How to select a handgun for personal defense

I have been asked this question at least a hundred times and each time I have to repeat the same long answer. People ask me which handgun to buy? Which is the best? Which is not good? And in turn I ask them a couple of questions which further confuses them. Problem is, there’s no best or worst handgun. Off course money matters, you get what you pay for but then out of those handguns available in the market you may not like the one I like to buy or keep for a number of reasons. Handguns are pretty much like clothes, only a little dangerous 🙂 if not handled carefully. So with clothes also everyone has a different taste and choice, some like tight fitting, some like loose, some like fancy, others sober, some like casual some formal. Get the picture? So I am going to make it simple for you understand on how to choose a handgun for personal defense. In the end if you are able to make up your mind, I will sleep a happy man Smile

First of all consider all these factors before deciding on which weapon to buy.

  • Reliability. For me that’s the number one thing in a weapon. If it ain’t reliable it ain’t worth anything. And how do you find out if a weapon is reliable? Well simply head on to the gun or firearm the forums and read reviews. Why forums and not Blogs or company website? Simply because the reviews on forums are by impartial users and hence not biased. For people in Pakistan I can suggest The Gun Forum.
  • Size & Weight. Size and weight are directly related. While a bigger gun might be more accurate because of a longer barrel and less perceived recoil it will not be suitable for Every Day Carry (EDC). For EDC or Concealed Carry (CC) a smaller gun would be well suited. But with small size you get smaller capacity. Means for example if a large handgun can hold 17 rounds a small one would hold like 14 or even less. So depending on whether you need it for CC or Home Defense (HD) you should choose the size.
  • Caliber. The caliber of a handgun is measured in terms of millimeters or inches in some cases. The bigger the caliber, the more potent the round. But then don’t go for the biggest caliber because it may not suit the purpose. For SD .30 bore (7.62 x 25), 9 mm or .40 S&W is a good choice but then consider the cost of ammo as well. You will need to practice with the ammo, so you will require it in not small numbers. In Pakistan .30 bore is cheapest and .40 S&W expensive with 9 mm falling in between the two. So one should go for a caliber considering the price of ammo also. You can also consider .30 (7.62 x 25) in Pakistan which is a very potent caliber with plentiful cheap ammo, but the choice of a weapon is this caliber is limited to Chinese, Russian or local Tokarev/TT, or a PX-3. Similarly, .32 ACP can be found in small frame but is not that potent a caliber and the ammo isn’t very cheap.
  • Accuracy. An accurate weapon is always a better choice. Again I would always suggest reading the forums and seeing range reports by gun enthusiasts to make a choice.
  • Simple vs complicated. Generally revolvers are considered more simple as compared to pistols. But then there are people who prefer pistols over revolvers for a host of reasons. I say do some research on the topic before deciding on one. Even in pistols there are simple handguns like the Makarov and (relatively) complicated ones like the CZ.
  • Capacity. With pistols, you get more capacity as compared to revolvers but then now we can have speed loaders for revolvers. So it’s a long debate but a little research will clear your doubts. A revolver will give you at max 7 rounds but a pistol will give you 7 to 20 depending on its size and caliber. If you think you need more capacity go for a bigger pistol. Though capacity can be enhanced by having more magazines, but if considering a Carry gun ask yourself if its easy for you to carry 4 mags full all the time?
  • Purpose. It is very important to ascertain the purpose. Is it going to be a range gun only? or you intend keeping one for range and another for SD? Do you consider having separate guns for Home Defense and Concealed Carry, based on size and ease of carrying? I generally like to shoot my SD weapon on the range so that I can train better. For beginners I would not recommend different guns for different reasons.
  • Price. Do consider the price. It should not be the most pricey one and it shouldn’t be the cheapest one. Don’t compromise your life on a cheap handgun, one which is not reliable. But then also don’t fall for market gimmicks by dealers. For example, a Glock which is basically a $ 450 to $ 500 handgun will cost a whopping $2500 or more in Pakistan, why? Well simply because of its unavailability. Read the local forums and get latest market intel.
  • Support. Do look for local support if a certain seller or manufacturer is providing that. In Pakistan for instance POF gives one year guarantee and support for their handguns. They also provide spares and extra goodies like extra magazines. So why not go for a local option? Getting spares for imported guns is not so easy here as it is in other parts of the world (in case of imported weapons).
  • Feel. After you have narrowed down a few choices, go the market and get the feel of the guns you have shortlisted. Hold them in your hand for grip, feel and comfort. If possible go to a range with friends and shoot a few handguns, that will certainly help you make up your mind.
  • Final thoughts. Remember there is no best gun out there, off course there are good and bad guns. There are hundreds of options besides the ones I have listed above. For example I prefer guns that have manual safety like CZ 75 B or Makarov MP-442 or even Sarsilmaz B6. But then there are people who prefer a de-cocker only or no safety pistols like the Glock. I like three dot sights and others might like adjustable sights. I prefer Stain less steel someone would go for a Polymer frame. So, find the right gun for yourself and to that you need to do some research on the Internet. Don’t just go asking people around and buy a gun based on someone’s opinion, do your research. Hope this helps in some way 🙂

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50 plus….loner……foodie….day dreamer….bibliophile…..gun freak….peace loving….smitten by wanderlust….happy go lucky….tea junkie….coffee lover….once in a while movie goer….laid-back blogger with no interest in politics….Happy reading! :-)

2 thoughts on “How to select a handgun for personal defense”

  1. Is it safe to carry a half-cocked loaded handgun in a holster without the manual safety? I mean a gun with a decocker only


    1. I would say it is safe only if you train yourself to the extent that it becomes your muscle memory. You need to be aware of the fact that your gun is loaded and ready to fire, always. So if its you only then its ok to a certain extent. Although the chances of an accidental discharge can never be ruled out, after all we are only human. Personally I always prefer a handgun with safety (and I have my reasons). My Makarov has both, the decocker and manual safety. But the CZ and B6 have manual safety only.


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