The biggest and “baddest” is not always the best. This is especially true when it comes to a handgun you might have to rely upon to save your life during a SHTF or to protect your family. Self-defense handgun buyers need to shop carefully to find the right tool for the intended jobs ahead. Here are some tips and guidelines to consider.
Back in college, virtually all up and coming handgun shooters fell victim to the “Dirty Harry” syndrome. I remember it well. I waited for nearly a year after the movie to take delivery on my Smith and Wesson, Model 29, .44 Magnum. I bought it from Midway Arms from Larry Potterfield in Columbia, MO which is now the huge Midway USA outfit. I think I paid the exorbitant price of $375 for it back in 1972.
Anyway, it is a lovely handgun and I had great fun shooting it. However, though I did hunt with it, its utility was very limited. Despite Harry toting it as his primary police weapon, it really wasn’t suited to self-dense. The Model 29 is too heavy, the recoil is stiff along with a hefty muzzle blast, and it just isn’t practical for concealed carry. In many ways it is the perfect example of what not to buy for self-defense.
When looking for a best choice self-defense handgun, you can start one of two ways. Pick the caliber first, then the gun, or shop for sizes of handguns that fit your personal grip, then choose the caliber. Ideally the two criterion can be matched in one gun. For example, if you are a female shooter then you likely will not be shopping for a .45 ACP or a 1911 handgun. For men, a Smith Bodyguard in .380 may not be the optimal choice either. So shop around a lot, and plan to handle a lot of different models of handguns. Gun shows are perfect for this kind of comparison shopping.
Another option is to consider a revolver or a semi-auto pistol. For revolvers good caliber choices are the .38 Special and the .357 Magnum, which can also fire the .38s as well. If you want a little heftier handgun then look for a .44 Special or a .45 Long Colt model. For pistols, the most popular is the 9mm, with the .40 S&W a distant second place.
Whatever handgun you pick, just make sure it fits your hand well and points naturally. Balance barrel length sight plane and weight. Avoid guns that are too big or too small.