Those who are newly entertaining the thought of purchasing and owning a gun are faced with a plethora of options, and every time you ask someone, you’re likely to get a different answer from one person to the next. Some considerations that will determine what you purchase should include
- caliber and capacity
- intended use (concealed carry, open carry, winter/summer carry, home defense)
- handgun size
I won’t get into a deep dive of each of these factors, and this isn’t an exhaustive list of considerations. Suffice it to say that each of these considerations will lead an individual to a different choice than another. I’ll offer a few recommendations near the end of this post.
One person may have a budget of up to $1,000, while another may have a budget of half of that amount or less. As with most things, you get what you pay for, but there are some WELL performing firearms that aren’t at a premium price.
Will you want to have a handgun that shoots a larger caliber round and have less capacity or one that has a smaller caliber round with more capacity. A great example of this type of comparison would be between a Smith & Wesson M&P45C and a Glock 19; their dimensions are roughly same, but the M&P45C holds 10 rounds of .45ACP, but the Glock 19 holds fifteen rounds of 9mm.
Handgun size can often be determined by the use of the firearm; will you carry it concealed, or open; is this a firearm you’ll carry in the summer/warmer climate location, or in the winter or cooler climate; will you use it exclusively for home defense?
Lastly, the functionality and operation of the firearm matters, too. Double Action/Single Action, striker fired, manual safety or internal safety, and more, are all options that you’ll be faced with at the gun counter.
So, what does all of this mean?
These are things YOU will need to research to find what will work best for your circumstances. If you can only get one firearm, pick the one that fits easily into your current lifestyle, and offers the most versatility and covers most of your needs based on the above considerations. If you have the ability and budget to get more, get firearms for the different considerations or preferences you have. Go to the range and rent different firearms that shoot different caliber rounds to get a feel for what works for you and what’s comfortable.
Simply stated, there is no single BEST pistol to purchase; the best gun to buy is the one you can afford and is the best fit for what you want to use it for, and almost feels like an extension of your body. The BEST gun is the one you carry with you and train with to defend your life. The BEST gun is the one that is versatile and fits your life; you shouldn’t need to retrofit your life to the gun. After you get your firearm, there are a few things you should do as soon as you can, like make sure you have secure storage and get training.
Here are my recommendations:
UPDATE 3/21/2022: ANY GUN YOU GET SHOULD BE OPTIC READY!!!
I personally will only purchase handguns that are optic ready, and I recommend that any handgun you purchase is optic ready. Almost every handgun manufacturer makes an optic-ready variant of their popular handguns. At this point, micro red-dot optics are becoming ubiquitous in the market and the variety is voluminous. There are a few that are obvious recommendations from brands such as Trijicon, Holosun, Leupold, and Sig Sauer. Other brands that should be considered are Shield Sights and Swampfox. The benefit of red-dot optics for pistols are that they reduce the number of focal planes when aiming, allowing shooters to focus on the target instead of the gun. Each of the handguns mentioned below has an optic-ready variant available.
Caliber: 9mm. You can get a lot of capacity with a round that is widely available and still powerful enough to stop threat if you need to. Additionally, the FBI recently decided to go back to 9mm from the larger calibers.
Operation: I recommend a modern, striker-fired handgun, since you’ll get a consistent trigger pull each time. I also recommend AGAINST getting a firearm with an external, manual safety. It’s one less thing to worry about in the heat of a self-defense encounter.
Handguns: Glock 19 – this is the Honda Accord of pistols. It’s not sexy, but it checks every box. It’s proven to be durable and reliable; it’s compact enough for concealment yet big enough to open carry and use in the home for defense, the capacity is ample, and parts/upgrades are ubiquitous. It’s a striker fired pistol with internal safety components. And, again, the US Secret Service uses a variant of the Glock 19 as their duty arm of choice.
- Similar to the Glock 19 – the CZ P10C, Sig Sauer P320, and M&P 2.0 9mm Compact are solid options. The 2021 Gun of The Year, the line of Walther PDP handguns, comes in sizes ranging from compact to full-sized with extended length slides, and they are optic-ready by default!
- Full Sized – M&P 2.0, Glock 17, Sig Sauer P320
- Subcompact – Sig Sauer P365 is a smaller gun with PLENTY of capacity (up to 13 rounds!!!). You should also look at the Glock 43x and M&P Shield 2.0 for subcompact options.
- Hybrid/Crossover Sized – This is an interesting category, because some of these guns are a combination of features and sizes between full and compact, or compact and subcompact. Glock’s 43x is certainly a hybrid between the Glock 19 (grip length) and the Glock 43 (slimness and barrel length), and the Glock 48 is basically a diet Glock 19 (grip and barrel length of the G19, slimness of the Glock 43). The Glock 45 and 19x are a combination of the Glock 19 barrel and Glock 17 grip length/magazine capacity. Both Sig Sauer P320 line and Walther’s PDP line have crossover/hybrid versions.
- Budget pistol – Many of the aforementioned firearms can be found at discounted rates under non-panic buying circumstances, but I’d also recommend a Canik TP9SF Elite. It’s similar in size to a Glock 19, but less expensive. The trigger action is BUTTER smooth and it feels great in the hand. Truthfully, ANY of the Canik pistols would be a fantastic budget option that performs WELL above their price point.