Reader Question: What are the Advantages of Compact Handguns Versus Full-Sized Models?

Writing Fiction: Beretta Pistol Sizes

jennifer chase crime writerThis question comes from crime writer and criminologist Jennifer Chase. If the name sounds familiar to you, you’ve either discovered her terrific Emily Stone series of crime novels or been paying attention to her excellent criminology posts in service of the writing community.

She recently wrote in with this question:

I have a few questions about Beretta handguns.

beretta compact pistols writing fiction

The Beretta Bobcat. (Beretta photo)

As part of my research for writing, I have personally used the subcompact Beretta Bobcat at a target range and I like the ease of shooting and loading it. I have petite hands and it’s easy for me, but I’m also curious about the Beretta PX4. I wonder which one is better for my fiction.

Can you give me the lowdown (pros/cons) for the Beretta PX4 semi-automatic pistol as opposed to a more compact version? Is there any real benefit? Would a good guy or bad guy (fictionally speaking) most likely use this type of gun?

In your opinion, if someone prefers a certain type of gun (ex. Ruger, Sig Sauer) as opposed to a Glock, does that say anything about their background, where they are from, or personality?

My View: Match Hand Sizes to Handguns

Hand size is a major consideration for writing fiction, and also the most overlooked. If the gun doesn’t fit comfortably, the shooter is less likely to hit anything with it, because the grip won’t be as secure.

writing beretta handguns in fiction tips

The Beretta PX4, seen here, is available in full-sized, compact and sub-compact versions. Which is better for a fictional character? The one that matches that character’s physical attributes. Start with hand size. This is important because an awkward fit could result in missed shots or an injury to the shooter.  (Beretta photo)

To the question about full-sized Beretta pistols versus compact ones, the same thing applies. How big are the hands of the character? If it’s on the smaller size, go with the compact, or full-sized for larger hands. All else being equal (caliber, function, etc.), this matters much more than the number of rounds the gun’s magazine can hold (which is typically lower in compact versions). If the shooter can’t get a secure grip, it doesn’t matter how many bullets leave that barrel. They won’t hit anything.

Outside of matching a smaller hand size, the chief benefit to compact guns is how well they ride in the holster. Generally, they’re easier to carry on the person, but that can depend on the physical attributes of the character. I’d say any of the pros and cons of full-sized and compact are trumped by the hand size issue. Start with that.

The rule of thumb with good guy/bad guy guns is that they break down by price. Cheaper guns are more often used by the “bad guys” and more expensive guns are used by the “good guys.”

However, this barely holds water on its own in real life, much less in fiction, so I can’t say that Beretta is the exclusive dominion of either side. If I had to pick, I’d say it’s more on the “good guy” side because of price, brand and general reputation.

As far as personalities and brands go, there’s this article that takes a humorous stab at it. Joking aside, I think price is still the determining factor. Check prices at a place like Cabela’s (new guns) or GunBroker (used guns) to get a perspective.

If you’re asking what using a Beretta says about a character, my gut reaction is that he/she is a gun enthusiast on the older end of the gun buying market from a white collar background. That’s just a stab in the dark, though, not a hard and fast rule.


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