Suggestions on small semi-automatic?

Discussion in 'The Club House' started by Banta, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. Banta

    Banta New Member

    About 5 yrs ago I was compelled by the threats of a lunatic to buy a .38 to keep around the house for protection.

    I've just changed jobs and the new job will have me occassionally travelling into some of the worst neighborhoods in my city. The .38 will stay at home at all times, but I want something to take into those bad parts of town with me.

    Ideally, I'd like something a bit slimmer and lighter than the .38. I was considering the Bersa Thunder 380. I would probably like to come in under $400, but that's not set in stone.

    Can anyone comment and/or make suggestions?
  2. dragunovsks

    dragunovsks New Member

    I carry a 1911A1 .45. It's considered a large auto but I don't have any trouble concealing it under a t-shirt plus it's pretty slim since it's a single stack. I've heard some good things about those Bersas and my cousin is a Indiana State Trooper and he uses one of those Kel-Tec 9mms for his backup gun, cause they are pretty small. Well, that's all I know of right now. Hope I helped a little.

  3. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    Banta - Well, first the legal info. Are you licensed to carry in your state? What is your level of training and skill with a handgun?

    Having a weapon, and not being proficient with it, is probably worse than not having one and being equipped with a cell phone instead.

    I carry a 1911 .45ACP as well, and have for many years. You really won't get a good 1911 in your price range, so it's probably not the direction you want to pursue unless you are willing to add a few hundred to your price range.

    I know quite a few people who are in and out of the car on travels who carry a good, hammerless revolver as their primary carry piece. It is easy to use, it is going to go bang every time and because it has a long trigger pull, the chances of a negligent discharge is going to be quite slim.

    Obviously, no one on an internet website forum is going to be able to tell you what will work for you. Your hand size, your frame size, your skill with a weapon, your environment are all going to play into your final discussion.

    I think the best thing, if you want some direction, is to fill in some of the blanks for the guys here to relate to your environment and background.

    As I have said several times before, a .380 or .22 mag isn't going to do you any good in Minnesota when the guy accosting you is going to be wearing long johns, three shirts and a heavy down parka. An all steel 1911 in .45ACP, or even .50AE, isn't going to do you any good if you can't carry it because you are walking the beaches in Miami...

  4. G21.45

    G21.45 Guest

    Don't get me wrong; I've owned and used a Walther PPK-S in 380 auto for more than 30 years, now. Fine little pistol except, like most of its genre, it's blowback operated; and, for it's size and weight, it kicks like a mule!

    :eek: Wow! a 38 special for home defense - Just wow! (Sure wish I lived in such a nice safe neighborhood where all the criminals were old fashioned and tame 98# weaklings.) :D

    Unless you've got that 38 spl revolver loaded up with either 135 grain Speer JHP Gold Dots, or (even better) +P 158 grain LSWC-HP's, (the, 'FBI load') you're exposing yourself to unnecessary risk by attempting to use an anemic 38 special revolver for home protection!

    (You do keep that house gun under, 'lock and key' right? One of my worst nightmares is coming home to face my own gun!)

    While you don't say anything either way: Usually, you need to be licensed by your home state in order to legally carry a handgun around with you - especially inside a vehicle where all states consider such a handgun to be a concealed weapon.

    You seem to have a penchant for smaller pistols. OK, that's fine. Personally I would suggest you take a look at a Glock Model G-30SF. It's one of the most accurate pistols in the Glock model lineup, holds ten rounds of big 45 acp, 'manstopping' 230 grain FMJ bullets, and is relatively easy to conceal inside a comfortable IWB holster.

