Concealed Carry

Cheap Life Insurance — The Rumorings of Ol’ Bob

SIG Sauer and Glock pistols

There are times when I am amazed at how lucky I am to test and own some of the finest firearms ever manufactured. I admit that sometimes the newest variation of the theme (a different finish or new sights) isn’t quite as exciting as a fresh start, but there are few genuinely new things under the sun.

I remember as if it were yesterday. A time when each handgun had to have a well defined chore, or I could not give it house room. Back then, the good guns I owned could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I was a lucky man to have had that handful. I do not forget the good guns that had to be sold to fill some need. Family is a million times more important than firearms after all, but now my sons are grown and I can really keep the good guns!

There have always been more cheap guns than good guns, and the same is true today. Likewise, there have always been very few inexpensive but good guns. Sometimes when looking over the choices in handguns the heavy hitter may say, ‘What is your life worth after all?’ This is true enough but life is what it is and many of us cannot afford an expensive firearm despite our best intentions.

As an example, I consider the 1911 handgun, in quality examples, the finest fighting handgun ever made. First quality 1911 handguns, beginning with Springfield and Colt, are not inexpensive. However, a Glock that always works—a Glock that doesn’t work would be exceptional—is better than a cheap 1911. By the same token, modern Smith and Wesson revolvers are the best revolvers Smith and Wesson has ever made—as far as reliability and accuracy. The tolerances are amazing.

For someone who purchased his first Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum for less than $150, sticker shock is real. Ruger revolvers always work. Perhaps saving for many months for a dream gun is the American way. Laying a gun away, patiently paying on it, and finally paying the layaway ticket off at the gun shop is as close to pregnancy and childbirth as a man may come. But when you need a gun right now, well, you need a gun right now.

So what is your life worth? Your life is priceless. The life of your family more so. The preservation of life is worth the best gun you can afford. You have to consider the price against the piggy bank. But you cannot spend it all on the handgun—ammunition is important. You should spend an amount equal to the price of the handgun in mastering the pistol. Otherwise, you might as well get that cheap gun because you will not be well armed with a handgun you have not mastered.

By the same token, formless fabric holsters are acceptable at the range, but unsuited for daily use. A good quality holster must be chosen. Galco offers real quality for a fair price. As for handguns, the Glock always works—letting you concentrate on marksmanship. The Springfield Range Officer Operator gets real performance into the hands of those who previously could not afford it, at the price of a parkerized finish versus bright blue or stainless. I can accept that. The Springfield is a precision instrument that will compliment a trained user.

Among my students, and not just the young ones, I see what appears to be an inability to discern quality. Some handguns are cheap and made to sell. They are copies of good, solid designs but done so cheaply the advantage of the original are lost. The Glock copies nothing, and it is affordable. The CZ 75 is affordable and so are the Remington 1911 and Springfield Mil Spec. These handguns are made to save your life and will do so if you do your part.

After many years of hard work and saving, I am able to afford a few top quality firearms. After years of training and practice, I am able to fire the handgun to its potential. You have to decide if the features or quality of the parts are worth the expensive, will you aspire to master the piece or simply leave it in the safe? Will quality fitting and finish make a difference when the chips are down? It depends on the end user.

If you choose a high-end pistol, learn to detail strip, maintain, and lubricate the piece. Reliability isn’t an option and must be maintained. Accuracy is less important; most any quality handgun will put five shots into four inches at 25 yards. That is enough to save your life, and a standard very few shooters are capable of even off a solid bench rest.

There are handguns that will hold a two-inch group at the same distance, but they are not common and neither is the pistol shot that brings out the best in these handguns. And they will not exhibit such accuracy with cheap ammunition. When someone asks what your life is worth, there is only one answer. You life is worth whatever it takes to preserve it. When a member of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class attempts to usurp the prerogative of God and take your life, you should have the best tools in hand you can afford.

Most that have showed up at my training classes with a defective poor quality handgun could have afforded better, they were simply cheap. Like the contractor that purchased a $229 dollar revolver on sale at a chain store, or the pastor that purchased a 20-year-old Llama 1911. The revolver action locked up during class. The Llama was wet with lubricant and firing hardball ammo and did not make it through a magazine without a jam. Buy cheap buy twice—if you get a second chance.

