Concealed Carry

Choosing a Handgun — 3 Handguns I Trust

Bob Campbell drawing 1911 pistol

Choosing a handgun is a very personal decision. Cost, ergonomics, caliber, and use are all necessary factors and critical to the decision-making process. Once you choose a handgun, you must train with it to maximize its advantages and minimize its shortcomings.

You have the opportunity to choose not just an average or reasonably good handgun but a great handgun, one that will bring out the best in a trained shooter.

The baseline of power and reliability should not be sacrificed. It’s true, size and weight are often compromised in a carry gun, but I am not one who is willing to lose my life for the sake of a few ounces of comfort. If you understand the difference between a tactical drill and a scenario, you understand that tactically, many handguns are similar. There are differences between the Beretta 92 and the SIG P226, for example, but tactically, little may be done with one that cannot be done with the other.

Increasingly, there is a chance that all of us may confront heavily armed adversaries and felons behind vehicle cover. The battle will be finished within a few seconds. Your practice must have no limits.

Three handguns I trust and deploy often are the Colt Government Model 1911, Browning Hi-Power, and CZ 75. These are proven choices. There are many imitators. It isn’t difficult to take a design and make it cheaper, cutting corners. Some of the value-line handguns are fine for recreational shooting, but they will not stand up to an exhaustive shooting program. Quality firearms are not inexpensive.

Proficiency at arms is purchased with a different coin. When you consider what you will spend on training and ammunition over a decade of use, the difference between a cheap gun and a first-class pistol is inconsequential. Two of my favorite handguns are 9mm caliber. The 9mm isn’t the most effective cartridge, but it is a reasonable compromise between control and wound potential.

I load the Winchester 124-grain PDX +P and shoot straight. Mastering a heavier caliber requires considerable effort and regular practice. The service-size handguns may be concealed using modern holster designs. The problem isn’t concealment; it’s comfort. If you wish to be as well armed as possible, it’s not difficult to conceal your service pistol. Let’s look at some good choices.

The 1911

The 1911 design, in quality renditions from Colt, Kimber, SIG, and Springfield, is a viable choice for service and defense use. While I respect the reliability and low maintenance requirements of other pistols, some are a triumph of the technical over the tactical compared with the 1911. The 1911 is, of course, a single-action design. The trigger does only one thing, and that is drop the hammer. The 1911 features a straight-to-the-rear trigger compression. The bore axis of the 1911 rides low over the hand. This results in limited muzzle flip. The combination of a low bore axis and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression with a relatively light let off results in the most controllable of the big bore handguns.

The 1911 must be carried cocked and locked, hammer to the rear, safety on. The safety locks the hammer. A grip safety locks the trigger in place until the grip safety is pressed. Each safety is easily addressed when the pistol is held with a natural grip. If you loosen your grip, the grip safety is activated. The grip of the 1911 fits most hands well.

If you adopt the 1911, you must be dedicated to learning the manual of arms and practicing diligently. The recoil of the .45 ACP cartridge is not something a person of average strength and stature will have a problem with. The pistol also demands frequent cleaning and lubrication; even if it has not been fired, it must be lubricated for best reliability. Lubricant tends to run off of the pistol toward the muzzle. I would never carry a 1911 based on someone else’s recommendation or because it was expected of me. I carry the 1911 because it has proven to be the best tool for the job.

Carefully consider your level of commitment and dedication to training. When you choose the 1911, you will note that there are a lot of guns to pick from. Many are made cheaply; others are made to sell as the primary goal. The best rule of the 1911 is to purchase a quality handgun. As for reliability, there are rules. Do not attempt any type of gunsmithing beyond the scope of your knowledge. Second, change recoil springs when they have lost a portion of their free length. Check the plunger tube and spring. The 1911 plunger tube must be staked in place properly, and the spring and indent must be good in order to keep the slide lock safety and slide lock working properly.

There is a rule that the more junk on the gun, the less it works. Do not use recoil buffs on a carry gun. They may slow down pounding for range work but impede the slide’s rearward travel as well. Eight-round magazines should be loaded with seven rounds only. When doing a press check with the fully loaded eight-round magazine, you will note more pressure on the slide as it is moved to the rear. The fully loaded eight-round magazine is difficult to slam into the frame and lock when the slide is locked forward. Given a quality, well-lubricated 1911 with proper ammunition, you have a reliable platform. Nevertheless, owner incompetence has ruined many good 1911 handguns.

The Hi-Power

The Browning Hi-Power is among the loveliest handguns to fire and use. The grip fits practically any hand, and the pistol has many of the good attributes of the 1911 including speed to an accurate first shot. It may even be faster to an accurate first shot than the Government Model .45. There are authorities who believe that a properly maintained Hi-Power may be more reliable than the Colt 1911. In any case, the 9mm Hi-Power has an impeccable record in wartime and also in anti-terror operations.

The Hi-Power offers a great reserve of ammunition, with 13 rounds available. The single-action trigger offers excellent hit probability for a trained shooter. While the Hi-Power may not exhibit the accuracy potential of some service-grade handguns, neither is the pistol inaccurate. As an example, my personal Hi-Power will group five rounds of the Winchester 147-grain Defend load into 2½ inches at 25 yards. That is a good standard for personal defense.

The CZ 75

The CZ 75 is the most modern of the three pistols chosen. This double-action-first-shot handgun offers excellent reliability, proven in dozens of grueling European test programs. The type has seen action in many war zones and has been used by Israel and the Russian Spetsnaz. The CZ 75 is service-grade accurate, although some variants edge into match-grade status. My modern rail-gun CZ will deliver five rounds of Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ into 2½ inches and does slightly better with Winchester 124-grain PDX +P.

The bore axis is relatively low for a double-action-first-shot pistol. The action is a selective double-action; in other words, the pistol may be carried cocked and locked if desired. This is a useful feature even for those who prefer a double-action-first-shot handgun. After you fire the piece in a gun battle, you may simply thumb the safety on rather than attempt to lower the hammer back to the hammer-down position when engaged in tactical movement. (While there are now decocker-only variants, the original design does not offer a decocker.)

The CZ 75 is an enthusiast’s handgun that offers world-class performance at a fair price. The CZ, Hi-Power, and 1911 are three guns I trust, and, not incidentally, each is steeped in history. It’s your choice and your hide. Choose well…

Did your handgun(s) make the list? Have another you would have chosen? Make your best case for handgun selection 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 (127)

  1. FNH FNX 45acp 15+1 rds.SA/DA trigger setup and very intuitive to use. Carry with loaded chamber and hammer down so a DA trigger pull (10+) lbs required then 15 rounds of hellfire on the way with just a 5# pull. Awesome piece. Oh, and in the summer when garments tend to offer less concealment it isw the Kimber concealed ultra carry7.

  2. I’m sure the 1911 works well for the author and I’m in awe of his background and experience. But for that very reason he misses the mark for the bulk of people selecting a carry gun. The vast majority don’t have a fraction of his experience, so their needs in a carry gun are different.

    For most folks the priorities are: reliability, simple operation, concealability, and cost. Add capacity for some, as well. Accuracy is not an issue for any good quality pistol these days. This is why 9mm poly guns sell as well as they do. Their modern design simply fills the bill for most purchasers standing at the gun store counter.

    Don’t like the Glock grip angle? Try an M&P then. Or an XD. Or a Walther. Or a….you get my point. The author’s recommendations are time-honored platforms, for sure. But they are examples of older technology with more demanding requirements of the user. Some will find those requirements acceptable, but most will not. Some may go to them later as they gain experience, but most will not.

    Chances are good that pistol enthusiasts and collectors will have at least one of these models, either to carry or shoot at the range or match, in their inventory. But they are not the majority of new purchasers these days. The 1911, Hi Power and CZ 75 should certainly be considered in the purchase process, but like it or not, in most cases they will not be chosen over the more modern models.

    But isn’t it great to have choices??

  3. Some food for thought: a lot of us old time cops carried wheel guns on our hip for decades, and I don’t recall very many (if any) jams or failure to feed. If we had a misfire we just pulled the trigger again and the gun went bang on the next round. Yes, it’s true that we only had 6-rounds per loading to work with, but back then most of us actually (gasp!) tried to pay tribute to our sights, and according to the available stats we hit the target more often than not. Just saying.

  4. I suppose the Navy Seals, who just adopted the Glock 19 as their sidearm after decades of Sig 226, also selected it because it was cheap. Show me a 1911 that can endure a 250k torture test like the Glock. Almost EVERY gun manufacturer will give sweetheart pricing to law enforcement, so where’s the difference?

    1. When I worked for the City of Detroit my EDC was a Combat Commander in .45acp and what Bob says all the time is true, practice with what you carry, practice, practice. Mine saved my life twice. My son has 1st Gen Glocks we got from local Law Enforcement Friends. My cousin is retired Oakland County Tactical Services Sniper and he carried a CZ for years, until I sold him my Ruger P 97 DC. .45 will keep you alive.

