So, You Want to Buy a Handgun… by K.E.

As a follow-up to Frog’s recent excellent article on gun-buying decisions, I thought I would drill down a bit on the handgun option – not to exclude the importance of long-guns, by any means! This article was originally quick-typed for a non-gun-owing friend at work who asked, “what kind of handgun should I buy”, when he was feeling a bit insecure due to the latest national conflagration (not the most current). As a result, this is my opinion, based on experience. I look forward to comments, as we can always learn from each other!

The two most common types of handguns are Revolvers and Semi-Auto Pistols

Revolvers
    A revolving cylinder holds cartridges – fired cartridges cases are manually extracted before reloading. Revolvers do not typically have a “safety”, but rather rely on the long, heavy (7-8 lbs) pull of the “double-action” trigger mechanism to prevent unintentional discharge. “Double action” means that the trigger pull both retracts the hammer and drops the hammer (thus firing the shot). Many revolvers can be fired in “single action” as well, by cocking the hammer manually – at this point it takes a much more light trigger pull (3-4 lbs) to drop the hammer.

 

 

 

Smith & Wesson .38 Special Revolver (5-shot)

Advantages

  1. Virtually malfunction free – can live in a drawer for years and still fire when the trigger is squeezed
  2. No safety to remember – when you squeeze the trigger, it fires.
  3. Better suited to people who don’t want to practice (though every firearm deserves practice!) because malfunction-clearing procedures are limited.
    1. Doesn’t require hand/wrist strength to “rack the slide” (as with a semi-automatic pistol).
    2. If the “Haters-of-Freedom” succeed in infringing on our Second Amendment rights, these will probably “stay legal” longer than the semi-auto pistols described below. Revolvers haven’t been as “vilified” by the press and anti-freedom officials as have the semi-autos.
    3. All things equal, revolvers handle a broader range of ammo types (deep hollow-points, shotshells, etc.) than semi-auto pistols.

Disadvantages

  1. Relatively low ammo capacity (usually 5-6 cartridges…significant in the case of multi-person home invasion).
  2. Slow re-load – must usually be loaded one cartridge at a time, after manually extracting the spent shell – even with “speed loaders” it’s a slower process.
  3. Usually “thicker” (wider) than semi-auto pistols, because the minimum width is determined by the cylinder diameter. Though they are simpler to use than semi-autos, 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.
Semi-Automatic Pistols
    (aka, “autoloaders” or “autopistols”, and in casual use, “automatics.”) – A magazine, inserted into the grip of the pistol, holds the cartridges – fired brass cases are automatically extracted as the slide flies back from the force the firing of a cartridge. A new cartridge is stripped from the magazine and loaded into the chamber as the slide rebounds. Most semi-auto pistols have external safeties to help prevent unintentional discharge. These safeties must be deactivated before the pistol will fire, thus requiring more practice to perform flawlessly under stress. Some pistols, such as the Glock “safe action” pistols, do not have an external safety, but rather a trigger safety that prevents discharge if the pistol is dropped, but any trigger pull will fire the weapon.

Advantages

  1. Simply stated – Firepower. Pistols in common calibers (9mm, .40S&W, .45acp, .357sig) often have magazines that hold 13-20 rounds. If the last round is the one that saves you, that’s how many you need!
  2. Quick, high-capacity reload. With practice, a full magazine can be reloaded in 1-2 seconds!
  3. Easier concealability – Many of these pistols are very thin (some less than 1”), and are easier to conceal than a revolver, whose ammo capacity is determined by the width of the cylinder
  • Most semi-autos are fairly durable.

Disadvantages

  1. Even when in perfect working order, there is more to malfunction during the semi-auto firing cycle than with a revolver.
  2. Because of the malfunction potential (e.g., failure to extract, failure to feed, etc.), it requires more thought and practice to become competent with a semi-auto than with a revolver. Note: Due to the fast-action mechanics of a semi-auto, it demands more cleaning and maintenance than a revolver. Lubrication is critical.
  3. Some ladies (and understrength men) don’t have the strength to dependably rack the slide to load, or to clear jams. Requires a firm grip to ensure the appropriate cycling of the action.
  4. As stated above, if you plan to submit to oppressive government, then be prepared for your full-capacity magazines to be restricted or outlawed. (My suggestion: Buy more… soon!)
Semi-Auto Pistols

Basic types of Semi-Auto Pistols (there are many more, but these represent most currently on the market)

