E-Mail 'So, You Want to Buy a Handgun… by K.E.' To A Friend

Email a copy of 'So, You Want to Buy a Handgun… by K.E.' to a friend

* Required Field

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

E-Mail Image Verification

Loading ... Loading ...


  1. I liked this write up. All good points. I would add that revolvers can experience stoppages from a variety of issues. A squib load (no powder in the cartridge, but the primer fires) can launch a bullet just far enough to lodge between the cylinder and the forcing cone. You’re done until you can find a cleaning rod to jam the bullet back far enough to open the cylinder.
    Dirt under the ejector star can tie up function. A misfire can lodge a bullet in the barrel and the next round fired will cause some unpleasantness. A high primer can cause the cylinder to balk. Dropping a revolver into the mud or sand….a non-starter, which is why armies the world over dumped revolvers after WWI (mostly). My 1911 ran fine after falling in mud several times, though my face was well covered in mud as a result.
    Some police officers would show up at the range for qualification only to find their guns so filled with lint that they would catch fire upon firing the first shot. My friend sprayed his Colt Python down with a famous lube containing Teflon only to find a year later that the cylinder would NOT TURN. The cylinder had to be pounded out with a mallet. But it also locked up his Colt Gold Cup 1911 as well. Ah yes, BreakFree CLP. The vehicle evaporates leaving the Teflon behind to stiffen up. Eh.
    I shot my Python into the warranty repair station three times in two years because I wore out the hand…the little arm that advances the cylinder when you pull the trigger. But I shot a LOT. A revolver should see an armorer about every 5,000 rounds to replace worn parts. A Glock knows no such schedule other than replacing the trigger return spring every 12,000 or so. They seem to break about every 15,000. If you get the New York 1 trigger (8 lbs), the return spring is eliminated and is no longer a concern. The heavier trigger helped NYPD end an epidemic of accidents when they transitioned from S&W revolvers (16 pounds trigger pull) to Glock 19s (5 lbs). Seems they were taught to have their finger on the trigger all the time.
    Sometime in the 1980s, DoD rigged a Glock 17 to a lights-out firing machine that fed rounds to it around the clock. At 700,000 rounds, they turned the machine off. The pile of empty brass would fill my kitchen.
    Manual safeties. During our pistol courses, students using pistols with manual safeties would often draw and attempt to fire, only to hear silence. They’d get a strange look of puzzlement on their faces and stare at their pistol. John Farnam would yell, “Boy, those manual safeties work really well, don’t they?!” They’d realize the problem and continue on…but in a fight, that might be a real problem. Which is why Glock didn’t design them into his pistol. Your trigger finger is your safety. Keep your booger hook off the bang switch! If you press the trigger, it will function correctly. It will not ask you, “Are You Sure You Want To Do This?”
    I started my girls off on the 1911 Government Model at age 12. They all did fine on it, and…they lost all curiosity about them. They were no longer a mystery, and they had no interest in picking them up when I wasn’t there. About 400 rounds and they were good to go. They seemed to enjoy the free time with the shotguns, for some reason. Like little boys, laughing as they made geysers of water in the stream.
    Whatever pistol or revolver you choose, PLEASE get competent training to go with it.
    Your safety, and that of all around you depend on your level of skill.
    Clint Smith, of Thunder Ranch. Tom Givens. John Farnam. And many more teach excellent courses that cost far less than a trip to the ER.

      1. Have to reply to my own post…I have looked into this issue today and apparently it relates to long term storage of the firearm using Safariland BreakFree CLP. There are other products, including WD40, that work better for rust prevention, etc. But in terms of functionality BreakFree CLP is one of the top 3 products being made…I understand, being no expert.

    1. Oh, I wish all the newbies in the gun buying panic had you to teach them, Paul. I hope they either buy ammo and get into a gun safety course ASAP or , in their panic, forget to buy bullets. I am more afraid of a frightened untrained gun owner than I am of a criminal.

      The criminal usually brandishes the gun to get what he wants. The untrained newbie…well, yowie!