  5. I grew up shooting 1911’s and Browning Hi-Powers. Love em. But I always carry a striker fired semi-auto (either a Glock 23, s&w m&p, Springfield ‘s or a Kahr CW45).

    The author states that his choices are proven designs….and the Glock isn’t? There are many reasons that the Glock is the #1 choice by police departments in the US. Reliability, durability, consistent trigger pull are some of the chief among them.

    I love my Browning, but it is easier and safer to carry my striker fired pistol. Safer because it does not take as high a degree of safe gun handling skills when carrying a stiker fired pistol as it does when carrying in condition one. I believe that simpler is better when under stress.

    1. “There are many reasons that the Glock is the #1 choice by police departments in the US. Reliability, durability, consistent trigger pull are some of the chief among them.”

      This one I take exception with… If the arms were purchased by a department to issue to officers, do not bet that it’s because they are super good firearms. The department may have simply gotten a very good deal on the purchase.

      An example of this is how California, back in the 1970s got their fleet of 5.0 Mustangs for the CHP…. for $6,000 each. Ford took a loss on every one of them. They wrote the loss off their advertising budget. Advertising is a tax write off, so Ford recouped when they filed their taxes. And, the fact that California CHP was driving those super hot 5.0 Mustangs was responsible for a great many people buying them at full cost.

      The same tactics are used to sell just about everything under the sun to the government, military, fire departments, hospitals, etc.

      So, this doe not mean that any brand of weapon is great just because a department carries them. What you really need to learn is how soon a department dumped them. Was it as soon as they could? Did they continue to use them long after the department normally would have gone out for new weapons?

      The USAF was, at last report, reviewing the possibility of going to 1911s. In part, this is due to the numbers of personnel who have a hard time with double stack sized firearms, as well as the high speed of 9mm and it’s ability to pass through an individual and strike someone else, or ricochet and hit an innocent bystander, while .45s being subsonic lessens such instances.

  6. The grip design is can think that its lovely to be dealing with..he grip design felt strange and it didn’t seem to point naturally for me” is exactly why I don’t like Glocks. They just don’t shoot well for me.

  7. A link to this article was sent to me from my IDPA membership. I know that choosing a carry weapon can be a sensitive topic but I am shocked the Springfield XD 9 was not mentioned here. With the limitations mentioned on the 1911 I am surprised people would settle for that as a carry option. “Eight round magazines should be loaded with 7 rounds only” I can easily conceal a full size XD 9 and have 16 rounds plus one in the pipe. It is drop safe and less complex to operate in a dangerous situation (no manual safety). I used to carry the 1911 with hammer back. I have seen and experienced stove pipe FTE when the 1911 is limp wristed. I have seen this happen with life long 1911 worshipers. I switched to the full size XD 9 and have never looked back. It requires less training (.45 I had to practice frequently to avoid anticipating the recoil) and is more effective than the .45 when using hollow points with a high terminal performance. The CZ with a DAO on the first pull makes it a no-go for me. I want consistency in trigger pull from the first shot to the last.

    1. @Ski


      The 1911 is a venerable design that continues to be popular, but it is far behind the more modern, high capacity designs that are less finicky about ammo and more reliable.

    2. The CZ is not “DAO on the first pull.” You can carry it cocked and locked like a 1911 if you want. Take a closer look. You won’t regret it.

  8. “the grip design felt strange and it didn’t seem to point naturally for me” is exactly why I don’t like Glocks. They just don’t shoot well for me. The
    M & P feels much better to me because I am used to a 1911. I like my 9mm M & P alot, but will probably try one in .45 ACP in the future. Until then, I still love my 1911’s, mostly because I shoot them very well

  9. like you said Bob “Choosing a handgun is a very personal decision ” you are so right . your weapon of choice might be a 1911 ,glock ,revolver or a baseball bat but you better eat ,sleep and practice with that weapon on a regular basis ! to quote Bob 1 more time ” It’s your choice and your hide !

  10. There are the macho men (and women) everywhere. However, one point to be made about the full sized is that the longer the barrel/sight picture the better the accuracy as distance to target increases.

    As I was trained by the military and at the San Bernardino County Sheriffs Academy, along with CDOJ, and while earning my degree, the majority of shooting situations happen within 3 to 10 feet. That’s fine for the more compact pistols and revolvers. Beyond that area, greater aiming accuracy is needed, especially if the subject is moving.

    As much as I like my Kimber Ultra Carry II, I also like my Springfield Range Officer, and my Colt Government.

  11. I carried a Browning Hi-Power for about a dozen years as a cop, as my back-up. I own 3 historical Brownings, love them all. But I’m not entirely comfortable with the miniscule slide safety. It can easily click itself off if not carried in the CCW right holster, and it’s hard to find in a high pressure tense moment. But with today’s 9mm ammo, I carry Hornady Critical Defense FTX in all my carry guns, the cartridge is just as effective as anything else.
    My usual carry gun is a Colt Officer 45acp. Positive safeties, excellent accuracy and reliability. Small enough to conceal carry comfortable all day, heavy enough to get the job done.
    Note that both are single action platforms. I’m old enough to prefer those to DA-SA systems. I carried a SIG 229 in AFG. Good enough, accurate enough, but I don’t like the transition from DA to SA. I’d rather have a DAO if need be, but that long trigger pull which exists only to satisfy liability conscious lawyers does nothing for speed or accuracy. Hence my preference for SA.

    1. @mountainblack “I’m old enough to prefer those to DA-SA systems. ”

      Sincerely, no offense meant, but I’m not sure what being “old enough” has to do with it. I’m old enough to use that reasoning too, since my first handgun was a revolver, but I prefer the “safe action” pistols because I’ve been in enough tight spots that i want my gun to be ready to pull the trigger with a nice crisp and light pull.

    2. Old enough to be wise, brother.

      Cylinder and Slide shop offers a great extended safety for the High Power, solves the size and speed problem.

    3. A true DAO trigger is long not for liability reasons but because it has to fully cock the hammer before releasing it to fire the cartridge. It’s basically a “hammerless” double-action revolver trigger design applied to a semi-auto.

  12. Browning would have no problem with the way his design is carried as long as it is carried.

    Professional law enforcement agents have carried the 1911 cocked and locked for a great many decades and quite comfortably. This is mentioned in a number of biographical books.

    The military did issue a holster with a flap, and in the 1970s John Bianchi submitted an updated version which had a removable flap (I still have mine). I would need a citation to support the idea that the holster design came from Browning or that Browning held a view on the cocked and locked carry.

    I would not be surprised to find that the holster was designed with a flap to keep out dust, dirt, and rain rather than as a safety measure. Look at the holsters carried by the US Cavalry during the 1800s. In a modern situation, soldiers armed with 1911s operating in trenches, jungle, etc, use a holster, and the last thing they would want would be to find the holstered weapon buried in muck.

    While recently searching for a new holster, I noted a couple of companies have been adding a section of leather which keeps a weapon from snagging as it is pulled from an IWB holster.

  13. Campbell is the typical brainwashed ex-mil ex-leo spewing his closed-minded nonsense to anyone who will read it. Those are all 3 great guns, but his bias is huge and his refusal to see that there are plenty of as good or better (and cheaper) options is irritating.

    1. i agree . but when you start talking about weapons you know that ford vs chevy thing happens . if you want a laugh watch this ! my HK usp45c is more reliable than his 1911 .

    2. Hmm
      Typical LEO?
      I suppose I should not take that as an insult.
      I still wear a bracelet with the thin blue line that is respect for the other typical LEOs.
      My son has is an officer in the good old Army with quite a bit of travel the last few years.
      I think you are correct. The 1911 is for the classes and the rest for the masses.
      I suppose a degree and 23 years of experience is brainwashing.

    3. As for close minded– never said these are the only guns. Just three I trust, kind of a bucket list for me.

      Have evoked some response from those with emotional investment in their choices.

    4. There are plenty of guys who’ve had military and law enforcement careers and are not as limited in terms of what they and you should carry; as I stated in post # 1, these are all fine weapons but none of them were designed or intended for conceal carry. There are many preferable options for that role nowadays; I think what Campbell is really saying is that REAL MEN carry full size 1911s cocked and locked, and to do otherwise means you are lacking in that department. They also drive outsized 3/4 ton trucks and wear magnum jock straps to boot. It’s a bunch of macho bravado; personally I don’t need it.

  14. There is also a reason why so many nations carry AKs. Russia gave them away for free in exchange for agreements for bases, overflights, etc. Cuba being a great example. Russia now has an agreement with Venezuela to build an AK factory.

    A non-military example is when California Highway Patrol got a new fleet of 5.0 Mustangs for $6k each. Ford wrote the balance off as advertising. And, based on sales, the advertising worked.

