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Long distance pistol shot for my book, help please

samzheresamzhere BannedPosts: 10,923 Senior Member
I'm posting this in the Clubhouse section instead of the general gun section because this is meant for fiction -- my new mystery novel now in progress. I'd asked this question some time ago but I switched computers last fall and I cannot find my notes, think I lost them.

My question: What's the longest distance that you might expect a very good shooter to make, under attack, with a customized longslide (iron adjustable sights) .45 1911?

The setup to help you with the distance, and realize, this is fictional, but I still want it to be reasonable and sensible for a real world scenario and not typical of the old TV cop shows where the cop uses his .38 snubbie to take out a bad guy at 500 yards. So...

My private eye and a pal, a Texas Ranger, are pinned down by a sniper. Now, this sniper is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, you understand. The way it goes is that there's a sort of "ladder" of bad guys in the novel, and as each one is dealt with, the cartel (Russian Mafia) sends a more dangerous baddie to the job, fairly typical for a thriller, till we get to the ultimate baddie further along in the story. But mid-story, my private eye and the Ranger are under fire by a low-level baddie who decides to "take them out" and does so poorly.

The baddie is up on a nearby catwalk so he can see the parking lot where the ambush takes place. He fires one rifle shot, misses (he's not exactly Bob Lee Swagger material), and the two good guys take cover. The Ranger has a 1911 .45 and fires once, misses high and can see the impact dust from it hitting the metal of the catwalk, aims lower and hits the guy either in the head or chest, kills him instantly.

Specifics:
1. The Ranger is experienced and a top sharp shot with a pistol, has excellent vision too.
2. The pistol is a Kimber longslide 1911 .45 custom that's been worked over for accuracy via the Kimber shops.
3. Iron sights but adjustable and sighted in properly.
4. First shot misses high but maybe about 1 foot above the bad guy.
5. Next shot takes him out.
6. Ranger braces his hand/gun against a wall or vehicle or some stable object.
7. Daylight or early evening, no big wind or weather intervening.

Everyone is amazed at the accuracy of the shot over this distance, in that it's from a hand held .45 w. iron sights, even though the Kimber is about as accurate as any carry weapon could be and not be some specialized target-shooting only weapon, but is the actual duty weapon of the Ranger.

So the distance is pretty amazing, all things considered, but -- and I want to stress this -- is realistic as decently possible being fired from a very accurate longslide by a very good shot, someone who's cool under stress, too.

What distance would be "acceptable as realistic" but still gee whiz?

Thanks in advance, and if you wish, I'll add your name to the "congrats page" in the novel when it's published. (not IF it's published, ha ha).
«134

Replies

  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,751 Senior Member
    I'm no Zee or Ernie but I have shot a 1911 at a 10" steel plate at 100 yards 7 out of 8 were hits. So 100 yards is believable in a combat situation. There was a local cop who shot a shooter at 65 yards. While the shooter was running away, after the officer was fired on. Good shot.
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,339 Senior Member
    We regularly use water-filled one gallon milk jugs at 100 yards as targets for our 1911s.. A target 100 yards distance with a handgun isn't an issue once you have figured out your hold....I've shot further on "unknown distance" range days...and have connected further out but an improvised rest and multiple sighters were involved......
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    Go to an outdoor range and shoot out to 100 yards with your 1911.

    A hundred yards is no big deal when you know your dope. Write this sequence somewhere around 100-150 yards. Have the ranger hit the thug in the head. Then have the ranger say he missed.

    Ranger Dan says "well I was aiming for his heart (pauses to spit his red man) but I guess it will work."
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    We regularly use water-filled one gallon milk jugs at 100 yards as targets for our 1911s.. A target 100 yards distance with a handgun isn't an issue once you have figured out your hold....I've shot further on "unknown distance" range days...and have connected further out but an improvised rest and multiple sighters were involved......

    Yep, I hit gallon water jugs at 100 yards (further really at the berm behind the target) anywhere from 2-4 outta 8 shots from my DW 1911. I had to get my elevation figured out first by seeing when the first couple hit/kicked up the dirt. This was off a bench rest.

    Elmer Keith had special front sights put on his .44s to make long shots. I think they were notched with gold or something on the ramp so he knew where to hold for different ranges. He knew his loads and so could align the notch/sight pic and have a good chance of being right close or on where he wanted the bullet to strike.

