Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Tell me what to do contest II

Due to the mixed success of the first contest i have decided to start another contest with a different product. This time your votes will only be a one of many criteria that i use to make my decision, instead of the sole criteria. The product that i am purchasing is an all purpose defensive handgun. It will be used for conceal and carry, home defense, and carry in my car while i am traveling. It is possible that my life will rely on this gun at some point in the future, so you input is very important.

Features that i want in a defensive are that it must be an autoloader. This rules out revolvers. I know that this will rub some people the wrong way, but autoloaders are so much cooler. They also require more practice and maintenance. The gun also must be medium in size, not full size but not personal size either.

Another feature that i will not compromise on is that it must be double action\single action (DA\SA). I consider the double action trigger an extra safety feature.

I have limited my search to just polymer framed handguns. I feel the plastic guns offer the advantage of weighing less, but will put other guns into my decision matrix on request.

I would prefer both a manual safety and a decocker, but will live with just one of those features. I would prefer to carry my handgun locked and decocked. I would prefer at least 10 rounds in magazine, though i would consider adding a gun at request to my decision martix if asked to. I have also chosen .40 caliber as my caliber of choice. I think it shoots the gap in between a 9mm and a .45 well.

I will be going to the range and shooting as many of these guns as i possibly can. The ones that i cannot find to give a test drive, i will spend some time holding them in the gunshop. Most likely my impression of the gun, and how it feels in my hands will be the most heavily weighted data in my decision matrix. I will also be giving reports on the guns as i shoot them and hold them.

The guns that i have found to meet my criteria and consider to be of sufficient quality to trust with my life are listed below. If i missed your favorite gun, please make a comment and tell my why it should be included.

Cast your votes for:
Sig Pro 2340, P228, P239, or the P245
Walther P99
Ruger P944
Browning Pro-40
HK USP .40 compact

Glock 23
Taurus PT940
CZ 2075 RAMI

My only problem with revolvers is that i would have to start my research all over again. Not that i have a problem with that, and will proably take another good long look at them also.

Again thanks for the advice.

update: Gun post post mortem


Les Jones said...

Since you're interested in the weight, I'm guessing you're considering carrying it at some point. If so, all of the guns you listed are pretty big for concealed carry in summer clothes. Just something to think about.

Whichever gun you choose, take a class in gun handling and shooting. You're pretty much guaranteed to learn something.

If you're buying a gun for defensive use, make sure you know what the legal standard of self-defense is so you don't wind up getting dragged through the legal system, or worse, the penal system. Most people have wrong ideas, and haven't thought it through as much as they should. My ideas have evolved quite a bit after doing some reading.

Massad Ayood writes about self-defense and the law quite a bit, and has testified at a lot of trials as an expert witness. Another good source is Mark Young. As a starter, read this page on the difference between self-defense and fighting.

Someone else I like is John Farnam. I'm considering his class in Atlanta this February. He's a very no-nonsense kind of guy who emphasizes that the best way to win a gunfight is to arrange to be somewhere else.

Mark said...

Please consider adding the Glock 23 (compact, .40 Cal) to your list of choices. It's a DAO and requires no external safety. I carried this when I had my carry permit. It is a compact gun, easily concealable.

You can carry it under a standard shirt with an inside-the-waistband holster and just do the Hackathorn rip.

In any case, no matter what you choose, just remember, "A superior sailor uses his superior judgement to stay out of situations requiring the use of his superior skill."

Nathan Fortner said...

I'd definitely second the Glock 23 .40SW. My father, a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer/armourer and ex-USAF weapons instructor carries one, and has never had any problems with it. The larger version of the 23 is the TWRA service weapon, and he's always very positive about it.

But I'm glad to see you're seriously considering the .40. It's got great stopping power, but isn't as bulky and doesn't have the recoil of the .45ACP, the perfect 'compromise' round.

Anonymous said...

Screw the handgun for home defense. At home you need a sawed off 20 guage pump shotgun with alternating loads of birdshot and double ought buck. The noise of chambering a round will scare off most folk. The alternating loads give you a chance to make a mistake that doesn't ruin your life but, if shooting is the right thing to do, the second shot makes things permanent. With a handgun, it is hard to get rounds that will do enough damage to stop an crook and will not pass through the crook or ricochet and kill or injure an unintended victim should you miss.

The difference between the good guys and the bad guys is that we care where our rounds go and because of that, we choose our shots carefully. If you are choosing your shots carefully and you have practiced, I seriously doubt that you will ever find yourself in need of as many as ten rounds. The only people who fire that much outside of a practice situation are military, crooks, and actors.


Les Jones said...

On the double action/single action thing. DA/SA guns are safe in that the first shot has a long, heavy trigger pull. After that, they have a short, light trigger pull which isn't as safe. If you're ever in a shooting situation you may find yourself pumped up on adrenaline, and after your first shot your gun will have a hair trigger. There have been a number of officer-involved shootings from exactly that situation, in which a cop shot a handcuffed suspect he was covering.

I don't like DA/SAs because the transition between the first shot and second shot's trigger pull is too disconcerting. You'll have to spend a lot of time overcoming it.

Worse, people with DA/SA guns rarely practice with the guns the way the guns will actually be used. In a real-world situation, you'll keep the gun stored with the hammer down. The first shot will be DA, and the recoil will cock the hammer so the second shot is SA.

Most people will take that gun to the range, slap in a magazine, rack the slide, and spend the rest of the day shooting SA only. They never decock the gun and practice shooting DA, or practice the DA/SA transition.

The ideal is a gun with the same trigger pull for each shot, preferably with a pull weight that's heavy enough to be safe, but light enough to provide decent accuracy. The Glock safe action trigger manages that by partially cocking the hammer (striker, actually) when the slide goes back. The Para-Ordnance LDA and SIG DAK use a similar system.

The regular Glock trigger has about a five pound trigger pull, which is a bit light for safety's sake on a self-defense gun. For $60 or so you can have a gunsmith install a New York trigger that will increase that to eight pounds. That's about the same as a well-tuned revolver trigger, which is perfectly safe while still allowing good practical accuracy.

Cubicle said...

Just some general information. I have taken my CCW class, but have not applied for the CCW license. I have been to the range a total of two times and rented a glock both times ( I have shot a total of two boxes).

I will definitely add the list of people to my reading list. If I do go DA/SA I will spend a lot of time practicing with it in Double action mode.

“The regular Glock trigger has about a five pound trigger pull, which is a bit light for safety's sake on a self-defense gun. For $60 or so you can have a gunsmith install a New York trigger that will increase that to eight pounds. That's about the same as a well-tuned revolver trigger, which is perfectly safe while still allowing good practical accuracy.”

Ahhhhhhhhh……I thought a New York trigger would make it lighter and smoother not increase the poundage. One of the workers at the range mentioned it. For the life of me I could not figure out why you would want a lighter trigger on a glock. I had heard some people complain about the glock’s trigger, so I thought a New York trigger would fix their complaints.

So when people mention getting a “trigger job”, is it making the trigger lighter or heavier?

Considered it added. The only reason why I had disqualified the glock was because of the light trigger pull, but that was cleared up in later comments.

Thanks for the information, and your suggestion will be added.

I agree, but I am on a limited budget. So I will stretch with just a handgun for now, but that is the plan.

“I seriously doubt that you will ever find yourself in need of as many as ten rounds. The only people who fire that much outside of a practice situation are military, crooks, and actors.”

I agree again, but the main reason for 10 rounds is practice, because of my inexperience I would like to get some practice in without it being a hassle.

Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

I have a Walther P99 and love it. It's a DA/SA. Fairly light for the size. I just got a 15 round clip for it, which makes it heavier than the standard 10.

I have a CHL and carry it occasionally, but it is a big gun. It spends a fair amount of time in my glove box. In the summer in shorts it's impossible to wear.

It has the nicest grip I've ever felt and the day I bought it another parton of the gun store told me it was one of the nicest guns he'd ever used.

And of course James Bond carries it so it has to be the best.


carnaby said...

If you're thinking of going with a Ruger, how about their new .45 which you can see hereAnother thing to consider is waiting for the new polymer frame Beretta PX4 to become available to civilians. Nicer than a Glock in many ways, especially aesthetics (IMO).

Anonymous said...

Try a Steyr M40. Polymer frame, very compact, and with dual manual safetys. Plus they're not terribly expensive.

Mike M.

Anonymous said...

-I've been carrying guns since age 18- legally, that is. I'm now getting ready to retire, so that may give you an indication of my length of experience. For years & years my preferred pistol was a slightly modified M-1911. When working in South America that wasn't allowed so I carried either a Charter Arms "Bulldog" .44 Special or a S&W Centennial in .38 Special.
-Getting ready to go to SW Asia (Afghanistan) I looked for a backup piece in 9mm since ammo for other calibers is hard to find and I like to practice. The Taurus PT-911 with three dot night sites and in titanium filled the bill. It is DA only (I'm not a "crunch-tick" fan) and one can modify Beretta 92/Taurus 92/M-9 full capacity mags to fit.
-The Taurus line also includes .40 cal versions and is relatively inexpensive.
-On the other hand... if you aren't an experienced shooter don't be too hasty to exclude revolvers.
-Whatever you do get a .22 pistol as close in configuration to you carry piece as possible and practice, practice, practice AFTER you get some training.

Anonymous said...

I would argue against .40 S&W as a "caliber of choice"; I'd call it a poor compromise between capacity (9mm) and power (.45 ACP), and in truth an answer to a question nobody asked. Additionally, the recoil characteristics of .40 S&W are not to my taste; the round has always felt very "jumpy" to me (as opposed to the heavier push of a .45 ACP), and I thus have to spend more time re-acquiring my sight picture with each shot -- not something I want to be doing in a self-defense situation. Finally, in this era when new magazines are all ten rounds big anyways, the capacity-wise advantages of .40 S&W simply aren't that important.

I would strongly counsel against the Walther P99 or the Smith & Wesson SW99 (same gun): while the firearm has all kinds of modern bells and whistles, and is attractive from a novelty standpoint (woo, it's the new James Bond pistol) the stock trigger pull has just a *ton* of empty space, and thus IMO is godawful.

I own an H&K USP 45 (full sized frame), and it is by far my favorite semi-auto handgun in my collection, and my own SHTF weapon. The USP line has the features you want and H&K manufacture and reliability. They are just awesome, awesome handguns.

Whatever you end up settling on, consider replacing the stock sights with aftermarket tritium sights (Trijicon is my preferred manufacturer, but there are others) if there's any likelihood you'll need to use the handgun in poor illumination.

Anonymous said...

I don't think a DA/SA combo is necessarily the way to go hence the glock recommendation (though technically a DA it is more like a SA). If you're heart is set on DA/SA, a sig in .4X can't be beaten. Such as the P228 or the P245.


big_wannabe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

CZ RAMI, .40 cal., DA/SA, manual safety. Small enought for great concealed carry. No polymer. Accurate as hell, and super reliable to boot. CZ's are sweet guns that for some reason often get overlooked. I have a RAMI in 9mm and LOVE it.

Check it out:

Sorry the link doesn't work, but I forgot my HTML.


big_wannabe said...

Another vote for Glock 23.

I personally don't believe the 5 lb pull too light for self-defense. I think it's about right. Another reason to use a glock 23 is that, since it is a standard law enforcement firearm with a standard law enforcement trigger, juries tend to give the shooter the benefit of the doubt.

I have two friends in law enforcement who have been in real gun fights and both tell me the Glock 23 is the finest pistol available. That's why I bought one and I love it's reliablity and simplicity. Under the stress of an adrenaline dump (shaking and sweaty hands), extra steps needed to employ your weapon can get you killed. The glock is as problem free and uncomplicated as any firearm in the history of the world.

