At Media Day at the Range — the semi-official opening of SHOT Show 2014 — I got to shoot plenty of new firearms and someone else paid for the cartridges. I waited in line with everyone else to get a chance to run a few rounds down the new Glock 41 and Glock 42. It was worth the wait.
Glock isn’t the only company that recently rolled out a micro-sized handgun. In fact, there are three: the Beretta Pico, the Glock 42, and the Sig Sauer P290RS. All three guns are single-stack 6+1 off-duty / backup designs with quality finishes and components.
Before I go there, I have to reiterate my rule of concealed carry: Carry the most effective caliber the wardrobe will allow. Notice I say “most effective,” not largest. Notice also I am not advocating for the .380 when the officer could be carrying a 45.
The .380 is a more effective and more reliable caliber than it was a few years ago. It should be taken seriously by officers who cannot adhere to my “similar caliber / similar magazine / similar operating system / similar carry” rule. For example, I would recommend the .380 BUG for a mounted, shore patrol or bicycle officer in a polo shirt uniform.
I have run plenty of Winchester .380 auto, 95-grain PDX1 Defender through my mouse gun into gelatin and know its capabilities. Ten years ago, I would have said “no” to the .380 auto. Now the technology is better, and better guns — using updated technology like Glock’s polygonal rifling — produce better results.
Smooth triggers, good shooting
Since I shot three of these on the same day, everyone will want to know if there is a clear winner. Well, first, the consumer is the winner because each answers the question, “Why can’t my favorite brand come pocket-sized?” Second, there isn’t a clear finisher, but I can walk everyone through which were the category winners.
First, the Glock 42 had a smoother trigger, or at least a familiar trigger. The Glock 42 trigger did not feel much different than my duty Glock 22. It operates and feels the same as a fully grown Glock, except it’s a single-stack 6+1. Both the Sig Sauer P290RS and Pico have long, revolver-like triggers, which is often desirable in a pocket gun.
Does the long trigger take-up make a big difference? Not really. I confess: The guy who mowed down the 10-yard target stand on the Sig Sauer pistol range was me. Since we couldn’t just run out there and set a new one up, I proceeded to shoot at the 50-yard plate with the P290RS.
Yup, it will do that. Sometimes I can do that.
Tiny, lightweight guns
The P290RS has a short hammer that is flush on the back of the gun. Even though it is a DAO like the Pico, the throw of the hammer seemed shorter. Inside, it looks a little like the Sig Sauer P250 design, whose engineering always intrigued me because it was so self-contained.
The Beretta Pico is the thinnest (at just .725 inches), tiniest (at 5.1 inches OAL) and weighs a startling 11.5 ounces empty. The Glock is a little heavier, but the difference is negligible at 12.35 ounces empty. Sig Sauer publishes its specs with the empty magazine at 20.5 ounces, which makes the weight of all three guns in the same ballpark.
They are all about iPhone-sized.
Which gun, when?
The P290RS has a selection of grip panels and a texture that is somewhat reminiscent of the superior grips on the Sig Sauer P227. It shot well on the range and it was easy to put into action, especially considering the very-easy-to-manipulate slide and recoiled spring.
The Pico is “melted” a bit better — smoothed edges — but it uses a flush magazine release that is hard to manipulate. This is one case where a bottom release (European style) would have been appropriate.
If I’m going to be wearing a pack for running, I’d go with the Pico. For pocket carry, it would be the P290RS. If this is a BUG on the vest, it’s the Glock.
What’s the best news? All three guns had real dovetailed sights.