Best Handgun for Beginners & Home Defense [2019]

Sig Sauer Romeo 5 for $105...one of the best deals for a sub-$200 red dot (our full review)

Not sure what pistol to get for your first gun or home defense?

We’ll cover important decision points such as caliber, ammo, size, ergonomics, price, and safety.

And then end it with some of our personal suggestions.

Best Beginner Handguns
Best Beginner Handguns

If you can’t wait, here’s our picks:

  1. Glock 17/19 (9mm)
  2. S&W M&P9 M2.0 (9mm)
  3. Springfield XD Mod2 (9mm)
  4. Sig Sauer P320 (9mm)
  5. S&W Model 686+ (.357)

We also cover this topic in-depth in our video course, Gun Noob to Gun Slinger.  Only the most important handgun knowledge to get you competent in 2 hours.

Table of Contents

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Caliber…is Bigger Better?

You ready?

Common Bullet Calibers
Common Bullet Calibers

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.

Why?

The 9mm is easy to find and cheap when compared to other calibers (~20 cents for a 9mm FMJ and ~40 cents for a .45 ACP round).  It’s 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.

Not too bad…right?

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 female agents.

Ammo: Hollowpoints or Bust

9mm 115 gr Federal FMJ vs 124 gr Federal Hydrashok, Top
9mm 115 gr Federal FMJ vs 124 gr Federal Hydrashok, Top

For home defense purposes, we recommend hollow point bullets for their stopping power.

5 Shots into Ballistic Gel
5 Shots into Ballistic Gel

Ouch…that’s gotta hurt!

147 Federal HST Expansion
147gr Federal Hydrashok Expansion

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:

Handgun Size

The most important thing about choosing the best handgun is fit.

We recommend getting a “full size” handgun which means close to 5″ 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.

Glock 17 Grip
Glock 17 Grip (Fullsize)

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.

Glock 19 Grip (Compact)
Glock 19 Grip (Compact)

Here are some of Glock’s 9mm handguns, but other manufacturer’s sizes will be roughly the same.

All Glock 9mm Sizes
All Glock 9mm Sizes

Safety

Here, we recommend a lack of an external safety.

WHAT?

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.

Sights

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.

Glock Night Sights, USACarry
Glock Night Sights, USACarry

Action

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 most Sig Sauer’s and the Beretta 92FS have a heavy first shot since you are cocking back the hammer.

Beretta M9 Double Action Single Action
Beretta M9 Double Action Single Action

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.

This leaves us with what many call the “plastic fantastic.”

So far with our discussion of caliber, size, safety, and action, we have the possible candidates that have had enough history that we can fully recommend them.

Best Beginner Home Defense Handguns

1. Glock 17 (Full) or Glock 19 (Compact), Gen 5

629
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Everyone and their mom has heard of Glock.

It is a polymer, 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.

PPTG19ten
Glock 19 Gen 5 (note no finger grooves)

For those of you in handgun restricted states like California…Gen 3 is fine too (it’s what I have).

If you don’t plan on concealed carrying…I would opt for the Glock 17 full-size.

Glock 17 Grip
Glock 17 Grip (Fullsize), Gen 3

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.

Glock 19 Grip (Compact)
Glock 19 Grip (Compact), Gen 3

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.
629
at Brownells

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?

Readers' Ratings

4.87/5 (637)

Your Rating?

2. Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0

Runner-Up (Beginners, Home Defense)
499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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 3.

I got the FDE color version…

Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0

It’s full-size and here is the comparison of my 1.0 vs a full-size Glock 17.

M&P vs Glock 17
M&P vs Glock 17

The original version was rock solid but had a not-so-great trigger.

M&P Fullsize
M&P Fullsize, Gen 1

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.

M&P 2.0 vs 1.0
M&P 2.0 vs 1.0

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).

M&P 2.0 Grip
M&P 2.0 Grip

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.

Runner-Up (Beginners, Home Defense)
499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Springfield XD Mod 2, Service Model

Best Trigger (Beginners, Home Defense)
499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The newest version of the Springfield XD.

Another striker-fired reliable gun that got updated with more aggressive texturing and the favorite stock trigger in my opinion.  A little mushy but in a good way.

Glock 17 vs XD Mod 2 Service
Glock 17 vs XD Mod 2 Service

The Service Model means it has a compact barrel but full-size grip.  Best of both worlds for some!