Buy one, get a TSC UCR (, join USPSA, and practice, practice, practice.

Cubicle said...

I will take a look at the ruger .45., though i am stilling leaning toward a .40.

The reason why i excluded the Beretta PX4 was because it was too new and untested, though if see any tests with it, i might wait.

the reason i excluded the Steyr M40 is partly because it is new, and partly because they do not have a solid customer relationship here in the US (can't even find a web site)(nothing against their weapons, they seemed top notch).

and i will at the PT940 to the list.

Anonymous said...

This GUNSMITH says simply to nix the Glock,terrible triggers that are impossible to tune well.
The Brownng and HK are the class acts on your list.HOWEVER...
A S&W Model 39 in 9mm is fantastic DA/SA carry gun.Light,right sized accurate,tuneable easily. With proper buller selection [Corbons,Hornadys] you are giving up little knock-down power. The 9mm is MUCH more controllable than the 40. Sounds as if you haven't shot much, a 9mm on target is way better than any 40 ,44,45 off target. First shot recovery is better also.It's most important you shoot a minimum of once a week if you are going to carry. Of course every shooter should practice more and competition really helps by adding pressure with safe conditions.

If you don't belong to the NRA you are simply freeloading on the efforts an dtime of it's members to protect your rights.All legally owned guns would have beed forcefully confiscated in this Nation if not for the NRA. I life membership is a good start.

Merry Christmas and see you at the range

Anonymous said...

One other thing to consider given that I don't know what gender you are (with the the chick pics on the left) is that some DA/SA triggers are hard for women to operate in DA mode. My wife (5'7" and 118 lbs) has trouble operating the DA trigger on my sig. Make sure you can pull the DA trigger before purchasing.


Anonymous said...

Support for both the Glock and the Beretta.
Like the Glock for its safety features.
Like the Beretta for its wide ejection port.

Anonymous said...

I went through your decision process a few years back..
What I did was rent as many guns as I could. If you notice, the rental guns are severely neglected. In my experience, there was only *one* make of gun (auto) that *never* misfired: the Glock. I tried sigs, hk's, 1911's, taurus, etc.. All of them in a sad, neglected, state. I was impressed that the glocks always performed, even in this neglected state. I noticed that the 1911's were the most finicky when dirty.

I agree with most of the folks here too: the DA/SA is a bad design... stick with something with the same trigger pull. During any emergency you want a glock design (pull and shoot) or a revolver.

It is amazing how nasty, sticky dirty glocks feed every time. Of course, I keep mine spotless :)

Discussion about caliber above 9mm is moot. Pick the one that you can afford to shoot, and the one that they sell at your local store. I shoot 45, and wish I had picked 9mm. I like the 45, but it's more expensive and I shoot less as a result.

That being said, I recently had the opportunity to fire a Kimber Team USA olympic model (or some name like that), and it was the most fun Ever :) it was deadly accurate and felt so good.

Whatever you do, shoot a lot, and read,read,read.


Anonymous said...

I think you are making a mistake if you do not consider a revolver. I personally have two S&W stainless .357 mags (one 2" and one 6" barrel) and believe me, they pack a punch. The 2" is small enough to carry and the the 6" is big enough that you can scare the hell out of someone just by showing it. Also, there are very few moving parts to get full of lint, etc.

Kent Siegel said...

I use the H&K USP 9mm (full size). The quality and workmanship is superb. I find the Sig's too heavy and the Glock's too junky feeling. I purchased the USP before the compact version came out, if I had to make the purchase today I would go with the compact. One particularly nice feature of the USP is my version has the safety/decocking lever reversed for my left hand. I tell anyone left-handed that the USP is the only pistol to use. I disagree with the comments regarding the DA/SA system. It is better for defensive purposes, and the differing trigger pulls can be overcome with practise, practise, practise.

pearatty said...

It sounds like you've put a lot of thought into it, but I'd reiterate that as a new user, you might want to rethink the revolver issue. Autoloaders are far more likely to malfunction. I knew a guy who had a Glock, and it would occasionally jam up. Not a big deal at the shooting range, but if you're relying on it for self-defense, you want to know that it'll work when you need it to.

Jerry said...

I have all kinds of handguns......and others.. By and large, the best kind of defense weapon is the simplest one. After gaining proficiency, you'll not shoot as often or as much as you think, and the easy, always available gun is a small, simple revolver. Forget lots of bullets. The "usual" transaction here takes 7 seconds, is conducted within 15 feet, and isn't thought of for more than a few seconds before the event. Therefore....the gun will most likely be used to scare off an attacker, not to shoot him....and if you have to, it's better to shoot him quick, and sure than to consider yourself in a gun-battle where reloads and numbers of bullets are an issue. I have many of the guns others recommend, but my carry, defense weapon is a small .38 revolver. Smith and Wesson makes one without an external, easy, accurate, sure and simple. If you're defending inside your home, use a 12 g. shotgun with 00'll not want to kill anybody outside your room, and you'll not have time to aim or be able to see in the dark. The only disadvantage is that you have multiple guns....son, what's wrong with that?

leesus said...

i carry a ruger sp101 (shoulder) it is a .357 (5 shot) revolver.

I know you dont like the revolver, but unless you carry extra clips, it doenst matter. and as someone mentioned above, the good guys aim. 5 357 rounds can settle most diputes. the gun is uncannily accurate and has that 'fit your hand feel' that the autos never quite acheive. also the shape of the revolver makes for nice concealed carry.

I have both the walther and the sig, and they are great guns, but they stay home. the 357 is the preffered carry. The 357 is a big, loud, round, that hits like a tank. it has a proffesional quality to it.

anyhoo... ignore what other people think, go down the gun range, and they usually let you rent the individual guns by the hour. so go ahead and try them yourself, shoot a couple boxes through each, and by the end of the day, you'll know which one fits you best.

have fun

Svolich said...

One more vote for the Glock 23. I carry one now, my dad carried it's twin for the last 5 years of his life.

A shotgun should be considered a secondary home defense weapon. It's too big to handle in hallways.

As a dark horse, you might want to look at the Hk P7

I have it in 9mm, it's extraordinary. But I still carry the Glock.

Brian said...

Wow, Cube, you've hit the big time. Just linked over here from Instapundit...try not to forget the little people, OK?

I don't really have a big opinion on your gun dilemma, since those are all fine weapons you're choosing between, and since the primary issue with handguns is how they feel in your hand.

I would remind CAFKIA, though, that the pass through issue he's focusing on, while important, can be addressed through ammo selection as well as firearm choice.

Bob Taylor said...

The best and least expensive choice is a Makharov 9x18mm semi-automatic pistol. They are easy to find, and, if kept clean, are incredibly reliable. With a hollowpoint bullet, they pack sufficient punch for self-defense.

Les Jones said...

"So when people mention getting a “trigger job”, is it making the trigger lighter or heavier?"

It's usually making the trigger lighter (and less gritty). Installing a New York trigger on a Glock makes it heavier, though the gunsmith can polish it a little, too, to make the trigger pull smoother and more fluid.

You can always just try the factory trigger. Some are heavier than others. The gun store may have a trigger pull gauge to check the pull weight. If it's heavy enough, you don't need to change the trigger.

Oh, and I'd ignore the advice about getting this year's Ruger or next year's Beretta. Guns aren't like fashions. Newest not only isn't best, it's usually a bad idea. Buy a design that's been around for a while and has a good reputation.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the boat with your choices. Think Glock. Either a 23 or 27 would do you fine with an extra hi cap (15) in your pocket. The only safety you need is the one between your ears. Use it wisely and you'll be fine. Don't forget you should care OC spray as well...

Patrick said...

Smith & Wesson Airlight:

Anonymous said...

I find myself chuckling at this; I own a Sig 229 in .40, a USP Compact in .40, a Glock 21 in .45ACP, and a Kimber Ten II in .45ACP.
As far as accuracy, the Kimber wins hands down, it is an easy shooter and I consistently knock down plinking targets at 30yrds with it. Glock is second.
Capacity is a toss up; I have 13 round mags for each of these weapons.
carrying ease goes to the USP Compact; light polymer fram and small size makes it comfortable and easy to conceal. Second choice is the Kimber; it's big but not as fat as the Glock or Sig, and with a polymer frame is quite comfy.
Reliability is a toss-up between the USP and Glock, as they have Never misfed or jammed; this is after 700 plus rnds thru each of different brands. The Kimber and Sig are particular as far as ammo goes; certain brands do not feed well.

Safety goes to the USP; I really like having a manual safety, and the pistol is DA/SA. Second goes to the Kimber for the same reason, even if it is SA only.

You can pick up a USP compact for ~700, and the Kimber Ten II goes for about 700.

Hands down the USP wins

Anonymous said...

As a licensed CCW carrier I still perfer my Kimber Pro Carry in .40SW. Compact, Aluminalloy frame, Stainless slide, and yes I carry it "cocked and locked" Several cop buddies warned about high stopping power rounds and suggested that you find out what the local PD is using and go with that. That way if you do get cleared in a SD shooting, and a civil action is taken, having what the PD carries will make it look less like you were out looking for a fight...

Anonymous said...

About 11 years ago I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what handgun to buy. I ended up buying a Glock 19. The 19 and the 23 (touted by many in the comments above) have the same frame -- the 19 fires the 9mm round. Eventually, I decided to up-gun. Also, my wife decided to start carrying. We spent a lot of time trying to find a handgun she could comfortably use. Eventually, we found that my Glock 19 was best for her -- the 5 lb trigger was a major advantage for her. I transferred the 19 to her and she's carried it ever since.

I now carry one of two handguns: the Glock 21 (.45 ACP) or a Bulgarian Makarov (9mm x 18mm). The Makarov is a knock-off of the Walther PPK, is very cheap and very concealable. It is DA/SA, and has a decocking lever.

I like the 21 for stopping power. Mine also has the New York (8 lb) trigger and a couple of other mods including an extended slide release. In my opinion, the slide release in the factory Glock is too small.

-- Paul Hager

Anonymous said...

You may also want to consider Kahr Arms (KP40 or PM40). If you're willing to sacrifice rounds for size (6 or 7 vs 10), it would be worth looking at. They're amazingly small (the frame is less than an inch wide - the grip makes overall width just a bit bigger) but also amazingly fun to shoot. Easy to carry and reliable, but you'll have to load the magazines more when at the range.

I don't have one (yet) but the ones I've used at the range had a smooth DAO trigger and was easy to shoot.

- Nick

Tex the Pontificator said...

I'm not an expert on firearms, so I have no informed opinion on most of your questions. But you say you want at least a 10 round magazine. I have to wonder about that.

Surely most of the time you use a firearm for defense, you would let off no more than 2 or 3 rounds. My Government model .45 has only a 7 found magazine, but I figure that's at least 4 or 5 rounds more than I am likely to need. What are the odds of finding yourself in a protracted firefight?

Anonymous said...

Kahr makes a compact .40 with a polymer frame. Their other products generally enjoy a good reputation. This is a very compact piece. Personally I would prefer the 9mm in this gun since the .40 will have much more recoil in a package this small.

Kel-Tec also makes a small, affordable pistol that fits your criteria. I can't comment on the reliability of the P40(?), but my father has a P11 in 9mm and it has been a flawless performer.

I agree about the revolver. A Ruger SP101 in .357 would be very versatile, strong, and powerful. Fairly manageable too.

Also, if you are going to be carrying, you may want to think a little smaller or go with a multi-gun plan. Some of the guns mentioned are pretty chunky for true concealed carry. Being able to have something with you all the time trumps having a powerful gun back in your car. Kel-Tec's P32 (.32) or P3AT (.380) are extraordinarily flat and light. They have "double action only" triggers like the bigger Kel-Tecs.

