Any Handgun Will Do, Right?

The handgun, or any other weapon system, should be an extension of the individual. I realize that we all understand this principle and its applicability to whatever weapon a person chooses; from the pitchfork to the katana, to the today’s weapon of choice; a handgun. We should spend a great deal of time considering the firearms available to us and select one that will meet our needs, and more importantly our abilities. I once heard a trainer tell a student: “the best handgun for an encounter is the largest one you have.” I know he meant the largest caliber, so the weapon’s ammunition would have the most significant impact on the target. However, that simple advice can mislead someone who is not familiar with handguns.

After carefully considering this comment, I believe it is important for us to discuss things you should think about to ensure the handgun you select is the best choice for you. I am personally partial to the Glock model 21, which is a .45 caliber handgun. It fits my hand well, shoots exceptionally well, and has proven reliability for me. The Glock 21 is the best weapon for me, but not necessarily for someone else. The things that make this a good fit for me may make it a poor choice for someone else. When considering the handgun, the perfect weapon for anyone is the largest caliber they can shoot accurately. I would much rather face a person with a .45 who cannot control the gun than I would a person using a 9mm, who can knock the wings off a fly at 15 yards.

Does Handgun Size Matter?

In this section I am referring to the caliber of the handgun when I reference its size. Throughout history it has been proven that it is not the size of the bullet alone that matters, but what the bullet hits. A shooting I frequently refer to is the horrible murder of a state trooper. The trooper shot a large and heavy set man with his .357 magnum five times. All five rounds hit the man in the upper body, but this did not kill or even stop the man. However, this man shot the trooper with a .22 caliber Derringer and killed him. The trooper’s vest stopped one of the man’s bullets, but the second bullet went through the trooper’s left arm, entered his body through his armpit, and struck the trooper in the heart. The trooper died on the scene and the man who shot him survived.

Think about it. The trooper died from a single .22 round, and yet the man lived after being hit with five .357 magnum bullets. This incident demonstrates that it is not just the size of the bullet, but what it strikes that makes the difference. Please understand, I agree with the ballistics that show a larger bullet can do more damage, but the results of that damage are still dependent upon what the projectile hits.

How Do I Know Which Handgun I Should Buy?

Don’t purchase a handgun based purely on its caliber, nor on someone’s opinion. When you consider buying your gun, I recommend you first rent or borrow firearms of various makes, models, and calibers, and shoot them. See how each weapon feels in your hand, its fit and overall comfort. Take the time to go to a shooting range and shoot the handgun and think about how it feels in your hand when you fire it. How significant is the recoil of the gun? The recoil is what people often refer to as the kick of the handgun. Consider how you shoot with each one and select the revolver or pistol that best meets your needs and abilities.

What is the difference between a revolver and a pistol?

The most straightforward answer to this question is a revolver contains a “revolving cylinder.” The cylinder is where you load the handgun’s ammunition. Most revolvers will usually hold six cartridges or bullets. However, some revolvers hold more and some that hold less ammo. A pistol is a handgun that has a removable magazine that you load with the weapon’s ammunition. The size of the magazine will vary with each model of gun but can range from five to eighteen cartridges. You can find some magazines that hold even more ammunition for various handguns.

I strongly recommend you begin your training with a smaller caliber handgun, so you can ingrain the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and breathing. Once you have a firm foundation to build from, move up in caliber to the largest one you can efficiently and effectively operate. It may take a little longer to discover the handgun that best suits you, but the time investment will be well worth it.