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View Full Version : Low Bore Axis--how important is it?



ExMachina
08-14-2011, 09:06 PM
New forum member here, and I sure hope I'm not opening a big can of worms with my first post (I did at least do a search first :) )

Full disclosure: I've been a "1911 guy" for a while now. However, I recently had a revelation when I bought a 4" N-frame 45 acp revolver as a "fun gun". The revolver was supposed to be a range gun that would let me shoot my 45ACP handloads without me having to then pick up a bunch of cases :p. Anyway, what really surprised me about the revolver was how much less muzzle flip I was getting using the same 45acp loads as in my 1911. Using a high-hand hold and magna grips, the revolver's front sight would barely move off target after each shot and it ended up that I could not pull the trigger fast enough for me to loose control of the muzzle!

No doubt about it, the wheelgun was easier to control and I suspected that the difference had to be from the lack of a recriprocating slide or from a lower bore axis (or both).

So, I got curious about bore axis heights, and started using photos from the internet to measure bore axis heights on various guns. I first scaled all the photos using their barrel lengths, and then measured the distance from the bore axis of each gun to what seemed like the highest point of control for the firing hand. On autoloading pistols this highest point was taken to be where the tangential slope of the tang exceeded 45 degrees (ie, when the tang "flattens out" to the horizontal). On revolvers the highest point was taken to be that of the highest point of contact attainable along the backstrap. Now, I'm completely willing to conceed that this might not be "the" best way to estimate the height of the bore axis with regard to the shooter's hand (there might not even be a "best" way). But it is at least a consistent way to measure.

Here are some bore axis height measurements (in inches):

Sig 226 1.44"
M1911 (GI spec) 1.33"
HK P30 1.25"
1911 (beavertail safety) 1.2"
S&W M&P40 1.08"
SA XDm 1.05"
Walther PPs 1.00"
Glock 19 0.89"
Steyr M9 0.85
S&W N-frame (highest possible grip I can get w/ magnas) 0.85" (!!)
Ruger LCR 0.80"

Now that all that's done, I'm still left with the question of exactly how important bore axis height really is? Lots of gun board folks say that it's a meaningless measure and that differences on the order of a few milimeters have little bearing on how controllable a gun will be. Intuitively it makes sense to lower the bore as much as possible, but is there a point of diminishing returns?

What I do know is that I'm suddenly thinking hard about the Steyr and the Glock (and I thought I had sworn off Glocks for good ;) )

What do all of you think about the importance of bore axis height when it comes to shooting for speed? Over-hyped or of critical importance?

Thoughts appreciated!

YVK
08-14-2011, 11:29 PM
I've found no consistent effect of bore height.

The problem in sorting this out is that you'd need two otherwise identical pistols with different bore heights. Comparing different pistols with different bore heights is meaningless due to multitude of other factors that you can't correct for.

I don't care about perceived muzzle flip - the distance traveled by muzzle is widely considered irrelevant. I do care about my timer's data. According to my timer, I get best splits on high-probability targets with my lowest-bore pistol, but I get best splits on low-probability targets with a pistol that has a highest bore axis. Go figure.

orionz06
08-15-2011, 12:06 AM
Slide weight, caliber, and recoil spring play enough into it to think that the number might mean less than what people think.

beltjones
08-15-2011, 12:26 AM
Interesting thread, though I have to question some of your data. Is the XDm really lower than the M&P? That seems wrong to me. You might also consider that the front sight on the revolver is easier to track because it's not reciprocating on a slide. You ought to try shooting the guns back to back, and maybe videotaping from the side to see which has more muzzle flip.

Also, could you take a look at a few other guns and add them to your list? How about the CZ Shadow? People are always saying it's lower than the Glock 17, but I own both and the Glock seems lower.

Anyway, my personal opinion is that all things being equal, a low bore axis is better than a high one, but it's certainly not the whole story. In addition to what others have said, I'll add that the shape of a grip makes a huge difference for me. I find that the more real estate there is for both hands to really clamp on, the better I'm able to control recoil.

Comedian
08-15-2011, 04:38 AM
I enjoy better recoil control with my G19, over a pistol like a Sig P226. Low bore axis is an attribute that helps to get back on target a bit faster.

Failure2Stop
08-15-2011, 05:48 AM
I have found that it means far less than I used to think it did.

When I was bouncing back and forth from a P226 and a G19 I shot nearly identical FAST times and Dot Torture scores as long as I didn't do anything stupid.
My first exposure to the P30 had me ruminating that "If only the bore axis were lower, that would be a really nice pistol!". As it turned out, it's relatively high bore-axis did not turn into uncontrollable recoil, but rather perfectly within the acceptable 9mm category.

It is undeniable that when comparing two levers with the same forces and weights involved, the longer one will out perform the shorter one, but with all the variables in handguns along with modern grip/stance for recoil management/sight tracking, it's really a red herring.

rsa-otc
08-15-2011, 07:10 AM
Personally I believe as the shooter becomes more proficient the less effect low bore axis has on recoil (or maybe we should call it recoil recovery since the physics of the actual recoil of the gun remains the same no matter who shoots it). With regards to the OP. I think the reason he felt less recoil from his N frame revolver was that the majority of the weight sits out in front of the pivot point/Grip. With the revolver you have those 6 heavy 45's sitting out there plus the added weight in the cylinder. With the 1911 those 7 45's are actually sitting where the gun pivots during recoil and doesn't help dampen the recoil as much.

JV
08-15-2011, 07:16 AM
My first exposure to the P30 had me ruminating that "If only the bore axis were lower, that would be a really nice pistol!". As it turned out, it's relatively high bore-axis did not turn into uncontrollable recoil, but rather perfectly within the acceptable 9mm category.I had the same experience.

TGS
08-15-2011, 09:30 AM
All else being equal, it will be to your advantage to have a lower bore axis. If you could draw up the perfect pistol in Utopia, then you should add a lower bore axis.

