Choosing a Defensive Handgun

Two men, one a young blond in grey t-shirt, the other gray haired in a green tshirt, use a Commander .45 to practice, practice, practice.

Part 6 in our concealed carry series.

Choosing your personal handgun is just that—a personal choice. While individual preference is important, you should not select a poor quality or ineffective handgun on a whim. Once a certain level of quality is met, the differences in handling matter most. While quality handguns differ in features, most handguns in a particular class are tactically similar, with the final determiner of survival being your skill. When you are a student, you are human and often make poor choices.

Dark gray SIG P220 .45, barrel pointed down and to the right on a light tan background
A quality handgun such as the SIG P220 .45 is an ideal defensive handgun. Accuracy, power and reliability.

Choosing what is available or what you can afford is not always a bad idea, although many choose a handgun that is too large or too small. Either end of the spectrum may be a problem when it comes to mastering the handgun. Occasionally, you will choose a handgun that is too powerful for your current level of experience.

I have seen students show up for class with handguns that would tax the ability of any burly instructor.

In the beginning, you do not need to master a highly specialized handgun, such as an ultra-light .357 Magnum double-action revolver or the very smallest lightweight .45 automatic.

Many of the sub-compact .40 caliber pistols are difficult to handle. With 40 years of shooting experience under my belt and more than a few shooting trophies (plus hard-won experience and scars), I do not choose such difficult-to-master handguns for myself. Not that I cannot shoot them as well as anyone given sufficient range time and practice; I simply prefer a handgun I can use well and use to high personal standards of accuracy and control.

Poor choices originate from inexperience or poor advice. We have all made the wrong decision at one time or the other about handgun choice, tactics, holsters and ammunition, and the instructor’s job is to challenge and teach you. I will discuss the most appropriate handgun choices and share a program that lets you develop a good understanding of how well you are suited to a particular handgun.

I have developed a 50-round drill that reveals a lot about your skills and ability with the chosen handgun, caliber and ammunition. Those are useful as entrance drills for advanced courses and to evaluate a handgun before you make your final choice. Expending 50 rounds of ammunition is much easier than spending more than $500 for a handgun that is not suited to your ability. The handgun may not be reliable or it may be too powerful for you.

This relatively simple range test is an excellent evaluation of the student and handgun. We allowed a rather generous score when evaluating the test. A perfect score is 500, with 50 in the X-ring. As a baseline, the instructors and I fired the course with a Beretta 92 9mm, Colt Government Model .45 and Smith & Wesson M 65 .357 Magnum revolver loaded with .38 Special +P loads. Instructor-level shooters cleaned the course. While you, as a student, would not be able to do the same, the test makes evident a poor choice.

As an example, a young student came to my course with a compact .40-caliber pistol she received as a Christmas gift. The pistol is a good example of the breed, although she preferred the snub-nose .38 with which she had grown up. To cut to the chase, she did poorly with the .40 pistol. Switching to the snub-nose Smith & Wesson .38 Special (loaded with +P loads), she fired the single best score of the class during qualification. The class included students of varying experience firing full-size 9mm and .40-caliber handguns.

You must know your limitations, preferences and the action type and size of pistol best suited to your abilities.

A Testing and Qualification Drill

Two pistols in holsters, the one on the left is a medium brown concealed carry holster, the one on the right is a black concealed carry holster.
Quality holsters are important. The shorter handgun doesn’t demand as great a cant or angle for concealed carry.

Hopefully, you live near an indoor range with a good choice of handguns to rent by the hour. It is less expensive to rent a handgun, fire a box of ammunition and evaluate the piece than to buy the wrong handgun. The drill involves firing 10 shots at each step.