      Carry on in grace

      1. Once A Marine,
        You are astute. When in Cabela’s, I sometimes kill time by standing a distance from the gun counter to observe the reckless habits of customers. The sales staff makes darn sure the weapons are sterile before handing them to the buyer because their life defends on it. Usually, within 40 seconds, the perspective buyer has muzzled himself, his wife, the customers on both sides of him, the clerk, and God knows who else! Handguns are the worst! If the customer hands the pistol to someone else, the process begins anew.
        Though I might not fear a stupid or careless person more than a criminal, either will kill you deader than canned tuna.
        Most of these new buyers will take it home and leave it in the box on a shelf in the closet for 40 years. When they pass, the kids will find it while going through their stuff and it may sit another 40 years on a shelf in the closet until…..
        Others may actually shoot the gun, say….7 times. Then it goes back in the box, on a shelf, for 40 years until……
        A few will shoot it, take a class (in that order), and become another member of the shooting fraternity. Is that sexist? Eh.
        Most of my guns are black, so I may get a pass from the PC police.

  2. That foreigners shouldn´t be allowed to carry weapons, was a right communities excersized energetically from medieval cities to Dodge City late in the 19th century, the same goes for the owner of the property may he be a farmer on his yard or a Jarl in his hall.

  3. Revolver Reliability:

    I didn’t believe it till I saw it, but indeed an airlight type .357 revolver, when shot, can pull a remaining bullet out of the brass and jam the rotation of the cylinder.

  4. We are testing AR pistols in 5.56 x 45 mm.

    These give us compatibility with our rifles with ammunition and magazines, and offer the simplicity of training with a single set of controls.
    The article mentioned recoil — the ‘perceived’ soft recoil of 5.56 is the result of the pistol weight combined with the short duration of the slug time-in-barrel and slug weight.
    Based on the numbers, 5.56 seems to offer more destructive power.

    The downsides includes:
    a) concealability ,and
    b) ‘perceived’ muzzle-blast.
    Another downside — these will be the first to be confiscated from registered owners after some bureaucrats sharpen their pencils to scribble a fresh new set of ‘laws’.

    1. This is just my opinion, and we all know about opinions… That being said I really do not like AR pistols for any reason. Even with a brace they are less accurate than a rifle and 5.56 was really designed to be fired out of a 20 in barrel. I would go with 300 Blackout for any pistiol/SBR applications. It was designed to be fired out of a 10 in barrel and going shorter doesn’t decrease performance in a measurable way. You still have the advantage of being the same controls of your other AR pattern rifles. To avoid the SBR designation just slap a brace on it and you have a pistol.

      1. I think the latest BATFE position in terms of AR pattern firearms is that you can’t take a “rifle” and turn it into a “pistol” by removing a stock and adding a brace. Don’t ask me the logic of anything they come up with.

        1. jima, I think you are correct. I should have been more clear and said that an AR with a 10 in barrel and a brace is considered a pistol.

        2. Yes, that is ATF logic, as per their legal interpretation letters. They say: “Once a rifle, always a rifle.” This follows their “Once a machinegun, always a machinegun” logic. So technically, to build an AR pistol, you need to start with a virgin receiver.

  5. Good article. Covers the basics well. My personal choice for CC is a NAA .32 acp. A true “pocket pistol”. I know, I know, .32? Yup, so far nobody’s volunteered to stand in front of it…

  6. The old. 32 s and w long is another idea if you can find one! There is a newer cartridge made the. 327 federal magnum. While S and W made a revolver about 15 yrs ago they do not make it anymore (model 632). The. 32 s and w long is a very accurate old cartridge. I am waiting to buy the Ruger model LCR fed magnum. I can fire this more powerful round while apparently able to use the. 32 sand w long and short plus the H and R magnum. And 6 shots as compared to the 5 round 38. Just an idea for those liking a revolver but not so much recoil.

  7. Thanks for this article. It’s a good explanation of the choices available to us. The best advice of all is to go to a range and try out several different makes and models to see what fits you. If your funds are limited, you don’t want to spend your money on a handgun only to find out it won’t work for you.

    Your size makes a great deal of difference in this regard. A large man may be able to easily conceal something like a double stack automatic or a 357 revolver, but for a small, slightly built person, it’s very difficult. Heck, a full size 1911 comes halfway down to my knee when holstered!

    Also, consider your hand size. I have wide hands but very short fingers. I will probably never own a Glock, because there is just too much distance between the back of the grip and the trigger, especially on the Gen 1 models with the finger grooves. I actually love my 1911, since it’s a single stack. The weight doesn’t bother me, because I have enough hand strength, and I can grip the gun well. There are some newer double stack handguns that are easier to grip because of a newer, slimmer magazine design. One of these is the Ruger Security 9. I find it really comfortable, but unfortunately not so concealable. On the other hand, the Keltec PF9 is very comfortable to hold and very concealable, but the design of the pistol makes it very painful to shoot, as it eats the flesh off the web of my thumb with its snappy recoil.