In the real world, where nothing is otherwise equal, there are other things to consider and it only becomes part of the equation for which pistol makes a good fit for you. Especially in 9mm, it's not as big a deal. I'm no master of recoil management. I've got small wrists and an injured left wrist, yet I do fine with my HK P2000 9mm. You move up to .40, and the pistol I prefer is a SIG P229.....go figure. Even higher bore axis. There's obviously something else going on......

DonovanM
08-15-2011, 11:44 AM
I enjoy better recoil control with my G19, over a pistol like a Sig P226. Low bore axis is an attribute that helps to get back on target a bit faster.

It has much more to do with the shooter than the pistol. Work on your grip strength and technique and the differences will even out for you. I'll admit that a gun with a higher bore axis is less forgiving of a weak grip than one with a lower bore axis, but even SHO or WHO I have plenty of control over my SIG.

Here's a vid of me shooting my P226ST with factory 9mm 124gr Federal American Eagle ammo. The fact that it's a stainless frame really doesn't make all that much of a difference, I can shoot my alloy frame gun the exact same way.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0us8FG0pZKQ

I can't see all that much muzzle flip. Look for videos of Ben Stoeger shooting, he's much better than I am and shoots a Beretta, another pistol with a high bore axis. I'm sure if he felt that that slowed him down, he'd jump platforms, considering his lack of sponsorship and his substantial dedication towards improvement.

JHC
08-15-2011, 11:59 AM
I think bore axis is a factor in how the guns handle. I think it's a bigger factor in .40 and .45 than it is in 9mm. I think the shooter's stature, mass, girth etc are a factor. Grip and forearm strength is a factor but "a good big man will always beat a good little man" applies to some degree here on average. I'm on the lighter/littler end of the spectrum (165-170 lbs).

I find higher bore axis pistols to be noticeably harder to track at speed than lower bore axis and my opinion has not changed across the decades nor recent years of annual volume exceeding 12K rounds/year. However I think it's more of a factor of tracking the sights than managing the gun back on target. I don't like tracking the bouncing sight any more than I need to. I found the Sig P220 to be ridiculous in this respect; but not bad with a P226. I thought the P30 quite easy to track. Again, 9mm is just not much of a recoiling round.

jslaker
08-15-2011, 02:43 PM
I found the Sig P220 to be ridiculous in this respect; but not bad with a P226. I thought the P30 quite easy to track. Again, 9mm is just not much of a recoiling round.

The 226 is one of the easiest guns for me to track simply because it's so heavy for the caliber.

I'm actually somewhat surprised the axis on the XD series is as low as it is, as it's by far the snappiest firing of service size pistols I've fired. Goes to show there's more to that than simple bore height. I'm also surprised that the 1911 is as relatively high given its reputation for a fairly low bore axis.

ToddG
08-15-2011, 03:56 PM
Add me to the crowd that says it doesn't make a big difference. This past Saturday I shot a friend's P30 and the first thought I had when I picked it up was, "Wow, I forgot how high the bore axis is!" But it didn't actually affect my shooting at all.

As the others have said, theory is fine and in theory the lower axis should be better. But in practice there are so many other factors that completely overwhelm "bore axis" that I now see it more as a mantra of folks who don't really know what they're talking about. Someone who shoots a low bore axis gun well and has little experience with a high bore axis gun shoots the high bore axis gun worse and immediately believes the marketing department, it must be the bore axis! Actually, it's that one gun is more familiar, fits you better, is sprung better, has better sights, has a better trigger, or who knows how many other things that add up to meaningful performance differences and you're just convinced it's "bore axis" because it's what you see when you compare the two guns side by side. Correlation is not causation in this case.

jslaker
08-15-2011, 04:28 PM
I'd imagine that modern thumbs-forward grips play a role in minimizing the importance of bore axis, too. Using an old, thumbs-locked revolver style grip is going to leave a lot of the gun above your hands, along with pushing the gun's perceived pivot point back. With a thumbs-forward grip, the top of my hand is riding 1/4 to 1/2" below the bore line even on guns that have a "high" bore axis.

Sean M
08-15-2011, 05:45 PM
Add me to the "Doesn't matter" crowd. I shoot a 226 almost exclusively and shoot it marginally better than other pistols with much lower bore lines.

It's the wizard, not the wand.

ExMachina
08-15-2011, 05:56 PM
Someone who shoots a low bore axis gun well and has little experience with a high bore axis gun shoots the high bore axis gun worse and immediately believes the marketing department, it must be the bore axis! Actually, it's that one gun is more familiar, fits you better, is sprung better, has better sights, has a better trigger, or who knows how many other things that add up to meaningful performance differences and you're just convinced it's "bore axis" because it's what you see when you compare the two guns side by side. Correlation is not causation in this case.

I would agree if this were amended to say "Correlation is not necessarily causation in this case". Certainly bore axis must be important to some degree. For example, the AR15 was designed specifically so that the bore was in line with the top of the butt stock, and certainly you can get more muzzle rise out of the AR by simply raising the top of the stock to rest above your shoulder. But im in general agreement that different guns and different cartridges and different shooters are going to go a long way in deciding whether or not a low/high bore axis is going to be of significant consequence.

Comedian
08-15-2011, 06:36 PM
It has much more to do with the shooter than the pistol. Work on your grip strength and technique and the differences will even out for you. I'll admit that a gun with a higher bore axis is less forgiving of a weak grip than one with a lower bore axis, but even SHO or WHO I have plenty of control over my SIG.

Here's a vid of me shooting my P226ST with factory 9mm 124gr Federal American Eagle ammo. The fact that it's a stainless frame really doesn't make all that much of a difference, I can shoot my alloy frame gun the exact same way.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0us8FG0pZKQ

I can't see all that much muzzle flip. Look for videos of Ben Stoeger shooting, he's much better than I am and shoots a Beretta, another pistol with a high bore axis. I'm sure if he felt that that slowed him down, he'd jump platforms, considering his lack of sponsorship and his substantial dedication towards improvement.

