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Personal Handgun Recommendation

In America today the need for self-defense has never been more important, especially for people who live in large cities or other crowded urban areas. Life-threatening incidents can take place in a heartbeat and house break-ins pose another kind of potentially mortal threat.

Clearly it is important to consider any means of protection – for yourself and for your family members, as well. The primary method of self-protection is now, and has always been, the use of a handgun. While there has been much debate on this issue (some people prefer other means of protection), the handgun generally places at, or near, the top as a desired means of defending oneself against predators or bad guys.

The question for people willing to own and carry a weapon is this: which handgun is the best one for me? There are two schools of thought on this. Many men and other heads of household who are concerned with family security tend to opt for a large-caliber weapon, such as the .45, especially in its semi-automatic manifestation. However, as a handgun enthusiast, I disagree with that assessment (as do a surprisingly large percentage of law enforcement officers) for reasons I’m about to offer.

In fact, I believe, as do many police officers, that the better handgun for protecting yourself and family members is any 9mm weapon … with your personal choice of ammunition (ammo). Now, many gun owners will disagree with my choice because of the perceived “knock down power” of the larger and heavier .45 handgun. They believe that its greater weight and the larger caliber ammo it fires will stop a felon or anyone attacking you immediately.

But, often things are not always as they appear.  If you take the time to research this subject, you’ll find that, frequently, people who are shot by a pistol, any caliber, are not always instantly incapacitated. Remarkably, in many cases, they’re able to continue to fight back. There is an old saying about the results of being shot, one with which you may be familiar. It goes something like this …

What does a person do after being shot with a pistol? He continues doing exactly what he was doing before he got shot. In other words, the caliber of the pistol ammo could not stop him, no matter its size.

This reality that pistol fire cannot stop a human target has many police agencies and military units moving away from – or phasing out completely – the use of pistols as defensive weapons, regardless of the caliber. Currently, for example, American MPs are being armed with compact rifles in place of the previously-holstered pistols they once used.

For private individuals, however, ordinary citizens like you and me, pistols can still be an effective weapon for self-protection. You simply need to use the right ammunition. It is, in fact, more important than the caliber of the bullets you choose to fire.

Top-of-the-line ammunition manufacturers like Winchester, Hornady and Speer produce lethal hollow-point bullets for self-defense purposes and for use in 9mm handguns that have truly powerful ballistic capabilities that actually exceed those of the larger .45 bullets. These 9mm hollow-point bullets, in fact, generally have the ability to stop an attacker in his tracks and put him down, eliminating the threat he may have posed just moments earlier.

The knowledge that this capability exists has resulted in its use in more and more law enforcement agencies nationally. However, at this point, these lethal hollow-point 9mm bullets are not being used by military personnel.

The fact that well-made 9mm hollow-point bullets can stop an attacker instantly should have you wondering why you would even consider carrying a larger, heavier .45 caliber pistol, a weapon that is also limiting because its larger caliber means it receives fewer bullets in its chamber than the smaller 9mm and it has to be re-loaded more frequently. That, of course, can be a problem in a time of crisis.

It’s important that you remember the real purpose for carrying a pistol: it is to provide yourself with a concealable, compact firearm that you will be able to use for self-defense  (in close quarters) to escape the danger … fight your way to cover … eliminate the deadly risk. If those are the reasons for carrying a handgun, the 9mm provides a superior option to the larger .45.

9mm handguns carry more bullets than the .45 and definitely require fewer magazine changes. For example, many police officers prefer to use Glock pistols. These 9mm weapons come in different sizes, but the standard Glock allows you to load 17 bullets compared to the 12 you can chamber with a standard .45. If you are in a life-threatening situation where continuous firepower can mean the difference between life and death, the additional five bullets eliminates the need for a much-too-early magazine change in a time of real crisis and peril.

There are other Glock weapons, like the “26,” which only enables its owner to chamber 10 rounds, but the advantage this weapon has over a .45 is that it is much more easily concealable. And that is, of course, a huge benefit.

One more thing to ponder is the 1911, the most popular .45 in use today. It’s a powerful handgun, but – and this is a very big but – it requires two magazine changes before one is even required for the person using the Glock 17. Clearly, the ability to sustain firepower in a life or death situation gives you a better chance to survive … and that is one very good reason why 9mm handguns are superior to .45 caliber weapons.

With nearly a century of use, the 1911 pistol is still one of the most popular handguns on the market.

It’s worth stating here that the 1911 is still a very good handgun … that is why it remains popular with Americans concerned with self-defense. The weapon is well-designed, provides accurate firepower and can stop an attacker in his tracks. But, its magazine only holds 7 or 8 rounds; a Glock, which is roughly the same size, perhaps a bit more compact, holds twice as many rounds. That’s an important advantage.

However, if the standard for selecting a self-defense handgun is its “knock down power,” the .45 would probably show up higher on the list of people who choose to carry a weapon because of the larger size and weight of the bullets it fires.

But, if the larger purpose of owning and carrying weapons is “family self-defense,” you need to ask yourself this question: would I prefer that my spouse and teenage children better perform such tasks as accurate shot placement while moving forward, backward or sideways, while under stress, with a larger and heavier .45 or with the lighter and more compact Glock 9mm? The answer, it seems to me, is obvious. Self-defense for family members, especially those who may be somewhat smaller in size or stature, is more easily accomplished with a 9mm handgun.

Of course, it won’t matter what handgun you or family members use if you don’t participate in weapons training and practice … regularly. Statistics bear out a disturbing fact. It is that individual performance suffers significantly in stress-filled combat situations. In fact, the average person will experience a drop-off in his/her ability to function effectively of about 50% when faced with a life-threatening moment. That’s why training and practice with the weapon you own is so critically important. It can help reduce the drop-off in personal ability and, of course, improve your chances of survival.

