There are very few weeks that go by without someone asking me: what is the best gun to buy for defense? That is a much bigger question than it seems. There are many variables. What do you want the gun for? Just shooting, home defense; keep in the car for self-defense or to carry all the time? What size gun do you want? Look at your height (5’2” or 6’2”) it makes a difference in where you conceal (holster type vs purse), hand size (grip size of the gun), strength (can you handle the caliber recoil and slide action?), and those are only the first few things to look at.
So you see I can tell what I carry and why but that may not be what’s right for you. I will tell you that there are some great mainstream guns built specifically for self-defense and I would stay with one of those. Take an evening and go to an indoor range and rent some of the more popular ones like Glock’s G19 or G26 or the new G43, S&W M&P Sub Compact or their Shield, Springfield XDS, Sig 229, Ruger SR9c and there are more but these will get you started.
I highly recommend that you look at 9mm handguns to start out as it is a great caliber for ease of use, less recoil and great consistency. It’s a terrific caliber for new shooters and the ammunition manufacturers have really stepped up and created outstanding rounds for defensive use. There is an excellent article by my friend and author Tom McHale at Outdoor Hub.com Stories. And although I like his choices I still prefer the 115 gr versions of the Hornady and Federal rounds based on recoil management (but then I have arthritis so a little less recoil matters).
As for my choices: I carry a S&W M&P Shield in 9mm for right side in the waistband (IWB Kydex) with a spare magazine in left side rear pocket or Glock 26 (in picture above) when traveling with my husband who carries his Glock 19 (as G19 magazines are interchangeable). I also carry a S&W Airweight 442 in the purse with 38 +P as a backup pistol AND on that day I cannot carry IWB I also have a Ruger LCP 380 pocket gun.
All have Hornady Critical Defense rounds; in the Shield it is 9mm 115GR FTX, in the revolver 38 +P 110GR FTX and in the LCP 380 90GR FTX. I’ve trained will all of these utilizing left and right hand, drawing from their concealment (only once with the revolver since it included shooting through a purse ;-); and at various distances. It’s imperative to train with the equipment you carry, AND more importantly with your concealment choices (holsters, purses, etc). Go to training, take a local class or check out some great national courses. They can be expensive but make it your vacation for the year… it is a blast.
Feel free to comment below with questions or stop by the Personal Defense Warehouse at 3225 N Arizona Ave Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85225 with some of your own questions!