Top 22 Handguns For Your Defense

In a time of crisis almost everyone will be armed regardless of what the government tries to do about it. Having and knowing how to use personal defensive handguns will make survival possible for you and your family.

The following five sections should be considered by all preppers no matter what their training or experience levels are.

1. What Would Be the Best Firearm to Carry?

Here are a few things to think about when deciding which handgun to choose:

  • Can you shoot and kill if you must? If you are not honest with yourself and buy a handgun anyway and then freeze when it is needed the most, you and your family may pay a terrible price.
  • Before buying any handgun, define your intended purpose and use for the weapon. The next step is to research different handguns that meet your needs. If possible, handle and test fire those handguns that you are considering buying at local ranges that rents firearms or shoot with the same model firearms that belong to friends. When your mind is made up and you are satisfied with your choice, buy the handgun.
  • The best firearm to carry is one that fits your hands comfortably. Your hand should fit the pistol grip so that all fingers will grip the firearm without any fingers hanging in space. If the handgun you truly need and want does not fit your hand properly because the grip is too small, after market magazines that have a finger rest on them can help to solve this problem. Also the shooter’s fingers must be able to safely and easily operate the safety or the slide release.
  • Can you point quickly and naturally when pointing at the target? The handgun should be well balanced and hold on target with ease. If the barrel is too heavy this can make the gun point and shoot low. On the other hand if the barrel is to light, there is a tendency for the barrel to rise a little bit which could cause the gun to point and shoot high.
  • The ammunition caliber of the handgun is very important. Too small of a caliber and the stopping power may not be strong enough to stop and end the confrontation. Many more shots may be needed than you have time to fire off. If necessary, work your way up to larger caliber guns that have the stopping power required to quickly end the confrontation with just one or two shots fired.
  • The best caliber for a revolver would be a 38 Special or larger with the upper end at the .357 magnum. Anything smaller would not have the stopping power needed to end a confrontation.
  • The best caliber for a pistol would either be a 9MM, 40 Caliber, or a 45 ACP. Each of these calibers have enough stopping power to stop any confrontation with the least number of shots fired. It must be remembered that most US police forces use either 9MM, 40 Caliber, or 45ACP in their department issued sidearms. The US Military or UN Peace Keeping Troops carry 9MM or 45 ACP as their issued sidearms depending if the troops are regular troops or special operation troops needed to take care of “Special Problems”.
  • Anything smaller than the 9MM like the 380 ACP, 32 ACP, 25 ACP, or the 22 Caliber would be a poor choice of pistol calibers.   They are too light and do not have enough stopping power.  These calibers could be used if you had nothing else to protect yourself with and you can also train with them. They are better than nothing.
  • The recoil of the handgun should not be too heavy. If the recoil is too heavy it can cause the shooter to anticipate the heavy recoil causing them to flinch, close their eyes, or jerk the handgun off target.
  • No matter which handgun you choose, get the best one that you can afford with the money that has been set aside from your budget. Be practical in your choices of handguns. Buy a handgun model with a long history of dependability, safety, and is user friendly.
  • After you have made your preliminary choices of handguns you must compare the cost of the ammunition and availability of it. If the ammunition costs way too much or is hard to locate, consider dropping this weapon from your list.

Click here to get your Green Beret’s Guide To Combat Shooting Mastery & Active Shooter Defense!

Below is a table of handguns that I would recommend for preppers that are considering a personal defensive handgun for their personal protection during a time of crisis. Each person has their own set of personal requirements for their handgun needs. This is only a small sample of the handguns that are out in the marketplace.


2. Which Handguns Should a New Shooter Consider?

{adinserter usdeception}Is the new shooter male or female, young or old? Which handguns should they consider for their first personal defensive handgun?

For shooters in this category I would be looking to see if the shooters could physically work the slide, hold up the handgun, aim it, safely work the safety, or the slide release. If not I would recommend a revolver which is much simpler to use, operate, and weighs less.

For those shooters that can safely handle and operate a pistol I would recommend the following handguns in 9MM. These pistols are well built, dependable, and should give the shooter years of good service.