The importance of shot placement and the caliber of the bullets you use may not be as important as you may currently believe. I recently saw a video that was shot from the cruiser of a state trooper who became engaged in a life-or-death gun battle with a felon. The felon shot the trooper with a lightweight .22 caliber bullet that entered the trooper’s side (away from his protective vest), pierced his aorta and resulted in his death … right at the scene of the gun battle. Was it a lucky shot? Perhaps, but the point is this: it was a well-placed shot and the caliber of the bullet became unimportant. The trooper died from the wound he received … from a very small caliber bullet.

I watched a second video shortly after viewing the one mentioned above. In this video, a domestic dispute turned violent and a female (housewife or girlfriend) was shot point blank in her forehead with a powerful .357 revolver. Did she die instantly from this gunshot wound? The answer is no. In fact, when police arrived at her home, the woman was still conscious and actually sitting on her couch waiting for them. The .357 bullet had glanced off her skull, traveled beneath her skin to the back of her head where it finally came to rest and lodged inside of her neck.

Amazingly, she survived … even though she was shot with a bullet that many believe is powerful enough to kill every time. The point in describing these two videos should be obvious. When it comes to handguns, the caliber of bullet being fired is less important than the accuracy with which they are fired. Strike a vulnerable organ in your human target and stop him – dead!

Cost is still another factor you need to consider when selecting a handgun for self-defense – for yourself and for your loved ones. Your weapon will always be only as good as your ability to use it proficiently. That means you have to engage in periodic live-fire practice and training at your local firing range. And that costs money. Currently, 9mm practice ammunition sells for about $165 per 600 rounds while .45 caliber practice ammunition sells for as much as $290 per 600 rounds. Obviously, that’s a big difference.

The cost for better ammunition, such as the Speer Gold Dot 9mm Hollow-Point is somewhat more expensive. These practice bullets cost about $23 for 20 rounds; a similar upgrade for .45 caliber ammunition will cost you about $28 for 20 rounds.

If cost matters to you, the choice of a handgun becomes even more obvious. It should be a 9mm weapon. And the best of these weapons are, in my opinion, Glocks.

Glocks, of course, have no external safety features or de-cock levers. Their safety features are all internal which has led some to argue that the weapons are unsafe to handle and to use. And yet, countless thousands of police officers all across the country rely on Glocks without concern for any risk that may be associated with their use.

The truth is that firearm safety is now, and always has been, dependent on keeping the trigger area free of any and all obstructions … most importantly, your trigger finger. The weapon won’t discharge if you don’t pull the trigger. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s another benefit. All 9mm Glocks have interchangeable parts, including their magazines. In most cases, the magazine for one model fits perfectly in a second model … and so on. This versatility is unavailable in other handguns, most notably .45 caliber weapons.

Moreover, the .45 is a big weapon, difficult to carry and use for many people. So … why struggle with a weapon that may work against you in a time of great need when you can rely on a weapon that will help you overcome danger when it crosses your path?

It needs to be said, right now, that I am in no way opposed to people owning and using .45 caliber handguns. I like these weapons as much as the next person. But, when it comes to family self-defense, I believe – strongly – that 9mm handguns are the much better option, particularly those from the Glock family of weapons.

You may disagree, but a 9mm Glock in the hands of your spouse or teenage son or daughter when faced with a life-threatening “close quarters” combat situation gives each of them a much better chance to escape and to survive.

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  1. my wife has tried to shoot my 357 even with the 38 rounds and found the gun is just to heavy for her the 454 was just out of the question so in my search for a gun that she could shoot well and still have a large enough calibre that she felt safe i ran into a guy that had a 9mm he was selling so i borrowed the gun and took her shooting the ammo was just cheap wolf brand ammo but she shot really well by the end of our shooting session so i purchased the gun for her while it wasnt a glock it fit her good and most importantly i got it relatively cheap it is a smith n wesson with 2 clips and i got for $250 with 500 rounds of ammo and the box and all as more people are changing their calibre of weapons ive noticed that if you look around you can pick up these 9 mm pistols for reasonable prices good article

    • Wolf ammo is by far some of the worst I have ever used. Had repeated jamming problems when firing through both my AR-15s. Cleaned after every trip to the range as well. Oh well, I guess you get what you pay for, at least its cheap!!

      • the wolf brand ammo came with the gun ive since purchased remington umc the wolf brand did not jam in my wifes smith n wesson pistol nor in my highpoint 9mm carbine although i have had 2 of the mag springs break in the carbine

      • It isn’t Wolf brand ammo that is the problem, it is the AR platform. The AR, while it is a great design, is a finicky design as well. Just something about having that gas tube dumping gases back into the chamber area and bolt group. I have an AR made by Stag Arms. Great gun. I also have a AR platform Sig 556. Different operating system. it uses the AK 47 operating rod, instead of a gas tube. No powder gases make it back into the upper receiver. I also have a Kel-Tec SU16CA. Same thing as the Sig 556, but much less expensive. Here in California, if it has a pistol grip, you either can’t have a removable box magazine, or there has to be a strange little device on the magazine release, in order to make it nearly impossible to quickly change your mag. Since the Kel-Tec doesn’t have a pistol grip, you don’t fall under the stupid Calif rules. It uses any AR magazines, of any size. Folds in half for easy carry in a small day pack, etc. Lot’s of reasons I could give for a kel-tec. Especially to Glock fans. The entire rifle is made out of the same polycarb plastic as a glock. neat and very accurate rifle. But back on point… The Sig 556, and the Kel-Tec, as well as an old Mini-14 I have, will eat Wolf ammo all day long at the range. No missfires, no failure to feed or extract. Nothing. You might as well be using the most expensive Lake City mil-spec ammo available. Fact is, specifically the Wolf 62 grain HP ammo, is also a hotrod ammo, just like the military contract 5.56 ammo. Yes it is a little bit dirtier than say Federal. But at half the cost, I’ll run my cleaning rod down the bore every 500 rounds or so. Wolf ammo is also a low flash ammo. Night firing, will not blow away your night vision. The flash is small a very dull deep orange in color.

