Choosing your Handgun

So you are now contemplating your first handgun purchase. It is a big deal and in most cases not necessarily an inexpensive purchase. There are many types as well as manufacturers to choose from. In the retail world your purchase will most likely be between $300 to $650.00 including your tax.The first thing to consider in this purchase is what is this handgun going to be primarily used for? Range use, home protection, on the road traveling, or concealed carry as a CHL permit holder. There are many guns that can fulfill these rolls. Then there are some that are more suited for specific types of use.

There are some basic rules that apply to all handguns. Heavier the handgun the more manageable or comfortable the recoil. Heavier guns are bigger and heavier and are harder to conceal. Longer barrels generally are easier to sight align and therefore usually more accurate.

Very Small handguns like Kahr are generally not fun to shoot. The .357 Magnum, .40, .45 caliber. In small diminutive sizes are not fun to shoot. There are exceptions though so research before buying. If you do not practice regularly you will lose any skill you currently have and you will not improve. Practice equals Winning. Advantage goes to you but only if you practice.

If you are a licensed CHL holder, quality holsters or purses can and will make the difference in you packing your concealed handgun on a daily basis. Single stack magazines have a slimmer and more easily concealed profile and weigh less. The opposite is true for double stack magazines. Any gun with more than a 4 inch barrel is considered a full size gun and is not suitable for concealed carry.

Having the gun feel good in your hands is a primary consideration, are you going to be able to afford the ammo for regular practice? What caliber to choose? I say that a 9mm is minimum for self-defense, but there are some that would argue that the .380 ACP is fine. Any caliber is fine for target shooting. Gun shows are a good starting point for the hold and touch part of you search for a handgun be it a concealed handgun or not. There are also ranges that do gun rentals. Then do pricing research when you have your selection narrowed down to what you want.

Sub compacts like the GLOCK 26 & 27 , Springfield XD and the S&W  M&P-C are a little thick but will all conceal all are available in a variety of calibers. S&W Shield in 9mm and .40 very thin and have an additional safety, single stack, light weight, easy to carry. Springfield XDS .45 ACP and in 9mm have almost the same size as the S&W Shield. Springfield has the Chamber Indicator on the slide. Ruger LC9, slim, single stack, lightweight, additional safety, chamber indicator and is also easy to carry. All of these are also available in compact and full size as well.

All these handguns are good reliable shooters. You can take any of these to the range and fire 100 rounds and not be beat up (except for the 2 inch barrel guns). Semi- Automatics are in abundant supply and as I said earlier they are extremely popular. They are faster to reload for the less experienced shooter than the revolver. I feel that the learning curve on this type of handgun is more detailed as the trigger pulls on many are lighter than a revolver when in condition one. (ready to shoot with a cartridge in the chamber) On most but not all guns there may be no indication if there is a cartridge in the chamber. On the Ruger and the Springfield’s XD series there is a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide that indicated if there is a round in the chamber. On S&W M&P shield there is a peep hole to visually check to see if there is a round on the chamber. On the GLOCK the extractor is slightly elevated when there is a round in the chamber. The list goes on depending what the model or make is.

Revolvers… Are frequently overlooked and they should not be. There is inherent safety and reliability that is built in to the revolver. You can visually check the cylinder and see if it is loaded at a glance. The trigger pull is long and deliberate probably between 6-8 lbs. The revolver will never jam or have a failure to eject. If you have a misfire, failure to feed, or a squib you just squeeze the trigger for a fresh cartridge to go under the hammer. This makes the revolver a solid choice for a new shooter.

If your immediate goal is to have a handgun for the range, travel and home protection this is a good choice. You will need a average amount of hand and finger strength in shooting a revolver so if you have arthritis or another impairment of the hands this might not be a good choice for you. The reloads will be slower than in reloading a semi-automatic handgun but will become quicker with some additional equipment and training.

If I were to go with a revolver I would have to have one that is capable of shooting 38 Special Plus P ammo (+P). That means either a 38 Special +P or a .357 Magnum.  I find a  3-4 inch barrel in a revolver is ideal for the range, self-defense in the home or as a concealed carry gun. Whereas longer barrels are not suited for concealed carry.

A .357 Magnum can shoot .38 special standard velocity, +P .38 Special and .357 Magnum. A .357 Magnum in a short barrel like 2 inches is BRUTAL to shoot if more than a dozen rounds are fired, maybe less

depending on the individual. The noise and the flash will be very extreme on both counts when using the .357 ammunition in a 2 inch barrel. This should be reserved for high skill level shooters only and those that like punishment. Also consider that if you elect to use he .357 as a personal defense choice is that it has the ability to over penetrate a human target as well as barriers like walls in your home.

If your end goal is self-protection it is of great importance that you know how to manipulate your gun in all conditions. Not only the Semi-Automatic but the Revolver as well. The Semi-Automatic handgun will demand more training because if you have a misfire, failure to feed, a failure to eject, or a squib you must be able to implement immediate corrective action to remain in the fight. This type of action must be intuitive, second nature if you will. If you are a novice or need improvement the best way to aid yourself is to enroll in handgun training class. It will be through handgun classes that you will receive the foundation of Training & Instruction needed to manipulate your handgun safely and effectively not only at the range but in a defensive role.