I embrace new technology about the same way I embrace jumping cholla. With caution and from a distance. This is not to say I don’t appreciate new technology because I’m loving the new ported slides for concealed carry.

The Newest Era of Handguns

We really haven’t seen anything revolutionary in the last 20 years of handgun manufacturing. The new slim line gun offerings might be the closest. With the explosion of these micro-compact blasters over the last 5 years I’d say they are popular and we see them in many of our carry classes. In fact, I run a slim line for just about every handgun course we offer these days because of their capability and shootability. The last bit there is one a lot of people will voice concerns, how well they can shoot these smaller guns. They offer a few challenges regarding the available gripping surface and overall reduction in mass. You can overcome the gripping surface issue by adopting new grip techniques, but there’s not much you can do about the reduction in mass…until now.

Modern Use of Comps

Ports and compensators are not new. They’ve been around for decades, but mainly in the competitive arena. I loved my comped gun I ran back in the day. For serious duty guns you don’t see them for a couple of reasons, enlarged footprint and reliability. Most compensators were “add-on’s” that extended the overall length of the slide, thus making holster options limited. There were a few integrated into the slide, but they proved less effective. The real problem was many of these were screwed on or similar attachment concept requiring routine maintenance. The newer ported slide design is addressing both these issues and doing it well.

Ported Slides Design

Expansion chamber with integral ports
Expansion chamber with integral ports

A new design, such as what is seen on the Sig P365 xMacro Comp, combines the ported slide with a shortened barrel to create what is called an expansion chamber. Where the gas from the round is allowed to accumulate in the chamber before vented through two integrated ports in front of the sights. The beauty to this design is you get the best of both worlds. There is no additional length to the overall footprint and no add on’s or maintenance required. I’ve been running these ported slides on all my micro-compact pistols and the results speak for themselves. There really is no down side.

The Bad of Shooting Ported Slides

The two biggest concerns with ported slides are loss of muzzle velocity and close contact shots. I’ve found while there was a reduction in muzzle velocity it varied. At the high end I was getting 50fps difference to only about 15fps on the low end. That’s not the right question to be asking. The real question is what effect will this velocity loss have on terminal performance. While there is a corollary to lower terminal velocity and poor penetration and expansion, what is the threshold. As far as the danger for contact or near contact shots. It is possible while entangled with an opponent the ports could be facing you so the real question is how much injury could the gases produce and what would be the minimum safe distance from your eyes. Again, not sure on this one and probably not really worth the effort.

Ported Slide Benefits

Often overlooked are the real benefits. Ported slides allow a new shooter to immediately reap the benefits in their shooting technique. Some claims are as much as 30% reduction in perceived recoil. When I shoot strong hand only I can see a significant difference in how fast my sights return to the target. I find this point to be important, just because you have a ported slide doesn’t mean you have to shoot fast. It means your sights generally travel less and are quicker to pick up. Or, you have the ability to shooter faster. You still need to make good judgements even between shots being fired.

I’m a big fan of the ported slides for carry, there is little if any downside.

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Trident Concepts
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