Consistency And Commonality


With today’s designs you can have a variety of different sized pistols, in different calibers,
and yet they all feel the same — consistency.


Consistently applying the four firearm safety rules greatly reduces the chances you’ll make a mistake, or that your negligence will have tragic consequences. Bad guys aren’t concerned with sweeping others with their muzzle, keeping their fingers off the trigger or even where their bullets end up. Dogmatic application of the four rules — consistency — is mandatory, especially during the stress of a violent attack.

During Shootrite classes I stress the need to consistently use proper technique when manipulating the firearm. No, I’m not saying what I teach is the only way to perform these actions, although I believe they are. Using the proper technique, whether on the range, at home or defending against an attacker, makes you efficient.

Learning requires repetition. You perform a sequence over and over until it occurs seemingly without thought. The only way to operate at this level is to execute that action the same way, every time. One wrong repetition — according to the experts — requires 50 good reiterations to push that single, incorrect rep over to the side. If you’re not doing it right you’re better off not doing it at all.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “You don’t rise to the occasion, but default to your lowest level of training.” The “wrong” repetitions are your “lowest” level. Using proper technique every time ensures your lowest level is “right,” meaning efficient. Under stress, when time is crucial, you don’t have to take time to “think” about the proper manipulation techniques because there’s only one way you always do it — as if lives depend on your performance. Which they do.

Consistency applies to the firearms I use and carry. In the semi-auto category are the 1911 and Browning Hi Power. They’re both single-action pistols, there’s a thumb safety to manipulate and the mag release is in the same location. My 1911’s have a 51/2-lb. trigger, and the Hi Power trigger is about the same. When I carry a GLOCK, it too has a 5.5-lb. trigger. Anyone looking in my gun safe would be bored; there’s several of the same weapons, but not much variety.

A defensive trifecta: A K-Frame in .357, a J-Frame in .38 Special back-up and a Marlin lever
action for longer — or more accurate — shots. This is a great package for those living in areas
where AR platforms are illegal.


The principle of commonality is often ignored. Shooters are constantly trying to swap between completely different pistol types, such as single action, double and the double/single action — which also have different safety features. This is difficult to do under the controlled environment of the range. In a self-defense situation it’s almost impossible. Commonality, using the same type weapon consistently, simplifies matters.

With today’s offering of handguns, commonality is easily achieved. You have a full-size pistol for the home, and a mid or compact weapon for a carry and/or backup gun. They all operate the same and on some models the full-size mags will also fit the smaller pistols.

With revolvers you can carry a full size .357 Magnum on the belt, and a compact .38 Special as a backup, maybe in an ankle holster. Operation is the same and the .38 Special ammo you carry works in both revolvers. For the ultimate commonality, get a lever action rifle/carbine shooting the same ammunition as your revolvers.

Commonality applies to team work too. My better half, Gretchen, carries a GLOCK 19 and a 42. When traveling together I carry the same pistols she does. Same pistols, same calibers and magazines. Either one of us can use the other’s weapons and magazines. The ability to arm a partner — with a weapon they know how to use — or supply them with a mag of ammo is a huge advantage. Individuality is best expressed in the arts or choice of automobile. “Sometimes,” I tell students, “commonality requires a little compromise.”

Consistency and commonality are important principles for self-defense. They are the foundation for safety — your primary concern with firearms, regardless of the application. They create efficiency, a flow — and predictable results from your actions. Simplicity is another benefit, making it easier to solve your violent problem. These two “laws” apply to every aspect of self-defense, even seemingly “small” details.

Although the 1911 and Browning Hi Power are distinctly different internally, they are very common
in terms of operation. It’s easy to swap between these two pistols.

Be Smart

Don’t get me wrong, you should know how to operate all the different and common types of weapons. Any time you get the opportunity to test fire a gun you’re unfamiliar with take advantage of the opportunity. You never know when it will be necessary to “adapt, improvise and overcome.”

But there’s no denying focusing on consistency and commonality will make you and yours more efficient. After all, if required to shoot, stopping the threat(s) as efficiently as possible is the ultimate goal.

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