    Presently, there is a move on the part of Colt to come up with a major contract with the military or police agencies.

    Not saying Sig or any of the other majors are not great products, but just because those products are widely used does not necessarily mean as much as people think.

    1. i hope colt can get it together . im still a fan . browning is 2nd to samuel colt and his invention of the revolver made history for handguns . he is the God of handguns !

    2. Someone said that JM Browning did not invent the 1911 he found it on a rock in front of a burning bush.


      GKG you are so correct. A gun invented by a man not a committee! And the CZ– invention under Communist rule! The CZ has much less to do with the Hi Power than folks assume. it is more or a Petter pistol.

  15. I’ve owned a Colt 1911 for almost 30 years. I bought it when I turned 21. My CC is a Kimber Ultra Crimson Carry ll. If I’m in a warm environment like Florida where conceal options are more limited I carry a .22 magnum. Any gun is better than no gun and if you don’t have it on you it won’t do you any good. For home defense I have a 12 gauge with 18.5 inch barrel next to my bed.

  16. Bob, I can certainly understand and respect your choices of handgun. The guns with which you become comfortable are the ones you tend to keep using. The Colt 1911, Browning Hi-Power and CZ 75 are great guns. I think it is not a coincidence that these pistols have been commonly used by various countries in war time.

    Still, I think you need to appreciate that the varying handgun requirements of a soldier in uniform who carries in an unconcealed holster are significantly different from those of a civilian who most often needs to keep the pistol concealed for a variety of reasons.

    Most people who carry a cocked and locked single action pistol are not carrying the pistol the way it was designed to be carried. The eminent Mr. Browning designed both the 1911 and the Hi-Power to be carried in a very specific type of OWB holster for safety reasons. The 1911 was issued with either a flap holster or a leather hip holster with a leather strap that ran between the hammer and the firing pin when carried cocked and locked.

    However, these days, many people carry those pistols cocked and locked in open top IWB holsters and some of those holsters do not cover the trigger and lack a thumb break or other means of deliberate retention. I wonder what John Browning would say about the way his pistol designs are being carried today. He would be pleased that the designs are still being used, but I doubt that he would approve of the method of carry.

    I prefer a steel pistol but many younger people are first introduced to polymer striker fired guns that most gun companies are currently pushing. Once they get accustomed to these guns, they will probably stick with them and it may be a long time before they get the opportunity to try out the older, and in my opinion, better DA/SA guns such as the CZ75 or the Smith & Wesson 59 series or the Sig P series.

    Most civilians will carry their pistol a lot more than they will use it in a wartime or defensive situation. Thus, safe carry is of prime importance and a gun that is designed with the civilian in mind is what is needed.

    Personally, I own many guns but I most often carry a S&W 5903 and/or a S&W 340PD. The 5903 has been a flawless performer for over 25 years and the 340PD has been flawless in nearly 17 years of carry and range shooting.

  17. Just looked at my post to make sure I wasn’t a key off when I posted. LOL

    Years ago, in Guns and Ammo IIRC, an article was devoted to the different calibers. Part of the article said the .38 was great for home defense and the range because it was cheap to shoot. The .357 was a good hunting cartridge, and good for personal defense. The .44 was only good if your home was invaded by Kodiak bears. 🙂

    1. Bottom line–

      Although I enjoy firing handguns on a regular basis in ,22, .32-20, .44-40, .45 Colt, 9mm Luger, .45 ACP and .357 Magnum, we could do quite well with three
      The .22 for practice
      The .45 for bad buys
      The heavy .45 Colt for game..

    2. Bob,
      Personally, I agree with about everything you said. I have carried a 1911 style for about 51 years, in all manners and methods. I now either carry empty chamber and use the Israeli method to chamber a round or cocked and locked, with the manual safety engaged — not relying entirely on the grip safety even when I like and trust it.
      At one time I also carried a Smith & Wesson, “E” series with the new patented trigger and titanium firing pin with a round in the chamber and hammer down. The factory, by email, said that was entirely safe if I was careful lowering the hammer on the live round. I do not do that any more. Even with the Smith & Wesson patented improvements.
      I have never had an accident or close to one, even when carrying hammer down and round in the chamber. Do not consider that wise but got through it all right.
      But, I am writing to comment now because of a long held concern about Glocks. I have owned Glocks and might again, especially in the 10mm which right now fascinates me. But, no Glocks in my safe just now.
      No question Glocks are reliable, sturdy, safe and every thing but “fool proof”. I have only one issue with Glocks — that is they are entirely too easy to operate. Any fool can operate a Glock without any particular thought or training. Doesn’t take any particular training, or special knowledge. I could give one to my youngest grandson, who is 7, and if a round was chambered, I am sure he could easily shoot it. I am not sure that he would shoot, or handle it, safely. When ever anyone pulls the trigger, if there is a round in the chamber, the Glock is going to go off — period.
      I have heard regularly stories about accidents with Glocks, have heard of “Glock leg” about cops who supposedly shot themselves when drawing their weapon and so on. I do not know if any of those stories are true or fanciful. What I do know is that the Glock just scares me with how easy it is to shoot. For me, it is too easy to shoot to be entirely safe in an extremis situation. To me a loaded Glock in the hands of a very frightened or very excited person scares the begibbers out of me. I do not feel entirely safe unless I know that person is extremely well trained, experienced and not overly excitable.
      While I have been fortunate enough to personally never have an accident, I witnessed several, include three among my five sons. Fortunately no injuries — some property damage, like a .45 caliber hole in the passenger side roof of one pickup — man was that loud!! Dumped an entire thermos cup of hot coffee in my lap and no one to sue when it was my own son — who very well should have known better! Did not have any more children after that.
      Those accidents happened, in each case, to a trained person who got excited and who had either already removed the manual safety, or had not bothered to safe the weapon previously when they should have. Those incidents remind too much of how easy it is to trigger a round in the Glock.
      In any event, the idea of a Glock being so incredibly easy to manipulate and to be entirely sure it will go off is scary to me. I want a gun that I have to do something deliberate before I can trigger a shot. Obviously, I like manual safeties.
      Back when I owned a couple Glocks, I found an aluminum half-moon affair that wedged behind the trigger and the frame. It could be ejected by merely pushing out with the trigger finger. I may not have any Glocks but I still have that safety device. It satisfied my desire to somehow make the Glock safer from accidental discharge. I wanted a human interaction in the link between surprise and going bang.
      My favorite 1911 Smith & Wesson SCe when cocked and locked does that and satisfies me. I guess my only thought on the Glock is that it does entirely too well what it was supposed to do. I would be more comfortable if Glock were similar , or, if it could only be sold to mature, dispassionate, unemotional individuals.

    3. Excellent post. The low bid Glock is easy to shoot well and sometimes too easy. Bean counters hate training and the SIG P series and the 1911 demand training . Unfortunately the stories are all true, however, it would be solved by keeping the finger off of the trigger! The 1911 when carried cocked and locked cannot fire if the trigger meets a holster safety strap or clothing. The Glock and a revolver may. Even if the safety were off the grip safety would prevent firing. I think J M Browning knew what he was doing.

    4. C’mon, Bob. When talking about a gun you may have to depend on to save your life or the lives of your family, how can a gun be “too easy to shoot?”

      Yes, train and be prepared to do what you have to, both technically and emotionally. I like your articles, but you are pushing high dollar, “nothing but a 1911 is worth anything” guns here.

      Yes, 1911’s are awesome. I qualified Expert with one as an officer in the army, I own a Commander and my wife just got a government model for Christmas because she wanted one. But I carry my Glock and she loves her Beretta 92 because both are low maintenance, reliable, accurate guns. They are not better than a 1911 in most ways, but they are “easy to shoot” and more reliable.

      I know you are a proponent of traditional, some would say even old fashioned, guns. No worries, I just bought a Jericho, which is a DA/SA, external hammer pistol with an external safety. It shoots like a dream and works great. But I’ll probably still carry my G21 as my EDC because it is easy to shoot and utterly reliable.

    5. Jericho!

      Now there is a great handgun.

      Nothing wrong at all with it or the Baby Eagle, at least the older ones I am familiar with.

    6. @RK

      Agreed. The Jericho is a fantastic gun. I’ve wanted one for a while and when this one came along, I didn’t hesitate.

    7. “I want a gun that I have to do something deliberate before I can trigger a shot.”

      You mean “something deliberate” like putting your finger in the trigger guard and then squeezing the trigger? Granted, that’s actually two deliberate actions.

      Most negligent discharges with a Glock, M&P, etc are due to bad habits carried over from previous use of a double-action revolver or DA/SA pistol with a long and heavy trigger pull (such as staging the trigger before you’re actually ready to fire). See, for instance, the recent investigation by the LA County Sheriff Department into reports of an increase in negligent discharges with their new M&P pistols.

