The best handgun for self defense: A review and statistical approach

Choosing a handgun for self defense requires a mindset based around the art of war. We can choose a handgun based on manufacture, country of origin, color and size; the facts however, are what are necessary to choose a solid self defense handgun.

This article will take into consideration gender, caliber, reliability, longevity tests and user ability.


Reliability of the tool itself is essential in making the choice between handguns. It is the primary deciding factor when utilizing a statistical reference point., eg., facts. There are just a few handguns that have proven themselves to be reliable regardless the type of ammunition used (handloads/proper), steel cased, military surplus, factory big box and self defense ammunition.

  1. Glock handguns have a proven reliability factor
  2. Springfield X D also have a proven reliability factor
  3. Smith and Wesson M&P and the Sigma series are extremely reliable (though these firearms are not always the most accurate they are reliable!)
  4. CZ pattern handguns (eastern European Milsurp handguns) if you purchase milsurp be prepared to replace springs which will really help you shoot easier!
  5. Canik TP (or 55 handgun) this is a newer handgun but has proven itself in reliability alone

You will notice I did not include any SIG handguns or 1911’s or even revolvers and the largest reason is simply because in head to head competitions my experience is that these handguns while absolutely wonderful are not completely reliable in many cases. Giving cause for concern as my standard of reliability is a minimum of 250 with a maximum of 1000 rounds being run through them without a SINGLE firearm related issue. The above handguns listed are the ONLY handguns I have used that have this ability.


Regardless gender the most important factor with any self defense tool is its ability to outlast whatever else you may be deciding on. However, because in the recent years women are as likely if not more so to become involved in self defense utilizing handguns then their male counterparts the need for handguns that fit their needs become a very important requirement. Caliber is where this is likely to have the largest impact, this being said I have seen women shoot 9×19 through .45 and even .454 Casul with amazing accuracy and ability. However, we are utilizing statistical evidence and referencing. And so while any of the above handguns are amazing choices for a lady shooter caliber is where the difference will become most apparent. With modern self defense loads the 9×19 is ballistic-ally superior to many .45 auto loadings and similar to some .40 SW loadings. It is my strict opinion that using either a Speer gold dot in 115 or 124 grain or a Hornady Critical Defense in 115-124 or Critical Duty in 135 grain will give the best ang for the buck and after extensive testing has proven to myself to be the top two manufacturers for self defense ammunition. Personally I carry either Gold Dot 115 grain or Critical Duty 135 grain. Both are capable of penetrating 14-16” through 5 layers of denim into a 15% gel mix and causing a large 5-7” in length and 2-4” in diameter permanent wound channel. More than adequate to stop with proper shot placement the largest predatory attacker in the United States currently.

For males, I would also suggest the 9×19 for two reasons, modern police and FBI agencies are in the process of switching back over to this caliber and it is used by the military- again with modern defensive loadings it is more then capable as a round and being in 9×19 can easily fill a 17-19 round magazine which gives you superiority of firepower especially when supported by one or two refills.


Much of what will be addressed here has already been addressed, however, I will be linking the articles, memos and testing data obtained and personally found as well in support of my choice of 9×19 as a primary defensive round. First there is recoil, the average 9×19 round will recoil less than .40sw and .45 auto allowing faster followup shots, the average 9×19 handgun holds more ammunition and since SCIENTIFICALLY the 9×19 is virtually identical (when using GOOD self defense ammunition) to the other two rounds it stands to reason that the 9×19 really is at this time the best self defense load to use. Again, FACTS over fiction/ emotion and other bullshit. The one thing I can absolutely guarantee is that the average individual with a modicum of practice will be able to hit better with the lighter recoiling round when under stress. Of course there is the other side, the 9×19 is simply less expensive to shoot, allowing MORE training!