  • Beretta PX4 – a good compact high capacity pistol, with good balance, stopping power, and mild recoil.
  • C.I.A. Canik55 TP9 – This pistol is new to the market, but tests results show this is a well-built handgun that points easily, has good balance, mild recoil, and good stopping power.
  • FNH-USA-FNS – This is a well-built high capacity handgun that is rugged and very dependable. This pistol comes with 2 interchangeable backstraps for a better hand grip fit.
  • Glock 19 – Is a very dependable, high capacity handgun that has stood the test of time. The Gen4 has the dual recoil spring system and 3 backstraps for better hand fit (small, medium, or large).
  • Ruger SR9 – Like all of the Ruger handguns this pistol is very dependable, easy to shoot, and has mild recoil.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P – An excellent starter gun for the new shooter. Comes with 3 palm sweller grip panels. This pistol is well built, dependable, and comfortable to shoot.

For those individuals that have trouble operating a pistol, I would recommend a revolver for their first handgun. Here there are no slides to pull back or safeties to work. With a revolver all the shooter does is aim and shoot at the target. The following are revolvers that I would recommend to the new shooter.

  • Rossi R851 – This is a 38 Special 6 shot revolver that is dependable, well built, and will give you years of good service. It points well, is balanced, and the felt recoil is mild.
  • Ruger GP100 – This is a very dependable revolver in .357 Mag. Which also firers the 38 Special round interchangeably. This revolver weighs in at 45 Oz., but this helps to reduce the felt recoil of the .357 Mag. round to mild.

3. Choices for a Trained Marksman with Small Hands

Which handguns should a trained and experienced marksman with a small framed build, with small hands, and being either male or female consider for their Personal defensive handgun?

In this category I would recommend the following handguns and calibers in the 9MM, .40, or the 45 ACP. Being a trained and experienced marksman you have been through the basics and have a good idea of what you want for your personal defensive handguns.

  • Beretta Px4 – is a good compact high capacity pistol that comes in three calibers the 9MM, .40, and the 45ACP. The .40 and the 45 ACP are better man stoppers than the 9MM. If you take care of this pistol it should give you years of good service.
  • CZ-75 – This pistol comes in 9MM and .40 and set the standard that all other pistols of this design are judged by. It is very dependable, points well, balanced, and has very good stopping power.
  • Glock 23/27 Gen4 – These are .40 pistols that have a history of getting the job done. The Gen4 has the double recoil spring system that helps to reduce recoil. These pistols also come with 3 different sized backstraps to help give the shooter a better grip on the weapon.
  • Ruger SR1911 – This is a 45 ACP pistol that is made in stainless steel. The design is a classic and is known for its dependability, safety, and stopping power.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P – This pistol comes in 9MM, .40, 45 ACP. The .40 and the 45 ACP are better man stoppers than the 9MM.  For a better grip the M&P pistol comes with 3 palmswell grip sizes making it easier for one pistol to fit small, medium, or large hands.
  • Springfield XD – This pistol comes in three calibers 9MM, .40, and 45 ACP. The .40 and the 45 ACP are better man stoppers than the 9MM. This pistol comes in 3”, 4”, and 5” barrel lengths. This is a very safe and dependable pistol. This pistol comes with a trigger safety and a grip safety.

For those individuals that cannot operate a pistol or would prefer a revolver, I would recommend the following revolvers.

  • Ruger GP100 – This is a dependable well-built revolver that will give you years of good service in .357 Mag. or 38 Special interchangeably. The recoil is mild to heavy depending which loads are used.
  • Taurus Judge – This revolver comes in two barrel lengths a 3” and a 6.5”.  It shoots either 45LC (standard velocity only) or 2.5” or 3” .410 shotgun rounds interchangeably depending on the version. The recoil is heavy, but it will end any confrontation quickly.

4. Choices for a Trained Marksman with Large Hands

Which handguns should a trained and experienced marksman with a large framed build, with large hands, and being either male or female consider for their personal defensive handgun?

In this category, I would recommend the following pistols in 9MM, .40, or 45 ACP.

