The nail that stands out

…will be hammered down. Related wisdom: It is better to be the hammer than the nail. What does that have to do with shooting though? I get an email at least once month, that goes something along these lines: Hey Caleb, I want to get started in practical shooting, but I don’t want to use the same gun that everyone else is using, what should I get? In this case, the email writer is asking to be the nail. I have been the nail, and it’s not fun. In the past year, I’ve gone from “no action pistol” to shooting over 1500 rounds per month, competing in major matches, and even winning some stuff here and there. I have learned a lot in that time, and most of it has been because of the wisdom and experience of the shooting community, filled with people like Todd Jarrett, BJ Norris, and Julie Golob.

But this was the hardest lesson for me to learn, becase 1) I’m extremely individualistic, and 2) I’m kind of pig-headed. Reference for example the Bianchi Cup – the biggest match of my life, and I shot a gun that was the only one of its kind in the entire Production division. Go to the Production Nationals and what is everyone shooting? Glocks, XDs, M&Ps. Sure there are a few guys clinging to their DA/SA guns, but by and large, the plastic guns dominate the competition scene.

There’s a reason for that, and it’s because those frames and those designs have millions of rounds through them collectively, and the guys that shoot stuff for a living demand the characteristics that those pistols embody. There is a reason why people don’t win IDPA championships with EAA Witness guns, Bersas, or some other “weird but different” brand.

Don’t be the nail – be the hammer, buy a Glock/1911/XD/MP and let your shooting be what makes you stand out.


  1. So, did you buy that Revo in .38 super yet?


    Srsly tho, good post and good info…

    Start with a basics, learn the craft/match generalship, then look for more specialized hardware if you feel you are past it…

  2. Once upon a time, I used to be all 10mm/.41 Mag/.357SIG.

    Now I’m all .45ACP/.357 Mag/9x19mm.

    I’m not trying to be an individualist and have people notice my eclectic gunnyness, I just want to put holes in stuff.

  3. PS: What’s funny is that I’ve been on TFL for almost a decade now; my personal evolution is exposed to the search function.

    Yes, I once owned a 10mm Auto/.38-40 dual-cylinder Vaquero. While I still think it’s a neat gun, I’m happy with it being a neat gun that somebody else owns. šŸ˜®

  4. Take all of that creative time and money you would be using to have pistol that stands out, and use it to figure out how to be a better shooter.

    First thing first. If you want to figure out how to shoot, do that and only that.

  5. So what’s the point in participating in IDPA if you use one pistol to compete, and carry another out on the street? I was under the impression that the “DP” part stood for ‘defensive pistol’.

    If I’m going to stand around for several hours waiting to shoot for a few seconds, I’m using my carry pistol, not some plastic thing that all the Kewel Kids are using.

  6. If Iā€™m going to stand around for several hours waiting to shoot for a few seconds, Iā€™m using my carry pistol, not some plastic thing that all the Kewel Kids are using.

    Yeah, because nobody ever CCW’s a gamer gun like a Glock or XD… :rolleyes:

  7. Aww, Tam, you’re supposed to be one of the smartest kids, evar…..

    My point was that if you wanted to shoot this kind of match, you should use your regular carry gun, no matter how uncool, and not get another just to shoot IDPA (or whatever) just because the folks winning the trophies use it.

    :rolleyes:, yourself

  8. Peter, that whooshing sound you may have noticed was the point of this post flying over your head.

    The entire point was that you shouldn’t pick out a carry gun or a competition gun for the sake of being “different” or “standing out”. You should pick a carry/competition gun because it’s accurate, reliable, and meets your needs. Notice I never said “don’t buy a 1911” or “don’t buy a revolver”.

    So, if what you took away from this post was “only buy Glocks and XDs because that’s what Dave Sevigny and Robbie Leatham use in Production Division” then you took the wrong things away from this post.

  9. Peter, you are (of course) free to shoot whatever you want in the game of your choice. I do hope, however, that you are not treating IDPA as combat training, or anything else other than a fun game.

    Five years of practical shooting competition and professional defensive training has convinced me that skill at arms is skill at arms. Shooting your Glock 34 at IDPA (or your SVI 9 Major open blaster in USPSA) will improve your ability with you J-frame Smith carry gun, and vice versa.

  10. OK, then, I stand corrected.

    Which leads me to my next question:

    I’m all for shooting competitions for their own sake. I mean, what could be better than spending an afternoon with guns and fellow gunnies?

    However, if you wanted something that would have actual use in a dangerous situation, what would y’all suggest?

  11. Peter, should there be a difference in what you’d shoot for either/both? I mean, a lot of folks shoot glocks or XDs in competition and a lot of cops carry ’em too…

    I guess if I have a choice for what I’d use in defense, I stick to what I know and that’d be my reliable competition gun. Which happens to be a Glock in my case…

    I don’t think that you could go wrong buying a weapon for defense, then use said weapon in competition to help hone defense skills…

  12. I don’t think that it is fair to group the eaa witness line with bursa’s. Some of the witnesses such as the limited and open versions are very good guns. Also some very good uspsa/ipsc shooters are winning with the witness open pistols. IPSC world champ Eric Grauffel is one.

  13. “Go to the Production Nationals and what is everyone shooting? Glocks, XDs, M&Ps.”

    Devil’s advocate here, but how many of those people are shooting guns because they’re sponsored by that manufacturer. Or because Top Shooter X (who is shooting for sponsor Y) shoots that gun.

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