What Are Your Criteria For Buying a Handgun?

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There are many factors to consider when buying a gun. Which factors are most important are going to depend on you (your body size, hand size, hand strength, etc.), your intended uses for the gun, and other restrictions that you may have (budget, legal restrictions where you live, etc.). But, even after all of those factors, choice of weapon comes down to a matter of personal preference.

With that in mind, though, Col. Ben Findley gives us a few things to at least think about when selecting your next gun purchase. His criteria for selecting a handgun are:

  1. Accuracy and Reliability- Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry;
  2. Trigger Press maxiumum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable (TRAIN to be Trigger Safe);
  3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
  4. Barrel length of 3.0″-4.5″ (primarily for concealed carry); for subcompacts- length of 3.0″-3.2″ or so;
  5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
  6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 25 oz. or less for carry- but there are tradeoffs);
  7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for carry;
  8. Capacity -adequate for use & feature tradeoffs- usually prefer at least 8-10 in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);
  9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
  10. Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; Hard Case; Extras (third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; etc.

Now, remember, Col. Findley’s criteria may not be right for you. You may prefer a different gun length. You may prefer a heavier pistol to improve accuracy over multiple shots or you may prefer something lighter so it doesn’t “weigh you down” while carrying. Or, you may really want a small weapon to allow it to stay concealed because you have a small frame.

All-in-all, take the advice of other people of what to look for when considering your next gun purchase (and Col. Findley’s list above is a good starting point), but buy the weapon that is right for you.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. INTENDED USE FOR THE GUN IS WHERE EVERYTHING BEGINS. THEN, YOU MUST CONSIDER YOUR BODY, SKILLS AND ABILITIES. THEN YOU MUST CONSIDER THE GUN THAT YOU WANT (BRAND & TYPE). THEN YOU CONSIDER THE PRICE. THEN CONSIDER THE FEEL OF THE GUN, BALANCE, OPERATION, FUNCTION, IS THE TRIGGER CRISP OR IS IT LIKE TAFFY? ONCE YOU FIGURE THOSE THINGS OUT, THEN CHOOSE THE CALIBER THAT WORKS WELL FOR THE INTENDED PURPOSE, AND A RELIABLE AMMO THAT THE GUN LIKES! THEN, YOU SEND THE BRL OFF TO 300 BELOW.COM AND HAVE THE BRL CRYOED AND YOU ACCURACY IS IMPROVED! FOR INSTANCE, A 9MM LOADED WITH ALTERNATING 124 GR FMJ AND 115 HP RDS WORKS WELL ON PEOPLE AND MANY SMALLER CRITTERS. IF THIS WERE A CARRY GUN THEN I WOULD NEED IT TO BE SLIM AND HOLD 15 RDS. A RUGER P-95 DC IS AN IDIOT PROOF GUN WITHOUT A SAFETY, BUT IS NOT SLIM. CLIPS CAN HOLD 10, 15, 20, 30 AND 32 RDS FOR THAT GUN. IT’S GOOD FOR SHOOTING, BUT I WOULDN’T CARRY IT.

  2. For years I carried a number of 9mm and .380 semi-autos for concealed carry. A Colt 1911 for on duty. Now that I’m older I carry a Ruger LCR for concealed carry. Arthritis pain in my hands is the reason I have gone to the little five shot revolver. It hurts to load magazines, operate the slide and take down for proper cleaning. As I have gotten older and wiser, I don’t feel under gunned with five rounds and a speed loader. The LCR weighs 17 ounces. Small and light enough for pocket carry but heavy enough that .38 special+P is very controllable. Being a revolver it’s not ammo finikey, like a lot of small 9mms are. I have an acceptable level of stopping power, with a gun that is right for me.

  3. Is it a caliber that I currently have so I can reload it or at least am already stocked for it?
    Does it fill a role that I don’t already have covered?
    Can I carry it concealed or is it a full out old west style rig needed?
    Can I sit down? How about in a car?
    Is it as accurate as I am?
    Finally of course, is it a proper wheel gun or one if these newfangled box magazine types?
    🙂

    • “… is it a proper wheel gun or one if these newfangled box magazine types?” ….HEH!… My basic go to home defense pistol is a S&W “N” frame, M&P, .357mag. with Pachmyr grips. I load my own rounds using Hornady’s 130gr. XTP hollow points. It’s comfortable, reliable and shoots where I point it. Most important item? Mind set and practice / range time. How “good” the tool is depends, to a large extent, on the practiced skills of the user.

  4. It must fire every time I pull the trigger, under all conditions. That’s why I prefer the 1911. It has a proven track record of many years.

  5. I prefer a Ruger single action revolver in .44 special for outside use around the house and a double action sp101 in .22 LR for indoor protection or my Browning 1911/.22 as they don’t have the muzzle blast of the heavier calibers. If I ever get a CCW then I would go with my WWII Browning HI-Power.

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