What make and model of “life insurance” do you keep for self-defense? Share your answer in the comment section.
[bob]

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (46)

  1. I think the one thing that wasn’t discussed that really needed to be, is size and ease of carry. I grew up, learned to shoot in, and had my first concealed carry permit in South Florida (Palm Beach Gardens area). When most of the year is 90+ degrees temperature and high humidity, you aren’t going to be able to comfortably conceal anything very large while staying comfortable.

    It may be a reliable gun, shoots great, shoots straight, but if you leave it home because it’s too hot to carry it won’t help you at all. That’s why I carried a basic Kel-tec P3-AT in a sneaky pete holster for many years until I moved to cooler weather.

    1. I appreciate your comments, Zach, as regards carrying concealed in an area that has predominantly warm to hot temperatures. That said, though, as a resident of Central Texas where summertime temperatures are usually in the 90s and even higher, I have not had any great difficulty with concealed carry of full sized handguns. Of course it may have something to do with my age and station in life…..I am 76 years old and have been fully retired for over ten years, but even prior to my retirement I found concealed carry to be pretty simple. My usual mode of dress is boots, jeans, and whatever shirt I wear with the tails out. Dressing thus, I have no difficulty carrying a full sized pistol in an OWB holster, a large folding knife, a flashlight, two extra magazines for my full sized pistol, an extra magazine for my back-up pistol, a small multitool, and a cell phone pouch. All of these items are routinely carried on a strong 1.5 inch “gun belt”, while the back-up pistol is in my right front pocket. I have been carrying in this manner for a long time, and have had no difficulty with “exposure” or relative comfort.

    2. As a resident of North Texas and facing similar weather as Dragon, we both carry daily in similar fashion and preparedness without hesitation or discomfort. Better prepared than regretful.

      Maybe it’s a Texas thing!

  2. Anyone looking for a quality and affordable gun should check out the Canik TP9SF MSRP 400.00 I know some people will be outraged when I say this, I own a Glock 17 and M&P Shield, the Canik TP9SF is a much better gun out of the box. You would have to put aftermarket barrel and triggers to have a Glock or M&P perform as well as the Canik. The Canik TP9SF comes with a match grade barrel and a amazing trigger.

    1. @ Michael Van Dussen,

      I 100% agree with you, and am qualified to do so because I own one of each of the guns you’ve just listed as a comparison. I even recently wrote a bit about how favorable the Caniks are in a past comment under another CTD article about Caniks.

      These Caniks pass NATO accuracy standards and are manufactured in an ISO 9000 series certified facility for military and law enforcement use. They are found to be extraordinarily superior firearms at an exceptionally low price because the company wants to build a strong and long-term reputation in the industry.

      Eventually these firearms will command a much higher price and folks will regret not having gobbled them up while they could still be had for around $325.

  3. My Philippine made 1911 in 45 ACP that cost $299 works perfectly.
    My Philippine made 1911 in 9mm that cost $349 works perfectly.
    My Iver Johnson 55-SA revolver in 38 S&W that cost under $100 even works.

  4. I have a Rossi 2in. 357 that is the first defense handgun I bought. I have since upgarded but that Rossi still works great and I trust it and still carry it on occasion…cost was way under S&W wheel guns too. Most of my practice is with higher capacity pistols now, but the Rossi still gets occasional range time…great starter gun and fun to shoot..

  5. I sometimes ask people how much is your life worth in the shop, but I may start reminding folks to practice as well. Typically I shoot at least once a month at the range and try to hit an IDPA match once a month or so.

    Practice. Practice. Practice. My shooting skills are good, but my times are slow (I am getting better).

    In the past I’ve mostly carried 1911’s, CZ75’s, Sig 226’s, and even an old Hi-Power on occasion. Lately I’ve been carrying a Walther PPQ in 9mm. I like that gun so much I bought 2 of them, and I talked my sister into buying one as well. NEXT PURCHASE: SIG 320.

    I know the author personally and consider him a good friend of mine. He comes into my shop at least once and week and we talk guns, and drink coffee. He’s a good guy and has a wealth of information to share.

