“The pistol doesn’t have to feel good in your hand. The pistol has to be functional in your hand. These two are often not the same”
I carried the HK USP on duty for five years, a Sig P239 off duty for three years and a Glock on and off duty and as a civilian for 15+ years. My opinion for a first and perhaps just one gun is a Glock in 9mm. This is my opinion. The internet will not implode if you buy something else. I only select the Glock because it matches the following criteria. I and others selected the criteria to maximize our learning curve as a new student. I also tried to keep the pistol simple. Simple is better in a gunfight. My criteria to select a single pistol for self-defense is as follows:
Semi-Automatic- They usually have more bullets and are easier to reload than a revolver. This means more chances to shoot the lethal threat without needing to reload. If you do have to reload, which is extremely rare, it is easier to learn the semi-auto reload over the revolver.
Trigger- Consistent shot to shot. From the first to last shot the trigger operates the same way. This means no double/single action guns. They are fine weapons, just a bit harder to learn to shoot properly and accurately when you have a weak grip and tend to yank the trigger. When you become a master gunfighter then switch to any gun you want.
Has minimal controls- This means no decocker or external safety. We ruled out the double single action trigger above so there won’t be a decocker to complicate the pistol training. Pistols with decockers, (used to drop the hammer on a cocked double single action pistol) and external safeties work fine if you train properly. These controls complicate training and require you to learn more manipulation. This slows down your development.
If you forget to disengage the safety you are slower getting into the gunfight. This is bad. If no manual safety then you must train yourself to holster slowly because you might have something catching on the trigger (coat or coat zipper, holster part). P.s. you should do this anyway. I like this tradeoff, I don’t have to complicate the gunfight when someone is trying to kill me but I do have to train to holster after the gunfight when no one is trying to kill me. We will talk about holstering in a later post.
You are waiting before playing with that pistol, RIGHT?
Magazine capacity- At least 10 rounds in the magazine and have at least two magazines(two more training magazines is even better). I carry the Glock 19 that has 15 rounds in the magazine. This rules out the 1911 pistols which typically carry 6 to 8 rounds. It’s just a numbers game. More rounds to shoot the lethal threat is better than less.
From a major pistol manufacturers Glock, S&W M&P, Sig Sauer, H and K and others. When hundreds of police departments use a pistol many problems with that pistol will be found and fixed. This isn’t a perfect way to select but it seems fairly consistent. Just because one agency uses a certain pistol doesn’t mean you should. Do your research. The pistol must be reliable.
Caliber- 9mm. Cheaper than .40, .45 and with modern hollow point ammo they expand close to the same diameter. Usually more rounds in the same sized frame as larger calibers. And most important, pistols suck for stopping a lethal threat. You will most likely have to shoot a lethal threat multiple times to stop them. We will also talk more about that in a later post.
Can get all three of your fingers on the grip- this helps have a stronger grip, helps with recoil control and reloading. Again you can shoot a small pistol just fine with enough training but we are trying to maximize our development in a short amount of time.
This list is not exhaustive. We could fill the entire blog up with selection criteria. I simply have written this post to give my opinion and to give you some points to ponder as you select your pistol.
Our next post will be selecting holsters and a gun belt. Yes, you need to think about them also.