Only One Gun?, by Pat Cascio

I get a lot of questions asked of me, all the time, but many of them are really one in the same question, just phrased a little differently. Over my lifetime, I’ve been asked, literally hundreds of times: “What is your favorite gun…?” or, “If you could only own one gun, what would it be…?” and other similar questions from those seeking a truth or “the” truth about firearms. And, I can’t give a pat answer to these questions and no one else can, either. I can only reply based on my own experiences, the facts and my finding over a lifetime of being a gun owner.

I don’t have a “favorite” gun, if I do, it would be whatever I’m carrying at the time. And, when it comes down to owning one gun, to what end are you referring to? I look at things differently than most people, and heaven forbid that we ever have to make a decision about owning just one gun. Of course, it also depends on where you are standing at the time. If I were living in Alaska, out in the bush, then I’d elect to have some kind of .44 Magnum revolver – since there are some dangerous four-legged creatures living then. I’d pick a handgun over a rifle for the fact, that it is more easily carried regularly, compared to a rifle of some type.

There are so many different scenarios that one can play out in their minds, that it will drive you crazy, just trying to pick one gun for all your needs. I tend to look at things through the eyes of a Prepper, and towards the end of the world scenarios, and make my choices based on that. For many, many years, my choice for a one and only firearm was a .357 Magnum revolver of some sort, with a 4-inch barrel, made out of stainless steel – to help prevent rust and weather conditions from taking a toll on the gun. And, of course, you can load a .357 Magnum with a large variety of ammo, including .38 Special ammo, or the heaviest .357 Mag loads for dangerous times, or added penetration. Add a nice holster and several speed loaders, and you would be good to go. However, these days, the world is much different than it was when I made that choice.

I’m a life-long fan of the grand old 1911 handgun, in .45 ACP and it served our military for a lot of years, and even now, some Special Ops Units still carry a full-sized Government Model 1911 in .45 ACP for some missions. No doubt about it, the .45 ACP will get the job done – very quickly. Still, I had to rethink this choice not too long ago. I don’t feel that a magazine holding 7 or 8 rounds in a single stack form, is enough ammo on-hand, to take care of things, these days.

It Would Be An Autopistol

This brings us to what my choice would be, for a one and only gun, and it would be an autopistol handgun for a number of reasons. First of all, is the concealability of a handgun, over a long gun. The second reason is, lots of ammo on-board, and that means having a handgun chambered in 9mm – the more ammo on-tap, the better it is. Now, any number of double-stack 9mm handguns can fill the bill, however, after writing hundreds of articles about handguns, and shooting hundreds of thousands of rounds – maybe even a million rounds, through handguns, my number one choice would be a Glock 19X – stay with me for a bit, while I make my case for this handgun, and feel free to disagree, but this is my choice, based on experience and facts.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Glock line of handguns, they are the most widely used handguns in the world, with military and law enforcement units and there is a reason for this – the Glocks just tend to go “bang” every time you pull the trigger, and they endure, no matter what the conditions might be – and they don’t take a lot of maintenance, either. Plus, the 9mm round is still the most popular caliber in the world, and odds are you will still find a supply of 9mm no matter how bad things might get. Right now, there is a huge run on guns and ammo, because of the recent numerous riots taking place all over the country, and understandable anxiety over the election of Joe Biden. But you can still find 9mm ammo if you look around – sure, you’ll have to pay more than you normally would, but you can find it.

Looking at the Glock 19X

Just a quick look at the Glock 19X is in order. It only comes in FDE – Flat Dark Earth – color – and I don’t have a problem with this at all. It has a Glock 19 length barrel, with a Glock 17 length grip. You can load up 17, 19, 33, or even 40 round extended magazines in it – and the more ammo you have, the better off you’ll be. I own a couple Glock 19X models, because I like them “that” much. We also have night sights that are standard on the 19X, as well as an ambidextrous slide release. The magazine release is reversible to one side of the frame or another.

Glock also finally got the message, that most shooters simply didn’t like the finger grooves on the front strap. (See the photo at left for that older design.) There is excellent pyramid points instead of checkering on the frame for a sure hold under the most adverse weather conditions. And, to top it off, you get several back straps, so you will be sure one size will fit your hand. There is also a (removable) lanyard ring in the butt of the grip frame. We have a Picatinny rail on the dust cover, should you run a laser and/or light on the gun. Plus, there are thousands of after-market products you can add or swap out if the factory set-up gun isn’t enough for you.

The Glock 19X comes with three magazines, one is a flush-fitting 17-round magazine, and the other two are 19-round extended mags – so you have plenty of ammo with all three mags loaded and ready to go. Plus, you can usually find Glock mags for $20 to $24 each – so no reason why you can’t buy plenty of extra mags for this gun. The best thing is, a Glock always goes “bang” when you pull the trigger – and I’ve run a lot of different 9mm ammo through quite a few Glocks in that caliber, and no matter what the ammo was, it always fed and functioned – 100% of the time.

I haven’t run across many people who say that they Glock handguns actually “fit” their hands as well as they’d like – I’m one of those people. However, over the years, my grip on a Glock has gotten my hand used to the feel of these guns, and it is “muscle memory” that makes these guns feel like an old friend. Having spent 35-years in the martial arts, one thing I always taught my students was that, in order for a move to come naturally, they needed to do the move at least 5,000 times correctly before it was instilled in their muscle memory.

I could also live with my old Glock 19, if I didn’t own a Glock 19X – same gun, except shorter in the butt, and it holds a few less rounds of ammo – my particular Glock 19 has night sights and nothing more added. I do have several of the 15-round mags with a plus-two base plate, giving me two extra rounds. Plus, it will also take 17, 19, 33, and 40 rounds mags – but they stick out of the grip frame a little bit. I really love the little 19, and carried one for years as my EDC piece.

The Tried and True Glock 17

Next up would be a Glock 17, and this is a full-sized model with a longer barrel, and the same longer grip frame that takes 17, 19, 33, or even 40-round magazines – it’s a little bit harder to conceal than the 19 or 19X is. Many law enforcement departments still issue this gun and it was the very first Glock handgun design produced.

If all I had were a Glock 22 I could live with it – it is chambered in .40 S&W caliber and is the same size as the Glock 17 is. Many PDs are still using this gun and there is nothing wrong with it at all. Next up would be my Glock 35, this is the long-slide version of the Model 22 and it would make for a dandy pistol for hunting some type of game – even some bigger game could be taken with it, with the right ammo.

Ammo Choices

I just wanted to touch on ammo briefly, there are a lot of choices you can make in 9mm and even .40 S&W, as well as .45 ACP. I keep my Glocks in 9mm stoked with Black Hills Ammunition 100-gr HoneyBadger loads, and it is a +P rated load, just great for self-defense. If I lived out in the wilderness, and all I owned was a 9mm handgun, I’d keep at least one magazine loaded with the Buffalo Bore 147-gr +P hard cast outdoorsman 9mm load, it will penetrate deeply and that’s what you need for large and dangerous critters. And, there are more 9mm loadings, that you can surely find some that will fill your needs.

I admit to owning more Glock handguns than anyone one person should be allowed to own, but I like them for many reasons, and number one is that, they will always work, even with very little maintenance. My wife and oldest daughter both own a Glock 19, with plenty of spare magazines. The youngest daughter still doesn’t have one, and I might have to gift her with one, someday soon.

Now, if all I had, I would surely take a 1911 in any form, but my favorite is a 4.25-inch barrel Commander sized version in .45 ACP – I wouldn’t feel very handicapped with “only” 7 or 8 rounds in a magazine, with several spare mags on my hip ready to go. Still, after years of thinking about this, I’d have to go with a Glock 19X over all the others.


I’ve played the “what if” game tens of thousands of times in my mind, and I’m sure you all have do the same thing “what if ‘this’ happens?” or “what if ‘that’ happens?,” –what gun would you want on your hip, given all that you know? It is not an easy decision to make – never will be, and I’ve changed my own thinking several times over the years, and for the time being, I’m very happy with the Glock 19X as my choice for a one and only handgun – let’s just hope it never comes down to owning just one gun for the rest of my life.


  1. Yes. Another shooter who is pragmatic & gets it. My experiences in real world TIC’s & other conflicts, continual training confirms yours almost exactly.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but 19x magazines don’t fit other Glock 9s. You could add an X-Grip to a 17 magazine for your 19 with roughly the same grip as your 17 and 19x and all magazines would be compatible with all the [double-column] Glock 9s.

  3. “I admit to owning more Glock handguns than anyone one person should be allowed to own”
    While I believe how many guns you own is strictly your business. Perhaps an edit is needed.

  4. Pat
    Could not agree more, while I was a custom Colt 1911 guy (in 38 super) for many years, and carried one on duty for close to 10 years, after I shot my first Glock those have been in my safe since.

    While I have other Glocks, my Gen 2 model 19 is still a favorite, and was carried on duty for close to 15 years, with the only change being replacement night sights and recently a Recover Rail attachment for a TLR-2 with lazer. This Glock has well over 15-20,000 rounds through it without a bobble!!! Everything from +P duty ammo (majority) to junk reloads and steel import loads, they ALL work!!

    One suggestion, if you can’t get a 19X, just get a sleeve or two that are available to cover the lower part of the Glock 17 magazine and looks like a frame extension. Now you have a Glock 19X and can convert back to the standard 19 configuration at any time!

    One thing you did not cover is the simplicity of replacing parts if ever needed, and likely that will NOT be the case. While I have kept a replacement spring for all of those in the 19, I have never needed to replace any!

    However, I do have to say, that with the current national and world situation, I recently just replaced ALL of the springs with Wolf Spring kits just as a precaution. Again, after firing about 200 rounds, not a bobble and it seems to function even more smoothly.

