Originally Posted by Ninj A. Cat
After a neighbor was robbed while their entire family was home, I decided that I needed to step up and take the role of protector of the household, so I've decided to buy a handgun (I'm totally new to firearms, so don't hesitate to make suggestions or correct me if I'm wrong; that' how I learn!)
I've been searching for a good home defense handgun (parents were scared to death of shotguns.) My price range is $600 or under. Here's what I was thinking: .40 S&W, 12 rd. or greater capacity, at least a 4in barrel, and, most importantly, AMBIDEXTEROUS CONTROLS (or at least the ability to have a gunsmith switch them.) Here's what I've come up with, in no particular order:
1. Beretta PX4 Storm
2. S&W Sigma
3. S&W MP 40
4. Steyr M-A1
5. Springfield XD 4"
6. FN FNP-40
7. Glock 22 (maybe 23)
8. EAA Witness
First of all, are all of these ambidextrous? I'm a lefty. Which one(s) do you guys recommend? Anything I'm forgetting? Since it's for home defense, should I go DAO? Should Picatinny rails be a deciding factor? Anything bad about polymer frames? Would a ported gun really blind me if I fire it in the dark? Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!
Wow! Complicated questions. Hmmm, where to begin?
OK, start by reading a few books. Here’s the first one that I would recommend: Personal Protection Inside The Home
Here’s another - Personal Protection Outside The Home
Personally, I would NOT recommend a shotgun as a primary weapon for home self-defense; AND, you really have to be careful whenever you rack a shotgun slide against an unseen intruder. There are bad hombres out there who will only use the sound of that slide cycling in order to line up their own sights on YOU!
Neither should you choose any weapon that you might have trouble wielding inside the narrow confines of a house; and, don’t choose any firearm that you might have to use to discharge a wider than normal shot pattern inside your own home.
Of those pistols on your list, the only ones I would consider for serious use are the Glock and the Steyr; however, you should be made aware that 40 caliber anything is tough for a beginner to learn how to shoot. Where caliber is concerned: In a semiautomatic pistol you go, either, up to 45 acp or down to 9mm.
(Yes, a big 45 acp caliber pistol is relatively easy to learn how to shoot because the heavier recoil impulse is, also, nice and slow – Consequently, it is easier to learn how to manage.)
There’s, also, something to be said for choosing a revolver as your first handgun. The caliber would, of course, be 357 magnum. This gives you a wide choice of ammunition to choose from; and, you would, also, have the option of practicing with (or, even, carrying) 38 special rounds. While we’re on the subject, any handgun will jam; so, you need to learn clearance drills.
The principal difference between revolver jams, and semi-auto jams is that when a revolver jams, it’s going to lock up the entire cylinder; and, it may take some doing to get that cylinder open again. Generally speaking, semiautomatic jams are, both, quicker and easier to clear; but, again, you will need to learn how.
It’s not the safety that you have to be concerned about on, either, the Glock, or the Steyr. Instead it’s the magazine release! I wouldn’t short either pistol on this point, though. I, myself, am an ambidextrous pistol shooter; and, it’s not all that hard for me to keep my left index/trigger finger away from a right-handed magazine release.
Glock is presently offering an ambidextrous magazine release on certain models. This is a result of design changes the factory made for the army’s anticipated – and now defunct – new pistol trials.
As far as I’m concerned whether or not a pistol has an ambidextrous magazine release isn’t a critical issue. I’m able to switch my Glocks with a right-hand magazine release from one hand to the other without ever hanging up on the mag release. However, because of the way Glock is presently designing ALL of their new magazines, I strongly suspect that future Glocks will come with ambi mag releases. My point is; ‘So what!’ This has, and will continue to have, no effect on how I shoot, either, a Glock or a Steyr pistol.
If you get a Glock with a right-hand magazine release the only disadvantage to you will be that you’re going to have to slightly shift your grip in order to release a magazine. Because your trigger finger should be outside the trigger guard, anyway, this is really no big deal. (I do it all the time.)
A true double action only (DAO) trigger isn’t a necessity; and, probably, won’t be available to you as an option on any of the pistols you’re presently looking at – Unless, of course, you are willing to consider a revolver.
Picatinny rails? (Funny! I grew up right next door to Picatinny Arsenal.) For civilian self-defense, you can forget about any practicality from using Picatinny rails on a handgun! This is another bizarre consequence of Glock’s efforts to create a military pistol for the defunct army trials.
In my considered opinion a civilian should never attempt to hang a flashlight on his handgun. Gun-mounted combat lights are not for individual gunmen. Instead, a gun-mounted light is a tool that is best used by a multi-member assault team where one shooter can (and will) back up another.
A combat light can be very useful; and, it is especially useful – and safer for you, yourself, to use – if you carry that light in your support hand instead of mounted on the end of your gun. Someone is, of course, going to bring up the subject of laser pointers. You can get one; they are, certainly, ‘uber-cool’. However, I see no place for a laser pointer on, either a home defense or a carry gun. Otherwise, lasers make great training tools; and, in my own experience, there is no better way to learn how to point shoot than with a laser.
In my experience there is one, and only one, significant drawback to purchasing any polymer frame pistol – They, all, require a significant break-in period of between 3 and 5 hundred rounds before you can absolutely trust them for everyday carry and serious work.
I carry a muzzle-ported pistol. This said, I wouldn’t especially recommend that you spend the extra money to purchase a C-Model Glock. What a lot of shooters do is to buy the standard pistol, and then, later on, purchase a muzzle-ported barrel for it. The answer to your specific question about muzzle flash is that flash depends in large part upon the type of powder used.
Most self-defense ammunition is low flash; consequently, I doubt very much that you would see any flash at all. I reload my 45 acp ammunition with Alliant Red Dot powder; and, I almost never see any flash. (Yes, I’ve participated in dusk and night shoots with my muzzle ported pistols – Maybe, one round of a dozen will show some minor flashing. Like I said, it’s not really an issue.)
Other than this, you shouldn’t be firing your home self-defense pistol in complete dark - anyway. Cooper’s Fourth Rule of Firearm Safety states;
‘Always clearly identify your target, and what is behind it!
Good luck to you.