My grip strength is good from weightlifting since I'm 14. My Sig P226 in 9mm is not hard to control, but my G19 will always be faster, getting back on target, than the Sig. That will not change if i get stronger or weaker, or if my technique improves. Its a matter of physics.

JHC
08-15-2011, 07:21 PM
Certainly bore axis must be important to some degree.

Grips, sprungness, etc is all great and what engineering is all about. But there is simple physics and leverage involved too which must be overcome. It may be too small of a factor to base a gun pick over but being an absolute zero-factor? Probably not. And again, probably less factor for a thick wristed 220 pounder than for a small boned 145 pounder.

TCinVA
08-15-2011, 08:12 PM
You know, the bore axis thing annoys the living piss out of me. I can't seem to go anywhere without hearing some dude blather on and on about it and insist that he's "faster" with a low bore axis pistol as opposed to a high bore axis pistol. I propose a new universal internet forum law [NOTE: This is humor, not a real rule for PF.com] when discussing bore axis:

Before you can use the term "bore axis" in an argument about why X handgun is better than Y, you must have a record of your performance on a number of standardized drills performed over at least a two year period using a high and low bore axis handgun so you can tally a useful average of your performance with both weapons that is presented to the reader so that he/she can decide whether or not that .02 of a second difference you might squeak out with such an effort really matters in their consideration.

...and to save time, Robb Leatham and Ernie Langdon have both won USPSA production titles using handguns with a higher bore axis...and most limited and open class shooters seem to prefer handguns that have a higher bore axis, especially if they come with a lot of bullets and very light triggers. So it seems that even amongst the most elite ranks of handgunning where you may actually be able to find people with sufficient skill that every other possible variable impacting performance can be eliminated, nobody really gives bore axis much thought. I mean, really...when was the last time some of you competition shooters were on the range and heard the grand masters talking about bore axis? When was the last time somebody showed up to a clinic with Robb Leatham and was told "What you need is a pistol with a lower bore axis!"

The amount of electronic ink spilled on the internet about the topic is inversely proportional to the practical difference it makes in the results that Mr. Average Pistol Buyer will get out of a purchase...which at this point must mean that if it was quantified on a pie chart it would share the same sized slice as the number of people out of 1,000 who would celebrate a half billion dollar lotto win by mutilating their own genitals with a grapefruit spoon. In my opinion, this is yet another example of whatever Sith master Glock hired in their marketing department early on telling the gun world that these aren't the droids they're looking for.

JHC
08-15-2011, 08:35 PM
Two years????? Crimony.
:D


http://pistol-training.com/articles/hk45-interview-with-ken-hackathorn-and-larry-vickers

Where LAV says:

"In the grip beavertail tang area I rounded it to show the Germans this is what we want, we want to be able to get a higher grip."

and also:

"My first impression — and this is coming from a 1911 user mindset — the high bore line, the first thing you notice is muzzle flip. We knew that was going to be the case because it was a case with the USP. On the other hand, and Todd you’ve shot it enough to know, it’s a matter of technique. It’s how you grip and manage the gun. The people who complain about the muzzle flip I think are people who over-generalize because the truth of the matter as you’ve proven, Todd, it isn’t a big deal if you know how to drive the gun."

So there we have it. LAV and Hack designed the gun trying to get high on the grip to mitigate high bore axis, the first thing you notice is muzzle flip; but if you know how to drive the HK45 or any pistol I assume, it's not a big deal. Which is not the same as it not being A factor.

So the answer to the OP is what? ;)

TCinVA
08-15-2011, 09:13 PM
Two years????? Crimony.
:D

Hell yes...because picking up weapon A and firing two mags through it on a timer does not a test make. My beef all along has been whether or not this particular stat makes a practical difference in anyone's shooting. To determine that with any level of actual credibility would take a serious test with a lot of data that can be used to iron out good days and bad days on the range to produce a useful measure of whether or not low-bore-axis gun A produces better results than higher-bore-axis gun B.

...and even then I can think of at least 1/2 a dozen potentially confounding variables that would render that test utterly useless in making an objective determination about bore axis. (Differences in trigger characteristics, increase in skill, for example)

I hold that it is damn near impossible for anyone to credibly argue that their performance with any handgun you can name is a result of the bore axis of the pistol. Why? Because there are so many variables involved in shooting different handguns that it's essentially impossible to pinpoint this particular variable as being the one that's making any sort of difference. Theoretically getting the bore as low as possible is a good thing that should mean the muzzle rises less and the front sight will be back in the rear notch sooner.

Whoopee. What measurable difference does that make in someone's performance in a match? On a stage? Hell, even simple split times on a wide open target while using the sights? Todd by this point has accumulated data on literally hundreds of people running the FAST, right? The skill level of the students has varied considerably and if we were to look at all the data from the FAST drills for all those students (which is, AFAIK, the only database like that extent) could we really conclusively identify bore axis as the primary variable that explains a difference in the performance of students? I doubt it.

Instead we're left with people who "feel" a difference without ever offering up useful data that can even begin to quantify the difference that it might make. I've been in the bore axis discussion on other sites and despite a bunch of angry arguments from true believers, I seem to be the only guy who ever offers up anything as simple as actual split times as an attempt to quantify what difference it could potentially make to the seeker of information trying to decide what they should do. More than half the time the person asking the question is a typical handgun buyer who is looking for a concealed carry or home defense pistol...which makes the numbers of people that bring the bore axis idea into the debate even more ridiculous because they're repeating what is to them almost invariably nothing but an article of faith.

On a list of stuff one should consider when selecting a handgun I'll go ahead and throw out there the idea that bore axis should be considered on the list of importance somewhere around the area of whether or not the color of the weapon matches your outfit. If one of the real experts out there has collected data in his/her personal shooting or with students that proves I'm wrong on this, by all means share with the group.