This is something that sadly is not addressed nearly enough by those in the survival/prepper/self defense world. I personally offer classes and can come to you at a reasonable price teaching you the basics through advanced. Regardless, it is essential that new firearm owners learn from a solid instructor. While having NRA certifications are fun, they alone are NOT enough to save your life. Rather I would suggest you learn from someone who has been in combat for your fighting skills and learn from an educated source with regards to your legal issues. There are several current legal individuals who make claims that unfortunately do NOT mesh with reality and while I am quite a fan of these individuals in some areas their knowledge regarding firearms leaves much to be desired. In a situation where the use of force, specifically knife or firearm is used to defend oneself the following is exactly verbatim what you should say; this is assuming YOU attempted to AVOID the confrontation and did not specifically attempt to aggravate the situation further with actions or words. (everything is filmed/recorded now, remember that and act accordingly!)

1. That individual attacked me!

2. I will sign the complaint!

3. Point out the evidence (DO NOT OVER EXPLAIN SIMPLY SAY, “there is the evidence/eg., witnesses”)

4. Officer you will have my FULL cooperation AFTER I have spoken to counsel!

Understanding and knowing these things in particular place you in a position of power in the ever present battle between those who would see you imprisoned for doing what any reasonable and prudent individual would do, defend your life.

In preparation you should always have a a minimum of ONE person you can call that will be able to call counsel, and others in your life. Remember, AVOID shooting or knifing someone, do what I do and simply avoid places where this is certain to occur. Live a life that places the value of human life and the need for a voluntarily agreed upon life at the forefront of your mind at all times. And remember, EVERY bullet has a life/lawyer and liberty attached to it.

In conclusion the following is the most important things you can do when choosing the perfect handgun for self defense.

  1. Reliable – absolutely reliable out of the box. Not partially reliable and the typical “but so and so said” argument, REVOLVERS CAN AND DO MALFUNCTION REGULARLY they are TERRIBLE choices as self defense tools for women especially given the 20-30lb double action they have on average and ONLY have 6-8 rounds with a NONEXISTANT reload under duress for a normal shooter.
  2. Gender – it doesnt matter, those who separate based on this are idiots. I know as many amazing female shooters as I do men. I am married to one and father to another. They both carry or can use the Glock 19 and love it!
  3. Caliber – 9×19 is really an amazing overall round, conversion kits are cute but generally unreliable and honestly, if you cannot out something down with a modern 9×19 self defensive load you NEED a large caliber rifle or radio to call in an airstrike.
  4. User ability – train, train, train, train, train, train and train some more. When you think you are “good” smack your head on the dashboard and TRAIN some more! Regular training is the ONLY way you will become proficient and is the ONLY way to ensure solid self defense skills. As for the legal, THINK before you act and STOP letting your stupid silly emotions get the best of you. YOU as a gun carrying individual have the GREATER burden of responsibility to AVOID situations that others may not think twice about. Any other approach is stupid and shows a serious lack of true training.

As always if you have anything to say or add, do so, I erase only obvious spam!

Free the mind and the body will follow


About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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4 Responses to The best handgun for self defense: A review and statistical approach

  1. Pingback: I have never owned a handgun before, what should I get? | Individuals Talking Back

  2. Alfred E. Neuman says:

    Reblogged this on The Lynler Report.


  3. zed child says:

    very good practical breakdown on what should and should not be a factor. my only point of contention is sig handguns. i personally have fired close to 500k rounds through maybe 150 sig weapons. the only time i ever encountered problems were when using non-factory magazines. mec-gar do make factory equivalent mags and are a bit cheaper in cost. my EDC is a W.Germany P226 in 9mm (carbon steel slide as opposed to the newer stainless steel slides) and have close to 100k through it. i have run it 5000 rds without cleaning to see if it would stop running and it didn’t. i’ve worked on other weapon for clients and with HK and sig if it’s not working it’s always a non-factory magazine problem. both brands are a bit pricey, but it’s not the value of the weapon but the value of what the weapon protects.


    • I have no doubt that it is both probable and possible that I have used lemons. That being said, we do allot of dust diving in Arizona and many otherwise reliable firearms tend to foul up simply because of their tighter tolerances (which by default make them more mechanically accurate as well) 🙂

      I love getting feedback from those I trust, like yourself brother man 🙂


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