171 – How To Choose The Best Handgun

Men and women who are “gun people” are often asked questions about how to choose a handgun. This question may be phrased in different ways, i.e. “What’s the best handgun for home defense?” (or self-defense), “What do you think the best concealed carry gun is?”, “What’s the best handgun for women?”, or just “What’s the best first handgun for a new gun-owner?”. Those are variations of the same question. That question really ought to be is, What’s the best handgun for me? One size does not fit all. Anyone that tells you otherwise is selling something.

In this podcast, we discuss a few important things to consider when you’re looking for the best handgun for home defense, or best concealed carry gun, for you. Reliability is a big one. There are plenty of handguns out there to choose from, so how can you know which ones are actually dependable? This is a crucial point, considering your life or the lives of your loved ones might hinge on your choices.

We also cover the important issue of seeing past the marketing to figure out who you should actually listen to. Smart handgun shoppers learn to sift through the abundance of glossy ads and superficial reviews, making preference instead for the advice of thorough and experienced end-users. Those are the folks who understand just how important their advice is, and they’re responsibly invested for your benefit.

Listen up and get some pointers on how to go about your search for the best handgun. Towards the end, we touch on a few guns that we like and don’t like, and why. But don’t just go there, the overarching message here is about the guideposts: is it field-proven and reliable? Does it fit your hand so you can reach the controls? Are you listening to good advisors?

Listen Now.


Host: Daniel Shaw

Co-Host: Varg Freeborn

Introduction/Timeline: Stephanie Kimmell

00:23 What is the best concealed carry gun for self defense? What is the best handgun for home defense? How do you choose the best one for you?

• Look for one that is field-proven and reliable. (Professional-level use on a wide scale over many years.)

• Professional training facilities have a high level of experience with weapons and are able to see success and failure patterns. They also know what weapons are in use in the professional field. These are great people to ask how to choose a handgun.

• How sexy it looks and how good it feels in the hand — those are secondary considerations.

• It’s possible to accommodate to a gun that might not feel quite right to start with. You can learn to be comfortable with it as long as there isn’t a physical reason that makes it impossible — like the handgun is so big that you can’t reach the controls.

handgun grip

3:10 Is the grip angle important?

• To a certain extent it might make a difference if you train a lot with it and it shapes your physical approach with the handgun.

• That said, rarely will you pick up a new gun and present like you would with a gun you’ve been using for a long time. Normally, you’ll take the time to familiarize yourself with the grip angle, the sights, etc.

• Arguably, that transition time to the new handgun is fairly intensive and doesn’t take too long.

5:16 Does the size of your hand matter when choosing a handgun?

Taurus G3C in hand - what is the best handgun for home defense? What is the best concealed carry gun?

• You should be able to reach the controls: the slide stop, the slide release, the mag release, and your finger should fall naturally on the trigger.

• If you can find a handgun that fits your hand like that, you’re pretty much done with your search.

• If you are a collector, you can branch out into the wide variety of handgun configurations that are available. But if you’re going to depend on this handgun for defensive purposes, then reliability is at the top of the requirements.

7:53 Most likely there are things about the handgun that you don’t know you don’t know. Try to cut out the expensive learning curve by finding out how to choose a handgun from professional end-users.

Varg Freeborn - Considerations for Lethal Force in Self defense part three, psycho/social fallout. Instructors can help you figure out what is the best handgun for home defense, or the best concealed carry gun for you.

• Be aware that some handgun review articles aren’t genuine.

• Also be aware that different authors notice different details, based on their experience and priorities. Shaw pays close attention, for instance, to how easy the gun is to manipulate, and how well it performs in wet conditions.

• Remember, glossy magazine ads and articles don’t mean that the handgun is awesome. Look for reviews that go into details about reliability and function written by professional end-users who have invested their time in the gun. Those are the folks who know how to properly evaluate a handgun, and are therefore the most qualified to advise you on how to choose a handgun.

14:50 How reliable are influencers and communicators in the firearm industry?

• Listen to the story of the editor who changed his mind on how to evaluate guns after taking one of Shaw’s handgun classes.

• Influencers and writers may tout the features and benefits of various handguns, but sometimes the information they share is superficial when you, as a consumer looking for best handgun for home defense, are looking for more realistic and practical information.

• Some writers and influencers deeply care about you as a reader and end-user, working hard to provide accurate, appropriate information. Choose your advisors carefully because ultimately, your choices can have life and death consequences.

19:19 How thoroughly has the reviewer run the gun?

Pistol-Shooting-Drills - best handgun for home defense, best concealed carry gun

• Did they run differing types and qualities of ammunition through the handgun? Can they say which types of ammunition are reliable for it?

21:53 What if you buy the wrong handgun and you find that it’s not the best concealed carry gun, or even the best handgun for home defense?

• Avoid fan-boy emotional attachment to the gun if you find that the gun you bought isn’t reliable.

• Be a fan of reliability, and if you find a better one be willing to move on! There are a lot of good options out there.

22:24 What are some positive and negative features of various handguns?

•Shaw does a quick run-down on several models from the Hellcat to the Beretta APX (Freeborn comments that the APX is an excellent choice).

27:20 So who should you listen to? How do you find out what’s good?

• Go to training with a reputable trainer. You’ll get tons of information on how to choose a handgun, and more, from the class and from your trainer.

• Ask questions about what kinds of handgun failures they see the most.

29:11 Whatever handgun you buy, be sure to buy your magazines at GunMag Warehouse!

Gunmag Training's Chief Instructor Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantry Unit Leader with multiple combat tours and instructor titles.  Since retirement from the Marine Corps, Daniel teaches Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers weapons, tactics and use of force. Daniel takes his life of training and combat experience and develops as well as presents curriculum to help Law Enforcement, US Military and Responsible Armed Citizens prepare for a deadly force encounter.  When he isn't directing marketing for Gunmag Warehouse, Daniel travels the US teaching and training under Gunmag Training, and discusses all things hoplological and self-defense related on The MagLife Podcast.

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