Rob vs. Rob: A Return of the Great Caliber Wars

I’m old enough to recall the debates of .357 Magnum vs. .45 ACP in the gun magazines. Those arguments came before the rise of the Wonder 9 pistols of the mid to late 1980s.

Once semi-automatic pistols became the norm at police departments and with shooting enthusiasts, I witnessed the arguments of 9mm vs. .40 S&W (and skirmishes over the .357 SIG, 10mm, .400 Corbon and others.)

bullet effectiveness

I thought that shooters got the ill-informed bickering out of their system during those decades and people were off to settle more important issues. Issues like what is the best technique to add an electric fan to your holster or what style of Realtree matches which caliber.

I’m afraid I was wrong.

Recently, Springfield Armory announced a Mod.2 version of the XD-S pistol. Like the original XD-S, Springfield Armory introduced the first guns in .45 ACP. I would expect the company will follow its existing pattern of introducing the follow up gun in 9mm.

It seems that the choice to introduce the gun first in .45 caused some small dust up in social media. At about the same time, competition shooter Rob Leatham, a Springfield Armory representative, put out a video about his preference for the .45 ACP.

In Leatham’s video, he talks about the .45 ACP being “more powerful” than the 9mm. He seems to imply that because the .45 ACP cartridge tends to have more momentum than the 9mm, that it is a better choice for self-defense. Leatham could have demonstrated this with a paper shooting target but opted instead to knock down some steel targets to better illustrate his point. (Ed. note: Leatham’s original video appears to have been taken down.)

In the video, he specifically mentions trainer and author Rob Pincus. Pincus holds a  preference for the 9mm cartridge as a self-defense round.

In response, Pincus posted a bit of a tongue in cheek article that offers evidence to the 9mm cartridge’s usefulness in actual self defense encounters. You can read that article here.

I should note that Leatham and Pincus have worked together in the past, and I believe they are friends. I have no reason to believe there is any animosity between them.

I have a great deal of respect for both Leatham and Pincus. Both have accomplished a great deal in their respective careers. In this video they talk about the calibers and “controversy” here:

Leatham is an accomplished competition shooter. However, in the original video – which has been removed – Leatham appears to make an argument that the .45 offers better “stopping power” than the 9mm based on the concept of momentum. I haven’t heard a serious argument made for momentum being an indicator of load effectiveness against an attacker since the early 90s. I was a bit stunned by his emphatic assertion that momentum as being something of significant note.

However, Leatham appears to suggest in the above video that he wasn’t making any references to the effectiveness of the cartridges in stopping a violent attacker. He said the video was made while he was in his “annoyed mood” and that he might have “snapped” during a conversation off camera about the differences in the two cartridges. Leatham even admits that he was being a “smart ass” with his comment about 9mm being adequate for people that can’t handle .45 ACP.

People rarely make good decisions when they are angry, and the original video may be an example of that.

During the last 30 years, we’ve seen significant advances in both bullet technology and lab testing of defensive loads. Additionally, emergency medical personnel have been interviewed and surveyed to get their insight into the effectiveness of various bullet wounds.

By and large, what is most likely to stop a violent attacker is multiple gunshot wounds delivered quickly into vital areas. That could be from a 9mm, .38 Special, .45 ACP or virtually anything else that can penetrate deeply enough to cause massive bleeding by hitting the heart, lungs or other areas. Barring a hit to the central nervous system (brain and spine), rapid blood loss is what will shut down an attacker.

A quality 9mm hollow point will do the job as effectively as a quality .45 ACP round. Some might argue that extra width gives the .45 a slight advantage in wounding capacity, while others will say that the decreased recoil of the 9mm allows for more rounds to be delivered into the attacker.

My opinion: both will get the job done. Carry what you like and treat everyone’s opinion with a healthy degree of skepticism.


News Documentary on Active Shooter Response

spree killer news

Fighting back against a spree killer (often incorrectly called an ‘active shooter’) is something that many in the mainstream media has unconscionably railed against. From anti-gun opinion pieces disguised as news articles to videos showing the poor performance of armed citizens in contrived situations, much of the old media has been wrongly beating the idea that you cannot fight back into the brains of viewers.

Tonight, however, there will be a different look at the situation. For the Record, an investigative journalism television program, takes on actively resisting a mass murderer.

For the Record is an hour long television news program that does in-depth investigations into various topics. I’ve seen some of its work on Islamic extremism, the Fort Hood shooting, the 2008 financial crisis, drug cartel violence and BMA land grabs. While much of the information they provide is unsettling, I have always found it to be accurate and apolitical. So, I am looking forward to watching this show tonight.

The above video is a preview clip with Rob Pincus, the owner of I.C.E. Training and developer of the Combat Focus Shooting techniques. In addition to operating a successful self-defense firearms school, Pincus is an author and frequent guest on news programs. He is extremely knowledgable on the defensive use of force including how the body alarm response plays into the encounter. Pincus is also one of the driving forces behind the new PD10 pistols from Avidity Arms.

Below is a video teaser from For the Record on the episode:

For what it is worth, I have taken a Combat Focus Shooting class taught by Deryck Poole of Echo-5 Training. Poole, an instructor affiliated with I.C.E. Training, provided top notch training and offered great insight into the shooting system. Whether you train with Pincus or one of his affiliated instructors, the courses are worth taking.

The show also highlights Endeavor Defense and Fitness in Hilliard, OH. In fact, Endeavor Fitness seems to have been the inspiration for the program, as For the Record did a short piece on them last December. Based on that video, it looks like these guys are offering some solid advice on how to respond if confronted with a nightmare scenario in a gun free environment.

