By Al Hagan
Just a note about me – I have been shooting .45’s for 32 years (since age 8), and during a 4-year tour in the Marine Corps, managed to fire many thousands of rounds through all of the U.S. military smallarms – M-16’s, M-60’s, M-203 40mm grenades, and M-2 and M-85 .50 cals. One afternoon I even had the opportunity to burn off 3500 rounds of .223 – it being easier to turn empty brass hulls back in to the ammo supply point than loose, live ammo. I took 6 M-16’s, about forty 30-round magazines, and two privates to load the magazines. I practiced full-auto fire in every way imaginable – from the shoulder, from the hip, one-handed (uncontrollable), with an M-16 in each hand (really uncontrollable), etc. I currently burn off at least a couple hundred rounds per month, mostly .45 and .308 – real calibers. I am a big fan of the .45, and currently own a government M1911A1, a Combat Commander, a Springfield Ultra-Compact V-10, and a P10-45. I once even owned a Savage .45 – one of those submitted to the Army trials, which the Browning design won. So I do know a little about firearms. But enough about me –
When I bought the P10 a couple of months ago, I wanted a small, concealable piece. I am going through the paperwork for a concealed carry permit and briefly flirted with the idea of a Colt Pocket Nine. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of a 9mm, though. The P10 is light (24 oz.!) with the alloy frame and small – the smallest .45, according to Para-Ordnance’s literature; 6.5″ long and 4.5″ tall, vs. 39 oz., 8.5″ long and 5.75″ tall for the full-sized M1911-type.
One criticism is because it has an affliction that, as Jeff Cooper has pointed out, many of us do – a fat butt. Short and fat. I measured my other .45s with a tape measure and came up with 5-3/8, 5-1/2, and 5-5/8 diameter butts – these pistols have a variety of Pachmayr and wood grips and flat or arched mainspring housings. The P10 has a 6″ diameter butt, with slimline Pearce grips. That ½” makes a difference, but if you want the 10+1 rounds of .45, this is the place to go.
The shortness of the butt allows only 2 fingers – the little finger has to curl under the magazine well. I have fairly big hands and found that Pearce Grip, Inc. (P.O. Box 187, Bothell, WA 98041-0187, 1-800-390-9420) had the solution. They offer wrap-around grips (like Pachmayrs, only Pachmayr doesn’t offer them for the P10 yet) and a grip extension. For $9.95 suggested retail, the grip extension replaces the magazine floor plate and offers a rest for the little finger, and gives some leverage to control the little beast. I bought one, and use my (of course longer) P14 magazines when that mag is dry.
At this point, I have run about 450 rounds through the pistol, using 5 different magazines and the following ammo: Winchester and UMC 230 grain FMJ, Federal 165 gr Hydra-Shoks, PMC 230 gr Starfires, Speer Lawman 200 gr JHP, and some miscellaneous lead reloads. It had trouble feeding one of the FMJs, but I loaded it in another mag and it fed OK. Don’t know why that was – maybe it was not seated all the way to the back of the mag. I had loaded the magazine at 7:30 one Saturday morning, after a night of too much beer and too little sleep (due to a friend’s birthday party), so I’ll take pilot error on that one. Also, the Lawman ammo bobbled on 2 rounds – this ammo has a huge hollow-point, and the bullet is basically short and has almost vertical sides. I have had difficulty feeding this ammo through my Commander also, and do not normally stock it. I was just burning off the remainder of the box. I don’t have a problem with these misfeeds, as I practice mainly with FMJ and carry with Hydra-Shoks. That means one misfeed in 420 rounds, subtracting the 30 or so rounds of Lawman ammo – I’ll accept that. The 50 Hydra-Shoks I have fired in this pistol have all fed flawlessly and delivered awesome accuracy.
The Hydra-Shoks offer about the same recoil, or maybe even a little less than the 230 gr FMJs. They are loaded hotter but have a much lighter bullet (165 gr.), so I guess the physics equal out. At 7 yards, firing double-taps, the bullet holes were either touching or within ¼ inch. This is from a standing position, starting with the pistol pointed down, pop the pistol up, get a sight picture, squeeze, haul it back from recoil and slam another round into the target.
This morning, using 230-gr. FMJ, I was introducing my brother-in-law to shooting (promoting our sport!) and, at the 7-yard targets, cut a 10-round smiley face in the target – 2 eyes and 8 teeth, with one misaligned by an inch (not intentionally). He ran 100+ rounds through the P-10 and was keeping them all in the black after some instruction, with zero prior experience, so it is a controllable piece. It shoots where you point it.
One comment here on those who disparage large-capacity pistols: many rounds just might be useful. No, I do not plan on missing a lot. No, I do not intend to lay down suppressing fire for an assault group. No, I do not expect to hold off a horde of (insert Mongols, Zulus, Nazis, Japanese, or whatever here). However, I can see situations in which many rounds without a reload would be useful. One situation would be where I was driving and had a serious problem with another armed driver or passenger. Figuring that I would be occupied with driving and would either have to shoot left-handed and one-handed (something which, incidentally, I do practice) or, at minimum, would have difficulty reloading, a high-capacity weapon might be a lifesaver. Another situation would be in a crowd scene, where 7 or 8 rounds just might not cover all of the potential adversaries, especially if you were firing double-taps. Think about it – a double-tap insures you have put your adversary down, but also effectively cuts your ammo supply in half. A third situation is where suppressive fire just might be suitable: Consider the difference between: (1) yeah, I shot and killed these 3 carjacking bastards, but their families are going to sue me for capping their “choirboy” sons, vs. (2) I blasted about a dozen rounds at them and they ducked and my wife and I got away unharmed. Think about it. Not that I am advocating spray-and-pray, but your goal in a defense situation is, realistically, to get away unharmed. I think the P-10 is a good choice for such a situation. You get a tiny package, with the caveat that it is fatter than a single-stack pistol, light weight, high capacity, accuracy, and reliability.