        So for all the AR shooters out there, that like to talk down the Wolf brand ammo, it isn’t true that you always get what you pay for. Here in Kommifornia, the typical black rifle is gonna cost close to $2k, and most will only shoot the most expensive ammo you can find. If you feel you must have an AR platform, go with any of them with an AK operating rod system, instead of a gas tube. The reliability will go up 200%, and you can shoot the cheapest crap ammo you can find, without any worries.

        Wolf ammo in other calibers also works great. I am a combat pistol instructor. I take folks that have never fired a handgun in their life, and in a short period of time, they are qualified to shoot IPSC. We start with a Sig Mosquito 22lr to familiarize, and get them on paper, then depending on the size of their hand, either go to a Beretta M9 Commercial or a Springfield XD9 tactical. For the 22lr, I only shoot Aquila ammo. For the extended shooting of the 9mm, I only use the Wolf 115grain FMJ. At the gun shows. I can get the Wolf 9mm for about $110-$135 per thousand rounds. It never jams.. It never fails to fire. It never fails to eject. Everytime the trigger is pulled, and there is a live round in the chamber, it goes boom. Once my students are consistently hitting the 9-10 ring, we move up to some of the personal defense rounds. While the Speer Gold dot is great, so are most of the personal defense rounds. My personal favorite is Fiocchi 124 grain HP ammo. The cases are nickel plated for smooth feeding, and they use the XTP HP’s in it. Absolutely devastating round.
        Just for the record, I agree with the author on the use of 9mm over .40 and .45 ammo. While I have no problem shooting the 40’s and 45’s, both my wife and my 14 year old daughter are excellent shots with their own Springfield XD9’s. My wife has a XD9M 3.8 which is highly concealable with the shorter barrel, plus it holds 19 rounds in the magazine. For those that like the Glock, I recommend trying a XD in the caliber of your choice. I think you’ll feel something very familiar. The XD has the same trigger safety as the Glock, plus it has a secondary safety system in a grip safety like the 1911’s. All in all, the 5inch barreled tactical my daughter has, is the most accurate handgun I have ever fired. With a little familiarization, 65-70% hits at 100 yards is not uncommon!

  2. I definitely have to agree with a 9mm for a personal protection handgun.

    The number one rule people need to consider about pistols is that ALL pistol calibers SUCK. Every single one of them is a woefully underpowered popgun compared to a rifle. The only thing pistols are good for is being small and easy to carry, so we carry them!

    With modern quality defensive ammo it really doesn’t matter what caliber you use (as they all suck!), I keep Corbon’s solid copper DPX in my carry gun, a Glock 19.

    Glocks are good guns, however the main downside of them in my opinion is their large grips… I have fairly small hands for a man and the Glock grip isn’t so great for me, many women have serious problems with Glocks due to the big fat grips.

    as with all guns, choosing one comes down to personal preference and what works for YOU!

    • Same here with small hands, the double stack is too wide. Better with a 45.
      Which brings to mind a subject from above. The fight between 9 mm and 45 is the difference between police objectives and military. Trust me, both will get the job done. Whatever you have, just be able to hit with it and it is effective. Bullets hurt, even through a flak jacket they will raise a blister. And regardless how rough and tough you are, if you get hit with one, you will know, and the next day you will remember. Not too many men I know will go back where they got shot at.

    • As said in the articles any firearm is better than none , but ask any one returning from the sandbox and they will tell you a 45acp or a 40 is what they want in a firefight not a 9 mm ! 9 out of 10 will say this and they have been in a position to know firsthand. now one can split hairs and say for personal family defence or whatever but if it is more than just stoping 1 bad guy in a limited situtation I will not recomend a 9 mm first !!
      1st when you have to use premium ammo because of lack of knockdown power then a red flag is waving in the wind ! 2nd when you have to have 15 or 19 rounds to feel confident in stoping threat red flag is slaping you in the face !!!! standard ammo for 45acp is battle proven thru 2 world wars and 4 other us conflicts !when you use premium ammo you can stop anyone and knock them backwards !!!!! I am not knocking a 9 or glock if this is what you feel confident in and are good with it ok. I do have 1 question about them …which army carries them into battle ? which military uses these as standard issue? and when you answer that ask yourself WHY? then you will see why I would have it as my grab-n-go sidearm!

      • edit on my previous post could not edit before “this is whi I would NOT have it as my grab – n – go sidearm the 9mm ! I will always be a 1911a1 in 45acp man first, for a combat sidearm! I do shoot a 9mm and a 357 and a 44mag but not for my grab – n – go sidearm!!

