Get Adobe Flash player

 

Priorities in Selecting a Defensive Handgun . . .

After all, if you hadn't counted on the gun in the first place, you could have chose another course of action to avoid the trouble all together. Don't forget that one component of reliability is ammunition. In this regard, semi-automatic handguns tend to be more sensitive to choices of ammunition than revolvers.

 
2. Ergonomics
There is an old saying that a hit with a.22 beats a miss with a .44. The fit of the gun in your hand is a critical component of your ability to hit a target reliably under stress. This fit includes where the gun points when you grasp it.


The operation of the controls likewise affects your ability to hit reliably under stress. If that first, double-action stroke on your autoloader is just way too long for you, where is that first shot going to go? Or, if you can’t pop off the safety in a reasonable time frame, maybe a different ‘operating system’ should be considered. This will also depend on whether the gun is a house gun or a carry gun. House guns will be ‘less forgiving’ when it comes to operating controls as you’ll typically have a little more time to get them into action.

3. Other Size Factors
Is this a carry gun? Concealed carry or open carry? Is its size and shape amenable to concealment in the type of carry you plan to use? If it is a carry gun and if you are like me and wish to carry a full size gun, do so. Just choose one with a short grip-magazine well, the pistol will not ‘print’ as much but the rest of the bun is a full size frame. Is this a house gun? Does it need to fit the hands of other household members, as well as yours? This is a pretty big consideration and if you only have one or two pistols, other members of the household who will be authorized to use them must know how to operate and shoot the guns.

4. Revolver vs. Semi-automatics
Revolvers are simpler to operate, hardly ever experience any malfunctions and are particularly easy to load and unload, generally making them safer and easier for users with limited training.

Revolvers should be fired double-action for self-defense but a double-action trigger stroke maybe more of a challenge to master for some shooters.

Revolvers generally don't require ‘popping off’ a safety to fire them. This may be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your point of view. More on this later ...
 The fit of a revolver in your hand can be adjusted, within limits, by adjusting the grip stocks. Historically, autoloaders generally have had a smaller range of adjustment available but today many now come with swap-out adjustable back-straps. Revolvers frequently need this personalization; autoloaders maybe not, as long as the girth of the grip area is not too great. Some the newer polymer-frame autoloaders are offered with interchangeable back strap or "palm swells," to accomplish that adjustment in girth.


Revolvers do not depend on ammunition to generate the minimum recoil energy to cycle the next round into position to fire; Autoloaders do. A .357 Magnum revolver, for example, can fire anything from the lightest .38 Special target load to virtually any .357 Magnum load. A ‘light’ load in an autoloader will not force the slide back far enough to both eject the spent round and load the next round from the magazine and could cause the bullet to become lodged in the bore creating a dangerous situation!
The revolver's ability to keep firing is independent of bullet shape. If a bullet won't cycle up the feed ramp of an autoloader, the gun will not continue to function.

Revolvers will not fail to cycle the next round if you’re forced to fire them with a loose grasp or a bent wrist; autoloaders may. A loose grip while firing a autoloader will almost always result in a Type 2 malfunction.

Autoloaders are available in practical single-action mode and are also available with double-action for the first shot and with double-action for every shot. The double-action / single-action autoloaders have been known to be ‘safer’ in the courtroom because in making that first long double-action pull there was no doubt you were in fear for your life and that the shot wasn’t just because of the adrenaline in your system or you accidentally pressed the trigger making you liable for manslaughter.

Many models of autoloaders have safety levers which can delay someone who gets hold of your gun from using it against you. It is common for a criminal who gets a gun with de-cockers, safeties, etc., to take at between 7 and 10 seconds to make the gun fire. If you carry a backup gun, this is the time to use it! If you don't train diligently, the safety mechanisms of your gun can also delay you! Dry Practice, Dry Practice, Dry Practice!
There is an old military saying about ambushes…”Make it hard for the enemy to come in and you make it hard for you to get out


Autoloaders frequently hold more rounds than revolvers. It would seem to be a big advantage except that experience suggests that having a lot of rounds in the gun seems to discourage good marksmanship. This is also where ammunition management comes into play. I carry a ‘compact’ .45 ACP with 10 rounds in the gun and another 13 on my support (loading) side

Autoloaders are faster and easier to reload under adverse conditions. Clearly, the fastest reload with a revolver is a second gun. This actually may also be true for an autoloader if you’re not just on a range and aware that you will be needing to preload.

Autoloaders maybe easier for some people to conceal due to their flatter shapes. Revolvers maybe easier for some people to conceal because of their rounder contours, especially in the round-butt versions.

Spare ammunition in magazines, particularly single-column magazines, usually conceals more easily than spare ammunitions in revolver speedloaders. On the other hand, tactical reloads (prior to emptying the entire cylinder or magazine) are probably more important with a revolver than with an autoloader.