Everyone has their individual preferences in life, what they touch, feel and most importantly what they want. Handguns are among the most widely diverse sets of defensive tools and yet with all the diversity they can be broken down into two basic types. The venerable revolver and just as venerable semi-automatic handgun.
Understanding your individual needs is essential when looking at choices that exist. Many self defense instructors promote odd ideas, one of those is the terrible idea that a double action only, hammerless revolver is perfect for the average woman. This is a terrible fallacy based in illogical approaches promoted by individuals who base everything on their personal choices rather then the needs of the individual they are working with. The average female while quite capable of defending themselves and utilizing tools such as firearms with efficient ability is physically not generally as capable as a male when it comes to 8-12 pound trigger pulls and extended recoil that accompanies the average hammerless short barreled revolver. The result is that accuracy will suffer greatly and with extended use the wrists and hands will become sore, further generating a distaste for the firearm and practice with the tool needed to become truly proficient.
There are many other fallacies like this one, most promoted by individuals who, quite honestly, should not be teaching anyone and should likely go back to school starting with the basics. Here is the pure and honest truth, there is no one way to stand, no one firearm or caliber type and more importantly there is no perfect approach with firearms. Rather there is a multitude of varieties and approaches that to be able to teach a broad spectrum of individuals well should be learned, practiced and to some degree perfected. So lets get back to the things each individual should look at when selecting a firearm for self defense. Each of us has specific set of abilities both physically and mentally that should be taken into account when shopping for a firearm. Lets go over these items point by point.
- Physical ability, strength is one aspect of physical ability another is acuity or sharpness of thought, vision or hearing.
- Mental ability, the ability to perceive what is around us within the realm of reality as most people understand it. Also included in this is the ability of the individual to make the decision to fight when there is no option and to do so without extreme hesitation.
- Training, each of us has a different mindset regarding training, some of us like learning by watching others, some of us learn through hands on experience. What is more important is having the time needed to put into either hands on training with live ammunition or repetitive dry fire approaches.
- Desire, each of us has that thing called desire, we all want what we want and most of us are willing to forgo all manner of need for that want.
Each of these is something that applies to the individual, now lets look at what is necessary when it comes to self defense with a handgun as a primary tool. Reliable, a handgun and the chosen ammunition that is fed into it must be absolutely reliable. Because all human made and designed items can and do fail, sometimes quite spectacularly, having a firearm and ammunition combination that will function through a minimum of 200 rounds without a failure is necessary. Accurate, again this is unfortunately reliant on the user themselves in large part. However, a handgun should be accurate when sand bagged. Accuracy is a variable in many cases, with handguns for self defense however, a handgun should be capable of producing a maximum of 4” groups at 25 yards with chosen ammunition.
Now lets look at the minor parts of choosing a handgun for self defense. Caliber, size of handgun and handgun type. Caliber is an often debated item of self defense tools, handguns specifically. There is no magic number as there is no such thing as stopping power and even a lowly .22 can and will penetrate adequately in most circumstances. What you want is to be able to accurately place rounds in locations where blood carrying arteries and organs can be perforated causing rapid exsanguination resulting in target termination. The idea of a one shot one kill with a handgun is rare to impossible. The approach that should be taken is putting rounds where they need to go to stop the threat. As a result caliber is the one truly variable thing. I will make a few minor suggestions based on experience and large amounts of testing.
Anything smaller then a 9×19 luger I would suggest using full metal jacket for two reasons. First penetration is a factor and I have found through extensive testing that full metal jacket in lower velocity rounds allows for better function and penetration. While this of course disallows the added benefit of expanded rounds doing additional damage to blood carrying vessels it enables one to use them regardless clothing layers. When using a .22 rimfire round I would suggest spending additional money to have more reliable ammunition. I have found that Ely primed .22 are exceptionally reliable, rating among the medium side of center-fire cartridges. These cost between .15 and .25 cents per round and though more expensive then big box ammunition will be reliable when necessary. I would then suggest that when running 9×19 you do not use rounds larger then 127 grains and standard velocities will function quite well. Rounds in 9×19 over 127 grains tend to be too slow to effectively function as defensive rounds. This was found out when several police departments in the early 90’s had multiple failures during real application.
Next is recoil and sound. Recoil and sound is a inevitable side effect of combustion in confined spaces. All firearms will recoil, some more so then others. Humans will instinctively attempt to avoid sound and abrupt movement in close proximity to themselves. This results in flinching and closing ones eyes. These are both natural reflexes and should be first understood and second trained out of. Size matters when it comes to this, larger calibers will recoil more then smaller calibers. Smaller handguns regardless caliber will tend to recoil more then larger handguns. So choose wisely, while a smaller handgun is easier to conceal they will be more likely to cause variations in aim as a result of increased recoil and due to shorter sight picture will be inherently harder to accurately place rounds on target. As a side note it is essential to remember that most confrontations will be at much reduced ranges, 3-7 yards is statistically the most likely to occur.
Lastly, trigger pull and reset are extremely important. This is where each individuals physical ability becomes very important. Revolvers that are double action only and semi-autos that have a double action first shot (the most important one) should be avoided if the individual does not plan on practicing regularly. While the desire for external safeties is nice, it is not essential, being able to utilize the firearm effectively and accurately, immediately when desired is most important. Remember, the finger should NEVER be on the trigger unless you are planning on USING the firearm IMMEDIATELY!
Added by a good friend and compatriot- “The only thing I felt was missing was the comfort of the firearm when held. It should fit the hand and be light enough to be held at arms length 5 minutes without significant wavering…” Comfort for the individual is extremely important! Thanks W!
So now you can choose a handgun for self defense, if you have additional questions or feedback please comment or drop me an email. I love feedback and have no problem answering questions. Thanks for reading and as always remember to check out the awesome agorist business’s on the right hand side.
Free the mind and the body will follow.
- A down and dirty quick review of the FEG PA63, the poor mans short sword (jessetalksback.com)
- Five Fast Q&A: What to know when buying a handgun (thegirloutdoorpa.wordpress.com)
- Why the Beretta M9 Gets No Respect (thetruthaboutguns.com)
- How to Select the Best Handgun for Home Defense (thesurvivalplaceblog.com)
- Home Defense Handguns (jessetalksback.com)
- Firearm Ammunition (jackkjhonn.wordpress.com)
- Recoil and hunting for disabled (woundedhunterproject.wordpress.com)