      • Every military in the world, now carries a 9mm of some flavor as their sidearm. As someone that played in the sandbox for many years before our current mess, and carried both the .45 and the current M9’s, I can tell you that I would still carry the 9mm, here at home. While in the military, all you can use is FMJ ammo, sure the .45 will knock someone down faster than a 9mm. But way back when, when the US was the last hold out on the 45 acp, the powders that were used, we much more primitive than today. Now days, the powders that are used in the M9 puts out more muzzle energy than the 45acp of days gone by. So, lets say, I’m back in the sandbox again, and I get my choice… modern 45acp with FMJ, or 9mm with FMJ, I’d take the 45. But here in the real world, we aren’t stuck with just plain FMJ ammo. as someone that is about to be shot with a pistol, I’m hoping the guy doing the shooting is using 45acp FMJ instead of a 9mm with say a hydroshok or XTP HP. But you have to realize, this is the same argument that has gone on for decades. This is the same argument that went on when they switched from .30-06 in the Garand to .308 in the M-14, and then it got even worse when we switched to the M-16 and the 5.56×45 round. i have personally seen someone get hit with a 5.56 in the right hip and have it exit his body on the left side of his neck. The damage done as it bounced around on the inside was devastating. Did it pick him up and knock him on his a$$? No. But he did drop in his tracks. I have seen guys in the old days, get popped up close in the chest with the .45acp FMJ. Did it knock him backwards? No, but he dropped in his tracks. But then again I’ve seen the same thing happen with the 9mm upclose and personal, and got the same results. But instead of now only having 6 more rounds in the mag, I still have 15. Granted, when it comes down to shooting it out with handguns, in a military situation, alot of things have gone badly. The rifle is empty, or broken, or for whatever reason just no longer functioning. All you have left is your sidearm and a combat blade. God help you if it gets down to nothing but your blade. So you better have alot of ammo and mags for that handgun, and the only way that is gonna happen is if it is a 9mm. At home, especially with women and children, quick follow up shots, under extreme stress, with an intruder in your house at night, I want them to have every advantage possible. That is a high capacity 9mm that they have practiced with for quite awhile. I wouldn’t even care if my daughter was using the sig mosquito. I don’t know too many people, no matter how tough they are, that are gonna stand there and take a bunch of hypervelocity 22 HP’s in the chest. In the civilian world, more people are killed with the venerable 22 long rifle each year, than any other caliber.

    • If you truly like the Glock, but the handgrips are too big, try the Springfield XD. I also have small hands for a man, and I carry my Beretta M9. The grips are huge, but it is something I grew used to after carrying it in the Army since the late 80’s. When it came time for my wife to get her handgun, I took her to the gun shop and stuck every high quality pistol they had in her hand. She also has very small hands. I really thought she would go for the Smith M&P 9mm. But she said it felt as if the barrel was too heavy. It pulled the front of the bore down in her hands. When she picked up the XD’s however, it was love at first grab. I tried it too, and immediately understood what she was feeling. Not only is the grip small enough to get a good grab on it, the shape of it is perfect in the hand. Also the bore is as low as it can possibly be, which manages recoil much better. The lower in your hand the bore is, the less muzzle flip you get. My Beretta, has lot’s of muzzle flip. Oh well, I’m used to it. I can double tap with it and keep it in the 9 and 10 rings all day long, but when it finally comes time to replace it someday…. I will have me a new XDM series.

      • Glad to see someone else out here who uses the XDm, I was one who thought that you had to have a .45, once I picked up and began to use the XDm 9 mm it was over. If for no other reason than I can have 18 in the mag and 1 in the chamber, carry 2 spare mags and know that I have enough ammo for just about any firefight I might end up in. I did change my grip to the smaller one and I have been very pleased with this. I never realized that my hand was smaller than my friends, now I know it is.

        I fire at least 100 rounds a month down range, and am very glad I switched to the XDm.

  3. Given the premise of this article, I would be interested in your guy’s thoughts on the IMI Desert Eagle? I was interested in picking up either the .50 or .45 if I found one for the right price.

    • myself i am also wanting a desert eagle i would like mine to be a 44 automag i havent seen any for sale for a reasonable price or they may have been reasonable but were much more than i could afford happy hunting

    • The Desert Eagle is one very big and very heavy handgun – it is not a good choice for either concealed carry or open carry. What do you plan to do with it? Use is also as a club should you run out of ammo? — just kidding. But, my first question still stands.

      • well watchman i wish this site would notify ya somhow when someone responds to a comment on here or ya could watch threads but it doesnt i want this particular handgun for squirrel hunting and target practicing oh and also to make sure theres no doubt if i hit my intended target or not as it will still be there in the morning with the dogs chewing on it

  4. I just bought my wife a Ruger 38 with laser grip for her carry weapon. My glock 26 was to big for her to grip. I was thinking about getting a ruger 357 as my cc gun what are your thoughts on revolvers vs autos. with the thought that spin guns are less mechanical? thank you

  5. Interesting article…9mm is preferable to .45 ACP if you consider only magazine capacity as a deciding factor.

    Consider the existence of .40 S&W. Police departments wanted a round that would penetrate double-laminate car windsheilds (unlike 9mm Luger), but didn’t want to admit they needed .45 ACP. Voila, .40 S&W. It’s a good caliber, and only marginally more expensive than 9mm. As an aside, a heavy 185-grain bullet offers roughly the same terminal ballistics as .45 in a smaller package. Just dont’ shoot it through a Glock. A Glock’s design leaves it prone to catastrophic failure when shooting high-pressure loads like .40. Think possibly pressure-welding the slide to the frame, blowing out the magazine, and even shrapping your eyes/face.

    Regarding 1911’s, you can get 10-round magazines for them (or 12-round if you can handle a wider grip), and the grip is timeless. The real reason they are not for everyone is that they can be finicky about what ammunition they function well with, depending on the manufacturer. And, they require more skill & discipline to maintain well.

    As for .45 ACP, FBI ballistic studies show that 9mm will actually penetrate more layers of brick & drywall than .45 (though .45 carries much more stopping power). Consider that when imagining shooting through/past a bad guy in your home, where family members may be hiding in the next room or closet. Finally, you can get hollowpoints in almost any caliber, including .45 ACP.

  6. I recently purchased a S&W 9mm. What brand of ammo would you recommend? I picked up a couple of boxes of American Eagle when I made the purchase. Thanks

    • if your 9mm is a smith n wesson sigma like my wifes shes had no problems with the wolf brand ammo and its cheap nor the remington u m c its currently on sale @ cabellas for $10.99 a 50 round box where as the wolf brand is $10.77 a box on sportsmans guide the remington ammo is the better of the 2 as far as having to clean your gun hope this helps

    • You can also go with Federal Ammo, it is excellent and I have had no problems with it in my XDm 9 mm.

