Handgun for self-defense? What type and what caliber?

What would be a good gun for self defense? It should have plenty of power to stop an intruder, yet be small enough to carry most of the time?

I can’t make any recommendations but I can tell you that other more knowledgeable folks will want to know about your current level of experience and intended method of carry.

.45 caliber has good stopping power, and is eminently portable. There are any number of manufacturers who make a good .45 pistol.

Oh no, not another 9 mm vs. 45 thread!

You’ll probably want different guns to stop “an intruder” versus “carry most of the time”. A carry weapon needs to be compact, which means making sacrifices on capacity and barrel length. A home-defense weapon can be much larger, since you don’t have to conceal it on your person. Both need to fit your hand well, and you need to be comfortable using them.

My recommendation: go to a gun range, rent a few different models, and try them out. A gun that you’re comfortable with will serve you better than “the baddest gun on the block”. Find out what fits your hand and what caliber you can shoot and recenter well. After you’ve chosen your caliber, go to a gun show or store and pick up/feel as many different weapons of that caliber as you can. In that way, you can make an actual, informed, personal choice, rather than asking a bunch of yahoos on a message board.

Ha, I’ll add .380 to that argument!

I keep a Ruger LCP .380 in my back pocket in a pocker holster. It looks just like I’m carrying a wallet until I pull it out.

My 1911 .45 is way too big to easily conceal and be comfortable, but it does have a lot more knock down power.

For OC or CC, your handgun should be made by a reputable manufacturer in the largest caliber that…

  1. is enjoyable to shoot.
  2. is comfortable to carry.
  3. allows you to easily afford to engage in target practice (approx. 200 rounds/month).

The S&W M&P 9mm compact meets all of these requirements for me. You need to find a handgun that meets these requirements for you.

Max is spot on.
internet yahoo

Of course you want this(Idiotic You Tube Link)



I like the .40 cal, but that’s just me FWIW


The .40 is a pretty “snappy” round, and I wouldn’t recommend it in a polymer frame to anyone unless they had large, strong hands.

But other than that, +1 to what Max said.

I love my 1911 but I recently bought a used Ruger LC9 as a carry gun.
So far I like it.

I bought it sight unseen from a friend of Mrs Monkey and I was worried about it being too small but the magazine extends the grip and it works for me and I have large hands. Being designed as a carry pistol it has an extremely long trigger pull which took a bit to get used to. I need to practice more but it sure seems accurate enough.

+1 on Max’s advice or try a friend’s pistol.

Prior to that tragic boating accident in the fall of 2008, my home defense weapon was a double action S&W .357 magnum. I hope to acquire another one, perhaps as soon as mid-November this year. :smiley:

The four basic rules of a carry gun are:[ol]
[li]any gun is better than no gun.[/li][li]a small gun you can shoot comfortably and accurately is better than a big gun you can’t.[/li][li]the biggest gun you can shoot comfortably and accurately is better than a smaller one.[/li][li]if you feel like you’re carrying too much weight, eat less. :p[/li][/ol]The smallest caliber that is considered adequate today is the .380. At one time the .32 reigned as the premier pocket gun, but .380s today are virtually as small and more powerful. If concealibility is an issue, you want to go with a smaller gun, although there are ways to conceal larger guns (the baggy “homeboy” look was originally to make concealing easier.)

It’s possible to have a small gun that shoots a big caliber, but the recoil becomes more punishing since there’s less mass to absorb the recoil, and smaller semi-automatics will carry fewer rounds. A range of different gun sizes are available for most calibers. The Taurus 4510 “Judge” is a compact revolver that shoots .45 Long Colt, and shooting someone with it has been described as “one dead, one maimed”. YMMV.

The 1911 ACP in .45 caliber is a long-proven design firing a big manstopping round. It’s disadvantages are limited capacity- typcially 8 cartridges in the magazine plus 1 chambered- and that some people simply cannot hold the grip comfortably.

9mm has been the European standard for nearly a century, ammo for it is extremely common, and the typical magazine capacity is 17-19 rounds.

.40 S&W has become a popular caliber since it is a compromise in caliber/capacity between the .45 ACP and 9mm. Typical magazine capacity is 10-15 rounds.

The .38 Special revolver was the standard police issue for decades, although it is now considered underpowered and low capacity. But it’s still a workable gun, and very common ammo. Revolvers that shoot .357 Magnum will also shoot the less powerful .38 Special.

Generally, anything with “Magnum” in it’s name isn’t going to be a convenient carry gun. It will usually be too large, have too much recoil, and be too likely to shoot through your target into bystanders, unless you take care to use hollowpoint or frangible rounds.

My concealed carry weapon is a Walther PK380 .380 cal and I love love love it. A gun that you are going to carry on your person will have to be a compromise between caliber size and comfort. My Walther is small enough to conceal, is light enough to be comfortable wearing, and I can easily work the slide. I tried a lot of different guns and calibers before I bought it. Actually, when I first held it, I knew it was the one for me. Felt like an extension of my arm.

So, I’ll just chime in to say do what Max says.

Take a class, learn as much as possible. A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .44 Magnum. Practice.

And just because it’s the smallest doesn’t mean anyone should disregard it; James Bond carried a Walther PPK, a nice compact .380 semiautomatic, for years. The “PPK” stands for “Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell”, which means “police pistol, detective model”.