EDIT -- and as for the quote from LAV and Ken, I've had the pleasure of training under both men and seeing lots of other people train under both men. Neither ever told a student they needed a gun with a lower bore axis. If you were to pose the same question to them I'd wager that both men would rank bore axis pretty low on the list of importance, especially since both come from a background of using firearms as a tool of high-intensity personal interaction.

ExMachina
08-15-2011, 09:45 PM
You know, the bore axis thing annoys the living piss out of me. I can't seem to go anywhere without hearing some dude blather on and on about it and insist that he's "faster" with a low bore axis pistol as opposed to a high bore axis pistol. I propose a new universal forum law when discussing bore axis:

Before you can use the term "bore axis" in an argument about why X handgun is better than Y, you must have a record of your performance on a number of standardized drills performed over at least a two year period using a high and low bore axis handgun so you can tally a useful average of your performance with both weapons that is presented to the reader so that he/she can decide whether or not that .02 of a second difference you might squeak out with such an effort really matters in their consideration.

...and to save time, Robb Leatham and Ernie Langdon have both won USPSA production titles using handguns with a higher bore axis...and most limited and open class shooters seem to prefer handguns that have a higher bore axis, especially if they come with a lot of bullets and very light triggers. So it seems that even amongst the most elite ranks of handgunning where you may actually be able to find people with sufficient skill that every other possible variable impacting performance can be eliminated, nobody really gives bore axis much thought. I mean, really...when was the last time some of you competition shooters were on the range and heard the grand masters talking about bore axis? When was the last time somebody showed up to a clinic with Robb Leatham and was told "What you need is a pistol with a lower bore axis!"

The amount of electronic ink spilled on the internet about the topic is inversely proportional to the practical difference it makes in the results that Mr. Average Pistol Buyer will get out of a purchase...which at this point must mean that if it was quantified on a pie chart it would share the same sized slice as the number of people out of 1,000 who would celebrate a half billion dollar lotto win by mutilating their own genitals with a grapefruit spoon. In my opinion, this is yet another example of whatever Sith master Glock hired in their marketing department early on telling the gun world that these aren't the droids they're looking for.

well, that's a very nice rant on why you hate it when people bring up the topic :p, but care to share exactly why you think the relationship between bore and hand is not an important element of good/fast shooting?

you mention Rob Leatham. but you cannot tell me that shooters like Rob Leatham don't care about having a high grip on a gun because he (along with Brian Enos) pioneered the modern, high-hand, thumbs forward grip. Rob has also done several instructional videos that talk about the importance of getting the hand high onto the gun. maybe he never used the term "bore axis" but he certainly seems the value in minimizing the distance between the top of his hand and the barrel of the gun. other shooters and shooting instructors do as well.

and that's why i asked the question in the first place--a high tang grip is widely recognized to be important in maximizing leverage on a handgun, yet novelties in gun frame design (changes that try to enhance this high hold) are seen by some as being merely cynical marketing strategies. the truth, i'm learning, lies somewhere in between.

Failure2Stop
08-15-2011, 10:02 PM
I think that the real benefit to TCinVA's test parameter is that by the time the shooter fires that much ammo he is virtually guaranteed to realize that it's the shooting that will make a true improvement in performance, and he will decide to keep getting better at shooting instead of simply inflating his internet pseudo-ego, and will abandon the effort to "prove" something he had already mistakenly decided on.

Now, I have shot a lot of pistols to a fairly decent degree of proficiency, AND I was an advocate of low-boreline pistols from before the time I spent that much time on different platforms, so for me to alter direction was not based on silly knuckleheads at the gunshow, but rather from direct evidence that despite the logic of physics, the higher bore axis guns were not that much slower in my hand...as in, "at all". Follow that with the experiences of people that I know that are very good shooters, and their experiences also seem to follow the pattern.

Personally, I vote to close this thread immediately and sticky it for the betterment of the gun-advice community before some well-meaning simpleton comes in to lecture about "what we will do in a real fight", despite their lack of the same or any kind of performance beyond self-fellating forum posturing.

TC, good posts.

TCinVA
08-15-2011, 10:06 PM
well, that's a very nice rant on why you hate it when people bring up the topic

I don't hate it when people bring up the topic...I hate it when the conversation gets stupid. On lots of forums it often gets stupid. Thankfully it won't here because the staff title allows me to mercilessly crush stupid.

The question is perfectly understandable given the level of misunderstanding out there about this issue, and given that it's been an element of marketing from the aforementioned Sith lords.



you mention Rob Leatham. but you cannot tell me that shooters like Rob Leatham don't care about having a high grip on a gun because he (along with Brian Enos) pioneered the modern, high-hand, thumbs forward grip.


They pioneered that grip on guns that did not have a low bore axis as a feature of mechanical design...and I know at least Rob Leatham has managed to win a couple of titles with an XD, which has a very high bore axis.

The fact that they came up with techniques that when properly applied offer maximum control of a handgun does not really translate into this gun is better than that one because it has a lower bore axis. If you attended one of Robb's clinics I don't doubt that he would spend a lot of time working on your grip to get it as good as possible because as it turns out when you grip a gun the way Robb teaches you to do it you can control just about any handgun pretty darn well. I doubt you'll ever find him telling a student "Dude...what you gotta do is go out and buy a handgun with a lower bore axis!"


a high tang grip is widely recognized to be important in maximizing leverage on a handgun, yet novelties in gun frame design (changes that try to enhance this high hold) are seem by some as being merely cynical marketing strategies. i the truth, i'm learning, lies somewhere in between.

My contention is this:

The bore axis designed into a pistol is not measurably linked to the performance you will get out of a handgun, even if you are more skilled/talented than the vast majority of people who will ever pick up a handgun.