  7. Ahhhhh….the dreaded 9mm vs. the 45ACP discussion. This arguement will go on in gun lore until the end of time. It’s as old as the hills and it will never go away…hahaha.

    The battle rages on…

    I have a solution. How about both calibers? I like the idea of a .45 ACP AND a 9mm. End of story. If you are going to own “a few guns” why not have both calibrs? Each of them have pros AND cons. I would also agree with Josh too…nothing will ruin a foe’s weekend more than a well placed rifle shot or shotgun blast. Handguns do have their uses however. The obvious reason is conceal and carry.

    That being said, I find both calibers are useful. The author is right about 9mm, the ammo is cheap AND it’s plentiful. And 9mm handguns are usually priced fairly reasonably. I also think the 9mm is an excellent carry choice. That’s what I carry. A 9mm Springfield XD Subcompact 3″. An excellent conceal weapon. Comes with a 13 round compact magazine and a 16 round extended mag. Great little pistol and I know I could stop someone with it. The 9mm’s typically fire at a greater rate or f/p/s than a .45 and thus, have greater stopping power….supposedly…I know there have been a gajillion studies on this and I think the jury is out somewhat on it…but most would agree with the prospect of a 9mm as a primary choice.

    I must say though…you place two 45 rounds at close range at center mass…and I am thinking that assailant might not be getting up for awhile. Just a thought. This is assuming that you can handle the stress of a lethal encounter.

    I also noticed the author has an affinity towards Glocks. I own one of those as well and I love it. It’s a Glock 21. That’s the big daddy. 45 ACP. It does have a large pistol grip but I have big hands so it is not a problem. Glock also has come out with SF grips or “slim fits” on their handguns so that is also an option. And just to be a nitpicking poop….the magazine of a Glock 21 holds 13 rounds. I would also agree that Glocks ARE easy to use clean and operate, but let’s not forget that there are a range of semi-autos that are just as easy to use. Case in point, my XD is just as easy to clean and shoot as my Glock. I love both weapons for their versatility and ease of use.

    Here’s the kicker though, I don’t care what type of gun you own…you could own an HK Mark 23…and if you don’t know how to operate it….it’s useless.

    So practice, practice, practice. And do your homework before you purchase a firearm. Find out which one is right for you and your needs.

    Great article.

    • The love affair with my M1911 defies logic and sense. Many good guns, glocks, sigs, etc. My favorite 9mm to shoot is the Browning High Power, but it can be the biting-est little sob in the world. Don’t know why but it tends to get the web of skin between my thumb and forefinger a lot. When it is cold out it can really bring a tear to your eyes!
      But, 14 rd capacity, eats any ammo you can get down the snout, and very controllable weight and balance make it a real perfomer. Like the M1911 it has been remade by FN, and Argentina, don’t be worried about those makes, it is the same gun, same patterns, same trustworthy great performance. Still high priced at around $650 but like the m19911, I know what it will do and how it will perform. If you find one in the $500 range it is a good deal even if needing re-bluing. Makes little difference what flavor you choose. But they do bite back!

  8. I agree that 9mm is a good choice for smaller hands or those of smaller stature to increase controlability, but if the gun fits you I think .45 would be a wiser choice. I run Federal 230 grain Hydra- Shocks thru my G21 & G30 and they create absolutely devastating wound channels. DOJ studies over the years show that in most shootings the average number of rounds fired by LE is somewhere around 3-4 rds – that could be handled with a revolver if that’s all you had. So the likelyhood of being engaged in a drawn out gun fight is pretty slim- especially since in most states you are required to attempt to retreat from an engagement except in your home or vehicle. And even if the Grand Jury doesn’t indicte you for homocide, you can be sure that there will be a wrongful death suit brought by the perp’s family. When the plaintiff’s attorney asks why you shot their husband/son /father etc. seven times you can answer ” cause I only had a 9mm ” Good luck with that. A double tap dose of 230gr. Hydra Shocks would be more defensible in court. It’s true .45 is considerably more expensive than 9mm, so I usually practice presentation and handling with my G17 and finish up with a mag thru the 21 or 30 just to maintain familiarity. The 9mm is a great round and I wouldn’t feel undergunned carrying one, but if you can deal with the increase in size I think the .45ACP brings a little more to the fight

  9. This argument is a bit like saying you can make a four cylinder car as fast as a V8 by adding a turbocharger or using nitrous oxide, the thing is that you can do the same things to the V8 and once again it will be the superior motor. Yes, they have high tech hollowpoint designs now to make the 9mm a formidable round, but they also use these designs with the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP and the .357 Mag. Sometimes handgun rounds will stop a person cold with the first hit, sometimes not. Stopping a person with a firearm is not a purely physical phenomenon. Technically, it takes a certain amount of time for a person to bleed out if you do not hit their CNS, but that doesn’t mean they’re always going to wait until the lights go out before they decide they’re done fighting, or their brain tells them they’re done. More powerful rounds do statistically have a higher ratio of stopping with one or two shots than smaller ones do. See Marshall and Sannow, Stopping Power. I would rather train myself to hit my adversary with the shots I have and trust that the round will take him down sooner…besides, I have an FNP45 that loads 14+1 rounds of .45 ACP. The most important factor of all is how well do you shoot with a given gun? I actually am the most accurate with my Taurus 617, .357 Magnum, I tear ragged holes with it all day long. Whereas with auto pistols, I’m not nearly as good. I’d rather have 7 rounds of .357 (that is in addition, superior in it’s reliability) than 17 rounds of 9mm that I can’t hit as well with (and is more likely to misfeed in a stressful situation). I’m also a better shot with the 1911, probably due in part to its nice crisp short single action trigger pull. There are a myriad of factors that go into choosing the right gun and caliber. So I guess to sum up, my advice is, don’t stop with reading one article and think that you know what the best to buy and use is. The best thing to do is save up some money to research and if you don’t have a club with friends that you can use a lot of their guns, find a range that rents them out and try as many as you can, see what works for YOU.