    Bottom line on carrying: Have a good quality gun, and practice. If that gun saves your life when you need the police can have it as far as I’m concerned and I’ll buy or build another one that looks just like it.

  6. I love the S&W model 10 38 special police departments carried them for years mine is a police trade in bought years ago for 150 dollars goes bang every time you squeeze the trigger. Simple to run malfunctions if you squeeze the trigger and it goes click no tap and rack drills squeeze again. Can’t find them for 150 any more but with a little searching still cheaper than a used glock. Leaves more money for training ammo and simpler malfunction drills.

  7. Since I don’t speak mall ninja and the previous comments are of, by and for mall ninjas, presenting logic or facts is as pointless as convincing a race gun fanboy that a Charter Arms.38 revolver is more relevant in the hand than a Cabot in the Safe.

  8. I retired from being a sworn officer 5 years ago. Since, I have worked casino security, Indian Reservation Public Safety, Hospital Security, and part time in a gun shop. Two things many new shooters want. 1. a pistol for home defense, 2. a cheap one. I have asked the question, “what’s your life worth?”. Not to sell the expensive gun, but to guide them in a direction of a gun that shoots when you need it to, and both spouses can master.

    I was not a firearm expert when I retired and am not one now. But like any sport or hobby you want to pursue, you have to learn basics and practice. Luckily while working in a gun shop our employee discount was awesome.

    I trust my CZ’s (use for police qualifiers) E.E.A.’s, Beretta’s, Glocks, and almost all of my S&W’s. I love my Shield 9. But in KALIFORNISTAN the only S&W auto’s civilians can buy are Shields and SD’s. I bought an SD so I could form my own opinion of the gun. It is very finicky about ammo, trigger pull is crap. I changed trigger and trigger springs, and recoil spring. It only likes factory new ammo but not without issue. I took a $400.00 gun and spent more than a new Glock on higher quality parts to make it shoot almost as good as a Glock, but not quite. I use it for training, good for failure drills. All of my Glocks are much more consistant and affordable. My wife has an M&P 9 we got when we still could, 100% shooter.

    Shop around, only consider customer reviews of people that have fired the gun, and ones with follow up after rigorous shooting. An ugly or pretty gun doesn’t matter to the bad guy looking at the business end.

    I even have an ugly S.A.M.I. 1911 I added a few simple parts to upgrade that I would consider a ‘go to’ gun.

    The S&W SD (Glock sued S&W for patent infringements and won) and 1911-22 cal are for play only, NOT ‘GO TO’ GUNS. My life is worth more than the ability of those guns to defend it.

  9. I have heard that Glocks are tough and reliable. I have shot only a couple at the range and didn’t like either (one 9mm, one .40 S&W). They may be tough, but of the few police car cam videos I’ve seen in two instances there was handgun jams, both Glocks. Both cleared after some messing with the weapons, but it put the officers in jeopardy during a gun battle. I have a Ruger P95 that has 6,000+ round though it with out a failure. I also had a Beretta PX4 in .45 with about 2000 rounds through it. An amazing shooter. Shooting the Ruger after shooting the Beretta, I noticed the slide slap on the Ruger. So, there is some wear happening. Still, I trust the gun that has gone bang every time I asked it to. I sold the Beretta to find something concealable (I’m a small guy) but haven’t found anything I like that fit. Would like to see something on concealability of different quality handguns. I’m not loc

  10. Thank you Dragon for your response. 9×19 is extremely popular, and with the developments in ammunition, it is a deadly round. Personally, I was raised firing 1911s, and love 45 cal. Started shooting at 6, in the days when schools had shooting clubs, and everyone had a rifle. 556 is an amazing round, and I can’t understand why anyone would limit themselves with 223. I have an affinity to Mosin Nagants, and with 762×54 being so reasonable, it is almost painless to go shooting. Being prepared is the key, and it looks like you are.