Remember with any gun to run a couple hundred rounds through it to break it in and familiarize yourself with it.

Good luck!
Knoxville, TN

JR said...

Just weighing in on this, and urging you not to disregard the Glock. I've seen some bad advice in this thread, so let's give you mine. ;)

On a Glock, the trigger is the same piece of equipment, but you can swap out the disconnect bar from the standard 5# trigger pull to a lighter 3.5# pull. I personally don't care a lick for the 3.5. The 5# is nice and crisp, and it's easy to take up the slack, then break the shot cleanly. The 3.5 is mushy, and lacks that clean break. The NY trigger basically makes a revolver trigger out of your Glock trigger, and is a POS designed for people who are too stupid to keep their finger off the trigger.

The Glock "trigger job" usually consists of polishing a couple of key surfaces in order to make the trigger pull smoother and just a bit lighter. My competition Glock 17 has a stock, out-of-the-box trigger, but I put some Heinie race-cut sights on it - you have to see what you're shooting at, dontcha? After about 50,000 rounds on this particular trigger, the pull is still consistent.

Consistency is what the Glock is all about. You pull the trigger, it goes bang. Every time.

All this talk of trigger pull makes me wonder: what's the big problem with a lighter trigger pull? In competition (as in real life), I don't want a trigger that's hard to pull - that's a bad thing. In less experienced shooters, this is a common cause of misses - the shooter is holding the gun in a death-grip in the strong hand (mistake #1), and trying to manipulate the trigger at the same time. Here's where the shot goes (for a right-handed shooter): low and left. Find an instructor who can show you how to properly hold, aim, and fire a handgun.

If this is all about safe carry, then get a good holster - one that covers the trigger, and one that's made of Kydex (see Then, keep your finger off the trigger until you're on target.

Good shooting is all about consistency. I abhor the DA/SA handguns for this reason. Whatever gun you choose, make sure you shoot it enough to know how it works. 100 rounds a month is NOT enough, but dry-fire (empty gun, duh) practice at home really helps, and is a great way to learn how your handgun operates.

As for caliber, go for what's comfortable, and buy and practice with some good personal defense ammunition. I have a Glock 17 (9mm), and a 23 (.40), and I'd use either one in a self-defense situation. I shoot a lot, too. I like the 17 for capacity - 18 rounds, whereas the smaller 23 holds only 13. Granted, a gunfight will likely use one or two rounds at most, but I'd sure hate to have to reload after six shots. ;)

Anonymous said...

You have an excellent comment by Anonymous to buy a 20 ga. shotgun. As a native of Montana, my mother and aunts were all expert shots, and knew the DANGERS of handguns, as well as the real need for self defense (they were alone, with 30 miles to the Sheriff). At home, nothing beats a 20 ga pump. For carrying, it's your choise. But I agree with the comment about not needing ten shots. If you need ten shots, you have no business buying a handgun.

Anonymous said...

The women's firearms classes I have taught have the women clustering at the .22 end of the firing point at the start of the first day. By the end of the second day, they are down at the other end, using God's concealed carry piece - a 1911 .45. Usually one of the Kimber smoothed types. Among other aspects of his genius John Browning knew ergonomics, and even small-handed women like the feel of those semi-autos. You might revisit the DA/SA criterion for reasons mentioned by earlier posters - under stress you want the same trigger behavior for every shot.

With regard to the Glock, their manual of arms requires more mastery than a lot of others - another way of saying it is easy to provoke accidental discharges. The trigger safety means you need very good discipline when holding a gun on a subject, re-holstering it, and moving through any area where something might touch the trigger safety, then the trigger. Lots of shooters, and some cops, have holes in their legs or lead splashes in their feet, from a Glock. I don't recommend against them, but it's like the gypsy said in 'Wind in the Willows:' "Try to love a donkey. Some people can."

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with the Glock is that it doesn't point well--the grip angle tends to make it shoot high unless you really watch the sights. Also, no matter how heavy you make the trigger, it is still a much shorter pull than you'll find on a DA revolver or DAO auto.

I forgot about the Taurus polymer-frame guns--worth looking at.

Something else to consider with the revolver: when you want to unload it, you open the cylinder, dump the ammo, and it's empty. With the auto you have to be more vigilant about checking the chamber.

Steve (again)

Windypundit said...

I just have some general advice. The first rule of gunfighting is "bring a gun." Pick a gun that won't be troublesome (size, weight, snagging in clothing, etc.) to carry all the time. A .380 in your hand has more stopping power than a .45 in your closet.

When it comes to self-defense, what you do in real life will be what you did in practice. Exactly what you did in practice. Put another way, you need a gun that will be easy to practice with. If 10-rounds makes it easier to practice, then that's an excellent choice for you.

Note that in order to practice properly with a DA/SA gun, you will have to decock the gun over and over to practice the DA trigger pull as much as you practice the SA pull. It's almost like practicing with two guns. I'd suggest that if DA safety is important to you, go with DA-only.

Finally, if you don't think you'll be willing and able to practice as much as you should, pay very close attention to how the gun shoots the very first time you use it. That's how it will feel if you have to use it when you haven't practiced for a few years. If you won't be practicing, pick the gun that's easiest to use without practice.

Anonymous said...

A .45, .357 mag or .44 mag has a 95% chance of incapacitating your target through "system shock" nervous sensory overload. A .38-special or 9mm has a 50% chance. A .22, .25 or .32 must hit a vital organ to have a useful effect. I'm not sure where the .40 falls on this spectrum, but if you go with a 9mm be prepared to keep squeezing the trigger.

Avoid 00 buckshot in a home defense shotgun, as it can rip through drywall and then your children. Birdshot is much safer, and will still shred anyone this side of the wall at short distances.

Anonymous said...

It's not on your list, but I'd suggest taking a long look at the H&K USP (45 ACP). Comes in two flavors, full size and compact. I carry - concealed - the full size, have for quite a while. The full size will take 12 round magazines, plus 1 in the chamber. The USP can be carried: 1) cocked-and-locked, a la the 1911 (the USP safety even works exactly the same as the 1911 safety), or; 2) hammer down, safety off, as all the other DA/SA semis can, or; 3) hammer down, safety on. The safety lever is also the decocker, and can be flipped to the other side for lefties (slide release can't so it'll always be on the left side). I teach my students who have guns with safeties that if it's in their hand the safety is off. If the gun is not in their hand the safety is on. It's their choice whether they adopt that particular practice or not. The reason is if they're holding the gun it's to fire it - there's no other reason to have it in your hand; if they aren't holding it, having the safety on forces anyone who does get their hands on it to figure out the safety works before they can shoot it (nededless to say, if it's out of your control - storage, for example - it should be unloaded and secured). And, the more you work with the safety the more automatic using it will become.

No magazine safety like the Smith & Wesson semis have, so it'll fire the last shot, magazine or no magazine.

The magazine release takes a bit if getting used to, but it's already ambidextrous. Polymer frame, so it's lighter than steel, and seems to help absorb some of the recoil.

White dot sights are standard, tritium sights are available. The frame under the barrel has an attachment rail if you feel a need to hang a light or other junk on it.

The trigger isn't bad, but never will be a crisp as a 1991 can be. Mine was better out of the box than any Beretta I've shot. The guide rod is plastic, I replaced mine with a steel rod. The plastic didn't give me any problem, I know the steel won't.

For ammo I'd recommend Cor-Bon 165 grain +P. Cor-Bon claims 1250 FPS from a 5 inch barrel; I chronographed it through an S&W 4506-1260 FPS; a Colt Govermnent model-1252 FPS; my USP-1243 FPS (all 10 shot averages). This provides more than 357 mag performance in a 45 (the #1 stopper for handguns is a 357 magnum Federal 125 grain high velocity hollowpoint (.3565" diameter) in a 4 inch or longer barrel which produces one shot stops 96% of the time (Marshall and Sanow data). The 165 Cor-Bon gives you a .451" diameter bullet that's 40 grains heavier and delivers it at just about the same velocity. Lighter bullets also recoil less, despite the higher velocity. As always, test extensively with the cartridge you'll carry before betting your life on it. Misfeeds/jams on the range are one thing, misfeeds/jams on the street can be fatal.

For carry, it's almost exactly the same size as a 1911. I primarily use a shoulder holster (Galco SS2), or sometimes an inside the belt holster (Uncle Mike's generic nylon) covered by an untucked XL T shirt. If you get the Galco either try the gun in the holster, or tell them the mfg date on the gun; H&K changed the hammer position last year, so the older USPs take a slightl longer holster than the newer ones, meaning with an old-style holster and a new-style gun the gun slides back and forth almost half an inch.

I'm in Florida, so a banana-republic style vest is part of the casual wardrobe (take a look at Orvis' vest - it's one of the better ones. Orvis seems to make theirs large for the size, so try it on first). It'll fit in a big medium or large concealed-carry type fanny pack. I'll put up with the slight extra bulk from the USP to have the performance. My size helps (6 ft, 180 lbs) but I've seen guns this big conceal well on much smaller people. Don't forget to find a way to carry at least one spare magazine. The reload is important, but damage a magazine and a semiautomatic becomes an expensive, cumbersome single shot.

Training - the old LEO drill for conversion to DA/SA autos used to be hammer down, draw, fire two, lower the hammer, reholster, repeat. It works, but it also teaches the student to fire two shots and reholster. When the poop hits the impeller you'll do extactly what you rehearsed 200 times on the range, so make sure you rehearse the right thing. You play like you practice, so practice right.

I suggest that my concealed carry students, when they're reached a reasonable comfort level with their gun, shoot a couple of IDPA or IPSC matches, slowly walking - NOT running - the stages. Tell the range officer you're a newbie and shooting to learn, not for score, and to please stop you if he (or she) sees you about to do something wrong or unsafe. Take each stage VERY slowly, concentrating on technique, not speed. You'll learn more about sight picture, strong hand/weak hand shooting, reloading, thinking through an encounter, etc. in one match than in three months of practicing by yourself. Check with a local club or range to find out where/when matches are held. You'll find IDPA and IPSC shooters are really helpful and eager to provide assistance. Frequently, a club will leave a stage or two up after the match ends for shooters who want to practice on. Take it VERY SLOWLY and learn. Don't be afraid to ask for some advice.

Welcome to the world of self defense and self reliance. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with it, but also a lot of freedom when you are your own 911.

Anonymous said...

"...but autoloaders are so much cooler."

I just dropped in from InstaPundit and haven't read any other of your stuff, maybe that's just a joke; if it's not, you might as well base your decision solely on what everyone suggests to you, as you're not exactly approaching a decision point from any logical point of view.

Get a doggie.

Anonymous said...

Get a S&W Model 642 .38 Special titanium revolver. This is an excellent carry weapon. It's light and has a concealed hammer; there is nothing to snag when drawing the gun. It will take a +P cartridge, with plenty of stopping power for what you want it for. It comes from the factory with a relatively heavy trigger pull, which is probably good for all except the experienced shooter, since (as has been stated earlier) if you ever really need it you'll be within 15 feet of your target. This isn't a target pistol, it's a self defense weapon. .38 ammo is cheap, so maybe you'll practice more than with more expensive ammo.

Gib said...


I know squat about guns. Sorry, can't help.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for small the Springfield sub-compact XD isn't bad and you can get it chambered for 9mm, .357 Sig, or .40 S&W. I have the full sized XD Ported chambered for a .40 and love it. Forr CCW I'd definitely stick with the composites though.

Anonymous said...

