6. Strive for Manageable Recoil
Is the gun comfortable to shoot? Is the recoil manageable? Seriously, if you can’t answer “Yes” to those questions, you will not shoot it, and you won’t get in the necessary practice time. So, choose wisely. It is better to shoot a 9mm pistol accurately than a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP erratically.
7. Get a Good Trigger
You want a trigger that is neither too heavy of a pull nor too light. Bottom line—does it feel right for you? Can you operate it without getting finger cramps? Conversely, can you feel it when you press it? Too light of a trigger can spell accidental discharge. Can you repeatedly dry fire the gun without making figure eights with the front sight?
8. Seek Reasonable Accuracy
In your hands, the gun needs to be reasonably accurate when you shoot it at 10 yards and closer. Is the gun forgiving of the arc of movement created by your hand tremor? Are you able to place accurate follow-up shots? Bad guys have a nasty habit of not going down after just one shot, so good second-shot recovery is essential.
9. Demand Ease of Operation
Your defensive handgun should be simple and safe to operate. Do you have the hand strength to pull the slide all the way back on a semi-auto pistol to cycle a round into the chamber or to clear the gun? Can you easily operate the slide stop/release lever to lock the slide back? Can your thumb reach and operate the magazine catch to drop the magazine? If you have a revolver, can your thumb easily reach and operate the cylinder release latch? Under stress, whatever fine motor skills you do have tend to fly away.
Ease of operation includes choosing a gun that’s simple to field strip for routine cleaning and maintenance. Choose one that’s difficult, and the end result will be that you won’t maintain it, and then it won’t work when you need it. Keep in mind, too, that, as we age, many of us develop arthritis, which makes it difficult to disassemble and reassemble mechanical devices with many stubborn little parts. For those of us with weaker hands, it is important to choose a gun that does not require Herculean hand strength to disassemble and reassemble.
10. Affordability — Don’t Overpay!
Your gun should be affordable to purchase and use. If you’re on a fixed income, you don’t want to have to sell your firstborn grandchild to stay protected! Also, if practice ammunition is too expensive, then you may become reluctant to practice. Choose a handgun in a substantial caliber for which there’s plenty of cheap, quality target ammunition and a good supply of affordable, defensive hollowpoint ammunition—9mm would fit the bill.
This article is an excerpt from the book Armed: The Essential Guide to Concealed Carry. Get your copy here!
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About the Author: Bruce N. Eimer, Ph.D. is a noted psychologist with a dedication to teaching skills for staying armed and alive. He is the author of Armed: The Essential Guide to Concealed Carry, a book regarded as the thinking gun owner’s bible.
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