  11. Great points as always. I worked at a large gun shop from 93-95 before I started my LE career. In those days, the RHKP S&W Model 10’s were being imported, and the “Grade 2” ones (some finish wear) were selling for about $140. That was our standard recommendation for people who needed something inexpensive (and revolvers are great for new shooters). I would give it a quick lookover to check the timing, make sure the sear held the hammer at full cock, etc. Invariably the guns were sound. That and a box of +P ammo and a couple boxes of practice ammo, and someone had what they needed to start with. There are no deals like that anymore, sadly. But Ruger GP-100’s on those days had an on-sale price of about 300-310, so that was an option (S&W 686’s were a bit more). And we did a brisk business in good used guns (we were careful what we bought). Nowadays you can sill get a serviceable new pump shotgun for a little over $200 (Stevens 320, which is available with ghost ring sights and a Benelii style vertical pistol grip), so there are options. STAY SAFE!!

  12. I bought a FN FNS (longslide) 9mm as my first semi-auto handgun. So far It’s been flawless. I love shooting it and it has proven to be a quick draw from an IWB (Fobus) holster. The next thing to conquer for me is the disassembly and re-assembly part. I pray I never have to use this particular tool for what it was made for, but the forest is full of scary (two-legged) beasts these days. Stay safe/think smart. And get a concealed carry license AND insurance.

  13. I’m an old duffer that isn’t afraid to get dirty, and I live in the country, cut & hall wood for the winter, have several buildings & vehicles to keep up, so my stainless steel Charter Bulldog is my constant companion. It gets dirty, rained on and snowed on, and basically has to stand up to whatever I’m doing. It has dispatched snakes, ground hogs, and a ground squirrel, but I missed that coyote (maybe next time).

    When I get dressed up to go somewhere, I prefer my Glock 23 in a shoulder holster with two spare mags.

    Hornady Critical Defense in the Bulldog, Federal 165 HydraShoks in the Glock 23.

  14. A SCCY is a quality carry value choice, suggest dry fire practice to master the DOA trigger. A used Glock 9mm is hard to beat, and 15, 17 and 33 round back up mags makes me happy 🙂 Use proven defense rounds for your barrell length, practice, nights sights, and extra mags in good locations are my recommended add ons overtime. A quality value priced shotgun, that you have practiced with, is always a good choice for home protection.

    1. If you want a handgun with a safety, would recommend a Ruger LC9S. Its nice trigger makes it an awesome single stack shooter. Be aware it only comes with one 7 round mag, but spare 9 round mags can be purchased. I got a deal on a used one with night sights and a spare mag and it is sweet. See my other comment

    2. I bought a SCCY. i couldn’t get the trigger pull down (because i have small hands). I returned it. Its a good econ friendly pistol and made in the US, but for another $100 you can get a Honor Defense or M&P Shield. Well i work in security so i need my back up pistol to have a higher performance regularly.

  15. I’m a fairly new gun owner. (Only 4 years) It’s been said in other posts any gun is better than none. I agree with that 100%. I also think there’s a distinctive line between cheap and economical. A “carry” gun is going to get beat up. It’s going to get scratches,scuffs,and dirty. I’d hate to see a beautiful $1500+ gun get beat up like that. It’s meant to be a work horse and function flawlessly in a time of need. A cheap gun won’t function reliably every time. I carry an XD.40 sc with Trijicon HD night sights. Id consider that gun an economical choice. (Not always the easiest to conceal). Just like ALL things mechanical you need to do maintenance on it. (Clean/lube/inspect) Just as others have said ammo is just a big a factor as your gun. Some guns like certain ammo over others. Even within the same model gun. Regardless of price though *hit happens and things break/malfunction. The best life ins. when it comes to carrying a gun is practice,practice,practice. You should invest in training above and beyond the basic CPL course. Go to the range and shoot as often as possible. Have you ever heard the phrases “if you don’t use it you lose it”. “In the moment of need you will not rise to the occasion. You will fall to your level of training”. Try to be prepared for anything. Most users can’t shoot to the accuracy of the firearm. Through training and practice you can gain an advantage over your adversary. Stay safe out there.

    1. I feel every EDC should be of Police or Military grade because those guns have the best craftsman shift (usually).I think economical is immensely important. Because its true that you can by a cheap or expensive gun and each can both be economical.