    8. Hi, MacII.

      Several of the things you said here were significant enough to me to warrant a response . . . a civilized response, I promise you. Just to provide at least some credentials, I am a prior combat arms officer with a great deal of international private security experience in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, The West Bank, etc. In other words, I’m not some guy in a mobile home pounding on my keyboard.

      First, given that you have been carrying 51 years, I would estimate that you are probably somewhat older than I am. As we age, we become more desirable targets for bad guys because they see us as vulnerable. This would seem to suggest that you should be more ready to defend yourself and not less. I have been to Israel and at one time even used the Israeli method, but no more. No offence intended in any way, but the Israeli method works for Israeli police and military because they are mostly in their prime and practice a lot. A LOT. You are putting yourself deeply at risk by carrying with an empty chamber because int he time it takes you to draw and rack, you could easily be disarmed or dead.

      Second, Glock were indeed designed for combat situations. Period. They are intended for people who train regularly and they are most certainly NOT idiot proof. This is why so many people have ADs or NDs, whatever you want to call them with Glocks. It’s also why so many cops shoot themselves. They do not have an adequate level of training or skill to be carrying one. So, in this case I applaud you for not carrying one if you are not comfortable doing so.

      Third, and finally, three of your five sons have had ADs? I would heartily recommend some remedial training.

      Please don’t think I am some internet troll who is out to flame you. I make my living teaching people (or trying my best anyway) how to survive in extremely hostile environments. Your comment simply caused me some serious concern.

      I wish you the absolute best for a safe and enjoyable New Year.

    9. Mikial,
      I really to not disagree with much you have said. Yes, I am older than dirt. I may not have been in Moses generation, but I have memories of them. When I first carried a 1911, Glocks did not exist, nor did a lot of other “Johnny come lately’s” in the pistol world. In my youth it was a 1911, a revolver, a Hi-Power or one of the decidedly lesser calibers (.25ACP, 32 ACP or the like).
      In those days no one whose name did not require a great deal of glottal stops to pronounce considered a 9mm, either. It was .45, .38 or .44. I thought I had died and went to heaven when the .41 came along.
      For the record, I have no objection to someone trained to your level using a Glock. In the right, trained hands, it is undeniably an excellent weapon.
      My points were only for those who read these posts who are not trained to the level to be safe with a Glock, or a similar weapon. Rather than insult their intelligence, or lack thereof, I put my cautions in personal terms, hoping to make someone less than well trained consider their choices.
      I am of an age when you begin to care about the welfare of others. Someone with your level of experience can take care and handle a Glock with confidence and safety. But, what about all the rest, probably the vast majority, who either do not or cannot (for whatever reason) attain that level of training and proficiency to realize what a Glock requires for safety.
      I just wanted to caution those either inexperienced or untrained who might rush off and purchase a weapon beyond their level of safety and training. That’s all. Some years back, I felt a part of the trained group and had the confidence that went with it. Of course, we were largely focused on the 1911 and the training then was probably not anything like the sophisticated training of today. Now, I am older and all things do not work as they once did and the idea of undergoing the sophisticated training would likely put me in the hospital for days.
      Still, when I find enough shekels to make the purchase, I suspect I may dabble with a Glock 10mm. I am fascinated by the 10mm and have read that Glock is the only pistol specifically designed in its original incarnation for the 10mm. Allegedly all others began life as something else and were converted, more or less successfully to 10mm. Of course, if I take that plunge I will assiduously use my little aluminum wedge between the back of the trigger and the frame — just to be safe.
      I appreciate your concerns and your approach to the subject.
      Oh, and for the record, those sons are now in their 50’s and got a whole lot of remedial training, plus some duly administered punishment, in response for their thoughtless accidents. I can say that one was all they have had, in each case, and each of those accidents happened in their middle or late teens and now they all have more then 30 years of accident free shooting. .

    10. The most accurate Glock by far is the 10mm in my experience.
      A great handgun, actually a great hunting handgun for medium game
      at 35 yards or so.

      Good post

    11. Bob,
      Thank you for the information. My oldest son has two very fine 10mm and when he is feeling sorry for his ancient father, he allows me to shoot them. I would really like a Glock 10mm, in the Glock 20 but for the time being, due to medical bills and family expenses, I will have to stay with my trusted .45 ACP Smith & Wesson SCe.

    12. First off, thank you for your intelligent and measured response.

      To make it brief, it’s all good. There were no Glocks when i started shooting wither.

      At any rate, enjoy your guns and shooting, keep your eye sharp, and shoot straight no matter what you are carrying.

    13. Mikail,
      I appreciate the kind words. I have thought further about the idea that a Glock might be the best choice for an urgent or surprise situation. I think that is a valid point because it probably shades my 1911 Smith & Wesson SCe carried cocked and locked by a brief amount and that might be important.
      But, I also go to great, even exaggerated lengths, to avoid situations where I can be surprised. I religiously practice situational awareness out side of my living room and even inside whenever there is a noise outside or our standard “watch” poodle goes off. I do not leave the house after 9:00PM (2100) , postponing anything until the next morning. I try very hard to be home and inside by 6:PM (1800).
      I very definitely do not go to certain areas, ever. I am constantly scanning everyone around me whenever outside of my home. My scan is like my scan of the panel when I was flying — constantly ongoing until I see something of concern and then I focus on that. It is my goal to be prepared in advance of every situation, but realizing how impossible that actually is. Whenever my hackles raise, I am instantly in “fight mode”, planning my defensive moves and path of escape.
      Still, I recognize that you are correct. Life of death can hinge on an instant and perhaps a Glock would make that difference. I try to balance that risk against the risk that in a surprised moment, I might put my finger inside the trigger guard before thinking what I have done. If accidents happen, I do not want them to be at my hand. Hate to just blame myself when I want to reserve that for someone else.
      I will continue to consider your argument and keep an open mind. After all, Glock does make a dandy 10mm.

    14. @MacII

      Thank you and I agree that awareness is the first line of defense in avoiding becoming a statistic. I guess the bottom line is being smart and not doing stupid things and then relying on your gun to get you out of them. In the end, I like my Glock21. To me, it is the essence of reliability, accuracy and power. But to each their own, and if you like something and you are proficient with it . . . use it.

      Just remember there are a lot of not-very-nice people out there . . so above all . . be safe.

    1. Amen to that., Brother!

      My Glocks are the handguns that I never worry about being able to depend on. Do I carry a BUG . . yup. But only because I might get shot in the right arm and drop my weapon, and drawing a bug is faster than searching for my dropped weapon. I have carried my G21 every day I legally could since 2003 (I sometimes have to travel into Nazi states for work) and shot thousands of rounds on the range and in PSA meets, and never had a single malfunction. I shoot 150-200 rounds of Russian steel cased ammo weekly at the range and never . . read that . . never have any malfunctions with my Glock.

      I own a couple of 1911s and like them a lot, but I don’t carry them because i’m never 100% certain i can depend on them.

    2. Mikial, I have to agree with what you said wholeheartedly. I carried Colt Governments, Gold Cups and a Kimber and they were all fine guns and I love the slim designs. But, with that being said, they all functioned fairly well with ball ammo, but when changing to different variations of “flying ashtrays” that I like to use for defensive purposes, I could never be 100% sure I was not going to get some type of jam. It would only happen occasionally and you could never predict when. I was the type that always said that I never wanted a Glock or any other polymer gun. Time went on and I mentioned to a friend who is a big 1911 collector that I wasn’t satisfied with the reliability of a 1911 for a defensive firearm. He was the one that told me I should try a Glock and I just laughed it off. He offered to let me shoot his G21 and I took him up on it. I fell in love with the Glock at that moment and the very next gun show I picked up a G21SF and after shooting and carrying it for the last few years would have to say I am where I need to be with a defensive pistol. Never jams, no matter what you run through it, cleaning is a breeze and it is super accurate. Now all this being said, I still love the 1911 platform, but for a defensive handgun, I am sold on the Glock and plan to add a G20 10mm in the future.

    3. what’s your take on the new walther ppq 45 ? i have the g19 and ppq 9mm . i can shoot the hell out both weapons but i love that trigger on the ppq . only time will tell as far as reliability of the ppq 45 .

    4. We have a PPX and it is very accurate, but you have to be mindful of what ammo you feed it. Still, it shoots great groups, and Walther has certainly earned their name. I haven’t shot a PPQ, but I am intrigued since I am a solid .45 fan.

    5. I briefly owned a PPQ. The grip design felt strange and it didn’t seem to point naturally for me (a combination of the grip and high bore axis), but the trigger was a thing of beauty. So smooth and crisp you would think it was a custom trigger job and not straight from the factory.

      Easily beats the trigger on basically any striker-fired pistol on the market (and I’ve handled a Glock, M&P, P320, and VP9 to name a few).

