“I’m thinking about getting my first handgun, any recommendations?”
This is a question I’ve answered for friends and family member’s countless times. I never tire of answering it, as I enjoy sharing knowledge, but it does get old retyping the same information over and over. Because I am both selfish and perezoso, (thanks Spanish 101), I’ve decided to essentially compile that advice into an easily linked post.
So, on to the question. First, I’ve got questions for you, the reader:
-What’s your budget?
-What is the purpose of the gun, (home defense, concealed carry, competition, shooting on the weekends, all the above)?
-How often do you plan on shooting? Every weekend? Once a year?
If your budget is low, and home defense and concealed carry aren’t concerns of yours, literally anything will do. Buy what you like, and what you can afford. For hobby shooters who aren’t concerned about defense, I’d honestly recommend looking at something like a Ruger 22/45. They are relatively inexpensive, ammo is still cheap, and wildly customizable. They are great little guns for a variety of tasks, and will go a long way in introducing you to the challenges and fun of handgun shooting.
If, however, you mention home defense or carry in your response, my answers change completely and I take a more hardline stance. While any gun is often better than no gun at all, it would behoove you to restrict your options to reliable manufacturers, who offer platforms that are supported with a variety of aftermarket parts and gear.
The only difference between a home defense pistol and a carry pistol, in theory, is the size of the gun that you can get away with. If your gun will never leave your nightstand, feel free to go for a full-sized gun, as its larger size and mag capacity will only help you, and not hurt. However, the argument could also be made that a compact pistol will aptly serve both roles, and so that’s typically what I will steer people towards.
The easy answer is to simply recommend a Glock 19. While technically a compact gun, most people find that the grips are adequately sized, the sight radius is reasonably long, (longer sight radius theoretically equates to more accuracy), it’s easily concealed, and much like the Ruger mentioned earlier, it’s wildly customizable. Many other guns fit the same role, however. The upcoming CZ P10C, various FN’s, the S&W M&P series, and others all provide reliable platforms which can be carried comfortable and efficiently, without sacrificing too much in the way of capacity or ease of use. Keep in mind that the smaller the gun is, the harder it will be to shoot accurately. Same goes for larger caliber guns.
While I have a Glock 43 that I occasionally carry, it is a niche gun, and it is very difficult to shoot well. For most situations, I always go for the biggest gun I can get away with carrying.
With the Glocks, look at the gen 4s. If you are active duty military or a first responder, (LEO, EMS), you can get the blue label pricing which puts them at right around the $400 mark with three mags, as opposed to the usual two. Magpul is also making Glock mags now at around $15 a piece, which is cheaper than almost any other handgun mag on the market right now so you can stock up. Magazines are expendable items, and it’s psychologically much easier to ditch a mag if it only cost you $15, as opposed to ditching something that is a $35-$50 component.
With modern ammo, in my opinion, 9mm is the way to go. For range stuff you can get it cheap, anywhere from $13-$17 for 50 rounds, and for carry ammo you can get a wide variety of very capable hollow point ammunition at equally reasonable prices. Modern 9mm carry ammo these days is so good that it’s almost identical to larger rounds once it hits flesh/ballistic gel. Plus, with 9mm you get lower recoil, and higher capacity magazines, which means faster and more accurate follow up shots can be made. The quickest way to improve a shooters accuracy who is struggling with a .40 caliber pistol, is to stick a 9mm in their hands.
As far as optimizing the gun, refer to my post concerning my personal carry gun, as it contains many of my opinions on the subject.
( https://catpatchtactics.com/2017/01/09/glock-19-edc-overview/ )
Hope this was helpful.