  • Beretta 92SF – This is a larger pistol for the 9MM. It is good for those shooters with larger hands. The 9MM round is used by many police and sheriff departments throughout the country. Also this pistol is the main sidearm for the US Military and NATO forces. The 92FS is very dependable and will give you years of good service if properly maintained. I also recommend this weapon since it is one I carried for over 15 Years as a police officer without malfunctions or breakdowns.
  • CZ-USA P-09 Duty – This pistol comes in either 9MM or .40, with the .40 being the better of the two calibers. The .40 caliber is a heavier bullet traveling with greater velocity and has better knock down power. The P-09 Duty is a very dependable and accurate pistol.
  • FNH- USA- FNS – This pistol comes in either 9MM or .40 with the .40 being the better of the two. It is a very well built pistol that is high capacity and is very dependable. The FNS comes with 2 replaceable backstraps for a better grip on the weapon. Recoil is quite manageable.
  • FNH- USA- FNX45 – This is a large capacity 45 ACP which holds 15 rounds of 45 ACP. It is well built and very dependable. For a better grip it comes with 2 replaceable backstraps. The 45 ACP is quite manageable in this firearm. A good weapon for the 45 ACP enthusiast.
  • Glock 23/27 Gen4 – These are .40 pistols that are known for getting the job done. These pistols come with the double recoil spring system that helps to reduce felt recoil. These pistols come with 3 different sized backstraps that give the shooter a better grip on the pistol.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P – This pistol comes in 9MM, .40, and 45 ACP. The .40 and the 45 ACP are excellent man stoppers with the 9MM in third place. The M&P pistols are very dependable with high capacity magazines with a good work history. To better fit the shooters this pistol comes with 3 palm swell grip sizes (small, medium, and large) to better fit the shooter’s hand.

For those individuals that prefer a revolver I would like to recommend the following weapons:

  • Ruger GP100 – is a dependable and well-made stainless steel or blue alloy 6 shot .357 Mag.  (shoots 38 Special interchangeably) revolver. The recoil is mild depending on which loads are fired. If maintained this revolver will give the owner years of good service.
  • Taurus Judge – This is a 5 shot very unique and special revolver that fires both the 45LC (standard velocity only) or the .410 shotgun rounds interchangeably. Depending on which version you buy either the 2.5” or 3” shells will determine how heavy the recoil and muzzle blast will be. This weapon comes in both 3” or 6” barrel lengths and either stainless steel or blued steel versions.

5. Training

After buying your handguns training is essential for the shooter to learn how to safely and correctly shoot and carry handguns.

Target shooting with handgunTraining should start before you get your first handgun and continue for as long as you own guns. It is a lifelong responsibility that must be taken seriously. The more you practice and train the more muscle memory is obtained until the action of drawing and shooting a firearms is instinct and does not require much thought.

The use of practice lasers and laser practice targets

There are many types of handgun lasers on the market today. Some are compact enough to fit in the chamber and are activated each time the trigger is pulled by a firing-pin activation switch.

The LaserLyte trainer cartridge comes in four calibers .380, 9MM, .40, and 45ACP at a cost of $104.95, which quickly pays for itself in ammunition savings. LaserLyte plinking cans or bullseye target would be needed to score hits. The LaserLyte Bullseye Trainer Kit comes with a blue hard plastic pistol, laser, and a bullseye target for $309.95.

Use of simulated multiple bad guys shooting at you exercises

This system uses motion picture scenarios to portray shoot do not shoot incidents using lasers to keep score of the hits rated as misses, kills, or injuries. During my police career I trained on this system many times and it is as real as it gets without really being in a gun fight.

The use of timed shooting at different ranges from point blank to 25 yards

This is an excellent training system that teaches the student to quickly identify and shoot at the target at a rate of so many shots per number of seconds. It teaches the student to draw, aim, and fire at different distances that might be encountered in a true gun fight. Like all training systems the more you practice, the better you get with accuracy and muscle memory.

Hogan’s Alley true to life shooting situations

This is a live fire true to life shoot do not shoot training exercises. As you walk the alley different targets with different situations appear in windows or doorways that the shooter must decide to shoot or not at a moment’s notice. If you shoot the bad guy you get points. If a friendly gets shot you get negative points or disqualified.