  1. Fire 10 rounds at 7 yards with one hand.
    During this drill, you are encouraged to discard area aiming and aim for a finite point on the target. This drill demonstrates your control of the handgun and grasp of the basics.
  2. Move to 10 yards and fire 10 rounds again, this time also with one hand shoulder point.
    The handgun is loaded and you carefully fires 10 rounds. There is no time limit.
  3. Fire 10 rounds at 10 yards with the two-hand hold. The groups will tighten up considerably, illustrating the superiority of the two-hand hold. At this range, you should be able to hold all shots in the X-ring.
  4. Move to a long 15 yards and fire 10 rounds with any stance. Some prefer the isosceles; others prefer the Weaver stance. There is no time limit.
  5. Move to a braced barricade position and fire 10 rounds. There is no time limit. At this range, faults, such as lingering on the sight picture too long and then jerking the trigger by rushing to break the shot, are common. The instructor should be aware of those problems and offer remedial instruction.

It is a good idea for you to run this course with a .22-caliber rimfire handgun before progressing to full-caliber pistols. Running a combat course with the .22 accomplishes many things.

  • The low recoil of the .22 is encouraging.
  • It stresses marksmanship.
  • You learn the basics without the distraction of flash, blast and recoil.
  • For advanced shooters, firing this course underlines the choice of the combat gun, whether the choice is good or bad. A handgun that is too powerful for you (such as a .40 compact or snub-nosed .357 Magnum) may strike far from the point of aim and will scatter the groups on the target.
White haired man in green shirt and bluejeans fires his gun to master the piece, with wooded area behind him.
Whatever handgun you choose, take it to the range and master the piece.

You may do well with the first few drills, then fall apart at longer range as recoil becomes tiring. That is why it is important to fire the short-range drills first. If you do fine at short range and then a problem becomes apparent at 15 yards, you have accomplished the goal. You are not firing to beat the qualification course; you are firing to learn—there is a substantial difference.

This course is useful when checking your ability to use and control a certain handgun well and when checking a new technique.

For example, you use the one-hand shoulder point in the basic course. If you are indoctrinated in the Stressfire technique, rerun the course using only the front sight as a reference at the close ranges. A variation may involve firing from cover using a range construct instead of the barricade. Variations are allowed, as long as the course is consistent, and the results may be compared at a later date.

For instance, if you run the course with the GLOCK 19, keep the course consistent so you can compare against results with the GLOCK 26 sub-compact later so you may choose the handgun that serves you best.

The highest score is 500, with 50 in the X-ring. If you achieve that standard with a full-size service pistol, give some thought to the concealed carry handgun. It is not unusual for a skilled shooter to fire the same score with a Colt 1911 and Colt Commander or a GLOCK 17 and GLOCK 19. But when you move to the sub-compacts, such as the Colt Defender or GLOCK 26, the score inevitably falls.

If you run at about 75 percent with the sub-compacts, you are still in good shape. But consider the drop in score when using a Kel-Tec PF 9 or GLOCK Model 27 in .40 caliber.

  • Can you really control these light handguns well in all situations?
  • How about that ultra-light .38?
  • Are you well armed or do you have a false sense of security?

This is a simple drill that does not lie and tells a lot about your ability.

NOTE: Shoulder point is the style; we are using the sights.

Distance Rounds Fired Style
 7 yards  10 rounds  One-hand shoulder point
 10 yards  10 rounds  One-hand shoulder point
 10 yards  10 rounds  Two hands
 10 yards  10 rounds  Any style
 10 yards  10 rounds  From braced barricade/cover

Top Defensive Handgun Choices

Personal defense handguns are different from service pistols. A carry gun must be more compact and does not have to handle the same situations as service pistols. A personal defense situation at moderate range is the usual problem. If you are willing to learn to conceal a larger handgun, then you will be better armed, although most of us will use a handgun with more compact dimensions. The compact versions of service pistols are often the most reliable and useful for personal defense. The SIG P250 compact, Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 9mm and GLOCK 19 are among these. Those pistols build on the reliability and ergonomics of the larger handguns while the shortened slides and frames make them more concealable.

Black GLOCK 19 9mm in black holster with red accent on light gray background
If there is any better-balanced polymer frame handgun than the GLOCK 19 9mm the author has never handled it.

You can go too far and have a handgun that is too small and too difficult to manage. For example, while many shooters deploy the Mini GLOCK (and it is a good pistol), the GLOCK 19 handles better and shoots better for all of us. The full-size GLOCK 17 9mm is too large for most.

