Not sure what pistol to get for your first gun or for home defense?
We’ll cover all the important decision points such as caliber, ammo, size, ergonomics, price, and safety.
And then end it with some in-depth info on our personal suggestions.
We also cover this topic in our video course, Gun Noob to Gun Slinger. Only the most important handgun knowledge to get you competent in 2 hours.
Summary of Our Top Picks
- Editor's Pick
Gold standard for a highly-reliable compact 9mm handgun.
- Runner Up
Form fitting option with a nicer trigger and options for an external safety.
- US Army Approved
Civilian version of the US Army sidearm. Grip modules to change size and color.
- Best Trigger
Best out of the box trigger 9mm that also comes optics ready.
- Best Revolver
Go-to .38 Special and .357 Magnum with a 7-round capacity.
- Easiest to Rack & Load
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm
Concealable option for weaker or arthritic hands.
- Like a Glock, But Not
Another great alternative to the Glock look and feel.
Table of Contents
Caliber…is Bigger Better?
In our previous caliber article, you saw the popular 9mm and .45 ACP cartridges as well as some different types of bullets such as the full metal jacket (FMJ) and hollow points.
Now, we drill down and recommend getting a 9mm for your beginner handgun.
The 9mm is easy to find and cheaper when compared to other calibers.
Its smaller size means it has mild recoil and higher capacity magazines (usually 15+).
Here’s me shooting one of my top suggested handguns…the Glock 19.
Plus, the majority of police forces use 9mm and the FBI recently returned to the 9mm after finding that the current .40 S&W rounds were causing excessive wear on pistols and were less easily controlled by some agents.
Ammo: Hollowpoints or Bust
For home defense purposes, we recommend hollow point bullets for their stopping power (and ability to stop in drywall).
Ouch…that’s gotta hurt!
Two of the most popular are Speer Gold Dot and Federal Hydrashok. We cover everything in our Ammo & Reloading section.
Depending on your caliber, you’ll want to take a look at one of these articles:
How to Choose a Beginner Handgun
The most important thing about choosing the best handgun is fit.
We recommend getting a “full size” handgun which means close to 5-inch barrels.
Having a full-sized handgun makes it easier to shoot since there’s more mass to absorb recoil, a larger area to grip, and a longer sight radius from the front sight to the rear sight.
But…if you think you might do concealed carry in the future and don’t want to get another gun…you can try out the compact size too.
You lose a little sight radius but free up some grip space which helps a lot in concealing. But you don’t want to go so small that your pinkie is left hanging.
Here, we recommend a lack of an external safety.
We believe that the mind is the best safety and that in the heat of the moment during a self-defense situation, you might forget to disengage the safety.
This takes out a couple of possibilities including the venerable 1911 which we think is a little too complicated and finicky for the beginner shooter.
Easy, get the night sights since most self-defense encounters occur in dimly lit locations.
There are usually night sight models for each of our recommended pistols. Or you can always purchase aftermarket sights and have your gunsmith install them.
We recommend a striker-fired handgun for the beginner and home defense since the trigger pull is nearly identical every time (at least when compared to a double-action).
An easy way to tell if a handgun is a striker is that the back of the slide is flat and has no exposed hammer.
Double-action pistols such as the Beretta 92FS have a heavy first shot since you are cocking back the hammer.
What about revolvers?
We love them for their reliability and ease of dealing with malfunctions (just press again), but we don’t like their low ammo capacity (5 or 6 compared to 15+ for our recommendations).
But we’ll be including one of our favorites that packs in 7 rounds of .38 Special or .357 Magnum goodness.
Here’s a quick video on the difference between Revolvers and Semi-Autos.
This leaves us with what many call the “plastic fantastics.”
So let’s look at the guns we recommend as the best for beginner-friendly home defense.
7 Best Beginner Home Defense Handguns
1. Glock 17 (Full) or Glock 19 (Compact), Gen 5
Everyone and their mom has heard of Glock.
It is a polymer gun, kind of boring, but ultra-reliable. If I had the choice of only taking a random pistol into a situation…this would be it.
Lots of other people think the same way…that’s why the Glock 19 is their best-selling 9mm.
The newest Gen 5 Glocks are out but you can still find lots of Gen 4 models.
For those of you in handgun restricted states like California…Gen 3 is fine too (it’s what I have).
(To learn more about the different generations, check out our Guide to Glock Gens.)
If you don’t plan on concealed carrying…I would opt for the Glock 17 full-size.
If you are going to go the CCW route or want something slightly smaller…try out the Glock 19.
Make sure you can get all your fingers on the grip.
We now have a full review on the Glock 19 Gen 5…complete with shooting videos!
Again…if I had to recommend one beginner handgun…it’d be the Glock 19. Great for the range, your nightstand, and on your body for concealed carry.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
See these two, and other great Glocks, in our Best Glocks Guide.
What’s your take on the compact and full-size 9mm Glocks?
2. Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0
The newest version of the venerable M&P (military and police) is the M&P 2.0. If there’s a list of best 9mm handguns, this usually makes the top three.
I got the FDE color version…
It’s full-size and here is the comparison of my 1.0 vs a full-size Glock 17.
The original version was rock solid but had a not-so-great trigger.
The M2.0 takes care of that and also adds a more aggressive texturing while still maintaining the ability to swap out palm swells to match your grip.
It fits very well in my hand and although I currently have the model with the safety…it’s easy to take off and get some inserts for the holes (and makes it exactly like the non-safety version).
A good choice to see if you agree with my thoughts on safeties since you can choose either or.
I choose it as my runner-up best beginner 9mm handgun. Be sure to check out our full review of the M&P M2.0 as well.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
3. Sig Sauer P320
We love to shoot the Sig P320 and so does the U.S. Army because they chose it as their new sidearm.
It’s a great alternative to the Glock, M&P, and XD.
Plus it’s the trigger system that is the serialized version so you can take it out and put it into different sized “grip modules” to have a full-sized or compact option without buying an entirely new gun.
We have a full written review right here…plus a full YouTube review:
There’s a lot of versions of the P320…but we like the original civilian one.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Or if you dig FDE and the knowledge that it’s the closest version to the actual Army pistol…
Check out our review of the P320-M17 version. And smaller M18 version.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
4. Walther PDP
The Walther PDP might be our favorite striker-fired 9mm handgun with its exceptional trigger, ergonomics, and reliability.
You’ll have to take our word on the trigger…but it’s the nicest out of the box striker-fired trigger we’ve ever felt.
Dor the ergonomics…Walther made it extra grippy with nice molding that fit the gamut of hand sizes on our team.
And since it’s red dot ready…there’s also a nice pinky extension that helps you grip a little downwards that makes it perfect for red dots.
And check out the chunky (but super effective) slide serrations. If you can’t get a grip on it for racking…it ain’t the slide’s problem!
There are also a couple of different grip sizes and barrel lengths…but we went with the popular combos of a full size with 4.5″ barrel and a compact with 4″ barrel.
Reliability is awesome with Sean having shot over 5000+ rounds and carried it as his duty pistol as a peace officer before he joined Pew Pew Tactical.
Threaded barrels are coming out now and so far we’ve had great success with a suppressed compact version.
Check out the full review here.
As well as our YouTube video review:
And snag one here:
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
5. Smith & Wesson Model 686+
Here’s the revolver you’ve been waiting for…the S&W Model 686+.
The + means it holds 7 rounds instead of the standard 6 rounds you’ve come to expect from revolvers.
I like the 4-inch barrel since it’s the Goldilocks length — not so short that it’s difficult to control in firing, but not so long that it’s unwieldy.
Plus it will shoot both .38 Special and the more powerful .357 Magnum rounds.
Here it is in .38 Special…very manageable with the barrel. Perfect for recoil-sensitive people and training.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
6. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm & .380 ACP
Have a little trouble racking the slide on most handguns?
Check out the M&P Shield EZ line — “EZ” stands for easy racking and easy loading.
The 9mm version is very concealable and packs a decent punch with our favorite caliber.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
But if you want the absolute easiest racking and easiest shooting…opt for the .380 ACP.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Check out our full review here as well as our YouTube video to really see the differences in racking and shooting vs other pistols:
7. HK VP9
HK’s VP9 is a great alternative if you want a polymer pistol but don’t want the Glock look/feel.
Chambered in 9mm, the VP9 is a striker-fired design measuring 7.34-inches in total length with a 4.09-inch barrel. It tips scales at around 25-ounces.
The VP9 ships with various backstraps and interchangeable side panels that should allow those with even the most atypical paws to find a combination that works for them.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
For more details on the VP9, check out our full review here or peep the video below.
Yes, I might not have included some that you think should have made it.
If you find they fit your hand better than the ones I recommended…go for it!
Though they didn’t make the official list, we really like the CanikTP9SF and the Shadow Systems MR920 too.
Also, check out some Handguns Perfect for Women from the viewpoint of an accomplished female shooter.
Ergonomics & Trigger
How the handgun feels in your hand is probably the most important.
I have pretty big hands and like the chunkier and different grip angle of the Glock. But my buddy with smaller hands likes the feel of the Smith & Wesson M&P.
Also, keep in mind that the latest Glock & M&P versions have removable grip inserts that can customize the ergonomics even more.
The triggers all have a slightly different feel too even though they are all striker-fired.
For a home defense gun, we recommend not altering the trigger. After some use, the trigger will smooth out a little but pretty much what you feel at the store is what you get.
We recommend trying out guns for yourself at the range or gun store after re-reading our grip/stance and trigger pull articles.
The prices are all pretty similar for the striker-fired pistols at around the $500 range. You’ll also be able to find some sales going on at your local gun store…but these are good starting prices.
Night sights will probably cost $50 to $100 more.
Again, most encounters happen in dimly lit areas/times, and you wouldn’t want to shoot with just night sights without verifying your target.
So we use and recommend a light that attaches to the rail.
The one we recommend is the Streamlight TLR-2 which comes with a bright light and laser.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
It’s survived thousands of rounds, being dropped on the ground numerous times, and full days of shooting in heavy rain.
The specific model we have is the 2s which includes strobe function…but that’s more of a liability so we prefer the non-strobe model.
For the more budget-minded customer, the most basic Streamlight TLR-1 HL with just the light will do just as well with a strong 1000 lumens.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
You might see some cheaper lights here or there, but lights are not the place to cheap out on.
And for the person who wants the best of the best light only…the Surefire X300.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
We go over all these lights and more in our Best Pistol Lights article.
I’m also a fan of lots of grip on your gun. Talon Grips is the perfect non-permanent solution.
- Hollowpoint defensive ammo
- Full-size frame
- Striker fired
- Night sights
- Rail mounted light
- Try out the feel of the Glock 17/19, M&P9 and the new P320
Of course, there are a bazillion pistols that I left out…but the above specs are what we at Pew Pew Tactical recommend.
Already got a self-defense pistol? Learn how to become a crack shot. Or ready to check out our Beginner Handgun Course? Not sure if pistols are right for you? Check out our Best Home Defense Gun article where we go over the pros and cons of Handguns vs Shotguns vs Rifles.
364 Leave a Reply
For home defense, I would like to have a Smith and Wesson 686+ or a Ruger GP 100. A big stainless steel revolver is pretty scary looking to a home invader. I would also like to have a pocket gun in my pants pocket, along with some extra ammo for the revolver, so that if I happen to run out of ammo from shooting the revolver, I will still be in the fight.
I’m no beginner but an excellent run down. My duty gun is the M&P with sure fire light and serves double duty at home.
I am a 64 yr old woman. I have a 9mm automatic luger. I can barely pull the slide back. I need a small gun (I live in a state that you can open carry without a permit). I am thinking a revolver possibly? I am not sure. Any ideas.
Sig P238. Small gun, very easy to load and pull the slide back. Lots of women rave about this gun. It's a .380, not a 9mm. See if you can rent one at a local range, to try it out.
I have also read that the Smith and Wesson EZ series is just that -- Easy to manipulate. It's also said to be very accurate.
M&p - Shield - EZ - Smith & Wesson
I think your selections are reasonable. I have an early Glock 22 (.40 S&W) which is reliable but I don't like its ergonomics. The grip angle is too steep and the Glock points high with my regular hold. If I close my eyes and bring a Sig P226, CZ-85 or S&W 686 to shooting position, when I open my eyes, the sights are very close to proper registry. The Glock 22 invariably points high. In addition, the Glock grip feels like a block in my hand. Consequently, I never bought a Glock 17, although the grip on later generation Glocks fit my hand a bit better. Thanks for the article. Joe
Glock Glock gloooooooock. If you’re beginning in this day and age, go a Ruger Security 9 or Taurus G series. Both are cheap enough that if you don’t like That gun you feel bent over, but yet they’re tough enough- and each has a lifetime warranty to keep them if you like. Plus you can get them in compact for CC also. Aaaaaand, like I said half the price of Glock. Whoever has had a bad Ruger? And now that Taurus has that ex Walther executive, he’s turning them around.
Ive been shooting pistols/revolvers for 5 decades... tried many just to be trying them. In the last few years I bit it and tried Glock.. the lack of a safety took some getting used to but I've learned caution and carry only in trigger-protective holsters. My latest is a G19 and it has pretty much replaced my Browning HP (not an easy thing to do!) as my carry piece... After a lifetime of all steel/metal pistols the plastic takes a bit of getting used to but so far no complaints and the G19 is THE world's most popular pistol for law enforcement and civilian carry... There are others of course and it doesnt fit some of the niches a revolver does, (woods carry and wild animal defense is still a revolver's job) but for me the G19 does what I
need in a semi-auto pistol.
the walther pdp is so much better than the glock 19 that until glock can make a pistol that shoots like the pdp i will never own another one.
I might be old school but hammer fired handguns are better for beginners. They give new shooters better clues as to the safe condition of the gun. It’s easier to feel and see the hammer something not readily apparent with a striker fired handgun. Remember we are discussing beginners.
I'm a beginner and for my first gun I went with a revolver, a .357 Ruger GP100. I love it. So much fun to shoot and being able to use .38 ammo for practice is great. I also have a Glock 9mm and I don't find it nearly as fun to shoot. I have a concealed carry permit but don't carry yet. Still learning to get comfortable with guns.
I'm the same as you. I have a glock 43 9mm. Have my concealed carry and also took a tactical class. I still don't carry yet as I want to be more comfortable with the gun. Anyone have any suggestions on what would halo me with that. It would be appreciated.
Glock Glock Glock Glock Glock! I don’t get the whole Glock thing. I’m sorry.
a glock 9mm for a first gun for beginers? sorry but I take exception. The glock is a far more advanced pistol due to it's safetys. I own 4 so i know about the safe action BS. I gotta go witha revolver, 32-38 or a 1911 due to its better trigger, beter safety's more weight to handle recoil.
I agree with you except the 1911 for beginners part. For many would-be shooters the 1911 in .45acp might be a bridge too far as a first gun (recoil/noise, size/weight... I gotta go with either a .22 or .38/.357 as a firstie...
Eric I’m surprised you did not include the Beretta 92FS . I used this gun as my service weapon while in the US Coast Guard. The Beretta is very accurate and holds 18 rounds, 19 if you keep one in the chamber. My Beretta 92FS has the safety/decocker. I have added a TDI accessory rail and an Olight 800 lumen light with green laser. Given the option of your recommendations I will still take my Beretta for home defense. I have a Ruger Max 9 with a Holosun 407k green dot. Just curious why you did not include the Beretta 92FS??