    So it would not be outta the question for a practiced marksman to hit a man sized target at 100 yards with a 1911.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    The Korean war vet who mentored my early attempts at gunsmithing had a slightly tuned-up milspec 1911- - - -definitely not Kimber tolerances, but in pretty good shape. We used to plink at an abandoned rock quarry north of Nashville pretty regularly. The bottom of the quarry was filled with water, and he could hit, or at least splash water onto a piece of driftwood with boring regularity at 100+ yard distances. He did this offhand, with the classic one-hand hold he had learned as a young boy in the 1930's.
    Jerry
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    I hit 2 for 2 paper plates, free-hand, at ~60 yards with a G-20, and I'm pretty average when in the company of good marksmen. A long-slide that was loaded for high velocity with a lighter bullet would probably be comparable in trajectory to a 10mm, which has a MPBR of about 70 yards. So, a good marksman would not need any holdover at that range, and if he practiced holdover at longer ranges, I would guess that he could get 50% on target at well over 100 yards - lots of extrapolating, by me, but that's my opinion, anyway.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,510 Senior Member
    100 yards - very possible. Someone like you describe probably wouldn't need the first round sighter, or at least wouldn't be missing center mass by the roughly two feet you describe. The trajectory of the .45 is such that holding on the face at that range will drop the bullet into very useful territory. Remember that NRA Bullseye competitors do their slowfire at 50 yards, 1-handed, with no support. I would absolutely high-five the guy and point him out on what mastering basic fundamentals can do for you, but I wouldn't call it a "miracle shot".

    150 yards - damned impressive. That'll wow anyone. Figure most of us don't practice pistol seriously at that kind of range, so yeah, we'd need some sighters. What would be hugely impressive is that your hero's miss is only vertical - his fundamentals of grip and trigger press are so locked on that not knowing the exact range or having to guess at how to hit at it is his only technical problem.

    Beyond 200, the .45 ACP's trajectory goes from merely brick-like to almost meteoric. With a good gun, good ammo, and sighting shots, and stress fully under control, it can be done, but we're really straining belief.

    You bring up lighting conditions - the ability to get HARD focus on the front sight is gonna be a big deal here. Certain sunset/dusk conditions could play into your boy's favor, and could be a factor in why your sniper misses what, for a rifle, is a chip shot, which brings us to. . .

    What I think you really need to expand on are the equipment, abilities, mental state of your doomed sniper, the technical difficulties of HIS shot, and what his target may have done to make him miss. A "HOLY CRAP! HOW DID HE DO THAT?" legendary shot with a 1911 is not even worth warming up the word processor for a rifle. Having your ambush fail and getting taken out by a dude with a low-velocity pistol is, frankly, embarrassing.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,414 Senior Member
    I can hit a 10" plate at 100 with a 1911 pretty regularly. So for a badarse like a fictional Texas Ranger, 125-150 would be believable for me.

    If the sniper is uphill, you could use that whole geometry thing of "aim low when shooting uphill or downhill" to explain his first miss high. Make it a little more technical, and believable.
    http://www.millettsights.com/downloads/shootinguphillanddownhill.pdf
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,541 Senior Member
    IIRC, at 125 and my Kimber I hold about a foot and a little high and a little left. I would stick to about 100ish because;

    He is under fire. There is a difference between a nice tight brace on a target that cannot move back and forth and send the pointy end of bullets your way.

    If he is using HP's then you need to look at the terminal ballistics at that range. Hardball would be more suited. Take him in the throat, then it doesnt have to expand.

    IMHO, it would be easier to miss windage wise. There is more torso up and down, than side to side. I wouldnt be laying across the hood looking for a dust cloud if someone is shooting at me. It is going to be pop up and squeeze. Say he pops up, sends two, ducks back behind the car, asks his buddy Detective "about how far you think he is" Buddy "more than a hundred but not much", Detective "I figure about the same" Pop up take the shot
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Go to an outdoor range and shoot out to 100 yards with your 1911.

    A hundred yards is no big deal when you know your dope. Write this sequence somewhere around 100-150 yards. Have the ranger hit the thug in the head. Then have the ranger say he missed.

    Ranger Dan says "well I was aiming for his heart (pauses to spit his red man) but I guess it will work."

