, it was quite comfortable. And as mentioned earlier, the controls were easy to get to and to manipulate. The 8+1 capacity is a bit low for a .380 of this size, but being a single stack gun keeps the frame width down and facilitates a more concealable gun.
Controlling the 380 Shield EZ is about as easy as it gets. Even older children and new shooters should do quite well keeping this pistol under control.
Components and Features
The 380 Shield EZ looks like a typical striker-fired gun, but it’s not. It has an internal hammer and that brings consequences to both the trigger (smooth) and the recoil spring weight you feel when racking the slide (softer), since there is no striker to load up.
The most conspicuous feature of the 380 Shield EZ is the grip safety. It’s a large component that disappears when the frame is gripped. I found that I never even noticed the grip safety fin so it was a non factor in my working with the gun. The model I used had the ambi thumb safety levers. Though I always believe such components to be useless or even dangerous on a pistol, I did spend time engaging and disengaging the levers during shooting. They seemed stiff enough to be properly tactile and easy enough to manipulate. The 380 Shield EZ can come without the manual safety levers if you prefer that model (and I hope you do).
The sights are 3-dot steel and the rear sight is drift adjustable. I had no trouble picking up the sights and maintaining a good sight picture during shooting strings. The slide has good serrations, but with the addition of some “wings” on the rear of the slide, I guess to assist with slide racking. I found them entirely unnecessary, but they also didn’t get in my way as some similar components on other guns have.
These are the wings at the rear of the slide. Not necessary, but not a problem, found.
As mentioned before, the trigger is darn good and contributed positively to accurate shooting. I did not measure its weight, but it seemed to break at around 5 – 5.5 pounds. I’m a fan and wish my Glocks had as good a trigger. The frame is nicely textured and plenty comfortable for my medium-sized hands.
The grip texture is rather mild, but still grippy. Most folks will still want to stipple.
Interestingly, the magazines have side tabs very similar to those found on .22 magazines so that you can if you wish pull down to allow for easier loading of rounds into the magazine. I didn’t find the need to do so, but they work just fine.
This is a relatively lightweight pistol that carries relatively lightweight ammo, which amounts to a mid-sized gun that would be very comfortable to carry around concealed all day. Virtually anyone could rack the slide to lock open or to load. The soft-shooting, highly controllable characteristics make shooting the pistol a very appealing prospect. The trigger is excellent and the grip safety offers an unobtrusive layer of mistake prevention. Also, the price is comparatively very nice.
The .380 round is not optimal for defensive use, but it is serviceable; especially during warmer months when clothes are not thickly layered. Eight rounds in the magazine is a bit anemic for a carry gun, especially with such a small caliber and the overall package is a bit large for an 8+1 capacity (only 1 more round than the smaller 9mm model???).
So for rating the M&P 380 Shield EZ…
There is nothing spectacular about this gun’s ergonomics, but it works and feels just fine.
Perhaps the most shootable pistol I’ve ever laid my hands on.
I found it to be very accurate and very easy to maintain that accuracy!
The 380 Shield EZ is thin enough and small enough to conceal quite well, though not as well as its smaller cousin, the M&P Shield 9mm.
Essentially what Smith & Wesson has done here is create an easy to manipulate, easy to shoot, lightweight gun that sacrifices some size and capacity for a soft shooting experience. In my mind, this is not a bad tradeoff as it addresses some issues that plague some shooters and gives them a mildly compromised solution. Good for S&W.
In the end, my only complaint with this package is the .380 round. Everything else is just fine for my money. Eagle Gun Range has the 380 Shield EZ for rent, so take it out for yourself and see what you think.