Small Pistol Shooting, Semi-auto pistol tips

At the recent 2020 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous, we spent the day on the range with SCCY and the company’s vice president of sales, Scott McGregor. Now we at PDW have known Scotty for a long, long time. From industry events, to 3-gun matches, to range days of every sort, McGregor remains a top ambassador to the shooting sports. And we couldn’t walk away without racking McGregor’s brain for some pro tips for small pistol shooting.

Pro Tips for Shooting a Small Pistol

You see, McGregor isn’t just a company rep, he’s also a top-flight shooter. How good? He recently won the 308 Optics Division at the 2020 Magpul Wyoming Governor’s Match. Simply stated, the dude can rip it. Now he helps lead a brand that increasingly excels in the concealed carry market, making affordable, reliable and highly concealable semi-autos.

Along the way, McGregor really spent time with the product lines. He’s put a tremendous amount of rounds downrange, giving him an expert’s view of what it takes, from a competitor’s and concealed carrier’s point of view, to shoot tiny guns well. So we asked Scott to give us five pro tips to help shooters get on target with tiny semi-autos.

Ah, Trigger Control

PDW: In terms of shooting small guns, what becomes the toughest thing, in your experience, for shooters to master when going small?

SM: I find people tend to confuse small, concealable guns with being easy to shoot. What they don’t realize, the smaller guns tend to have a much snappier recoil impulse. Because of this, people tend to anticipate the recoil as they are pressing the trigger, which will usually cause the “these sights shoot low and left” issue. If they take a few dry fire shots after shooting, you’ll usually see the muzzle dip significantly as they are pressing the trigger, their brain is expecting that recoil and trying to mitigate the effect of the explosion and recoil in their hands before it happens.

Dry fire practice is VERY helpful and it doesn’t cost anything. When I am working with SCCY customers, I make sure to have them dry fire. Our CPX line of pistols are all double-action-only. It’s very important for them to see they can press the double-action triggers and keep the sights on target.

Shoot Your Carry Gun!

PDW: How should concealed carriers in particular practice in a way that makes them more successful getting rounds on target?

SM: In my experience carrying, it seems I don’t shoot my carry gun often enough. We all get busy, life happens and taking the extra time to put some rounds downrange and clean the lint off of my carry pistol is overlooked. Personally, I like to run the “one hole” drill with my carry pistol. It doesn’t take a ton of ammo and I get a feel for where my carry gun is shooting out to 20 or 25 yards.

Shooters must learn to handle a shorter, snappier recoil impulse when shooting tiny guns.

The drill may have other names, but I’ve used it for a long time. Using the same point of aim, I shoot three shots from 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards. I take my time, trying to make precise shots. I will also utilize an 8.5×11-inch sheet of paper on a target when I practice drawing from concealment. Again, most drills can be done with dry fire at home. 

Why Go Small at All?

PDW: Bigger, full-size guns deliver a longer sight radius. They typically provide more ease of use to many shooters. Why trade off and go small anyway?

SM: There are times when a full-size is great and easy to carry, but there are also times where it may not be feasible. I consider the kind of clothing I will be wearing. This is determined by a few things: weather, time of year, what will I be doing? I know there are folks who will question convenience and comfort over firepower. For me, it’s all about actually having your gun with you. In the summer when I am wearing my “dad cargo shorts” and a t-shirt, it is better for me to have a gun which I will take the time to grab and go. With the proliferation of higher-performance 9mm ammo, it has become the “go to” cartridge for concealed carry. It is not necessary to carry a full-size pistol to have good bullet performance.

Little Guns Can Do Big Things

PDW: Last year at Rendezvous, we spent much of the day ringing steel out past 100 yards with SCCY pistols. It was incredible. Most folks wouldn’t think compact and subcompact guns deliver that kind of inherent accuracy. What is your experience?

SM: Being a competitive shooter, I love to try and see how far I can shoot anything. Every trip to my local range includes 10-inch round steel plates at 50, 75 and 100 yards. Think about it like this, you may never need to shoot your carry pistol at extended distances, but when you’re practicing, the fun factor is high. Knowledge is, well, more knowledge. Naturally, when I received my first SCCY pistol I wanted to see how far I could shoot it. I started up close like I mentioned in the “one hole” drill and ended up shooting the steel at 50, 75 and 100 yards.

Now, I wasn’t necessarily hitting the plates with every shot, but I hit the plates enough to know it was possible. Besides, if those were man-sized torso targets the hits would have greatly increased. At different media events and shooting classes, we’ve shot the SCCY pistols out to 150 yards on a torso. Shooting a double-action-only pistol with a 3-inch barrel takes some concentration at that distance, but it can be done. Just in case anyone questions the distances, I have witnesses and other folks who have shot SCCY guns that far. Don’t underestimate the range of your carry pistol.

Pro Tips: Practice, Practice, Practice

PDW: Give us one final, cornerstone pro tip to shoot tiny semi-autos well.

SM: Regardless of the distances you are able to shoot and the frequency of your practice, make sure you’re practicing with your carry gun. Both dry fire and live fire!

For more information on SCCY pistols, visit

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