I recommend taking the time to watch the show. Though I’ve not yet seen it, I am confident in the ability of both Pincus and For the Record to deliver informative and engaging content that is worth my time.

The Blaze is a multi-media network that started online and is now carried on a number of cable and satellite providers such as Verizon FIOS and the DISH Network. Additionally, the network is available as a streaming service (with apps for Roku, Apple TV and Amazon’s FireTV in addition to your computer and phone/tablet.) The streaming service is a subscription, but you can join for only $1 for 30 days and then cancel if you just want to watch this show. (Note: I’m not an affiliate of The Blaze, and I don’t make a dime if you choose to subscribe to its service. I am, however, a subscriber myself.)


Avidity Arms PD10

What happens when you mix an experienced gun designer, successful firearms distributor, a gun sales expert and noted self-defense instructor? In this case, a new company and pistol. Say hello to the Avidity Arms PD10.

Avidity Arms is a new company born to deliver a handgun designed for the concealed carry, self-defense market. The brainchild of Mike Sodini, Brad Thomas, Rafael DelValle and Rob Pincus, the PD10 started like many great American designs: on a napkin during a conversation. From those initial discussions, the pistol moved from the drawing board to the factory. Now the company is ready to pull back the curtain for a peek at the new pistol.

Avidity Arms PD10

Pincus was kind enough to talk with me about the gun, and give me some insight into its development. I thank him for providing much of the information in this article.

Quick Note About the Prototype

hand fit on PD10

Photos in this article are of an advanced prototype gun. It has a CNC machined frame instead of the polymer one. So, if you see the finish imperfections, just keep in mind that this is not the end product. It is a working prototype that is having the snot beat out of it to find the imperfections. Additionally, some things on the prototype gun will change in the final pistol. For example, the trigger shown is not the intended final product.

General Design

In basic terms, the PD10 is a polymer-framed 9mm pistol that uses a single stack magazine. The overall gun size is likely to be compared to a Glock 19 or Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0. Yet, with a single stack magazine, the gun can be much thinner than the Glock. And since the gun is designed around the 9mm – not the .45 ACP – it’s possible the gun could be made even thinner than the XD-S.

I’ve often advocated for a single stack version of the Glock 19, so this general design envelope is interesting to me.

Avidity Arms PD10 prototype

The gun is striker-fired and has no external safeties to manipulate. There are internal safeties and a trigger block to ensure the gun does not accidentally discharge if struck or dropped.

For greater insight into the thought process that went into the design of the gun, take a look at this article written by Pincus in 2014. In it, he lays out the fundamental aspects of what the ideal personal defense gun might look like. Frankly, it sounds like he was describing the pistol Avidity Arms is now developing.

Additional Features

slide on the PD10

The gun will ship with the I.C.E. Claw Emergency Manipulation Sights. Both sights will be replaceable using a S&W sized cut up front and a Glock sized rear. Magazines will have the I.C.E. Claw baseplates installed.

The PD10 will have a loaded chamber indicator similar to what is found on many Ruger pistols. While I generally consider these to be superfluous, they don’t detract from the reliability in any way, so I don’t mind them.

The underside of the gun will have a short accessory rail for the addition of a light or supplemental aiming device.

Reliability and the 9mm

Designed around the 9mm cartridge, the PD10 is purpose built to be reliable in the face of a deadly force encounter. Pincus advised that the gun is in the final stages of tweaking and testing to ensure reliability, and that the gun shows great promise. With his name attached to the project, I have no doubt that he will make sure the gun is a solid performer before the first one ships.

A cornerstone of reliability in a semi-automatic pistol is feeding from the magazine. To ensure consistent feeding, a designer may start the design with the magazine and then build the gun around it. In this case, the PD10 was built around an existing magazine design: the 10-round 1911 9mm magazine.

Avidity Arms PD10 review

By building the gun around the 1911 magazines, Avidity Arms ensured they would be working with a proven design. This is important with any caliber, but especially so with the 9×19 cartridge.

The 9mm round has a tapered case instead of a straight walled case. Without getting too deep into the physics, the rounds have a propensity to curve when stacked in a magazine. To see that in real life, lay 10 or so 9mm rounds next to each other on a table and you can see how they start to form a semi-circle.

Tilting of the cartridge in the magazine can cause feeding problems, but these are problems that can be overcome. Starting with an existing magazine design ensures that the company won’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel.

The gun will ship with the reputable McCormick magazines. The bottom of the frame is scalloped for easier grip on the magazine should it need to be stripped from the gun in a double feed situation.

Pricing and Availability

Rob Pincus pistol

Pincus advised that the pistol has been under development for about two years, and the first guns should ship later this year. From my observations in the past, 2-3 years is normal for product development in this industry.

Made in the United States, the guns will have an attractive price point: $499. As with many firearms, I would expect the guns to sell for less in the store: maybe around $450.

Update – September 2016

The PD10 is still in development and looks to start shipping in early 2017. Rob Pincus recently released the below video which depicts a pre-production gun built to production specifications:

Pincus is advising the MSRP will be $499, so it sounds like they’ve been able to keep costs in line with projections. All of the previously described features – from the Chip McCormick mags to the AmerigGlo front sight – are all in the final spec gun.

I look forward to shooting one of these in a review once they become available.

Final Update

It appears the PD10 project is dead. Even if it wasn’t, at this point it is largely irrelevant. When the gun was first conceived, there was a hole in the market for a thin pistol that was roughly in the size range of the Glock 19.

Since then, guns like the Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro and the Glock 43X MOS have largely filled that gap.

Last Update: October 17, 2022