This post is to help all of the new shooters decide which handgun would be perfect for them to purchase for self-defense purposes. Let’s start with the Four Rules of Gun safety:
1.All guns are always loaded. (Treat them like they are)
2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target (and you have made the decision to shoot).
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
I have been asked a lot from friends and family members recently for this particular type of advice. This comes after the Paris and San Bernardino Terrorist Attacks. Those that were on the fence about gun ownership have decided that now is the time to obtain the right tool for the job: a firearm.
First I would like to recommend the caliber: 9mm. There’s a lot of reasons behind this:
It is easy to control recoil, making easier and fun to shoot and therefore you’ll shoot it more often. The ammunition is inexpensive compared to the bigger calibers. With the minimal recoil, there is less wear and tear on the weapon, making it more durable. For an actual self-defense role, it should be loaded with defensive ammunition and it will do it’s job well at stopping the threat.
Next would be the handgun size. It’s much easier to control a full size or compact handgun than a subcompact. The subcompact handguns recoil much more because of it’s shorter barrel and light weight. It’s just physics. The only reason to have a subcompact is for the purpose of carrying concealed. I still would suggest that you start with at least a compact sized handgun.
Lastly I highly recommend that you start with a striker fired pistol. The trigger pull is the same every time and you won’t have to learn different triggers. These pistols have less parts and are as simple as they can be: draw it, aim, and press the trigger. Under stress you don’t want to worry about whether your safety selector is on or off. This doesn’t make the pistols less safe. They have multiple safeties in place that will not fire unless the trigger is pressed. If you really want a manual safety there is a few models available for you.
Onto the make and models:
Glock is the most popular striker fired pistol and for good reason. They have great value and have the least amounts of parts and have a reputation for reliability and accuracy. As long as you practice and follow the gun safety rules, these guns are very safe. I mention the rules because you have to pull the trigger in order to disassemble the pistol.
The two Glocks I recommend are:
Glock 17 (Full Size)
Glock 19 (Compact)
The following pistols don’t require you to pull the trigger to field strip.
Smith & Wesson Military and Police series pistols are a newer version of reliable striker fired pistols that are a little more ergonomic than Glocks. They come with different sized back straps that you can interchange to fit your hand size. Some models have an optional frame safety.
The S&W models I recommend:
M&P9 (Full Size)
Springfield Armory XD’s are also nice striker fired pistols.
XD9 (Full Size)
The following are for those who are Full-time Peace Officers or non-California residents.
Heckler and Koch VP9 is currently my favorite pistol and happens to be my duty weapon. I wrote a review on it a few months ago and you can read it here:
Sig Sauer P320 (Full Size) & P320C (Compact) these pistols are fairly new and have a lot of features and a very nice trigger. I’m in the process of selling my P229 to buy a P320C.
As you can see, I am simplifying my weapons systems to striker fired pistols. Although I’m used to the DA/SA trigger pulls, it’s just so much easier to have the same trigger pull and never have to worry about decocking the hammer.
I hope this helps you make your decision on your first handgun/ pistol purchase. Do NOT think for a second that just because you have a firearm that you are safe from someone threatening your life! Firearms often give people a false sense of security. You must train and practice often to be able to operate it, let alone in a high stress environment (which will definitely be the case if your gun is out and drawn). I cannot stress enough that you seek professional training and practice dry firing and put in some range time as often as you can. Please be safe and if you have any questions at all, please leave a comment!