Hey Joel! The Bereta 92FS is a great gun, no doubt, unfortunately, we only have so much room for guns in these articles and we can't include every model we like. So, some models don't make the cut. It doesn't mean they aren't great, though. Thanks for reading!
I’ve been reading this article, and many others, for a few weeks. Finally, decided on the m&p 2.0 full size! Thanks for the content and the articles!
Due to laws in my previous state only pistol I was allowed to own and perhaps even that was illegal a bb and pellet guns. Pistols self defense even with stand your ground laws and castle laws we none criminals need to be sure you will fire or not own a gun. At the same time shoot to kill. Today, in my state a warning shot is illegal. Having said that I just bought the S&W 686 plus. Your suggested dealer shows they are out of stock. I paid 849 plus shipping plus ffl net delivered cost roughly $900 OUCH. Compared to the cheaper, more common and due to lower cost PLASTIC guns it is different. Due to weight, recoil is less than my 380. Pretty guns seem to be the current rage. Hum color of your choice. My view, you do not want to need to prove your sky blue pink pistol is not a water gun. Ammo choices which does our military use. Again LAWS. I was surprised to read that self defense ammo that we debate and many, including me buy, is outlawed by the Geneva convention. Sights? I WON a S&W 380 EZ. Sights STINK as on most shrunk down pistols. Reality, a home invasion, a justified self defense shooting will be close not at 25 feet. My opinion I now have two 380's ammo costs more than 9mm and is hard to find. Not the S&W the other one a Taurus, is very particular on what you feed it.
What did I just read?
I own 6 of the 8 guns listed in the article, and I think the VP9 got a little shortchanged in this article. "Like a Glock, but not" is a gross understatement of the difference. The VP9 is far superior to the Glock - Glock isn't even in the same league in comparison to the VP9's trigger, the VP9 has fully ambidextrous controls right out of the box, and the balance on the VP9 are a few examples.
Agreed. .40 S&W on up.
I really wish new owners would consider going straight to more of a PCC/PDW-type firearm. Those with braces are so easy to shoot with accuracy and are manageable with little to no recoil because of the added barrel length and weight. You essentially get the same benefits as an AR, but without the deafness or the risk of overpenetration.
Handguns are notoriously difficulty for beginners to master by comparison.
Yes, there is a price difference (sometimes...) and yes, newbies are likely more familiar with handguns than something that looks "more intimidating," but boy are they easier to shoot, clean and maintain.
Try and hide one or get a CCW for one. Can't in Commiefornia.
Which is why I will never live in that God-forsaken state...
Not true. I live in Orange county California and have a CCW. I carry my Glock 30 every day. (Been carrying for 6 years.)I have what the Clock Store in San Diego calls the "$35.00" holster. Works great for IWB carry. No print and the most comfortable holster I have found to date.
I am an ex-New Yorker. Concealed carry Calif? The details will I expect explain.
Depends which county you live in in CA, Orange county (where I live) you need a good cause statement the OCSD likes. LA county and San Francisco county, Good luck. Most other counties are pretty easy, just fill out the forms, background check, finger prints, and pay the fees. You, also have to qualify with the exact weapon you plan to carry and complete a required training class.
Attend a training class?? Listen to an out of work cop or lawyer run his mouth for what $125.00 or more,
Buy the gun, read the manual, be done with the BS.
Also buy a good holster, keep the damned thing covered, good to go.
What is this $35 holster you speak of? I am interested.
The Glock Store in CA sells a holster they cal the $35.00 holster. Not much bigger than the gun. If you use it for IWB you need to get the opposite side holster. I carry on the right side so I bought a left hand holster. They are Model specific. So I have three of them; G21, G30, and G36. The G21 prints a little so I just wear a baggier shirt. Hope this helps.
Any updated comments on M&P's given they have had a trigger redesign?
How much is Glock paying you? You're doing beginners a big disservice with your worship of a handgun manufacturer that has been left in the dust. The firearms further down your list are far superior, like Sig, HK and Walther. There is simply no comparison.
Hey there! Thanks for reading. Just wanted to clarify that we don't get paid by manufacturers to include products in articles and that the list is in no specific order. Thanks for the feedback though!
It, helps to have thick skin. People, no shortage of opinions. We used to be told not to talk about politics or religion. Around here that has been replaced by pet dogs, lawns and for some guns. PAID? I used to be in the photo equipment industry. So much is the same. A service issue, stuff to try, free ammo? We common folk do not get that. Ammo, 357, 38.380 is like $1.00 a round for full metal jacket. Defense ammo is roughly twice that. Forgive me but.
I have been able to buy 9 mm and .40 cal for under $0.40 per round, some as low as $.30 per round on occasion. It is weird to me that .380 cal costs more than either of these but it does. You do have to shop for good prices though local box stores and Pawn Shops sell the 9 & 40 ammo for less than 50 cents per round in my area.
I am confused by the "Conclusion Statement".
"Try out the feel of the Glock 17/19, M&P9, XD, and the new P320"
I didn't see anything about an "XD" until this statement. ??? Am I blind?
Good catch. We swapped out the XD for another gun but must have overlooked that. It's been updated. Thanks for reading!
Not to mention only one Beretta firearm? And the 92 at that, which is just a bit big for many people.
Aw, c'mon. I built an AR arm pistol for the wife, modeled on the old Bushmaster. Sure, I needed to make a new forend with grip and remote trigger, but she's got thirty rounds of 556 on tap.
Used the Strike short buffer, and a 5" barrel from Hitman. Runs like a champ.
So for a beginner, I would recommend a Self-Defense / Concealed Carry Class and a good range that rents handguns. Trying them out as rentals and seeing what you like beats anybody’s recommendation on what’s the best gun for beginners.
I own a lot of these guns on the list, and I like different guns for different purposes. I love my Beretta 92X, but my son couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with it. But with my P320, he was hitting center of mass and nailing tacks very quickly.
The BEST gun for beginners is the Staccato XC. That will make you love shooting, but the second mortgage you had to take out to get it is a showstopper.
So I recommend get some training, rent a lot, and buy what feels good - handling, recoil, etc. That will then be the best gun for you.
I believe the "Best Gun" for anyone, is one that they can afford to buy and practice with. As far as a recommendation, I would suggest a revolver or a striker fire pistol with a 4 inch +/- barrel. This is for people who are not comfortable or experienced so to speak. And for home defense, it should be on a nightstand within reach as soon as you are aware of any danger at home. I don't think that anyone without sufficient experience should be carrying a weapon of any kind until they take some safety courses or get proper training AND become comfortable with their firearm.
For a “Beginner” I would recommend a .22lr pistol, (imho .22lr Walther PPQ) to learn the fundamentals of shooting, without worrying about the bang and recoil. Get proficient in the basics, And then pick a goodly sized 9mm. It’s just ma 2 cents.
But I am biased towards Sigs, oh baby come to papa :):) p365s all day long and twice on sundays!!
If we are talking about *beginners* and first handguns, then I would not recommend any on this list. A beginner needs to enjoy shooting as much as possible. They can use their first handgun for the range and home defense; it won't be a carry piece. It needs to control recoil as much as possible until they learn good recoil control.
That all adds up to a Beretta 92, Sig P226, or CZ-75. The weight and size of the gun will help control recoil more than the popular polymer, striker-fired options. These also give beginners the option of using a manual safety or double-action trigger pull. Both could help beginners feel more comfortable with a firearm.
Since the firearm will be used for practicing on the range and for home defense, the size and weight are not an issue. Someone who has never fired a gun before will feel a massive difference between firing a Glock 17 and a CZ-75. That doesn't mean Glocks are worse than CZs. It just means absolute beginners don't necessarily need the lightest or smallest handguns as their first weapons. They don't need the benefits that come with a polymer pistol. They won't be carrying it on duty for eight hours a day.
Once they pass the beginner stage, learn good recoil control, and feel comfortable with a handgun, they can get something smaller and lighter for a potential carry gun.
I'm a lady and carry a small .380, very comfortable with it. My back-up is a Walther .380.
I really enjoyed the research and presentation/format of all the information provided. I was very thought out.
One of the articles I love to pick apart because inevitably "Glock" always ends up at the top of the list. I'm not a Glock fan for one reason, 5 Generations of improvements and the trigger is still s**t. Sure, you can install an aftermarket trigger, but when you're plunking down 5 bills, that sticks in my craw.
The Walther PPQ and PDP kick the Glock's *ss, hands down every day of the week and twice on Sundays. It's superior to every gun on the author's list. Only the SIG P320 comes close to the Walther's performance. That's 40+ years of experience talking.
PPQ VS PDP.... Which do you choose and why? I was going to buy one of them until H&Ks show up.
From what I have read in an article at "usacarry" the PDP is going to replace the PPQ, but both the PPQ and PDP are excellent and reliable pistols with great triggers, accuracies, ergonomics, and features. The PPQ may be a better buy for you although the PDP will have more features and modularity at a higher cost.
Not an argument here but wondering about the Sig P320 series. What is the deal with the claims of "Accidental Fires"? "Going off while in a holster or pocket during concealed carry"
... I am not against Glock , but I also don't think a Glock should be anyone's 1st pistol. I am told by my gunsmith that more Glocks are traded back in right away because people without experience either do not like them or are afraid of them. My thought is that the Glock is too expensive for most people as a 1st to buy and without practice with a pistol, none are much better than the other. If you invest all of your allowable income to buy the pistol, and if the ammo costs too much to shoot and practice with it, how is that a good thing. S & W pistols are generally much less money to purchase, as are several other brands, and are proven reliable firearms as well as a Glock. My research has revealed that all Glocks are not perfect either. Some have failures and some particular models more than others. And of course, this is just my opinion.
Very surprised you did not reccomend any of the Viridian products, laser or laser/light. They are and have been my go to and the instant on is an unbeatable feature. Most holsters are available or can be modified by the manufacturer to work with this system.
I agree on the S&W M&P choices. Great handguns for the money. I would never buy a Glock. Glock is great for cops where the city buys your ammo, but I am not made of money so I reload. Glock uses an "unsupported chamber" design which can deform brass and render it unable to be reloaded. Too rich for my blood. And speaking of "too rich", anything with a Sig Sauer label is a great weapon, but just too much of a Cadillac for the budgets of us mere mortals (the military can afford it). H&K is the same way.
I'm also a fan of the Ruger SR40 (including the compact 40c) and the Beretta 96D (40 S&W) despite its price.
The military abandoned the old M1911 45 cal because it was ergonomically unsuited for the smaller hands of a woman (don't shoot the messenger... it was an analysis conducted by Picatinny Arsenal), as women began to join the military in bigger numbers . The 9mm replacement was considered to have inferior stopping power by the FBI, so they adopted the 40 S&W round. I agree with the FBI. The 40 S&W round is the way to go. Its worth noting that the military is banned from using hollow point rounds by international agreement and it does just fine without them. I agree with the author here though, hollow point is best to have in your personal defense weapon.
Having said all that... if money is no object, keep an eye out for the new Kel Tec P50. They are pricey with an MSRP of $950. They are still very scarce and asking prices now range up to $1600. Prices will return to normal as production increases. But the 5.7 round is the wave of the future. Very flat trajectory means increased accuracy at improved ranges. And it has a standard 50 round magazine mounted parallel to the barrel. 50 rounds! 'Nuff said.
A mí no me convence el polímero he visto en perfectas condiciones y funcionando taurus pt92, Beretta 92, CZ 75, etc, pero armas de polímero con más de 30 años encima no he visto aunque tengo una Glock 19 gen 5 y una Glock 17 gen 5, pero para defensa uso algo viejo y confiable toda de metal una Taurus pt92 AF d, cuenta con 17 disparos en el cargador y tiene riel para accesorios y es muy parecida a la Beretta 92a1 que tengo... Y en caso de usarla me duele menos $$$ porque su precio es inferior que mis otras pistolas 9 mm.
Lot of talk lot of details now put the gun in their hand and see if they can rack it.
Grip safeties are a 110 year old Army requirement for the 1911. Now it is a marketing gimmick. Better to find a pistol with a thumb safety that will go a very long ways to preventing a holstering accident.
As far as missing the thumb safety on the draw training can fix that. Missing the grip safety can mean losing the contest which, depending on the contest, can be final.
How does one "miss" the grip safety on a 1911?
You guys are always my "go-to" for info and reviews, but for the first time, I'm going to disagree with a point. Just my opinion, but I'm a firm believer in a thumb safety for noob Shooters, especially if they're using it for CC. When the adrenaline hits, you don't need someone who is instinctively going to put their finger on the trigger.,... no matter where they're pointing it. Once they get comfortable shooting, then maybe a Glock. Remember your early years of shooting.
EXACTLY that was the first thing that came to my mind safety required for new shooters !
I can see the "Good and the Bad" of a thumb safety, especially for a concealed carry Newbie. I also think a true "Newbie" should not carry a firearm until they are no longer a "Newbie".
Hollowpoints stopping in drywall is a myth. Box 'o Truth disproved that years ago.
I got my Glock 43x from Discreet Arms Deals Inc after paying with Bitcoin
Wow… sadly I made some of the bad choices in the beginning. As a petite woman I was advised to purchase a revolver that I hated…and testing the cc small handguns … excessive flip and jamming. So I tried the Glock 29 and was in heaven. It was heavy enough not to flip or jam and I easily learned to deal with the simple “push” recoil. I used this Glock in all my classes and to become more proficient. Then moved to the Glock 19….then the concealed carry.
Yes and someone convinced me to purchase a shotgun… that’s another story.
Now I’m looking for a rifle that can give me the same confidence
AR 15 carbine style chambered in 300 Blackout. Shoot sub sonic ammo. It will get the job done and will have less penetration than supersonic ammo.
I would also add the Walther PPQ and PK380. Both pistols have excellent ergonomics and phenomenal triggers. These guns make you look like a better shooter just due to the ease of the trigger pull.
I realize that money doesn't grow on trees. But, for beginning shooters, I recommend a .22lr revolver. Simple; Fun; Inexpensive to shoot. They're easy to shoot while learning and mastering a lot of the basics of shooting a hand gun. Then try a .22lr semi-auto. I recommend NOT getting the cheapest one - they can be a lot more trouble than it's worth. Again, master the function and mal-function of a semi-auto. From there on - Size; Fit and Function have a lot of possibilities. Those with less hand strength may benefit from a small frame 'wheel gun' vs. a semi-auto. Women with concealed carry purses could use a small frame revolver easier than anyone using the "Abdominal" carry inside the waste band, which is easier using a small frame, single stack semi-auto.
It's important to choose a style and size handgun that is Fun and Inexpensive to shoot because regardless of what you settle on, PRACTICE is extremely important. Dry-fire with snap caps has advantages for certain aspects of practice, but NOTHING beats shooting lots and lots of ammo. And, it's something that one must do on a consistent basis. It's a skill you use or lose.
I agree with the article on the selection of ammo concerning type, size, and bullet weight.
For actual defensive "carry" purposes, I recommend using Quality Factory Loads vs. hand loads for legal reasons (that's a complete subject all it's own).