  • My other half uses a full-size 9mm SIG P250 as a house gun, and it is just that, a house gun. The dimensions are such that it would be too large for her to conceal on her small frame, and the advantages are great in a home defense situation. Seventeen rounds of the Federal HST 9mm in a low recoil, manageable pistol are appealing.
  • The compact P250 in .45 ACP I sometimes use is concealable yet effective. It simply takes more concentration to make a hit at longer range, and you have to resign yourself to greater effort in controlling recoil. The SIG P250 and the GLOCK 19 are excellent, all-around, compact pistols, perhaps unequaled in performance. The Smith & Wesson Military and Police self-loader is also a credible choice. For those who prefer a double-action, first-shot trigger, the Beretta Storm line is attractive, with typical Beretta reliability and function. Those pistols are reliable and close to the ideal size for comfort and concealed carry. Self-loaders offer the advantage of an instant second shot, a good reserve of ammunition and high hit probability.

For those willing to master the demands of the single-action pistol and carry the pistol properly at ready cocked and locked, there is no handgun faster to an accurate first shot than the 1911 handgun. The idea is to choose a good-quality pistol without issues, beginning with the affordable Remington R1 and moving up from there. A service-grade pistol, such as the Springfield GI or Springfield Mil Spec, is a good pistol for all-around personal defense.

For those who want the 1911 to be all that it can be, the Kimber Custom shop pistols, such as the CDP, are an option. The Kimber Pro Carry is perhaps the best mix of value and performance. With a lightweight aluminum frame and 4-inch barrel, the 1911 is not just manageable, it is comfortable to carry. My experience indicates that 3-inch pistols are not as reliable in the long run as 4-inch-barrel carry pistols, and I have owned both Kimber and Para Ordnance that were completely reliable in the 3-inch-barrel versions.

The SIG series, particularly the Carry Stainless, are also excellent examples of the 1911. The 1911 is a great handgun with excellent features, including a low-bore axis, short, straight-to-the-rear trigger pull and good hand fit. But never carry a 1911 because it is cool or expected of you. Only carry it if you are willing to master the demands of cocked-and-locked carry and learn to handle the recoil of a .45 ACP handgun.

Black handled, silver barreled compact 9mm, barrel pointed to the right on a white-to-light gray background defensive handgun
A compact 9mm handgun has much to recommend including a good reserve of ammunition, good accuracy and high hit probability.

Good, Inexpensive Guns

  • TriStar’s CZ 75 clones, manufactured in Turkey, are good, inexpensive guns. I find the T100 an attractive, reliable and accurate handgun, comparable to the original in every way. My affection for CZ pistols has grown with this handgun.
  • Another inexpensive 9mm self-loader is the Stoeger Cougar. Also made in Turkey, that handgun represents Beretta’s attempt to produce an inexpensive option to the original Cougar. While the new Cougar is a good handgun that has proven reliable and accurate during testing, it is not as well finished as the original. The newest versions feature a light rail that the original did not.
  • Perhaps the most interesting new handgun I have tested in some time is the Taurus PT 111 Millennium G2, a compact 9mm handgun that features a 12-round magazine capacity, good sights, well-designed grip, good shooting characteristics and a light rail. Yet, it is just a little larger than the 19-ounce Shield at only 22 ounces. This is a formidable handgun well worth a hard look.


Black handled Taurus 605 in a black holster with American flag, barrel pointed down on a white-to-gray background
This Taurus 605 is brilliantly fast from leather and that means a great deal.

When choosing concealed carry revolvers, the most common type is a five-shot revolver known generically as the J frame, including the following:

  • Smith & Wesson Model 60
  • Taurus Model 85
  • Smith & Wesson 340
  • Taurus 605

Those revolvers comeframe revolvers the easiest to fire and use well. With proper grips and attention to detail during practice, you can fire them accurately, and they frame revolvers are meant to beframe revolvers are even lighter. Most of th0se chamber for the .38 Special revolver cartridge. Loaded with +P ammunition, such as the Federal 129-grain Hydra Shock +P, a .38 revolver has authority.

There are also .357 Magnum versions of the five-shot revolver. The Taurus 605 is surprisingly easy to fire and use well when loaded with the Federal 130 grain .357 Magnum Hydra Shock. The modern rubber grips that offset your hand from any steel are one reason they are comfortable to use and fire. However, with the same revolver in an air-weight version, things get hairy. Those revolvers have plenty of kick and blast and instigate flinching quickly. Flinching is anticipating recoil, producing an involuntary muscular reaction.

The .357 Magnum is simply too much in such a light revolver. The doctrine of those who subscribe to the Magnum snub nose is simple. They believe in one hard hit, delivered accurately, rather than several lighter blows. There is some merit to that, although few achieve real proficiency with such a difficult implement. It is a good idea to load those revolvers with +P .38 Special loads.

The steel frame 605 is another matter, and with reasonable loads, it is a formidable option. The Smith & Wesson five-shot revolvers are excellent choices. The Taurus Model 85 is affordable, usually has a smooth action and offers broad, easy-to-pick-up sights.

House Guns

No gun is too big to defend the home. For most of us, a home defense handgun is the piece we have carried during the day. I realize all of you may not carry handguns concealed and primarily may be interested in house guns. Some may carry light handguns during the day and keep formidable pistols ready at home.

All of those are good choices that handle quickly, have excellent hand fit with less recoil than lighter handguns and the highest reliability, such as the following:

  • GLOCK 17 9mm
  • Beretta 92
  • Kimber Eclipse .45
  • Beretta Storm in .45
  • Four-inch barrel .357 Magnum revolver

Consider every option. The bottom line is if you use more than one handgun and more than one action type (or even a self-loader and a revolver), be certain you are familiar with each handgun and know how to use each well.

And buy quality. Quality remains after the price is forgotten.

My Personal Choices

Dark haired woman in yellow shirt practices with her .45 by shooting into a wooded area.
The next time a burly guy says the .45 is too much for girls—don’t tell this young lady, she had never heard of anything she can’t do.

I am certain someone will ask what handguns I carry, and that is a fair question because it is important for me to practice what I preach. I rely on first-class concealment leather to achieve concealment with my handguns. That makes a difference when deploying a credible defensive pistol. I test and evaluate many handguns and try to do so thoroughly since personal defense is a serious business. I carry what works for me.

  • A frequent and favorite carry gun is the stainless version of the Colt Commander .45.
  • A strong second choice I often carry in the appendix position is the SIG P229, .40 caliber.
  • I seldom carry a Smith & Wesson 442 as a primary handgun, although there are times when that .38 Special revolver is the best choice due to local mores and a need for deep concealment.
  • When I can wear a covering garment, such as the Kakadu vest, I carry a Colt Series 70 1911.

In outdoor situations, when traveling backroads and while hiking, a revolver seems appropriate. The Smith & Wesson Model 13 .357 Magnum with a 4-inch heavy barrel is a good fit. Currently, I am evaluating a Taurus 627 SS seven-shot Tracker. So far, it seems to be a very good handgun.

The choice is yours. It is your hide.

Have you tried the Range Test in this article? What were your results? If not, when are you going to test that handgun you have been eyeing? Share in the comments section.

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
Rifle Magazine
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 (26)

  1. Good article, good advice and a good tactical course. FAMILIARITY with one’s firearm and PRACTICE and PROPER TRAINING are essential. One thing I feel should be added: How can you shoot in the dark? (That’s when many situations occur.) Ordinary gunsights are next to useless in the dark but a laser sighting device will put you right on target. Also, there is the intimidation factor, possibly making it unnecessary to fire your weapon. My bedside gun and carry gun include laser sighting devices. I highly recommend them.

  2. My carry gun is also my duty gun I use for Security Officer job. This is a matter of available money rather than opining which gun is best for what purpose. So, I use and carry a Sig Sauer 1911 model – full size. I use it, because I do not have the same stringent requirements for a smaller pistol or revolver as many professionals or having the personal preference of a smaller weapon many ordinary CCW holders have.
    I carry based on feel of the gun in hand, reliability, caliber, trigger pull, then move on to size of weapon and capacity. I only know what works for me, so my choice in no way reflects negatively on any other pistol. That said, the Sig 1911 in .45 fits my hand best, has proven to be reliable with hollow points, has a fabulous SA trigger pull, excellent accuracy, isn’t all that cumbersome compared to Glock-sized weapons (mostly heavier due to metal frame), has very good 3-dot night sights and 7 or 8 round magazine capacity using Sig mags, Chip McCormicks and especially Wilsons. The Beretta Storm .45 in SA/DA that I’ve tried are excellent! They have great, smooth trigger pulls with 9 or 10 round capacity. The feel in the hand is also excellent. The Storm in .45 would be my second choice.

  3. AF 1401, I agree with your comment. I shoot IDPA and am amazed at my lack of mental focus during a stage. I can only imagine what it is like with someone shooting back at you. I carry either the M&P Shield or Walther PPQ, both in 9mm.

  4. In self defense, the impossible thing to quantify is confrontational stress.
    All the range shooting in the world will not prepare you for that moment.
    I have seen Officers who were well drilled and expert in proper handling and marksmanship completely abandon their training when under such stress. I truly wish there existed an absolute method of training to prepare for those terrible situations. But, rote action and ” the overused muscle memory” may assist. Still, it is truly impossible to accurately estimate any persons true reaction to a life threatening situation. I believe the best training for me was an Academy Instructor who lived to tell the unashamed tale of confrontation by superior numbers, expended his loaded weapon ineffectively and then, unable to concentrate over the stress load, sought refuge underneath an Automobile and took four rounds as a result. His first hand, straight forward, unashamed, real life telling made me shudder because it was the result of the very kind of everyday street field interrogation that is done in every city thousands of times daily. That story and his face in the telling has stayed with me since I was a very young Academy recruit.

    1. I recently took a course with a group called 88 Tactical here in Omaha. They put you through real life scenarios that get the adrenaline going. It’s amazing training. You are suddenly confronted with what you would do in an armed confrontation. Better to make mistakes with a SIRT pistol than in real life. Really taught me a lot!

      My everyday carry is a Glock 26.

  5. My ‘carry’ is a Makrov. The short 9mm is a little less potent than a 9mm parabellum but very reliable.

  6. The Barretta 32,25, 22 and Taurus pt 32,25, and 22 have tip up barrels but have long heavy trigger pull. The Barretta 84 has a tip up barrel and has a da/sa trigger in 380 acp but is a much larger pistol than the Barretta 32. You may want to practice with a 22 cal with a light trigger to keep the motor skills and use your 32 for carry. Good luck

  7. I have arthritus in my hands and need a easy pull hand gun I have a Beritta 32 but want a easy pull on the trigger.Each time a pull there is a minor pain in my finger
    What do you recomend

  8. As the name implies I like the all steel Star Firestar series of guns. I have 4 of the single stack versions but they did make a doube stack Firestar Plus. These are compact, accurate, reliable yet underated pistols in 9mm ..40 and .45 acp which are single-action 1911 style but the slide runs inside the frame like the CZ. .
    The Firestar was Gun of the Year in 1994. While a tad heavy I just like all metal firearms with an external hammer and safety and the weight tames recoil. These will gooble just about any ammo you feed them.. Another benefit is the slides of the 9mm and 40 will exchange. so if you can find a parts kit (without frame). you can have essentilly 2 guns in one at low cost plus since Star is have some spares! Life is good!

  9. Revolvers are my favorite, and I especially like Rugers for value. But I just bought my first semi-auto in quite a while, and it has to be one of the most under-rated out there: the Ruger P95. The first time I shot it, I knew it was one of the best shooters ever in terms of trigger pull and overall function. But my rounds were all over the place, Now, on my second go-round, I moved in from 15 yards to 10, and everything improved, including one bullseye. Even though they stopped making them, it’s a lot of gun for what I paid ($300 in like new condition). If you can find one in good shape, go for it.

  10. No offense, but I simply do NOT believe you can hit the center of a “1-inch diameter circle,” at least not without using your sights. As opposed to a human torso, which, as “center of mass” is how most of us have been trained, in self-defense scenarios–in other words, those in the majority who aren’t looking to make the next Commando movie or do competitions with Dirty Harry. That is, unless the distance you’re firing from is approximately one foot. Ridiculous.

    1. jazzguy, try something for me. But first suffer thru a scenario. I agree with faultroy in that as civilians carrying for protection, we will be mugged at a lot less than 7 – 10 yards. We’re not cops, we don’t have to stick around. I think most muggings are recognized between 10 and 15 feet, and by the time you present your weapon the distance might be more like 5 – 10 feet. SO… run a few boxes of ammo trying this:

      Target at 7 feet chest high, gun in hand at your side. bending your elbow only fire two shots from your waist single handed. the first shot
      is meant to establish accuracy, the second is for effect.

      I’ll bet your second shot is soon within a couple of inches of your
      “mark”. further, I’ll bet your first shot gets real close too.

      Now put up two targets about 5 feet apart. (few muggers work alone)
      double tap both. If you practice much at all, monthly a box or so,
      you’ll be real close to the 1″ goal with both second shots, and near
      by with your first shot.

      Another exercise I do. three targets, double tap the firsr, single the
      second, double the third and a second portion to the second perp.

      Even being right, think Florida and hoodies, it’s not worth the grief.
      Leave without firing if you can.

  11. I have two 9’s, a Ruger P89DC and a Glock 17. I’m kind of an old guy (72), but I can shoot both well. Strangely, or to me at least, the Ruger is slightly more accurate than the Glock. In any case one of them is usually close at hand. They’re both a little big for CC in the summer but fine when you have a jacket.

  12. I’m a firm believer in consistency, muscle memory and PRACTICE. I carried a Colt full size 1911 in 45 caliber, and fired expert with it, for several years while helping out my uncle Sam. When I came home, I purchased a long barreled 357 to carry while hunting and such. A few years ago I got the bug to get a CCW permit due to a situation at work. My 357 was just not going to work for that purpose. I picked up the old 1911 out of habit, and it had gotten larger and heavier since the one I carried 40 some years ago. My instructor handed me a Glock 19 and (forgive the cliché) it was love at first feel! Since then, I’ve acquired several Glocks in 9mm.

    I carry the Glock 19 as my everyday carry. I tried the “baby Glock” 26, and even with the mag extender, it was just too small. My “house” weapon is the 17, and my range gun is the Glock 34. They all “feel”, shoot and “act” the same. This enables muscle memory, as they are all almost Identical in grip, sight alignment and trigger pull.

    All of them shoot the same, regardless of ammunition, be it 115 grain FMJ, or 124 JBTHP +P. Another advantage is with a arsenal of several side arms being of the same caliber, ammunition purchases can be bought in bulk saving a few bucks, for more “range time”! Consistency, that and PRACTICE! Practice in my opinion is the MOST important aspect of ANY of your choices.

  13. I can shoot well with every handgun I own wit the exception of a cheap, used short barreled revolver, because the gun itself is inaccurate. Three of my favorite, however is my High Standard 1911, a CZ Rami, and my Taurus Tracker .44 magnum with a 4″ barrel. I am only 5’8″ and weigh about 155, but have been very proficient with all three. so I am able to carry whatever the situation dictates

  14. Great article and very informative.

    I’m sure that this drill would be great for someone that wants to maximize their handgun skills, but for the average shooter, it represents a trend that we are seeing more and more of in the self defense industry, a hypersensitive histrionic trend to overkill.

    I’m in no way criticizing the author. This is more about the culture of the gun than anything the author said.

    I bring this up because it fails to note the most important issue of all, and that is the statistics on the number of self defense incidents and how the majority of self defense scenarios go down.

    The reality is that the overwhelming majority of police and civilian shooting scenarios is comprised of shootings under the 7 yard realm.

