When .22 splits aren’t fast enough……..

Recently, I was evaluating a HK VP9 that was done up by Grayguns, Inc.  I was shooting string after string on the timer.  I noticed that somewhere south of .22 splits on multi-shot strings, my accuracy fell apart.  I dismissed the VP9 as being inferior, due to the stock box P320 Carry giving me nice little piles of bullet holes at .16-.18 splits.

And then it hit me.  What the hell was I thinking?  .22 splits aren’t fast enough?  I guess I became a product of my own success.  No one will dispute that faster is better when it comes to accuracy.  But it is doubtful that a bad guy will notice the difference between .16 splits and .22 splits.  Or .30 splits.  Or probably even .50 splits as long as the accuracy is there across multiple shots.  I fell into the old trap of traps…..worshiping the timer as if it was some form of an Aztec sun god.

The timer is a great training tool.  And it is a must for anyone who is serious about training because it is so versatile.  You can do drills in dry fire with a timer by setting par times.  And it measures your performance on the draw, shot to shot, reloads, and many other timed functions.  Invaluable.  But, there is too much of a good thing.  The timer can be the devil’s box.  And it can build fugitive training habits, similar to doing “eye sprints”, to which is the act of firing a shot, shifting your focus to the target to see where the round struck, shifting your focus back to the sights, firing the shot, shifting your focus back to the target to see where the round struck, shifting your eyes back to the target, etc.

Many who disparage the timer as a serious training tool say “I never saw a timer in a gunfight”.  Believe it or not, I respect some of the guys that say that.  But, they will also admit to you that no one in a gunfight wants to score hits slower, if they can do it faster.  There is too much of a good thing.

I’m going to back off using the timer for a couple of months in live fire.  And, I’m going to give the HK VP9 another look…….


This entry was posted in Competition, Modern Service Pistols, Training, Weapon Modifications and tagged , , by Jerry Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

17 thoughts on “When .22 splits aren’t fast enough……..

  1. “No one will dispute that faster is better when it comes to accuracy. But it is doubtful that a bad guy will notice the difference between .16 splits and .22 splits. Or .30 splits. Or probably even .50 splits as long as the accuracy is there across multiple shots.”


  2. Jerry,

    Thanks for the confession. I fell into the habit of focusing more on split times than fundamentals. Three days with Bill Rogers and Ronnie Dobb taught me that a 0.25 split, along with sights and trigger control, are all that is needed to meet the rigorous demands of “The Test.”


  3. There will certainly be some push back on this, but as a general rule, for LE and armed citizens — that is, for the real world — I’d suggest that we consider that training to shoot faster than we can assess what’s happening in front of our muzzles is not wise. For me, that’s about 3x/second, or .33 splits.

  4. Amen to not getting obsessed over split times. Arguably, the LAPD D Platoon (SWAT) is the most experienced and well informed CONUS gun fighting organization and they propound that splits faster than 0.50 second are an indication of shooting faster than shots can be assessed. I’ve found that my sweet spot for delivering excellent shots at ranges under 10 yards hovers around 0.30-0.35 second splits. We need to shoot at speeds that we control and assess at and not as fast as possible.

    • I agree that the difference between .22 and .18 splits is nothing to make an equipment decision over, but I have to respectfully disagree with the above comment.

      Anyone who says you can’t assess at faster than a .50 split isn’t practicing enough. Also, anyone who sets a relatively generous par time on how fast you need to be able to go in “the real world” is just making excuses for their lack of proficiency.

      Learning to go faster without giving up any accuracy is a good thing. Learning to go faster and improving your accuracy is an even better thing. Look at national level USPSA match results. The top 20 fastest shooters are usually also the top 20 most accurate shooters. Do you think they are shooting at speeds they can’t assess at when they are hitting 95% of available points? Sure there is a point of diminishing returns, but why limit yourself to some arbitrary standard when you can strive for continuous improvement?

  5. As I move into my mid-50s and deal with some nerve damage in my arm, I have found a timer shows no mercy. Time from buzzer to first shot has increased, as has split times between shots.