  10. Thank you, Mike for mentioning using guns defensively in order to escape a close contact situation. To many Americans suffer from having seen too many movies. I will also add that guns are loud (duh)! And anyone in earshot will hear and know your location and know you are carrying a gun and ammunition. In a survival situation guns and ammo are worth killing for (and possibly dying for). Firing a gun in addition to eliminating a threat, also makes you a target for the next bad guy. This is my opinion, but I want people and families to consider carefully what situations merit firing a weapon. I would only do it under the most desperate situation, and then get out of there quickly, quickly, quickly. Gun fire, in my thinking, is a poor way to hold the fort for long.

  11. And the debate goes on and on and on (like the Everyready bunny). There is an excellent report of a FBI study of bullets and ballistics at:

    A quote from that study: “It is essential to bear in mind that the most single critical factor is penetration. While penetration up to 18 inches is preferable, a handgun MUST reliably penetrate 12 inches of soft body tissue at a minimum, regardless of whether it expands or not. If the bullet does not reliably penetrate to those depths, it is not an effective bullet for law enforcement use.” To me, that sounds like the selection of the bullet is more important than the selection of the caliber of the handgun.

    One more quote that immediately follows the above quote, “Given adequate penetration, a larger diameter bullet will have an edge in wounding effectiveness.” To me that says the 45 ACP is a better choice than the 9mm (assuming the right bullet is being used). But hey, buy whatever and debate forever. As for me, I’ll keep my 45ACPs and use the Hornday TAP +P 230 gr CQ.

  12. I thought it might be helpful about pricing for folks who don’t know much about guns:
    A M1911 colt should go for 600-800
    – A Kimber M1911 about $1K
    – M1911’s by springfield, rockIsland, around 3-5 dependent upon additions like sights, compensators etc
    – M1911 by Norinco can go anywhere from 250 to around 400 don’t pay more
    – If you pick up a 1911 and shake it and can hear it rattle, don’t pay more than 300
    — Pieces and parts can be purchased that will fit right in it, very easy to do, but you will need an armorers video to do it. Only trick is that front spring, HOLD ON TO IT or it will go into the next county (or wherever that place is that socks go from the dryer never to be found again for some reason.)

    Glock 9s (17-s 19s) can be had for around $400 at pawn shops here
    -If you shake a glock and it rattles, don’t buy it, they are solid guns and don’t have the slop a 1911 has.

    S&W’s autos are around $650 and up once again dependent upon upgrades

    Browning Highpower expect in the 600’s If it is a real Browning grab it even if it costs $1K.

    Rugers are very reliable revolvers-prices vary from around 350-ridiculous, but even if rough are still gonna work for you

    Colt revolvers:
    SAA single action armies- Lots of money, expect to pay a lot, great guns however
    Police styles: Anywhere from 700’s to ridiculous as well
    Cant really go wrong here operationally

    S&W revolvers Same as colts

    Uberties: Can be had for 300-1K dependent upon style
    – always take some empty casings and see that the gun will revolve, if not do not pay more than $200 and you must send it to a gunsmith to be reworked for around $150, then you have a real nice gun cheap

    Ruger 22 (Luger) buckmark browing, and colt woodsmen relatively similar
    Expect to pay 200-ish for rough ones
    400-500 for good shape with bull barrels etc
    All good guns, only depends on what you like, but any of these are great little guns

    Pawn shops are great places to pick up weapons, don’t be afraid of them. Dealers have a wealth of knowledge as well if yo don’t know exactly what your after. Best Idea I have seen here was go to a range where you can shoot them before buying.
    Hope that helps
    The Col

    • Thanks for the tips! Much appreciated. Are you (or anyone else on this site) familiar with American Tactical Imports? I was thinking about picking up their AT 92 Compact or HP9. Thanks!

      • I don’t know but I bought a Norinco made M1911 and it performs as well as the real mccoy. These look like M1911’skis. The AT 92 looks like a Berretta clone, I would not be afraid to buy one. They have a good warranty and are trying to break into the biz. Doubt you will get hosed, alot of these guys remake them and fix some of the problems inherent on the original models. they look fine to me. what are the prices?

        • Thanks! I am leaning towards a mat black HP9. The AT92 is $550 and the HP9 is $400.00. I bought a bipod for one of my AR’s from them and was happy with the quality. Looks like i’ll pull the trigger (literally) on the HP9! Thanks again.

  13. We can argue about 9mm and .45 ACP and ammo all day long but as a Law Enforcement Officer I would like to pose a question: What is the real purpose of your sidearm? To give you covering fire while you go for your long gun. Period. It is concealable, does deal some damage, but ultimately its purpose is to keep the bad guys head down while you tactically maneuver over to your rifle or shotgun. I liked what refoy009 pointed out about over penetration when your precious loved ones might be bunkered down behind that flimsy wall of sheetrock. My answer to that is the same as being ready for the gun battle itself: practice and preparation. I may sound paranoid but I drill with my family. My wife and I practice house clearing drills so that we can effectively protect our home from invasion. I own both 9mm and .45 handguns but we rely on the 12 Ga shotgun with slugs for real stopping power. An 18 in short barrel mossberg pump with 7+1 slugs WILL stop the bad guy EVERY time and if we are talking home defense then concealment isn’t even a necessary issue. Not to mention that you have the home field advantage. When you hear the break-in, consolidate everyone into one room, bunker down behind the bed or other good concealment (and a bed is not COVER remember that), and aim that cannon right at the fatal funnel. Bad guy enters doorway, game over. Being tactically aware at all times and psychologically prepared for that fatal fight, with skills honed through constant practice will be the defining issues of you walking away alive, not so much the style of the barrel you brandish.