  16. I have a PT111 G2 that I paid $289+tax. After firing at least 1000 rounds through it I feel confident carrying it knowing that it has never had a malfunction regardless of what type of ammo I have used. Some of the cheap ammo was bought just to see if it would have a problem. I am an Army paratrooper, Vietnam Vet, so I know how to train with firearms and this little jewel is perfect for EDC. I use a Holster Store ProCarry HD, and for self defense I load my magazines with HydraShok 124 gr. alternated with Underwood Ultimate Defense poly-copper rounds.

    1. My edc is a PT111 G2 also. I can’t say enough good things about that gun. When you pay less than $300 for a pistol you generally shouldn’t expect a lot but I am happy to say that I was and am still blown away by this guns reliability and function. After 1000+ rounds of countless variations of ammo I have yet to have a single malfunction. I’m not going to be absurd and say its the best gun I’ve ever fired but I will say that it is the best edc, easily concealed gun that I personally have ever found.

  17. One does not have to spend an arm and a leg to get reliability or a good self-defense caliber. Hi Point’s guns are ugly, heavy, cheap, and indestructible, with handgun semi-auto calibers to suit just about anyone.

    1. Hi-Points are great training guns, but i wouldn’t make MY EDC. and their reliability for the price is awesome, but in comparison to what is out there it is very average. The slide function gunks easy and causes battery problems and you can’t field strip it with out tools. that’s why i got rid of minde My top 3 EDCs i can field strip, inspect, and touch clean in a fire fight with 1 hand in 4 secs (FNS_FXD, Honor Defense HG9, Walther PPS M2). good luck doing that with a high point.

  18. I carry a GLOCK 36 with Winchester Ranger T ammunition. I am a fan of the .45 acp handguns and previously carried a Colt Combat Commander. I think of my everyday carry weapon like I do my vehicles. I personally don’t buy cheap tires,brakes,etc for my vehicles so why go cheap on something as important if not more so to defend myself and my family. My fiancee carries a S&W M&P Shield 9mm also with the Winchester Ranger T ammunition. She can shoot my .45acp but is way more comfortable and more accurate with her 9mm which is not a surprise for a 5’2″ small frame woman with small hands. I am just thrilled to have her carrying too. It puts my mind more at ease when she is out by herself. Thanks for your articles and information you provide for all ranges of shooters.

  19. My carry gun is a gun that I wouldn’t have nightmares over it ending up in a police evidence room. My edc is an XDm 40 it goes bang ever time I pull the trigger, is comfortable to shoot, has a good capacity, and didn’t cost an arm, and a leg.

  20. There are plenty of less expensive reliable handguns on the market. Revolvers aren’t sexy or particularly tactical by today’s standards but they almost always go bang. Taurus makes an excellent wheel gun in a variety of calibers and frame sizes. Despite the claims of the mall ninjas almost all fights can be stopped by a half dozen or less rounds of .38 special. Lots of the old eastern block military surplus autos are great too – the Makarov variants and various Czech and Polish 9×18 service pistols are cheap and dead solid reliable. Again they’re not sexy but the old commie guns were soldier proof and built like iron.

  21. I spent the $$$$ for a H&K USP in 9mm some years ago and I never worry about reliability or accuracy. I only use good quality ammo for practice and keep it loaded with high quality defensive ammo.
    I know this pistol and ammo will not fail me in an emergency and I trust my life to it. It was money well spent.

  22. While I don’t entirely disagree with the author, I think he left out some very well made and robust weapons. Notably some surplus com block pistols. Most notably the pa-64. I can shoot clay pigeons at 50 meters consistently. The Czech-52 while not a great carry pistol is built like a tank, with its roller locking design can shoot 7.62×25 round, that is almost comparable to the .357 magnum when you find machine pistol ammo. The tokarev is also a well constructed pistol.