Type of Ammunition to use for training and carrying

The ammunition that you use for training should be about the same bullet weight and velocity as your carry ammunition. In pistols use full metal jacket bullets for training and jacketed hollow points for the carry ammunition. In revolvers use lead or copper round nose bullets that are the same weight as the jacketed hollow point bullets for the carry ammunition.

Many ammunition manufactures are now selling boxes of ammunition that combines FMJ and JHP ammunition so the shooter can practice and have carry ammunition in one box.

All preppers should have, know how to handle, and shoot handguns safely. It is the owners’ choice of which handgun fits his/her needs and will be carried for family and self-protection.

Some people will choose a high capacity pistol in 9MM, .40, or 45 ACP over a revolver. Those who choose the revolver may do so because they have trouble using the slide release or the safety. But training is a lifelong job that starts before you get your first handguns and lasts pretty much all of your life.

Remember: know what is behind your back stop and be safe! A personal defense weapon should be something you feel comfortable carrying at all times. Learn from the experts the secret of self-defense. Click the banner below to grab your guide!

This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia

Further reading:

Written by

Fred Tyrrell is an Eagle Scout and retired police officer that loves to hunt, fish, hike, and camp with good friends and family. He is also a champion marksman (rifle, pistol, shotgun) and has direct experience with all of the major gun brands and their clones. Fred refers to himself as a "Southern gentleman" - the last of a dying way. He believes a man's word is his bond, and looks forward to teaching others what he has learned over the years. You can send Fred a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Not a widely used caliber, but perhaps some input on .357 Sig.

  • Why did you not include any Sig Saur ??

    • That is a good question. Some of the weapons listed are a poor substitute. Obviously, the FN deserves to be on the list, as does the Glock. SIG should be there, too. I also speak from experience as career military serving as a paratrooper in the 82d & time in Special Forces along with 8 years as LEO.

      • Is there a specific reason that HK or Colt or Kimber were not mentioned ?

  • Just curious. I don’t see any Sigs. I like mine.

  • I really appreciated this article. I knew I had a need but am so busy with business that I don’t have time to research this. I get the NRA Mag so do take time to read that, my only source till this article. Thanks, Pete Tallman

  • I have to take exception with a few a things mentioned in this article.
    I feel it is a little too weighted on the side of full-sized duty weapons.
    Most people are not going to carry a Mod 1911, or a Beretta 92F as a concealed carry pistol. Too many folks buy a pistol they like and then leave it in their safe, or beside their bed. I had a police job for 14 years, where I had to carry concealed. The agency I was with also required that we carry off-duty, so I essentially had to carry all the time. I quickly found out that smaller and lighter was better. Our agency issued S&W 3913s, Beretta Centurions, Glock Mod 19s, and Glock 23s. I carried a Glock 23 most of the time. I felt pretty well armed. When I went back to a uniformed position, I continued to carry the Glock Mod 23, because I was familiar with the weapon. Since have been retired, I have become fond of the S&W Shield and the Ruger LC9. They are small enough to carry every day, but big enough to fight with. Some of these super small pistols are under powered and too small to actually gun fight with. If I am traveling I opt for a S&W Mod 36 or 642, in 38 special. I have a national carry permit, but still don’t want to run afoul of local gun laws. Many of my friends who are 1911 fans have opted for light weight commanders or one of the smaller versions of the 1911 pistol.
    Concealed carry only works when we carry. Leaving our pistol at home because it is too big or too heavy does not work out too well

    • size matters I’d rather have a 22 that I could comfortably carry than a 44 mag left at home as far as caliber most people are afraid to be stung by a bee I know I wouldn’t want to be shot by a 22

    • I agree and want to add the fantastic Walther “P99C AS” pistol.
      Blows the doors off of most if not all on that list.

    • Wow! Good point, Tom!
      “Concealed carry only works when we carry” – just a gem!
      I’m a user of M&P Shield and like how it fits for a CCW. Never leave home without.