    The "missed but hit him in the head" thing has already been used in other books and movies, kinda stereotype nowadays. So I'll just have the Ranger as surprised, but pleasantly, that he got the baddie. But thanks anyway.

    In the throat is a great idea, thanks! That way it won't matter if the ammo is hardball or HP or whatever.

    I'm thinking, from all of the postings here, that about 150 yards is best. I don't want it to be a miracle shot, just a very hard one considering the distance. Fact that the bad guy is elevated is the reason the Ranger overcomps on the first shot, missed by about a foot, then is deadeye the next.

    Understand, this baddie is a low-rung bad guy and tries to do the job but ends up not only getting himself killed but now ramps up the attention of the good guys. It also brings in a very special undercover op from Uncle, whom we meet later.

    From my current novel, here's a description of the Ranger:

    First thing I saw when entering the conference room was boots, a pair of hand-tooled beauties decorated with an Alamo theme and propped on the table. The boots were worn by Texas Ranger Arvis Danforth.
    He’s about six-two, slender and athletic, salt-and-pepper hair cut just long enough to offer a Western take without being gaudy. Danforth is a handsome man with the weathered appearance of someone as used to the saddle as his Ranger issue SUV. His attire was completed by light brown slacks with a law enforcement-style stripe down the leg, a white Western dress shirt, bolo tie, a silver Lone Star badge on his belt, and a fine leather holster that matched the boots. In the holster a big 1911 .45 pistol, Kimber I thought.


    And from my previous novel when we first meet him:

    And there was a fourth guy whom I didn’t recognize at all, even though I knew in an instant what he did for a living.
    The man had short-cropped gray hair and a neatly trimmed mustache. He was tall, about six-one and slender, with the weathered visage of someone at peace in the outdoors. He wore a perfectly blocked white Western hat, spotless white yoke shirt, and carefully knotted tie in a soft tan. The badge clipped to his belt was a silver Lone Star in a silver circle. He had Western cut dress khaki slacks with a razor crease and cowboy boots polished to a gleam. A 1911 .45 auto rode in a sharp looking open carry leather holster at his waist, worn with the same casual indifference that other men would display a cellphone. Only one person on the planet dresses that way. A Texas Ranger.


    Thanks again, gang!
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    IIRC, at 125 and my Kimber I hold about a foot and a little high and a little left. I would stick to about 100ish because;

    He is under fire. There is a difference between a nice tight brace on a target that cannot move back and forth and send the pointy end of bullets your way.

    If he is using HP's then you need to look at the terminal ballistics at that range. Hardball would be more suited. Take him in the throat, then it doesnt have to expand.

    IMHO, it would be easier to miss windage wise. There is more torso up and down, than side to side. I wouldnt be laying across the hood looking for a dust cloud if someone is shooting at me. It is going to be pop up and squeeze. Say he pops up, sends two, ducks back behind the car, asks his buddy Detective "about how far you think he is" Buddy "more than a hundred but not much", Detective "I figure about the same" Pop up take the shot

    Good conversation and scenario! The Ranger doesn't lay out looking, but first shot he does see the dust pop up, then ducks back and after my private eye shoots a couple of covering shots, leans out once more and takes careful aim, regardless of the danger -- after all, he's a Texas Ranger. I could have the bad guy fumbling with the action on his rifle? Realize that we've met him earlier in an arrest warrant (his shyster lawyer bails him out) and he's not exactly genius material.

    I totally realize that side to side is narrower but I gotta have the story make sense for the circumstances, and the structure on which the bad guy is hanging from -- the actual structure is a thing only known in Austin Tx and a cultural meme there, famous, a "Moon Tower". Anyway, up and down is more likely to be difficult but that's the story -- and the baddie isn't moving -- he's hoisted himself up and is stationary, after the shot he just sags and hangs there. Not as theatrical as falling 100 feet and crashing through a glass skylight but all those were busted up in the last movie, ha ha.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    For grins, here's the Wiki article on Austin's Moon Towers (technically known as Moonlight Towers):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonlight_tower

    You can see they're tall and slender, perfect for this idiot to climb up so he can get the "advantage" and instead makes himself a target.