I would recommend a CZ P-01. Similar to the Rami that has already been recommended, it is the mid sized version where the Rami is the compact. 9mm, alloy frame, DA/SA with decocker, firing pin block safety, accessory rail. Weighs something like 28 ounces enpty. They come with very nice sights and soft rubber grips. Very well designed and ergonomic. There is a .40 that uses the same frame, though the production was very limited. Not sure it's even listed on the site, which is CZ-USA. BTW, they host a nice forum section.

Full capacity magazines hold 14 rounds, and are still expensive after the AWB expired. $37 from CZ. A new gun now may come with full capacity mags, mine didn't. Do not get the PT brand night sights that CZ offers. Not bright enough to be of any use. Trijicon makes some good ones for the CZ.

Out of the box, the triggers on these guns are typically fairly bad. They start out feeling very rough and gritty, but they wear in pretty quickly with use and become quite nice. My gun has about 800 rounds through it so far, in the couple of months since I got it, and is very easy to shoot now.

Robin Burk said...

I like my 9mm Sig P228. It's reliable and less heavy than our Berretta 92F. I'm a female with smallish hands, and the Sig fits me well -- I can go to the range and shoot 150 or 200 rounds in a session, which I simply couldn't with a .45 (not accurately, anyway).

Re: stopping power, it's certainly true that the larger caliber rounds have more of it. They also have more momentum and travel farther. Be VERY sure you know the legal liability for injuring or killing bystanders or people two blocks away if you shoot in self-defense. I know I can slow down an attacker with a 9mm, even if I don't blow him away the way I would with a .45. I also know that any rounds that don't lodge in him won't kill one of the children in the houses way across the road from mine.

Whatever you get, it won't save you in an emergency if you don't practice often and regularly. So make sure it's a gun you're willing and able to use all the time, one that is reliable, that you can / do keep clean after every use and use ammo whose ballistic characteristics you learn by heart!

Anonymous said...

Glock 23 or Glock 36 or Glock 27

BUT... Don't overlook the Springfield XD Compact in .40; it's very similar to the Glock with the addition of several extra safety devices, (grip safety, loaded chamber indicator, cocked indicator)

Also, don't overlook any of the Springfield or Kimber compact or medium framed 1911 pistols. Awesome triggers, narrow, concealable frames, powerful and accurate.

I also have a Kahr P40 which is VERY concealable and lightweight.

Anonymous said...

USP Compact if you want to spend the money. I have fired and handled many of the firearms listed. The USP is a tremendous pistol, if a bit on the expensive side.

I'd personally carry a Kahr, just because of the side, but if you're convinced you want DA/SA, the USP is a head and shoulders above the rest.

This is not to say that the rest aren't decent guns. Every one would serve you well. But the USP is a cut above.

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment on Robin Burk's comments, which I am certain are good intentioned but are dangerous.

"Slowing an attacker down" is utterly unacceptable. You do not shoot to kill. You shoot to stop. Someone is doing something that must be stopped. That is why you shoot them, not to cause them death.

Is death a side effect? Yes. Often. But it is not the goal. So shooting the crap out of someone and "slowing them down" will PROBABLY kill them (bleed to death) and will certainly mangle them for life. But it will not accomplish the number one goal of deadly force- Stopping an attacker from hurting you.

A "slowed down" person doesn't have to be fast to pull a trigger. So if you're going to shoot them, make sure they stop.

Second- 9mm's are just as likely to go shooting through someone as any bullet. In fact, a .45 is much less likely to go through a person. There is a tradeoff in ballistics- You go with mass, or you go with velocity. 9mm is smaller, but goes faster. .45 is bigger, but goes slower. The larger, slower bullet is more likely to stay in the target.

Also, if you think that every round you crank off at a badguy out of your semi-auto is going to somehow hit the guy center mass, go check out some reports of police shootings. You need to accept the fact that there will be some overpenetration or flat out misses. You also have to be in such peril of your life that these potential risks are outweighed by the very real and present risk to your person. If they're not, you shouldn't be shooting.

Don't half-ass it. If you like the 9, fine. But the reasons you illustrated for liking it are not only not accurate, they are dangerous, both to you and to others.

Not meant as a flame. Just want to be very clear.

Incidentally, the .40 will overpenetrate more than the .45. It matters not. Be smart about your ammo selection, practice with your piece, and you've done about all you can do. Oh, and have some common sense and try to keep a cool head.

Anonymous said...

My recommendation would be for the Glock 23 or even the Glock 30 (.45 ACP). The Glocks tend to be wider than the average semi-automatic pistol, but you have the added advantages of 1. reliability, 2. the same trigger pull every time, and 3. no external safety to mess with. I carry a Glock 17 on duty, on the municipal police department that I work in. I usually carry a Glock 30 off-duty. I also own a Glock 23. I have put over a thousand rounds through all three of these Glocks, without cleaning them, and did not have a single malfunction during that testing period. I would recommend the .45 ACP, as it does have more muzzle energy, and thus, more stopping power. Because it is a heavier, slower round, it is also less prone to overpenetration. I have seen 9mm rounds, even hollow points, go completely through a person, and still have energy to do damage after. I have never personally seen a .45 ACP round over penetrate on a torso shot. The .40 seems to be a good round as well, but the recoil has always felt a little wierd to me for some reason.

The second thing to consider, aside from the handgun you choose, is what type of ammunition you choose to carry for self defense. Many police departments, mine included, are going away from the 9mm HydraShock rounds. My department is going to the Winchester Silvertip rounds. Both are hollow points, but the Winchester, in a +P configuration, is a better round in my opinion due to its higher power. However, in a .45 ACP or .40, a standard hollow point, such as the HydraShock, should be sufficient.

Finally, a quick comment on modifications. I have never had a problem with the factory trigger on the Glock. My department uses them "as-is," as well. I can easily hit head sized targets at 25 meters with a Glock right out of the box. A 5 lb. trigger has been sufficient for me on and off duty. However, I would recommend putting Trijicon sights on the weapon that you choose, whatever it ends up being, to aid you in low-light situations.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. If you have to use a handgun in self defense, it will most likely be up close and personal. My recommendation would be to do some training at 15 and 25 meters, for maintaining a good sight picture. However, I would do the bulk of your training at 7 meters and in. If you can find a range tht will allow you to draw from your holster and fire, all the better. Developing the muscle memory to draw and quickly get a good sight picture on target, is essential. Only regular practice will do that for you.

Some of the other posters said that the best safety is between your ears. They are right. Best of luck on your choice.


Anonymous said...

Please reconsider a revolver. Especially if your wife may use it. I had the same dilemma as you and went with a Ruger SP101. My feeling is unless you handle a gun a LOT (like every day) and shoot it a LOT, a semiauto is a pile of complicated machinery you don't want to relearn at the split second you need it most.

Anonymous said...

You simply MUST consider the H&K P7. It has all of the features you want and then some -- but it's expensive.

Captain Holly said...

FWIW, I carry the Ruger P944. Works for me; your mileage may vary.

As you have discovered, there is no better way to start an argument among us gun geeks than to ask for input about the best handgun/caliber/self-defense weapon. No matter what your choice is, there will always be someone who will give a perfectly good reason why it should be something else.

In reality, the odds of you shooting someone are quite low. The overwhelming majority of defensive gun uses don't even involve an actual shooting, so minutiae about penetration and energy and caliber are less important than your ablility to handle the gun quickly and shoot it accurately.

The .40 S&W is a fine caliber; most police departments (whose employees face a much greater chance of shooting someone) agree. If knock-down power were the only consideration, I'd recommend a .454 Casull or a .480 Ruger. The key to your gun purchase should be finding a gun that you are comfortable with and you can shoot well in any situation. That is the gun that will protect you the best.

Anonymous said...

According to your criteria, the Kahr PM40 is the best, hands down. "Best" in terms of the compromises between portability, controllability, cost and hitting power. Oh, and the action is as robust as all hell, too.

All the others are too big to carry for an extended length of time, which means that, eventually, you'll leave it at home because it's a drag to carry.

And Glocks suck. Ugly, plastic, furrin.

If you look at revolvers, a S&W 637 in .38 Spec+P.

Kim du Toit

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the Sigs myself. Altho not necessarily
the "Pro" models. It sounds like from your writeup that
you've done enough up front research to be 80% of the way to making your decision. So, find some ranges that
rent those models and try them out. For a gun that I was going to use as my primary self defense model I would never buy it without shooting it first. If it was just another gun I think I'd like to have(100's of guns come to mind), that's another story.

Marc said...

I suggest you at least try a Kahr. Here is a short review at Women & Guns from a couple years ago:

They've been good to Tennessee IPSC shooters by providing guns for prize tables and the examples I shot were plenty accurate and fun to boot.

Anonymous said...

Be careful on the 'and carry in my car while i am traveling' part. Once you get your CCW for your state, you need to check out the reciprocity in any state you will be driving through. Spending time in another state's jail system would not be fun, and they will confiscate your weapon as well. Go to, select your state to find the applicable CCW laws, and a nice big map will show you which states have reciprocity on your state's CCW permit. Also remember -national parks and other federal places don't allow weapons as far as I know.

Kyle said...

For me, it is the USP Compact .40. The gun is downright indestructible and shoots straight out of the box. It is small enough to carry comfortably and packs one helluva wallop when you need it. Congratulations on excercising your rights!

Zendo Deb said...

Hate glocks - like a gun to have a hammer.

It isn't on your list, but I like the Bersa Thunder series. Available in .380, 9MM and 40 S&W.

Before you buy, go to a range that will rent you guns by the hour and try some out. Take a safety class if you really know nothing.

Anonymous said...

My .02

I own 3 autoloaders & 3 revolvers. I recommend a revolver whole heartedly. I have put a lot of thought and research into this over about 15 years. That’s what I keep by my bed, and what goes out of the house with me 9 times out of 10. Yes the autos are cool, and more fun. But I reserve mine mostly for pleasure shooting.

And yes, the SA/DA trigger can be a very bad thing. I have a bullet hole in my finger to prove it! And that wasn’t caused by some adrenaline rush thing, it was caused when a bee landed on my hand at the range. I will never own an SA/DA again.

Reasons to re-consider a revolver:

Reliability, reliability, reliability. Your defense gun needs to WORK. All autos will jam sometimes. A revolver might, but I have never seen it happen. Springs in clips will take a set over time if the clip is kept fully loaded. This can lead to increased jams. Not a problem with revolvers. Lint, dust and other crud will accumulate on your gun. That can cause havoc with autos, but it not a problem with revolvers. Ditto with rust (within reason).

Also, for the ultimate in safety, I keep the hammer down on an empty cylinder. Yes, that limits me to 4 rounds in my 5 shot compact, but I think 4 rounds is enough for most any problems I expect to encounter. It is possible to keep an empty chamber in an auto and still have an acceptable number of rounds. But then you have to cycle the action to get the gun ready, and that’s not always a good thing. With a DA revolver, just pull the trigger and the cylinder moves to a live round.

People might argue that keeping a round out of the chamber is overkill safety wise. I used to think so to till I had a friend who had a fire in his house. He had a revolver in a drawer that burned. The rounds in the cylinder merely popped, but the round in the chamber fired, blew a hole in desk and in the wall. No one was hurt, but the lesson is there. I carry in my car all the time, and the chance for fire is there too. Call me paranoid (OK, I am), but I like the empty chamber.

Also, a DA revolver can be fired from inside a coat pocket. Many times, when there’s a knock at my door, I slip on a jacket and slip a revolver into the pocket, and keep my hand in my pocket. If it’s the preacher, I let him in, hang the coat, and nothing more needs to be said. If it’s a bad guy, I’m prepared.

Ammo can be much cheaper. Get a .357 or a .38 +P, and you can practice with low power .38 rounds. Save a few “go” loads for the end of the day.