    Seven yards is 21 feet. Even that is considerably farther than the average of about 10 feet.

    And while shooting at 10 yards (30 feet) is an excellent idea for practice, it again does not relate in any way to reality.

    Nor are there many shooting scenarios in which you are going to take controlled shots from a barricade position. This is ridiculous.

    Having said this, the author is talking about pushing the limits of a firearm and shooting scenario in order to find your weak spots with your intended firearm which is why I am not criticizing the author’s excellent article.

    But when we are talking about self defense, in the end, we should train as we shoot. And the record shows that self defense shots are invariably close quarter contests.

    Therefore, the use of sights and aiming is useless. In my estimation, if you are practicing for real self defense, you should train (and I do) to be able to draw quickly and smoothly and to be able to point and shoot WITHOUT the use of sights and hit your mark EVERY time. And when I say “mark,” I’m not talking about hitting a human torso, but a dot about the size of one inch in diameter.

    If you want to increase the odds of saving your life, you should be able to have quick access to your firearm and be an instinctive shooter.

    If you are engaging someone at 10 yards, you had better have a damn good reason, because you have other options–like running away.

    And that is my original point. Too much of our current handgun discussions do not deal with real world scenarios nor discuss the reality of what specific skills you need for a possible self defense scenario.

    All the training in the world is not going to do you much if you train wrong.

    It makes no sense to train muscle memory to hunt for your front sight when your assailant is an arm length away and your fumbling trying to find your gun.

  15. I’m sorry, but I disagree with most of what the author said. Having done this (and other, similar) test before, I always found hitting anything with ANY revolver difficult, maybe it’s just me, but I’m not into any of the “wheelies.” As for Glock, they may be a popular choice with the LEO’s, but the ergs are not any good for either of my hands at all. (I’m not a LEO, btw). Again, perhaps it is just me, but my Ruger SR40C allows me 10 of 10 in the x-ring, every time, and at all distances. This handgun has gotten a terrible rep compared to lots of others I know, but I found all I need do is keep it CLEAN. Apparently the ergonomics has a great effect, along with balance, which I find that FOR ME, is better than even the over-priced Kimbers and Sigs. Just my opinion, and just my arms and hands. If I’m outside the norm for you lifetime gunners and experts, I apologize, but in a concealed-carry or defense situation, I’ll take this weapon–along with my spare, a Taurus PT740, also a non-favorite among the masses–to take care of my family and our possessions. To each his own, stay safe and God Bless!

    1. The author made the statement that it is a personal choice which handgun you use. I feel he was just giving people a starting point with guns he has tested and used. If you use the Ruger Sr series and your proficient with it then that’s a good choice for you along with your PT 740. Nothing wrong with the PT 709 or 740 series Taurus’s

  16. For many reasons, I prefer manual actions over semi autos. Ease of maintenance and the fact I can load a revolver and if I need it for defense at a much later time I know it will work. No stress loads on springs or delicate mechanisms to hang up unless used and cleaned often. Yes I have a Circuit Judge .410 / .45 Long Colt as one of my long guns also.

  17. I’m 6′-5″, 220 lbs and carry a full size 12 year old Glock 17, often also carrying a mag pouch with 2 extra mags. My holster? A Blackhawk Serpa, having switched from a leather model with strap retention. Since I’m a fairly big guy I have no problems carrying a full sized Glock concealed.

    The wife is small (5′-2″) and carries a Ruger SP101 .357/.38 loaded with .38 Sp +P+ JHP.

    BTW, the author mentioned the first shot accuracy of a 1911. I fired a 1911 for the first time this week and my first shot was in the center of the bullseye, with subsequent rounds hitting in the ten ring. Unfortunately, I’m old and the recoil was painful to my strong hand wrist, so I’ll be sticking with my 9MM.

    1. I carry a Sig Ultra 1911 and switch out with a Glock 30. I think the recoil of the 45’s are a lot better to handle then that of the 9mm which seem a little snippy and wild. I’ve never tried a 40 but I hear they are also the same way.

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