  5. Good choice with a Glock for a lot of people. … For me, I’d rather have a Glock19 with a ~drum magazine, than a ~six shot .44 magnum revolver; especially, if I was ever faced with a charging, Alaskan Grizzly Bear. … As the movie star once said, “A Man’s GOT to Know His Limitations.”

    I don’t like the Glock grip angle or grip size, and I want a safety on a pistol. But with a Glock and a drum magazine, a man could teach Grizzly Bears how to dance.
    …….. Now days, Americans are being victimized by criminal ~gangs. … A pistol with a drum magazine is like having a little submachine gun, on the bedside table. … Even dumb crooks might realize, after the first 25 shots; there’s still a lot more bullets coming their way. [They’d run back out the door, at just the noise itself.]

  6. Hmm, interesting. You said something about 1911 only being a single stack , I know they aren’t being made any more, but the Para-ordinance / Remington had the p-18 in 9mm and the p14-45 for awhile ( I had a Para p14-45 for awhile, but let someone talk me out of it ), then I came across a springfield armory mil-spec 1911a1 some yrs ago in a .45 acp. If I can find the parts I need, I’m thinking of maybe changing it to a 9mm. Mec-gar still makes the mags for ( so far ) the P-18 9mm for Para and they will fit the springfield. I don’t if it is very concealable ( as big as it is ), haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been a 1911 fan ( ? ) since the 60’s when uncle sam tried to teach me how to shoot a .45.
    but he had to put me inside the barn so I could it the broad side of the barn in order to qualify ( barely ). good article, thank you

  7. Based on the responses I’ve received from professional Alaskan guides, no production handgun caliber is adequate for protection against brownies and polar beaars. Even the 460 and 500 magnums are woefully underpowered based on their observations. Amongst the many pros I’ve put it to, the response has been unanimous.

    The decision of a “best” all around firearm depends on a lot of factors. All things considered, I would prefer an extended mag pump 12 gauge shotgun. Other than long range shooting, I can’t think of a another single situation I would likely find myself in that a good shotgun won’t be effective with. Can’t say the same for any other firearm platform, although a shotgun like that is not going to be concealable. I can live with that limit. But that’s just me. This is very much a case of “your mileage may vary”.

  8. To answer the question, which handgun is your favorite, I always answer with: What ever I have in my hand or available at the time.
    My go to is generally the 1911, unless I’m in the mood for the revolver, slow to reload but leaves no telltale casings lying around, and the single stack 8 rd mags, well I always thought thats what extra mags were for.
    But then waddaeyeknow! All I know is that I don’t have enough of any of them, or their accessories, including bang pills……

  9. Pat
    For 4 decades my go to was a Model 19/66 in .357 mag. When the 19X came out I was interested in its capabilities. Got a chance to shoot one and I was hooked. I‘ve had the 19X for a couple of years now and have since sold my revolvers. This is a go-to-war gun if there ever was one. I am a southpaw so I really appreciate the ambidextrous controls. Oh, used the proceeds from my revolvers to buy a number of mags and cases of 9mm.

  10. I do enjoy your articles, certainly, we all have biases, that said, you do well in your approach and it is greatly appreciated.

    I have carried several makes, models, and manufacturers of handguns over the decades I have carried. The single time I was involved in a use of force in the civilian world, was the late 90s and I used a .25acp bryce cheapo-

    for the past 20+ years, I have carried one of the following daily.

    Glock 19 (gen 3)
    Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm (gen 1)

    I do have and use a pocket rocket in 32acp but, I rely fully on the above names because they work.

    Even before 2020 I was not able to afford to buy and outfit an entirely different platform, though I can say with certainty that there are dozens maybe hundreds of models, brands, and or combinations that are very well set up for defense in the civilian world.

    My children, wife all train and use the same – I remember just 2 years ago when you could purchase a gen 1 Shield for $230 (yes, I took advantage)

  11. late last year an alaskan guide killed a grizzly that rushed him and his fishermen…he killed it with a g43 using buffalo bore ammo…i believe he emptied the gun but he killed it…prefer glocks myself…easy to shoot, easy to maintain and clean, easy to replace parts…

  12. Good article as always. Have the Glock 19X, use the Glock gen 4 as EDC. Great guns, have shot the heck out of them, and have a few new ones tucked away. Outfitted mine, as others have said, with night sights. In my area, that will kill anything that moves. If I lived in Alaska, my ‘one’ gun might be different. Stay safe, keep training.

  13. I have been a professional hunting guide in Alaska for over 40 years, guided over 100 successful Grizzly/Brown Bear hunts. Every Summer I live with the coastal grizzlies and deal with them up close. Sure a hard-hitting long gun is better for stopping power but living and working day to day it is not possible to have a long gun in your hand at all times.
    Before I leave my house each morning, I strap on a 4” SW model 29 in 44 mag. With heavy hard cast projectiles, the 44 will get the job done if you do your part. Personally I have been chewed on by a bear & a handgun saved the day.

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