Sunday, October 18, 2009

New! Ratings Chart

For some time now I have been toying with developing a ratings chart to help give an overall picture of how I felt about the particular pistol reviewed. As such I have developed the following grid to help express what I feel are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of any handgun:


Handling Characteristics






Fit and Finish







Not at all Reliable

Somewhat Reliable




Sights – Size


Too Small

Small but Useable



Sights – Enhancements


Non-illuminating Dots/lines

Illuminating Dots/lines

Fiber Optic

Night Sights







Power Scale

.380 ACP

.38 Special/9mm


.357 Mag/SIG

.44 Mag

Ease of Carry/Concealment

Too Large to Conceal

Service Sized


Ultra Compact

Micro Compact

Pocket Pistol

Accuracy Rating

Can’t Hit the Broad Side of a Barn




So what does all of this mean? I think most of them are self explanatory expect for handling characteristics and Fit and Finish.

Handling Characteristics: I have long been a believer that the better a handgun feels in your hand, the better you will shoot it. If it comfortable and becomes an extension of your arm it will probably shoot pretty close to point of aim. Let's take 2 particular pistols as an example: The Browning Hi-Power and the CZ 75 platforms. I have read that people didn't like them because they were 9mm pistols (before either were chambered in .40 S&W). I have read that people did not like them because the Hi-Power was single action and the CZ was either single action or traditional double action (there's no pleasing everyone). But I have never read where anyone did not like the way the pistols felt in their hand and conversely, darn few who didn't shoot them well.

Conversely, let's look at the Glock. They are available in a wide variety of calibers and sizes and I have not read anyone who does not find them reliable, however, some people do not care for the way they fit in their hand and those people do not shoot them well. Realistically, though, there are legions of people who find they fit just fine and shoot them remarkably well.

Fit and Finish: This characteristic refers to how well the pistol is finished and assembled. Was the metal polished well, are there visible tooling marks, do parts bind when the slide is racked? Does the movement of the slide or trigger seem gritty. If the pistol has removable grips, do they fit well? Are their gaps where there should not be gaps? For an example of a useable but poorly finished pistol see my review of the EAA Zastava Model 88. For excellently finished pistols see the review of the CZ 75 Polished Stainless or the EAA Witness Elite.

So there you have it. These ratings will not take the place of my narrative reviews, but are designed to enhance the review by offering a more visual perspective on how the key performance indicators of the pistol stack up. If you have any suggestions, please drop me a line using the link in the right hand sidebar.


Anonymous said...

Hey Joe

I really like the chart method. Couple of suggestions.

Where is the 40SW cartridge?

You've got size but you dont have weight.


Trigger should be broken down; they are crucial and often under reported because it is complicated and difficult to describe. Possibly Into type and the various issues with triggers: 1) initial length of pull 2) weight of pull 3) feel (smooth, crip, postive mechancically) 4) reset (length and positiveness 5) above characteristics for SA if applicable.

One thing that is needed in the trigger analysis is the ability to shoot 2 handed weak hand, weak hand only and strong hand only. Many trigger are hard to control under these conditions.

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...


You got me on the .40 S&W. I will add that to the charts. The rest of your recommendations are good but I think they lend themselves more to the narrative of the article than the chart. You have definitely given me some good suggestions.


Thomas Murphy said...

I agree that this is very nice. I think you need a sticky topic on this and a bit more text about what each rating level means. Like for .9mm is it +p or normal. so give a bit more about what you mean there - kind of like Larry does on his defensive pistol reviews they talk knock down power and give a caliber/weight/load. Of course what is funny in their reviews is on one .9mm they will use standard and on another they will use +p and it makes it look like one gun is better than another...hmmm advertising. But just blurbs on what do each of the levels mean to you like accuracy what is combat accuracy, etc.