Over the last decade, handguns have been getting lighter and progressively improving. With lightweight polymer guns like the SIG Sauer P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat dropping onto the market, things have changed. The days of carrying around a real heavy metal-framed handgun are over, or are they? There are plenty of arguments online about how lightweight handguns are the best and there are valid points for that, but metal-framed guns have their advantages. Let’s jump into why weight isn’t always bad and some of the advantages of metal-framed handguns.
Probably the biggest benefit to having a metal framed handgun over polymer frames is the ability to control recoil easier. In my experience, a low bore axis metal-framed handgun is one of the easiest guns to keep on target during quick double taps or transition drills. A fantastic example is the SP-01 Tactical from CZ USA. Having something with a bit more weight on the bottom end helps keep the gun balanced as well as absorbs some of the felt recoil while shooting. Whenever I take someone out to shoot for the first time I will usually try to get them on either a metal-framed .22 or 9mm caliber pistol. These are typically softer shooting and let people have more control over the gun than something like a polymer pistol.
One handgun that was completely transformed by the addition of a metal frame is the brand new P320 AXG from SIG Sauer. One of the biggest complaints from people who don’t like the P320 is the high bore axis. Others claim the handgun is a bit snappy in certain configurations which I’ve heard but haven’t had issues with personally. The new AXG feels extremely stable and controllable with the additional weight from the metal frame. People will oftentimes ask me what it’s like to shoot and I will typically reply it’s like a striker-fired SIG P229.
I took the same people who complained about the high bore axis out to the range again and something interested happened. Those same people who complained about the polymer-framed P320, immediately said it was an improvement and felt noticeably more flat shooting. It isn’t wizardry or magic, it’s just having a bit more weight in the metal frame.
Long Term Durability
One of the biggest issues with polymer-framed handguns for me is the slow erosion of tactile finishes. Probably the best example of this is my HK USP Compact I have had for almost 20 years now. I have countless rounds through it and over time the frame stippling has been worn down almost completely. Compare that to something like my metal framed handguns with the same age and they are almost the same texture as when they left the factory. It takes a significantly longer period of time to degrade a metal frame over something like a texturized polymer-framed handgun.
Probably one of my favorite things to do is shooting a metal-framed handgun to the 6,000-8,000 round count. Once it hits that 6K range, the gun really starts to become polished and broken in properly. The metal on metal surfaces smooth out to a point where it feels like the slide is riding on glass. I oftentimes will compare having a well shot metal frame handgun to something like a well broken in jacket or Lazyboy chair that just fits you perfectly. It brings me joy just thinking about it.
The Overall Feeling To Shoot
Once you get a metal-framed handgun in that sweet spot where it’s nicely broken in and polished, there’s no better feeling handgun to fire at the range. Whether it’s shooting drills or just enjoying a range day with friends and family, they are some of the most enjoyable handguns to shoot. If you haven’t had the opportunity to shoot a hand-fit or well shot metal-framed gun, I highly suggest you try it out.
One of the best ways to try one is just hitting up your local gun range and shoot one of their metal-framed rental guns. Typically those have been shot enough they will feel really smooth from the high round count they get put through them. The biggest downside with metal-framed handguns is the additional cost but what you gain in return is well worth the little bit of extra weight and price.
Don’t get me wrong, I love polymer handguns and they offer a great combination of capacity with weight-saving materials. There’s a reason the Glock 19 is the best selling handgun on the US Market. They definitely have a place in the market and still remain a great option. Over the last 10 years though, I have just found myself going back time and time again to metal framed handguns for their shootability and easier recoil management. They may seem heavier to carry around for a concealed carry handgun, but in a self-defense situation, they will be easier to control under stress which could make all the difference.
With a good holster and belt, the extra weight is manageable for sure, but there’s no question they are more enjoyable to shoot and the overall durability in the material is an added plus for me. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Is it more enjoyable to carry a metal-framed gun knowing you’ll have a bit heavier carry gun or is it a waste? Definitely let me know because I’m genuinely curious. If you have questions feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.