    The Glock Model G-30SF,


    The G-30SF costs more than $400 bucks, though; but, then again, how much is your life really worth! ;)
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2008
  5. chorst294

    chorst294 New Member

    I'm assuming by the title to this thread that you're interested in semi-autos. In that case, there's a good size selection of firearms that meet your criteria. If you're planning on leaving the gun in the car, a larger frame, such as Ruger SR9 or P85 would work well and stay within your budget. If you plan on obtaining a carry permit, I'd have to agree with G2145 and recommend the Glock 30. I've had mine for 8 or 9 years and have had excellent luck with it. I've also enjoyed my Glock 26 9mm, which is smaller than the 30. If it were me, I'd go to a gun store and handle several guns within my price range before making a purchase. Also, I'm not sure about your state, but here in FL, you don't need any kind of permit to carry a weapon inside your vehicle. Definately check your local laws first.
  6. ScottG

    ScottG Active Member


    You need look no further....


    You can still find them for around $250. Shoots the Russian 9mm Makarov cartridge (9x18). They are available from Russia, East Germany, and Bulgaria. Nice all steel contruction and a fixed barrel to boot! Easy to take apart and put back together, well most of the time....

  7. Banta

    Banta New Member

    Dillinger-- thanks for the reply. I'm not licensed to carry at this time, but I wouldn't carry until securing the license. I researched the requirements back when I bought the 38.

    In college I took a hands on training course with the local gun club and I've test fired my 38 500 times.

    As far as my environment, I am in central Indiana. I prefer something small and lightweight for convenience sake.

    I bought the 38 at the suggestion of the dealer at the dealership. At that time, a delusional freak had been secretly observing my wife, daughter and myself to memorize our daily routines. When he "snapped" and started calling me and telling me where my wife had driven to on her lunch break and what my daughter wore to school that day, I wasn't risking anything else with him.

    He has been out of the picture for about 3 years now. But I'm never putting it out of my mind, so I'd rather pick up a second gun than start carrying the 38. It needs to be at home for my wife if there is ever a problem while I'm out.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2008
  8. matt g

    matt g Guest

    1911s are easily concealable and these days come in lighter chamberings than .45 ACP. Kimber makes them in .38 Super, 9mm, .40 S&W and 10mm. Though a .45 ACP is my round of choice, it can be a little much for everyone, especially when fed through a 1911.

    My best advice is to make a trip to a rental range or 4 and shoot anything that looks good to you. Find what fits you best and what is the largest round that you can still handle easily. Often times these place will sell range guns that just need a little TLC to make them highly reliable carry pieces.
  9. BigO01

    BigO01 New Member

    Banta it sounds like when that whole ordeal was going on your wife NEEDED the carry license and that 38 close by 24/7 .

    No offense here but in saying you've test fired your 38 500 times in all these years it speaks volumes as to what kind of gun owner you are , which is just a tad better than your typical one who buys a gun solely for protection and never really practices with it .

    500 rounds through a single handgun is a mere 2-3 trips to the range for me alone and thats if I can make it out the door without a kid or two in tow .

    I personally hesitate to suggest any semiauto to someone like you who isn't a dedicated shooter because unlike the Double action revolver you are now dealing with a very light trigger pull and you've just released a bullet , perhaps unintentionally .

    The Glocks while no doubt designed brilliantly around the simple principal of "If you don't pull the trigger it doesn't fire" is to me the most dangerous of all handguns for those not dedicated to practice and 100% diligents when handling them . You must beat it into your brain , keeping your finger off the trigger of that weapon or you will have an accidental discharge as you do not have a separate manual safety to fall back on .

    A 38 revolver really isn't all that much harder to conceal and can be had in very light weights these days , it is only about 1/2 of an inch wider than an auto and can be hidden just as easily under a loose shirt with a properly holstered weapon .

    A second 38 that is double action only with a lighter frame would be just about perfect for what you want .

    If you do buy a semiauto , please , spend far more time becoming and maintaining familiarity with it than you have that 38 , the last thing you want to have happen is an AD in your home endangering the very loved ones you seek to protect with it .
  10. Banta

    Banta New Member


    No offense taken. Firearms aren't a hobby for me. I shot the practice rounds that I did so I'd be comfortable handling and firing it.

    I understand where you and others are coming from regarding safety. I think I will go with another 38 and see if I can find onthat is a bit lighter. The one I have is a Taurus and I'm sure they make a lighter frame.

