When it comes to handguns, everyone has a favorite. There are a few I respect for service grade reliability. I give a picayune nod to the big bore revolver, but the 1911 is a handgun that fits my world view. On more than one occasion, the 1911 has adjudicated an argument in my favor. On a personal level, the 1911 has defended me against adversaries with a ferocious enmity toward me, for no other reason than I was attempting to put and end to an illustrious criminal rampage. Those who have vigor and proficiency at arms will find the 1911 is a great fighting handgun.
Over the years, I have seen many people struggle with the handgun. Some older folks, and others with limited hand strength, have a difficult time with the revolver. While revolvers are simple enough to handle, the long double-action trigger press challenges some shooters. The Smith and Wesson M&P .380 pistol is the answer they have been looking for.
Beretta introduced a handgun a few years ago that was not revolutionary—instead it was evolutionary. The PX4 Storm married the proven Beretta double-action trigger and de-cocking safety to a polymer frame. Those preferring a double-action first-shot pistol had a relatively inexpensive alternative to the Beretta 92, and those wishing a durable and reliable polymer frame handgun had a counterpoint to the Glock. The primary advantage of the pistol is accuracy.
When I learned Ruger planned to introduce an upgrade on its successful gas impingement rifle, I was very interested. The AR 556 is a reliable and accurate rifle—possibly the best buy in its price range.
After many years of carrying the 1911 Government Model .45, I find that the weight on my back is beginning to drag. It isn’t the handgun, but a number of difficulties, fights for my life including a fall from a porch of some four feet with 400 pounds of felons intertwined with me, car wrecks, and climbs in ancient artifacts of architecture have been a strain on the lumbar. Just the same, when the time came, the 1911 sounded loud and clear and did its job like no other I wish to consider.
When it comes to shooting pastimes, they can get expensive, quickly. My handguns are rugged and reliable for the most part, but competition shooting may become expensive in both time and money. It sometimes becomes a race for the best equipment, not taking anything away from the skill involved.
We all like to be competitive, which isn’t easy in fast paced shooting sports, such as IPSC or even in local IDPA matches. Custom grade 1911 handguns often cost well over $1,000, and the sky is the limit for a true top-end pistol. With standard and stock categories, and many matches catering to guns that might be carried on a day-to-day basis, there was a niche in the market for a high-quality but affordable competition-based handgun. Competition shooting has grown tremendously in the past decade, contributing its share to the ammunition shortage and making for improvements in factory grade pistols. The 1911 is among the most popular competition handguns.
With most new introductions in the concealed carry handgun market focused on polymer-frame striker-fired handguns, it is good to see that Springfield Armory has catered to the rest of us with a modern, polymer-frame double-action first-shot handgun with a decocker. Springfield incorporated a manual safety into the design as well.
I have been exploring a packing handgun for a specific scenario. The bottom line criterion is that the pistol must be completely reliable, accurate enough for personal defense and taking accurate shots at an adversary behind cover, and powerful enough for defense against both biped and quadruped threats. Vehicle penetration is important, and so is penetration against heavy bones.
Many of us are looking for a rifle that will be a jack of all trades. In the past, the Winchester .30-30 rifle came close with its wide use in hunting and law enforcement. A rifle for taking thin-skinned game, protecting the homestead from predators, and for recreational shooting is a desirable commodity. The Ruger American is a light, handy, powerful rifle that clearly fills the bill for most needs. The Ruger American has been a successful firearm, offering reliability and affordability, combined with excellent performance for American shooters.
I recently took the Taylors and Company Henry rifle to the range. When the Uberti 1860 Henry rifle came out of the case, I was the center of attention. The rifle is historically accurate, beautifully made, and a superior conversation piece. It is all somewhat secondary to the shooting but satisfying just the same. The kindred soul that understands what the rifle is admires the purchase while others listen attentively to the tale of the Henry rifle.
Les Baer handguns are legendary 1911s with more than a little hand fitting, and a vial of the maker’s sweat included. They are built, rather than assembled, and offer topflight performance for discerning shooters.
Springfield’s SAINT was the first AR-15 rifle to proudly wear the Springfield Armory stamp. The rifle has been described as entry level but this isn’t really true. There are more expensive rifles, but the Springfield isn’t cheap—it is simply below the $900 threshold. The rifle has good features, and it is built for reliability.
It is notable that while modern defensive ammunition has received a great deal of development—and competition is fierce—we are still using the same old lead and jacketed bullets as we have for the past 120 years or more. The high degree of reliability inherent in modern manufacturing by Federal Cartridge Company has crossed over into practices lines such as the Federal American Eagle, but by and large the same, jacketed bullet is used. Federal recently finished a years long development of a new practice load, and the American Eagle Syntech is well worth your time and effort to obtain and use.
For some time, American Tactical Imports has offered affordable firearms giving everyone a chance to get into the shooting game. These 1911s may be diamonds in the rough, but they are single-action 1911 handguns, and they are .45s. These GI-type guns have given many shooters on a budget the opportunity to try their hand at Old Slabsides at an exciting price.
Over the past century, many gun makers have offered their own branded ammunition. Among the most successful have been Remington and Winchester. A few makers have offered ammunition made by outside vendors, including Smith and Wesson and Taurus. In these cases, things did not go as well. Browning, however, is another story.
In the 1970s, SIG Sauer introduced one of the most reliable handguns the world has seen. The P220, and its later variants, gained an excellent reputation for accuracy, reliability, and durability by passing many difficult institutional test programs. The P220 sprang off the P225, P226, P228, P229, and other handguns. The original .45 caliber P220 remains a popular handgun. While SIG offered a handgun with comparable capacity to the 1911 .45, the pistol was eventually perceived to be at a disadvantage compared to the Glock 21 and HK .45s with their high capacity magazines. SIG introduced the P227 to counter this shortcoming.
I feel, among the best all-around defensive handguns for home use is the .38 Special revolver with a short barrel. The short-barreled .38 offers a host of advantages over the auto loader and a time-tested track record second to none.