  • Blessed day Mr Tyrell,
    I’m a retired Navy veteran and a former DoD Police officer with the USALEC in Fort Shafter Hawaii. My background in weapon handling is better reinforced by your gainful insights. Your column is detailed of pertinent and helpful information and will have an impact to those who are willing to adapt to the principle of a responsible weapon handling and order. Please continue on. Thank you sir. Bill Norva, USN,(ret.)

  • Not a bad article, but the author neglected to mention, in the initial chapter, making certain that the pistol is not too large (grips) for the shooter to effectively wrap his/her fingers around to maintain a proper and secure grip – for example, my hands are quite small for a large man – and thus a 1911 frame is about the largest I can effectively control. The Desert Eagle or other very frame pistols are too big around for me to adequately grip for effective, stress-free firing.
    I was also astounded that the author did not mention the Glock series in .45 caliber. In fact, although he was very fair in his assessment of effectiveness of calibers, it is obvious he favors the 9mm and leans toward it in the multiplicitude of 9mm firearms mentioned, as opposed to the others.
    It should be noted that there are NO police, sheriff or governmental departments in the US that still use the .38 special….for a good reason: it is just NOT effective enough as a man-stopper to justify continued use…a fact that I am certain the author is well aware of. The point is – .38 special IS in fact, a pumped-up 9mm cartridge. It is in fact 9mm….which has LESS knock-down power than the .38 special.
    A bit more emphasis on expanding bullets could possibly be of help….although may be confusing to the less-experienced. For instance – a .45 slug such as a Black Talon or Golden sabre has nearly 5 times the effective stopping power as the same in 9mm, simply because of the nearly logarithmic increase of hydrostatic shock delivered by such a he increase of bullet “diameter” and mass displacement into the target.
    A decent article for the rookie…. except for the excessive emphasis on 9mm, and the insistence on its being an effective stopping round.
    One further note – that the author alluded to but did not spell out completely – the most effective handgun that can be used in a stress situation… the one that a person can carry well, shoot effectively, and comfortably train and practice with. In other words – the one you use and practice with is the one that can work.

    • Hey Rambuff, while i agree with some of your points, and i don’t know where Fred got his ‘chart’–I think he made it up himself, especially the rather ambiguous subjectiveness of his assessment of stopping power in that particular column. Which puts my trigger finger in a catatonic seizure considering all the real time ‘stopping’ it contributed to over the years, lol!…

      And i don’t know how a .357 mag. round-all ballistics being equal– can only be ‘Very Good’–to excellent, and another .357 round can be only ‘excellent’ just because the pistols shooting them are different manufacturers, lol!? But hey, it’s unlikely, that i will, but i’d be happy to try to learn something new if Fred wants to explain that to me, lol!

      But I think Fred did a quite knowledgeable job of ‘spelling out completely’ with enough useful detailing of what a person needs to start out to think about to properly shoot well?

      But you also did a typo mistake on your comparison of the .38 Special to even a standard 9mm FMJ concerning their relative power levels ? Especially where you said a .38 special is a pumped up 9mm and a 9mm has LESS so-called stopping power than a .38 special, lol! It had to be ‘context confusion’ on your part because everyone who is not a ‘rookie’ gunslinger knows quite ‘differently’. Of course you have to thoroughly understand the reality of stopping power in relationship to ballistics which most armchair gunmen don’t. Please correct that for the readers so i don’t have to.

      “…in the poker games of politics, religion, and firearms, the one that wins the pile of Bovine Scat is the one who bets the most ‘Cow chips'” P. J. Klipangle.

  • I think he may have left out a few very good defense weapons. The S&W .357 sig compact is an easy carry mild to moderate recoil with very good stopping power. Most women have smaller hands and some of the weapons named will not fit in their hand well. If you cant securely grasp the grip it may even fly out of your hand. If possible go to a range where you can try The firearm out before wasting money on something that will not serve you well.

    • There are also others companies that make excellent hand guns and all this guy wants is to promote the big gun manufactures. If your looking for a good smaller frame hand gun then look for Bersa. Mags are on the expensive side but I use it as a secondary to my Berretta 92G.