Bottom line, I recommend any stainless, 5 or 6 round double action .357 revolver. Lower end manufacturers are OK if money is an issue. We’re talking 1860’s technology here, and its not hard to build a decent gun cheaply. Of course, the higher end guns are nicer. The titaniums are awesome, but expensive. Even a used stainless gun is a good way to go. And with the money you saved over a decent autoloader, you might even be able to buy yourself a back up gun.

Keep the gun loaded with pre-franged ammo like a Glaser Safety slug. No need to worry about over penetration or ricochets. With those bullets, even a .38+P is a pretty potent stopper, so if you come across a good deal on a nice small .38, don’t pass it up.

Andrew said...

Own most of the guns that you listed and have carried a pistol for about 20 years (shooting for 32 years). After all was said and done, I settled on a Glock 19 as my carry pistol of choice. The 9mm is controllable and with +2 magazines, I get 18 rounds without a reload.

Anonymous said...

Count another vote for the Glock. I carry the Glock 19(9mm) myself and have never had a problem with it. The trigger 'safety' reinforces the best safety device available. 'Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.' As far as the 5# pull, I think that helps add to the smooth operation of the Glock.

They are also a weapon that sits well in pretty much anyone's hand. The internal hammer and thus 'clean' end of slide, makes it less likely to catch on your shirt or jacket if you need to draw it.

A good friend of mine is a police officer and his department just up armed to the 21 (.45) from the 23. I am hoping to talk him into selling the 23 to me. They also make the 27 which is a smaller and more concealable .40cal for a couple of less rounds (9 & 11 instead of 10 & 13) it's lighter and a little shorter.

Just my $0.02 since you asked. Good luck in your decision and like others have said. Practice, practice, practice....

Anonymous said...

I never liked the word defensive used with a hand gun. They're all offensive. Nobody listens to my complaints though. You might consider an HK P7 M8. I think .40 S&W is the better choice of caliber than the 9mm this pistol comes in (as other people have advised you you can always make the actual bullet deadlier (glaser safety slug, black talon, etc.) The HK P7 (used by Alan Rickman in "Die Hard") has a unique mechanism and it is very safe, accurate and reliable. It's a bitch to use a lot and clean, but something tells me that won't be a problem. Good luck

Anonymous said...

The shooter is more likely to fail than his modern semiauto. Revolvers for reliability is paranoia.

The polymer frame makes the pistol lighter, but by weighing less, the pistol is going to present more kick. (Momentum, m_bullet*v_bullet/m_gun=v_gun. The more the gun weighs, the less it'll come back at you.) That said, I love my full-sized Springfield Armory XD-9. Make sure you try one. The cost less than Glocks (and a lot less than Sigs, which they're sort of comparable to, in a way), but they're inexpensive, not cheap.

Anonymous said...

geekWithA.45 here.

My normal carry gun is the Sig P245. If it fits your hand,you'll never want to put it down. Tough, small, relatively light, and reliable as hell, I've put 13k+ rounds through mine, replacing only a spring along the way.

Normal carry load out is 6+1 rounds of corbon +p jhp, and a spare 8 round mag of plain old ball ammo. (The p220 mags fit, they even make a handle extender for the p245 for them)

Incidentally, with the heavy trigger of the DA/SA rig, external "click it off" safeties are unnecessary.

Another thing I'd like to advocate for the the notion that external hammers are a good thing. In a DA/SA autoloader, the correct technique is to place your thumb over the hammer when holstering, so you can feel it move should the trigger get caught on anything. This provides you with a final opportunity to avoid glocking your own buttocks.

Anonymous said...

This is Robin Burk back again (anonymous via another person's PC for the moment).

would like to comment on Robin Burk's comments, which I am certain are good intentioned but are dangerous.

"Slowing an attacker down" is utterly unacceptable. You do not shoot to kill. You shoot to stop. Someone is doing something that must be stopped. That is why you shoot them, not to cause them death.

Is death a side effect? Yes. Often. But it is not the goal. So shooting the crap out of someone and "slowing them down" will PROBABLY kill them (bleed to death) and will certainly mangle them for life. But it will not accomplish the number one goal of deadly force- Stopping an attacker from hurting you
Actually, my comments were well informed. I've qualified for concealed carry in multiple states, as a woman I've travelled alone in places like south central LA from time to time and I've been in self-defense situations.

When I said "slow the attacker down" I meant just that - to use the force necessary to protect myself and no more than that. If I am going to shoot, it will be with the intent to hit my target where I want to hit him. To be sure I accomplish that, I want a gun I can manage well under stress and for many women a .45 has enough kickback that under stress they will flinch and become less accurate. It doesn't matter how well you do under fun conditions on the range - what matters is what sort of control, accuracy and speed you can have in real conditions.

Yes, the 9mm is faster than the .45. But the ballistics in situations involving, say, walls or cars in a residential neighborhood still favor the smaller caliber in my mind. And anyone who pushes a high caliber weapon on a relative neophyte without discussing liability and bystanders as an important consideration in self defense is not doing our host here a favor IMO.

Flame suit on, y'all. But if the firepower gets too hot I'll have to put down my Sig and pick up the Kimber .45 instead. Just be warned, I'm less accurate with it under stress and might hit body core rather than taking out a kneecap LOL ....

Seriously, this is always a great topic to debate. But do make sure y'all keep the legal issues in mind. I'd hate to read than one of you went to jail for killing some kid a block away when you blasted a mugger.

Anonymous said...

I'll jump on the bandwagon that fails to follow your instructions.

If you want safe, get a revolver. End of story.

You pull the trigger and it shoots. Always.

If you must go with an autoloader, ignore everything posted and choose *what fits good in your hand*.

You're the one who has to use it, all the rest is just noise.

No one is going to argue you into using a Colt 1911 clone if the grip is simply too damn big.

I own both autoloaders and revolvers. I like them both.

My carry gun is a Taurus 85 Total Titanium.

Anonymous said...

Glock 23, hands down:
1. reliability
2. more common then others
3. DAO = easy to "remember" discharge point
4. Glock online community is great (same reason I buy Dell)
5. no external "safety" = will not lose a second to disengage it
6. did I say reliability?

Also, I would consider Glock 19 (9mm) because:
1. cheaper ammo ($11/100 at Walmart vs. $18/100 for .40). Practice is more important than caliber.
2. larger magazine capacity (15 vs. 13 for G23). More rounds is more important than caliber.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Add another vote for the Glock 23. They're light and compact, but not too comapct.

Glock now makes a 23C model, the C stands for compensated - less recoil.

As far as CCW holsters go, check out Galco's SkyOps for ultimate concealment (inside the waistband w/ your shirt tucked in).

The best .40 ammo IMHO is CORBON's Glaser Safety Slugs (0.75 per round). These are pre-fragmented bullets. This means that when they hit something, they break apart & act like a shotgun blast. Its devastating if you hit someone, but harmless if you hit a wall.

P.S. you can get a .22 conversion kit for the Glock for $200-250. I know you're on a limited budget, but practicing w/ .22 ammo is ALOT cheaper.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend the glock. It is single action with a built in trigger safety feature. Double action is not a safety feature, it is an impediment when getting a shot off quickly is important. Remember most defensive firefights happen within a six foot radius. Glock is good to go out of the box and extremely reliable. Go for the .40 cal unless you are slight, in which case a 9 mm would have less of a kick. I also heartily recommend the frontsite training institute. They have excellent training courses for defensive handgun. And training is imperative. good luck!

Anonymous said...

Re: Glaser Safety Slugs
Whoever posted that they're $0.75 per round is WAY off. They're more like $3.50 per round.
However, he was right that they're excellent rounds.
All of their energy is absorbed by what is shot; it doesn't go flying out the other side.

Anonymous said...

The .40S&W is an answer to the question the FBI asked, in essence they wanted a down-loaded 10mm Auto, and that's what the .40 is -- a good round.

For anyone who says, "You don't need more than 2-3 rounds," do you carry spare ammo? If not, there /won't/ be a protracted firefight when your gun runs dry. That's when your part of the firefight is over. Back to the knife, and fervent prayer.

I own a SIG P229 in .40, a Beretta 92FS in 9mm, a S&W 638-2 and a SIG P220 in .45ACP, as well as a Texas CHL. I carry the SIG P229, it's small and concealable, I can hit what I want to and I have great confidence with my carry ammo. The S&W 638 is a 5-shot .38 special revolver that I carry in the summer, mainly in a pants pocket holster. It is the lightest, and has the worst recoil of the bunch, the Cor-Bon ammo kicks like a full-size .44 Magnum. I don't like to shoot it but I would like to be hit by it even less.

Of all the guns on your list, the Glock is probably the best choice because there is only one trigger pull to master. The DA/SA thing takes a LOT of practice.

On the theme of practice, the 9mm is the cheapest to shoot, and if you get good carry ammo (some kind of modern hollowpoint, don't carry the cheap solid ammo in it), it will do its job if you do yours. For all the ink that has been wasted on the .45 vs 9mm debate, nobody can tell you the caliber of a bullet when it passes through their heart.

I'd go with a Glock 19, and carry a spare magazine. If you try it and don't like the trigger, try the SIG P228 in 9mm or the P229 in .40.

Good luck and happy shooting!

Darren in Texas

al said...

Get a Glock. Yes they are ugly (and as Kim says "furrin") but they shoot. While the POS state I live in doesn't allow CCW if it did my Glock would go where I go. The polymer frame seems to reduce recoil and, to me, it points perfectly.

Anonymous said...

My name's Nora and I have the Taurus, and i don't like it as well as my S&W. As a female shooter, I go for small and lightwieght. It's hard for me to be accurate w/the bigger guns. I actually prefer a .22 for this reason, Why? I can spend more time practicing, because it doesn't kick. I know I know a .22 has poor stopping power but look at it this way, if you can hit the spot you aim at you can do just fine w/the 22. If you can't hit the side of a barn because your gun kicks so hard that you don't enjoy practicing, the extra horsepower is worthless.

Anonymous said...

Either the Browning or the Glock will do quite well. Toss a coin or find the one with the best deal.

My personal choice is a S&W .38 snubbie. They just work, every single time. No law enforcement agency has ever said it wasn't "enough", and no lawyer has ever proven it's "too much".

I also carry a S&w 6946 that is just as light as the plastic framed pistols and has some "lawyer resistant" features...

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for comapct size AND firepower, check out the Para Ordnance C6.45 LDA. It doesn't meet your plastic grip requirement (it's all stainless steel) but the mass soaks up the recoil from the .45 rounds. It's very manageable.

The C6.45 is a single-stack 1911 clone, with a 3-inch barrel (smaller than a Colt Officer at 3.5 inches). VERY compact. As accurate as you need. And it's got Para Ordnance's "light double action" trigger that feels more like a modern double-action revolver -- longer pull than a normal, SA Colt auto, but it breaks at 3 to 4 pounds. It's a little heavier than I was originally looking for, but since the extra mass absorbs the .45's recoil very well, I'm willing to live with it.

If the C6.45 is too small, they make one just a bit larger, the C7.45, an inch longer and taller. Same LDA trigger. Go to

Anonymous said...

Everything is a trade-off; just like say fuel economy and performance in a car.

If you want a carry gun, then you want the most reliable, accurate, powerful, concealable gun that you can shoot accurately. If you want a home defense gun you want accuracy, safety, reliability, and "shootability." Target guns are usually shaded to extreme accuracy while sacrificing reliability.

Your carry gun is likely going to have to compromise sight radius (longer sights and therefore barrel means more accuracy) vs. concealability which requires shorter barrels. Heavier guns absorb recoil more and are easier to shoot, particularly revolvers, but are more difficult to carry. Lighter and smaller guns carry easier, but shoot with more difficulty. The really lightweight titanium and scandium revolvers are quite painful to shoot (your hands will hurt) and require skill/care to hit the target.