  18. In the 1970s there was manufacturer who produced w round called the Scorpion. A .38 cal which immediately, upon impact, mushroomed to .58. It sent a shockwave through the entire body and the perp dropped. That traumatic shock was more effective than the penetration wound. It was a serious concern to Law Enforcement at the time here in California, and was eventually banned. As I recall, it was actually designed for law enforcement, however, as is normally the case, civilians soon got their hands on it.

    1. Thanks for reading.
      Cocked and locked always. That is the only proper carry mode.
      I prefer a well designed inside the waistband holster for concealed carry. There are a number of good makers and a few first class makers.
      Check these out-
      Jason Winnie (
      D M Bullard (
      Wright Leather Worlds (


    2. @gc45colt

      Bob’s recommendations are some very nice holsters. Unsurprisingly based on his gun choices, they are pretty much all leather and some at prices some people can barely afford for a gun.

      I would like to recommend a couple of others as well. To me, the best is Crossbreed. It is a leather backing with a custom molded Kydex holster that holds your gun securely and protects the trigger. The backing prevents chafing against your skin and protects the gun from perspiration. I carry a full sized Glock 21 daily and it is very comfortable. Cost is around $70 with S&H.

      A less expensive, but ALMOST as good option (to me at least) is Alien Gear. It is a similar design to Crossbreed, but uses a synthetic backing instead of leather that protects the gun, but, to me at least, doesn’t do as well in preventing chafing or pinching They are about half the price of a Crossbreed, however.

      I recognize that some people are on a budget, and if all they can afford is a Hi Point and an inexpensive holster then that is what they should buy. We can all go on and on about being willing to spend the money for a top end gun and holster, but that is a disservice to those who don’t have the money for that. Every good person has the right to defend themselves and their family.

    3. If you can afford to spend over $1000 for the sort of 1911 that Bob recommends in this article then you can also afford $100-$200 for a quality leather holster.

      Agreed on the Alien Gear holsters – they’re not the best money can buy, but they’re good enough for most and one would need to spend roughly three times as much to get a holster that is demonstrably better (and not just prettier).

    4. Hi, Adam.

      Yup, I agree with you. I would say that the Crossbreed holster at around $70 is better than the Alien Gear at less than three times the price, but I also know that it is a very personal thing. One of the really good things about the Alien Gear is that you can change the Kydex holster portion on the backing and belt clips to allow you to use the same (more or less) holster for more than one make/model of gun. And, they provide good retention and protect the trigger.

      I have both a G21 and a Walther PPX holster for my Alien Gear. But, to me at least, the Alien Gear is less comfortable than my Crossbreeds. I have to wear my AG at the 4 o-clock position for it to be comfortable, but I prefer the 3 o-clock, which my Crossbreeds allow me to do.

      In any case, Bob is living in a different decade and you are correct, if you can afford a high priced 1911, you can afford a high priced leather holster that may or may not be as good as a more modern holster.

    5. Crossbreed likely would have been my next choice had the Alien Gear holster not worked out. I’d used leather IWB holsters in the past, and wanted to give the neoprene backing on the Alien Gear a try.

      For the price and with their risk-free trial period, Alien Gear was absolutely worth taking a chance on.

  19. I own a Springfield XD.40 Tacticalamd use this as my cc. It sits well at all positions on your waist using an IWH. I have used this in IDPA, CQB Tactical training. While i cannot speak to the other handguns chosen, with the exception of the 1911, (ex-Army), the XD does very well. I’ve usedbhandloads and factory ammunition an SD have had no jams, ftf, etc. I use Federal Hydra-Shock 55 grain for HD and Winchester 65 grain for target practice. The XD is on par with both the 1911 and CZ.

  20. The best handgun for ANY individual is one that they trust, are comfortable shooting, and can shoot accurately with. Type, size, and caliber will vary from one person to the next (as will the maker), but there are plenty of options to choose from. Just please learn to be proficient with the one you choose and practice as much as possible…happy shooting.

  21. I bought my Colt Gold Cup Match Grade .45 in 1966 before deploying to Vietnam in 1967. It was a life saver during the Tet offensive in 1968, and its stopping power is absolutely proven for well placed shots. I still carry that gun daily and feel quite safe in doing so. I don’t carry it looking for a fight, but, at my age, it sure is an equalizer against a bad guy. My personal collection of handguns includes a variety of calibers, actions and historical values but the Colt remains my favorite. To each his own.

  22. Out of the 26 comments so far, no one mentioned a Smith & Wesson. Both my personal and concealed carry guns are S&W, the personal is a sw9ve, 9mm, 16 in the double clip, the concealed carry is a Air Weight, .38, and conceals nicely is a pouch on my hip. I feel I may get slammed with replies, but just my preference. Stay safe.

    1. I also cc a s&w shield 40, and have an Air weight in 38. Both are nice cc guns. However if I can choose a weapon in a combat situation like a home invasion, I am craving my cz75b. My second choice is my Springfield 1911a1. Both are incredible firearms. And the cz is my choices of the two. It is an easy gun to shoot well.

    2. Well thought out!

      The Shield is a great light handgun.

      The Airweight .38 is a classic.

      Thanks for reading.

    3. @Wayne

      No slams here. Although the only S&W I currently own is an M&P AR, S&W has proven itself over the years as a quality weapon and a company that not only produces great revolvers, but reliable modern pistols as well. IMHO they have more of a place on a list of carry guns than the Hi Power does.

  23. Like an individuals choice of cars/trucks, so too goes the choice of personal firearms. I see a lot of people knock the 1911s. Of course, I see a lot of people who trade in their cell phone for the very newest phone with the most bells and whistles. Is there a correlation?

    The 1911 is a simple tool. It works. I just read one post saying that the knock down power of the .45 is hype. I believe that it depends on what data is used. Watching the impact of a .45 vs a 9mm into a ballistic block gives me a very different view of knockdown power. The 9 is more apt to penetrate further, but the .45 results in a traumatic shockwave and a very nasty wound cavity. (I can’t speak on the .40)

    My 1911 served me very well in Vietnam. I’ve know many other LEOs who have carried them and preferred them over department issued weapons. The greatest complaint I have heard through the years was the magazine capacity. I heard the same thing about the 20 round mags for our M-16s vs the NVA/VC 30 and 90 round AKs.

    Of course, the 1911 of the 1960s has been improved upon and the ammo is superior to that era.

    So, knock the 1911s if you will, but I will continue to depend on them.

    Of course, I would also carry an old Chief Special .38 5 shot revolver. Plain and simple, bad guys don’t like to get shot by anything.

    1. Dave,
      Good post. Those that knock the wound potential of the .56 versus the 9mm have no experience in police or military actions. The basics laws of physics simply cannot be altered. The bigger bullets does more damage, a lot more damage, but does so at low operating pressure.

    2. Presumably the FBI has more than passing experience in police actions and can be considered an authority in handgun ballistics research.

      Their latest research concluded that there is no practical difference in “stopping power” between the 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP cartridges when modern hollow-point ammunition is used. Because of this, they’re planning to switch back to 9mm Luger due to the caliber’s advantages in magazine capacity and follow-up shot speed.

    3. The choice of a defensive firearm is an intensely personal decision, and there are a lot of right (and wrong!) answers. I realize the abuse I’m inviting, but I wanted to point out that in my experience the 1911 typically has a 1 – 2% jam rate and compares poorly to other choices in that area. Before you stone me as an apostate, allow me to point out that I carried a 1911 in some variation for over a decade both as a uniformed and undercover officer. And the 1911’s I’m talking about are Colt or Les Baer. Used good magazines from Wilson or Tripp Research. I’m also something of a statistics geek, and kept track of rounds fired/jams. Here’s what I found:

      1911 15,727 rds/167 jams = 1.06% jam rate
      Sig 228 943/0 = 0% jam rate
      Sig 226 1,830/1 = .05% jam rate
      Glock 17 1,620rds/1 jam = .06% jam rate
      S&W 3913 7,575 rds/1 jam = .01% jam rate
      S&W 39 2,962 rs/5 jams = .17% jam rate

      I didn’t list the info on revolvers I’ve shot, since they were monotonously at a 0% jam rate.

      Finally, in dealing with “stopping power” we should be paying more attention to physiology and less to physics. Physics is important as it relates to penetration, but the FBI has determined that 12 to 15″ of penetration is enough, and that’s achievable by most defensive calibers (but not the .380, sadly). Wounding studies have repeatedly shown that the most important aspect of incapacitation is hydraulics and electronics. Drain enough blood that the blood pressure drops enough for unconsciousness, or get a central nervous system hit that flips the switch. Long story short: practice until you can achieve good shot placement under adverse conditions, and use a handgun you know from experience is reliable, and a quality load in .38 Spcl, .357 Mag, .357 Sig, 9mm, .44, or .45 and you’ll be fine.