While I can demonstrate the impact a bad physical grip has on a handgun easily with just about any shooter, even with the most skilled shooters in the world I'd be hard pressed to come up with a test that could isolate the bore axis of a handgun as having a measurable impact on the performance they got out of the gun.

It's a great deal like discussing terminal ballistics in handguns. There are people out there who think that less than an extra .1" of difference in bullet diameter is the difference between blowing a bad guy into a million pieces and having him continue to attack you in an unstoppable terminator-like manner. That extra .1" of difference in bullet diameter has generated the needless waste of untold quadrillions of electrons over the years, but when you look at bullet holes in the lab and in real people it becomes clear that the arguments are inversely proportional to the actual differences.

It persists as an issue in the collective consciousness because it's easy for people to latch on to as an explanation for phenomena they don't really understand.

ExMachina
08-15-2011, 10:23 PM
TCinVA, I posted my last poast before i read your last post. i like your split time criteria.

so how about what Todd recently had to say:


...but when I compare it [Glock 17] to my personal gold standard of pistols, the HK P30, I’m not really seeing a huge difference… at least, not one that isn’t attributable to the additional 75,000 rounds of practice I’ve had in the year and a half since the P30 test ended. The Glock has a lower bore axis, and that means it takes less effort to track the sights; the Glock has a shorter reset and that means it takes less movement to fire a followup shot. But those differences aren’t translating into huge obvious gains for most drills. Is my Bill Drill faster? Yes. But more comprehensive tests like the F.A.S.T., Hackathorn Standards, and Dot Torture aren’t turning in dramatically better numbers.

it makes perfect sense to me that familiarity with a particular gun is going to be the largest determinate of split times. but is the G17's low bore axis a non-issue? Todd at least hints at the possibility that it might have come into play (though he in no way implies that it is the deciding factor). so perhaps you would at least allow that a low bore axis might be a little more important than the color of the gun? ;)

EDIT: @ TCinVA, again I missed your last post! i agree that discussions on this topic tend to become inexplicably heated on other boards. that's one reason that i thought i'd register here--the discussions seem to stay more reasonable :)

beltjones
08-15-2011, 10:32 PM
I'm a Glock shooter, but I swear the next time I hear someone in a gun store offer up the bore axis as a major selling point I'm going to say, "If Gaston Glock wanted you to grip the gun high and take advantage of the bore axis, then why did he put saw teeth on the underside of the slide?" Then I'll show them my massive callous / scar tissue at the base of my thumb. "Look away! I'm a monster!" I'll scream.

Then I'll take them over to the Taurus 24/7s.

DonovanM
08-15-2011, 10:43 PM
It persists as an issue in the collective consciousness because it's easy for people to latch on to as an explanation for phenomena they don't really understand.

I am so stealing this. It applies to so much.

fuse
08-15-2011, 10:57 PM
TCinVA, I posted my last poast before i read your last post. i like your split time criteria.

so how about what Todd recently had to say:



it makes perfect sense to me that familiarity with a particular gun is going to be the largest determinate of split times. but is the G17's low bore axis a non-issue? Todd at least hints at the possibility that it might have come into play (though he in no way implies that it is the deciding factor). so perhaps you would at least allow that a low bore axis might be a little more important than the color of the gun? ;)

EDIT: @ TCinVA, again I missed your last post! i agree that discussions on this topic tend to become inexplicably heated on other boards. that's one reason that i thought i'd register here--the discussions seem to stay more reasonable :)

Hate to keep beating a dead horse, but in order to see these very slight differences like ToddG has that he MIGHT be able to attribute to bore axis (he correctly does not definitively say any one variable is responsible for his slightly varied numbers) you must be a very, very, very good shooter. There is no way around this prerequisite. Very, very, very good shooters tend to not be concerned with such minutiae. They are, however, typically concerned with practicing alot with what they have and improving with it.

"but he shoots 50k+ rounds a year, and I only get to shoot 1.5k. Wouldn't a low bore axis gun help me maximize my potential?"

Seems very unlikely. If world class shooters see only slight differences, what are the odds of you seeing a big difference?

there is no substitute for practice

Sadly it seems that most any thought about bore axis/caliber/trigger reset etc etc tends to quickly go from "interesting" to "distraction".

TCinVA
08-15-2011, 11:18 PM
TCinVA, I posted my last poast before i read your last post. i like your split time criteria.

so how about what Todd recently had to say:


Look carefully at that statement again:

Todd keeps insanely detailed records of his performance on standardized drills...to the point where he gets all frowny-faced on you if you're running the timer for him and you accidentally zap the times for the drill because you don't know how to work whatever timer he's using this week because the last ones were spawns of Satan sent to earth solely to vex him. So we're talking about a shooter who was A. far more skilled with a pistol than most shooters to start with (just objective fact whether anyone likes the guy or not) B. kept insanely detailed records of his performance with a number of different handguns C. who had an additional 75,000+ rounds of practice (what literally is almost 5 years of training ammo for even some of the most dedicated shooters) and yet he still could not identify the bore axis as a significant contributor to the very slight increase in performance because there are simply too many variables that can play into the outcome.

You might also note that Todd has noted increased performance with the Grip Force adapter in place than without it...which actually makes the bore axis a bit higher on the Glock pistol. If the bore axis was really the secret sauce that wouldn't be the expected outcome.



but is the G17's low bore axis a non-issue? Todd at least hints at the possibility that it might have come into play (though he in no way implies that it is the deciding factor). so perhaps you would at least allow that a low bore axis might be a little more important than the color of the gun? ;)


No, and for a couple of reasons:

1. Comparing it to worrying about the color of the gun was a stroke of rhetorical genius, in my opinion, and there's no way I'm giving that up. :D

2. If the contribution it makes is so minor that even someone with those kind of detailed records and almost 150,000 rounds downrange through a high bore axis pistol (the P30 and the HK45 combined) in between what will likely be around 150,000 rounds through low bore axis pistols (M&P and Glock 17) all within a few years time can't really state that it's making a practical difference in his shooting....well...it's really difficult to argue that it's a metric anyone should be concerned with. It's the best case scenario for being able to demonstrate that a low bore axis pistol allows X% faster performance, and yet the numbers don't seem to make a compelling argument for it. The best you can get is a maybe if you're hovering at a number of trigger pulls that exceeds what 99.xxxxxx% of people will ever be able to do through a handgun in a lifetime.



