A Q&A with Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat.
I believe most gun writers take for granted how fortunate we are. We’re for damn sure not special, but many of us do have access to special people, experts the average shooter would love to be able to talk to for just a few moments. Some of these experts are just doing their job to help gun writers educate the shooting public, and some of these experts are friends.
For example, if I need some specifics on ammunition, I have contacts at all the major manufacturers who will take my call. And if I want to discuss defensive handgun application, I can reach out several Gunsite Academy instructors. My job then becomes to pass that information on to you.
Bill Wilson, founder of Wilson Combat, is a friend. He’s someone I can reach out to when I need an expert opinion or gun guidance. We’ve shot together, hunted together, drank beer together and even talked about some of the people in the gun industry who aren’t the experts they claim to be. Wilson, especially when it comes to handguns, is an expert. I thought it’d be cool to ask him some questions about defensive handguns that you might consider asking him if you had the chance.
Understand that Wilson isn’t what I would call a bloviator. He has an opinion that’s founded on experience, and he’ll give it to you simple and straight. Wilson doesn’t endlessly wax on like a gun writer to prove his opinion is the right one. You may not agree with him on everything, but when considering his answers, realize they’re not coming from some geek behind a gun counter or some tactard at your local range—they’re coming from one of the best handgunners in the world.
Favorite Number: 9, 40 or 45?
Many interested in carrying a defensive handgun struggle with what cartridge it should be chambered for. It might be the ultimate defensive handgun question, so it’s the first question I asked Wilson.
Wilson: With the high-performance 9mm ammunition available today, I’m pretty much a 9mm guy for range use and self-defense. I’ve never had any use for the .40 S&W or 10mm.
Jacketed Hollow-Points Or Mono-Metal Bullets?
For years, the gold standard regarding defensive handgun bullets has been jacketed hollow-points like the Speer Gold Dot or the Federal HST. But mono-metal bullets XP are becoming more popular. I asked Wilson which he preferred.
Wilson: Obviously, now that I own Lehigh Defense, I’m a big fan of the highly effective Xtreme Defense and Xtreme Penetrator bullets. The more I use them, the more impressed I become with them. They don’t have any of the negatives of a JHP, such as varying performance when fired through heavy clothing and/or barriers due to the HP getting clogged, occasional failure to expand for various reasons, or lack of penetration. They will perform the same under all conditions.
Defensive Handgun Sights?
It wasn’t that long ago that you were stuck with the sights that came on your defensive handgun when you bought it. Today, there seems to be endless aftermarket options, and most manufacturers even offer various styles. So, I asked Wilson which defensive handgun sight he liked best. You might find it interesting that he didn’t even mention the ubiquitous three-dot sight.
Wilson: Most of my pistols have a black rear and a red fiber-optic front. But for a dedicated carry gun, I also like a tritium front sight.
Do You Appendix Carry?
The current in-thing is appendix carry. It does offer a very fast draw but, at the same time, it can be very difficult to draw from the appendix position if you’re extremely crouched. It’s also somewhat conditional on the configuration of your body at the belt position. IDPA has just recently allowed appendix carry for competition, so I thought I’d ask Wilson for his thoughts on it.
Wilson: I’m not a fan of appendix carry for various reasons, and I’m also way too fat for it. (Bill Wilson is in no way fat, but like me, there’s a little extra bit on him at the belt line.) I’ve settled on point of hip carry with a straight drop and use one of our Rapid Response model holsters, the basic design originated by Bruce Nelson.
What About Gun Cleaning?
If you were in the Army like I was, you were taught to clean your gun every time you used it. However, the Army did that not so much to teach you to clean your gun every time you used it, but to teach you how to properly field strip and clean your gun. So, I asked Wilson, who I’m sure probably shoots more than anyone reading this magazine, how often a defensive handgun needs cleaned.
Wilson: More often than I do! At least once a month and probably every two weeks if you are out in a dusty environment. The most important thing for a steel frame gun is to keep some lube on it, and all oils will migrate away and/or dry up pretty quickly. Unless it’s really cold weather, I use a very light viscosity grease, which will stay put and not dry up.
Custom Or Custom-Built 1911?
Wilson Combat is famous for custom 1911s. In my opinion, they’re the premier source for custom 1911s. You can buy a full custom 1911 from Wilson Combat or you can send them your 1911 for customization. I asked Wilson which option he thought was best and which, of all the 1911s on the market, would be the best to send in for customization.
Wilson: These days, with all the high-quality semi-custom and full custom complete pistols available, that’s the best way to go. But if you want to go the custom-build route, both Colt and Springfield Armory guns will make a good base gun.
What’s Wilson Combat’s Best Carry Gun?
If you go to the Wilson Combat website looking for a defensive handgun, there are a lot to choose from, and prices can exceed $4,000. I wanted to know what Wilson thought the best defensive handgun his company offered was. It wasn’t the most expensive.
Wilson: I personally carry a SFX9 subcompact (It has a 10-round capacity with a 3.25-inch barrel), but I think our SFX9 compact, with its 15-round capacity and 4-inch barrel, is our best all-around carry/range model. I shoot this model better than any pistol I’ve ever fired, and it’s my primary training pistol.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
More On Defensive Handgunnery:
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