    I also noticed that from 7 yards, with a 9mm Glock 19, I could get split times in the .30-.35 range and get good hits. With a .40 Glock 23, I’m around .5 to .6. Getting three hits per second with the 9mm vs. two with the .40 made the decision of what to carry an easy one.

  6. No, there are no timers in a gunfight, just someone trying to kill you, and you can safely assume he’ll be in a hurry.

    That said, I don’t think me shooting a .22 split as opposed to a .19 split is going to mean the difference between life and death for me. I must simply shoot more accurately, and more quickly than the other guy.

  7. Like entering a home, hearing the microwave timer go off and drawing the pistol.

    Is that a sign we’ve use the shot timer too much?

  8. I appreciate the honesty in recognizing your own training pitfalls that so many of us have also fallen into. This post is exactly why I am a loyal reader of MSW. I have also found that the timer can be a double edged sword. Thanks for giving the VP9 another look as well.

  9. Math is the most beautiful of human discoveries, as close to perfection as anything humanly comprehensible.
    The timer is math, and it’s hard not to love the simple perfection it provides.
    There’s more, or less, and we can tell precisely how much. What’s not to be obsessed about?
    But it’s only one element of the complete situation; the easiest to quantify, true, but not a complete picture.
    Much like the current Internet obsession with “FBI gel test” metrics of handgun bullet performance, which just make me laugh after watching hundreds of shooting videos and going through many personal stories of associates who’ve attended handgun fights, it’s a useful slice of the big pie of action.
    Getting a .25 split while you’re falling on your elbow after being bowled over and while looking for your partner’s location and while the radio’s squawking on a dark and rainy roadside will be excellent. But if you win the fight, that good set of splits will be the least of your memories, I suspect.

  10. I’m reminded of my days in another lifetime when I was a race car driver and I used to get asked a lot “how fast do you drive?” and it was a question most people do not understand as we are in a biggest/fastest is best culture. The reality of the answer was that 35mph might be too fast in some corners and 200mph might not be fast enough in other corners. There is nothing wrong with wringing as much speed as possible out of yourself and your gear (with control), whether it be a single seater formula car, or a tricked out 1911, the trick is to (to borrow another racing analogy) have throttle control. Be able to dial it up and back and have the judgement as to how much throttle is too much (i.e, when judgement or precision is paramount, such as when you have to decide if that noise in the hall is an intruder or your teenage sneaking in after a late night or if you have to take a longer shot). Or if you’re faced with 4 armed intruders (as was the case in a number of home invasions recently in my town) you might need to dial up the throttle…

  11. There’s a saying in engineering, “we tend to optimize for what we measure”. Conclusion: be REALLY, REALLY selective about what we measure. Acceptance criteria are good, too.

  12. Yes you can get too wrapped up in timing. I personally know people who have won gunfights who have never been timed and would probably loose to the shooters who run this site when a timer is being used at the range. Yet I would never bet against them in a two way range.

  13. A dispassionate evaluation of any platform certainly includes a number of measures. These might include reliability, accuracy, support and performance on standardized drills, including splits. All other factors being the same, which is obviously never the case, I suspect most would prefer the pistol easier to shoot fast, regardless of what splits they should or choose to shoot, since the easier to shoot pistol allows more time for evaluation, assessment, etc.

    Given that the 320 and VP9 are major new entrants from two major companies, and more or less are using a similar approach (polymer, striker), it is interesting to me to try to understand why the 320 is apparently easier to shoot fast, especially since in stock form the VP9 has a lighter trigger?

  14. Weirdly, we had a guy at our VP9 class who is running down in the .15 range with the VP9. More impressive was watching him deliver a textbook failure drill with 2 hits in the black on a B8 bull and one in a 3×5 head box in 1.44 from his duty holster. I’ll simply strive for that as the goal rather than some split time. For me, the VP9 sight tracks really well, which is a better attribute than my physical ability to press the trigger. Glad to hear that you are going to spend more time. I will echo others that once you are shooting faster than you can “think” it gets fairly irrelevant outside of sport shooting.

  15. I forgot to add……..when you want to quit messing around and get rid of the sub-standard piece of junk, please let me know. A Grayguns VP9 would be a nice addition to my GrayGuns HK45C and P7M8. Yes, I am serious.

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