OCTOBER 10, 2017

Editor's Notebook: Pushing Left

This is "pushing left." The target was shot at ten yards with the Ruger SR1911-9mm lightweight "Commander" style pistol."
Part of the joy of this email newsletter format is in receiving feedback from readers – and getting to respond to it in this space. Aside from it being "content," it helps me investigate various issues, learn things from others – getting another take on what I know to be true or what I believe. In a recent story about "single stack" autos, I mentioned that I was pushing left with the 9mm Commander-size Ruger SR1911. I got the following response: "The next time you seem to be pushing shots left, put the gun in the left hand and shoot a group. If it still shoots left, it's the gun. If not, go look in the mirror. "Try pulling the front sight through the rear sight notch with the trigger by imagining a connection between the two. This will facilitate pressure on the trigger parallel to the gun. "Let me know how it goes." That's good advice, a firearms instructor's advice from one of the very best in the business. He's been responsible for producing great improvement in a great many shooters – likely saving lives in the process. It's good advice as far as it goes – and it's very relevant to the piece under discussion. It's not always true and therein lies the problem: whenever anyone says "keep it simple," there's the presumption that the problem is simple. Variables intrude.
Shooting "wrong-handed" can tell you if the tendency to push your shots to the non-gun side is your fault or the gun's "fault."
Variables include physical issues with the shooters: hand size, vision, grip technique and strength – or any combination – and that can be magnified by the size and form of the gun. In keeping with that view, I wandered back out to the range with the gun in question, another 9mm – the Gen5 Glock 19 I've been having struggles with in attaining zero, and with a .22 revolver. I used the Birchwood Casey RIGID Precision Square target. It features 9 two-inch squares each with a one-inch square in its center, kind of an 'X' ring. I divided the squares left to right, each row containing squares to be shot with one of the three guns; the SR1911 9mm was on top, the center row was for the Glock 19 and the bottom was for the 17-ounce Ruger LCRx 22 revolver. Each column was for "handedness." The left column was for shooting left-handed, the center was two-hands using the "dominant" hand to control the gun. The right column was for right-handed shooting; I shot those squares one-handed.
The top two squares, shot with the SR1911 show a left-ward tendency even when fired left handed. The Gen5 Glock 19 had the sights adjusted to center for windage but was high. The two-inch squares were shot at five yards. The additional shot in the top left square was "shooting unlocked" with the Glock.
The distance was five yards. While there's not much variation in windage at that near distance, there is some and five yards is close. The error is magnified the further back you get. The SR1911 shot just a shade left on each of its three squares. The G19 was going high but was reasonably well centered. The revolver was likewise centered. What did I prove? While I described the left-leaning tendencies of the Ruger auto, I referred to it as my "pushing" shots left – hence, admitting it was me. Now – I'm not so sure. I found three sources that indicate that the leftward tendency – for right-handed shooters – is a "thing" with Glock pistols. And so it is. I've witnessed it hundreds of times. At Glock Professional, the first week of August, I was pushing left with a Glock 17, as was Bob Radecki, National Sales Manager of Glock. This was so unheard of that "Gen1" instructor Chris Edwards had his sight pusher on the premises. It's so unheard of that Glock factory sights for the Gen5 guns fill less of the dovetail so pushing them right doesn't look as odd as it did with earlier editions. Larry Vickers has commented online that he tends to hit left with Glock pistols also.
Shooting for precision with a very light .22 DA revolver -- the Ruger LCRx 22 -- helps reinforce trigger control and follow-through.
Two sources, one was Pat McNamara, agreed that using the distal joint of the trigger finger was called for on the Glock series of guns. If the index finger is a lever, the pad is further from the second joint – the fulcrum – than the distal joint. Using the distal joint, closer to the "center" has more leverage. This means it's less likely you'll move the muzzle off plumb. The rounded grip of the Glock is also an issue. One writer described "Glock milking" – loading pressure on the sides of the grip frame instead of "C-clamping" the front strap toward the back strap. Add the two and you're less likely to push left – unless you do. And it's not 100%: there are many shooters who never experience the "Glock push." I have it – and as my correspondent noted – it likely migrates to other designs as I try to use common techniques across platforms. Before you get out the sight pusher or hammer-and-drift, bury that index finger into the trigger guard and check your grip. - - Rich Grassi