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Firearms for Beginners:
The Second Step (Page 2)
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By Dan S. Defense

Firearm Selection: Home Defense

For home defense you can use a shotgun or a handgun. You want something powerful enough to stop a home invasion but you also want something that won't over penetrate. Because our walls are made from reinforced cardboard and some wood, any rifle would easily penetrate your wall first and then your neighbor's, so unless you live in the country with lots of your own land, I'd discourage you from using an AR-15 for home defense.

So what is left? From a long arm perspective I'd recommend the shotgun. It's powerful, versatile with ammo selection and intimidating to the point that it may, just may, negate the need to use it for stopping a home invasion. From a handgun perspective, I want at least a 9mm but preferably a 45 ACP and I'd avoid the 44 Magnum and the like for fear of over penetration.

As for specific firearms and ammunition selection, see these links to other reviews I've already written. Shotguns include the Remington 870 or Mossberg 590. And I highly recommend you read my review about the home defense shotgun.

As for handguns, I suggest that you start by deciding if you want a revolver or semi-automatic. I wrote two articles that will help you decide, so start with the pros and cons of revolvers and then read the one about semi-automatics

For handguns, I prefer a handgun that will function immediately, without having to fumble with a safety catch. They require care, as any firearm and I believe that the best safety is the one between your ears. Still, it is your choice and so I'll recommend handguns with and without a safety, and I'll have more affordable as well as more expensive ones. Since these are hard times for everyone, I suggest you look at Budget Self Defense Handguns for a selection of reliable and affordable home defense handguns.

As for specific brands and models: SIG SAUER P220 (next to my bed with a Surefire X400), SIG SAUER P229 (my wife's gun), SIG SAUER P226 9mm, Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm Pro Series and Kimber Crimson Pro Carry II, Springfield Armory XD 45 Service Pistol,

Any of these with proper self defense ammunition ought to do the job, if you do yours and therefore keep you safe. You can read more about self defense ammunition in these articles: Winchester Ranger 45 ACP , which ammo is best for self defense, and an article about 45 ACP ammo

Firearm Selection: Concealed Carry

When selecting a firearm for concealed carry, you need to take into account not only stopping power but also size and weight. Your home defense gun, with its light and laser can sit on the nightstand until its needed, but your concealed carry handgun must be with you at all times. Here you need to find a handgun that you will actually carry with you. I see too many folks getting excited with great but large handguns that later they describe as too heavy to carry. Whichever handgun you decide to get for concealed carry, you must commit to carry it and therefore your first choice is form factor.

I personally carry a full size 1911 in 45 ACP and a backup handgun, which can be a 45 ACP revolver or 38 Special revolver. I accept the fact that carrying a conceal carry isn't comfortable. It is even less enjoyable during hot and humid summer days. But I choose to carry these firearms because I know that I'll have sufficient firepower to survive any sort of nasty encounter that will place my life in danger. I have though about it long and hard and it works for me. But, and there is always a but, you need to decide what works best for you.

If you know that you don't want to carry a big gun or maybe you can't for health reasons, don't just buy one to say that you own a 45. Remember why you want a self defense handgun and buy the biggest gun that you will carry-always carry-with you for self defense. It sounds easy but you may need to overcome bias, Forum "hear-say" and giggles from your mates. Be honest and do the right thing.

Here is a list of good self defense handguns that you can use for conceal carry. I'm also adding smaller, easier to carry and conceal handgun, to provide you with a full spectrum of choices. I'll only say that I wouldn't recommend anything caliber lower than 380 ACP. You can read more about the 380 ACP vs. 9mm here. And please don't get carried away and use +P+ ammo, at least until you tried several magazines in the range.

And for specific handguns I'd recommend SIG SAUER P220 (next to my bed with a Surefire X400), SIG SAUER P229 (my wife's gun), SIG SAUER P226 9mmSmith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm Pro Series and Kimber Crimson Pro Carry II , Springfield Armory XD 45 Service Pistol, as well as SIG SAUER P232, the very popular Ruger LCP which I sometimes carry when I can't take something bigger, the powerful and compact S&W PD325 and the Ruger LCR which is now use instead of a S&W J Frame. If you want to read about additional smaller guns, take a look at 380 ACP handguns.


The taxonomy we offered here was designed to help narrow down the firearm selection process. The recommendations of specific firearms are provided based on my experience. It is important to note that what works for me may not be best for you, and I highly recommend you use my notes as a starting point for your research.

If at all possible, try to test your firearm of choice prior to buying it and there are lots of range that would rent firearms for a nominal fee. Finally, never forget that firearms are dangerous tools that must be treated with focus and respect. In our next article we will look at the needed behavioral adoption which is associated with firearm ownership.

Until next time, stay safe by staying alert!

Comments? Questions? Email us

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