Selecting a Handgun Approximately fourteen months ago my wife “Survival Woman” began her blog Backdoor Survival. As she explained it to me, she wanted to write about and share her knowledge about being prepared for the worst, be it a natural disaster, economic meltdown, terrorist activity or anarchy and civil unrest. As her blog progressed it became evident to both of us that we needed to prepare to defend ourselves and to acquire skills necessary for self protection.
With that in mind, the first firearm I procured was a 12 gauge pump shotgun which, according to my research at the time, is considered a good home protection weapon. But now it was time to chose a handgun. The following is my journey to determine what kind of handgun would be best for me. Note: What I describe is my personal journey. It may not be right for other people but my hope is that it may help in your personal journey to find the perfect newbie handgun. Let the Fun Begin I began my journey by taking basic handgun classes. After all, the only weapon I had ever fired before now was an M1 carbine in the army and that was over fifty years ago. If you have never fired a handgun, basic handgun classes will teach you safety and respect for this tool. They will teach you that it is not a toy. After the classroom instruction, I headed out to the firing range for practical instruction. At this point I was using handguns provided by the school: 22 caliber revolver and a 22 caliber semi-automatic. Surprisingly, I was fairly accurate with both weapons but for me, I felt much more comfortable with the semi-automatic. Great! My first big decision was out of the way. Just so you know, there are pros and cons regarding which is best – a revolver or an automatic. There is less to go wrong with a revolver, but, given the strides in technology, a high quality semi-automatic is trouble free for the most part. Next I needed to determine what caliber I wanted (or needed). This gets confusing and it seems that everyone has a different opinion. There is no direct right or wrong answer. Upon asking, I learned that most of my friends have a 380 sub compact which is a pocket gun. Being more experienced than I am, they also have a larger handgun in either the same caliber or a larger caliber 9mm, 40sw (sw = Smith & Wesson) or 45ca (ca = caliber). Before I continue, I want to share that I learned that the stopping power of a certain caliber makes no difference if you can’t hit what your shooting at. This is where skill, practice and experience come in to play and for that you need to go to a shooting range and try different weapons. That is the only way, in my opinion, to determine which handgun is best for you. In the beginning, I started out looking at 380ca, 9mm and 40sw models. I began to read all I could find regarding these different calibers realizing no one size fits all criteria. This had become frustrating and I could not separate my thoughts regarding this decision. The only solution seemed to be to buy multiple handguns. Whoops! Can’t afford that and not a practical solution. (Besides, SurvivalWoman would have a hissy fit.) Back to the drawing board for more research. Do you know which caliber is the most used world wide? Well, I do now. It is the 9mm. Problem solved – as far as I’m concerned, 9mm it is. The Search for the Perfect Handgun Choosing the right handgun can be stressful and exciting at the same time. There are so many handgun manufacturers and so many models to choose from. I began talking with other people about their preferences and discovered most have more than one handgun to cover different scenarios. As I mentioned before, given that I can’t afford to start purchasing multiple handguns, I chose to find the best handgun possible that fit most if not all my criteria. So what was my criteria? I travel back and forth between our island home and Bellevue, Washington. That meant that I needed something that I could carry as a concealed weapon but also use in other defensive situations. Washington state allows concealed weapon permits (and yes, I have one) so I was hoping to find a handgun with a four inch barrel. Two other factors were weight and the cost of ammunition. After doing my research – and I do not recommend that you rush this part of your search – I narrowed my choices down to two choices: the Glock 19 9mm and the Ruger SR9c 9mm compact black. RUGER SR9c 9mm: This weapon has great reviews and is probably one of them most popular hand guns out there. It comes with one 17 round and one 10 round magazine. The empty weight is 23.40z. The only thing I did not like is that it only has a 3.5” barrel. As I said before, I wanted a 4” barrel. Why? From what I understand there can be around a seventeen percent difference in accuracy between the two. You can purchase this model for around $400.00. GLOCK 19 9mm: With the Glock there are two choices the Glock 19 and the Glock 19C. The Glock 19 is known as the “gen3”. This model the has been around for a while is very popular especially with law enforcement officers. The weapon has a 4”barrel and comes with two 15 round magazines. The empty weight is an amazing 20.67oz. and the purchase price is between $480.00 and 500.00. The Glock 19C is known as the “gen4”. This model was introduced approximately eighteen months ago with new features which include 2 back straps that allow you to adjust size of the grip. You can also make the magazine releases reversible for left handers such as myself but the main thing is reduced recoil. You can purchase this weapon for as low as $527.00. So What Did I Buy? Okay. I guess you are wondering which one I bought. Well before I tell everyone, I want to let you know that I am very price conscious and was leaning toward the Ruger. But SurvivalWoman said if the Glock is the weapon I really want, I should get it. So that’s what I did. The Glock is so highly rated that I paid the extra $150.00 and I am not sorry. I went the firing range right away and fired 100 rounds with no problems. I was impressed. The Glock 19C was accurate right out of the box and there is hardly any recoil compared to other 9mm handguns. One thing though if you are considering this model: there was a design problem a while back with the recoil and feeder system. They have since fixed the problem so if you choose to get one, make sure you get the current model. So there you have it. The story of my newbie handgun journey. Considering I basically knew nothing when I started, I am extremely pleased with my decision. My decision was especially reinforced when my friend who has many different guns went and bought one after firing mine.The Final Word Shelly aka Survival Husband, is quite pleased with his purchase and is now helping me select my own handgun. Alas, we do not have a firing range on the island where we live but that does not mean we will slack up on our training. For now we will continue to hone our skill and, given the uncertainties of government regulation, make sure that we are well stocked on ammo from our favorite vendor, Lucky Gunner. At the end of the day, we hope we will not have to use our weapons. But if we do, we will do so with the confidence that we have done the very best we can to prepare for such a situation. Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation! Gaye From the Bargain Bin: Survival Husband (real name Shelly) has purchased the following items to go with not only his new Glock, but our shotgun and rifle (long fun). (And to be honest, he wanted more stuff but hey, we need other things as well!) Uncle Mike’s Deluxe Range Bag: Every guy or gal needs a back to hold the gear. This bag has almost 5 stars from 76 reviewers. Radians Remington Interchangeable 5 Lens Kit: Two sets of these, one for the range bag and one to keep as a backup. Dirt cheap and useful in a wide variety of circumstances. Howard Leight L3 Shooter’s Premium Earmuff: Modestly priced but suitable for practice as a newbie. Otis All Caliber Cleaning Patches: Each patch is 100% cotton and can be used up to 6 times, offering 6 new clean surfaces. UTG Tactical Scenario Vest: Luxury or necessity? We think this is a great way to get out there with your guns and ammo. Quite affordable, too. Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart: I have not had time to write up my review (excellent!) of this book but I will tell you this. You NEED this book if you care about defending your homestead.