  1. “1911 type” – First adopted by the US Army in 1911, this is a single action only (the hammer must be cocked manually, or by the slide in the course of firing), single stack magazine (usually 7-8 rounds), with a characteristic grip and thumb safety. Traditionally in .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) caliber. Many people love them, though, in general, they probably have the highest malfunction rate of modern pistols. Excellent products are made by Colt, Kimber, Para, and others. Good ones range from $800-$2000 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

“1911” type (.45 ACP Single-Action – 7-to-9 shot)

  1. Polymer Frame, Glock type – Introduced in the 1980s, this type pistol has been adopted by militaries and police forces around the world due to reliability, durability, reasonable accuracy, and excellent value. The frame is a virtually indestructible polymer, with barrel and slide made from hardened steel. They are “striker” fired (no traditional hammer to drive the firing pin into the primer, but rather a spring-loaded striker). They operate somewhat between true single action and double action, as the striker is “half cocked” when a round is chambered. Pulling the trigger completes the striker cock and releases it to fire the shot. Trigger pull is consistent from 1st shot to last. Most have “double stack” magazines, which increase the width of the grip, but also increase the ammo capacity. Capacity ranges from 10-20 rounds, and can be commonly had in .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, 10mm and .45 ACP calibers.

Glocks have no external safety, but some other brands of polymer frame pistols do, e.g., some variants in the Springfield XD line and the SIG P320 lines. Good ones range from $500-$700.

 

 

 

GLOCK 22 (.40 caliber striker-fired – 11-16 shot)

 

    1. 3. “Double action/Single Action Pistols – Many models are available, most commonly SIG-Sauer, Walther, and Beretta. As the name implies, these pistols can be carried with a round in the chamber, but with the hammer down. The first trigger pull is long and heavy, as with any double action, but after the first discharge, the hammer is cocked by the slide, and it fires in single-action (i.e., a light trigger pull drops the hammer) from that point until the magazine is empty. They usually have some external safety as well. The advantage: some feel safer with a chambered pistol having the hammer down – first shot is much like a revolver. The disadvantage: inconsistent trigger pull – requires a lot of practice to maintain good aim in the transition from the first to second shot. Different models have single stack or double stack magazines. Capacity usually ranges from 8-15 rounds, depending on caliber. Good ones range from $700-$1000 and up.

 

 

 

Beretta 92fs (9mm double action/single action – 16 shot)          

 

Consider Your Purpose!

If home defense and concealed carry are goals – look for medium size with the best compromise between ammo capacity and size (i.e., concealability)

But if home/vehicle defense is the only goal – then look for high capacity, without regard for size.

Caliber?

My general advice is to get the largest caliber than you can handle. Will female family members be trained? If so, 9mm may be best. .45acp is often cited as “the standard”, but arguments over comparative ballistics and “stopping power” abound. Since Energy = ½mv2, the size of the bullet doesn’t tell the whole story. Studies show one-shot stops at >85% with anything 9mm or larger, if the bullet is well-placed. The smallest caliber that should be considered (and then only for concealment or back-up) is .380 or .38 Special. Regardless of caliber, shot placement is the main determining factor in stopping the threat- major disruption of the neurological system (brain or spinal cord) and/or cardiovascular system (producing a fast, profound drop in blood pressure) is what stops violent, aggressive criminals….in other words, practice until you’re accurate! Having said all this, if all you can handle and dependably shoot is a .22 pistol…GET A .22 PISTOL (if you’ve exhausted all avenues to handle a more lethal round). Though .22 LR at pistol velocities can certainly be lethal, it is rarely QUICKLY lethal, which is what you’ll need to stop the threat. But, many bad guys will turn and run as soon as it starts popping! I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end!

Personal recommendations

The following are my personal recommendations. (Your mileage may vary!):

Remember, no single firearm serves all purposes. In these uncertain (or should I say, “certain”) times it’s best to get a concealment pistol, a home defense pistol, and, of course, a 12 gauge pump shotgun, which is a great home defender and versatile defense/hunting weapon – with practice (the kick is pronounced and quick, repeatable pumping is essential!). You need to buy plenty of practice and self-defense ammo as well – many power-mongers have designs on trying to circumvent the Second Amendment and recent Supreme Court rulings by limiting the availability of ammo….after all, the Constitution didn’t say anything about “keeping and bearing loaded arms”, did it? Having said that….

You can’t go wrong with a Glock in 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP (aka, .45 Auto) caliber. It’s the best value out there, and the most dependable; however, you must consider the pros and cons of the lack of an external safety. All Glocks that are chambered (a cartridge in the chamber) are in “condition one”…ready to fire, and should be holstered (to guard the trigger). A good holster with a full-coverage trigger guard is essential!

