Without a doubt, the most often asked questions I get in my handguns classes is “What is your favorite handgun?” followed by “If you could only have one gun for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Of course, it is next to impossible to answer either of those questions, especially if you are a long-time gun owner. As to my favorite handgun, that’s an easy one to answer, and it confuses people. Put simply, my favorite handgun is the one I’m carrying at the moment! I’m not trying to dance around answering the question. If you stop and think about it, at “that” time, “that” handgun is my favorite. It suits my purpose at “that” time.
My answer to the second question is always the same; I would want a 1911 of some sort in .45ACP, a 4” Bbl stainless steel .357 Mag of some sort, or a 4” Bbl .44 Mag of some sort that is stainless, or something else. Once again, I don’t have a 100% pat answer to this question, and I hope I never have to make that decision either. I’m not dancing around answering this question, either. It’s just that there is no one handgun that can do all I want or expect it to do.
All this leads to yet another question, and that is what kind of handgun would I want for the “End Of The World”? Wow! They’re always trying to nail me to the wall with some questions, and this is an on-going thing when people find out I write about guns (and knives and survival gear) for a living. They somehow think I’m some sort of expert on guns. I’m far from it. I’m just a serious firearm owner with a lot of experience with a lot of different guns over the past 50 years.
To be sure, there aren’t many handguns I would take out-of-the-box without test firing them, carry it, and bet my life on it. However, two handguns come to mind. One is the Beretta Model 92 in 9mm, and the other is the Glock 19 in 9mm. Both are outstanding handguns that I would trust my life to without first test firing them. However, I would sure test them as soon as I could, just to be sure. The reason I name the Beretta and the GLOCK is because they have proven 100% reliable in my hands.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The 9mm round still isn’t at the top of my list as a man stopper round. However, with good JHP ammo, this round will get the job done if you place them where they need to go. I load +P or +P+JHP ammo from Black Hills Ammunition or Buffalo Bore Ammunition for the most part in my 9mm handguns for self defense. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with plain ol’ JHP 9mm ammo, to be sure.
We are looking at a TEOTWAWKI scenario, and I do like the idea of a lot of rounds in my magazines in my 9mm handguns, which leads us to high capacity magazines. I’m not talking about the 15-rd magazines that are the standard with the Glock and Beretta handguns. For the Beretta, I have genuine Beretta-made 30-rd high-capacity magazines. For the Glock, I have a couple genuine Glock 33-rd magazines. However, I have quite a few of the S. Korean made 33-rd magazines that have thus far worked flawlessly for me in my Glock 19, and they are less than half the price of the Glock mags. I don’t cut corners on quality, when my life may depend on it. I spend my money carefully and get the best merchandise I can. Now, I’ve tried a number of the S. Korean made high cap mags in .40 S&W for Glocks, and they have proven less than reliable in my experience and for others I know who have tried them, so I steer clear of them for my Glock 27 or 23 .40 caliber handguns. For those, it’s best to go with the genuine Glock .40 mags that only hold 22 rounds.
Enter my long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel knives and has a video showing him shooting at man-sized steel targets at 200-yards with a Glock 9mm pistol while standing on his feet with no rest or support and repeatedly hitting the target. We hear “bang”, and a second or so later we hear “ding” as the bullet hits the target. Lynn says there is no trick to it; it just takes practice. Now, I’m not saying that I want to engage someone at 200 yards or for that matter 100 yards, with only a 9mm handgun, but it can be done. For sure, you probably won’t kill the threat with one round, but you will sure make them wish they were some place else.
So, as you will see in the pictures accompanying this article, I have two similar setups for my Glock 19 and my Beretta 92. Both can be carried in a Blackhawk Products SERPA tactical thigh holster. For each of my Glock 19, I have a standard capacity 15-rd mag in them. In my Beretta 92, I actually have 17-rd Mec-Gar mags in the gun and the two spare mag pouches on the holster. For the Glock, I have the gun loaded with a 15-rd mag and two more 15-rd mags in the magazine pouches on the holster. Then, we add a Blackhawk tactical thigh 9mm submachine gun mag carrier on the opposite leg, loaded with three 33-rd mags for the Glcok and/or three 30-rd mags for the Beretta.