Revolvers, particularly steel ones like the Ruger SP01 or GP 100, are easy to shoot with .38 special, yet can also shoot the .357 magnum. You can, as noted, load Glaser safety slugs so the .38 Special won't go through drywall as much (a good thing for home defense). Smith and Wesson revolvers can be fitted with the "magna-ring" which is a magnetic ring and safety device, which means only you wearing the ring can fire the gun (a cool safety device). The downside is that if you injure your ring hand the gun won't fire. Upside is that if someone else gets the gun it won't fire either. Revolvers firing double action have heavier trigger pulls, so that tends to degrade accuracy without training. The upside is that it's harder to fire by accident if you forget and let your finger wander into the trigger guard.

Revolver grips are more adaptable to smaller hands, you can get lots of aftermarket grips to adapt them to your hand. Not so much for auto-loaders. You can get .45 1911 models in the full size (5 inch barrel); "Commander" (4-4.5 inch barrel); or "Officers" (3-3.5 inch barrel) variants from many manufacturers. The advantage of the 1911 is that it's the flattest/slimmest of autoloaders, with single stack magazines that are easy to load, and the slimmest grips for small hands (you can also get lots of aftermarket grips too if you have big hands). The 1911's trigger is also the best right out the box and has a consistent trigger pull, it's easy to shoot well quickly. It's also ... easy to shoot so you have to know what you're doing. It has the grip, manual, and often firing pin (drop) safeties so if you have proper training it's safe and is still used today by many agencies/SWAT guys etc. The downside is that the 1911 requires more training to use; which means you have to put more time in; however if it's taken away from you it takes longer for assailants to figure out how to shoot it if it's on safe. No question that the 1911 can be very accurate, and downloaded to lower power levels, but it's a gun for someone who puts in more time at the range and training.

Glocks are good, but their design requires no reloaded or unjacketed ammunition be fired through them (Glock themselves state this). Glock's barrels don't have much support in the 6 o'clock position, which allows them to feed almost anything but requires strong brass and factory regulated loads. The barrels also are susceptible to leading so you can't shoot anything but jacketed ammo through them (no lead cast bullets). Glocks are not a neophyte shooters gun either and you have to be extra careful to keep your finger out of the trigger guard. The models 17 and 19 usually perform well, the models with higher (.40 and up) calibers have had documented problems when folks fail to heed Glock's warning about not shooting lead cast bullets or reloads in them. The problem is called "kb!" or kabooms and can be serious. Glocks also tend to have thicker grips which makes them harder to conceal, however they are light guns to carry and shoot well when you follow Glock's instructions about ammo. There is no external safety on them so if it falls into the wrong hands it's easy to shoot. This may or may not matter to you.

The Kahr series of guns are outstanding, light, accurate, available in the 9 mm and 40 S&W caliber, and steel as well as plastic. These guns are also flat, and concealable. S&W makes nice autoloaders, particularly their 3913 9 mm which is also flat and concealable. The SIGs have similar models with these attributes, so does CZ, and HK. The HK P7 "squeeze cocker" is very safe, but has a unique manual of arms, so you need to be "faithful" to it I guess and only shoot it. Like other polygonal barreled guns (HK, Glock) you can't shoot lead bullets through it, jacketed only.

My suggestion is three-fold ... go to the range and rent as many different types of guns as possible, what works for one person may not for others because of personal preferences on the trade-offs between weight/shootability, concealability, power, and accuracy. You need a gun that fits your hand naturally that you can shoot accurately. If possible get a lesson, particularly with the 1911 which is with training very accurate and customizable, both with grips and with loads (you can step down from full power loads to easier recoiling ammo). Also try a .357 magnum revolver, particularly a heavy one, with .38 special. You'll be surprised how much fun and accurate they are to shoot and how easy to unload/load.

The second thing is, for concealed carry, a good quality holster makes all the difference in comfort and concealment. Even a larger/heavier pistol/revolver can be concealed with the right wardrobe and concealment rig. Expect to pay around $150 for this, and go to a reputable maker like Mitch Rosen, Bianchi, Galco, etc.

Third, for home storage get a small personal gun safe, preferably with a combination. Some of these can be had for as little as $100, they store one or two guns, and are very good to have. You can put them under your bed, have your gun safely secured, yet still be able to get to it quickly if someone breaks into your house.

Joel said...

hmmm, if you can afford a h&k, buy a h&k. If not, purchase the sig, and if not that, the ruger.

The reputation of the H&k is such that I suspect that anyone that even neglects minimum maintenance requirements for it, would still weild a reliable weapon, for a time (depending on how quick the metal oxidized in your location). So I think if you actually maintenance it, you should have a weapon at least as dependable as a revolver.... atleast to the 4th percentile. if the coolness factor overcomes your desire for dependable defensive capability, then who am I to harsh your gig?

The Man said...

Ok, I'm an old-school revolver guy. Many of the reasons for that are included in my response to the NYT article claiming revolvers are going the way of the dinosaur (

So, that being said, I would recommend you re-visit the revolver. I personally would recommend the Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum. Heavy, yes, but will take all the practice you can stand and the increased stopping power and reliability are worth it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Lots of "experts." Most don't know the dangerous end of a gun, though. Kim du Toit - moron. Rifle shooter (sort of), knows dick about handguns. Don't bother with the gun store attention to the real shooters (not police, by the way), who know what the hell they're talking about. First handgun should be basic, easy to operate, easy to train with. Either a revolver or a Glock. All this BS about H&K, Kahr, Beretta, and even (good heavens above, what are these idiots thinking?) Makharov, S&W, Browning, etc. needs to be put right out of your head. Learn how to shoot a gun, then pick the most reliable you can get your hands on. Don't bother with what these non-shooters think - go with what the real shooters know. Find out what the competitive IDPA shooters use, and think very hard about THAT as your first choice.

Cowboy Blob said...

Zendo Deb is a wise lady. Go to a range with a wide variety of rentals and find what best fits your hand and eye. That said, fitting your requirements is the Glock 23 (.40) and if your hand can accomodate the increased girth, the Glock 30 (.45). If you go with the Glock, make sure it stays in a holster if you keep it loaded. I'm comfortable with the factory trigger in my carry gun. It has tritium nite sights. I put the lighter trigger on my competition gun (Glock 22) only because I like to be competitive. I recommend practical pistol competition because you get better practice working the weapon under stress than you'd get with a leisurely trip to an indoor range. I don't get many malfuntions, but I've learned to clear them quickly with the practice I get competing.

I own several good double-action autos (SiGs) which are extremely accurate, but I must reposition my hand to shoot accurately with the shorter following single-action shots. Glocks shoot the same way every time.

Anonymous said...

I have owned, carried and shot pistols of every action, configuration and caliber for almost 20 years now. Collecting pistols is my hobby and my only major vice so I have owned around 50 different pistols. The one weapon that I keep as my primary sd tool is a well- tuned 1911 style .45. As long as it is worked over for reliability by a competent gunsmith (feed ramp throated and polished, extractor tested, ejector adjusted)it is hard to beat. Pros: consistent trigger pull, proven caliber and ammo loads, ergonomics, huge number of after-market accessory vendors to customize and upgrade the gun. Cons: SA requires good training, regular practice and dilligence for safe operation.

With polymer frames (weight)and excellent ammo choices (recoil penetration and expansion), most of the classic complaints about the weapon have been dealt with. If you are concerned about recoil, Federal is making a well-regarded line of personal defense ammo with reduced recoil. Yes, the weapon requires more rigorous training but there is a reason it has been around and so popular for so long. Try several versions and see which one fits your hand and your needs the best. The Kimber line is excellent. The customs from Wilson are very fine weapons but expensive. The Para Ordinance LDA may be the perfect blending of the 1911's best attributes and the trigger action of a Glock or perfectly tuned revolver.

There is no such a thing as the perfect pistol for all people. It really depends on a number of factors. I second the advice of others here to not discount revolvers though. Thanks for the chance to comment. It looks like you are approaching the decision in an informed and intelligent manner.

billy said...

I see you added the Glock. If you're willing to consider the Glock, I'd take a serious look at the Springfield Armory line of XD pistols. You can get 3", 4" or 5" barrels and pick from 9mm, .357sig and .40. I have the .40 and love it.

I chose the XD over the Glock b/c the XD has the grip safety (like the model 1911A service .45's made by Springfield). It also has indicators that allow for a visual or physical check to see if the chamber is loaded and/or if the firing pin is cocked.

This gun also fits my hands better than the Glock.

Empty clips fall clear of the gun without help when released.

And it can be had for around $450

For a good concealed gun, look at the Kel-Tec line. They offer .32, .380 and 9mm. The .32 is about 4.6oz unloaded and is about as slim as can be. You can also install a clip on the slide that allows you to clip the gun inside your waistband.

Good luck with the shopping.

Anonymous said...

Due to your Instalanche, you've gotten quite a bit of advice. Much of it conflicting. You can always expect this when asking about guns; I don't envy you the task of sorting the good from the bad.

My contributions: since you are looking for an "all purpose defensive gun" and explicitly say you intend to carry concealed, I would assess your candidates on convenience, reliability, simplicity, and comfort, in that order.

Carrying a gun routinely in a civilian role is a pain in the ass. Guns are heavy, bulky, awkward, and obtrusive. You will contantly be concerned with where you will be going, how you will be dressed, and who will be around. I.e. are you going to work? To the store? To a dinner party? To the beach? To pick up your kids from school? Where you're going, will you be wearing a suit jacket? A windbreaker? Shorts and a T-shirt? When you get there, will you be expected to remove your outer clothing? Formerly trivial matters will become serious considerations due to the hunk of metal you now have to keep on you and have to keep hidden.

There are a vast array of choices for how to carry your chosen gun, and you will probably go through many of them before you find one you really like. However, the smaller and lighter the gun is, the more options you will have open. If you buy a gun that you never find a good way to carry with you, you will almost certainly stop carrying it, and your research will have been for nothing.

Reliability and simplicity go hand in hand. You will practice enough with the gun to know how to pull it out, aim, and fire... and then you will practice less and less. You want a gun such that when you actually need to use it in the heat of the moment, you can rely on simple skills that you haven't practiced in a long time. Reliability means knowing that your gun will work even if you have neglected it; simplicity means knowing that your *skills* with the gun will work, even if you have neglected *them*.

Finally, the gun should be comfortable to shoot. This is not so important in the heat of the moment, but a comfortable gun will be one you enjoy taking to the range and practicing with; that practice *will* be important in the heat of the moment. If the gun feels good in your hands while you shoot it, you will be more confident in your handling of it, and the time you spend in practice will better serve to improve your skills with it.

Caliber and capacity are probably not as important as many think, but you should use a large enough caliber and high enough capacity so that *you* are comfortable with what you are carrying and confident that it will serve your needs. I would get as large a caliber as you are comfortable shooting, and no larger; I would get as large a capacity as you can comfortably carry around with you concealed, and no more.

My personal choice: Glock 27, the sub-compact .40 caliber. For me, .40 was, as many have said, the perfect compromise between caliber and capacity (the Glock 27 holds 9 rounds, which seems perfectly adequate to me). The sub-compact size gave me several more options for concealment and greater flexibility in where and how I could carry it. I liked the way it fit in my hands and the way it felt when I shot it. I have large hands, and although many people find the sub-compacts are too small for their hands, it wasn't a problem for me.

Glocks are eminently reliable and utterly simple in operation. Point, pull, bang. Every time.

Safety is first and foremost a matter of training. No combination of trigger style, action, safety mechanism, or chamber status is as important or effective as learning to keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. I carry my Glock with a round in the chamber and have no concern whatsoever that it will ever go off a moment before I want it to.

