Acceptable combat accuracy

One of the questions I get a lot is “how accurate is the Ruger SR9c?”  My usual answer is “accurate enough to hit a 5’6 150 lb mugger in the chest”, because realistically that’s all you’re going to need to do with this particular gun.  Last night however I had the opportunity at the excellent Bellevue Gun Club in Bellevue, WA to do some shooting at a the standard qualification target for the Spokane Police Department.  It occurred to me that people wanted to know how accurate the SR9c is, and I’d never actually sat there and shot it for accuracy, so I ran the target down to 10 yards and fired 124 rounds at the target.

I let one get away from me high that almost broke out of the 10 ring, but for the most part all the holes are touching.  Near the end of the 124 rounds, my finger was starting to get tired from pulling the trigger so slowly, so I got a little sloppy and opened up the group.  Of course, this really isn’t a training exercise.  While I’m not quite shooting bullseye slow, I’m definitely shooting slower than I would in a match or a self defense situation.  There is some training benefit to this however, and that’s building patience.  It takes time to develop the ability to break a clean shot, and to be able to back off the trigger when you know you’re about to take a bad shot.  That flier at the top of the 10 ring?  I knew that was going to happen, and should have backed off the shot.  I didn’t, because I was in a hurry and wanted the accuracy test to be over with.

The Ruger SR9c has a pretty good trigger for a polymer carry gun.  I imagine removing the mag disconnect would probably improve the trigger by taking a couple of pounds off the pull weight, and I actually believe that the gun itself is capable of far greater mechanical accuracy than I can wring out of it.  So if you’re on the fence about the Ruger for a carry gun because you’re worried about the accuracy from a 3.5 inch barrel?  Don’t be.  It will get the job done.

Speaking of accuracy, the conversations about accuracy are always great to me, because it means different things to different people.  I’ve even talked about it before, in a post with this same title.  I remember a time when gun magazines would only test guns at 25 yards from a bench rest or ransom rest to see how accurate they were.  While that’s an excellent display of mechanical accuracy, I don’t need the gun that I’m going to be carrying to be able to shoot a 4 inch group at 25 yards.  “Accuracy” is subjective to the needs of the shooter and the needs of the situation.  A gun for Bianchi Cup should shoot 1.5 to 2 inch groups at 25 yards, but an IDPA gun doesn’t need to be that accurate.  In my estimation, what is farm more important than mechanical accuracy is my favorite made up word: “shootability”.  What is shootability?  It is the features of a gun that make it easy for you to do your desired task with the gun.  For me, 1911s are very shootable.  The Beretta 92FS has high shootability marks for me.  The Ruger SR9c excels at shootability.  Some don’t score well for me in shootability, because their controls are odd, or their ergonomics are weird, or whatever.  But if you pick a gun, and you can get hits on target comfortably and rapidly?  That’s a good score for shootability.  I’m a big fan of the SR9c because it’s very shootable – the grip is small enough to conceal, but not so small that I can’t get a good hold of it for rapid fire.

Bottom line?  The gun is mechanically accurate and physically easy to shoot.  Not a bad deal in a carry package.


  1. I was in Seattle a few weeks ago staying 2 exits away from the Bellevue Gun club. Had I known it existed I would have brought a pistol and done some shooting.

    I highly recommend the 5 Points Cafe. It’s near the space needle and despite looking like a dump the food was incredible.

    I’ve come to the conclusion in recent years that most new factory guns are far more accurate than you will need for just about any purpose other than seriously difficult competition like the previously mentioned Bianchi Cup. You will inherently shoot some guns better for some reason, better sights, trigger, grip fits your hand better, etc. To that end rather than tell people, “You must get a Glock, it’s the only choice.” I now tell people to shoot a lot of different guns before you decide what you want.

    It took me 6 years of handgun collecting before I found out that I shoot a CZ-75 better than just about any other pistol ever. And shooting it well has made me shoot it a lot which has made me a better shot with other guns.

  2. The phrase ‘acceptable combat accuracy’ pisses me off, because it’s usually used to justify crappy accuracy, usually from the shooter as opposed to mechanical accuracy of the gun.

    “A gun for Bianchi Cup should shoot 1.5 to 2 inch groups at 25 yards, but an IDPA gun doesn’t need to be that accurate.”

    Why not? If your gun shoots 2 inch groups instead of 4 inch groups, that gives you an extra 2 inches of slop on your aim to stay in the -0. Better mechanical accuracy lets you accept a worse sight picture / trigger squeeze, which saves time.

  3. Indeed. Most guns from reputable companies will generally posses more mechanical accuracy accuracy than the average shooter is capable of producing. Again, specialized sports like Bianchi or Bullseye are exceptions, but for self defense work the rise of CNC machining allows us to produce guns to tolerances that were unheard of 3 decades ago.

    Jeff, I’m not saying that your IDPA gun shouldn’t be a 2 inch gun, because if it is then that’s awesome. More that IDPA doesn’t require tight enough shots to justify the extra expenditure on a 2 inch gun. A bone stock Glock 17 is not a two inch gun, but will be more than accurate enough for IDPA.

  4. If you can place 3 quick shots inside 8 or 9 inches and your group size is 5 inches , IMHO that is a far better group for doing damage than a 1 inch group would be inside a 8 or 9 inch area, for concealed carry purposes .

  5. Funny. I was down at the range you speak of last night. We were doing an experimental trial shooting plates in the far bay, I swear I saw someone shooting a target like that as I left. Lol. You still in town?

  6. Saw the reference to “shootability” which I seem to recall being around since Jeff Cooper’s time. Just so happens that the local shooter’s forum (North Alabama) uses as the forum name.

    BTW, have you relocated or is this WA thing temporary?

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