EDIT: @ TCinVA, again I missed your last post! i agree that discussions on this topic tend to become inexplicably heated on other boards. that's one reason that i thought i'd register here--the discussions seem to stay more reasonable :)

So far it has been. A discussion can be intense, but still reasonable assuming everyone involved displays good sense.

John Ralston
08-15-2011, 11:35 PM
The fact that Todd's record for the FAST is with the P30 should eliminate much of the debate.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

Comedian
08-16-2011, 01:42 AM
In the "Art of the dynamic handgun" DVD, Travis Haley & Chris Costa espouse the benefit's of using a pistol with a low bore axis. So there are some trainers of good repute, recommending using Glock's/M&P's, based on that.

DannyZRC
08-16-2011, 06:20 AM
My uneducated, inexperienced 2 cents to add to the discussion:

the high tang grip that is so espoused has function beyond the relation of the recoil impulse to your hand and wrist.

The position of the gun relative to your skeleton is mediated by this stringy red goo we call flesh, which is malleable; the high tang grip serves to compress and stabilize the flesh in the web of your thumb, thereby minimizing the variation of the gun->skeleton relationship before and after a shooting event.

If the gun isn't making contact with the web of your thumb, then the rotation is only arrested by the muscular action of the fingers, and as the gun tilts in your hand, it may slip and change it's position relative to your skeleton upon post-firing stabilization.

Your body is mapping the gun using the sights via your eyes, and using that map to cause your musculature to properly align the gun to a target. If the gun's relationship to your skeleton isn't 1:1, then this greatly increases the amount of work your brain has to do to correctly align the sites to the target.

So, maybe when Ken Hackathorn or LAV adjust the shape of a pistol to achieve a high tang grip I imagine they're far more concerned with the ability of the hand to create a solid interface to the rear of the gun and to make sure that as many hands as possible can achieve a solid stable grip. They may on some level care that it lowers the bore axis because hey, it's a good thing, but there's more at play than bore axis height when referring to the high tang grip on a gun.

an argument in support is the grip force adapter, which improves the interface with the hand but raises the bore axis.

beltjones
08-16-2011, 01:22 PM
Steve Anderson, a pretty well-known GM once upon a time, and the author of two very good books on dryfire drills, had this to day on the benosphere in regards to power factor vs. speed. Considering the comment was about a higher power factor causing more flip, and thus slowing down shooting, I think it applies equally well to the discussion of the effects of bore height. The emphasis added is my own.

"As you progress, you'll find that things like loads and springs matter less and less.

I don't want to give the idea that they aren't important, because they are to an extent.

When I shot Berettas in production, I used mousefart loads because the gun liked them and would run well. (very light slide, relatively heavy frame)

My XD likes a snappier load and needs more power to run well.

In your specific case, I would suggest that you shot the way you always shoot, and may not have been seeing enough to allow the differences to, uh, be seen.

And, two different guns makes the comparison almost pointless.

All that really matters is predictable sight lift and return. You'll never get in tune with it if you keep changing things.

And then one day none of it will matter much.

Just reread the original post, "My theory is that I can't see fast enough to take advantage of the lower recoil."

Exchange "can't" for "didn't" and remove the word "fast" and you're exactly right."

DonovanM
08-16-2011, 01:35 PM
My grip strength is good from weightlifting since I'm 14. My Sig P226 in 9mm is not hard to control, but my G19 will always be faster, getting back on target, than the Sig. That will not change if i get stronger or weaker, or if my technique improves. Its a matter of physics.

You must be capable of some pretty sick split times. I can shoot .15 splits out of my SIG, and I'd be able to shoot much faster if my technique and/or strength improved based on the fact that my slide cycles and my gun is back on target in ~.05 seconds after firing. It sounds like you've looked at your split times and can provide objective numbers to showcase the differences between the two platforms?

Not that split times matter that much in any realm of running a handgun. Even in the fastest and most demanding application for autoloaders, USPSA - Todd Jarrett once said that he could beat anyone in the game if he could shoot .15 splits at every target.

And none of this makes me want a G34 any less, but that's because of the extra inch of sight radius :)

ToddG
08-16-2011, 03:11 PM
Its a matter of physics.

A balloon full of helium has much more mass than a balloon full of hydrogen, relatively speaking. But in absolute terms, they're effectively identical for anything that's going to matter to you or me ... unless you smoke. That's physics, too.

ToddG
08-16-2011, 03:27 PM
More thoughts:

The GFA thing is a great point. Many people find it improves their recoil management, but it demonstrably raises the bore axis over the hand by a bit. I'd suggest that's because the benefits it provides in terms of angles and contact patch location/size are so astronomically more important.

Don't confuse "getting a high grip" with "low bore axis." Those are two totally different things. Take a very low bore axis gun and get a bad grip -- even if it's still higher toward the slide than a perfect grip on a higher bore axis gun -- and you'll suffer. Getting a high grip is about physiology more than physics.

If your blind splits with a stock SIG are faster than your blind splits with a G19, is that because of the high bore axis or the shorter reset? Or could it be because you practice more with the G19? Blind splits are a bad way to judge a pistol's practical functionality, anyway.

JodyH
08-16-2011, 05:27 PM
The fastest aimed splits I've ever shot were with a Walther P99 9mm, which a lot of people complain about having a lot of muzzle flip and a high bore axis.
My 7 yard -0 splits were in the .10 range with the P99.
For comparison my Glock 17 splits were in the .17 range, my H&K LEM splits are around .20 (P2000, P2000Sk and P30) and my Kahr splits are in the .20 range.
In my experience shooting fast splits is dependent on a combination of grip shape, bore axis, trigger characteristics, slide to frame weight ratios, overall gun weight, spring rates and sights... basically the whole gun.
You cannot narrow it down to just bore axis.