  14. No disrespect to anyone, but imho, shot placement and remaining calm under ‘combat stress’ far outweigh the calibur argument. Today’s personal defense ammunition is by far and away more deadly than it was even 10 years ago. Manufacturers and designers have done a fantastic job of providing us with dependible, quality ammo, but if a person carrying the best round on the market does not remain calm and does not put the round where it counts, then what good is it? Take your loved ones to the range and let them put in the hours of practice and familiarity with their respective weapon and they will become more and more confident in their abilities and marksmanship, making them less likely to fall victim to the scurge that we have walking our streets.

    Keep in mind that having the PREDETERMINED mindset of self preservation and CONFIDENCE with your respective firearm, combine to make a very FORMIDIBLE foe, regardless of calibur!

  15. US Patriot has the right idea. The debate over which pistol and ammo is best can go on forever. I think it was the late Jeff Cooper that said something like this: A hole is better than no hole. A big hole is better than a small hole. More holes are better than one.
    Immediate stopping power, while certainly the best objective isn’t the usual outcome. It’s my belief that once shot, no one wants to take another round and most will disengage as self preservation kicks in. So since people like pistols come in different sizes, find and practice with whatever suits you. The odds of having to use it in self defense are small but I’d rather be armed in that situation than not. (I carry a Glock 27 and I shoot it better than our full size duty weapon)

  16. As a NRA qualified instructor I present the new shooter with several handguns to try out in various calibers. If they insist that I recommend one specific I go with the Glock 9MM in Model 17 or 19 with a minimum of three quality Glock magazines. For ammo Speer GoldDot HP for defense and any quality ball ammo for practice. Try to stick with the same bullet weight for practice and defense. I like the 124 grain bullets.

  17. When the plaintiff’s attorney asks why you shot their husband/son /father etc. seventeen (17) times you can answer ” cause when I pulled the trigger the 18th time, it went “click”.

  18. As a trained alumni of Gunsite, Arguably, The Premier Combat Training facility in the world. The point here has been missed. If you are not willing to train yourself and familiarize yourself with a personal handgun then DO NOT GET ONE. In addition, if you are not trained and you put yourself in the position of not being able to mentally take the appropriate action, then DO NOT USE OR HAVE A GUN. In this case run from your home and get away from the action. Hope that the police come in time to not just sweep up the blood.

    That being said, I have talked with my mentor in this field and seen the results of a 9mm vs. 45ACP.
    There is no comparison. There are few if any Special Operations or highly trained police SWAT or
    Advanced military who do not today (after the FBI shot blocks of Gelatin to comee to ridiculous conclusions)
    use a round like the 45 or the 40 in a defensive situation to place 2 rounds to the torso and a head shot if necessary to disable an assailant.

    Jeff Cooper had SO and SWAT teams come from all over the world for his wednesday lecture about this very subject. The training and WILLINGNESS to take down an assailant in real live situations shown by SO Teams and SWAT members; the people who really deal with firefights. I was the only non-police or non-military person
    in the class and there was only one consensus is that the FBI document was written by people who had little
    or no actual firefight experience and were primarily theorizing about gelatinous penetration and conclusions
    about people never going down. Flat out wrong. I had the experience of simulation knock down of a 250 lb
    target with two 45 cal shots when a 9mm would not do.

    BTW, the glock has NO SAFETY. Why would you recommend gun with no safety. That is a really safe handgun. Ah, I know because it has 17 rounds. As to the last comment about the plaintiff’s attorney, I
    would have to answer: Since I wasn’t trained, I missed all 17 and it was safe to hear the 18th click.

    The best chance an untrained person has is running away or if they will not prepare themselves by practicing
    with a serious knock down pistol like a 40 or 45 then get a 22 or a shotgun with birdshot and hope you hit the assailant. With the 22 fire 5 or 6 shots. Then run away.

    Sorry to disagree but a 9mm will more often than not go right through someone and they will still be coming.
    The high velocity of a 9mm is it’s weakness. More and more SWAT and SO teams refuse to use the small diameter high penetration rounds unless their distance is greater these days. The military is buying Benelli shotguns and revised 308 weapons because of the large diameter of the projectile. For handguns the 45 has been unmatched in this category for 100 years. Training must be used for any tool. A handgun is a tool and as such a person must not expect to use a tool without learning the tool first. Otherwise get a tool you will know how to use. Maybe a baseball bat and then your legs. Hope there is only one or two of them.

    The biggest problem raised here is that 95% of the police have had more training in psychology than in the use of their weapon. The North Hollywood police lost men and shot hundreds of rounds in a firefight with mildly trained bad guys a few years ago and the report concluded the traffic police hit nothing. They
    were well trained in talking with these perpetrators. A lot of good it did. The SWAT team borrowed rifles from a gun shop and ended it. Ironically, the City of Los Angeles closed the gun store on questionable pretenses.

    We now live in the Socialist States of America and the next treaty with the UN will override the 2nd Amendment anyway so you wont have to worry about choice of anything. The will be made for you and
    guns will not be a choice.

  19. Shot many people have you? An M-16 is only a 22 and I’ve seen it drop quite a few folks, and personally I know I don’t want to be hit with one. Maybe they didn’t read your literature. You are neither mil nor law enforcement.
    Your comments are decidedly negative. Negative people in a staff, your point seems to be that you are smarter than the rest of us, if I am wrong correct me.
    What do those people “who keep on coming,” do when they get “there”? Ever try fighting when wounded?
    As far as advice about the 2nd amendment what do you propose we do? Just give up, lay back and try to enjoy the violation?
    When fighting, I cannot stand the negativism of a defeatist attitude. It makes a terribly difficult problem even worse. Try cheering up and contributing.

