There are many options on the market, for one to choose from, when it comes to thinking about their go-to self-defense handgun. I can walk into any of my local firearms dealers today and find display cases awash with various handguns. The question that each new shopper faces is; ‘which one is the one?’. We all have our reasons for the handguns that we end up choosing and I have my complaints about some of those methods; such as relying on the dealer’s salesperson for advice or buying third-rate gear when one more paycheck could’ve gotten them something tried and true. I’ll share some of my experiences and learning from over the years, as a civilian shooter.
The handguns that I have shot and experienced have varied over the last few years, but the product line that I was first introduced to was Glock. Currently, that should come as no surprise. There aren’t many Glock models which I haven’t shot and it is the brand that I am most proficient in operating. This is despite being able to produce shot groups just as tight with other brands in the striker-fire arena. The aesthetics of the Glock line are rather bland, in my opinion; it is like seeing another cheaply outfitted, parts build AR-15. I had not enjoyed the feeling of the grip until the Generation-4 line came out, as well. These things aside, by the time a Glock handgun got around to my home, it was tried and true. The system was proven as reliable across the world’s armed forces and more than half of the American law enforcement were armed with them.
Despite having a love for DA/SA (Double-Action / Single-Action) handguns and having owned a couple of SIG-Sauers, I keep coming back to the 9mm Glock double-stacks. There is one guideline that I follow; which is to prepare for any eventuality that may occur in the United States. This leads to the two secondary rules I have for purchasing a platform: reliability and commonality. The Glock has been proven in combat by multiple countries and USSOCOM units in Afghanistan, most recently. So, why commonality? That goes back to eventualities. Whether it is a local collapse of respect for law enforcement or a total collapse of the Republic, as it stands: I want to be able to pick up and use magazines with 9×19 Parabellum ammunition, from which a decent number of civilians and local law enforcement carry.
The Glock-19 fits this niche perfectly, given the local handgun compositions used, because I can use both the G17 and G19 magazines. The Glock-17 and -19 are the most prominent handguns used by local law enforcement and the rates are going up due to the 2014 FBI 9mm study findings. The proof of this can be seen in the high volume of LEO trade-in sales of their .40 S&W counterparts: the Glock-22, Glock-23 and Glock-27. If something goes wrong, I will have the ability to source magazines and ammunition relatively easily.
So, what about for you? You will first need to find a shooting range that offers a handgun rental line and then shoot the firearms that not only held your initial interest, but also the ones that you hadn’t looked at. It can be referred to as “Shooting the Spectrum” and you must decide what that “spectrum” is. For me, it’s usually a narrowed selection of three to five DA/SA and striker-fired handguns whenever I go to do rental shooting. This will do two things for you. You will be able to make your assessments about the handguns you’ve chosen and you will be slowly, but steadily training yourself over time. Practicing proper firearms handling and safety measures is more important than immediately finding what you want to buy. That latter issue should take time and the longer the time it takes; the more money you will have, to decide with, and that means a broader range of choices. If you don’t like the ergonomics of a Glock, then there are other striker-fired choices. The Smith & Wesson M&P and the SIG-Sauer P320 are both just as modular and are vastly superior when it comes to being comfortable in the hands.
That is the market side of the conversation. What your applications are will dictate the niches that your choice must cover. There is, obviously, a huge between buying a personal protection sidearm and a range day paper-puncher. The latter allows for all the flexibility in the world; if you have the money for the sidearm you want. For most people, it’s a mix of both… However, some of those people can’t prioritize the personal protection pick or they buy one gun to cover both niches. If you’re looking for a handgun, you need to compartmentalize your needs before making your selection. This is something that a lot of firearms instructors, especially Concealed Licensing instructors, stress.
In Part 2, I will cover some concealed handgun purchases that I’ve seen people make and come to ultimately regret. I will also cover suggested and popular alternatives, which I have seen individuals come to prefer, and the proper holster systems for them – because Uncle Mike’s and Fobus are not included there. Some of these suggestions may come as a surprise, especially for the female shooters out there.