The Springfield XD and XDm lines have been heavily advertised, and seem to be a good value. Consider them “Glocks with an external safety”, but without the massive, around the world experience to confirm their reliability, though good evidence is mounting. Most have a grip safety, some have thumb safeties as well. $500-700

The Kimber 1911s are probably the best made, most reasonably priced production pistols of the 1911 type. Expect to pay at least $1,000. Colt, Springfield, Remington and others also make excellent 1911 pistols. Custom shops, such as Wilson Combat, Night Hawk, and Ed Brown make great 1911s, but expect to pay $2,000 and up!

I like the SIG P220 (in .45 ACP) or Equinox (an upgrade of the P220) in the single-action/double-action line – $800-$1200. Also single/double action, the Beretta M9 (9mm) was the official sidearm of the U.S. Army from the mid-1980s to recently, when SIG won a new contract. Civilian Beretta offerings include the 92 FS, 92 A1, and others -$700-$1000.

If you decide on a revolver, look at Smith & Wesson, Taurus, or Ruger in 2″-to-4” barrel, .357 magnum caliber. You can practice with .38 special rounds for less kick and less money, but for business, the .357 magnum will stop most anything (with good shot placement….remember?) They are commonly available in 5 round cylinders, but S&W makes a 6 and 7 round. Prices range from $400-1200.

Those who are weak-of-hand and don’t foresee a lot of practice, may consider a S&W .38 special Airweight revolver. For practice, use .38 Special full metal jacket or roundnose. For defense, keep it loaded with .38 Special +P hollow points (Corbon makes a good one!). $400-$600. Remember, the lighter the pistol, the more forceful the perceived recoil. Also, the (relatively) new S&W M&P Shield EZ in .380 and 9mm is making quite a splash with those who find it hard to rack a semi-auto slide. My neighbor’s wife has one, and she loves it! $350-$500.

If small size (i.e., concealability) is the primary goal, several ultra thin (< 1 inch) 9mm semi-autos are available, of various quality, including the Kel-Tec p11 (around $350) and PF-9 (~$300), Walther PPS (around $650) and a few Kahr models ($400-700). “Pocket pistols” in .380 caliber are good back-up guns, and certainly better than nothing…but 9mm is generally considered to be the least powerful caliber for dependable self-defense. Having said that, as always, a well-placed shot with a less powerful or smaller caliber is much preferred to a poorly placed shot with a cannon! These .380 “pocket pistols” include the Kel-Tec p3AT (around $300), the Ruger LCP (around $400) and a few others by Kahr and Para. The venerable Walther PPK (of James Bond fame) is about the size of the 9mm pistols mentioned above, but is chambered in .380, and is very well made (around $800+). If you look at pocket pistols, be sure to consider the ammo capacity – many are only 6+1 (6 in the magazine and one in the chamber), and as such, are only marginally better than a revolver in this regard, but much faster to reload. Most pistols in this category are “double action only” (with the exception of the SIG P238, which is single action) thus have a long, heavy trigger pull and no external safety. Good holsters (with good trigger coverage) are a good idea!

Disclaimer

The foregoing suggestions represent only one man’s view of available items, mostly based on my experience. This article is meant to help with understanding the broad categorical decisions that you must consider. The specifics will require research and testing. Find a good gun shop, preferably with a range, and then rent different handguns until you find one that feels right. Most indoor ranges rent all of the common varieties on the market.

The most important consideration is this: A gun is nothing more than a tool. Purchasing the right tool for the perceived job is important, but investing the time and money in learning to use it is paramount! Get good instruction, and practice, practice, practice. Remember the old, but true, adage: “practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect….only perfect practice makes perfect!”.

And remember, the only reason anyone would ever have to take your gun away, is to do something to you that they wouldn’t be able to do if you had a means of defending yourself! (paraphrased from Aaron Zelman, a great American!)

Good luck!

P.S. If you decide to become a gun owner, it may be good to study a little about our Nation’s history and Founding Principles. Why do Americans have the Constitutionally-protected Right to Bear Arms? Is it all about our Right to Life, and thus, its corollary, the right to self-defense? (How can you have a Right to life, without a Right to protect it???). What does world history suggest about the effects of governmental disarmament of civilians? What is the risk-to-benefit of civilian gun ownership? If only government employees had guns, would it solve all our problems?….what does history say? If no one had guns, would everyone be equal and happy? Is the Right to Bear Arms simply about the guns – about private property? Or, is it more about what the guns protect? If you should decide to fight for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, would you be fighting for the guns, or fighting for what the guns protect? After all, as stated above, guns are just a tool….no more, no less.




37 Comments

  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. 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
    Easily.
    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.

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