Handguns

Firearms are the most effective personal defensive weapons, and handguns are the most practical firearms to carry in times of ROL (Rule of Law). In many parts of the United States handguns can be carried both openly and concealed; most states require an individual to obtain a permit for concealed carry but not for open carry. When you are in civilization, it is wise to keep your firearm concealed to avoid unwanted attention from the police (who are often summoned by ignorant people who either dislike gun-owners or believe that you must be about to commit a crime if you have a gun). Some states, cities and property owners restrict or prohibit an individual from owning or carrying firearms, and those should be avoided.


The terms "handgun" and "pistol" are synonymous. Handguns can be divided into several categories including revolvers, semi-autos, single-shot or break-action, bolt-action and muzzle-loader. This page will focus only on semi-autos and revolvers.


For our purposes, there are three basic classes of handguns: EDC, ODC and Service Pistols (SVP). These groups can have a significant amount of overlap.


EDC Handguns

• Primarily for defense against criminals

• Possibly for defense against domestic animal attacks

• Normally carried concealed in public

• Must be of a size and weight that an individual can comfortably carry on a daily basis


ODC Handguns

• Primarily for defense against wild animal attacks

• Possibly for defense against criminals

• Frequently carried openly in the wilderness

• Must be of a caliber that will stop medium to large-sized animals


Service Pistols

• Primarily for use in WROL situations

• Can also be carried as EDC handguns

• Normally carried as a secondary weapon (rifle carried as primary)

• Should be a full-size/full-capacity semi-auto for use against multiple opponents


No caliber is too powerful for defensive purposes, but many calibers are under-powered. You should choose your calibers based on muzzle energy, commonality and cost. For SVP's, you should also consider the size of the cartridges in regards to magazine capacity. Here are the most practical defensive handgun calibers and their intended purposes (specifications are for standard-pressure Speer Gold Dot ammunition):


9mm Luger/Parabellum (EDC/SVP)

• 115gr / 1200 fps / 335 ft.lbs.

• Extremely common worldwide (NATO standard), inexpensive

• MIL cartridge - anti-personnel

.40 S&W Auto (EDC/SVP)

• 180gr / 985 fps / 400 ft.lbs.

• Very common in U.S., average-priced

• LE cartridge - anti-personnel


.45 ACP (EDC/SVP)

• 230gr / 890 fps / 405 ft.lbs

• Very common in U.S., relatively expensive

• LE/MIL cartridge - anti-personnel

 

.357 S&W Magnum (EDC/ODC)(firearms chambered in .357 Mag will also fire .38 Special)

• 158gr / 1235 fps / 535 ft.lbs.

• Common in U.S., relatively expensive

• LE cartridge - anti-personnel and effective against medium animals

.44 Remington Magnum (EDC/ODC)(firearms chambered in .44 Mag will also fire .44 Special)

• 210gr / 1450 fps / 980 ft.lbs.

• Common in U.S., relatively expensive

• CIV cartridge - anti-personnel and effective against large animals

I prefer handguns with DA/SA mechanisms. DA/SA handguns allow you to choose between simply pulling the trigger it's full travel distance to fire the gun (Double Action) or manually cocking the hammer for a shorter/lighter trigger pull (Single Action). Subsequent shots on DA/SA semi-autos are all SA unless the hammer is decocked between shots. On DA/SA revolvers, the hammer must be manually cocked to SA for each shot - otherwise each shot will be DA. Striker-fired handguns (such as Glocks and Kahrs) provide the same trigger pull for every shot and normally lack manual controls (for those who prefer simplicity). Striker-fired handguns are not as practical for dry-fire practice as DA/SA handguns. Avoid DAO (Double Action Only) handguns; they require a full-distance and relatively heavy trigger pull for every shot, and DAO semi-autos are as impractical for dry-fire practice as striker-fired handguns. I prefer handguns that have a safety lever and a decocker if possible (the more manual controls - the better). Stainless materials are better for handguns than carbon steel because the gun will probably be carried close to your body and perspiration will cause carbon steel parts to rust. I prefer blackened stainless when it's an option. The ability to accept Tritium night sights is a must, and a picatinny/weaver rail is beneficial for mounting a light (avoid stand-alone lasers as they are redundant to night sights and will give away your position). Be sure to carry one or two spare magazines for your EDC semi-auto, extra ammo (possibly in speed loaders) for your revolver, and several spare mags for your SVP. Avoid nylon and cheap leather holsters that will flop around on your belt. You should carry your handguns and magazines in quality holsters such as my Trident Concealment Kydex holsters for EDC and ODC during ROL, or in a Blackhawk Serpa modular holster in the case of WROL.