    So again, the best advice is to go to a range, try several styles, and see what fits you. Handguns are definitely not a “one size fits all” item.

  8. RE ‘they are still complex machines that don’t take abuse well – a drop onto a hard surface can disrupt the delicate timing which aligns a chamber of the cylinder with the barrel when a shot is fired. Not good.’
    Are they – that – delicate, and has that happened to a lot of people? I always thought of revolvers as being heavy duty, guess I will have to re-evaluate that take.

    RE ‘Dropping a revolver into the mud or sand….a non-starter,’
    What do you mean by ‘non-starter’? Should a revolver dropped in any kind of dirt or mud automatically be considered not working? I am trying to imagine blowing off and wiping the mud or dirt off, out in ‘the field’ how would you know if you have done a good enough job, just by luck, or visually seeing no dirt?

    RE ‘My friend sprayed his Colt Python down with a famous lube containing Teflon only to find a year later that the cylinder would NOT TURN. The cylinder had to be pounded out with a mallet. … Ah yes, BreakFree CLP. The vehicle evaporates leaving the Teflon behind to stiffen up. Eh.’

    Are you saying BreakFree CLP is the ‘famous lube’? Is this common? How long did the gun sit before this condition developed? I am just wondering if I have a safe full of teflon rocks now. Just great. Should All Teflon lube be avoided and considered to be equal to Cosmoline?

    RE ‘I didn’t believe it till I saw it, but indeed an airlight type .357 revolver, when shot, can pull a remaining bullet out of the brass and jam the rotation of the cylinder.’
    How common is that? Is it just with the Smith and Wesson Airlight types, even .38’s, or all revolvers? I thought the .357 Airlight was a better choice than an Airlight .38, but now I wonder.

    One bit I can add – .38 auto ammo will fit into a .38 revolver, be careful and pay attention to what ammo you use. The example I saw, the gun didn’t fire.

  9. Excellent article and comments. An option for folks that have physical limitations with strength or coordination issues is a .410 pump shotgun, youth model with a short barrel. I think moss berg makes it.
    Loaded with #4 shot or a slug it will work for home defense. In my experience, Many elderly, especially women found they could operate and hit the target
    With that said since acquiring an AR pistol set up with a red dot and light, my wife and I have found our perfect fit for most home or travel encounters with
    Punks, be safe everyone.

  10. I forgot to mention….using Breakfree CLP and using the firearm within a few months will probably not cause any issues. The military and police (hopefully) will clean and then use their weapons regularly. It’s when the product is applied to the inner workings and lock work of a firearm and then left for prolonged periods in storage that the problem appears.

    In a handgun course last year, during our battlefield pickup drill, a laid my father’s S&W Model 60 Chief’s Special on the table to add a bit of variety to the mix. Every student fires every other student’s guns, but since 95% of students show up with Glocks, it lacks- dare I say- diversity. During a string of fire, the Model 60 ceased to fire. Upon closer inspection, we found that the lock work had suffered a broken part inside. Deadlined the gun, but I was grateful that this happened in a time and place where it was safe to fail. Smith and Wesson took about 6 months to repair it. Revolvers can fail, as any other machine can. Which is why carrying TWO is always a good idea. The fastest reload is another gun…in most cases. There are shooters out there that can challenge that. But a 2nd gun is way faster than a trip home or to the store to get another.
    Concealing 1911s. I carried a Government Model for 18 years every day. It is easier to conceal from the standpoint of being thin because of its single column magazine. Easier than any revolver. You just have to wear a shirt or garment long enough to cover it. If you’re serious, you’ll build the wardrobe around the gun, not the other way around.
    I ditched the 1911 for daily carry to double my magazine capacity and drastically reduce the weight of the artillery…but I carry the full-size members of the Glock family. Two of them. Every day.
    Customer Service. I bought a Glock 17 police buy-back for my 74 year old mother who could no longer pull the trigger of her .38 caliber revolver. Surprisingly, she had no trouble with a Glock 17! She could even pull the slide back with some coaching. Or, I could just leave the fully charged G17 in her drawer. If she can’t solve the problem with 18 rounds…
    Anyway, her pistol had a bad ejector or extractor. I called Glock in Georgia and a man answered who sounded just like the warden in Cool Hand Luke. He said, “Send it INNNN!” I asked about how much it would cost, and he said, “Send it INNNNN! We’ll FIX IT!” And so they did. In a week and two days, and free of charge. They paid freight.
    What’s not to like? I’ll bet the bench tech had it done in about 60 seconds. I’m taking a Glock armorers course to learn how to maintain my fleet.

  11. Between the article and the comments, this was a great piece. Thanks, SurvivalBlog! My extra 2 cents: for semi-autos, “limp wristing” and other form deficiencies presenting the weapon can cause malfunction; in addition to simpler manual of arms, revolvers are more forgiving in very close quarters – no slide safety so can be jammed into your opponent to fire, can fire from inside a pocket especially if have a concealed hammer; and because of potential malfunction issues, semi-auto users MUST practice failure-to-function drills (tap-rack-bang).

  12. I prefer the Springfield XD9 because of several safety features not in Glocks. I do not care for the trigger on my XD9, and I can shoot better with some other handguns, but the hand grip safety means the trigger safety is less likely to be depressed if a hand is not firmly on the grip before the trigger can be depressed.

    Any hand gun with a trigger safety should be holstered to be completely safe. The XD9 is a tad safer than others without this feature. The problem with manual 1911 style safeties is that it does slow the shooter down, and one may, for a lack training or in the heat of the moment, forget to take off the safety. The XD9 also has a loaded chamber indicator that can be felt with a finger in the dark. There are other improvements that set the XD9 apart as well. Both are equally as reliable. Glock has developed a name for itself, but that does not mean it is necessarily the only good choice out there. As a long time owner of Toyota’s, and as a semi-professional mechanic, there other vehicles that are arguably better. Toyota got their marketing right. I know Toyota’s flaws well.

    All that said, if I could get a Glock at the bargain price of one those Police trade-in recommended by the owner of this blog, get the Glock, and a pile of a mags with the savings. But also get a good holster that will retain it. I would never put a Glock, or other hand gun with only a trigger safety in a pocket, or otherwise carry it in some way with out it secured in a hard polymer holster that completely covers the trigger. That is how I carry the XD9 as well, just in case.

  13. GGHD (me): Sometimes women can benefit from other woman, when learning about guns. The National Rifle Association has instructions for women in the Woman on Target program. Look on the Internet for more information.

    “If you’re curious about firearms, whether for personal defense or to learn a new sport, (Women on Target) is the perfect place to start. These instructional shooting clinics are designed to teach you firearm safety and the fundamentals of marksmanship, giving you the confidence you need to safely handle and operate a firearm upon completion.”

    “(Women on Target) clinics are available only to women — it’s a safe and friendly environment whether you’re picking up a gun for the very first time or are just brushing off some dust and need a little refresher. You’ll immediately feel at ease in the half- or full-day clinics, and will be provided with a hands-on, one-of-a-kind experience. No experience or equipment is necessary to participate.” [From the NRA]

    GGHD [me] = Some men, will repeated the same words and raise their voice, when trying to teach a woman about shooting a gun. … … Some women will benefit from gun instructions from other women.

    Most of the time, men give good advice to woman about firearms. Once in awhile, a mental moron gives out this type of advice to everyone:

    Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden famously once said, “Well, you know, my shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15, because you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.”
    ………. Most people can handle a shotgun a hell of a lot better than they can a semiautomatic weapon in terms of both their aim and in terms of their ability to deter people coming.” [Interview from Field & Stream]

  14. good article. the .22, A retired secret service agent told me some yrs ago that 50% pf the people killed in the U.S. are killed by a .22. If you are real lucky, you might hit the one spot where the person will drop on the spot, but normally the person shot will take two to three rds to the body ( depending on where he is hit ) and still be able to run away, but will probably die in two to four days time period. Just saying

  15. If this is your first exploration of the firearms world a few suggestions / thoughts. PLEASE get training. It is usually inexpensive or free and easy to find. Most gun clubs or ranges (public and private) will have knowledge of good instructors. Please for your own safety and the safety of your family.
    Second: consider joining a national firearms organization, Consider Gun Owners of America (GOA) , No shiny magazine but very active on the legal and legislative front. The also send out a quarterly news letter AND will contact you if there is pending legislation and give you contact names and #’s. A great grass roots organization. Another organization is The Firearms Coalition (info@firearmscoalition.org) Founded by Neal Knox and now headed by his son Jeff who is a strong 2nd amendment lobbyist.

  16. One you did not mention is the SIG 250, Sig 320/M18/17 means you can use same mags as the Military. Plus they are accurate as well and are like the AR family they are lego pistols.

Comments are closed.