Check out this double barrel .45 ACP from Arsenal Arms. Certainly one of the coolest handguns to come out in a while.
Want something to convince your friends why they need a gun? Need some convincing yourself? Check out this article on reasons to own a gun.
Revolver or semi-auto
Choosing a handgun for protection usually involves some compromises. Defense against large, dangerous cats, bears, and moose would be better served using the more powerful rifle or a 12 ga. shotgun with slugs at close range. The rifle should be kept loaded in magazine only and never left beyond arms reach. Of course this is impossible when one is wading waist high in the Alaska ranges while manipulating a trout rod and reel.
The Ruger 43 oz. 4 5/8 " Barreled 6 shot Single Action Vaquero Revolver, in 44 Magnum, is simple and economical, a good choice for wilderness defense.
The X-frame Smith & Wesson 500 is the most powerful revolver in current production. This 4 inch barreled model gives up some velocity, and recoil, compared to its longer barreled hunting versions. However, it is easier to carry for self defense against dinosaurs.
In the wilderness, a powerful handgun could be carried in a vertical shoulder holster or belt holster. But unlike the rifle, a potent handgun like this requires a great deal of practice to be effective. The simple, more rugged single action revolver is recommended in 41 mag, 44 mag, 454 Casull, or 480 Ruger. The 500 S&W would give bragging rights. Hand loaders can achieve a good level of power with the 45 Colt in the older model Vaqueros. Heavy hard cast bullets will provide the most penetration. The handgun should be kept fully loaded and reasonably accessible, as long as the holster retains the weapon securely and is not so loose about the body that it impedes a clean draw.
Self-defense against criminals and human predators doesn't require as much power as it does speed of draw and control of follow up shots. In fact, over-penetration can be avoided by choosing a bullet which expands rapidly, slows down inside the target, and releases its energy quickly. Again, a great deal of practice is necessary for fast presentation and follow up control. A large ammunition capacity is not as important as getting the first shot off as fast as possible and placing a couple of heavy, expanding bullets where they will achieve the desired effect.
Both semi-automatic pistols and double action revolvers are excellent choices for urban self-defense. In semi-autos, choose the 45 ACP or 40 S&W calibers. In revolvers the 44 Special and 357 Magnum make fine choices. Good quality and dependability are paramount. Small size and weight are considered secondary to effective stopping power. A rough or checkered grip can help wet or slippery hands maintain control. Other important considerations are the attributes that help one to carry it concealed, to move about in comfort, and to have quick accessibility while both sitting and standing. Any of these factors, when neglected, may prevent you from having a gun fast enough when one is needed. Not carrying a gun because it's uncomfortable could negate the whole study of firearm defense and survival, not to mention the lives of you and your loved ones.
Ruger's 25 oz. 2 1/4" barreled SP 101 5 Shot Spur-less Double Action Only Revolver in 357 Magnum will be much more pleasant to shoot loaded with 38 Special ammunition. The Ruger GP100 is a larger, heavier 357, with a 6 shot cylinder, that will reduce felt recoil even more. If it's purpose is home defense rather than concealed carry, a 3" or 4" barrel is recommended.
The Taurus 17.3 oz.2" Titanium 5 Shot Shrouded Hammer Single or Double Action 357 Magnum will be exciting to shoot because of it's light weight, unless lighter weight, 125 grain bullets or 38 Special ammo is used. Felt recoil and muzzle blast can be considerations during practice sessions, but in a real life or death confrontation, they generally go unnoticed due to the mind's concentration with the task at hand. With ultra heavy,180 grain Federal Cast Core 357 Magnum hunting ammo, it will brain anything in North America, if your wrist is up to it. Single action capable for more precise shooting, snag free, and super light, it can be carried comfortably concealed all day long. Be sure to clean the cylinder mouths after shooting the shorter 38 specials before inserting 357 cartridges. For a lightweight defense against big critters in the woods, see the 20 oz. titanium 41 Magnum on the web page Holsters.
This double action only S&W 642 in 38 Special has Crimson Trace laser grips. It's light weight and small size makes it a good front pant pocket backup.
The double action revolver is simpler to learn. It's easy to see how it works and how it's loaded. The long, stiff trigger pull is the only safety device needed. If the trigger pull seems too hard, a bit of finger strengthening exercise will solve the problem. Don't worry, in a crisis, there will be plenty of finger power. The swing out cylinder is easy to load and unload. Many grip styles will accommodate different hand sizes. Short barrels and bobbed hammer spurs aid in comfortable carry and snag free presentation. New materials, like titanium and scandium, make the revolver one of the lightest handguns available. Some consider the revolver to be more reliable than the semi-auto pistol. However, a malfunction in a revolver is usually serious enough to prevent its operation pending the services of a competent gunsmith. A bullet can be pulled out of the cartridge case far enough during recoil that it prevents the cylinder from turning. In particular, the cylinder crane is carefully aligned and there are several small delicate parts and springs which won't tolerate abuse. Exercise care when handling and cleaning so that there is no torque applied to the crane. Have any used gun you acquire looked at by a competent gunsmith familiar with that model of revolver. Never snap the cylinder in or out with a flick of the wrist as they show in the movies. After loading, gently rotate the cylinder into battery and safely check that the trigger and hammer are not locked up from cylinder misalignment. The bulge of the cylinder makes the revolver less comfortable to carry near the ribs, and it can hang up a fast draw from the waist or pocket unless a top quality holster is used. The snubby, as it's affectionately called, has the best shape for a quick draw from a front pants pocket.
One of our favorite Kimbers, the 28 oz. 4" Barreled Pro Custom Defensive Pistol with self luminous night sights in 45 Auto. A .22 LR Target Slide and Magazine Conversion Kit is available for the 4" and 5" Kimbers. See the smaller 25 oz. Ultra CDP 3" Kimber on the web page Accessories.
Recent surveys indicate that more pistols are used than revolvers for carry. I suspect that the people who take time responding to the surveys are predominantly the more experienced shooters. Although most semi-auto pistols handle and point more naturally than revolvers, they need more time invested getting familiar with their controls and operation. They are more rugged, mechanically simple, and quick to load. Most jams are easy to clear and are usually due to the shooter not locking the wrist or not getting a high grip to provide resistance to the recoiling slide. Their thin sides make them more comfortable to carry, especially inside the waistband, where according to the surveys, the most experienced prefer. New alloys and plastics make some semi automatic pistols the smallest and lightest handguns which still offer a moderate level of stopping power. Several safety systems working in concert make the pistol safer than the revolver for carry, however, those same safety systems must be defeated by the shooter before the pistol will fire.
Carry a 1911 style pistol cocked and locked with a round in the chamber, or condition 1. With a grip safety, thumb safety, and a firing pin block, it is one of the safest handguns. Shorten an ambidextrous thumb safety, especially to accommodate Crimson Trace laser grips, and it won't be knocked off safe inadvertently, while the gun rests in a good holster. I recommend never trying to lower the hammer on a live round in the 1911 style pistol. "There's many a slip twixt cup and the lip." Also, I recommend never allowing the hammer to be at half cock. The sear is carefully mated to the full cock notch on the hammer, and putting it into the half cock notch could degrade an otherwise sweet single action trigger.
The pistol's magazine must be handled with care to prevent denting and misalignment of the feed lips. Acquire several magazines and rotate fresh ammunition into them by shooting them out, so you can count on their reliability. Don't worry about magazine springs taking a set or loosing their strength over time in a fully loaded magazine. The recoil and firing pin springs should be replaced periodically, as recommended by the manufacturer.
The Kahr PM40 is perhaps the thinnest, lightest, and smallest of the powerful 40 S&W caliber DAO striker fired autos available. The trigger is excellent, and small hands find it most comfortable. Recoil is stout, the pinky finger will fall under the grip, nevertheless it is the only 40 cal that can disappear with a pocket holster in a coat pocket. With its thin, 5 round, single stack magazine, and 16 oz. weight, it makes a great ambidextrous back up gun. A PM9 in 9mm is less intimidating for both shooter and, of course, the target.
The Rohrbaugh R9 is arguably the best pocket 9 mm a lot of money can buy. This is the ultimate deep concealment handgun, because it is as small as the little 380's, but much, much more powerful, yet it weighs a scant 13 1/2 oz. Since the 9mm is much more powerful than the 38 Special, seven 9mm rounds from the R9 bests five 38's from a snubby revolver on all counts. The thin body makes the auto suitable for either rear pants pocket. A little extra effort for takedown and maintenance is worth the power and size of the R9 for experienced shooters. A smooth, double action only (DAO) trigger has a clean, accurate release and double strike capability. Study the manual and see some pertinent facts here. In a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster, it will disappear in the smallest pocket.Photo by Aaron L. Brudenell whose review is here.