XD Mod 2 Service Model
XD Mod 2 Service Model

Plus it has a grip safety which means your hand needs to be firmly on it to fire.

I’m ok with this kind of safety since it is more passive compared to an actual switch you need to flip when you unholster.

XD Mod 2 Grip Safety
XD Mod 2 Grip Safety

Especially if you’re concealed carrying…

Smooth Draw with Alien Gear
Alien Gear Holster and XD Mod 2

However, lack of adjustable backstraps means you gotta like how it feels in the store since you won’t be changing it.

But because I have a very high and angled left hand grip…sometimes I hit the slide stop.

It happens in the above video (where the slide doesn’t stop on an empty mag).

Best Trigger (Beginners, Home Defense)
499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Sig Sauer P320

The newest addition to our list…mainly because we love to shoot the P320 and because the US Army chose it as their new sidearm.

A great alternative to try in your hands besides the Glock, M&P, and XD.

Sig Sauer P320
Our Sig Sauer P320

We have a full written review right here…plus now a full YouTube review:

There’s a lot of versions of the P320…but we like the original civilian one.

Or if you dig FDE and the knowledge that it’s the closest version to the actual Army pistol…

The M17 is a formidable weapon designed to operate in the military theater
P320-M17

Check out our review of the P320-M17 version.

New Military Standard
650
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. Smith & Wesson Model 686+

Editor's Choice
729
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

S&W 686+
S&W 686+

I like the 4″ 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.

And here it is in the .357 Magnum…more powerful but still not too bad with a good grip.

Honorable Mentions

Yes, I might not have included some that you think should have made it.  Here are some others that were very close to making my top list.  If you find they fit your hand better than the ones I recommended…go for it!

Finally, 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.  While 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.

S&W M&P Palm Inserts
S&W M&P Palm Inserts

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 all three guns for yourself at the range or gun store after re-reading our grip/stance and trigger pull articles.

Price

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 be $50-100 more to buy and add them.

Accessories

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.

TLR-2, 25 Yards Outdoors
TLR-2 with Laser, 25 Yards Outdoors

The one we use is the Streamlight TLR-2s (~$250) which comes with a laser and strobe function.  It’s survived thousands of rounds, being dropped on the ground numerous times, and full days of shooting in heavy rain.

TLR-2s on Glock 17
TLR-2s on Glock 17

For the more budget minded customer, the most basic Streamlight TLR-1 (~$110) with just the light will do just as well.

TLR-1 Toggle Switch
TLR-1 Toggle Switch

You might see some cheaper lights here or there, but we recommend that lights are not the place to cheap out on.

TLR-1
TLR-1

And for the person who wants the best of the best light only…the Surefire X300 ($200).

Surefire x300
Surefire x300

We go over all these lights and more in our Best Pistol Lights article.

Best Pistol Lights
Best Pistol Lights

I’m also a fan of lots of grip on your gun.  Talon Grips ($17) is the perfect non-permanent solution.

Talon Grips
Talon Grips

Conclusion

  • 9mm
  • Hollowpoint defensive ammo
  • Full-size frame
  • Striker fired
  • Night sights
  • Rail mounted light
  • Try out the feel of the Glock 17/19, M&P9, XD, and the new P320

Of course, there’s 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?

Let us know in the comments what pistol you picked!

162 Leave a Reply

  • Linda

    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?

    3 days ago
    • Ryan Plaster

      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.

      1 second ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      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.

      3 days ago
  • Stan Robertson

    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.

    2 weeks ago
  • Roy D Salley

    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.

    1 month ago
  • Flying Boar

    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

    3 months ago
    • Flying Boar

      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.

      3 months ago
  • SumTxDude

    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.

    3 months ago
  • Adrian

    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.

    3 months ago
  • Andrew

    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.

    3 months ago
  • Dean Coffin

    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.

    4 months ago
  • Steve B.

    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.

    4 months ago
  • David Bradford

    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).

    4 months ago
  • JWP

    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.

    4 months ago
    • Tawanda Chikosi

      I am a beginner and have found your comment very insightful. Thank you very much.

      1 month ago
  • Ron B.

    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.

    4 months ago
  • richard moore

    Have you tried the sig p365. Any reason for not having it in top 5

    4 months ago
  • Ron Sherill

    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 “

    4 months ago
    • Pogo

      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.

      4 months ago
  • Gavin M Lantry

    CZ didn't make the list LOL noobs...

    4 months ago
  • Thomas Rehbein

    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. ♡

    4 months ago
  • 8mmMauser

    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.