  • First off all of the Berretta’s 92, 96, fs, g are not polymer they are a metal alloy frame unless Beretta has gone to polymer witch would be a shame if they did.
    Second think one manufacture has been under rated for a long time and that is Bersa, I have the Bersa mini 9 and its metal alloy frame small but holds 13+1.

    • Jeff, Fred likes Berettas, You like Bersas, others like Sigs, and 18 Bravos like ‘Pigs’. Shoot ’em all…and let ‘god’ sort ’em out!

  • Very good advice. i have already got my handgum. the rating is well
    in the range i was looking for. verry good article, well written.

  • I think the article was well written. I personally do not care for the 9mm, although I own a few. I perfer a 40 S&W, or a 45 ACP, in a slide gun. In a revolver I really like the 45 Colt. I have a Tarsus Total Titanium in 45 Colt that is light and extremly accurate. I would not recommend a slide handgun for a woman., or anyone not used to clearing jams. The main thing about both is practice, practice and more practice. Thank you

  • Sorry, but I have a problem with the entire premise. All of the large caliber guns listed are fine choices, but the reality is, the best gun is the one you are likely to carry. I have several 9MM’s, but I carry a .380 because it’s easy to conceal. If I’m in pants or shorts, it works just fine. My Kbar has more function than my pocket knife, but it sits in a drawer most of the time, my pocket knife never leaves me. As for stopping power, I would rather rely in the .380 in my pocket than the 9MM in my drawer. My advice, choose the firearm you are going to keep with you, it will make a bigger hole than the one you don’t,

    • Rob, you don’t have to sound apologetic or ‘defensive’ when talking about your .380 concealment carry gun. I’m probably one of the few, if any, who post on these gun forums with virtually ALL the combat/police/instructor’s/competitor’s experience and credentials that gives anyone the authority to validate–or not–any of the innumerable mythologies about guns and ammo…

      …and my CC pistol is a .380.

      The first dirty little truthful revelation that apparently almost nobody seems to realize as evidenced in the comments, is that the reality ballistics understanding of most gun owners and even experienced shooters generally wallows woefully in igno-fallacy.

      Maybe I’ll have to do a “Last word on ‘Stopping Power’ ” reality check article for everybody to save people money, time, and etc., and get it all straight once and for all.

      I mean, it’s getting to be really pitiful. There are still far too many gun owners that still even subscribe to the mythological 9mm v. .45 debate?

      But for now just let me say that the .380 rounds in my CC pistol are just as powerful as most standard 9mm rounds. Mine are custom handloaded, but you can buy equally powerful loads and specialty bullets off the shelf. And even 9mm fmj rounds have been proved–BEYOND ARGUMENT__ to have very acceptable ‘LPI’ (lethal power index) ratings for a general purpose pistol round, all other things considered. Otherwise the military machines of most of the world would be using something else. But the best submachine guns today still opt for 9mm parabellum ammo. That’s gotta tell even the most die hard 45 addicts something they probably don’t want to believe.

  • An old WWII vet who was my rifle instructor while in high school always said that “A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .45.” As a cop for almost 30 years, while on-duty , I carried .38 special, .357 magnum, 9mm +P+, and .45 ACP. The .45 is my favorite. Now retired, I qualify annually and qualify for the 50 state carry.
    I have carried a .32 ACP Walther years ago, and a .380 PPK clone as well, but have little faith in either of them stopping a lethal threat of today.

    I don’t quite agree with the condemnation of the .38 special and the 9mm. The Germans killed a lot of people with the 9mm in WWII. I’d rather have a .45 given a choice, but would use what I could get my hands on in a pinch.

  • I have a Ruger LCP 380 caliber. I know it is a light weight, but it fits in my pocket and it is with me all the time, A larger gun would not be with me all the time. It is important to properly place the shot. A face shot may not kill but it sure will stop a person. I learned some things from the article. Thanks.

  • You forgot the Walter PPQ 40 cal. Excellent weapon.