After trying many different concealment options, I eventually went with Thunderwear, simply because it lets me carry under almost any circumstance. I find it comfortable and convenient without sacrificing accessibility. Your mileage may vary.

Good luck to you. I hope you find something you are truly comfortable with, and I hope you never have to use it.

Anonymous said...

I won't get into the this vs that gun debate too much. I've tried many of the ones mentioned in your list and the ones in the comments. The truth is, many will serve your purposes just fine. Glocks, Sigs, HK, Walther, S&W... whatever. Every one of those has been adopted by a dozen police departments (or more) and will serve you faithfully. Picks in ammunition caliber and brand are also fun, but ultimately of little importance.

Can a Glock save your life? Yup. Will that fancy HK do the same? Sure. Will a 9mm do the job? Yes. Will a .45? Oh yes.

Whatever gun you pick (I'm partial to a Glock 23, but I currently CCW with a Walther P99) make sure you get some professional training with it. And keep training with it. Get involved with IDPA or IPSC, mainly just to give you a chance to think about something more complex than standing still and punching paper. But get professional training.

In short:
1) Pick one that feels comfy, that you can afford to feed and can conceal reasonably.
2) Take care of your weapon and it won't fail you.
3) Get training. Better to eschew an expensive Kimber to buy a cheaper Glock if you put the difference in price towards a training class.

Anonymous said...

Me again. Here's where I DO get into the this vs that gun comparison.

Try the Glocks. Price/performance is very good on these weapons. The triggers are the exact same every time and the quasi-double-action-only nature makes them great platforms. That said, if you're set on .40 cal, go with the Glock 23. I have a micro-Glock in .40 and frankly the caliber is not fun to shoot with such a tiny thing.

However, the Glock 36 in .45 is strangely comfortable. The price of .45 is close to .40, so unless you have your heart set on .40, what's one more caliber between friends?

If the grip angle of the Glock doesn't seem quite right, check out the Steyr M9. The angle is subtly different. Some people like it, some don't.

If you have problems wrapping your hand around the Glock grip, check out the Walther P99. It comes with three grip inserts to widen/shorten the grip to adjust to different shooters. The DA/SA trigger is what you are looking for, along with a decocker and a polymer frame. No external safety, but they are unnecessary on modern firearms.

In addition, the Walther P99 trigger can be half-cocked for carry so that the DA portion of the trigger is long, but light. This way, your first shot doesn't go low from a heavy trigger pull and follow-up shots are more consistent.

Or you can just get the P99 in "quick action" which puts a Glock-like trigger on it.

Calibers: I shoot .40 right now, but if I had to do it all over again, I would go with .45. I find .40 to be more of a "slap" while .45 is more of a "push". The differences in capacity aren't all that much, and the prices between the two types of ammo aren't enough to worry about.

Anonymous said...

All hail John Browning!! Kimber, Les Baer, even Colt - all make beautiful, 1911 design autoloaders - and the gun will be around for another couple of hundred years. No end to the aftermarket. Want to be sure? Don't want the round to go thru two walls & kill an innocent? .45 ACP.

Anonymous said...

Use an authoritative .40 defense round. Why not consider a Double Action Only (DAO) pistol to avoid that second shot going astray in times of stress? Even better, consider a laser sight like Crimson Trace, so when your life is on the line, your shots go where you intend them to.

Anonymous said...

I just bought a new Springfield Armory XD-40 sub compact. It offers a lot of excellent features and is very accurate right out of the box. The price is very atractive as well.

barry03 said...

you will not be engaged in any CQB or long range battles. what you want is the ability to fire the minimum shots required to save you and your loved ones life (legally). the average distance in a gunfight is 7 meters, the average number of shots is 2.5 according to the statistics of the F. B. I.
I would look at the S&W Model 640, 3 inch barrel, 5 shot, stainless, double action only, covered hammer, compact rubber grips, fixed sights in .357 Magnum. you can fire this weapon from inside a purse or pocket. load it with .38 Spl 125 grain Federal Hydrashocks either you or your partner can shoot this gun easily.

John Clifford said...

If you're looking at only polymer-framed guns, you have to rule out the Sig P228, P229, and P245, the Browning and the CZ.

Rather than looking at features, I think you should approach this from a benefits standpoint. Bear with me here, since I have a decade of experience at this and have literally sold thousands of handguns to individuals for this exact purpose.

What you are evidently looking for is a handgun suitable for concealed carry self-defense. Being armed in a car is the same thing, since you have to get the gun to and from the car and you also have to have a concealed carry license in most states to be lawfully armed in a car -- and the best place to retrieve a gun in a car is from your holster (not the glove box). Home self-defense is amuch easier role to fulfill and the criteria used for handgun selection leans towards shootability and away from concealability. Large guns like full-sized .45s and 4" medium or large-frame revolvers are ideal home defense guns.

What is important in a concealed-carry self-defense handgun is RELIABILITY (must go BANG! everytime), concealability (must only be seen when you want it to be seen), ergonomics (must be suited to your physical characteristics, e.g., hand size, etc.), and effectiveness (the ability to stop an attack on you or another individual in your presence). Frame material, modes of operation, and action type are only important in how they affect these requirements.

First, let me tell you that there is no "all-purpose" defensive handgun. We choose handguns for self-defense because we can't get to something bigger -- like a shotgun. Of the three types of weapons, handguns are the lousiest to rely on. They are harder to hit with than long guns, aren't as powerful, and generally aren't as reliable. However, we can't walk around with an M16 slung over our shoulder so we make do with what we can.

Second, you need to decide what kind of shooter/person you are (or that you are going to be -- and be honest with yourself). Are you "into guns" where you will practice, take classes, and work on your shooting techniques and weapons manipulation skills? This type I'll refer to as a "shooter." Or, are you really not all that into guns, willing to acquire a basic proficiency with a gun but not really into shooting and practicing (and spending the money to do so), but want to have a handgun just in case? Then you are a gun owner, or just "owner."

I recommend semi-auto pistols for "shooters" and double-action revolvers for "owners" and here's why. Either one will do the job. Revolvers are simpler, will operate after a period of benigh neglect (being left in a gun rug for years at a time with the same ammo and no preventative maintenance) well, and are basically the gun world equivalent to "point-and-shoot" cameras. The most common handgun malfunction, a 'click' when there should have been a bang, can be handled simply in a revolver -- just pull the trigger again.

Pistols, on the other hand, require a higher level of training to derive maximum utility. While they may be mechanically less complex than a revolver, there is actually a lot more going on when you pull the trigger which means there is more chances of something going wrong -- and when you own a defensive pistol you need to know how to manipulate it through any hickups ("stoppages") that may occur during a defensive situation. Pistols require a firm grip to keep from malfunctioning during firing, which means they are not well-suited for people with weak grips or physical disabilities. Pistols do offer a higher rate of fire and quicker reloading for most people, but these are factors which are not very important in a self-defense situation -- if you can't solve your defensive problem with the rounds you have in the gun then you are in dire straits and shooting quicker or more often probably won't fix things. Pistols will take more abuse (physical impacts, etc.) but require a higher standard of cleanliness to ensure proper functioning.

Finally, let's talk about concealability. The most powerful, easiest-to-shoot, death-dealing handgun is useless if you can't, or won't, have it with you when you need it. Concealability has two attributes, the gun and the way you dress. A quick perusal of your website tends to make me believe that you are a woman, so I'll aim this at women in general even though the advice is applicable to both sexes. Here goes: your clothing limits your concealability. If you are a woman who wears business suits or form-fitting pants, you will have a very hard time concealing any firearm on your person in a manner that allows you quick access. You will have to choose a small handgun, sacrificing power and ergonomics for concealability. If you can wear looser clothing then you can carry a larger handgun and take advantage of a larger gun's attendant benefits. As a man, I can alter my clothing style more easily (and still not stand out as a fashion eyesore) to carry larger guns. Not fair, but there it is.

I don't recommend that anyone (man or woman) carry a concealed weapon anywhere except on their person. No briefcase or purse carry if at all possible. If someone steals that briefcase or purse, there goes your gun. If you are robbed, the bad guy is going to want the briefcase or purse -- and he gets your gun. If you get separated from your briefcase or purse, you are separated from your gun. Nothing is as useless as the finest defensive handgun located where you can't get to it when you need it the most.

The best place for carrying a handgun is the strong-side hip, for right-handers between 3 and 4 o'clock if the belt buckle is 12 o'clock and your rear end is 6 o'clock. That's where uniformed police carry theirs and that's why. Every other position is a compromise. I don't recommend shoulder holsters unless you are willing to understand how dangerous this carry is (even though it can be very concealable especially for women) -- any position where the gun can be pointed at your body during the draw is dangerous. Shoulder holsters are also very hard to defend against disarming attempts.

A quick word on action types: it's easier to shoot a gun that has the same trigger feel for each shot than one for which the first shot differs from subsequent shots. I like double-action only (DAO) guns like the Glock, the S&W 3953, and others. I also like single-action only (SA) guns like the Colt 1911 and derivatives. I generally don't like DA/SA guns like the Beretta 92FS, and I really don't like DA/SA guns that don't have decockers like the CZ-75 (which is great ergonomically but should be carried cocked-and-locked as if it were a SA pistol). Remeber, that in a defensive situation the simpler the better. We've run live-fire video training sessions and I'm amazed at the number of folks (even experience shooters who haven't trained properly) who can't get their safeties off in a defensive situation, or who miss the first two shots with their DA/SA handgun because the trigger pulls differ -- in real-life they'd be dead. Keep it simple!

Finally, let's talk calibers. The truth is, all handgun calibers are impotent and cannot be counted on disabling attackers unless the central nervous system is hit (spine, brain). If everything else was equal, then I'd say pick the largest caliber... but it isn't equal. Smaller calibers have less recoil, are easier to hit with, and tend to be in smaller, more concealable handguns. Remember that the defensive handgun is a behavior modification device -- we pull it out when we want someone to change their course of action ("don't hurt me or take my things!"). Often the mere sight of a handgun causes the bad guy to run away, but sometimes it doesn't so the handgun has to work if he calls your bluff. If you stick with calibers that range from the .38 Special to the .45 ACP in power, you will be okay. One thing that all of my defensive classes have stressed is the irrelevance of the "one-shot stop". If we are being attacked, we don't fire one shot, "double-taps" or "fire two and evaluate" in a defensive situation. We shoot the bad guy(s) until we are SURE they no longer pose a threat to us. Accordingly, it's better to hit someone several times with a 9mm or a .38 than once with a .45. ALWAYS CARRY EXTRA AMMUNITION in the form of at least one extra magazine (pistols) or a speedloader (revolvers). Maybe you solved your problems with what was in the gun... and maybe you didn't. Or maybe your gun malfunctioned and you had to dump the original magazine to clear the stoppage -- go through the dumped mag and sort out what happened after the fight is over and you're alive. You want to be standing there (behind cover) after the smoke clears, looking around to see that your problem is indeed over, with a fully-loaded gun. Much better than standing there with an empty gun and no extra ammo, and a pissed-off bad guy.

So, with all of that said, here are my recommendations.

IF YOU ARE A SHOOTER then look towards a mid-size automatic in 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP. Recognize that you will have to alter your clothing style somewhat to maintain concealability, and that you will have to train and practice to become competent with your handgun. Choose the gun that fits your hand, that is easiest for you to shoot and hit with, and that you will carry and don't worry about whether 9 or 40 is better. One of my favorite pistols in this category for smaller shooters (including women) is the Kahr K9 and P9 9mm pistols (don't get the .40 in this model). I also like the Glock 19 and the Kimber Classics in .45 ACP. The HK USP 9 and 40 Compacts are also a great choice, as is the S&W Sigma 9 and the S&W 3953, a very slim, trim gun that is perhaps S&W's best for concealed carry. I'm not a fan of the 3" .45 ACP pistols or of the small .40s like the Kahr K40 or P40 -- lots of recoil means slow second shots and they're hard to hit with. I despise guns like the Walther PPK and am not much fonder of the Sig P232 or other blowback .380s -- they're not any easier to conceal than the K9 or the 3953, not as powerful, and they have a LOT more felt recoil.

IF YOU ARE AN OWNER then look towards a mid-sized stainless steel revolver with 2" or 3" barrel (S&W K-frame or equivalently-sized guns in other brands) chambered for the .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Carry the gun with .38 Special +P loads and it will have low recoil and outstanding power. My favorite in this genre is the S&W 65 3", a fixed-sight revolver that is a fantastic concealed carry gun even for shooters. I don't recommend the lightweight small-frame revolvers (like the S&W 342, 442, or 642) for inexperienced people; they are fantastic self-defense guns and very accurate (I can easily hit pop cans with 'em at 25 yards) but require experience and practice before you can hit anything with them.

Cube, it looks like you're an "owner" who is leaning towards becoming a "shooter." That's good. I'd still start off with a revolver and then move to a pistol later if you find you really are getting into shooting... but the revolver will still be a great concealed carry gun.

Anonymous said...

Must agree with all the postinga that stress the reliability & dependability of the weapon. Odds are high, that as a normal person, you'll NEVER have to use your defensive weapon "for real". But if you do, it had better work without fail, the first time.

For that reason, I too recommend revolvers. Usually cheaper, easier to maintain than autoloaders. Definitely more likely to shoot when you want them to!

Have done moderate target shooting & hunting w. rifles, pistols & shotguns for approx. 35 years, so many variables pertain depending on your physical size, mode of dress, climate where you live, etc.

(I remember being asked, while wearing a loose-fitting leather coat on a 95-degree july afternoon three questions: "Got a cold? Have a fever? Packing?" - the answer was, of course, "Packing". It's not that convient to fit a Colt Anaconda .44 Mag under a T-shirt! - The neighborhood where I lived had a high incidence of gang activity, and crime was rather commonplace, therefore, Big Nasty Weapon)

Have added several smaller, lighter carry arms to the mix since then. The .40 S&W is a good choice; I have a European-American Witness in that caliber that is also ported through the slide, & reduces muzzle movement when firing very effectively. Although about the size of a Colt 1911, it's worth a peek - the firm has a variety of models to choose from.

Some posters have mentioned small S&W revolvers. I think they're fantastic. My wife & I each have one. (Wife preferred the Model 637, with external hammer - as for her, the DA trigger pull felt to "stiff". I preferred the Titanium-framed Model 342, with no external hammer, DA mode only. Both in .38 Special, using 110 - grain Hydra-Shock loads). You can carry them just about anywhere, in a variety of clothing.

A weapon to bulky or heavy to carry confortably & well-concealed is likely NOT to be where you need it when you do. Agree wholeheartedly with a prior post that stated the proper place for a defensive weapon is on your body, not off in the car or in a purse, for the reasons so ably stated.

Agree that from a practical standpoint, confrontations requiring (and JUSTIFYING) lethal force as a response will likely be at very close range. Practice is essential, training invaluable. Be sure you have a clear picture of under what sort of circumstances you CAN draw, or draw & fire your weapon without landing in a world of trouble!!!

As a final comment, remember that carrying a weapon is NOT some magic talisman that renders you in some way invulnerable to crime. Anyone can sneak up behind you & clobber you with a piece of pipe, stumble up against you in a crowd & press a knife into your stomach, or in any number of ways rob, mug or kill you, gun or no.... Practicing situational awareness so as to minimize risk and becoming concious of potential threats may protect you better than the pistol will. (Example: that ATM withdrawl at a dark corner at 2 AM in a "bad" neighborhood is a BAD idea).

And: by all means, if you aren't already a member, join the NRA!

Anonymous said...

These triggers resolve the DA/SA and safety concerns:

1. H&K LEM triggers: available on USP Compact & P2000
2. Walther QA trigger: available on P99QA
3. SIG DAK trigger: available on P226R & P229R

All of the above offer multi-strike capability. In
addition to .40 caliber, you might also want to look
at .357 SIG, especially in the SIG P229R DAK.

Cubicle said...

thanks for the help, i think that if i could get a DAO trigger and a safty i would be happy.

Now that i think about it, several of th guns i was looking at offer a da/sa, i wonder if any of them offer the doa and a saftey, thanks for the help again. I think this is exactly what i was looking for.

rosignol said...

Regarding which one to choose: these are (almost) all good suggestions[1], the one you should get is the one you can shoot most accurately. Find a range that does rentals, try them out, buy what works best for you. With that said, in general, if you have to use one on a two-legged varmint, the round with the larger diameter will do a better job than one with a smaller diameter[2](.357 Mag being the exception, but it's a revolver round, and you want a semiauto).

A couple of things-

DO get (fixed[3]) night sights- Trijicon makes some of the best. Yeah, they cost, but they last around a decade or so before they need to be replaced, and shooting at night or in dark places is pretty difficult without them. I have a different color on the front post dot than on the rear dots, an amazing number of people don't know you can do that.

DON'T neglect the holster/carry rig/etc. A good one makes a big, big difference in comfort and concealability (and usually costs from $80-$150). Comfort is important because if it's uncomfortable, you're a lot more likely to leave it at home, and not have it when you need it. Concealability is important because it tends to make other people uncomfortable if they notice you're packing, and that may result in police attention. Cops are generally good people doing a hard job. Why take up their valuable time for no good reason, y'know?

Regarding the trigger- speaking as someone who's first firearm was a Glock, I firmly believe that if the trigger is pulled, the firearm *should* fire. It is the responsibility of the shooter to only pull the trigger if they _want_ the firearm to fire. If you don't want it to fire, your finger has no business being on the trigger- the person holding the gun is by _far_ the most important 'safety feature' there is[4]. My opinion of "New York Triggers" and manual safeties should be pretty obvious, so I won't bother going into detail. ;)

Consider using the pre-fragmented ammo as your carry ammo (fire some for practice, but if you can practice exclusively with that stuff, you're a lot richer than I am). It'll get the job done, and it'd kinda suck to save your butt and mess up some innocent bystander in the process.

[quote] At 4:09:19 PM, Andrew said...

Own most of the guns that you listed and have carried a pistol for about 20 years (shooting for 32 years). After all was said and done, I settled on a Glock 19 as my carry pistol of choice. The 9mm is controllable and with +2 magazines, I get 18 rounds without a reload. [...] [endquote]

Be careful of the extensions. I've seen a couple pop off the mag, and when that happens, the rounds fall out and you're holding an expensive hammer- which is okay if you've shown up to a hammer-fight, but not so good if it's a gunfight. Besides, the -19 has a 15 round clip. If 15 isn't enough, it's long past time to leave.

[quote]At 4:21:41 PM, Anonymous said...

I never liked the word defensive used with a hand gun. They're all offensive. Nobody listens to my complaints though. [...] [endquote]

Handguns are generally carried by people who need a firearm _in case_ they have to shoot something (example: street cops, civilians with CCW permits, etc). The people who _expect_ to shoot something carry rifles (example: SWAT cops, soldiers, hunters, etc). Thus, handguns are defensive (i.e., reactive) weapons, rifles are offensive.

[1] My experience has been that Ruger makes excellent revolvers, and crap semiautos (ditto S&W). YMMV. Companies that make excellent semiautos are Glock, HK, Kimber, and Sig (...and they're priced accordingly).

[2] assuming you can hit with it. A hit with a .22LR is will do more than a miss with a .454 Casull.

[3] The one thing you can count on adjustable sights to do is adjust themselves when you're not looking.

[4] Speaking of which, if you have kids, gun-proof them- trying to kid-proof the guns is futile. The NRA's Eddie Eagle program is very good for this, but don't store the firearms loaded in any case. Tell the kids they'll get the spanking of their lives if they break that rule, and follow through if they do.

Anonymous said...

I have been shooting for 40 years. I am a life member of the NRA. I have used my gun (S&W Model 19 .357 magnum) to defend myself. I have many guns. My advice to you is to choose the Glock 23 (I carry one). The .40 S&W is the equal of the .45ACP in terms of bullet energy which with well designed bullets correlates with stopping power. The .45 is bigger but it is a cartridge designed at the beginning of the 20th century. The .40 S&W is a modern cartridge designed to a much higher operating pressure than the .45. That higher pressure gives the bullets higher velocity and more energy. Ballistically the .40 S&W is the autoloader equivalent of the .357 magunum. The 125 grain .357 magnum hollow point is the deadliest handgun cartridge ever. It has lots of energy and usually dumps all of it in the target. The Glock 23 is not the prettiest gun. They are incredibly reliable. I don't mind the Glock trigger and all of mine still have the 5 pound stock trigger. It is not as crisp as my S&W 686 with tuned trigger or my Kimber .45 but it is acceptable for a defensive firearm. My requirements for a carry gun were absolute reliability and a caliber that would end any altercation quickly with good shooting. The .40 S&W is superior to any standard pressure .45 round. Some +P .45 rounds have more energy but when you exceed standard pressures you are asking for trouble. Some .45 will fire +P with no problem others may fail or even injure you. All .40 rounds are essentially +P rounds. Also .40 S&W was designed as a police cartridge so all guns were designed to fire hollow points. Some .45s witll not fire hollow points. My conclusion was the Glock 23 was the best intersection of concealibilty, stopping power, and reliability. I am big at 6 feet and 280 pounds so concealing a mid-frame gun is not hard. If you are petite then maybe a Glock 27 would be the answer. My favorite gun to shoot is my full size Glock model 22 in .40 caliber. I also carry this gun concealed at times.

Cubicle said...


Thanks for stopping by. Just to update you on where i am at. I am renting and shooting as many guns as I possibly can to see who they fit and feel in my hand, and to see how accurte I am with different guns.

So far I have been able to rule out the Whalther P99, because the top part of the backstrap near the slide dug into my thumb.

Because of the many comments and suggestions, i decided that i needed some more time to shoot different handguns. I shot a S&W 5-shooter with an normal sized barrel. I was much more accurate with that pistol that I have been with other auto loaders. If i continue to be accurate with revolvers, i will proably choose one.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the help. (BTW the glock is still on the list)

Anonymous said...

i have a kimber ten II and a walther ppk/s and i have fired more guns in serch of what i wanted then i could count. sigs, glocks, hk, my freind's xd 40 and baretta along with many others and revolvers. there are alot of reasons i chose the kimber and the ppk i would trust my life to either of them or my mossberg 590 (but i cant conceal that one). the ppk allows for very accurate fallow up shots right away as you first use it. the kimber's .45 power took some time to make my quick fallow up shots accurate.

now i can say however with either of them i can empty entire mags into the standard 25 yard slow fire targets at 15 yards rapid fire with either gun. the kimber makes reliable accuracy for single fire shots well past 30 yards where as the xd-40 your groups are far far looser and anything outside of 10 yards i question if most people could hit. same with the glocks or hks, if i knew i could only get off one shot i would want it comming out of my kimber. the best part is shot after shot you at least know where the bullet is going to go when many other guns there is a luck factor.

however, wilson combat sells match grade drop in barrels for glocks and any glock owner should look into these IMO. i wouldnt truct my life to any barrel that wasnt match grade.

Cubicle said...

dear Anonymous ,

thanks for stopping my.

I actually ended up going with the XD. Thanks for the input.

A long gun is next on the list