What is the best pistol for me?

For my third blog, I wish to follow up from my last one.  Hopefully, you have gotten some training on pistol fundamentals and safety and ready to choose your first pistol.  How Exciting!!☺

Nothing pushes someone away from becoming a shooter than using a pistol that is no fun to shoot or they can’t hit the intended target with. I see this a lot with new shooters.

“What is the best gun for me?”  Believe it or not that simple question does not have a simple answer.  The most expensive or reliable handgun can still be wrong for someone if it doesn’t fit the shooter’s hands or purpose. My one sentence answer is “there is no such thing as one pistol fits all.” Any pistol can be wrong for someone if it doesn’t fit their grip, purpose, or ability to hit the target. So this blog is a follow up from my last one that I hope will equip you with some basic questions to ask yourself so that it narrows the field down for you in your search for the perfect pistol.

We’ll start with the most important question.  WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS PISTOL?  A conceal carry pistol and a competition pistol are totally different.  If you are looking for a pistol that you can conceal on your person or carry in your purse you probably don’t want a full size stainless steel pistol of a 5-inch barrel or longer.  However, a full-size pistol is the optimum choice for competition. Plus, a pistol of at least 4 inches or longer can easily be a recreational shooting pistol or home defense pistol.  So, ask yourself what is the main purpose of the pistol.

The rest of the questions listed below that you will ask yourself SHOULD be answered at the range. Whether it’s with a friends’ pistols or rentals from a range. You really SHOULD shoot them to answer the rest of your questions.

The next question is, What Caliber do I want this pistol to be?  The most common calibers are 9mm; .380; .40, and .45. There are others such as .22, .38 and .357.   It’s really important, and let me say that again; it’s really important that you can manage the recoil of a pistol and be able to hit your intended target within a reasonable distance of 3 to 5 yards. And is it fun to shoot? So, that means if you are looking for a small carry pistol you probably shouldn’t be considering a .357 magnum.  The smaller the pistol the more recoil, and also the WEIGHT of the pistol will affect recoil too.  A heavier steel pistol usually manages recoil better than a polymer pistol. But do you want to carry a heavy pistol?  So, what that means is…if you don’t have a lot of strength in your hands for grip you need to consider a smaller caliber. You also need to consider the cost and availability of ammunition.  When I first started shooting Obama had just become President and there was an ammo shortage for a few years.  Stores would sell out before they could get a shipment on shelves and many had limits of only 2 boxes to purchase.  Won’t even mention that the price went up over 3 times.  So, I would suggest starting with a 9mm caliber to try as it’s the easiest ammunition to find and cheaper than the rest other than .22.  9mm is also the standard caliber for most police issued pistols.  A .380 caliber is basically a “short” 9mm cartridge and many ladies looking for a carry pistol and find that 9mm is too much recoil will go with a .380.  But again, most important in your consideration with a caliber is that you are able to hit your intended target and manage the pistol.

The next question to consider is Grip and trigger press.  Can I get a proper grip on this pistol and then comfortably press the trigger and hit my target?  For some folks with small hands a double stack pistol is hard to manage and extend proper trigger finger placement.  One important thing to look for in a pistol is that the pistol sits low in your hands.  What that means is when you place your grip it’s placed high enough and under the slide so it helps with muzzle flip.  Of course, a proper grip is as high as you can get it safely but if the design of the pistol rides high in your hands there will be more muzzle flip regardless of what caliber it is.  And with the trigger of the pistol can you comfortably press it smoothly and hit your intended target?  Different pistols require more force to press back – this is called the poundage.  A heavier poundage trigger may be more difficult to press back. Revolvers have a heavier trigger poundage and longer trigger press.

The last consideration is cost and availability.  There are numerous quality brand firearms out there and of course you want to be able to afford the firearm. But one important thing I wish to stress is don’t buy a $500-dollar pistol and put it in a $30 holster that may not work.  Much of the time I advise folks to include the cost of a quality holster with your pistol purchase if it’s for carry.  A quality holster that covers the trigger guard and is comfortable and retains your pistol is as important as the pistol purchase. So, consider the availability of finding equipment for your pistol choice.  Will you be able to easily find extra magazines for your new pistol?  Brands such as Glock, Smith & Wesson, and 1911 types are a lot easier to find equipment and holsters for.

As you can see, it’s not a simple answer to finding that perfect pistol.  But I hope that you will think of it as a fun journey and shopping experience that begins with you going to the range.  Pick several pistols to rent and shoot.  I have known several friends do a lot of research online then go rent pistols and end up purchasing something that wasn’t even on their radar of consideration.  Nothing is more amazing than picking up a pistol, wrapping your hands around it and when you aim and fire it hits exactly where you intended.  That pistol will feel like home.

So, what is the best pistol for you? To answer that I hope to see you at the range. ☺

1 Comment


  1. I like that you stressed the fit the pistol in your hands when buying one. For first time owner, consulting someone with experience could help. I would also get training and take courses to get familiar with it.

    Reply

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