  • You could not understandably include all the best firearm choices in your article, but there is one which perhaps should have been included. I have a S&W .357 mag model 586 with a 4″ bbl, purchased in 1993. Not only does it have the required stopping power, but it is also a 7 shot revolver rather than the traditional six gun, adding to the shooter’s advantage.

  • Great well written article on the ’22 Best Handguns.’ Great counsel.

  • I know your recommendation for revolver cal. was 38 to 357 mag. I had planed to move out of the country last year but changed my plans after I had sold all of my guns. Now I am getting ready to start replacing some of them and the two that I am considering are a 40ACP and a 45 LC. I would appreciate your opinion. By the way, one of my favorite pistols was my 45LC for comfort and minimal recoil. The 40ACP I’m looking at has a 4 inch barrel and is slightly heavy which I believe will help with minimizing recoil somewhat.
    Thank you,
    Mark F.

    • I’m a little off the target topic, Mark, but i never miss completely, lol! But why are you moving out of the country? I mean, if it’s for a job, that’s understandable. But if you fell for one of the ‘expatriot’ scams, please consider my advice, and re-think that. Especially to places like the Philipines or South America. I’ve traveled all over the world and ‘nothing is as it seems’ in the travel brochures. You’ll be back sooner than you think. The U.S. has its problems, but truth be told, you really can’t live that much cheaper anywhere else. And don’t forget that most, if not ALL by now don’t allow guns in private hands.

      But if you’re some where that allows guns then my ‘opinion’ would be to stick to a time proven platform. Nobody mentioned it yet here which surprises me, but qhilw Fred’s list was pretty good, he forgot to include the best all around choice, especially if you ‘could only have one pistol’. The other thing where a lot of mythology exists is in the caliber. I’ve heard some interesting comments and opinions here that simply do not reflect the reality out there. But that’s understandable, they want to learn something, otherwise people wouldn’t need to be on a website like this to debate.

      It’s a bit more complicated than just what i’m about to say, but the simple logic in choosing a pistol and caliber goes like this. Statistics show that the .22 and .25 and .32 caliber ‘Saturday night special’ type pistols caused most of the deaths in big cities in this country where shootings are more CQB(close quarters combat). So why aren’t these the ones exclusively carried by LEOs?

      Secondly, if anybody still believes there’s any significant difference between the terminal performance of modern advanced 9mm ammo and .45 ACP rounds, besides the cost, mag capacity, and carry weight, then I’ve got some Florida ‘real estate’ for you to buy so that you can practice with them!?

      I don’t know why you would want a .45 long Colt unless just for fun or if you’re a Cowboy Action Shooter. (I used a .44 when i played that game. but we were doing quick draw also and i liked a smaller pistol)…

      …when you could have one caliber that does better than both of those, in one gun. Or, you can have one gun, which many consider one of the all time best, that shoots the generally considered most popular top three pistol cartridges when it all comes down to it? Out of ONE platform! If you’re on a budget.

  • For ease of use and overall simplicity, my choice is a Ruger LCP (.380). Very light, easy to fit in any pocket. Not good for log-range shooting but close up personal defense, it can’t be beat.

  • Thanks to all who recognize the need of petite women to have a weapon we can comfortably carry. The Ruger LCP is perfect for me (.380).

    I have yet to successfully conceal a Glock of any model or any .45, especialy living in a warm climate. I’m not a fan of advertising my weapon.

    • Yes, Linda, And that’s exactly the reason why they make all those nice compact .380’s and even larger calibers if that’s what you perceive to be better. But gun writers are often biased based on their own subjective experience.

      When i’m in a warmer climate and wearing pants i have an ankle holster otherwise i have a belt clip on my own LCP now for a hip carry under my T-shirt. They make some very formidable ammo for these things now, but make sure you shoot a box of what you choose through them to make sure they feed flawlessly.

      Back in the day my plainclothes off duty carry was an early stainless AMT .380 Back up while most everybody else was carrying .38 snub nose revolvers. One night in an alley me and my partner got ambushed while checking out some bad boys and quickly laid down lead and went empty. He fumbled his ammo and i carried a couple extra mags in my pocket which went in fast and i was firing back before he even got reloaded. With modern compact autos actually even exceeding the reliability and utility of revolvers, I can’t understand why anybody still buys them for any .serious. work?

