The "gentleman's pistol": long of barrel, slim and elegant, the medium-caliber autoloading target pistol is something you can really use.
There weren't many Super-9s sold in the US. It wasn't even offered here. That particular gun never "caught on," but the concept of the "gentleman's pistol" remains.
It was said that Kaiser Wilhelm hunted stag in the forests of Imperial Germany with a long-barreled Artillery Luger fitted with a shoulder stock, because his withered arm kept him from manipulating a conventional rifle. The long-barrel Luger was indeed an elegant and accurate pistol. The Kaiser had discovered the elements making up "the gentleman's pistol." Those would include a long barrel, manageable weight, superb accuracy, soft recoil, and an intermediate caliber such as 9mm Luger or equivalent. It should exhibit superior workmanship to the point it's a conversation piece, something to show friends just so they can admire how well it was conceived and executed.
The Artillery Luger and the Luger carbines, of course, have long since become museum pieces and collector's items for the wealthy. Though much less expensive, the S&W Super-9 is on its way in the same direction, being something of a rara avis. Some other pistols in this category are discontinued and must be hunted for, while others can still be ordered new from your favorite gun shop.
My own favorite of the breed is the long discontinued Heckler and Koch P9S Sport Target. Breaking ground in the '70s for the Glock with polymer frame and polygonal rifling, the Sport Target was a standard service pistol upgraded with adjustable sights, a long barrel extending from the front of the slide and was shrouded with a removable barrel weight and one of the finest adjustable triggers ever put into a semi-automatic pistol by its manufacturer. Produced primarily in 9x19, the Sport Target's trigger could safely be adjusted down into the two-pound pull-weight range without wear ever causing it to "double" or go full auto.
The ability to deliver 1" 25-yard groups was not uncommon. I got mine while a member of the HK factory shooting team under John Bressem, shot it three times at Bianchi Cup, and set a record or two in PPC shooting with it in the National Marksman Sports Society founded by Les Dees. These guns go for a premium today and they're absolutely worth it.
FN used to offer a long barrel target model of the Browning Hi-Power.
It offered exquisite balance and very good accuracy, and as nice a trigger pull as the bizarre fire-control mechanism of the P35 ever left the factory with. It, too, is now a much-desired collector's item.
Smith & Wesson currently offers the Performance Center Model 952, but only in stainless steel. With the perfect-feeling grip of the old Model 39, this is the time-proven Model 52 Master chambered for 9mm Luger instead of the .38 Special wadcutter. I handled the very first iteration, which was handmade at the factory circa 1970 for Louis Seman, the Illinois State Police ordnance sergeant who made his department the first large law enforcement agency to adopt the Model 39.
It took the company some 30 years to make it available to the public, but you can have it now, as of 2006 in stainless only. My old blue one shoots into 1" at 25 yards, never jams, and has a trigger to die for. It makes a neat little centerfire bull's-eye piece, or IDPA gun in Enhanced Service Pistol class, and would win more in the latter application if Smith made it to take one more cartridge in its currently 10-shot magazine. The retail is $2,062 in stainless. With its slender grip frame, it's among the most elegant of its breed. CZ
Ceska Zbrojovka recently introduced the CZ75 Tactical Sports. The classic and famous good feel of the CZ75 grip wraps around an extended 20-round 9mm magazine, and this version has a 5" barrel with proportionally extended slide. The trigger pull is adjustable--mine was 2 pounds 10 ounces out of the box when measured at the center of the trigger, and pull-weight was less than 2 pounds weighed at the tip of the trigger. My sample put five rounds of Winchester white box ball into 1.20" at 25 yards. Suggested retail is a very reasonable $1,125.
You don't even need to pay four figures to purchase a "gentleman's pistol." The 5.3" barrel Glock 34 (and the even longer barreled Glock 17L, not in the catalog, but still made in short production runs off and on) are available for only a little more than the standard Glock 17 in the same 9x19 chambering. The Glock 34 seems to be the gun to beat in IDPA Stock Service Pistol these days.
Finally, the "gentleman's pistol" will serve a gentlewoman just fine, too. Edith Almeida used to rule the women's division at Bianchi Cup with her 9mm P9S Sport Target. I've watched Terri Strayer take High Woman in IDPA competition with a Smith 952. At the next IDPA Nationals, my money would be on Julie Goloski to win the Woman's Championship with a Glock 34. It's their eminent "shootability" more than their elegant style that makes these pistols so desirable.
ONE BROWNING WAY, MORGAN, UT 84050
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SMITH & WESSON
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SPRINGFIELD, MA 01104
(800) 331-0852, WWW.SMITH-WESSON.COM