    4. Your assessment is misleading. First of all, you can’t just use blanket caliber for comparison. There are big differences between slow 147 grain 9mm bullets and fast 115 or 124 grain 9mm bullets. Same goes for 230 grain vs 185 grain .45 acp bullets.

      Secondly, it has been proven repeatedly that velocity, even at handgun levels, is at least as important as bullet weight or diameter – for penetration and expansion.

  24. I can’t argue with Mr Campbell’s choices. I own one or more of all three. All are steel, or alloy, solid, and will last from generation to generation. All three have a pedigree and the 1911 having quite an esteemed history. All three are known for impressive reliability. They all have one or more REAL external safeties. So if these things are important to you, than these pistols would probably be on your list.

    Thing is that there is no one pistol (or rifle or shotgun) than is the ideal or best for all missions. Yes they are often heavier and have a mag capacity of 7 to 13 rounds, which is often less or far less than modern polymer handguns. I own three glocks, an XD, and an M&P, and would not carry either of them on a daily basis, still they are all absolutely outstanding pistols. They are accurate, reliable, and will last. But I do not like the trigger safety very much, but that’s me, hence they are not my carry guns.

    If you grew up on these newer polymer pistols, you might have something to say about Mr Campbell’s list and my comments. Understandable. I was trained on a 1911 back in the day, and have carried one or a 1991 ever since almost everyday. There is also a sentimental component here as well. I think comments will fall along generational lines with rare exceptions, but thats just my opinion.

    Again there is no one pistol ideal or best for all missions and uses.

    1. Sir,

      Excellent point. REAL SAFETY
      A self loader without a manual safety abrogates the advantages of the type in many uses.

    2. “There is also a sentimental component here as well.”

      The best point made in his post, by far.

      The M&P is available in 45 ACP with a thumb safety and a significant advantage in magazine capacity over the single-stack 1911. It can pass the FBI’s 20,000 round torture test of reliability. It’s also substantially less expensive than a 1911 from Springfield, SIG Sauer, Colt, or Kimber.

      Why was it deemed inadequate for your list?

    3. The SW is not deemed unacceptable. There are other good guns, these are at the top of my list.

      I would also count the Beretta 92 and the SIG P 226 as good handguns. Those that have NOT been through army/police testing against worthy competitors simply cannot be given the same confidence.

    4. Clearly you’re referring to testing like the Army’s XM9 trials back in the early 1980s.

      Tell us – how did the 1911 fare in mean rounds between stoppages during those trials compared to the Sig P226 and Beretta 92?

    5. 1911 testing–

      The FBI tested the Springfield Bureau Model to 20,000 trouble free rounds.

      In 1911 the Army tested new Colts- with far inferior heat treating but good qualtiy- to 6,000 rounds without a problem at all.

      In 1981 the 1911s tested were a minimum of 36 years old as the last 1911A1 delivered to the Army was in 1945. Maintenance and mismatched parts took a toll. The test should have included new 1911s but that is a tough bone to pick.

      The P 226 is completely reliable. The B92 is close but not as robust in long term service, per my experience.

    6. “The FBI tested the Springfield Bureau Model to 20,000 trouble free rounds.”

      The FBI tested Glocks the same way, and they also passed – but with one major difference. The Glocks were off-the-shelf, while the Springfield 1911s were hand-assembled and tuned by Springfield’s custom shop.

      So in short, you’re saying a hand-tuned custom 1911 can be just as reliable as an off-the-shelf Glock that’s available for a fraction of the cost. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the 1911.

  25. I have to agree with you, Josh. When I saw Campbell’s picture I wondered if he pulled this article out of a file from 1986. He looks to be about my age and I remember the endless articles in Combat Handguns and elsewhere that read just like this as the authors either loved or railed against the “wonder nines” coming out in that era. I bought one of those “Kalispell” CZ75’s back then and it always felt to me like a DA/SA Hi Power (Those commies don’t care about patent law.) but made out of pot metal; very nice to shoot and I can see how they got so popular but it wasn’t by standing still. Come to think of it, I also had a nickel-plate HiPower that I liked and I also made the horrendous mistake of buying a stainless Colt Officer’s Model (Turned me off to 1911’s until I bought a Sig XO last year.) and I can tell you without equivocation that there are more makers of quality pistols now than back when these three were “it”.

    Face it, Bob, we are in a golden age of handguns right now. The “plastic” guns are the real deal. Even the 1911 is better now that we don’t have to depend on Colt for “innovation”. It’s nice you have what you like but I don’t see you getting a whole lot of agreement here.

  26. We can discuss that in 100 years from now, we’ll see if the plastic weapons will still be functional..

    1. Show me a century-old 1911 that has been shot regularly and still functions, and I’ll show you a 1911 with essentially three factory-original parts – the barrel, slide, and frame.

      Guess what – those same parts will last basically forever on a polymer pistol, too.

    1. Based on the number of malfunctions I’ve had with 1911 style pistols since 1980 when I started shooting, then the number of malfunctions with my Glocks since 2003 or so when i started carrying them, I would say, yes, the Glocks will still be functioning and better than 1911s in 100 years.

    2. good question. I am hopelessly ties up with Old West guns and love shooting them. I often carry a SAA .45hiking, a modern Pietta. However— I own a Colt SAA made in 1899. Last month the cylinder ceased to rotate when the hammer was cocked. Would still shoot when I manually turned the cylinder. I tore it down, and thought I would replace the handspring. The hand was broken! I replaced the handspring and hand and fitted it. A Colt should last more than 100 years, correct? A 116 year old Colt needed a bit of attention. I cannot afford collector Colts, it was a shooter.

      so– purchase quality. The Astras, Stars and Llamas of the previous generation- and Rogak and others are gone

      From the old west, perhaps ten cheap guns were sold for every Colt.
      They went south and some were not reliable when new.

  27. To the best of my knowledge, Glock is a unique weapon, and not a knockoff copy of of the 1911, Browning Hi Power, or the CZ 75. My duty Glock model 22 has more than 50k rounds fired through it, without as much as a failure to feed.

    The Colt Government Model 1911, Browning Hi Power, and CZ 75 are all good, reliable, and trustworthy handguns. Though they aren’t the only good, reliable and trustworthy handguns. Anyone who denies such is blatantly ignorant, overly bias, or just a fool.

  28. I cannot believe someone would take the time to write an article seriously recommending these three choices for a defensive handgun.

    I love the John Moses Browning designed pistols, rifles, and shotguns as much as anyone, but simply put – aside from history – the 1911 and BHP, and CZ-75 are outclassed by newer designs. The 1911s are very limited in capacity – and the old BS about a .45’s “Knock-Down Power” is just so much gun-counter horsesh*t. The High Power has a horrendous trigger pull without modification and is not available with a rail to mount a light. Colonel Coopers beloved CZ-75 is marginal at best when considering the modern-day requisites needed in a fighting, secondary weapon. All of that said, I won’t even get into what they weigh fully loaded…

    There is a reason why so many agencies and countries use the Glock.

    1. “There is a reason why so many agencies and countries use the Glock.”

      Glock makes a durable and reliable service pistol. That said, the reason so many institutional buyers choose Glock is mostly about price and after-purchase support.

      In other words, they’re good enough for the price – not the best at any price.

  29. Well, yeah, handgun choices are personal. And if this article was written in 1980, I’d have few quibbles with it. But…really? The Browning Hi-Power? A Glock 21 has the same capacity, but in .45 and is as durable as a pickup. The XD-9 holds 16 and has the same or better ergos with less weight. Smith and Wesson’s M&Ps might be even better.

    The 1911 is a specialist pistol, better than any revolver but it’s antiquated and often has to trade accuracy with reliability. For me, it’s a range treat.

    The CZ 75 is the best of the list, no downsides with 15 rounds and impressive accuracy. If Mr. Campbell likes these pistols, that’s fine. But I can only recommend one of the three to most shooters.

  30. Not sure why you think a 1911 isn’t sufficient. I carry a DW Guardian in Super .38, 10 round magazines, cocked and locked. I practice 50-100 rounds every 1-2 weeks and am confident I can hit what I am shooting at at 3, 7, and 15 yards. May not be center mass like my targets due to stress of the situation and a potentially moving target, but I will hit multiple times, if not every time. Then again, I practice with it and kniw how to use it. I’d like to think you folks and your plastic guns do the same. Practice = not needing to carry handguns with 20 round magazines…

  31. I agree with the author completely on the merits of the three pistols he prefers, however I have a HK45 Hammer fired and a HKVP9 striker fired that I trust my life with. I have had at least twenty pistols in my adult years and dearly love the 2011 STI Perfect ten when going in a hot spot. It will take down just about anything on two legs, with or without a vest. The recoil is nothing compared to the 1911 and the extra rounds could come in real handy. Still, the Hi Power double stack 9 is hands down the most beautiful and comfortable pistol ever made. That’s my nickels worth!