Ruger's 5 1/2 " Barreled Target auto, in .22 Long Rifle, gets our highest marks for plinking and fun. One variant has a less severe grip angle similar to a 1911 style pistol.
The tiny Kel-Tec 8 oz P3-AT double action only, in 380 ACP, represents the pinnacle of power ratio to concealable size and weight. Limited Availability For information about this new backup gun see web page More. The P11 is a 9mm 10+1 round that is just slightly larger for the same price.
What is this rule that many seem to forget? Or worse, the rule they are never taught to remember. It's this -- clean your gun. While many rules are immediately noticeable if not being followed, neglecting the care of one's gun is many times not discovered until something like this happens:
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What's involved with cleaning a gun? In other words, why should it be cleaned, when should it be cleaned, and what's needed to clean it?
Cleaning a gun is akin to changing the oil in your car. It keeps it running. As you shoot, burnt powder builds up, the sweat and oil from your hands get all over the gun, and dirt and dust accumulate. When combined and left to act on your gun, these create a gun that not only does not work correctly (if at all) by causing jamming, poor extraction of spent cartridges, and broken parts, it also will cause the outside to rust.
As for the frequency of cleaning, it all depends on how your gun is used and how often it is used. I certainly recommend cleaning your gun after shooting every time. Some people say, "Well, I have a Glock, it never needs cleaning" or "I bury my AK-47 in the dirt when I'm done shooting." While these guns have very rugged reputations, the fact is that all guns need cleaning, without exception. Every gun will benefit from having a chamber free of debris. Every bolt or slide will love you for not having to try to move through a layer of crud after every shot. And the rifling in your barrel will cut into bullets much more easily with a clean bore. Even if you do not shoot often, but you carry a gun, you need to clean it about once a week. I've seen guns bought brand new, had a few rounds shot through it, and carried in the pocket for a few weeks develop rust. In the matter of fact, I thought one gun was bought used, when the guy told me that he had bought it brand new two weeks earlier. The moisture and salt from your body are rough on the metal of guns.
So to answer the final part of the question, you will need a few basics. First, you will need an UNLOADED gun. After you are sure your gun is unloaded, check it again. You can never be too safe with a gun. Then you will need a gun cleaning rod. For most purposes, the least expensive one should suffice. Of course the rod does not act alone, which is where jags, brushes, or jag brushes come in. Bore brushes are used on a rod to wipe the gunk out that builds up in your barrel. Jags are used to push solvent-soaked patches through the bore. Jag Brushes do both at the same time, making it a lot easier. Make sure you take note: brushes are caliber specific, so take the time to get the right ones. Now that I have mentioned them, you will need patches. You will need a lot of them. Use the jag to push them through the barrel (soaked with solvent) to lubricate the bore for the brush, but also to break up and remove debris. You can get these in large forms, where you cut them down, or you can buy ones that already fit your caliber of gun. Either way, as I mentioned, you will need a lot. When it comes to basics, there is one last thing you need: a solvent and a lubricant (or better yet, both in one). Cleaners get all the grime out that fouls up your firearm, the good stuff also lubricates and protects, so you can worry less about jamming and rust. That is everything as far as basics go. My personal kit also contains cotton swabs, angle brushes, dental picks, and a few other things, but these are all optional.
While it seems to take the fun out of gun ownership, you will actually come to find that gun cleaning is enjoyable. You will get to know your gun better from taking it apart and reading your manual on how to clean it. But the best part will be knowing that your gun is ready to go, without worrying about the rust and corrosion that come with storing a dirty gun. So be safe and if have anything you like to use that I have not mentioned, please post it as a comment.
While open carry is currently allowed in Florida under limited circumstances (fishing, camping, hunting, being a law enforcement officer, etc), Florida state senator Greg Evers is planning on proposing a bill in March to allow open carry in Florida for concealed weapon permit holders. The thought is that people passively displaying their firepower will deter would-be criminals. Could this have the same crime reducing effect that the concealed weapon permit program had when it was introduced in the '80's? What do you think? One advantage I could see is I would finally be able to justify getting these.
This will be a spot where I will be able to answer some questions I get a lot and provide information on firearms in general. If you have any feedback, please feel free to comment or email me here. For now though, I just want to throw out a thank you to Mama's Sauce for designing and printing some really excellent business cards.
David Shamblin is the owner of Shamblin Distribution. Currently, he is the Treasurer for the Kissimmee Friends of NRA. He has been a shooter since about 10 years old and a gun enthusiast just as long.