    I for one believe training and draw practice, along with situational awareness, and a cool head, are far more important than carrying an expensive pistol. Don’t get me wrong, I have a Kimberly 1911, yes it is very nice. To say that the 1911 is the finest fighting pistol is subjective at best. I would carry my glock 21 over my kimber any day of the week. In point of fact, I really love my pa-64 as a daily carry gun. It cost me a whopping 175.00. It is extremely accurate, and I have well over a thousand rounds through it wit zero problems. It fits in my back pocket. I trust my life with that little gun. Are the more expensive pistols better made? Yes. If I had to go to war would I rather have my Kimber, or glock? Yes. But for tooling around town, throwing it in my car or truck, not having to worry if some scumbag will steal it, Yeah I think my little pa-64 is just fine.

  23. One other thought to consider about carrying an expensive firearm as your defensive weapon. If you are unfortunate to be involved in a self- defense shooting, do you really want your $1100-1200 Kimber, Springfield, etc. seized and held for a possibly lengthy time in a police evidence room, not cleaned with possibly blood on it? Granted, this might be the least of your worries but something to consider.

    1. Coming from a law enforcement/military background I was going to call your comment silly, as that would render the entire purpose of owning a firearm pointless and make it into a closet-queen.

      But just as I was about to post, it dawned on me that I must be mindful that not all firearms are purchased for self-defense; as many purchases are also dedicated to collections for their beauty, or for the single purpose of use in competitions.

      Forgive me, as my one-track law enforcement/military defensive mind got the better of me for a moment.

  24. I agree that “cheap” guns have a place, just as long as they are not too cheap. But, even the top shelf guns can issues and this is why you test fire any weapon you buy. I just bought a new S&W 686 and took it to the range with some factory .357 ammunition. On the12th round the action broke, and the pistol would not function in d/a and the cylinder hand stuck in the retracted postion. In short, the gun broke. Off to S&W for warranty repair. Be familiar with any weapon you carry!

    1. ABSOLUTELY must test for reliability before depending on any gun. Ruger has a great reputation, but 2 that I bought had to be sent back to the factory 2x each to get them to work reliably. A P90 DC and a GP-100, so we’re not talking about a finicky target model. I followed up with 400 rounds through each, no failures of any kind allowed, before calling them ready. OTOH, my FrankenColt 1911 was cheap, and has never failed. Wish I’d bought one or two of the police turn-in revolvers a while back. Classic design, well kept, and pre-tested.

  25. My constant companion is a well worn, extremely dependable, very slightly modified and tuned Glock 23. I have no intention of using it against a predator at 25 yards, and virtually all of my practice is at 5 to 10 yard ranges.
    I believe that situational awareness is easily as important as accuracy on the range, and I do ten times as much dry fire as live fire practice.
    I reload for practice, but keep my magazines loaded with new, best quality, defensive ammunition that is designed for effectiveness while avoiding over penetration.
    I am of the practice, practice, practice school of defensive shooting, and while I have several handguns, I only carry the handgun that I have practice, practice, practiced with as I do not want to have to think about how to handle the weapon while I am having to decide “shoot – no shoot” in less than a second.
    I hope this helps someone think about their options. I have not spent thousands of dollars on weapons, but I have spent thousands on ammunition and range fees. That is where I believe my money should be spent and I don’t believe your mileage will vary.

    1. db, practice really is the key, regardless of what type of handgun you carry. My EDC is a Sig P938, and my normal practice routine is to start with it in my pocket, draw as if an attacker was less than 10 feet away with the first shot or two fired from the waist, at roughly the center of a silhouette target, while backing up rapidly, raise the weapon and aim at the chest, and finally the last couple shots from a stationary position at around 7-10 yards at the head.

      Target practice is fine, especially if you shoot competitively, but shooting at a paper target at 25 yards isn’t going to prepare you to defend yourself in a life or death situation.

  26. A simple tip to find an inexpensive gun, is to see if NATO uses it. Their criteria for selection, includes reliability, and caliber. Hard to get a better referral. Look at SAR and Canik as starters. You may be pleasantly surprised. BTW, SAR is already mentioned in comments, so this is a reaffirmation of one choice. The 2nd big benefit is that ammunition will always be available in almost any circumstances.