    4 months ago
    • Pogo

      It also costs like a grand and is fairly hard to find. It’s awesome though.

      4 months ago
      • 8mmMauser

        Very true. But a grand well spent. I will never sell mine.

        4 months ago
  • Mark

    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.

    4 months ago
  • Paul Maxim

    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.

    4 months ago
  • Josh

    Grips Zone!!!! Hahahahahahaha I can't take this recommendation seriously

    4 months ago
  • Michael

    CZ SP01? Walther PPQ? Just a couple of guns that I think should be on the list.

    4 months ago
  • John

    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.

    4 months ago
  • John

    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.

    4 months ago
  • Owen

    FN 509 & FNS series are also nice choices, as well as Walther PPQ. Walther ergonomics are tip top.

    4 months ago
  • Fred Lead

    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.

    4 months ago
  • jp64

    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.

    4 months ago
  • Mark

    Wow, 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.

    4 months ago
  • Daniel Schuman

    Great recommendations. Too bad I live in CA.

    4 months ago
  • Joshua Barker

    The M&P 2.0 is usually around $400 or less.

    7 months ago
  • G. Wayne Huckelberry

    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.

    8 months ago
  • Wiscojoe

    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

    8 months ago
  • Tim

    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.

    9 months ago
  • Bud

    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.

    9 months ago
    • Tom Sawyer

      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!

      4 months ago
  • Debra sinick

    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

    10 months ago
    • Racin

      depends on the ammo and cal.

      8 months ago
    • John

      ...Yes.

      9 months ago
      • Racin

        Yes what?

        8 months ago
  • Kyle Clarkson

    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.

    10 months ago
  • Wags

    No HK VP9?

    11 months ago
    • Andrew

      Best gun on the list

      3 months ago
    • Jesse

      That was on the "honorable mentions" section. I almost got that gun myself. There wasn't the Walther PPQ either.

      9 months ago
  • Owen

    FN 509 is a good option. Out of the trials for the new service pistol that selected the SIG P320

    11 months ago
  • Bravo Tango

    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.

    1 year ago
    • David Edwards

      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

      11 months ago
  • Juan L. Cruz

    How does the Beretta 92A1 compare to the S&W M&P9 M2.0?

    1 year ago
  • Vesuvius Curmudgeon

    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. Comments?

    1 year ago
  • James Dionne

    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.

    1 year ago
    • sean

      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

      1 year ago
  • Perry Klein

    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.

    1 year ago
  • Roy C

    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.

    1 year ago
  • Shem Oliver

    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.

    1 year ago
  • Robert Holder

    What are your thoughts on the Steyr Arms M-A1 9mm? http://steyrarms.com/firearms/pistols/m-a1-pistol.html

    1 year ago
    • David

      Solid, good shooter. Doesnt fit my hands though.

      1 year ago
  • Mark

    Clarity and simplicity. No overcomplicating details. Best for me as a complete beginner.

    1 year ago
  • Bill Snyder

    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

    1 year ago
  • Carol

    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

    1 year ago
  • Louis

    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.

    1 year ago
  • John Grayman

    [QUOTE]Safety: 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! [QUOTE]Action: 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.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi John, thanks so much for your in-depth comment. Fixed up the striker-fired segment.

      1 year ago
      • John Grayman

        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!) ;)

        1 year ago
  • JOHN LAKEY

    Gosh Darn! I really enjoy the information and style of writing. Thank You!

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      You're so welcome, John!

      1 year ago
  • Jake

    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?

    1 year ago
    • James

      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.

      1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      I haven't had experience but maybe someone else will chime in.

      1 year ago
  • Rob Myaing

    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.

    1 year ago
  • Derrik Scott MacNair

    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.

    1 year ago
  • Charles

    Great analysis and very educative,,your views on steyr pistols please on ccw and home defense

    1 year ago
  • Dave

    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.

    1 year ago
  • Kevin Smith

    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.

    1 year ago
    • Derrik Scott MacNair

      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.

      1 year ago
    • James Kirk

      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.

      1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Kevin, appreciate your viewpoint. Definitely recommend everyone to train and practice until they are confident.

      1 year ago
  • Dean

    Eric, thanks for the article. I will look at a Glock 19C soon. How do I make sure you get credit for my purchase?

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      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!

      1 year ago
  • Michael

    Eric, 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). Thoughts? MD

    1 year ago
    • James Kirk

      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.