  32. I agree with the 1st commentator. I love the 1911 platform, but my first duty Glock, 1st gen model 17 fired 47000 rounds before the PD traded it. The only part that broke was the slide lock spring, and even then, the gun functioned flawlessly. Part replaced in 2 minutes. probably a quarter of those 47000 round were Federal BPLE +P+. It never lost accuracy and I can’t remember a malfunction. Ever. That said, I have switched my platforms to the M&P, and so far about 3500 rounds through each, a Shield, and the M&P 9. Still firing those +P+’s. Flawless.

  33. I’m assuming that newer versions of the 1911 are more reliable than the version the military left behind in ’85, although I have not seen any data. During the JSSAP testing both the Sig P226 and Beretta 92F achieved roughly 3x better reliability than the 1911. Just doing this from memory but I think the failure ratio was 1/6000 for the 1911 and 1/17,000 for the 226 and 92F. Understanding that there are many variables involved in calculating reliability (ammo, maintenance) that is still a huge disparity. The 1911 is a fine weapon ( I qualified with it in ’84) but it wouldn’t make my Top 10 for EDC. I completely understand wanting that warm/fuzzy that can only be achieved with a .45 ACP but I would opt for a Glock. BTW, I agree with William trading capacity for portability and carry a SIG P938 with 7+1 of Hornady Critical Defense. It’s a beautiful gun and a soft shooter but it is basically a mini 1911 and must be carried cocked and locked. Although I practice diligently I’m concerned with the extra step when/if I find myself in Condition Red or even Black. Might just go with a G26 and leave my worries behind 🙂

    1. Your strong-hand thumb flips the safety off in the last phase of the draw, as the muzzle comes in line with the target. Practice this regularly and you’ll find it adds no additional time to getting the pistol on-target and ready to shoot.

      The reasons for choosing other pistols over a 1911 usually revolve around magazine capacity and weight, not how fast you can draw and fire your first shot.

    2. All shooters who carry, or even keep a gun handy at home should practice with their weak side hand. In my case that’s my left since I am right handed. So, here’s a drill scenario to consider:

      Your right hand is injured at the outset of the incident and you must use your left. If you are using something like a Glock, XD, M&P, Walther PPX, etc., you simply draw or pick up the gun and start shooting using the single left hand shooting techniques you have been practicing.

      Now let’s do the same thing with a 1911, Hi Power, Beretta or other gun with an external safety . . . particularly one that is not ambidextrous. Flipping that safety off is now a bit slower and more difficult. If you are relying on a pistol with an external safety, I recommend running some weak handed drills where you must not only acquire and shoot the gun, but flip the safety off as well.

      Far fetched? Maybe. But the scenarios you never consider or practice for are the ones that tend to come back and bite you.

      Just food for thought.

  34. Respectfully, I cannot take any article seriously that starts with the 1911. Yes, it’s a great gun and yes it’s beautiful. It is steeped in history and has served this country well. But, if going into battle, whether it be on the battlefield, in a self defense scenario or any other time one must use a firearm to defend their life, nostalgia and sentimental feelings should be cast aside for that plain and boring thing called functionality. All that is to say, your choosing a 1911 over any modern firearm chambered in .45 is illogical. Most modern guns, for example, the fnx – 45 tactical, HK45, Glock 21, M&P, have nearly double the magazine capacity. They weigh significantly less (even with light attached, or other accessory), and have life saving reliability. I’m sure the author has lots of experience writing about guns and training, but the first time I had to use my side arm in combat, I didn’t stop to think man I wish this handgun was more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Welcome to the 21st century.

    1. Perhaps I should pass this comment on to Marine Recon and Army Rangers that carry their 1911s on a daily basis in harms way. As for myself I could carry any lesser weapon in the world. I do not deploy the 1911 because it is expected of me but because it is the best tool for the job. I also know a certain Captain in Military Intelligence that is as closely related to me as it gets that carries a Springfield (Novak) 1911 .45. On the contrary, quite a few going in harms way wish they could carry the 1911 instead of the institutional choices made for them. Often these choices are based upon average competency and the least training the agency or department is willing to give. For those that master the 1911 no other handgun is suitable

    2. Aren’t the Navy SEALs still using the SIG P226?

      The real question is whether Marine Force Recon and Army Ranger units are using 1911 pistols simply because they don’t like the M9 or the 9mm NATO round in general.

    3. I agree with your choice of 1911 for edc. While I do carry a S&W 380 bodyguard in hot weather, I’m not real crazy about plastic guns or holsters. Guess I’m old school. Cooler weather lets me carry either a Colt New Agent 9mm or Kimber Ultra Carry 45 cal, both with slim grips, XS 24/7 tritium sights and 3 inch barrels carried in leather holsters. Why the officer size? They just feel right, like an old friend. Fairly easy to conceal. 7 rounds in the mag, 1 in the chamber, locked and cocked, flip the safety off on the draw, second nature. Ever seen a striker fired long gun? They put safeties on long guns for a reason. Try stuffing a glock back in a kydek holster under a shirt/t-shirt with a wad of fabric bunched between the holster and trigger and see what happens. Not a problem if you carry open like most LEO’s do. 1911 with the safety on, no problem.

    4. Most of the people i knew in the military preferred the 45 over the 9mm for one reason, the only ammunition allowed by the military is hardball (at least for standard operations and warfare, special operations is a whole different world).
      As a civilian the modern self defense ammunition makes the difference between 9mm and 45 less of a factor.

      When it comes down to it, use what you know, what you are trained on, what you are comfortable with, and what you can afford.

    5. Josh- I am curious what pistol Marine Recon teams have been using for decades now? They could use any pistol in the world but they choose the 1911. It may not be what I carry daily but it does the job all sentiment aside.

    6. I would respectfully argue a few points. The closest pistol you mentioned to having almost double capacity is the fn. I carried a glock 21 for a short while but the size of the slide and overall shape of the gun made it uncomfortable to carry iwb for long periods of time. I found my 1911 easier to keep holstered comfortably all day. I also question the argument of reliability. I will not argue with someone about issues with a 1911 if we are talking about extreme and adverse conditions such as weather and serious combat scenarios involving heavy gunfire. Thing is that most civilian encounters do not necessitate the need of such extremes. Therefore a tried and true bersa thunder or ruger sr series and even a modest revolver can and have been in such situations which end very quickly with few shots fired. Civilian encounters rarely involve heavy and repeated combat.

    7. Noe, I have to agree with you about the double stack handguns. I have a compact double stack interarms 9mm that I’ve had forever and a full size Rock Island Arms 9mm/22tcm that I bought because the 22tcm is a ball to shoot. But for me they are like a girl with big hips, kinda hard to get ahold of. Give me a single stack 1911 with slim grips and I’ll take her to the prom everytime.

  35. Choosing…. I must concern myself with a couple of things when I choose a handgun.

    First, I have small hands. I have difficulty with my grip on double stack weapons. So, I opt for single stack semi-autos or compact revolvers.

    Open Carry or Concealed? I carry a full size for open carry. While single stacks limit rounds downrange, I opt for accuracy over quantity. I also opt for knockdown. For concealed carry, I have to consider my environment. I live in a very hot climate (triple digits are common), so I go for a compact.

    I carry a Colt Government, a Springfield Range Officer, or a Kimber Ultra Carry II… all in .45auto. I also have my old backup Firearms International Model D .380 (essentially the Colt Pony circa 1976).

    To me, the .45, which I carried in Vietnam, fits my needs. The majority of confrontations occur within 3-10 feet, which fits the 1911s capabilities. It was designed to knock down people, having a history of wave attacks by Moro natives, Japanese and Chinese style bonsai attacks, and Viet Cong and NVA. Many Special Ops personnel, who have a wide range of weapons to carry in the field, often choose the 1911 over the 92f and other options.

    This is strictly my view and what works for me. I am sure others have their own views in the same way that some people like the PC and some like Apple, or some like Chevys and some like Fords.

    1. I’m not sure where the information special ops folks choose to carry the 1911 over other options come from…

    2. The statement is true but somewhat misleading. It’s more accurate to say that many elite units in the US Military choose to carry something other than the M9.

      Whether it’s because they don’t like the M9 itself or don’t like the 9mm NATO round (which is FMJ) is generally not mentioned, since that line of discussion doesn’t play to the ends of those advocating the 1911 over other options for LEO or civilian use.

  36. some like blondes, some like brunettes, and some like redheads..I prefer reliability and style and a 1911 gives both mine has for 40 years….oh yeah, i lean towards brunettes.

    1. @coyotehunter

      So . . . I guess you are saying that Glocks and XDs are not reliable? I have shot the same G21 since 2003, many thousands of rounds, range time, USPSA matches, and never had a single malfunction with the exception of one FTF that was an ammo failure. I’ve only had my XD for 7 years, and it’s malfunction rate has been zero. Again, I had one round of Wold ammo that has a bad primer. Period.