I think the best handgun for a beginner is a revolver. (The marketing problem is they don’t look like the sexy semi-autos people see in action movies.) As you note, if there’s a misfire with a revolver you just pull the trigger again. No stove-piping to deal with -ever. Also, it’s easier to tell if a revolver is loaded and read to fire. There’s no need to rack the slide to put a round in the chamber or to check that there’s a round in the chamber. No safety. Yes, you can only fire 5 to 7 rounds ( depending on the revolver) without reloading, but in my opinion you’re in REAL trouble if you need more than that! Some military assassination team after you, rather than an armed burglar. And 357 magnum (125 grain jacketed hollow point is my choice) is a much more effective round than 9 mm. Maybe even 38 special + P is better or equal to 9 mm; I don’t know.
And I’ve had trouble when my hands are cold cycling the action on my Glocks. (I’m no body builder but I’m probably stronger than many women.) Maybe some striker fired pistols are easier to cycle than a Glock, but on a 1911 and other exposed hammer pistols you can cock the hammer and the slide is easy to pull back. So, no more striker fired pistols for me.
I agree totally with David above. The statistics are that in an average home defence encounter, 2-3 shots are fired, so you don't need 20 round mags. Remember, the other guy will be shooting back, so you'll be lucky to get three shots off!
Here is the problem. You assume there will be only one person attacking you. If there are more than one person you need that extra ammo. You can't assume you are going to hit, even with 2-3 rounds, as even police accuracy is less than 25%. I advocate using an automatic with 15+rounds and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRATICE. 9MM is plenty of stopping power and ALWAYS keep your gun loaded with a round in the chamber. If you have to pick it up it should be ready for combat!
Absolutely agree….practice practice practice… not like riding a bicycle… muscle memory …
Personally I don’t like the “fire” of a revolver and a 22 is good for plunking but unless you are a sharpshooter it will do little to stop an intruder especially if they are drug influenced. Yes have it ready with one in the chamber and accessible
Thank God someone with some common sense.
Eric, what do you think about the Taurus G3 as a beginners’ pistol?
Why in every one of these posts is the IWI Masada not mentioned? It's cheaper than alot of these firearms and is the same if not better for quality and reliability as these weapons
Because it's rare, and not very popular. But think how much that gun really costs after you take away from the price for import taxes. Not saying a cheap pistol is bad but the savings acount for something. Plus IWI is not the great company it once was. It's best to sick with American manufactured fire arms. Yes I know they are foreign company's but glock and sig are manufactured in the US for our market
Article helped a lot and I tried most of the firearms you mentioned before buying and went with the SIG P320F with Romeo 1 Pro and love it. Fired off rounds with it this weekend and handles so well. Love shooting it !!!!!!!!!!!
Eric what do you think of the Glock 48 for CC
I’m sorry but I have a very different view. I own a p320 and a beretta 92 fs compact. For a beginner the sig would be a heck of a lot easier for them to shoot themselves. In fact I don’t recommend a striker fired pistol at all. I’d recommend a revolver. Before you criticize, a family member who happened to be a 30 year police veteran, shot himself in the leg while drawing his Glock. Weird things can happen under stress. And a beginner isn’t a professional.
Iam looking for a first gun now for home and you just post this. Interesting.
Agree 100% plus I might add some of the new 1911s in 9 mm beats most of these quality and shooting wise add to that the safety & your choice is made. Spend a little more for a quality gun – it's your life!
Training and regular practice are the keys to safety. Muscle memory will enable you to draw and fire safely. What happens under stress is that you revert to your least level of training and practice. Sadly, cops are generally lousy shots. They don't practice enough! Stop believing cop shows are anything more than fiction!
I have to agree. You have to train like you would fight (20+ years mikitary). First time I realized how true this was we were going through MOUT training. I had a jam, and true to my normal range training I dropped to a knee to clear it (team kept moving). The OPFOR hit me four times on my groin protector and inner thigh before I could even react. Now with my P365XL I practice with snapcaps to get used to the motion of pulling and firing. Repetitions (using correct technique) are critical to reaction in bad times.
Most cops have the skills with a firearm like a drunk dose with a sucker punch.
I shot competitively aginst many police and retired police I wouldn't consider many of them pros when it comes to handguns rifles or shotguns. They spend about a tenth as much time training as they should. Watch them qualify, it pathetic most of the time.
But handing a new shooter a revolver is foolish when there is a malfunction save ammunition, it's caristofic. How would you get a jammed cylinder to turn under stress? I've trained shooter for 10 years and it get old seeing these wemon coming in with revolvers they where told by there husband they needed. It results in muzzle flip and burnt finger when there hand ends up by the cylinder. They leave more scared of the gun than when they came.
The author is correct 9mm full-size
He could just have as easily shot himself with a revolver, remember, he HAD TO PULL THE TRIGGER for the gun to fire. A clear case of operator error (Or as I like to put it, a Dumb a** mistake)
Likes & Dislikes: For a beginner, I definitely DO NOT like Glock. Very simple: To disassemble, you must remove the mag, check the chamber, then PULL THE TRIGGER to begin the take-down. There have been many negligent discharges (EVEN BY COPS) because they FORGET TO CHECK THE CHAMBER! Personal likes: SigPro 2022, and the S&W 411. Both are old work horses, and both are a joy to shoot and easy to take apart to clean. The S&W is a .40 cal, and being all steel, has sweet recoil. The S&W Shield EZ is great for people with a weak grip or are arthritic, though the recoil is a little "snappy." The Berettas are also fine, and easy to take apart. -- I teach defensive (as well as basic) shooting, so I have tried numerous guns. --- Best advice: Go to a gun shop with a range that rents guns. Try them out, then buy the one that best suits you.
Very good comment. Never forget to always assume a gun is LOADED! Test fire a pistol before you buy it to get one you're comfortable with. When I was a teenager I once had an accidental discharge because I thought my pistol was empty. Shot a hole in my bedroom wall and into the living room. Scared the hell out of me and my father wasn't at all pleased. I've never forgotten that lesson. Since then I've been paranoid about accidental discharges. I double and triple check to make sure it never happens again.
To me, the only reason i would have a Glock is the availability of magazines and parts. S&W M&P is very nice, fits the hand well, as does the Sig and HK. The firearm should first fit the shooter. If it doesn't feel good in the hand, you will have to work to shoot it well.
You are correct that a full size, or close to full size, pistol should be the first choice, regardless of caliber. I like to start people on a .22, like a Walther PPQ M2, or S&W M&P. They operate just like their larger caliber brothers and the transition is easy. Also, there are some people who are recoil sensitive, and may never be able to graduate to something bigger.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Very well written and comprehensive article. Although I've been shooting for more decades than I'm willing to admit, I have taught a great many new shooters of both genders and choosing the right gun for the individual is probably just as critical as learning the basics of sight picture, grip, and breath and trigger control. Personally, I agree with the no safety recommendation, and even in my favorite DA/Sa with a safety guns like my Jericho 941, I never have the safety on, just the hammer down so the first shot is DA. Of course, when carrying my Glock 17 or 21 they are condition red.
I have a S&W 40. Brand new never fired. I would like to trade as it is too hard for me to clean and load. Cost me around $350. I’ve got 4 boxes of Winchester ammo too. What would be a more practical and equal cost wise alternative? Revolver or automatic?
I would suggest going with a 9mm. Although I used to be a solid .45ACP guy, the new 9mm ammo is excellent and as the article says, cheaper and easier to feed. especially like the extra capacity. Although my wife and I both own .45s, we both carry 9mms.
I was told that ammo for the S&W 380 EZ semi auto is no longer available. If this is true what ammo can i use in this gun
You were misinformed, the .380 EZ takes any standard .380 ACP ammo. While ammo shortages are problematic at the moment, it is still available and in production.
You can only use.380 ammo and it’s not no longer available, just scarce as heck.
CZ P10C Best 9 mm striker fired out there. Just as easy to use as a Glock with a much better trigger and price.
What is your option on the Walther PPQ M2?
I prefer the M&P and the Walter to the Glock ...nothing against Glocks they are a solid platform but I find the PPQ and the Smith M&P have better ergonomics for me than the Glocks .
The picture of the Federal Hydrashocks is actually Federal HSTs I don’t want to be that guy but ...just saying
At age 9 I shot a pistol for the first time . At age 12 I started working in a gun and archery shop . At age 13 I had my own pistol but had adult supervision of course . My first pistol was a Llama .380 . Mini 1911 . Guns are like shoes . You find something that fits you with grip and recoil . For beginners I still to this day suggest a revolver for many reasons . Then after you get use to fit and recoil if you want try semi auto . Today after 50 years of experience I still carry a revolver sometimes . And sometimes a semi auto . Not everyone will wear your same size shoes and not everyone has your stature . Don’t let anyone force feed you something they like . Rent a few at the gun range . A good gun salesman will fit you with a firearm that you will enjoy shooting . And a firearm that will not break your bank account for a box of ammo .
So you might want to update this starting with the price of ammunition. 20 cents for 9mm they haven't been that price for a year and a half.
$49 for a box of 50 9mm in Central Florida January 2021.
I tried out a Glock 17 and 19 at the firing range in the early 2000's and found the sight window not to my liking. You had to tip the front sight downward to correct the sight window issue. I recently purchased a Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 and love the feel of this gun. I still have my old Smith 915 and will keep it around for home defense. You can't have too many guns when things go bad. I also like the new 9mm Critical Defense ammo.
Honestly thank you!! I used this as my 1st handgun buying Bible !! Went in with a good foundation to start shopping
You should update this article (along with at least a dozen others) to reflect the COVID/Biden ammo drought that we're living through. I would make note of the fact that .40s&w pistols can be acquired for dirt cheap (police trade in glocks or m&p's) and the ammo is both cheaper per round and somewhat more accessible than 9mm (as of 12/28/2020).
The gun industry has encouraged everyone to consolidate down to 9mm/5.56 for most of our shooting, and that becomes extremely limiting when demand spikes.
OK, great you have the ear and eye of a bunch of new members to the shooting community; You have missed a golden opportunity to bring them along at a rate and speed that they can adapt to. Most new folks have trouble with the "SOUND" and in their hands the "Recoil". The sound and felt recoil can be developed gradually IF the new shooter is started with a hand gun that limits both situations. A simple but effective method is a three set process with the 22 caliber internal slide style pistols. Look at the Beretta, Neos; Smith & Wesson, Victory; Browning, Buck Mark; Ruger Mark IV. Load the pistol that fit the shooters had with the best of these options with high velocity ammo. Position number one: sitting a a table with a pistol rest place a dime on the top rear just in front of the rear sight. The target is measured at 30 feet, 10 yards. Slowly one shot at a time fire all ten rounds at the bulls eye, each time the dime falls off, stop reload the magazine, and proceed. Remember the basics (BRASS) Breath; Relax; Aim; Sight; Squeeze. Once all ten rounds have been fired, without dropping the dime then and only then does the shooter proceed to step two. Mile stone check point ONE. all the shots are within the area of the one inch center bull. Position Number two, with the target remaining at 10 yards. Have the shooter stand, the same loading and firing as sitting, Keep the dime on top. When the dime falls, stop reload, place the dime on top. When all ten shots are fired without dropping the dime the shooter is now two/thirds of the way to success. Third position; double the distance to the target, to 20 yards, with the same requirements, ten rounds loaded into the magazine, placed in the fire arm, fire each shot at the target, not dropping the dime. Yes this will introduce the new shooter to a fundamental shooting experience "Aggravation", The first in many experiences that they find in a very demanding sport. Once the 22 pistol is mastered, any other pistol will respond with greater accuracy, due to the development of the basic shooting skills, and accomplished with one of the quietest and easiest firearms to shot. To build a house we must start with the foundation, lets do the same with this endeavor.
Common sense advice. Like Harley's, I learned on a "sporty" and RODE on a Low Rider!
Lol, The 9mm is easy to find???
I have a Citadel 1911 .45 APC. I love the gun. I am also 5'4" female. It is for home defence so im not shooting 100's of rounds. At 25ft i can put them in a space the size if my hand. I would request that instead of the ammunition being the driver maybe how it feels in her hand instead. I also have a little .380 Ruger that i hate.. I look at the amo tested and its great. The problem is I can't find any .45 amo. I did buy 100 rounds of the PPU JHP 185 gr. Thats pretty much the only thing I can find. I do have some other stored but availability is a huge issue right now. I live in Texas so I'm thinking really....
You should take a look at the Staccato 2011 P, basically its a 1911 but modernized. Its super accurate and very reliable. It's given me a good 2 years and more than 50000 rounds on the barrel. I'm replacing the barrel this weekend. And it's a pretty expensive gun, but its definitely worth it. It can some in a more compact size if you can handle the recoil.
I have one too - sexiest pistol ever made.
I am a woman with large hands. What would be a good lightweight concealed gun with good accuracy?
The Glock 19, or possibly Glock 48 if that is too big, the Sig P320 is my favorite, you can change the grip out for different sizes, and the recoil is very mild.
The other two would also suit you well, the Smith & Wesson M&P, or the Springfield.
My recommendation would be 9mm and one of the 2 at the top, I like the Sig P320 with a safety, in the compact version, a very soft shooter..
I have a 9mm Ruger SR9. Since nobody ever mentions Ruger, does that mean it's a bad weapen?
Ruger makes great guns. Their customer service is very good as well. We have a Ruger SP101 in 357 mag. (my favorite. It fits my small hands so nicely.), an LCP, a 10/22 rifle, and we just purchased an LC9s.
I think Mr. PewPew is partial to Glocks. Rugers are built like tanks and the lines of the pistols are very nice.
i have the ruger security 9 and its one of my favorite handguns for the price. Shot 100 rounds this past weekend with no hangups. I also have a Beretta 92fs, and a sig p320. Holds it own wit my other guns so far. Bonus: its cheaper!
Ruger is a gun it’s more for the close up range tho and it’s a good concealed handgun
Springfield is better for women with smaller hands - fit and grip are important for control.
I recently purchased a Glock 42 primarily for home defense and one my wife could use if needed. I'm a USMC Vietnam veteran and after being on both sides of guns back then haven't felt the need for one until these crazy times! Small size, easy to conceal, and if "it" hits the fan pretty sure 4-6 folks will go out with me!! Make me wonder a bit though not seeing the 42 in your article. That being said, finding any Glock or other small pistol has been really hard these days so when a local gun store had this I went for it.
Been out of the Army for over 20 years and never needed a gun until 2020. Now I am building an arsenal.
I own a 9mm Sig P320 full size and absolutely love it. I’m considering a second handgun and didn’t set my mind on any caliber or style yet. What would you recommend? Get another 9mm Stryker or diversify a bit and perhaps get an 1911 or even a revolver? I don’t want to spend more than $1000 btw. So Wilson Combat and that kind of stuff is out of my league.
I never liked the popular recommendations to start with a weak gun like a 9mm and then eventually move up to other guns. I did my research and determined that 10mm was where it was at in handguns, so I decided to skip past go and went directly to that. I picked lukewarm, but reliable, ammo to start shooting with, and have been bumping it up to hotter and hotter stuff. I will keep my 10mm pistols for the rest of my life, because I have grown into them and I just love them. Just replace parts as they wear out and keep up with advances in ammo. I'm glad I don't have to deal with reselling some standalone training guns later on, because I never added that unnecessary and wasteful step into my routine in the first place.
Very informative and I will use this info when I purchase my hand gun. Thanks :)
You said the 9mm ammo is inexpensive and easy to get. Where? Everywhere I look is almost $1 per round or more IF they have it in stock. Most places now don’t have it in stock. I just payed about $300 for 200 rounds. PLEASE tell us where to get the ammo. All the sites you recommend in your previous posts are “not in stock”
ammoseek.com is a good starting point. You can find FMJ 9mm for .50-.60/round and occasionally cheaper than that.
9mm *is* inexpensive and widely available relative to other calibers. But prices and availability can vary with market conditions. Right now, there's a pandemic, mass protests, and a national election is 2 months away -- all prime conditions for panic buying.
Check out Ammoseek as Jose mentioned.
Velocity Ammo has 9mm in bulk, $650 for 1000 rounds and free shipping over $100. I literally and figuratively "bit the bullet " and ordered rather than drive all over looking unsuccessfully for ammo. They use ups for shipping and it's supposed to be here today (2 day service).
No. Depends on the new shooter. I just advised an ex NYC health care worker (male) to get an S&W 7 shot 4” barrel .357. Why? ease of operation. Relatively cheap ammo, 38 for practice, 357 home defense. And practice with 357 once in a while to get used to the recoil. Also get a shotgun (choice of loads) and or a 357/38 lever gun.
Oh did i mention he now lives in clown crazy California. Where they can and will outlaw anything black or with a magazine.
I figure a shotgun, wheelgun and lever action are least likely to be banned.
Lever guns in .357 are not cheap. I did a non-scientific search. Even a Rossi costs ~US$500. A Henry will kick the price up around ~US$900. My personal favorite, a JM-stamped Marlin 1894, is around ~US$1,200 and then the Winchester 1873s take you up to ~US$1,500 and above. A Grizzly Custom-built Marlin will take you to US$3,000 and beyond. I have no argument with your recommendations for California (except for the S&W revolver; I would pick a Ruger GP100 model #1771, see below), but why are .357 lever guns so darned expensive?
I know a lot of first time buyers out there who have never fired a handgun let alone held one. Many are older or female and lack hand strength and machismo. The Walther CCP CM2 380 is a good choice due to soft recoil system and lighter spring making the slide easier to operate and place a round into battery. Just my humble opinion. Ammo is relatively easy to acquire and the noise is a little less.
FYI, regarding the S&W M&P 9mm Luger EZ... the back of the slide is flat and it has no exposed hammer, but it is not striker fired - it has an internal hammer. Let's call it the exception to every rule.
"An easy way to tell if a handgun is a striker is that the back of the slide is flat and has no exposed hammer."
First of all - as always wonder article that brakes down all "need to know" basics for new shooters. But I have to disagree on model choices from experience (or better say my attempt to find better hand gun for my wife because of recent events she finally expressed deep interest in learn how to defend herself). I do 100% agree that ergonomic goes first, but second in the list (for beginners) I'd put recoil and easiness of target acquisition and honorable mentioning of how easy to make follow up shots... Based on above top of my list will be Walther PPQ Q4 (compact frame) and Walther PPQ Q5 (full frame)
Great read sir. Love the detail. I’m a xd 40 guy but still great insight for those who don’t have monster hands.
Thank you. Answered a couple questions i needed answers to
Why are all the preview videos stance with locked arms. To reproduce recoil back into a proper stance I was taught to keep a 30-45° angle.
It used to be shoot-from-the-hip or squat down and fire with one hand... it all depends on what was in vogue at that time. Now it's about Weaver vs. Isosceles stances, or variations thereof. I'm cross-eyed dominant (left eye is dominant but I'm right handed) so Weaver with my chin near my strong-side (right) shoulder, with my eyes pointing a little left) works best for me. The correct stance is the one where YOU are safely and accurately running your gun, managing recoil and so on.
It's just a variant on isosceles stance that began trending within the last decade. Frankly, it appears tailored to "tactical" shooters wearing body armor and chest rigs. Not knowing any better I initially learned to shoot that way as well, though I have since been coached to adopt something similar to what you describe and have also had better results with recoil management.
.410 gauge short barreled pump shotgun for home defense. 4 points of contact with the body, shoulder, cheek, 2 hands. Longer sight radius.
Great article ... GLOCK G19 GEN 5 is showing discontinued at Brownells. They say they don't know why. GLOCK web site still shows active. Is this still a good choice if discontinued?
That means Brownells has discontinued selling that model. Does not mean Glock has quit making it.
Thanks for the heads up...we're updating some of the links. Also a lot of handguns are out of stock everywhere because of recent buying!
That sku is discontinued, they will only make the ones with front slide serrations and the fix of the grip so there’s no cut out.
Rigged !! Taurus G2c / G3 should be here also !! Great handguns for budget people !! Alot of budget people out there !! But good choices anyway
Why not a Walther, especially Creed? On the expensive side, why not Walther Q4. Are these bad? Moreover, Walther Creed vs those posted?
Q4 is best in my option, especially for beginners - here is what make it winner
2. Low recoil (specially if DPM used)
3. Easy target acquisition
4. Easy follow up shots
I want to love Glock 19 for carry (cheap, relia ble, I can shoot it well) but my old Gen2 19 keeps giving me glock-bite every time I take it to he range. I'm wondering if newer Gen5 with adjustable grips might bite me less or if its my grip. Anyway, I fall back to HX VP9 SK (costly mags are not easy to find) and Sig P320 which shoots great but is a full size target/range gun (difficult to conceal but great next to my bedside).
No cz, no fn, the hell?
Kinda understandable if apx or masada not included (kinda niche market), but fn & cz was very well known!
Ditto. Beginners don't like recoil. Steel frames dampen recoil more than polymer frames. So a list of beginner handguns is incomplete without at least one steel frame semi-auto. The CZ-75 (or clone), Beretta 92, and SIG P226 are classics—not to mention 1911s. Personally, I would go with a CZ.
Some beginners may also prefer a double-action.
It's a disservice not to let them know there are varieties of semi-autos other than striker-fired polymers.
Nice review and interesting choices, Eric. My first handgun was the Sig Sauer SP2022. Great entry-level polymer frame pistol at around $450 with night sights when I first bought it in 2011. The SP2022 served me well without a single malfunction through thousands of rounds at the range and occasional courses and matches. I eventually sold it to fund a used P226 ($600), but I don't regret my choice of first handgun in the least.
I'd also recommend CZ's pistols which are all great value at $100 to $200 cheaper out of the box than their competition for very well-designed steel or alloy frame guns. I have a 75 PCR Compact, though I'd recommend one of their full-sized steel pistols like the venerable 75 or modernized SP-01 for a beginner.
Finally, I think there is a case to be made for beginners to start with a manual safety. Not because they should be relying on the safety, but to familiarize themselves with all of the common controls of a semi-auto. Once you gain familiarity and confident safe handling, feel free to use whatever you prefer.
My first was a sig sp2022, ive learned to master that first long da pull. I like the classic hammer fired sigs. ive put 12 to 15,000 rounds thru mine and never any kind of failure. Its nice to see some companies finally making after market triggers for them, Galloway and Amory Craft. I probably wont ever sell mine. since I started to carry I bought a p365 is my edc gun but my all time favorite is my p226 legon DA/SA. my daughters like and own Smith and wesson M+Ps 9 compact and the shield 9 mm.
Nice to hear that, Francis. There wasn't much of an aftermarket when I had my SP2022 about 7 years ago. Yeah I love my P226 too -- it has become my main range and competition gun. I now daily carry and compete with the CZ 75 PCR I mentioned before as well.
How about the FN 509 Tac? I bought that handgun and it’s definitely one of the best handguns I’ve ever owned or fired
I must say Eric, you are spot on with this review for "Beginners and Home Defense". I should also thank you because I have 4 of the firearms you mention. I am fairly new to the firearm scene(2.5 years). I'm close to 50 and was raised by a single mother and due to a serious injury in high school could not get into the military when I tried in 88. I say this because I did not have anyone that could teach me or show me the basics of firearms while I was growing up. Call it pride or whatever you want but walking into a gun store and not having a clue can be very intimidating and/or embarrassing. Luckily I had a buddy who I went with the first few times to make it much easier and he could guide me to what I needed. The Glock 19 was my first because of all the aftermarket add-ons. I can say it fits my hand perfectly and most importantly I am comfortable with it I can shoot it. I have also added the SW MP 9, CZP10F, 686+, Ruger GP 100, Ruger LCP II, PSA AK, Ruger AR, and several shotgun variants. Every single one I own I make it my very own by making sure I am comfortable with it and if I ever need it I can use it without a single glitch. So far...so good. God bless !!!
I’m a single Mom/widow, raised two boys Love guns and seems like my boys inherited the passion just like I did from my pops. May seem silly but I had the pleasure of taking my son to shoot my 9mm 92fs. First time he had ever been to shooting range. Teaching your boys how to use firearm safely before leaving to Navy - PRICELESS ✌️
As I read that, you reminded me the loss of a son to an army friendly fire negligence incident by a single bullet. The son bled to death after a couple hours. That mother changed for ever. Your word 'priceless' haunts me. I wish you the best with all my heart.
way to kill the mood Ann.
I'm not a Glock fan but they are good. I like my Springfield XDM 4.5 and I have a Sig P320 subcompact that shoots great but I tend to EDC my Taurus G2C. 1000 rounds without a hiccup. True budget gun and very reliable.
No CZs?!!!!! The author doesn't know squat
This article may be old but, if not, how could they take a pass on the CZ 10 P C. Rated by most reviewers as the best stock trigger out there. It's priced right and, again, according to many reviews, it's an overall better handgun that the Glock 19. But, even though I have and love my CZ (and at times shoot it better) I just can't stay away from my Glock 19.
I'm quite happy with my Beretta APX Centurion. It felt absolutely perfect in my hand the first time I tried it, I happen to like the trigger, and so far I've become rather proficient with it. All I've done to it is add night sights and changed the grip frame to the grey color with black backstrap.
Same. Best value in shooting.
I have a Styer S-40 A1 with a .357 Sig barrel that I love. I actually like the trapezoidal sights BUT there is no option for trapezoidal night sights. I tried to apply some luminescent paint but it is not a great solution. Anyway I also have an XD-9 mod2 and an XDs .45 that I can deploy (plus a few others).
I have to stop reading these articles. The author learned about guns on the internet. Some of us learned about guns through our dads and the military. Safeties are a good thing. Especially if you're a new gun owner.
>> Safeties are a good thing. Especially if you're a new gun owner. << Darn right! John Browning put that thumb safety on the 1911 for a reason. You ain't Merican if you don't use a thumb safety.
Agree with the general parameters for selecting a handgun. Smith & Wesson has lost me with their marketing. A search for "M&P9" at Brownells turned up 39 different models all with minor variations. Why the diversification? It is worse than trying to find regular toothpaste at the grocery store. The S&W internal revolver lock is a deal breaker for me. Even though the lock can be deactivated, I would never quite trust the revolver not to malfunction. I'm in agreement with the choices for Glock and M&P9, except that I would specify models of the M&P9 that do not include the manual thumb safety. I would drop the Springfield XD due to the grip safety. I would drop the S&W 686 and substitute a Ruger GP100 model #1771 which also holds seven rounds and does not have an internal lock. The Sig P320 is fine, but I would specify a model without the manual thumb safety. To the list I would add the Walther PPQ M2 and the HK VP9-B with the button mag release rather than the paddles. For a new shooter, I would want the VP9 to be consistent with other Merican semi-auto pistols.
In discussing Beginner Home Defense pistols, the article didn't seem to provide any substantive reason for choosing the Austria-made Glock over the U.S.-made S&W M&P 2.0. But that didn't really bother me . . . Everybody has a personal preference . . . until I saw the $130 price difference you also posted! That's about a 20% price difference, I believe!
After seeing that, I went back and read again what you said about both pistol brands . . . still nothing substantive there.
So can you explain why the M&P2.0 shouldn't be your first pistol recommendation for a Beginner Home Defense pistol . . . or at least "a tie" with the Glock?
The Glock has a far more proven track record and has much larger aftermarket support. The S&W M&P 2.0 is a great gun with a lot of options, if the M&P 2.0 has the options you want or feels better in your hand than the Glock then it is a great choice to go with!
The Glocks have so much aftermarket support, it makes no sense to limit yourself to save a few extra dollars. Some people are fine with a basic model, but a lot of people eventually want to upgrade their weapon. In this case it makes sense to go with the weapon with the most offerings available.
Good article, I'm now 62, it's getting harder for me and very hard for my wife to handle full size recoil, slides, etc. I just got my wife a Taurus TX-22, Loaded with high velocity HP's. Her hands and wrists can handle the negligible recoil and 16 rounds at 1400+ fps even light bullets penetrate. I have also put what are called slide rackers on my XD - 9 and my Glock. Competition shooters and some police use them. They extend on one side or both allowing 1 finger or 2 or even pants pocket to rack the slide or clear a malfunction. They're available from a couple of after market makers.
I'm also 62. I recommend some grip and wrist strengtheners (check Amazon) as well as time at the gym. Also, watch Michael Keaton in "American Assassin." He is 69 or 70 and can whoop ass on those Gen Z morons.
I see this article as a good start to a conversation about good handguns for newbies, but incomplete. One of the most important questions a newbie should ask him/herself—and answer honestly—is: What do I want to do with my gun? The question is (slightly) implied in comments about whether one wishes to carry the weapon in concealed manner, but that’s not enough. Is it to be a range-only gun? Plinker? Defense weapon—and if so, against what type of threat, and in what setting(s)? Is the weapon intended for use by more than one person (e.g., must it also be comfortable/usable for a spouse/significant other)? All these and more can greatly affect the choice.
I appreciate the emphasis on grip, but I would broaden it to ergonomics generally speaking, with grip being the most important component thereof, by far. How easily is the slide racked? If a hammered weapon, how easily is it cocked? How easily are things like mag release and slide stop lever reached?
Caliber and ammunition choice are important, and are often determined by the questions about what the gun’s intended use is. It’s really hard to beat a good .22LR pistol for fun at the range, plinking, and more. Plus ammo is cheap. Ease of obtaining ammunition (9mm stuff is pretty much everywhere these days; others, often not so much. ) and the cost thereof (yeah, 9mm is inexpensive, compared to everything else...except .22LR!) is a factor, and it’s hard to quibble with the choice of 9mm as a great all-purpose selection.
I heartily agree with the recommendation of a striker-fired gun, at least if one is to go the semi-auto route. The KISS axiom will never not apply, and striker-fired handguns lead the pack when it comes to simplicity of operation. And while many striker-fired guns don’t have traditional external mechanical safeties (a la the innumerable Glocks that started the whole striker-fired parade), their construction still makes negligent discharge very unlikely—especially if the user is appropriately trained and acting responsibly. One key advantage of a simple-to-operate and reliable weapon like a Glock or similar is that a new user can focus on safe gun handling with fewer distractions like “This lever does what again?” and so forth.
Finally, a note regarding reliability. In my mind, this is a key factor no matter what the intended use, but especially so, for the obvious reasons, if the gun is intended to function as a self-defense weapon. To a large extent, reliability questions can be answered to some degree by brand. Reputable makers made their good reputations by making good, reliable guns and doing so for a long time. Purchasing something made by Glock, S&W, Ruger, Beretta, Sig Sauer, Walther, or one of the other long-time makers of good firearms is a big first step toward reliability and accuracy. This, by the way, makes me wonder why the very good guns made by Ruger and Beretta aren’t even mentioned. Both (and others of similar reputation) make handguns that would be excellent choices for new gun users.
I argue against a newbie buying a “flavor of the month” type of firearm, whether it be some new (and not yet tried-and-true) “feature”, or a cartridge (like, say, the 5.7 X 28). New gun users don’t need to be part of the crowd essentially testing new things on the market, and if difficulties arise with function, ammo availability, or whatever, a new gun user could be turned off forever by the unpleasant experience.
But my major quibble—the limited selection of recommended guns, when the characteristics described as advantages are also found in many other weapons—e.g., the Beretta APX, H&K’s VP9, the Ruger American Pistol, and more. If one is to make recommendations, it should be made clear why some made the list and others didn’t. Simply saying “X is my recommendation” is of little more value than hearing someone say at the range that they like it.
In my line of thinking, the striker fired gun or not for beginners. You don't learn to drive in something that is doing it for you. Start with the 686 then move to the auto pistol, the Glock and it's clones are for speed freaks that don't care about the fundamentals of shooting.
Hmmm. Interesting. While I have a couple Glocks, and I like ‘em a lot, I shoot both my 1911 and my 92FS faster (at least for second and subsequent shots). And I care tremendously about the fundamentals of shooting. Indeed, I would argue that a simpler-to-use firearm can help one learn the important fundamentals which can then be applied further as one becomes more experienced and starts using other types of handguns, what have you. When I learned to shoot a rifle as a youngster, it was with a simple single-shot bolt-action .22. After adequate mastery thereof, I moved on to other types of actions and cartridges. When I learned to drive, it was with the basic family car. Only later in life did I start driving race cars. (A practice which my wife and the bank account now, to my chagrin, largely forbid.) Revolvers are, fundamentally, simple in concept and function, but not necessarily easy to shoot, depending on style, action type, cartridge, and more. And they have other limitations, such as number of cartridges that can be loaded, ease and speed of reloading, relatively greater difficulty of concealed carry, and more.
I started out with a Ruger Single Action Army in .357 mag.
My next pistol was a Colt 1911 Combat Commander in .45.
Now I'm sporting a Beretta APX Centurion in 9mm.
So far, for me, I absolutely love the Beretta.
2020 update. . . I would definitely consider the Ruger-57 for beginning/ defense, because it's a light but hard-hitting bullet, low weight pistol with low recoil.
I would worry about over penetration
I really am curious to know why I don't see the Ruger American pistol in any of these lists. I personally own one and love everything about it from the trigger, interchangeable backstraps, recoil management, and everything else.
For the handgun newbe, who is most interested in home defense, the .38spl/,357 magnmm is the best choit. It is chambered in a caertridge analogous in stooping power to the 9x19mm, the .38spl. yet has the potential to graduate to a much more powerful and effective cartridge the .357 magnum, as the operator progresses. It also suffers none of the myrad of operator induced and mechanical malfunctions inherent in auto loaders. It also allows for the same trigger pull weight and geometry with every shot. In a do or die situation, it is more reliable for the newb than an auto loader.
Now, cartridge choice. A bullet, with a bigger frontal cross section, is always better than one with a smaller one; all else, such as muzzle energy, being equal. That is why we have seen the tremendous amount of time and money being spent on expanding bullets, which essentially increase the frontal cross section of the bullet.
Auto loaders have certain advantages over the revolver, such as magazine capacity. But, if you need the weapon for defense, reliability and per round effectiveness are more important. As the new handgunner progresses, then the auto loader becomes a more viable option.
A 147 grain JHP in 9mm with do a fantastic job of stopping what you're shooting at......without worrying about over-penetration. Especially in close quarters like a home defence situation.
A striker fired pistol like the Beretta APX is extremely reliable (mine has over 2,000 rounds through it without one problem), the trigger safety helps in a hurried situation, and you have the advantage of having 12 to 17 rounds without reloading.
I've had revolvers, Colt 1911s, and Beretta 92s.
My new striker fired pistol is the best of the bunch for home defence.
Got the VP9. Worth the little extra price for what it brings in ergonomics and trigger quality, as well as factory standard high visibility sights, in my opinion. Comes with a foolproof trigger-integrated safety too, so pulling the trigger properly is what disengages the safety.
Love the VP!
Have to like the revolvers
I'm a woman in her 50's and I like the feel of my Walther. Quick and accurate.
Why is the Kimber? never mentioned in best .380s....
If you are one of us guys that wears xl or XXL gloves, and you have a full sized Glock, go get one of them $20 MOAB from Ghost for the magazine. You will be very happy. Beyond the extra rounds, it makes the hold on the grip just amazing.
What about the Taurus Judge or S & W Govenuor & 410 ammo?
I would not recommend either for anything outside of interesting plinking guns.
Glock 30, .45, 11+1, fairly easy to to hide. With rapid fire I shoot fist sized groups at 5-7 yards.
I will take my Ruger American 9mm over a Smith any day and a comparable price point. Just my humble opinion
I just spent three weeks testing all the 9mm full size and compact guns at my local range (Shooters World) and shot 50 rounds on each to see which one would give me the Best grouping. I shot all your picks plus others like Beretta, Walther, etc. and I can not believe you left out The Walther PPQ M2 from any of your choices. I agree that grip and trigger are the two most important factors for good shooting and the PPQ gave me the tightest grouping at 7yds of all the guns. For my money the PPQ is the best self defense and target pistol available.
Great picks, all. I several full size striker and hammer fire pistols but if given a choice of just one to defend myself it’s going to be the G17 for the mere fact that it is super dependable and I have big hands. That’s just me.
Any fun on this list would make a fine home defense option, and I love that you included the VP9 and the P320....both outstanding and really fun to shoot.
Thanks for a great article and review, Eric!
Read the article he posted on 5 best handguns for home defense...yes, Glock made the list but so did Sig P320, Springfield XD, and Smith & Wesson 626+. Check it out.
The Canik TP9sfx beats the H&K, the S&W, the Sig, the Ruger, hands down! But nothing will ever surpass the Glock as the premier self defense pistol.
You're so hung up on Glock you overlooked many better pistols.
CZ P10, P09, P07, P01, SP01 being a few.
I do agree about your opinion about not having an external saftey but disagree about needing to be strikerfired. When using a pistol with a decocker (or DA/SA manually decocked), if you need to make a quick shot you can just pull the trigger, if you need your first shot to be precise it takes less than half a second to pull the hammer into single action mode.
There are also subcompacts that work fine for newbs. I use my SW Shield to introduce peple to funs all the time. With practice amo they are very plesant to shoot,z comfortable, accurate, dependable, etc.
Also, for a beginner, if they intend to use the pistol for HD, I recommend a red dot sight or XS Big Dots for quick target acquisition, with a mounted flashlight AND a second flashlight.
The second flashlight is so you can directly light things without muzzling a family member on accident. If you need that hand for something you can easily put the extra light in your pocket or drop it if it's an emergency.
Your suggesting a beginner manually decock a da/sa pistol. I don't see how that could go wrong. Funny how you mention nothing buy cz firearms. Let it go. I'm a cz fan myself but p01 & sp01 needs aftermarket parts to survive high round counts and be 100% reliable
Great job by Eric Hung. Thanks.
I think that Walther is a great gun very underloved great trigger. The ergonomics is very good the slides don't require a vice grip to operate. The ppq m2 is a great EDC gun and Pps is a great back up or woman's gun.
Nice to hear from a fellow Walther supporter! I’m the proud owner of a PPQ M2 and it has served me well. Keep spreading the good word.
I am in the process of finding a concealed carry weapon and wished this discussion had considered women and seniors that lack hand strength. None of those mentioned for concealed carry addressed the issue of racking the slide. I've tried almost every one of those listed but could not rack the slide. Had limited my choices due to wanting a 9mm. What good is a 9 mm gun if I can't operate it was my conclusion? Reluctantly I sat about searching for something that I could rack the slide and found that the only option I have is the S&W Shield EZ 2.0 which only comes in .380. Any comments regarding this conundrum? Any alternatives to be suggested?
Sadly, there really aren't many good options in 9mm. Try the Walther PPS M2, if that doesn't work you might have to go for a revolver or a smaller caliber.
As a man I can say that I have never had a issue racking a slide on any gun. That being said my fiance has had problems doing so on any new guns I've had. My recommendation would be to get a used glock 26 or 43 and practice wearing in the slide. The more you use it the easier it will get and I know on the glocks it can be as easy as spreading melted butter on toast.
I own about 12 different hand guns in all calibers except For a .44 magnum. I like of all my pistols A NA Arms .32. It has light recoil and I can squeeze off 4 or 5 rounds In seconds for self defense if I need to do so. However I just purchased a NAmerican Arms .380 but I have small hands and having trouble racking the slide after purchasing this pistol. I even took it to my gunsmith who put in a softer spring. I still cannot rack the slide with the magazine in. With the magazine out, I have no problem. I own Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson Pistols in different calibers and have No trouble racking the slide with these pistols, however The North American Arms .380 is the first pistol I have had trouble racking the slide. I like this pistol since it is small and can fit in my pants back pocket. I own A North American Arms .32 but wanted a pistol with A heavier caliber for self defense. Do you have any suggestions for this new North American .380 that I just purchased. I saw your recommendations for 9mm for a Pistol caliber but I had several knowledgeable law enforcement people and others who said that if you need put at least one or two shots in to the chest of someone trying to harm you and it did not make any difference what caliber you used.
Agree about Glock. That being said, NONE of my firearms have an external safety, and never will. In a high-stress scenario, folks are going to forget that safety, and that could get you killed. And for you "newbies"...DO NOT depend on a .22 anything, for self-defense. Someone new to firearms needs to get a competent instructor, go to a rental range, and shoot several handguns, talk to those knowledgeable about handguns, and then make an informed choice.
I have three on your list. The other two I have instead, Ruger Seurity 9 compact w/4" barrel and a CZ P10C compact w/4" barrel. My EDC is the Smith 2.0. I enjoy all of the Pew Pew articles from Eric and the others.
My pref. is DA/SA. The extra effort to fire DA helps reduce firing from a twitch. And in a true 'hurry-up' emergency, or even timed firing from the draw I have never noticed the trigger pull weight or accuracy difference. If you have time, cocking before precisely (can you really precisely aim a pistol with field or combat type sights?) aimed fire is possible.
I confess that I prefer a hammer that I can see. Partially shrouded for snag resistance.
I also prefer that there is zero spring tension on the firing mechanism in the carry mode.
Now I am a civilian, my chances of actually having to use my arm is almost zilch, but I think my reasoning stands up for untrained (so many departments are happy with once or twice a year at a paper target range) police as well. Military users have much different requirements so these comments do not apply
For the record FNP P9, Taurus PT-111, Ruger Security-Six first model (yes, I bought it new in '72). Some others just for fun.
S&W M&P 9-Pro with trigger job, talon grips and TLR-3 light for the bed headboard. S&W M&P 9 Shield with trigger job, talon grips and night sights for truck and carry. S&W M&P 380 Bodyguard for super compact shorts pocket carry. Also a S&W 22 compact for extra trigger time and practice on the cheap with a similar feel and ergonomics.
I know the Glock is the most proven and popular but I just don't care for the grip shape and definitely not the angle where as all my S&W's seem to have a great feel and balance in the hand at least for me. I'm not sure exactly, other than they just seem to feel more made to your hand like a good fitting glove than a one size fits all tool handle as the Glock seems in comparison. That said I haven't tried the newer model Glocks to be fair but I've been content with my Smith's and haven't really considered anything else in a good while. Guess I've been to busy chasing other fun guns and tinkering with the AR15.
Good list. Between my wife and I, we have three of these. Used to have the XD but it’s gone now. Personally I still rock my M&P 9c as my primary carry. I throw a 17 round M&P Mag in when I get home and mount a light.
VP9 as an honorable mention? Lol. It’s easily the best shooting gun out of all the ones you listed. Get the law enforcement version and you’ll get night sights and an extra mag. They’re seriously tack drivers.
I have a P320 X-carry in .45 and I love it. I may be the only person in America who does not like Glocks. The angle (108 degrees ?) of the handle relative to the barrel does not fit my large hands. I have put probably 1500 rounds of various brands of ammunition down range without issue. My wife loves how the gun feels, but does not like the .45 kick. I may get her one in 9mm for our anniversary.
I didn't choose any of these. After long research, I chose the CZ P-10C 9MM. It was closely modeled after the Glock 19 but has better pointabilty with a grip like a 1911. It's compact, holding 16 rounds, is striker fired and has a beveled mag well for fast mag changes. The most important feature is that it has the fastest trigger re-set time of any polymer carry pistol on the market, followed by the HK VP9. I had a Springfield XD before that but it has a grip safety. You don't want a grip safety in an oh Sh%# situation, trust me. The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 still has a creepy long trigger pull for something they call an improved Gen 2. The Sig P320 has a high bore over axis and was prone to firing when dropped during test phases with the army. It's a big chunky gun too!
All things being equal, I'll take a pistol with the fastest trigger re-set(for followup shots) in a frame which is easy to conceal and also has a high round capacity. The CZ P-10C is unbelievably fast to draw, present and double tap with two rounds printing on top of one another on paper.
I like a lot of what the P-10c has to offer. However, for whatever reason, the slide release was too stiff and basically inoperable for me, so I dropped the P-10c from consideration. The $50 mags were another downside.
The Ruger Security 9 is a seriously more affordable option over the Glock 19. It is American made and sells for roughly 60% of the price of the Glock(Paid $299 for mine). The only drawback that I have found is that because it is still a relatively new product, holster and accessory options are somewhat limited(but improving quickly). It is hammer fired(my personal preference) as opposed to striker fired but by most any other metric equal to the Glock(although the trigger is better out of the box IMHO).
I agree with the list. I own or have owned them all as well as many others. However, you mention fit is the most important thing and aside from reliability I agree as fit results in accuracy and confidence. However, in your haste to be a fan boy over Glock, which is no doubt a great pistol, you fail to mention that the biggest issue with Glock is its grip angle as well as its blocky grip. In my experience with Glock I personally could never shoot intuitively or instinctually with the Glock, as is often required in home defense situations in the dark of the night, because the grip angle is not natural. The Glock has its own grip angle which is different from the vast majority of other guns on the market and for most of us is not natural like a 1911 grip angle and the majority of other pistols on the market. This means it does not present a natural aim point and at least for me must be very intentionally aimed as opposed to the sights coming naturally into alignment on target as I bring the pistol to bear on target. This intentional re-aiming or intentionally moving the sights of a Glock from what I naturally bring into view from what naturally happens with most grip angles to what is required to maneuver a Glock into a proper aiming position can take precious seconds which you may not have in a self defense situation.
In addition the blocky grip can be an ergonomic issue for many. I prefer the small grip option (small, medium and large are offered) but for me, it is required that I use the large grip option which does not fit my hands. If I don’t use the large grip option I shoot 5” high and 5” left at 25 yards but the large grip feels like I’m holding a 4” x 4” post rather than a gun which is not comfortable and does not inspire confidence. This ergonomic issue is not mine only as I read about the experiences of others who have the same issue. However, the grip angle is a universal issue. Some may say a person can train this abnormal grip angle into a non-issue but natural is natural and most people don’t put the necessary hours and hours required to train the natural out of them. Also, if you own any other firearm brands for the same caliber or others, odds are their grip angle will be different than the Glock. And therefore your hours of training will be invalidated when you try to use any of the other firearms you own which have a different grip angle. To me accuracy, confidence and quickness to target is huge. Why else have a gun? To scare bad guys off with the noise? I realize the Glock fits some people very well and it is a great and reliable pistol. But to recommend it as the best beginners pistol without outlining the obvious issues a beginner might not be aware of is not responsible. The other guns on the list all have the natural grip angle of the 1911 which naturally fits the majority of people and could very well be a better choice for the majority of people.
I am a beginner and have found your comment very insightful. Thank you very much.
I enjoyed your article, but my personal opinion is everyone's "first gun" should be a revolver.
They're pretty low maintenance but 99.999% reliable whether you baby them or not.
I love my Glock and baby and maintain it meticulously, but if it jams a newbie will panic.
Have you tried the sig p365. Any reason for not having it in top 5
Prolly because the P365 is a subcompact and Eric has recommended full size for newbies.
Everyone’s going on about the models and makes you left out, and though I thought about mentioning a few myself, I find this article to be in the wrong for more, TMHO, dire reasons
First, if safety is not the first word in, and last one out, when addressing new shooters, we are at odds
Second, I would never bring out the suggestions before I gave a quick-&-dirty run through the main options
Third if you did decide to go that way, as recommendations go, it came out somewhat bleak and thin... don’t you think?
striker and revolver that’s it? DA/SA not a relevant option? Not even in mention?
4 Glock-clones, and no mention of the p10 series? and then you recommend a pocket-cannon as the alternative?
Is this really the best a guy can do when he just starts out?
Sorry dears, but if I can save one new shooter from closing up his mind even before they got started, I’d say “This article’s bad, go find some good advice elsewhere “
He mentioned 1911’s Beretta 92’s etc.
A whole section named “Actions” covered that. I actually totally agree. A beginner handgun for defense should be extremely simple and reliable, no external safeties.
10 years ago the phrase Glock Clones was extremely accurate but not anymore. S&W, Sig, and HK among others have stepped up their games.
CZ didn't make the list LOL noobs...
I love you guys but think you missed on this one. How CZ didn't make the list baffles me. Unless you were using a set of measurables I missed. I'd put my SP01 and steel frames P01 up against anything.
Eh? It is what it is.
Keep up the good work. I do love all you folks do. ♡
The S&W TRR8. Has an 8 round cylinder its lightweight has top and bottom rail for all ur tact gear lights, laser and red dots.
It also costs like a grand and is fairly hard to find. It’s awesome though.
Very true. But a grand well spent. I will never sell mine.
So what are your feelings on CZ firearms? I absolutely love my P01 Omega with its great ergo’s , and it’s super accurate to shoot. Though I have not shot one yet, I have found the P10 series to be a lot more comfortable to grip compared to the so called Blocks. I hope to be able to do a side-by-side firing comparison at my local range soon.
Eric I really appreciate your reviews on guns & accessories. I look forward to every email you send and usually read them all the way through. It's always good to her other's perspectives. Thanks for doing these articles.
Grips Zone!!!! Hahahahahahaha I can't take this recommendation seriously
CZ SP01? Walther PPQ? Just a couple of guns that I think should be on the list.
As an instructor it is important to start with general guideposts and facilitating (rather than recommending) one specific firearm. For example, one of my students absolutely does not have much hand strength so racking the slide and managing recoil are issues to consider. The Beretta CCP M2 might very well be a candidate for that student to include as one of the firearms she/he tries. (This handgun uses a gas operated slide.) Legal guidelines may be more important to consider up front for many students. For example, it is not a good idea to modify an EDC handgun in ways that could haunt a person in court after they have defended themselves with that handgun. Although one can adopt, to some extent, to a specific trigger, some triggers are just better than others. Modifying a trigger can be a legal no-no so it may be very important to select a handgun that has a factory trigger than is acceptable to the shooter. In no case would I recommend that a student decrease the trigger pull from the factory design. Neither would I recommend removing a factory safety. I agree with Eric about not carrying a handgun with an external safety but for legal reasons I would not modify a factory safety.
My point is not to disagree with any of the criteria listed in this article but rather to add some additional decision-making criteria. So , if I like the fit of the GLock 19 and the way it shoots but I hate the trigger, rather than replacing the trigger with a lighter pulling trigger to get the smoothness I of the triggers in other handguns, I would look for a different handgun. Every handgun is a compromise so after meeting the basics, like concealabilty, ,fit, accuracy,, etc. one needs to decide which compromises they are willing to live with. As an instructor, My job is not to tell others what to carry but to facilitate their learning of the additional criteria that will be important and the experience for the students' examination of the compromises. It is not very glamorous to consider how easy it is to clean a handgun but I shoot three times per week and I clean my EDC handgun every time I shoot it so ease of cleaning is important. (I know some folks are going to use ultrasonic cleaners but most people will not - I don't.)
In short, it is important for beginners to know certain things and it is my responsibility to help them to learn some things they don't know.
Can’t believe you left out Walther. From their CCP, Creed to the various iterations of the PPQ. Not to mention 007s PPK. Great guns, easy to shoot and take care of.
FN 509 & FNS series are also nice choices, as well as Walther PPQ. Walther ergonomics are tip top.
For beginners, CZ. Slide in frame makes for a smooth action with less flip and a higher grip without slide bite. For competitors, CZ. There are enough parts and variants to make it your own and stay competitive. Just get a Shadow 2 and you're set for the pistol category. For carry, CZ. Polymer options with hammers or strikers keep weight down, yet there are enough competition parts to go all tacticool, while steel framed models perform like a bench rifle with no flip at all. By now you may see where I think the deficiency in your list lies.
Edit: I wrote this before reading any other comments and apparently I'm not alone.
I have most of the major makers except the Walther which everyone I know who has one loves. I prefer the SW M&P or my Shield. One that doesn't get many prop's is the Kahr. Great DAO trigger on them and the price is very right.
All the other great 9 mm pistols out there??? sounds like someone is getting kick-backs from Glock. This was one of the thinner articles posted.
Great recommendations. Too bad I live in CA.
The M&P 2.0 is usually around $400 or less.
Retire USMC in '89 and haven't fired a handgun since. At age 70 I moved from California to Arizona so I wanted a basic 9mm so I went with Walther Creed 9mm. Have range rounds, varmit rounds and hollow points. These cover all my needs for practice, desert hiking/jeeping (not a fan of rattlesnakes) and home defense. Cheep at $299 but serves me well til I get more specialized weapons. GySgt USMC retired.
My first pistol was the G19. It was okay but not perfection by any means. I’ve also carried the Sig p320 for about 6 months. Didn’t care for the bulky slide, or the super high bore height. I shot M&Ps, XD’s, Fn 509, and all were just okay. Then I got my hands on the CZ p10c and the rest is history. I now own 2 identical p10c’s. One for training and the other to carry. They shoot flat, feel amazing in the hand, and most importantly are relatively cheap. They also have the best out of box trigger in the entire striker fired catagory. (Especially compared to Glock). If your in the market for your first handgun the CZP10c cannot be matched
I’ve owned and/or extensively shot all the models mentioned I shoot competitively, am an instructor, and a law enforcement officer. The mentioned models are solid performers however, the lack of the CZ line of pistols is glaring. The P01, P10c, and P07 are all vastly better options then the aforementioned. While the Glock, Springfield, and M&P are popular, they don’t hold a candle to CZ models’ accuracy recoil management, and reliability. Once you shoot CZ, you don’t go back.
First time gun owner at age 63. Never thought I would ever own a gun but with this changing world I just ordered the Glock 17, with light/laser. Hollow points. A 12 ga shotgun with light. 2 Taser Pulse guns with light/laser - 15ft range. (Concealed permit difficult in this CA city) 2 hours personal training for me and the wife and 400 rounds for initial practice.
Date night will include dinner and the range at least once a month from now on.
Well done Sir. I recommend you use Hornady or another brands low recoil ammo for the shotgun to keep your shoulder intact. You will see what I mean. Good luck!
Have a question If you are the shooter and you shoot the gun once and get shot to the head above right eye and the bullet lodges down on the left side of skull and there is soot or stipple on skin on victim how way was the shooter
depends on the ammo and cal.
Bought a Glock 17 Gen 5 2 months ago after reading this blog and I'm really happy. Hated the grip of the M&P 2.0 as it is too aggressive in texture. Gen 4 Glock grip with the finger grooves are also uncomfortable, which is why Glock removed them for the Gen 5. Fit and finish is average at best and I think the M&P is a better value stock. The Glock sights are an embarrassment but easily rectified with Glock night sights (send your slide to them and they will upgrade for only $67). Shoots beautifully and the cut-out on bottom of the grip for stripping a mag does not interfere at all with my large hands. Glock is far from a family heirloom that you pass down for generations, but it is a rock solid gun that will always perform. Just not the best value around.
No HK VP9?
That was on the "honorable mentions" section. I almost got that gun myself. There wasn't the Walther PPQ either.
Best gun on the list
FN 509 is a good option. Out of the trials for the new service pistol that selected the SIG P320
I'm a big guy, 6'8", with big hands. I have fired the Glock 17, but find it a bit uncomfortable. I must say that I do love the sights. For my big mits, I have found the full-size CZ 75, the SP-01 Tactical, to be the most comfortable. It meets all the above standards, except that it is not striker fired. It's double action the first round fired, unless you have the time to pull back the hammer, then the remaining shots are single action. It is easier to hold on target than anything else that I have ever fired, and I have put thousands of rounds through the Baretta M9. All my friends, even the multiple Glock owners, say that they really like it. One of my friends actually shot a group, first try, that was half the size of the groups that he shoots with his Glock 17, which he has fired hundreds of rounds with. Oh yeah, one plus is that it holds 18+1 rounds and I have found that it is super dependable. With some practice, it would be a wonderful self-defense weapon for those with big hands. It's a bit more expensive than the above recommendations, but us big guys are use to paying more to find the right fit.
More people win matches with CZ than any other.. & CZ 75 most copies handgun in the world. I carry the 75 " compact" heavy, but dang, empty mag in 1 hole @ 30 yards
How does the Beretta 92A1 compare to the S&W M&P9 M2.0?
I went big first time, and bought a Glock 20 10mm.
It's powerful for sure and it holds 15+1 in readiness. Yeah - 10mms kick a bit, but Glock has it worked out pretty good. My wife (an ex-cop's wife) likes to shoot this Glock, so it's something a girl can do! She and I are both CCW for Montana; she was for California too. .
About the goofy myth of no safeties on a Glock ----> I don't want safeties and buttons to push, forget to push or switches to - er, switch.
I need instantaneous firepower for bear defense. You see - I fish and I need to sneak up on trout. I also, then,. sneak up on bears.
In 4 or .5 seconds a bear can get to 40 MPH and cross a flowing river like a speedboat. Since a bear's kill zone is so small and protected by a massive skull, so I need something that can penetrate 24 inches at least and then hope it hits the spine, a shoulder, a hip, the brain - if I can get a round up his snout.
Heart or lung shots in a bear will kill him, but much too late to be any good for a victim.
I am firing one handed 4 -5 inch patterns at 40 feet. I'll get that a little tighter with more practice, but it's coming along.
But body shots are typically less effective especially if the bear's adrenalin is pumping. They might BE dead - they just don't know it and can mess you up pretty bad while they're already killed.
The Glock20 Gen4 10mm was the first pistol I've owned in over 50 years and since I forgot everything about the guns I had before, there is very little about which to compare the earlier pistols to this G20.
The G20 10mm is my new 'natural' pistol, so I train with it exclusively and handle it unloaded (I check - I DO!) when I'm watching TV or after supper or whatever. I feel.
I believe that since this Glock is my only pistol, then I'll know it intimately and the chance of a mistake is seriously reduced.
Having multiple pistols with different operating systems and attachments is foolish I feel if you want to really get to know your firearm. Different calibers of the same manufacturer may not be as big of a problem.
I appreciate your column but I disagree. If the individual is new to pistol shooting the novice shooter needs to get comfortable with recoil, and master trigger press and sight picture. From that standpoint (unless you're a big strong man) a 9mm pistol is where to start and with a pistol that feels comfortable in the shooter's hand, The point is for the shooter to master the basics - sight picture, trigger press - which I believe is easier to accomplish when the novice shooter is not anticipating the recoil.
Night sights are great. However, since most of a novice shooter's range time is likely to take place in the daylight hours, a fiber optic sight array might be a better arrangement to start.
Insofar as pistol - that's a personal choice - I categorically disagree that a 5" barrel is the best choice. In most instances that means a rather heavy weapon. At the same time a sub-compact pistol - due it size might be difficult for a novice to master (especially in larger calibers). The S&W 686 I would say is definitely out.
the s&w 686 is a good choice as you can shoot the weaker 38 special instead of the 357 mag load until you get comfortable with it. i personally like the Beretta px4. storm it has a rotating barrel to help the recoil. thats what i started my wife with and was a great choice, the system works so good that my wife actually started on a 40 cal. she tried the 9mm but wanted more punch so she went with the 40 cal instead. in full size with 4 inch barrel
Much simpler to use a free standing tactical flashlight in left hand, married to the handgun in right hand. You want to be careful using your handgun as a flashlight.
Great writeup overall. I would submit that wheel guns are not a great beginner's option due to the operational considerations, such as grip, and the tactical considerations, such as reloading. Just my .02.
One thing I think you absolutely nailed is that smaller guns are not necessarily going to be easier to shoot. Often the complete opposite.
Enjoy reading your articles! I thought to mention the Glock 43 which is a 9mm I use for conceal carry. Smaller and snappier than the 9mm that we’re mentioned but the smallest for IWB carry.
What are your thoughts on the Steyr Arms M-A1 9mm?
Solid, good shooter. Doesnt fit my hands though.
Clarity and simplicity. No overcomplicating details. Best for me as a complete beginner.
I am not a true beginner. I was on a USMC Reserve company rifle/pistol team 50 years ago. With a 1911 .45 I shot a royal flush in a "pistol poker" competition. Because of bullet improvement, I choose Ruger LCP II in .380 cal with 65 grain Underwood Extreme Defense copper bullet with 1300 fps, 14" penetration and a permanent wound channel twice of hollow points. I want a laser light. This is my carry choice. For home defense I choose Taurus Judge and number 6 .shot in .410. Leave double ought buck to "Swat Teams
Thank you for these articles, I am new to guns and I purchased the Glock 19!! Woot woot as a woman and I stand 5’10 it feels great on my hand and I hen I grip it as well. Thank you for the tips too
The keyword being "beginners", I strongly recommend a Ruger SP101. It's a compact revolver, which makes it good for home defense and if the user gets a CC permit in the future. It comes in .357 and has great heft, so the user can experiment between two calibers instead of second-guessing one with a semi-auto. Lastly, a beginner might jump into the pool of firearm use/ownership, or he might not; for the latter, a revolver takes neglect better than a more complex semi-auto and is easier to get back to using.
Here, we recommend a lack of an external safety. We believe that the mind is the best safety, and that in the heat of the moment during a self defense situation, you might forget to disengage the safety.
This takes out a couple of possibilities including the venerable 1911 which we think is a little too complicated and finicky for the beginner shooter.[/QUOTE]
After more than 50 years of: regularly living with, frequently handling, occasionally engaging, and often practicing with all different types of guns several times each week, if there is one thing I am absolutely positive of it’s that the human mind definitely is NOT any firearm’s ‘best safety’.
On the other hand, over the course of my experience with guns, I have owned no less than seven (7) Colt-manufactured 1911 pattern pistols. Know what? Not one thumb safety on any of these very expensive pistols worked worth a damn – Not one! [Which is the reason ‘Why’ I always used a thumb-strap between the slide and the hammer.]
People make mistakes; and, sometimes, these mistakes are made with a gun in hand. They can be very serious mistakes, too. As far as I’m concerned only a neurotic, self-centered, world class ‘horse’s feedbag’ would bring a loaded M16 into a room full of his fellow soldiers; and, then, announce to an objecting (and more reasonable) senior officer, ‘My finger is my safety, Sir!’ [Like hell it is; and to imagine otherwise is to court disaster!]
Throughout my long career with firearms I have never found a functionally valid substitute for a discretionary, user-applied, firearm safety – None!
We recommend a striker fired handgun for the beginner and home defense since the trigger pull is identical every time. An easy way to tell if a handgun is striker-(fired) [sic][Ed.] is that the back (of the slide)[sic][Ed.] is flat and has no exposed hammer.[/QUOTE]
The operative word, here, is ‘identical’ – Correct? No wrong! Even Lyman Products recommends that, in order to achieve an accurate trigger pull reading with their digital trigger pull-weight gauge, the user should make repeated pulls, from the center of the trigger’s face; and, then, average those pulls out in order to obtain the most correct [average] reading.
All striker-fired handguns require synergistic cooperation between 3, or more, principal action springs in order to fire the pistol; and there is no way that ‘identical’ pull weights can be achieved, every time. With extended use even the trigger break interval, and trigger reset are going to be subjected to change. This is just the nature of every striker-fired pistol’s trigger mechanism.
[QUOTE]Again, most encounters happen in dimly lit areas/times, and you wouldn’t want to shoot with just night sights without verifying your target. So we use and recommend a light that attaches to the rail.[/QUOTE]
Well, in the hope that I won’t set myself apart by stepping too far out of ‘the clubhouse’ I’ve actually had experiences like what is described above; and I can say with confidence that, “An encounter may occur at anytime of day – Anytime!” [The worst and most dangerous event that has ever occurred in my too often ‘dirt magnet’ life, happened 9 years ago at around 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon; and like most of these surprise attacks, until the experience actually began to unfold before my amazed eyes, everything was completely unexpected.]
Now I’m going to say something that most people who own guns really do not know: (Ready?) A lone unsupported gunman should NOT attach a light to his gun – He should not! Attached tac lights should only be used by teams of mutually supported shooters, and never by any single gunman who is operating all by himself.
Sure, whenever I work alone, I also use a tac light; but my tac light is never attached to my gun; nor – in the opinion of several, honest-to-god, real world CQB firearms experts that I’ve communicated with – should it be.
Frontal and, especially, back shots are very difficult to avoid. Any round that’s coming straight in has an equal chance of either hitting, or missing you. However, by holding the tac light slightly ahead of your body, and slightly off to one side, any shot coming in from either side is more likely to be directed at the light rather than coming straight in at you.
[I’ve also discussed this topic, at considerable length, with other experienced gunmen who’ve said the same thing. If you’re a lone operator (and you’re open to suggestions because not all people are) then my suggestion would be to NOT attach your tac light to your gun. If, however, you’re a member of, say, a 4 + man crew then there’s minimal potential harm to worry about. Each team member will know his job; and the one will support the other.]
Now, not to be a complete contrarian; and to give credit where credit is due, most of the information contained in this article is rock-solid; and well done. Me? I really have to agree with Greg Kinman [Hickok45]; and say that the most perfect handgun size is that of a Glock Model 19. Anyone who can shoot doesn’t need a larger-sized pistol than this. [A larger caliber pistol – maybe, maybe –but not a larger frame-size.]
I, also, agree with the author’s recommendation for a first semiautomatic pistol to be in a 9 x 19mm chambering (9mm is NOT a caliber designation, right); and, yes, in today’s modern ultra-combative world, bulky low capacity revolvers have gone the way of the dodo bird. For everything except hunting and certain other outdoor uses, revolvers are now obsolete.
Hi John, thanks so much for your in-depth comment. Fixed up the striker-fired segment.
You're welcome, Eric.
(I occasionally write for gun blogs, too; and I know how difficult it can be to always get everything right. You seem to do a pretty good job of it, though!) ;)
Gosh Darn! I really enjoy the information and style of writing. Thank You!
You're so welcome, John!
I'm looking to buy my first gun and am interested in the Walther Creed as it's in my budget range. From what I've read it's a really great gun for it's price. Anyone here have any opinions as to whether this would be a good first home defense gun for me to purchase?
I haven't had experience but maybe someone else will chime in.
I picked up a Walther Creed about a month ago and I love it. Very easy shooter.. Feels much more expensive than the $329 price tag. Two 16 round magazines included. Holds a very tight group at the 35 ft. limit of my indoor gun range. Soft on recoil. 400 rounds right out of the box with ZERO failure of any sort, Another 400 in the following 2 weeks also with zero failures. Zero cleaning after or between sessions just to beat it up a little.. So easy to field strip it actually took me a minute to realize I was over thinking it. Did that for the first time since buying it last night. 15 minutes later it's ready to go. Can't say enough good about it,.Let me know if you have any questions.
Don't get it. Striker fired "trigger pull is the same every time". If you insert your magazine, rack the slide, the trigger pull is the same every time on a hammer fired also like the SIG P225 and 226.
I'm surprised you did not include the gun I bought for my first- which is still my only handgun. S&W SD9-VE. It has great reviews- only issue with it is it's 8 pound trigger pull. But since it is the only one I've owned- I never had an issue with it. Shoots whatever you put in the mag. You can mix 16 different types and styles of rounds in the magazine and shoot all of them out. No jams. No issues. Forget to oil or clean it? The gun doesn't give a damn. It simply shoots. Great gun.
Great analysis and very educative,,your views on steyr pistols please on ccw and home defense
I feel good that I own two of the guns on this list... the M&P 2.0 9mm and the S&W 686 Plus 4 inch. I also have the M&P 2.0 Shield in 9mm (my CCW) and the M&P 15T Tactical AR-15 in 5.56. I guess I'm a Smith and Wesson guy (don't tell my .22 Henry Golden Boy or my 12 gauge Mossberg 500 Tactical). Rather than night sights, I utilize an integrated Crimson Trace Laser on my Shield. Both the full size and the CCW 9mm are in my nightstand in a rapid open Sentry Safe. As far as flashlights go, I trained myself to turn on the house lights from a wall switch, rather than make myself a target with a flashlight (laser only goes on when I acquire my target, and only if necessary). If the house lights suddenly going on will get the bad dudes to leave without a confrontation, that is best.
Sorry Eric, I fundamentally disagree with putting auto-loaders into the hands of untrained people who are unlikely to train or practice to the extent they would need to in order to be proficient. I've seen first hand how great a danger these folks can be to themselves AND others. A revolver with five to eight rounds in a .357 caliber for the choice of ammo, 4 to 6 .in barrel they can handle anything short of going into battle. Keep it stoked with .38 special frangible ammo for urban/home use.
Hi Kevin, appreciate your viewpoint. Definitely recommend everyone to train and practice until they are confident.
This is BS an adult can be taught to use a striker fire handgun in a few hours. Take your hokey leave the first round unloaded wheel gun BS back in the 1870s where it belongs.
Lol...you're the only one dude. My first was (and still is) an "auto-loader" as you so eloquently put it. SD9-VE. 16 RD MAGS. It's been a great gun. The only people who need help are people with no common sense. As long as people go through a safety course using the gun they own or intend on owning- that is all that is needed. And there are those who just naturally get it figured out like myself. Not to brag, and I did have help from a couple of experienced friends. But really using a firearm requires common sense more than anything. Knowing gun safety and memorizing the main safety points that every gun user should know- is what is most needed.
Eric, thanks for the article. I will look at a Glock 19C soon. How do I make sure you get credit for my purchase?
Hi Dean, glad I could help out! And thanks so much for thinking of us. You will be better off buying the Glock in person at your local gun store. But in the future if you buy accessories or ammo, you help us earn a commission by clicking the links on the website. Prices do not change for you!
Thank you for putting all this information out there! Something I've been thinking about (and have had several more experienced shooters agree with) is that a light on the rail potentially makes you more of a target for an armed intruder.
Naturally, no one can predict exactly how a home defense scenario will unfold, but I have a concern that mounting a light on the rail of my Ruger 9E (a nice gun that fits a lot of your criteria for home defense with the added benefit of being MUCH less expensive than the ones listed here) will expose me or my wife to unnecessary danger.
We have these little wax burners plugged into outlets in just about every room, including one in the hallway outside our bedroom. The light from that one will silhouette any intruder that could manage to sneak up on us and make them an easy target (although it's doubtful any intruder would make it that far considering we have a German Shepherd in the house).
Bottom line: I'm thinking if your job doesn't involve clearing a dark area of bad guys, another $200 (on top of gun, range ammo, holster, etc.) for a rail-mounted light might not be a great investment. That same $200 should score you at least a hundred or so rounds of home defense ammo, which is likely a better investment (practice makes perfect).
The Target can also be a flashlight one used at night in most situations.,so that has no real ground unless you utilize night vision.. Trust me. on this......... State Police 22 years.
Thanks, Frank. To be clear, you are in favor of using a rail-mounted light, correct? Just want to be sure - I look to experts like you to guide folks like me who are less experienced in these types of situations. Have a great week!
Hi Michael, that's a great personal consideration. For me, I want to have 100% confirmation that my target is a threat.
Agree 100%. In our case, someone in our home at night besides us and the dog has an infinitesimal chance of NOT being a threat!
Keep up the great work - appreciate your wisdom!
I understand the thinking- and yes you should not just shoot first and ask questions later....(right?) It depends on several factors. If you're in bed with just you or you and the wife, if you have kids you should try and check their room safely if you suspect a breaki in...if they're in bed, everyone is accounted for and noone else has a key to your home- I'd make sure you have a round chambered. And your gun needs to be trained on that person as soon as you can see them- or trained on the hallway leading to your family's bedrooms. If the theif stays away from that hallway good. Call the cops. But if they enter that hallway shoot to kill. It's your family. Unless you live in Commiefornia. Then you might as well just shoot yourself.
This is dumb. If you're taking a gun to a fight in the dark you want light. End of story. Making yourself a target? They are in your house for godsake, you are already their target.
After reading your article, I was wondering how you feel about the Walther PPQ M1. Would you consider this a reliable and worthy semi? What are the knocks, if any. about the Walther lineup. I am still in shopping and research mode, and am interested in this one.
Hi Jack, I've only shot a few mags of the PPQ at an event...but the ergonomics were very good and no malfunctions.
I am brand new to the gun ownership world. I have a Roger 10/22 because I love shooting cheap rounds, and lots of them, as well as picking off some varmit here and there. I have yet to see why a .22 caliber handgun would be a bad home defense gun? Is the thought that the rounds will not stop an invader? I am not familiar with it all so I am just asking the questions. Accuracy over caliber for me.
Exactly...one .22 in the right area MIGHT take down an invader...or it might take 50. It's not as consistent.
There is no doubt the .22 can kill as long as you are prepared mentally to do head/heart shots and skilled enough to do it under stress. Certainly no a bad way to train since even larger pistol cartridges there is no guarantee that 1 or 2 center mass will stop an attacker
Question!My brother left me his sw dx snubnose 2009Would this be a nice pistol to
learn shooting with and cc when I'm confident and comfortable firing?
It all comes down to how it feels in your hand. If you're comfortable with it, then it should be fine.
If possible, You may want to rent many makes and models in different calibers. (380, 9, 40 etc) Whichever you can hit consistent that will be the caliber for you. The rest is easy. Pick the maker and model you like. (The XD MOD2 9mm or Glock 43 are excellent choice)
I agree almost 100% wholeheartedly. But, as a guy in my 60's I chose an SA XD40.
I like the tactile feel for a chambered round. The tail of the striker sticks out and can be felt with the thumb. There is also a small pop-up on the top of the slide which can be easily felt and seen.
I like the grip safety. And, it also has a trigger safety. It does not have a lever safety, which I didn't like for the same reasons. I want to grab it and fire, if need be.
This is a full-sized weapon and to conceal carry I use an old CD player carrying pouch.
At my age people think I am carrying an oxygen bottle, even though I don't look old enough for that... Yet.
Lastly, when I wen shopping I did try a Glock and the grip felt too squared off in my hands, which are a little small for a man. The XD just felt right in my hand
Thanks for your personal input!
You may want to update your Glock chart to include the G43. It's a good little single stack 9mm, much like the S&W M&P Shield and the Springfield XDS.
The grip is shorter, but it works for me since I generally either have my pinkie extended and off the grip anyway or I can curl it under the grip slightly with no problems using the flush magazine. It also comes with a second magazine that has a finger extension that the pinkie can rest on, and there are aftermarket +1 and +2 extensions that can be added to a magazine to provide a full grip as well as the extra length to get a full grip. I carry my backup magazine with a Strike Industries +2 extension that gives me 8 rounds instead of the standard 6 rounds in the stock magazines.
The M&P 9C (Compact) is also a very nice pistol with a great feeling grip and conceals easier without printing than the full-size M&P 9. Of course, they also make a 40C for those that prefer the .40 S&W caliber.
I'm currently looking at indoor ranges I can go to waiting for them to get some of the M&P M2.0 in their available rentals so that I can test fire them to see how I like them.
I'm always looking for my next handgun purchase, and I've spent a fair amount of money trying out different models of handguns I'm considering purchasing. The enjoyment of getting to shoot different models of guns is well worth it to me as well as knowledge for when I'm finally ready to make my next purchase.
Great article. Thanks.
The two things I don't like about the G43 is that there are no rails to mount a light or laser and the only sights available on stock models are the standard white dot Glock sights. Again, aftermarket sights are available, but it would be nice to have the option to buy a stock G43 with night sights.
Thanks Curtis, yup the pic is a little old now.
Great article! My wife's favorite handgun used to be her Glock 17 with an X300. It was either in her purse or on her night stand. That is until she tried one of my H&K VP9's. The Glock is now in the safe and I am one less VP9. Me, I have my trusty BCM AR and a VP9 on my side. Whatever you feel comfortable with and train with is what you should use. Training is the key, not just at the range either.... you need to practice in low light and darkness so that you are familiar with your weapon in all conditions.
I'm an XD/XDM fan, plus 1911s of course.
I have two grown step sons. Older one was AA and knows Guns; younger one didn't so I gave him my XD40. I felt that the grip safety was "just right" for a beginner. No on or off clicking but you do need to have a grip on the gun for it to fire.
A friend of a friend had an incident where by his shirttail got caught in the trigger guard of his pistol and caused it to fire, grazing his cheek. All laughing aside, this could have been a disaster had he been carrying his usual load of "DRT" rounds.
I will continue to carry my XDM 40.
What is a "DRT" round? Just asking. I really don't know.
Those are all nice guns, but you can't beat a Jericho steel frame 9 for smooth shooting and little recoil in a 9mm. Shot them all love my iwi. Everyone should at least shoot it once. You'd be surprised!!
Great article! I'm glad I found you because I learn something every single time, and often many new things in each article and or video. Thanks and keep up the good work!
You're welcome Ronnie...glad I could help out!
Curious, do you get paid by these companies to throw out their names? I am a "beginner" have a beautiful pistol, which is not listed....seems most places that "rate" or "recommend" are paid by said companies to promote.
Hey Priceless, I do not get paid by any of these companies (and buy all handguns on my own dime). To me, they are just the most proven handguns and what I recommend to my friends/family.
When it comes to saving money, I'm curious why there is no mention of the American made Hi-Point?
Hey Joe, great question. It just doesn't have the same reputation and real world testing that the others have. I couldn't recommend it as the sole gun for someone looking at home defense. I'd tell them to save up just a little more.
Never shot one, however I do believe you get what you pay for. Besides being ugly I just don't trust a firearm that sells for 140 bucks. May work fine, but for how long before it breaks? You need to put rounds through it to practice. Therefore shortening its life span in my opinion. JUST AN OPINION. I am no expert. I also don't know any experts who use or even recommend one. I do however like and have never had an issue with the S+W SD40VE. Athough if I had it to do over again I would get the M+P 2.0 in .40 cal. Looking into Ruger LC9S Pro and Walther CCP 9mm for CCW. My budget is tight.
Hello. Getting my carry permit this weekend. Was looking at the glock 17 and the Canik as my first gun. What do you think.
I'd spring for the Glock 17 since it's much more proven.
I am a beginner gunner and purchased the Canik. I was keen on the HK vp9 and loved the way it felt. The Canik was very comparable and I loved the price. I have been very happy with it. I have shot close to a thousand rounds and have had no issues! Matter of fact, a friend of mine owns a glock from the suggestion of her brother (police officer) and she tried my Canik and really liked how it handled. If you can find a range that has both as an option to try out, I would suggest doing so. I did research on several 9's and after going to many gun shops and holding them, I went to a gun range that had guns to rent. I was able to try out before final purchase. BTW, the Canik was suggested by a friend of mine - police officer trainer. He owns many firearms and has many years of experience!
Nice article but I'm not sure I can agree completely with your assessment. Hand strength can be critical in what type of firearm one chooses. I have found that the weaker sex can have difficulty recovering from a malfunction or even pulling the slide back to chamber a round in an auto loader on a pistol with a strong recoil spring. Unless the average gun owner is in a zombie attack, a 5 shot lightweight revolver will do the trick for most ladies. Most of the real world shootings/shootouts I've seen were less than five shots and the end result the same. With a revolver, you don't have to worry about tap, rack bang...just bang
Thank you so much for writing this article. This article and site is what got me started down the rabbit hole of owning a handgun. I went to a gun range and tried all of the recommended firearms in this list. Out of the three recommended, I liked the M&P 9 the best. However, I am also leaning towards the Sig Sauer P320, I have not fired it, nor have I found a range that offers to rent it so I would be buying it blind. Any Advice?
I haven't had the opportunity to fire the p320 yet; however, a group of active duty Air Force are going to be purchasing this model. This will be my first, my husband currently owns a Beretta and loves it. We all like how customizable the 320 is. You can choose caliber, frame size and pistol grip size. I plan on using this as a concealed carry as well. Everything I've read on reviews so far is great! I can't wait to get my come tax return. Best of luck.
P.S. Great article Eric, I really enjoy reading the information in your articles and excited to try out some of the targets!
Eric why don't you give the CZ 75 SP a try and it is one of the best handguns I have ever tried
Hi William, yup I'm getting into CZ's...waiting on my SP-01 and we have a couple CZ review articles coming out soon too.
What's going on with the gen 4 glock line in California? Can we still stop by the shop and buy one? Or what's the deal I hear that we can't buy it but haven't heard a reason. Is it because of the unsafe handgun bs or what?
Hey Darius...you can't walk into a gunshop and buy it since it's not on the safe handgun roster...only Gen 3.
You can still get one though if you become a law enforcement officer or if you find one through private transfer, but be prepared to pay a premium.
For a new shooter I definitely do not think the mind is the best safety. They are new and don't know anything about firearm safety most likely. Wisdom comes with time and practice.
I have to say that I know this is the norm. But j believe for new to shooting people , safeties are great to learn and use and will probably teach more discipline and make them use the safety more. Since without one you cannot. I would definatlety recommend a 1911 or something with a safety to a new to firearms person. I think without safety leaves more room for error to a newbie. I'm in CA and my first gun was a sd9 and I think it is a horrible choice for a new shooter.
Hi Mike, thanks for your input. I still lean towards that the mind is the best safety and that a physical safety gives a crux. If you don't start off with a safe mindset you'll probably end up more dangerous down the road as you get complacent. A wise instructor once told me that the most dangerous person in the room is the person with the most "experience."
As for the 1911 for a first handgun...I don't recommend it unless you're able to train a lot with taking off the safety before a shot. During a running knife attack drill I forgot to disengage the safety and the "attacker" reached me. And that was me in a ready position!
The California version of the S+W SD9VE Has a 12 pound trigger pull and the ridiculous loaded chamber indicator. (The peek hole version is fine in my opinion.) If you change out the trigger and springs to an aftermarket Apex Tactical kit trigger pull is 6 lbs. Oh yea there is also the 10 round magazine limit. I fail to see how California is a safer place "thanks" to these "common sense???..lol gun laws"
Fantastic article; thank you for this.
Very happy I found this site! I am looking to purchase my first gun and learn all I can about it. I live in California and was wondering if you had any information (or planned to do an article) about purchasing weapons in this state. California makes purchasing just about anything more difficult and expensive than it needs be...
Also, do you have any top revolver recommendations for beginners for self-defense/home invasion use.
Hi Zach, thanks so much for the kind words! I have some CA regulation stuff scattered around but that's a great idea to have one combined article...especially given the new laws that will come into play in 2017. For now, I'd say check out Calguns.net
I'm getting my first revolver soon and I'm going with the Smith & Wesson 686+ 4", which is a .38/.357 caliber 7-shot model. I'll be writing an article detailing my decision.
Looking t this setup:
S&W M&P with thumb safety
Guide Rod Laser
trigger guard light
I have a 1911, but I'm looking for a 9mm that my wife can handle. I was thinking of getting a S&W M&P with a safety. What's wrong with a thumb safety? You can leave it off, and it functions the same as a Glock, but you always have the option of using it.
If you're clearing your house, you'd have the safety off, but what about after..? If you've finished clearing and are walking back upstairs and someone attacks you from behind. Would you rather have the safety off so you can turn and fire, or would you want a safety on, in case they get a hold of your weapon? They'd have two hands pre-occupied trying to fire your weapon as you put a knife through their throat.
Also, what are your thought on guide rod lasers vs rail? Or, lasers in general. I've shot friends guns at the range and the laser was dead on and seems like anyone can hit their target, especially a woman under stress...I've heard people say that lights and lasers can give your position away...and some even say that you should clear with a light on your opposite hand (as it's not good practice to essentially have a flashlight that fires bullets), but I'd rather keep a firm grip on my gun, and be able to see and acquire my target before pulling the trigger. The trigger guard laser seems pretty good as it can be activated with just the pressure of your middle finger, so you don't have to move your hands from position to turn it off...
Obviously, we would both train on this setup to become safe and proficient, but does anyone see a flaw in this?
Hi TJ, hopefully I can help:
Personal preference with the thumb safety. I just don't like it since I've personally found I can forget to disengage it during stressful situations (for example...class with a knife attack simulation where the target is on a track "running" at you + my first few competitions).
I don't have much experience clearing houses so I'd leave that advice for someone actually seasoned. My primary plan is to barricade in the bedroom and call the authorities.
I've heard of guide rod lasers but have no experience. I chose a Streamlight with light and laser combo.
I've heard that argument of the light giving away your position which makes sense, but I'm with you that I'd rather see my target clearly.
It makes sense that a safety is a potential issue if you're attacked while carrying, and need your gun quickly. However, I'm not in a carry state, so I'm basing my opinion on just home defense...retrieving my gun from a fingerprint safe in my bedroom. I'd have my wife call 911, as I retrieve my gun, disengage the safety, and either escort my kids to our room or use one of their rooms as the designated safe room. I'd only clear in a worst case scenario...a family member was not accounted for, etc... I just thought that a firearm with a safety would be a good choice in my case, especially with kids around, even though my guns are in a safe...
The problem I have with manual/external safeties is that they are a crutch that "noobs" rely on and then can learn bad and unsafe habits like lack of trigger finger discipline (it's ok, the safety is on) or muzzle control (it's ok, the safety is on) etc. I've seen this with people including some of my inlaws who consider themselves firearm experts!
I read a recommendation that the Walther PPQ be included. I had a PPQ and while enjoyed shooting it at targets, I found the trigger to be too light for home defense. I would be especially concerned for a beginner.
I sold my PPQ, purchased a Sig P320 and I have been very happy with this choice.
Great that you found what works best for you, Ron!
I am thinking with a light attached to a gun the bad guys will see you way before you see them.
Hi Denny, true! I practice with just momentary flashes.
Ive read a couple of your articles and find them interesting and informative. I retired in 2003 after 22 years as a correctional officer in a county jail. Due to that position, Ive know City Police Officers, County Deputies and State Troopers.
Im nervous about owning a semi-auto with no safeties. I personally know two officers who would not have survived if their weapons didnt have safeties. Bad guys managed to overpower them and take their weapons. Because they apparently learned to shoot by watching television, they did not know how to work the safeties. People should be aware that sometimes the bad guys get your weapons.
Anyway, thanks for the good info and interesting material
Hi Rick, thanks for the insight from the view of officers!
I think Rick meant to say "external/manual safeties". I believe most if not all pistols have "safeties".
In my humble opinion, first time shooters (novices) should by that first pistol with a safety--so they don't shoot
themselves during carry, range time or plinking. They can certainly train the half-second to click the safety off.
This is one reason that I recommend the S&P with optional safety over Glocks.
Love your site, and love your mission, purpose and advice.
Thanks so much,
Hi Steve, thanks for your opinion. I think you hit it on the head that they do need to train for clicking off the safety. Otherwise with a proper holster and following the safety rules (no finger on the trigger unless you're ready to fire), they shouldn't be shooting themselves even on a gun without a traditional safety.
If someone NEEDS a safety to keep them safe from their gun, they shouldn't own a gun. Period. I'm not against external safeties, per se, although I wouldn't never buy a pistol with one. But if the reason you need one is you're worried you'll do something unintentional, you either need more instruction and studying, or you simply shouldn't own a firearm. Someone who is a potential danger with no mechanical safety switch shouldn't own a gun, period
By the time they ever come close to a gun, the rules of gun ownership should be drilled into them so deeply and regularly that safeties are completely superfluous. Nothing wrong with taking someone to a gun range and helping them with the basics(guns are always loaded, point downrange, finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire, etc), but until it's muscle memory, until it becomes second nature to properly handle fire arms, they shouldn't own one.
Don't forget, to fire a glock you have to pull the trigger. Pull the trigger. Send metal death away from you at hundreds or thousands of feet per second. It's not like leaving your wallet at home. Pulling a trigger requires a conscious, voluntary movement of your body. You have to want to do it. Thus, only people who are responsible enough to only do so when appropriate should have guns. After all, the girl who accidentally shoots her boyfriend in the head with a glock probably isn't going to less likely to do so with a gun that has a switchable safety. She'll forget it's on fire, she'll be playing around or showing to her friends, he'll be jokingly pointing it at his buddy(sorry if this seems sexist, guns and retarded people are an equal opportunity disaster waiting to happen). Not to mention a safety can actually complicate things and make people feel more overwhelmed. I find myself utterly in love with my Glock .23. I know if there's a round in the chamber and I squeeze the trigger, it will fire. And that's all I need to know. Considering the fact that my finger stays off the trigger until it's time to fire(or systems check after clearing), it's not a problem and will never happen. Because I know that there is no safety net, nothing standing in my way. People who use safeties feel a false sense of security. Not to mention they tend to panic when people are breaking into their house and they keep squeezing the trigger and nothing is happening. I find your argument specious, sir. The very reason you think novices should have a gun with a safety is why I think they should have one without. I think someone who has a safety switch is more likely to injure themselves, either through overconfidence, not understanding the position of the safety, or simply because you gave them a gun and then told them it was safe. Which is the worst thing you can tell a first time gun owner. Guns are only as safe as the person wielding them. Worst, it gives the novice false confidence. And I can't think of anything scarier than a new gun owner thinking he or she is "safe" from negligent discharges because of a little switch
Anyway, bottom line. If you accidentally fire a glock, it's because you pulled the trigger. What's one of the main rules of gun ownership? Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot. I think "Treat every gun like it's loaded" applies, too, as people with the safety on tend to become rather reckless and careless with their gun. Safeties on, no worries guys...Right?
So if someone new to shooting can't even follow the most basic, life preserving tenets of gun ownership, a safety or lack thereof is irrelevant. It's still a false sense of security for someone who should have no sense of security. Owning a gun should be an awesome responsibility, not something you can turn on and off whenever you feel like it
That was a great novel you just wrote. Lol
A great article. Something I'd like to point out though is that going cheap on a light is not necessarily a bad thing.
Streamlight and Surefire make great, virtually indestructible lights. That's good news if you're SWAT. But most people, especially those who are on a budget, just don't need a light that can withstand thousands of rounds, being dropped numerous times, or full days of shooting in the rain. For those folks the $40 lights you see at places like Dicks Sporting Goods are more than good enough.
Will the cheaper lights survive 50,000 rounds or being submerged in salt water for 30 days or thrown off the Empire State Building? No. But they will light up your field of vision when things go bump in the night. And for most of us, that's all we'll ever need.
For sure Dave! Any light is better than no light. I'd just be sure that it can hold up against the rounds you intend on firing and that you practice with it on so you get used to the additional front weight.
Hi Eric. I am so happy I found this article. I shot my first gun this past Sunday and I instantly fell in love. (I guess it helps that I managed to fire all of the five rounds we were allowed directly into the bulls-eye area of the target... albeit with one eye closed.) My instructor suggested the Glock 19 as a beginner handgun and the information provided within this article has definitely supported his suggestion. I look forward to reading many more of the articles on the website. Thank you for clearly relaying the information!
Hi Jess, thanks for the comment and congrats on your first shooting session! Glock 19 is also great since it is just slightly smaller than the full size 17. Great for possible concealment too if that's in your future.
As a complete novice I greatly appreciate your very informative site. Many thanks.
Thanks so much for the kind words, Brooks!
I read your "best handgun pistol for beginners home defense" article and I think you should look into the Canik TP9. Great value gun that is worth emtnioning.
Hi Jake, thanks for the suggestion. I'll be sure to check it out soon for an article update.
I agree with everyone of your points. I would just expand your list of pistols. The Walther PPQ and H&K VP9 need to be considered. They are a little pricier, but not way more. Also I favor the Glock 19 to the 17. It's just as easy to shoot, but can be concealed much easier if you decide to later down the road.
Thanks Liam! I'll be revising the article soon and those two will make a guest appearance. They are relatively new (2011 and 2014, respectively) so I'd like to research them more. Good tip on the 19 vs 17!
For me, the reliability of a double action revolver trumps any automatic. Just point and shoot....you know its going to fire.
Thanks for reading and for your opinion!
Hi Eric, just read some of your awesome articles. The one for choosing a AR15 and the one for hand guns for Home defense. I was wondering if you have any input on the HK tactical COMPACT. Thank you
Hi Carlos, thanks so much and glad to be of help. I've only tried a buddy's full size HK45 which was a real tack driver and pretty controllable recoil for a 45. You can't go wrong with it if you like how it feels in your hand and the manual safety.