Of course, I’m not kidding myself. My Glcok and Beretta are not submachine guns/pistols. However, with this setup– the loaded guns with spare mags on the holster platform and then three high-capacity mags in the off-side mag carrier– we are talking some serious fire-power, and of course, the term “fire power” means different things to different people. I won’t get into a debate on this.
I’ve been on a SWAT team, and I’ve trained police and security officers in SWAT tactics, and I’ve even written a book on SWAT tactics, which is in need of serious updating and some changes made to it. However, the point is, depending on where you are headed and what type of danger you may encounter, sometimes a long gun, like a shotgun or an AR-15 carbine, might not be the best choice, especially if working through narrow hallways or tight rooms where a long gun might be a bit too cumbersome to use. A handgun would be a better choice.
If you’re in a survival situation where you might have to work your way from work to home, a long gun might draw unwanted attention to you. However, a handgun setup, as described above, might work out great. We are talking a lot of rounds on-hand with all the magazines fully-loaded. Of course, it goes without saying that you don’t hose down a target. You still need to take careful aim and make every round count. Still, if the situation presented itself and you had to lay down some serious covering fire, you could sure do so with the GLOCK or Beretta setup as described above.
Of course, we also have the situation where in some areas of the country you can’t own anything like an AR-15 or AK-47 due to stupid laws, but you can own a handgun and some extra magazines, even high capacity magazines! We aren’t calling the Glcok and the Beretta “assault weapons” in the least. They are just plain Jane 9mm handguns with some added ammunition on hand.
Many years ago, I worked for an alarm company on the day shift. I installed burglar alarms in businesses and, on the night shift, I answered those alarms. About 95% of the time, I got there before the Chicago PD. At that, more often than not, they would tell me that they would “secure” the outside of the building while it was my job to go in and clear the building. I did catch a lot of bad guys in those buildings, too. I still remember my first call on the night shift. It was a huge warehouse/trucking company that was easily a city block long. I only carried a 2” Bbl Colt Detective Special Snubby .38 Spl revolver. It was good enough for the day shift, just because we were installing alarms in some bad neighborhoods and never had any confrontations. However, at night, it was another story. I still remember thinking to myself, “What am I going to do with this little gun?” that I had in my hand when I entered that dark warehouse. The very next day I traded that little gun for a 4” Bbl Colt Trooper MKIII .357 Mag revolver. It had more horse power and was more accurate, plus it was carried with several ammo pouches with spare ammo on my belt.
The point is the above setup can work when only carrying a handgun when the situation may arise and a long gun isn’t handy or called for or for those areas where you can’t own an AR or AK, but you don’t want to feel outgunned or undergunned when the SHTF! Now, for sure, I wouldn’t want to knowingly go up against someone armed with something like an AR or an AK. However, the above setup would at least give you a fighting chance with lots of rounds on-board.
So, when someone talks to me about what handguns to own for the End Of The World, this is but one answer/solution I give to them. Remember, there is no single gun, not any gun, that can do everything you need it to do. But there are some smarter solutions to some problems that can be solved with a good handgun setup. Now, there are some magazine makers that are making some really bad high capacity magazines for the Glock and the Beretta and other handguns. However, based on my testing, with those mags over the years, they are pure junk. Don’t even think about betting your life on them; you’ll lose! Stick with the genuine Beretta 30-rd 9mm mags or the Glcok 9mm 33-rd mags from either Glcok or the S. Korean make and you won’t go wrong.
I’ve reviewed the Beretta 92 and Glcok 15 in the past on SurvivalBlog.com and didn’t see any sense in reviewing these two handguns again. You can do a search and read my articles on these two outstanding handguns. The purpose of this article was to answer this often-posed question to me, and you’d be shocked at how often I’m asked about “End Of The World” handguns (and long guns) and thought this would give SurvivalBlog readers some further insights into my recommendations. I just wanted to alert readers to what is available out there and what I use/would use in this type of situation.
I wouldn’t want to be on a battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan armed only with my 9mm handgun and the above setup with spare mags. However, fighting my way home on the city streets, I wouldn’t feel helpless and would make a good showing with my setup. Plus, one can always carry extra ammo in a Bug Out Bag to replenish your mags if need be. I hope this article answers all those who have written to me on this topic.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio