Self-Defense Handguns for Women: Armscor M200 .38 Revolver v. Glock 27 Semi-Automatic

By CTD Suzanne published on in Firearms

Over the weekend, I had a chance to take two of my girlfriends shooting—one a beginner and one intermediate. Neither have a strong affinity for guns, but both own a gun for self-defense. The problem is their male partners, without their input, purchased these firearms. The males in question are gun guys—one is a collector and avid shooter, the other an IDPA shooter. In the guy’s mind, both these gun purchases were thoughtful. They bought them for shooting ease and stopping power. The beginner’s husband bought her an Armscor M200 .38 Special revolver, while the intermediate shooter’s boyfriend gave her the sub-compact Glock 27 .40 S&W semi-automatic pistol. This weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to compare a semi-automatic pistol to a revolver in calibers suitable for self-defense with three different women’s opinions on the pros and cons of each gun.

All three of us agreed the M200 recoil was more than manageable.

All three of us agreed the M200 recoil was more than manageable.

Armscor M200 .38 Special Revolver

In my opinion, there is too much encouragement for women to buy a revolver over a semi-automatic handgun. For some women, the revolver is the correct choice. Revolvers don’t jam, you don’t have to worry about racking a slide—especially if you have weak upper body strength or joint or arthritis issues. They have fewer mechanical parts, making them easier to operate and overall less intimidating to a women.

On the other hand, revolvers do not hold as many rounds as a semi-automatic handgun and generally come from the factory with rudimentary sights. If you aren’t a regular target shooter or train with your revolver, it may take more than six rounds to stop a threat. There are speedloaders for revolvers, however reloading like that takes practice.

The Armscor M200 has a full-sized, wide polymer grip with finger grooves. All three of us quickly found a natural, comfortable and firm grip on the revolver. With its 4.02-inch barrel and 1.76-pound weight loaded, the recoil of the .38 Special was more than manageable. Follow-up shots were quick and accurate. The beginner who owns the gun and the first time shooting the gun was pleasantly surprised, as well as was the intermediate shooter.

We shot the gun in double-action instead of single-action. It has a traditionally long pull, as does any revolver at 11.5 to 13 pounds in double-action. However, for me, the perceived trigger pull was less than what I’ve experienced on some semi-autos—I’m looking at you S&W .380 Bodyguard. We had no problems staying on target while waiting for the shot to break.

I’ve read on the Internet that some people who have purchased the Armscor M200 find the revolver’s finish and parts to be mediocre. Our pre-owned revolver’s parkerized finish was still in pristine condition and all parts ran smoothly without any hiccups.

The sights on the Armscor are rudimentary, both front and rear sights are fixed, but at the 50 feet we were shooting from, the sights were adequate to hit our target.

In my opinion, the size of the M200 is too big for comfortable conceal carry. It is 8.75 inches long overall and 5.44 inches from the bottom of the grip to the top of the hammer. All three of us agreed that the Armscor was pleasant to shoot, reliable and comfortable.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .38 Special
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel length: 4.02”
  • Sights: Fixed
  • Grip: Polymer
  • Finish: Parkerized
  • Overall length: 8.78”
  • Height: 5.44”
  • Weight: 1.98 pounds loaded

Glock 27 .40 S&W Semi-Automatic Pistol

The grip on the 27 I shot was a typical old-school Glock grip.

The grip on the 27 I shot was a typical old-school Glock grip.

The Glock 27 semi-automatic pistol holds nine rounds of .40 S&W ammunition. Despite having to rack the slide to chamber the first round, a semi-automatic handgun typically holds more rounds than a revolver and reloads more quickly.

Glock’s “safe action” safety system means there are no external safeties and besides pulling back the slide, the Glock is ready to fire when you chamber the first round. In my opinion, it is easier to operate than semi-autos with external safeties. The controls are minimal making the gun is easy to manipulate. With the right technique and practice, racking the slide for me has become natural and quick.

Even though the Glock is an incredibly reliable and tough gun, unlike revolvers, semi-autos have the reputation for malfunctioning. If you are an inexperienced shooter, a jam can cost you your life. However, with practice and training, clearing malfunctions can become second nature.

The Glock 27’s grip was a typical old-school Glock grip. We were not shooting the Gen 4 Rough Textured Gen Frame—which I do not like. The magazine did not have a finger extension, but for me, gripping a Glock is comfortable either way. The beginner shooter had no issues finding a comfortable and firm grip, however the intermediate shooter couldn’t get a comfortable grip or stance. She was also afraid of the recoil and was finished shooting after only two rounds.

The beginner shooter, despite her good grip on the gun took awhile to recover from the .40’s punch before she could realign her sights. As a target shooter, this would be fine, but for self-defense, quick and on-target follow-up shots are crucial. Neither the beginner nor the intermediate shooter wanted to continue firing the Glock, as the recoil was too much for them. I, on the other hand, who is used to and enjoy shooting larger calibers had no issues with the Glock 27.

The Glock’s barrel is slightly shorter than the revolver’s at 3.46 inches. The combined power of the .40 S&W round with the shorter barrel makes the felt recoil worse on the Glock.

Some people complain about the Glock’s trigger pull. It has a much shorter pull at 5.5 pounds than the Armscor revolver; however no complaints here. The pull is smooth with a quick reset.

Glock quality is top-notch. They last forever and retain their resell value. There is no question on the Glock 27’s reliability for the duration of your owning the gun.

The fixed sights on the Glock are like the M200, but Glock steps it up a notch with high-visibility white bar and dot. I find the white dot front sight quicker to obtain my target than fixed, plain iron sights.

For concealed carry, the Glock fairs better than the Armscor. It has a flatter profile and is slightly smaller at 6.29 inches long, 4.17 inches tall and 1.18 inches wide. It weighs just a few ounces less than the Armscor at 1.686 pounds loaded.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .40 S&W
  • Capacity: 9 rounds
  • Barrel: 3.46”
  • Sights: Fixed, high-visibility white
  • Grip: Polymer
  • Finish: Tenifer
  • Length: 6.29”
  • Height: 4.17”
  • Weight: 26.98 ounces loaded

Which is Better?

As far as pricing goes, these two guns are not in the same league. A Glock’s price is a Glock’s price and there is no arguing that. Glock does not sell any of their models for under $500. On the other hand, Armscor has a solid reputation for building a reliable sharp shooter for an extremely affordable price. The M200 costs less than $250.

As far as which gun is better, the answer all depends on you. Both the Glock 27 and Armscor M200 have valid pros and cons. Be it either a revolver or a semi-automatic, which ever is most comfortable for you is the best.

What do you prefer? A revolver or a semi-auto? Tell me what your favorite gun is and why in the comment section.

A Note About Calibers:

Ballistically, the .40 S&W is a faster and heavier round than the .38 Special, but the .38 Special has proven itself a round that will stop a threat without over penetrating. In a report written by Greg Ellifritz and published by Buckeye Firearms, a comparison of the two rounds in a self-defense situation did not find much difference. Both rounds scored a 76% accuracy rate in shots hit to the head and torso. The .40 S&W scored just a tad better at 45% one-shot-stop to the .38 Special’s 38%. Personally, I find the .38 Special round to be a successful self-defense round. When in doubt, always go with the bigger caliber. However, since this article’s aim is to help women pick out a self-defense handgun, and I know plenty of women are concerned about recoil, pick the caliber you are most comfortable with. Your self-defense gun is useless if you’re afraid of shooting

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Comments (160)

  • Lynda LaLonde

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    All these comments are interesting and viable. I practice KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Ladies, the gun has to fit your hand. Gun has to feel comfortable. Practice, practice, practice. Dry shoot in your home, see yourself facing an attacker, pull the gun, and shoot him. Over and over. Build the memory, get that set so well in your mind, it is rote, automatic, needs no thought. Be safe, stay safe.

    Reply

  • Gunsmoke

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    I didnt read every post, so if this handgun was mentioned, I apologize. This is my opinion and what worked for my family only – yours will likely vary.

    My daughter is very petite, so we looked at/shot a lot of handguns. She settled on a Walther PK380. I know, not the best stopper, but with modern self defense hollowpoints, it’s more than adequate (I wouldnt let you shoot me with it!).

    The PK380 has a locked breech design, so the slide is VERY EASY to operate. The frame is a nice lightweight polymer, with finger grooves and an accessory rail. Very comfortable for her small hands. An 8 + 1, single stack magazine keeps it slim. Has an easy to operate slide mounted ambi safety.

    Fit and finish is first rate, and Walther has an excellent reputation for quality firearms.

    Size is smaller and slimmer than a Glock 19, but substantially bigger than the pocket-sized 380’s. Handles and shoots very nicely. Recoil is quite managable.

    Shortcomings? Only one – the single/double action trigger is a little on the heavy side. I’m hoping this will work out some with usage.

    This is one of the best features: we already had a Walther P22 that we use as a practice/training/recreational pistol. The PK380 is almost identical to the P22 in dimensions and weight; with the same trigger and controls. 22 Long Rifle is an excellent way to build confidence and skills (and lots of fun).

    Pick up a PK3380 at your local gun dealer, its hard to put down. My daughter loves hers.

    Reply

  • Randy Thomas

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    Statistic from several years back showed that the police force with the highest hit ratio (in actual shootings) in this nation was the NYPD at a staggering 12%, that means 88% are misses. Check-out So California a couple of months ago over there in Torrance when they were looking for Dorner. Look at all the bullet holes in the trucks, the houses & of the three victims the guy was missed completely but I believe that both the women were hit twice each(all non-lethal hits, thank God). Not bad mouthing, just stating facts about men and women whose job it is to be proficient when trouble comes to bare(fear, adrenalin, excitement will cause accuracy to suffer)but what effects them effects us all. And we are not afforded unlimited ammo & range time and or large quantities of both. So mind set and training, lots if it(as much as you can)and regularly introduce stress to your training sessions. Teach your loved ones & shoot straight!

    Reply

  • Peyton

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    “Totally agree with practice, practice, practice! Nothing replaces it.”

    But the value of practice is its relevance to what you are training for and its fitting the skill set actually needed in that actual event.

    If that event is ‘shooting to live’ that is ‘self defense’, then developing aimed fire marksmanship at the range is just not that relevant to using a pistol in self-defense.

    This truth is also made statistically clear when one compares range marksmanship to shooting in actual gun fights by police for about 70 years now. These studies show there is no corelation between range markmanship and the accuracy of shooting of a given LEo’s shooting in real gunfights with armed felons.

    It is like with classical martial arts people training in most dojod npw, these practiced skills of the MA person rarely transfer effectively to an actual SD situation for that martial artist.

    The practicefor any activity is only of value to the degree that it hones the truly needed skills in the real thing.

    Targeting shooting at paper targets with aimed fire is like the martial artist doing Katas rhearsed forms) or entering tournaments. The training is not congruent (does not match ) with the actual skill set needed for using a firearm for self-defense.

    There are few with the experience to know what the actual ‘skill set’ neeeded for either activity really is because they have never been in a real life and death ‘hand to hand’ fight or been in a gunfight.

    Yet many will teach people how to handle both of these activities, and call it good practice that is key to surviving, are there not?

    Reply

  • Randy Thomas

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    Living in California a CCW is pretty much out of the question but at home moms with small children should give much consideration to semi-autos, slide locked on an empty chamber until such time that round needs to be chambered. Most young and small children will find it impossible rack until they much larger and older. Maybe by that time they will have been taught safe gun handling. Go moms!!!

    Reply

  • Randy Thomas

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    To the original question. Pick a cartridge “that will do the job”, even under marginal circumstances because you could just as well carry a pencil or a b-b gun for defense due to they’re weight and compactness. A book by Evan Marshal & Ed Sanow “One Shot Stops” or check out the “Strasbourg Tests”. That said, now find a firearm that fits your hand and if possible by two, one in 22cal to learn how to shoot. Play gun games, a favorite is “dueling pistols” target being an empty 12 gauge shotgun shell (in a place thats safe & go for speed). Common sense be so uncommon these days, remember that when you are thinking self-defense its to save your life or someone you love (personal comfort should be way down on list). Way back when when you learned arithmetic it may have been difficult but you learned it because you’d need it later (no matter how painful). Cudos to Cat, Peyton, Guy and Robert Ando. Glocks are great guns that lead the industry with the use of polymers, all but one that I shot have been extremely accurate (I’m talking punching out the little orange dots at 7 yds). I would not purchase one because of there issue with digesting hard casts bullets and the second reason would be the lack of a external slide safety. Biggest problem being God forbid someone taking or retrieving your gun “THE TRIGGER IS THE ONLY SAFETY”, which under all circumstances as some of us realize is no safety at all. If in fact your slide locked defense weapon is taken by an attacker you will have some valuable time (few seconds) to get it back and retrieve and use your secondary weapon while the BG tries to figure out how to use your gun!!! Just as an FYI the Gatling gun is over 100 years old ( all fighter aircraft, mini-guns, A-10 tank buster and smaller gatling three barrel 50’s). Ma-2 is been in use and deployed more than 80 yrs. Also back in the early 1900’s when the U.S. Gov’t extensively tested and realized the 45 cal. bullet @ around 800 fps would be the perfect fight stopper and set John Browning to task(the rest is history). Another FYI all teams with the U.S. military have dropped the 9mm and gone back to a proven fight stopping team that has served well for over 100 years. Old upgrade slab side in 45 ACP! Antiquated, I don’t think so… P.S. Keep your practice ammo the same so if it ever come down to the wire and you are forced to defend life it will all be familiar!

    Reply

  • Michael

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    Totally agree with practice, practice, practice! Nothing replaces it.

    Reply

  • Deborah

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    I agree with o e thi g the previous poster said…”practice, practice, practice”!!!!! I go to the range once or twice a month and practice!!! No class can take the place of practice. Not only do become a better shot but you’ll become much more comfortable with your gun!!!

    Reply

  • Deborah

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    If you’re still around and reading the posts, if its not too late, I would call and order the G19 instead of the G26. The G26 would be great, but you’ll probably need to get a magazine plug to get a full handed grip. The G26 is the subcompact 9mm, while the G19 is the compact 9mm model. It’s still small enough to conceal, but is a little larger than the 26, so you get a full grip plus 5 extra rounds (holds 15 rounds)!!! If you can’t exchange them, don’t worry about it, you can find magazine extenders on the after market. Look at the G30…they look like that. I don’t know why they didn’t put extenders on all the subcompacts!?!?! Also, in an earlier post, someone talked about the trigger safeties on Glocks being a “joke”. You’ve OBVIOUSLY never owned a Glock or know anyone who does. The trigger safeties ace NOT a joke!!! Far from it!!! You obviously also haven’t bothered to read the safety studies. You can’t base your opinions on idiots at the range who don’t know what they’re doing!!! I’ve had Glocks for many years and know plenty of other people who own them! They are very safe. When someone is trying to rob or abduct you or has broken into your home, the LAST thing you need are safeties to mess with!!!

    Reply

  • HighEndOne

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    OK… My turn I guess…

    For a semi, I always go to the HK P7M8, if you can find one/afford it. This one is as safe as you can get with a round in the chamber, and as reliable as a fine Swiss watch. It’s also relatively easy on the recoil, easy to shoot well, deadly accurate and quite confusing the the un-educated if it get’s taken away. It is also somewhat small and thin for it’s capapbilites (although it is heavy). Once you shoot one for a while, there is no other semi that compares (IMHO), if you can get past the unique manual of arms.

    For everyone else, get a good S&W revolver. Pick the frame, barrel, finish, grips, sights (laser if you wish), capacity (5 to 8) you want or feel comfortable with. Nothing else I know of offers the staggering combination of options and fitment. Add to that the universal operating system, simplicity, reliability and ammo tolerance (work with any loads, unlike some semis) and you have a winner.

    Just let that Lady pick the one she wants and let her tailor it to her comfort level.

    And practice, Practice, PRACTICE… And then drill and practice again.

    HighEndOne

    Reply

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