      1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Michael, that's a great personal consideration. For me, I want to have 100% confirmation that my target is a threat.

      1 year ago
      • Derrik Scott MacNair

        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.

        1 year ago
      • Michael

        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!

        1 year ago
    • Frank

      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.

      1 year ago
      • Michael

        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!

        1 year ago
  • Jack Perry

    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.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Jack, I've only shot a few mags of the PPQ at an event...but the ergonomics were very good and no malfunctions.

      1 year ago
  • Thomas Jennings

    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.

    1 year ago
    • Robert

      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

      1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Exactly...one .22 in the right area MIGHT take down an invader...or it might take 50. It's not as consistent.

      1 year ago
  • Suzq

    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?

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      It all comes down to how it feels in your hand. If you're comfortable with it, then it should be fine.

      1 year ago
  • TRo

    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)

    2 years ago
  • SpiritualMadMan

    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

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for your personal input!

      2 years ago
  • Curtis

    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.

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Curtis, yup the pic is a little old now.

      2 years ago
    • Curtis

      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.

      2 years ago
  • Greg

    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.

    2 years ago
  • Michael Long

    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.

    2 years ago
    • Erik Libucha

      What is a "DRT" round? Just asking. I really don't know.

      10 months ago
  • Joshua Billingsley

    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!!

    2 years ago
  • Ronnie Bailey

    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!

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      You're welcome Ronnie...glad I could help out!

      2 years ago
  • priceless

    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.

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      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.

      2 years ago
  • Joe

    When it comes to saving money, I'm curious why there is no mention of the American made Hi-Point?

    2 years ago
    • Erik Libucha

      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.

      10 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      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.

      2 years ago
  • Andrew Romaniello

    Hello. Getting my carry permit this weekend. Was looking at the glock 17 and the Canik as my first gun. What do you think.

    2 years ago
    • Sherri

      Hi Andrew, 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!

      2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      I'd spring for the Glock 17 since it's much more proven.

      2 years ago
  • RiverManPaul

    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

    2 years ago
  • Paul

    Hello Eric! 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?

    2 years ago
    • Jessica

      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!

      2 years ago
  • William

    Eric why don't you give the CZ 75 SP a try and it is one of the best handguns I have ever tried

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      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.

      2 years ago
  • Darius

    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?

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      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.

      2 years ago
  • Mike

    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.

    2 years ago
  • Mike

    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.

    2 years ago
    • Erik Libucha

      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"

      10 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      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!

      2 years ago
  • Jeff

    Fantastic article; thank you for this.

    2 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks Jeff!!

      2 years ago
  • Zach

    Hi Eric, 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. Thanks, Zach

    2 years ago
    • ehung

      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.

      2 years ago
  • T.J.

    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?

    2 years ago
    • ehung

      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.

      2 years ago
      • Gregg Zane Bates

        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!

        2 years ago
      • T.J.

        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...

        2 years ago
  • Ron

    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.

    2 years ago
    • ehung

      Great that you found what works best for you, Ron!

      2 years ago
  • Denny Crane

    I am thinking with a light attached to a gun the bad guys will see you way before you see them.

    2 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Denny, true! I practice with just momentary flashes.

      2 years ago
  • Rick Dalton

    Eric, 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

    2 years ago
    • Gregg Zane Bates

      I think Rick meant to say "external/manual safeties". I believe most if not all pistols have "safeties".

      2 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Rick, thanks for the insight from the view of officers!

      2 years ago
  • Steve Crowley

    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, Steve C.

    3 years ago
    • JMaldo

      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

      3 years ago
      • JMaldo

        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

        3 years ago
        • Billy

          That was a great novel you just wrote. Lol

          2 years ago
    • ehung

      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.

      3 years ago
  • Dave

    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.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      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.

      3 years ago
  • Jess RB

    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!

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      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.

      3 years ago
  • Brooks Everett

    As a complete novice I greatly appreciate your very informative site. Many thanks.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Brooks!

      3 years ago
  • Jake

    Hi Eric, 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.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Jake, thanks for the suggestion. I'll be sure to check it out soon for an article update.

      3 years ago
  • Liam

    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.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      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!

      3 years ago
  • Ted Lessler

    For me, the reliability of a double action revolver trumps any automatic. Just point and shoot....you know its going to fire.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks for reading and for your opinion!

      3 years ago
  • Carlos Solares

    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

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      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.

      3 years ago
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