Comedian
08-16-2011, 06:37 PM
The fastest aimed splits I've ever shot were with a Walther P99 9mm, which a lot of people complain about having a lot of muzzle flip and a high bore axis.
My 7 yard -0 splits were in the .10 range with the P99.
For comparison my Glock 17 splits were in the .17 range, my H&K LEM splits are around .20 (P2000, P2000Sk and P30) and my Kahr splits are in the .20 range.
In my experience shooting fast splits is dependent on a combination of grip shape, bore axis, trigger characteristics, slide to frame weight ratios, overall gun weight, spring rates and sights... basically the whole gun.
You cannot narrow it down to just bore axis.

Good points.

will_1400
08-17-2011, 10:34 PM
For me, bore axis doesn't seem to matter much. I've fired 1911s, Glocks, and SIGs (all of them range rentals/friends' guns) and I shoot the SIG the best, even though it's the "flippiest" of the bunch. As Todd and others have said, there's a lot that goes into this kind of thing and bore axis is a very small part of the equation. Just a noob's 2 cents.

ExMachina
08-17-2011, 11:02 PM
Well, this thread has at least killed my Glock fixation--I've never been able to shoot them well but thought I've give a G17 another chance b/c of the low bore axis. Glad I can put that to bed.

So I went and got a P30 instead :p

Mjolnir
08-18-2011, 06:00 AM
I've found that initially low bore axis made a difference but as I learned to shoot it mattered less.

ToddG
08-18-2011, 11:51 AM
I've found that initially low bore axis made a difference but as I learned to shoot it mattered less.

Let's explore that. Not picking on you, but this is a common statement and I often see it used by trainers to justify recommending low bore axis guns.

Before you learned to shoot, were you actually measuring performance scientifically between multiple types of guns? Put another way, what makes you say you shot the low bore axis guns better? You may have perceived less movement of the gun/muzzle, but did that really translate into improved performance in some measurable way? Furthermore, what other variables -- sights, trigger, grip texture, etc. -- were at play?

ExMachina
08-19-2011, 10:39 AM
Let's explore that. Not picking on you, but this is a common statement and I often see it used by trainers to justify recommending low bore axis guns.

Before you learned to shoot, were you actually measuring performance scientifically between multiple types of guns? Put another way, what makes you say you shot the low bore axis guns better? You may have perceived less movement of the gun/muzzle, but did that really translate into improved performance in some measurable way? Furthermore, what other variables -- sights, trigger, grip texture, etc. -- were at play?

I'll bite on the bait ;)

Low bore axis pistols (whether or not they are more controllable) generally have a lower center of gravity, sit lower in the hand, and point more naturally. A newer shooter may not be able to piece all that apart, but they will recognize when a gun feels more stable in the hand. For example, Sigs feel top heavy to me and that seems to be a pretty common first impression. This may have zero impact ultimate performance (ie, the performance attainable after much practice) but such a first impression will strongly color how you may think about a gun in terms of being "shoot-able".

And maybe that psychological element of "shoot-ability" is more at play here that muzzle flip (ie, in terms of how bore axis correlates with the kind of gun a shooter feels comfortable with). Now that I think about it, I sold my Glock 19 because it wasn't shoot-able for me. The grip felt blocky, and angle felt off and the slide chewed up my hand. The gun had good sights and I really liked the trigger. However, my feeling of not finding the gun comfortable to hold and shoot trumped the "real" factors of reliability and good sights/trigger. It made selling the G19 a pretty easy choice.

ToddG
08-19-2011, 12:07 PM
Two points:

First, "pointability" is purely subjective. For every person who loves how a (Glock, SIG, 1911, banana) points there is someone who says that it sucks.

Second, if psychology is the issue with your shooting, it's not your pistol hat needs changing.

ExMachina
08-19-2011, 02:16 PM
Two points:

First, "pointability" is purely subjective. For every person who loves how a (Glock, SIG, 1911, banana) points there is someone who says that it sucks.

Second, if psychology is the issue with your shooting, it's not your pistol hat needs changing.

Your earlier post was talking about new shooters (ie, "Before you learned to shoot"). I'd say that psychology and subjective criteria are pretty much all that matter at that point.

ToddG
08-19-2011, 03:28 PM
Not might be all they understand, but it doesn't equate with anything that masters in terms of actual performance.

Mjolnir
08-21-2011, 01:05 PM
Let's explore that. Not picking on you, but this is a common statement and I often see it used by trainers to justify recommending low bore axis guns.

Before you learned to shoot, were you actually measuring performance scientifically between multiple types of guns? Put another way, what makes you say you shot the low bore axis guns better? You may have perceived less movement of the gun/muzzle, but did that really translate into improved performance in some measurable way? Furthermore, what other variables -- sights, trigger, grip texture, etc. -- were at play?

Actually, I did shoot the Glock 19 well though the grip felt "odd" compared to my friend's P228 and P225. As far as accuracy was concerned the Sigs would put in the most accurate group though I felt better - on average shot better thus more confident - with the GLOCK. Tried a Sig P220 (too much muzzle flip), tried a USP9 and USP45 (my impression was muzzle "whip" on the .45 but the USP9 was not as controllable when trying to shoot "controlled pairs"). Then I quit thinking and began shooting and eventually picked up a Sig P226. I felt and still feel that I can hit anything with one. Ditto with any of the HKs and the Sig P220. Yes, I've refined my grip and to prove the bore axis matters less I can shoot the Glock 23 fairly well at speed as well as the USP40 and P226 in .40 S&W. Sure the splits aren't quite the same nor are the first or second string of fire in a drill as tight with the .40 vs. the 9mm but I don't complain about the increased snappiness of the larger caliber.

