Letter Re: Seeking Advice on a Self Defense Handgun Purchase

Hi Jim,

I do not have a handgun presently but want to get one. If you were only going to buy one handgun for self defense what would it be?
God Bless, – Greg O.

JWR Replies: Presently, I’d recommend getting either a Glock M21-SF .45 ACP or a Springfield Armory XD .45 ACP. Go for a full size model unless you plan to carry your pistol concealed extensively. If that is the case then get a Glock Model 30 (commonly called a “Mini Glock”) or an XD Compact .45. Given the currently frantic market for full capacity magazines in the US, be sure to buy at least six spare magazines immediately. (In fact, preferably before you buy the gun itself, just to be sure. Yes, the supplies of magazines are drying up that quickly!)

Some important notes on magazine compatibility: With a few exceptions, magazines are generally brand and model specific. With most brands of handguns, full size magazines will fit in the compact models as spares, but not vice versa. To provide a few extra rounds, I recommend that all of the spares that you carry should be full size magazines.

If you get a “-SF” (Short Frame) variant Glock, they can only accept the more recent production “SF” Glock magazines with the retention notch cut in the front. Older (“pre-SF”) Glocks can accept either early or late generation magazines.

BTW, I highly recommend Front Sight’s Gun & Gear & Training offer–which includes an essentially free XD pistol, holster, belt, a spare magazine, and a magazine pouch.