    1. Your NATO endorsement, in my humble opinion, is a valid one. Over the several years that I have been collecting firearms, I have had many different types and calibers. In the last couple of decades, I have pretty much settled into mainly tactical firearms in handguns, rifles, and shotguns, and I have narrowed the field of calibers that I add to my collection. In handguns, while I do like and possess a number in .357SIG, most of my acquisitions are in 9x19mm due to the NATO STANAG and the plethora of ammunition available. In shotguns, my hands down favorite is 12 gauge, and in rifles I generally confine my purchases to 5.56x45mm NATO and 7.62x5mm NATO, although due to the widespread availability of ammunition I also collect pieces in 7.62x39mm Soviet as well as 5.45x39mm Soviet. With pieces of these calibers in my collection, along with a fairly good inventory of ammunition, I figure I can match my firearms and ammo to virtually any situation, be it sporting or tactical.

    2. Hmmm…..As my 76th birthday approaches, I find that I am not as careful as I used to be. Please note that in my comment above as I refer to rifle calibers I had intended to write 7.62x51mm NATO, but my aging fingers left the numeral “1” off of the caliber designation.

  27. For those on an extremely limited budget, any personal defense firearm is better than nothing at all. You can always upgrade later.

    In contrast, if the process of saving up for that nice expensive gun leaves you without any means of defense, the complete absence of even a cheap firearm could lead to your death; and thus your entire purpose for saving up in the first place becomes a moot point – because you’re dead.

    It is true that you should generally purchase the best weaponry you can afford at the time. But also be mindful that “expensive” doesn’t always translate to dependable. Some of the best manufacturers have launched a few lemons or had the occasional recall on a particular line of guns. So make sure you do your online reviews and recommendations rather than leaving all your trust in the salesman at the counter.

    And as another commenter already stated, please make sure you actually go test-fire your new weapon immediately after purchase. No matter how expensive the gun is, it is important because you could discover a flaw that is unique to just that one gun. Sure this will lead to a warranty repair or exchange, but better to find out now than later when you really need the gun to perform properly in a real-world situation.

    1. “Price doesn’t guarantee reliability” is an excellent point worth repeating.

      I’d also add that unless you are already an exceptional shooter you will be better served buying a reliable $400-$600 pistol over a $1000+ pistol and spending the difference on good training and practice ammunition.

    2. Personally i would start at the $250+ range for this one reason. Unless you are very well to do or have unlimited pockets; you don’t know the details of what you want out of a gun and how you want to accomplish that goal.I mean this topic is only informative to new shooters or 1st and 2nd time buyers. Anyone else outside of this should be well verse in some respect or they are doing themselves a disservice. I say buy a gun $250-$400 (prob mostly civilian grade and wheelers) and shoot the living Sh*t out of it and wear it 2-3 times a week. Write down everything you like/hate with priority perspective. Then research what guns are out there that can accomplish this your wants and need. After that, the price game begins. Even though i hated my Hi-point for all the right reasons, i loved it too because it taught me everything i need to know.

  28. I have a fairly extensive firearms collection about half of which are military sniper rifles or the best assault weapons and none of them are M16s although I have 2 AR- 15s. I wish that my .44 mag Desert Eagle was a bit lighter and would fit in a shoulder holster, but I have my original carry weapon, a model 19 S & W in .357 that does and my current carry: a double stack RIA 1911 A2 that fits the bill also. I find it very interesting and a bit sad that although Armscor builds the RIA under license from Colt, so many wouldn’t give it a second look as it is a reasonably inexpensive weapon if purchased directly from SARCO through a FFL holder. And the three that I own all have been very accurate ‘right out of the box”!

  29. My collection of firearms is comprised of many different brands and designs, and it includes a few sporting pieces with a decided favor toward tactical pieces. It also includes a number of high end as well as economy models, along with a number of functional military surplus pieces and relics. While we all can get warm and fuzzy over the really well designed, well made expensive items, there is a certain utilitarian attraction to moderately priced, good, solid performing weapons. Not all of us are endowed with the wealth that permits acquisition of pieces of true artwork, and those who have more realistic budgets with which to work can often find moderately to low priced guns that are well made and function reliably. I suspect that the key to whatever pieces we acquire, and subsequently may rely on in exigent circumstances, lies in giving whatever we purchase a thorough inspection and shooting evaluation to assure us that our chosen weapon will do as we need it to do when we need it to do it.

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