All of the evidence is anecdotal but (and you already know this) you have to just "get on with getting on" as opposed to trying to consciously "figure it all out". I had to quit thinking and just learn.

Oddly enough, once I got pretty good with the 19 I sold it for a USP45 Tactical and the sense of extreme muzzle flip had me studying my grip. Once I tried a P7M8 I realized that I was not using consistent pressure with either hand and when I picked up the USP (surprise, surprise) it shot where I wished the bullets to go just fine.

What I find more important is the ergonomics (grip angle, circumference and shape) is more critical to me shooting quickly and accurately. Of course, trigger control is all and that is where I fail.

GJM
08-21-2011, 10:08 PM
If there is a drawback to a higher bore axis, it is that the higher bore axis pistol is taller, and thus slightly harder to conceal for a given length barrel and grip.

All other things equal, the only thing that matters to me in shootability is the trigger. Underscoring that point, I got my hands on an M&P with the new Apex FSS trigger, and it took .20 off my FAST drills in the first short range session. Never shot such good splits on a FAST before, and also loved the trigger on my drill where I have 8 inch steel at 15, 25, 40 with a full IPSC as the stop plate at 100 yards. I can see that I am going to be sending more money to APEX, as the FSS turns the M&P into the closest thing to a 1911 I have felt in a polymer pistol.

JohnN
08-22-2011, 10:29 AM
If there is a drawback to a higher bore axis, it is that the higher bore axis pistol is taller, and thus slightly harder to conceal for a given length barrel and grip.

All other things equal, the only thing that matters to me in shootability is the trigger. Underscoring that point, I got my hands on an M&P with the new Apex FSS trigger, and it took .20 off my FAST drills in the first short range session. Never shot such good splits on a FAST before, and also loved the trigger on my drill where I have 8 inch steel at 15, 25, 40 with a full IPSC as the stop plate at 100 yards. I can see that I am going to be sending more money to APEX, as the FSS turns the M&P into the closest thing to a 1911 I have felt in a polymer pistol.

Are you getting away from your HK's then?

I love M&P's but that FSS trigger scares me for use in the appendix position.

GJM
08-22-2011, 10:40 AM
I have a love/hate thing going on with the HK pistols. Love how accurate, how reliable, how well made, and how suitable for cold weather, adverse conditions and appendix carry the LEM trigger is. Hate how I shoot a Glock, and especially an M&P, so much better on the timer, and so much better support hand only.

Right now, an HK is the only pistol I will carry in an appendix holster, although I am considering an M&P with thumb safety, where the thumb safety has been modified to make the engagement more positive. I think an M&P 45 mid-size with an FSS trigger at 4 to 4.5 pounds, and a thumb safety, is a very shootable, attractive pistol.

ToddG
08-22-2011, 12:45 PM
Just left Ernest Langdon's place. He's shooting a P30 now. Loves it. I asked him about the bore axis and he looked at me like you'd look at a student asking why the square peg won't go in the round hole.

TCinVA
08-22-2011, 04:17 PM
Well...kinda what one would expect given that he won USPSA national titles with a high bore-axis pistol.

ToddG
08-22-2011, 04:21 PM
Well...kinda what one would expect given that he won USPSA national titles with a high bore-axis pistol.

But the internet says that would be...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vz8oXaRx11w/TdRJQ5QebVI/AAAAAAAAAMw/dISV4Vlk-uc/s400/unpossible.png

JV
08-22-2011, 07:56 PM
Some say he blinks sideways...


In the end, it doesn't matter what you give him, he can drive it well.

-Sent using Tapatalk.

Tamara
08-22-2011, 10:24 PM
Some say he blinks sideways...


In the end, it doesn't matter what you give him, he can drive it well.
I seem to remember the year he won CDP at the IDPA Nats with a 220 and the SIG fanbois were going nuts on the forums, like the P-220 had dragged itself to the firing line and won all by its lonesome...

ToddG
08-23-2011, 12:41 AM
I seem to remember the year he won CDP at the IDPA Nats with a 220 and the SIG fanbois were going nuts on the forums, like the P-220 had dragged itself to the firing line and won all by its lonesome...

Maybe it's because I was there, but in fairness I do think there was cause to celebrate. A fairly stock double action SIG beat every top dollar custom tuned 1911 out there. Could the average guy have accomplished that? No. Whether you want to believe it was superior to those 1911s or not, it certainly proved it wasn't inferior as so many folks wanted to tell us all season long.

DonovanM
08-23-2011, 02:13 AM
Leatham also won the 06 Production Nats shooting an XD, beating out the Vogel-Sevigny wonderduo (still not entirely convinced they're separate people). Something else that's impossible, an old man with a high bore axis gun couldn't possibly defeat two sprightly young men with Glocks...

Tamara
08-23-2011, 07:53 AM
Whether you want to believe it was superior to those 1911s or not, it certainly proved it wasn't inferior as so many folks wanted to tell us all season long.Must've been the bore axis. ;)

Seriously, though, if there's any point that I'm carrying away from this thread, it's that, for all the talk about bore axis and pull weight and reset length and whatever, the single most important variable is the torque on the trigger nut, and it's big enough to reduce those other factors to statistical noise.

GJM
08-23-2011, 09:47 AM
Agreed on the trigger puller being a big number one, but thereafter, I think it is trigger quality as number two, with the rest being noise.

LittleLebowski
08-23-2011, 10:00 AM
Maybe it's because I was there, but in fairness I do think there was cause to celebrate. A fairly stock double action SIG beat every top dollar custom tuned 1911 out there. Could the average guy have accomplished that? No. Whether you want to believe it was superior to those 1911s or not, it certainly proved it wasn't inferior as so many folks wanted to tell us all season long.

This event along with the day that the AMU's M16s whipped the Marines' M14s at Camp Perry are two I wish I'd seen personally.