Tuesday, October 2, 2012
How To Choose a Personal Defense Handgun
by Rob Pincus
Posted: September 28, 2012
The most important issue with a defensive firearm is reliability.
The next most important factor we need to look at is shootability.
Carryability is another word that should become part of your lexicon if you are going to carry your gun for defensive use.
For a “new in box” defensive handgun that meets the requirements I’ve set, you should not be spending more than $600. In fact, $500 is a very fair price for a new or almost new defensive gun. There is no reason to consider spending more. Keep in mind that you will need to purchase spare magazines, a good holster (or two), both defensive and practice ammunition, and possibly invest in professional training to go along with your purchase. You should still be able to purchase everything you need for under $1,000:
Defensive Firearm: $500 - $600
Holster: $50 - $75
Spare Magazines: $50
Defensive Ammo: $75 - $100 (reliability testing and two to three magazines for carry)
Practice Ammo: $100 (minimum!)
Training: Varies (books and DVDs, CCW permit, defensive training)
My company currently recommends the following firearms, in 9mm, as the first places to look when choosing a defensive handgun. In alphabetical order, they are:
Caracal -- C & F models without the “quick sight” option.
Glock Models 26, 19 or 17. If you choose a 4th Gen, ensure you have the currently recommended springs. This specific model was plagued with problems when first released.
Smith & Wesson M&P -- models without a manual safety or magazine disconnect.
Springfield XD. This model is suggested with one caveat: the grip safety presents a failure point that is most significant when clearing complex malfunctions or shooting in unorthodox positions. But it is recommended particularly because of its better fit for many shooters with small hands.
All of the above MSFs have been observed to be reliable under a variety of circumstances with a variety of shooters.
Handguns that get Honorable Mentions as defensive choices:
Snub Nosed Double Action Revolvers, such as the S&W 642, for the reasons spelled out above.
Walther PPS. This slim MSF is currently going through an extended reliability test and has performed very well to date.
Ruger LCP. This reliable gun is an extreme compromise to carryability, is chambered in the less-than-optimal .380 ACP round, and has relatively low shootability. But it has proven reliable and is extremely convenient to carry because of its small size.