      I understand that everyone has a personal preference, and I’m not dissing yours, but to say that modern pistols have to prove they are reliable . . . well, you are a bit behind the power curve on that one.

  37. I have carried two of the author’s choices (1911 and Hi Power) and shot the third (CZ). I agree with him that it’s best to carry a full sized gun. I can’t say I agree with his penchant for older designs.

    I do have to wonder at his content on the 1911. He starts out saying what a great reliable gun it is, wisely advises that people not gunsmith beyond their ability, and then launches into a list of technical issues anyone who decides to carry one will have to worry about. If I were a new or relatively inexperienced shooter, that would have convinced me a 1911 isn’t the gun for me.

    I recognize the Hi Power is a proven design dating from 1935, but I have never liked it much. I particularly don’t like the magazine disconnect safety which is not only inconvenient, but increases the weight of the trigger pull. I have very limited experience with the CZ, having only shot one a few times.

    For what it’s worth, my three choices are my Glock 21, XD 45, and the Beretta 92. If I have to carry a compact, I go with my Kel Tec PF9 which is also my standard BUG.

    Aside from my Glock being accurate and utterly reliable, it, the XD and PF9 all have the advantage of no external safety to manipulate, which is one of my personal requirements, not just for speed in the presentation of my self defense weapon, but also because I regularly practice shooting one handed with my left hand so that I can actually hit something if my right arm is disabled or if I am down to using my BUG which i carry on my left side. An external safety would be a problem in that case.

    Just my personal preferences.

  38. Spot on, a great review and a lot of insight and reasoning. My personal choice is a Colt 1070XSE for the ramped no snag sights retrofitted with tritium for low light level. It’s not small, but carrying a Colt for many years tells me it’s not a tough one to carry. For “dress up” days when I can’t wear looser clothes, a Colt Defender in 45 is the choice. Smaller in handle, barrel length and an Alloy frame for weight reduction, it is easy to conceal in dress pants using IWB Don Hume without sacrificing the punch of the 45. Quality hollow points in rounds 1,2,3,4 and hard nose FMJ ball to fill out the 8 round CM magazines allow full personal protection against soft tissues and the FMJ for penetrating tough hides or sheet metal if it gets that bad. Also, in total agreement with Bob, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. I run a minimum of 80 rounds (10 mags) every range trip on paper and steel when I go to the range for practice or 150-200 when I go to a match. That way you will have 100% confidence in your own ability, gun and ammunition. Yes, I use it to shoot steel challenge and falling steel, there is no better practice for draw and shoot for accuracy and speed than level 1 steel matches. Support your local club and STAY SHARP by getting off the couch and shooting with like minded people.

    Bill in Austin!

  39. For my infrequent forays into “soft-target” or high risk (crime) areas, I carry NOTHING less than a full size 1911, loaded with Hornady Critical Defense ammo, sporting a Recover Tactical CC3H rail/active retention holster system, a mounted Streamlight TLR-4 laser/light combo, and two spare mags. I know…..heavy, bulky, and tough to conceal full battle rattle. In this day and age, purposefully going to the areas I described with anything less, to me, is ill advised. EDC is usually more along the lines of a 9mm Ruger SR9c or in warmer weather my LCP.

  40. Bob Campbell chose the two oldest types of pistols on the books – both of them SA-only. The CZ75 is the only true “modern” pistol in the lot. I bet Mr. Campbell still prefers his Black Bess muzzle loader to an AKM or AR15 …only because that’s what he’s familiar with. The US Military got rid of their 1911’s 20+ years ago and went with Beretta 92’s. Since then, striker-fired pistols have taken over the industry – they are less expensive, more reliable, and carry a greater payload.
    MY RECOMMENDATION IS: come into the 21st Century, Bob.

  41. In light of the recent events and the escalating possibility of being involved in a terror-style or mass shooting style event, the weapons and scenarios in the article could be a real possibility. This should always be considered. Most of us probably consider the up close and personal mugging or store robbery. With that being said, carrying any of these three options on a daily basis would be trying. I therefore don’t think they are the best options in the real world we live in. If I was a soldier who was open carrying, I wouldn’t hesitate to carry the CZ 75. It’s a great gun, but I’m not allowed to open carry nor would I want to. The reality is this; I carry the CZ P07 as my winter carry weapon. That alone is hard to fully conceal without printing and I dress around it. I also get tired of the weight and it gets really uncomfortable by the end of the day. These are all trade offs that are worth it for a capable weapon, but I can’t even begin to imagine carrying and concealing one of the listed weapons all day in the real world. A weapon along the lines of the CZ P07, Sig P226 and Walther PPQ M2 in size and weight are better, real world options. More power to those willing to carry a larger weapon, but most of us simply will not be able to or want to regardless of the benefits especially when a slightly smaller gun as I’ve listed will do really well.

    1. Decipher,
      I consider myself a somewhat average individual at 5’10” and weight has varied over the years. I have carried a 1911 in .45 ACP every day for over 45 years, generally with two extra mags in a retired cell phone carrier. I do not consider myself extraordinary in any particular way and find that the somewhat heavy .45 in a large, all steel pistol not to be any particular problem. It has not presented any particular problems for me over all the time I have carried my combination of pistol and mags.
      I have two friends and both of them carry exactly the same. One is portly and has more concealment issues and the other is average and can “lose” a .45 Commander length (4.25 inch barrel) any day of the week..
      I guess I would ask — have you tried it? Or, did you assume it would be too heavy without actually experiencing it.
      I chose the .45 and the 1911 because of over 50 years of dealing with difficult opponents when I started to carry. I realize that there are others which may be just as effective, but none (other than perhaps the 9mm — and its history is somewhat spotty to say the least) have such a long record of dependable effectiveness. I will bet my life, and that of my family, on it.
      I practice at least twice a month and often weekly, always shooting 230 grn FMJ loads. I never shoot less than 50 rounds and frequently shot between 100 and 200 rds per session. I shoot about every different manner allowed on the range to be proficient. I have tritium filled night sights but no other mods to my pistol except a slightly stiffer recoil spring and a few pieces of skate board tape at strategic locations to enhance grip.
      I believe in large and powerful. I also drive a 3/4 ton heavy duty crew cab diesel pickup with extra weight in tools in the truck. Years ago, a deputy friend called me to an accident scene and showed me a Toyota compact car license plate under the front end of a pickup nearly identical to mine. The Toyota, populated by 4 young adults had strayed into the traffic’s oncoming lane and was hit head on by the pickup. All 4 in the Toyota died and the two in the pickup caught a cab home. I would rather have too much than too little, in pursuit of just enough. My personal philosophy.
      But, I do not find a 1911 in .45 too much of a burden and do not feel inclined to advise others to go with less.

    2. Sir,
      Excellent post.
      We are brothers.

      I imagine you also use high quality holsters, which makes the world of difference.
      Thanks for reading.

    3. “Years ago, a deputy friend called me to an accident scene and showed me a Toyota compact car license plate under the front end of a pickup nearly identical to mine. The Toyota, populated by 4 young adults had strayed into the traffic’s oncoming lane and was hit head on by the pickup. All 4 in the Toyota died and the two in the pickup caught a cab home.”

      While the vehicle that crossed the center line is obviously at fault, I can’t help but wonder how those young adults in the Toyota might have fared had they collided with another small or mid-sized car rather than a pickup that grossly outweighed them.

    4. When it comes to carrying a larger or heavier pistol, the belt is arguably more important than the holster. It’s the belt (not the holster) that really distributes the load around your waist.

    5. Excellent point!
      A poor belt will ruin concealed carry. A thin dress belt and a ten dollar fabric holster are barely adequate for a Kel Tec .32 much less a serious fighting hand. And a good snug against the body holster–Allocation of belt space is important.

  42. The 1911 and Browning High Power are essentially the same pistol. Which makes sense since they were designed by the same guy. Both are reliable in the right hands.
    My personals are SIG 229 in .40 and 357 Sig. I have 2 of them, both with rails. Parts, magazines, and manual of arms are reliable and the calibers are excellent combat/Man stoppers with enough capacity to satisfy my needs. If I was going to add a 9MM to the bunch, It would be a CZ 75 as well.

  43. No one can reasonably dispute your claim that these are fine weapons, the merits of which are truly field proven. And I do not dispute their appropriateness as duty/service/ open carry handguns. But for concealed carry? A 2+ # 1911 (be it government, commander, or short barrel) no matter how much you may love it for all the right reasons, is like a danforth anchor under your belt.

    I will stick with my Ruger LCR that is highly concealable and weighs just over 13 ounces. Sure that is a compromise (5 rounds of .38+P vs. 8 .45ACP) but that is the gist of the matter: trading off some capacity and long range accuracy for portability in what will likely be a very brief and close range encounter. Guess I don’t anticipate many protracted battles from behind a car door.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading