Choosing your first defensive firearm…
Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I claim to know everything there is to know about carrying a firearm. What you’re about to read is based simply on personal experience and previous study.
So… you’ve already read Part 1 of this series, and from that article you’ve decided that carrying a firearm is not for you. There is absolutely no shame in that; in fact, admitting that says a lot about your character. I say that because some people have absolutely no business being anywhere near a firearm, yet they consider themselves to be experts. Please see the awesome example below.
Ah… that’s good stuff. I like to watch that video when I need a good laugh— or a reminder that all LEOs aren’t firearms experts.
But wait, aren’t you being a little hard on the DEA agent in that video? Nope. If you follow the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety (see link below), you will NEVER injure yourself or someone else accidentally with a firearm. Ever. As in not ever. The thing about an accidental discharge (AD), is that they can be avoided. I don’t mean some of them, but all of them. 100% of every single AD that has ever occurred since the invention of the musket could have been avoided.
So, before you go rushing off to your local gun dealer (You are supporting your local dealers, aren’t you?) to buy something, there are some rules you need to memorize. (Click here for full list of firearm safety rules)
- ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use
There is never an excuse not to be safe.
With that out of the way, let’s say that you’ve read Part 1 of this series and you are ready to take the plunge— great! Based on that assumption, I would then assume that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and possibly drooling over, the purchase of a new chunk of cold hard steel… or plastic, depending on your preference. To be specific, we’re going to look at handguns.
[Side note: For an inside your home, middle of the night, home invasion type situation… nothing is better than a good old fashioned 12ga pump shotgun. I don’t care what kind of night sights your buddy’s Glock has… the shotgun wins every time. However, don’t fall victim to the Hollywood myth! The wacked-out druggie that just kicked your door in probably won’t be intimidated by the sound of you racking your shotgun… but I can promise you… eight 30 caliber pellets screaming across the room at 1500fps can have a mighty strong effect on your willingness to do harm to others. Just sayin.]
So, back to the issue at hand— handguns. I know I’ll catch a lot of flack for this, but I’m going to say it anyway… please don’t buy a Glock as your first handgun. Yes, they’re great guns. Yes, they function well. Yes, they’re reliable. Yes, they’re safe… IF the operator has experience with a handgun. Glocks have a short take up and a relatively light trigger pull. While this is a great thing for some, it can be disaster for others who haven’t developed proper trigger discipline.
So, if it’s not a Glock, what do I need? Simple. Something you can shoot well, something DAO (double action only), and/or something with a thumb safety. Yeah yeah, I know, that’s just something else to go wrong… blah blah blah. Someone who has no experience with a handgun, by definition, isn’t experienced.
DAO pistols (or single/safe action with a manual safety) provide much more leeway for the inexperienced shooter than does Glock’s “safe action” design alone. J Frame revolvers in 38spl have been (and still are) very popular for that reason. As a matter of fact, police departments across the country used revolvers for years because they are inherently safer to the inexperienced shooter.
Don’t want a revolver? The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm is a great choice. It’s available with a manual thumb safety, and the trigger is tolerable for even the experienced shooter… but don’t just take my word for it— go get your hands on the real thing! Find a local gun dealer with their own range. Ordinarily, they will charge a nominal fee (around $15/hr here) that allows you to rent any firearm of a particular caliber. For example, if you pay the $15 for 9mm rental (plus the cost of their ammo), you can shoot any of the 9mm handguns they have for 1 hour. That’s a great way for you to decide what feels and performs best in your hands.