The following handguns, available on GunBroker, fill the roles of EDC, ODC and SVP to my satisfaction:

 

 

Beretta 92A1/96A1

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W

• Capacity: 17/12

• Length: 8.50"

• Width: 1.50"

• Height: 5.50"

• Weight empty: 34.4oz

• Official use: LE, MIL, US Border Patrol, US Immigration Service, foreign LE and MIL

• Made in Italy/USA

Beretta 92A1

 

 

FNX-9/40

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W

• Capacity: 17/14

• Length: 7.40"

• Width: 1.55"

• Height: 5.40"

• Weight empty: 21.90oz/24.40oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in Belgium/USA

FNX-40

 

 

FNX-45

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .45 ACP

• Capacity: 15/

• Length: 7.70"

• Width: 1.50"

• Height: 5.50"

• Weight empty: 33.20oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in Belgium/USA

FNX-45 FDE

 

Glock 17/22

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: Striker

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W

• Capacity: 17/15

• Length: 7.32"

• Width: 1.18"

• Height: 5.43"

• Weight empty: 22.04oz/22.92oz

• Official use: DEA, DHS, FBI, IRS, LE, US Marshals, foreign LE and MIL

• Made in Austria/USA

Glock 17

 

 

 

Glock 19/23

Compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: Striker

• Caliber: 9mm/40 S&W

• Capacity: 15/13

• Length: 6.85"

• Width: 1.18"

• Height: 5.00"

• Weight empty: 20.99oz/21.16oz

• Official use: DEA, DHS, FBI, IRS, LE, US Marshals, foreign LE and MIL

• Made in Austria/USA

Glock 19

 

 

Glock 21

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: Striker

• Caliber: .45 ACP

• Capacity: 13

• Length: 8.22"

• Width: 1.27"

• Height: 5.47"

• Weight empty: 29.84oz

• Official use: FBI, LE, foreign LE

• Made in Austria/USA

Glock 21



Glock 30

Compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: Striker

• Caliber: .45 ACP

• Capacity: 10

• Length: 6.96"

• Width: 1.27"

• Height: 4.80"

• Weight empty: 26.48oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in Austria/USA

Glock 30



HK P2000 V0/V3 

Compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W

• Capacity: 13/12

• Length: 7.00"

• Width: 1.34"

• Height: 5.04"

• Weight empty: 24.0oz

• Official use: DHS/US Customs and Border Protection, LE, foreign LE

• Made in Germany/USA

This is quite possibly the most ergonomic handgun in existence; grip and aim feels extremely natural. I have yet to find a good photo of the model with the decocker and spurred hammer, but that model is a nearly perfect handgun. The only thing I would change would be to mount the decocker on the frame like the USP, rather than on the rear of the slide.

HK P2000

 

 

HK P2000SK V0/V3 

Compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W

• Capacity: 10/9

• Length: 6.41"

• Width: 1.34"

• Height: 4.55"

• Weight empty: 24.0oz

• Official use: DHS/US Customs and Border Protection

• Made in Germany/USA

HK P2000SK V3

 

 

HK USP V1/V2

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W/.45 ACP

• Capacity: 15/13/12

• Length: 7.68"/7.68"/7.91"

• Width: 1.26"

• Height: 5.31"/5.31"/5.61"

• Weight empty: 27.20oz/28.96oz/31.29oz

• Official use: Federal Air Marshal Service, LE, foreign LE and MIL

• Made in Germany/USA

The HK USP was specifically engineered to fire the high-pressure .40 S&W cartridge. It's oversized trigger guard makes it an excellent pistol for cold-weather use. The Streamlight TLR-3 light and TLR-4 light/laser combo are both easily modified with a Streamlight-produced adapter bar to fit the USP's non-picatinny accessory rail. The USP offers the most manual control options of just about any pistol on the market, and the ambidextrous magazine release lever is far more ergonomic than the button types of other manufacturers.

HK USP

 

 

Kahr P9/P40/P45 (models KP9094N/KP4044N/KP4544N)

Sub-compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: Striker

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W/.45 ACP

• Capacity: 7+1/6+1/6+1

• Length: 5.80"/6.10"/6.06"

• Width: 0.90"/0.94"/1.01"

• Height: 4.50"/4.55"/4.80"

• Weight empty: 16.9oz/18.7oz/20.5oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in USA

Kahr P9 Black w/Night Sights

 

 

Kahr PM9/PM40/PM45 (models PM9094N/PM4044N/PM4544N)

Micro-compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: Striker

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W/.45 ACP

• Capacity: 6+1/5+1/5+1

• Length: 5.42"/5.47"/5.79"

• Width: 0.90"/0.94"/1.01"

• Height: 4.00"/4.00"/4.49"

• Weight empty: 15.9oz/17.7oz/19.3oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in USA

This is the smallest production 9mm pistol on the market and it is available with night sights.

Kahr PM9 Black w/Night Sights



Ruger GP-100 (model 1705, 1707 and 1715)

Full-size revolver - EDC/ODC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .357 Mag

• Capacity: 6

• Length: 9.50" (4" barrel model)

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 40.0oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in USA

Ruger GP-100



Ruger SP-101 (model 5718)

Compact revolver - EDC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .357 Mag

• Capacity: 5

• Length: 7.2"

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 26.0oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in USA

Ruger SP-101


 

Ruger Super Redhawk (model 5501)

Large revolver - ODC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .44 Mag

• Capacity: 6

• Length: 13.00"

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 53.0oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in USA

Ruger Super Redhawk

 

 

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan (model 5303)

Full-size revolver - EDC/ODC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .44 Mag

• Capacity: 6

• Length: 7.62"

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 45.0oz

• Official use: N/A

• Made in USA

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan

 

 

Sig Sauer P226/P227 (all railed DA/SA models)

Full-size semi-auto - EDC/SVP

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W/.45 ACP

• Capacity: 15/12/10

• Length: 7.70"

• Width: 1.50"

• Height: 5.50"

• Weight empty: 34.0oz/34.00oz/32.00oz

• Official use: FBI, LE, US Diplomatic Security Service, US Navy SEALs, foreign LE and MIL

• Made in Germany/USA

The Sig P226 is the official sidearm of the US Navy SEALs. Many of us have bought our own Sigs and carry them as our EDC sidearms. Mine has never had a single issue. This is as close to manufacturing perfection as a production firearm gets. 

Sig P226



Sig Sauer P239 (all DA/SA models in 9mm and .40 S&W)

Compact semi-auto - EDC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W

• Capacity: 8/7

• Length: 6.60"

• Width: 1.20"

• Height: 5.10"

• Weight empty: 29.5oz

• Official use: DHS, FBI, NCIS

• Made in Germany/USA

Sig P239

Smith & Wesson 686/686 Plus (all models)

Full-size revolvers - EDC/ODC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .357 Mag

• Capacity: 6 or 7

• Length: 9.56" (4" barrel model)

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 39.7oz

• Official use: LE, US Navy SEALs, foreign LE and MIL

• Made in USA

S&W 686

 

Smith & Wesson 60 (all models)/60LS/360/360PD

Micro-compact and compact revolvers - EDC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .357 Mag

• Capacity: 5

• Length: 6.56"

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 22.6oz

• Official use: foreign LE

• Made in USA

S&W Model 60

Smith & Wesson 627/629 (all models)

Full-size and large revolvers - EDC/ODC

• Action: DA/SA

• Caliber: .44 Mag

• Capacity: 6

• Length: 10.50" (5" barrel model)

• Width: N/A

• Height: N/A

• Weight empty: 44.3oz

• Official use: Inspector Harry Callahan

• Made in USA

S&W 629