    Lots of Austin landmarks and famous places are in my new novel. I've spent many happy weekends visiting Austin and my private eye graduated from UT there, he goes there to help a pal, his college roommate and now a professor of anatomy and physiology and a Russian emigre who loves America, a Drugstore Cowboy Russkie who gets teased about this but still loves C&W, Texas, and the USA. The prof is being threatened and my PI helps.
  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,751 Senior Member
    But he could, and probably would, drop his "sniper rifle" a semi sporterized Mosin Nagant with a crap scope mount. Could explain his miss
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 24,872 Senior Member
    100 yds with a 1911, if done enough to remember hold over.

    200 yds with a 10mm or larger caliber 6" barreled revolver.

    I never shot a .357 more than 50 yds, but, it should do 200 OK.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Elk creek wrote: »
    But he could, and probably would, drop his "sniper rifle" a semi sporterized Mosin Nagant with a crap scope mount. Could explain his miss

    Don't want to include brand names for guns that aren't reliable -- legal stuff, y'know. I'm not writing a "gun book" anyway, so we'll just give the guy a .223 something rifle -- his missing is 100% due to his being a jerk and bad shot anyway, even at 150 yards, but I will either have the rifle jam when he works the bolt or have him fumble the action, so we don't have a bunch of incoming --- he'd be sure to hit something if he got off enough shots.
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 3,395 Senior Member
    Sam, with my Gold Cup, on a good day, I was able to knock over 100 % of 5 bowling pins at 50 yards off hand, and about 3 of 5 off hand at 100 yards. That's with a 5" barrel and ball ammo. Keep in mind, these were bowling pins, and the rounds that missed didn't miss by enough to make a difference on a man-sized target. I could feel comfortable, that no man-sized silhouette would escape at least an 8 ring hit at 100 yards rested every round from a magazine, and at least 50% off hand.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
  • timctimc Senior Member Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    What was the cop in Austin that recently shot and killed that guy at 100 yards one handed while holding the reins of two horses using? That was a 1 shot stop, I'm sure 1911 could do it. That's real life stuff that's amazing.
    timc - formerly known as timc on the last G&A forum and timc on the G&A forum before that and the G&A forum before that.....
    AKA: Former Founding Member
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,541 Senior Member
    Give to BG a mall ninja SKS with the cheapo plastic 30 rnd mags. He can fumble for a mag in the cargo pocket of his "urban" camo. Put barn boots on him as a inside joke. Anyone who ever had or knew anyone that had a SKS with the cheapo scope and early 30rnd mags will vouch for the innacuracy and trouble they were.

    For the advice givers, remember that this guy is firiing over a improvised barrier, car, at a tgt of unknown distance while he is or has just been under fire and the bullet has to be a one shot stop per the parameters of the exersize. Wrong way range fodder will take a lot of the fun out of shooting long.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 24,203 Senior Member
    This book sounds like fun! When about do you think it'll be published?

    Don't forget the male Belly Dancer who saves the day! :jester:
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • HvyMaxHvyMax Senior Member Posts: 1,786 Senior Member
    I'd say 200 max for a 45. We shoot steel silhouettes and can lob them pretty far. 10mm and even 9 are way flatter than 45 at 200. We routinely lob in spotted shots out to 300yds.
    Wal Mart where the discriminating white trash shop.
    Paddle faster!!! I hear banjos.
    Reason for editing: correcting my auto correct
  • olesniperolesniper Senior Member Posts: 3,763 Senior Member
    timc wrote: »
    What was the cop in Austin that recently shot and killed that guy at 100 yards one handed while holding the reins of two horses using? That was a 1 shot stop, I'm sure 1911 could do it. That's real life stuff that's amazing.

    ...........at night.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil: For I carry a .308 and not a .270
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,414 Senior Member
    olesniper wrote: »
    ...........at night.

    With a nut job firing at the building he was in front of
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    zorba wrote: »
    This book sounds like fun! When about do you think it'll be published?

    Don't forget the male Belly Dancer who saves the day! :jester:

    Well, I'm not in charge of the book being published. I'm only the author. Besides, I've got to write the damn thing first, and I'm only just now getting it off the ground and setting out creation notes, as my 2 posts indicate, doing background research as well as writing a few startup chapters, that sort of thing.

    So the entry of the life-saving belly dancer could still be a plot point... donations to the writer's fund are always appreciated. Just thought I'd mention that, no connection to the plot resolutions of course.

    Right now I'm still trying to get the 3rd novel published anyway, let along writing the 4th. Sigh.

    But the 3rd book is complete and very carefully proofread and edited. Anyone who wants a PDF of the book, just PM me with your email and I'll send it. Free is good.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Sam, with my Gold Cup, on a good day, I was able to knock over 100 % of 5 bowling pins at 50 yards off hand, and about 3 of 5 off hand at 100 yards. That's with a 5" barrel and ball ammo. Keep in mind, these were bowling pins, and the rounds that missed didn't miss by enough to make a difference on a man-sized target. I could feel comfortable, that no man-sized silhouette would escape at least an 8 ring hit at 100 yards rested every round from a magazine, and at least 50% off hand.

    This pretty much agrees with other postings here, so I'll likely settle on about 150 yards.

    As you well understand, this is a story anyway, and we're not writing a documentary nor setting up real targets for a real test run. It's all fantasy to say the least.

    I just want a reasonable distance that's "Hey, damn good shot!" but not "Impossible" -- something that matches the overall "fairly realistic" tone of the whole novel, approximately the same sort of realism of your books, by the way.

    Thanks all for the recommendations. Also, thanks for all the fish.

    This new novel won't be finished till late this year and if sold, would be in 2016 anyway. But as I said, anyone wishing to read the now-completed 3rd book, "Blood Vengeance", PM me w. your email and I'll send a PDF. I promise an entertaining read, easily worth the money you'll pay (nuttin').
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,618 Senior Member
    We had a guy take a prairie dog at just under 500 yards with 1911 in 45ACP couple weeks ago.
    He lobbed (artillery walking them in) about 100 rounds and yes, he got lucky.
    In real life a second round hit for someone with a rest, probably 200 yards.
    The under fire thing is what would get me. I am going to ask Chris. He shoots distance with revolvers and 1911's far more than I do.
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,618 Senior Member
    Chris said that double kneeling on a good day he can hit a man sized target first round out to 250 yards, with a tricked 1911 45 using 185 grain bullets.
    I have seen Chris shoot myself and he is the real deal.
    He has watched videos of it being done to just over 300 yards, but he himself has never tried to go further than above.
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • LMLarsenLMLarsen Senior Member Posts: 8,337 Senior Member
    I've made a 100 yard shot on a steel gong with a 5" .357, but that was from a rest. I could barely see the target.
    “A gun is a tool, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

    NRA Endowment Member
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Chris said that double kneeling on a good day he can hit a man sized target first round out to 250 yards, with a tricked 1911 45 using 185 grain bullets.
    I have seen Chris shoot myself and he is the real deal.
    He has watched videos of it being done to just over 300 yards, but he himself has never tried to go further than above.

    Not needing any more help, but thanks, Ernie. The "median" distance here for a good shot under stressful conditions (considering the guy's a Texas Ranger, and stress is not their middle name), about 150 yards seems fine.

    Hey, it's all made up anyway.

    I'm reminded of what my Dad said when someone challenged his enjoyment of Science Fiction: "When I read a lie, I want to read a damn good one!"

    Hopefully I can write a damn good lie.

    I did pretty well the first 2 novels, got good reviews, and those who've read my new book say it's good as well. Whether I can get the darn thing sold is yet to be known, but I'm trying. This shooting thing will be in the 4th book.

    Just so you'll know, Ernie, since you're new here, I'm a writer (duh) and I'm mostly working on my series of modern private detective novels set mostly in Houston where I live. The first 2 books were published by a small press to zero publicity and therefore few sales, but I did get good reviews. The newest, 3rd in the series, is now under consideration by a different publisher.

    In the 4th book, my private eye travels to Austin to help his old pal Gregor Yevshenko, who's being sent death threats. That's the book in which this shoot will take place but the book is only in its formative stages now. Hey, 2300 words finished, only about 70,000 to go. Whew.
  • LMLarsenLMLarsen Senior Member Posts: 8,337 Senior Member
    Sam, Ernie has been here as long as I have.
    “A gun is a tool, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

    NRA Endowment Member
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,618 Senior Member
    Thanks for the info.
    I knew that you write novels, but I didn't know where you were in the process until you gave the rundown.
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
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