  • Interesting article. I wanted to put a plug in for the Taurus Judge, especially for the ladies out there. I have a blued 3 inch barrel with fiberoptic site. It is a might heavy, being chambered for .410 shotgun shells, but is far from unwieldy, and would fit nicely in most purses. The rubber grip is great. I have small hands and can handle this firearm well. I have always been a fan of revolvers, and this one feels good in the hand. It only has a mild kick with 2-1/2 inch shells. The self defense shells that are being made for guns like this now are awesome. I dare say it would cut someone in half if need be. Will also handle .45 LongColts, which you can get in hollow points which really will do the trick as well, but you can’t beat the old “scatter gun” effect in a quick defense situation! I really like the site- it picks up ambient light and really makes aiming easy. I would recommend this gun highly for self defense.

  • I was only briefly able to scan the article, but most of the information looked solid. I was a little disappointed to see Sigs excluded, but we all have our own preferences. However, one thing I must take issue with is the assertion that .40 and .45 are “better man stoppers” than 9mm. The fact is that with modern defensive ammunition, this conventional wisdom is no longer true. In fact, in modern loadings, 9mm frequently outperforms .40 and .45 in terms of practical accuracy, controllability, and terminal ballistics. It’s notable that the FBI is transitioning away from .40 and back to 9mm due to the advances made in bullet/cartridge design.

    .45 and .40 being “better man stoppers” than 9mm was once true, but as long as you choose a modern defensive load, 9mm is at least the equal of .40 and quite possibly superior to .40 and .45 (.45 is hampered by its substantially lower velocity). If you are limited solely to ball (non-expanding) ammunition, either .40 or.45 might be a better option. However, I’d never recommend using ball ammunition when so many excellent jacketed hollow-point loadings are available.

    • Well, finally someone of the ‘correct caliber’ of mind when it comes to such things! You, sir, are absolutely right in your assessment. Like the AK v. AR raging debates that began over 40 years ago, the 9mm v. .45 anachronism started way way back before and around WWI when the 9mm automatic pistol rounds were anemically loaded compared to the .45 ACP. And both being FMJ the basic physics of the .45ACP then became superior in all around CQB performance. They also used .38 special and even .38 short rimfire revolvers and often that was the basis for the comparison as well.

      But as you stated, that simply is not the case anymore in a hands down side by ballistic side comparison when new improved loads and bullets are considered. The problem is that No matter what, people will always believe what they want to believe instead of the factual reality. That’s too bad, but what can you do, lol? Usually the reality of this is relegated to people of considerable real time combat/police experience. So you might be of that ‘caliber’ as well?

      If i get the time, i might do a once and for all ‘End of .45 v. 9mm’ debate article along with what ‘really’ constitutes stopping power in the near future, so watch for it. Thanks for the comment.

  • S&W 686, .357 Magnum, very reliable, accurate, the cartridges come in a wide variety. Its also heavy enough to pistol whip someone if you need to use it that way.

  • Uhhh the Walther P99 AS blows away just about all the guns on your list but it’s not even mentioned? WTF?

  • I’m fairly certain I’ve not been able to actually fire all of the known pistols and revolvers now being made, so, use what fits you, and carry on.
    While I differ with Mr. Tyrell on a “few” of his choices, I wouldn’t feel undergunned with any of those listed.
    I’m a older “more seasoned” dog now in my life, and when I got out of the military and entered into law enforcement (1977), we had a choice of three(yes, mind boggling assortment) of revolvers in .357 magnum, (Colt, Smith and Wesson, or Ruger), I chose a Smith and never looked back. Never have been a fan of the .40 S&W cartridge, but that is only my personal preference, still wouldn’t care to get shot with any caliber.
    Good article, informative for those seeking more information. As I get older, the more I “like” carrying my Beretta 84F with two extra mags, the rounds I use are outstanding, the pistol is accurate, and I can easily conceal it on my person, whether I’m at work, dining out, at church, or any hoity toity “event”.