The lightweight pistols carry easier than the steel ones, but aren't they harder to shoot accurately? I believe that the answer is "yes." I also believe that the lightweight guns still offer some advantages to some people when shooting.
We don't normally see pistols set up for match-grade accuracy competition that are lightweight. All are completely of steel, often what might be called "heavy for caliber." An example would be an S&W Model 41 in .22 long rifle. Within limits, the heavier a pistol is, the less movement occurs when sufficient pressure's applied to the trigger to fire it. Colt offers an aluminum-frame Commander for carry, but their match gun is the all-steel Gold Cup. Combine a comfortable pistol that is mechanically accurate with a light, crisp trigger-pull and highly visible adjustable sights, and you have what's called a target pistol. Some are refined versions of service pistols adapted to shooting extremely tight clusters of holes. If the gun is not too heavy for the shooter, it's been my observation that it's easier to accurately shoot than a lighter one.
This S&W Model 41 is large for a 22-caliber pistol, but is capable of extreme accuracy. I find that it possesses lots of practical and mechanical accuracy with loads it likes. It is an all-steel pistol.
We've talked a bit about bullseye type shooting, but what about practical or defensive shooting? In this type of shooting, there may be a "power factor" that must be met so that "light target loads" are either penalized or not allowed. Defensive ammunition is usually not chosen with "low recoil" being the top factor for the majority of us. How do the lightweights compare with the steel guns here?
As the saying goes, "There's good news and bad news."
Speaking only for myself, I find that from the holster to the target, I'm the quickest with the Colt Commander .45 ACP. With the all-steel 5" 1911's, I have to work at not going past the target I'm trying to hit at speed if it's a small one. The Commander seems to "stop" in the right place more often for me than does the heavier gun. For me, the all-steel Browning Hi Power is almost as "good" as the Commander is in this regard.
A couple of years ago, a friend and I decided to compare speeds at which we could engage multiple targets and fire both controlled pairs and double-taps from an all-steel 1911 and a lightweight 1911 of the same length. A timer was used and I was somewhat surprised at the results.
The pistols chosen for this "test" were a Kimber Classic Custom and a Springfield Armory Lightweight 1911 having an aluminum alloy frame. Both guns have black-on-black fixed sights and very similar trigger pulls. Both have long triggers and similar grips. Both are in .45 ACP.
∑ Firing one-shot at multiple targets show no increase in the time to get a shot on each target.
∑ Firing a double tap did have very slightly increased times between shots when firing on a single target.
∑ Firing a controlled pair showed no increase in time between the lightweight and all-steel pistols.
When I say "small increase" or "decrease", I'm speaking of but a few hundredths of a second. Iím not particularly fast, but the other shooter is. The electronic timer showed the same results for him as well. We repeated this type shooting until we were convinced that it was true and not a one-time fluke.
I think what is happening is that the increased felt-recoil with the lighter pistol doesn't matter when firing one shot into one target and then moving to another. The extra time to get back on target is not lost because that's being done as the gun's being moved to the secondary target. It's "absorbed" into the time required to move from one target to another. In my case, the times did not vary when firing controlled pairs. The time required for even a "flash sight picture" is so much longer than the time required to recover from the lightweight's recoil that it seems to fade away. In other words, I cannot aim fast enough for the lightweight pistol's extra kick to slow me down. Firing double taps or "hammers" where I took one sight picture for the first shot and then fired the second shot from muscle memory as I brought the gun back onto target by "feel" did favor the heavier gun. This was true for the quicker shooter as well. Differences were something like a couple of hundredths of a second. You decide if that's too long for your personal needs.
Again, this is subjective, but what I found for two shooters.
The 1911 pistols used had very good triggers and the quick reset inherent to the design.
With small revolvers, I've found that in terms of speed between shots, there's just not that much (if any) difference in the time between shots. Using an S&W Model 60 and a Model 642 and the same ammunition, results were identical other than for the human factor. Looking at the split times for several runs with each, there was virtually no difference. I could not have picked out whether the aluminum frame revolver or the steel one was being used from the numbers. I was surprised, as this was the case regardless of whether single or multiple targets were engaged. It was the same for controlled pairs vs. double taps as well.
Thinking about this, I believe that the reason is that these handguns were fired double-action and that while the long double-action pull is being made, the gun's being brought back on target.
Where I did note a significant advantage for the steel handguns was in felt recoil. While the lighter guns might not have moved the guns more when being held in a Weaver stance, that recoil felt quite a bit sharper to me. This was true with both the 1911's, but especially with the J-frame snubs.
My findings might not hold true for all people. I'd try this or something similar myself to be sure how it works for me, but I see no real disadvantage to the lightweight pistols for most of us with regard to being able to fire quickly and accurately. It's just not as pleasant as with the heavier versions.