    The Col

  20. Just came back from some training with the M4 GAU, for my summer vacation to Afghanistan. What a babe!!! That is a rifle worthy of a new Jodie, but hard to think of anything rhyming with GAU. Stripped down light and all business, it is not the fullbodied bombshell that the M14 or M1A1 was but a genuine certified good piece of gear. But it is pricey and I suppose illegal for most of us unwashed antisocialists. But if my partner above is correct one might be had laying around in the streets from whomever tries to collect weapons.

    After the LA Riots, we moved to KC. MY “little” brother (6’4 320lbs) said about further threats of rioting:
    “The first day will be pretty rough, the next day there will be plenty of guns laying around, hardly used, and only dropped once. Then you can pretty much take your pick …..”

    Like I have said a few times before. Do not be discouraged nor buffaloed into giving up your weapons. In my state alone during hunting season, more armed men/women go into the mountains than all the armies in Iraq/Afghanistan put together, including USFORCES. That consideration does not include Missouri or Texas (Cant count professionals with the rest of us Amatuers). That is just those gunowners who hunt. There are a lot who don’t. We are unable to collect or even control the amount of arms in either of those countries.
    Personally if given that task I would pronounce it impossible. In this country, I will not attempt to. I like my neighbors (Americans) armed. I have been in several countries for action including our own. There is nothing to fear from good men, women, and families who are armed. It may seem counter-intuitive but it is safer around armed family men/women and you can feel it in the air. Bad guys feel it too, and they run for their lives, cause that same sense to them spells fear, and rightly so.
    The only way the Govt will get your arms is if you give them up willingly.
    Just say no.
    And, Uh, once again, dont shoot me, I’ll be the guy with the silver eagle on his lapel. I’m really very friendly, (just look old and grizzled with a permanet scowl) and I am on your side and protect the constituion not any temporary power monger regardless of party.
    Always be friendly to your troops in uniform cause we desperately want to be friendly to you. I always have coffee in my camps and like to chat when able.
    Never buy into the liberal/progressive opinion of the average military enlisted as a dolt that couldnt make it anywhere else. That is not true, do not ever beleive that! Many good SNCO/and E’s give excellent advice on these posts, and even though I lead them (technically, mostly cause I am old, not smarter) I pay attention to what the specialist’s say. They are tough, smart, battle hardened, extremely capable, kind hearted, and patriotic to a fault. And they are your sons and daughters too. Never fire on uniformed troops, no matter what happens and I guarantee they wont shoot at you, it is not in their makeup to do so, and everyone knows it, everywhere.
    We are going to win this, we will not become prisoners nor slaves. Do not be afraid nor reactionary. VOTE VOTE VOTE
    Do your best and if the worst happens trust in your bible and your guns, they haven’t failed yet, despite the Harvard opinion. Personally I’ll be hangin with the Staff and E’s, where it is safer, (you know what they say about zeros (O’s) :-).
    The Col

    • hey i live in texas and i hunt (n of course i may own a gun or two ) i dont go round unarmed if only for someone elses protection lol to my point though ive got a brother thats out of the armed forces and quite a few cousins that are still in there 1 keeps reupping and id just like to say thanks col fer all yall do fer us oh n i wonder if they turn our soldiers on us are they still gonna have to abide by the same code of ethics as they are in afghanistan which i really wish theyd untie yalls hands n let ya get the job done unleash them dogs of war so to speak n since yer a proffesional what the hells up with them tryn to prosecute our guys sayin they done somthin wrong far as im concerned iffn yer protecting our country uhm nothin should be off the table i had a father and 2 uncles in nam n they dont talk much bout what they did other than the bs campfire stories i call em but when pressed they clam up well thanks to you n all our troops

      amen n iffn yer ever by here stop n have some coffee n shoot the bull

      • Mostly cause they are lawyers and analize the situation after the fact which is alwasy easier. WHEWWW that is a bunch of trained soldiers, you guys could have your own army, see what I mean about TX and professionals!!??!!
        The Col

  21. I own 2 Sig Sauer P238’s and I would recommend them for any woman that needs a concealed carry gun. My wife and I bought them after firing half a dozen small concealed-carry type pistols. All of them had quite a bit of recoil except for the P238. The recoil is much less and the sights are excellent on it.

    Most of all I wanted a gun that my wife would practice with. She loves it and has become a deadly shot with it.

    Get your wife a gun that she will practice with. Even a .22 in skilled hands is very lethal.

  22. Ive been a cop over 20 years.I despise the 9mm and loathe Glocks.
    Before the “glockites” and “9mm advpcates” start frothing at the mouth,understand I never said Glocks dont shoot straight,or that a 9mm wont stop an attack.
    Its just that,for the same price,the same platform(frame,etc) as the 9,is available in the .40 S&W.Only a few less rounds than a 9,same magazine,frame and grip size etc and waaay much better peformance.
    Why limit yourself to a caliber that has been PROVEN not to function as well as others out there.ALl that claptrap about all armies in the world carrying 9’s may be true but when you check the real “gun people” of the services,the Special Forces type units,they ALL are crying for a return to the .45.
    No matter that politics(catering to the NATO allies in the 80’s) took us to the 9 to begin with.Its crap.Period.
    As for Glocks,that tricky,dangerous trigger idea doesnt appeal to me.My SIg also has no safety if that is what draws you.I carry a G21 on duty and shoot it well.I just dont like it and would never try to convince someone to carry it(or any other particular platform) against their wishes,as most Glockites seem bent on doing when I state my preferences.
    I just say that there are MANY other styles and brands(Smith& Wesson,Springfield,Kimber etc) out there,so dont limit youtrself by going into purchasing something like a Glock or a 9mm,just becasue “Everybody” says they are the best.JMO


  24. Xavier, Nice blog.My apologies for the OT post, about a n old post of yours, but I came to your blog tuhgroh Hell in a Handbasket from Publicola. I just spent about an hour translating the Japanese You-tube video comparing the Nambu Type 14 and the .45, and wanted to draw your attention to that, for you and any readers who wondered what the guy was saying.DKDay

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