    Thanks for the input and feedback.
  11. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

    You want the safest protection with the best stopping ability - get a .357Mag, or if safety is not as important, a .40 cal auto. They each deliver 96% one-shot stops with the right ammo, and considerably smaller and lighter than any .45 auto. If you want smaller still, get a 9mm - with the right ammo you can achieve 91% one-shot stops. These days you can find a small 9mm to rival the Bersa .380, which can achieve 75% one-shot stops with Glaser 70gr. Blue ammo. What good is a gun if it's too big and heavy to carry 24/7?
  12. superwoman

    superwoman New Member

    When ever the question 'what kind of gun for...' is asked you will get a thousand different answers. They will all be opinion mixed with fact.

    Dillinger hit the mark when he said there are a lot of factors: hand size, frame, skill etc. As much as I would love to carry a sig .45, I am a woman and there are a lot more limitations on where/ how I can conceal. I carry a Kel-tec .380 because I can hide it well.

    I suggest going to more than one gun shop and talking with them about different guns, see how you like the way some feel in your hand as well as how they feel concealed. A good gun shop will let you shove one in a holster and see how it feels. Get a variety of opinions and make up your own mind.
  13. npbwbass

    npbwbass New Member

    all good suggestions... and my different one

    Another option of firearms carry I did in some of the work I did in weirder parts of the world is call CPC (close proximity carry) Train to carry something useful all the time then make it carry a weapon of choice that you shoot well. That way size and concealability do not make as much difference. The carry object can be almost anything that matches your personal life style. It may not be a fast as on the body carry but it does allow more of a choice in the firearm you want to carry. There are pros and cons either way. The habit of being alert and aware of your surroundings are the primary skills for CPC. CPC is an art form that you can make match your personal habits for discrete weapons carry and for some works very well.

    As a side note I made past quite a few random personal searches in foreign countries carrying my side arm this way. I still carry quite often this way.

    Good luck!
  14. dirtysouth

    dirtysouth Guest

    Information Maintained by the Office of Code Revision Indiana Legislative Services Agency
    07/28/2008 10:10:10 PM EDT
    IC 35-47-2
    Chapter 2. Regulation of Handguns

    IC 35-47-2-1
    Carrying a handgun without a license or by person convicted of domestic battery
    Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b) and section 2 of this chapter, a person shall not carry a handgun in any vehicle or on or about the person's body, except in the person's dwelling, on the person's property or fixed place of business, without a license issued under this chapter being in the person's possession.
    (b) Unless the person's right to possess a firearm has been restored under IC 35-47-4-7, a person who has been convicted of domestic battery under IC 35-42-2-1.3 may not possess or carry a handgun in any vehicle or on or about the person's body in the person's dwelling or on the person's property or fixed place of business.
    As added by P.L.311-1983, SEC.32. Amended by P.L.326-1987, SEC.1; P.L.195-2003, SEC.6; P.L.98-2004, SEC.155; P.L.118-2007, SEC.35.
    for more info

    I carry a 38. as a back up weapon good gun for close work. But more important is that not only you practice that your wife practices,and maybe even your child. Because you might not be home to protect your family.

    Im not sure though that you would want a revolver for home defense though. If its a snubby then to be accurate you have to be relativley close.

    Also thank about something with a saftey so if you do accidently pull that trigger hopefully you had the saftey on.

    So what i suggest is go to the the gun store tell them your requirements. Hold and get the feel for some differnt types of guns and i suggest you do the same with your wife. Because what is nice for you might not be nice for her. In worst case trade the snubby in for a little bit on 2 guns or one.

    I cant say this enough you need to practice your wife needs to practice and even your child if your so inclined to do so.

    Nothing worse then somebody that is ignorant carrying a gun. I suggest you and your wife both take the ccw class.

    good luck and good shooting
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  15. Righteous

    Righteous New Member

    look at the smith & wesson airweights in a .38
    or the bersa thunder in the 380 compact
  16. Cajun

    Cajun New Member

    Kahr Arms makes several small DAO semi-automatics that are lightweight and allow the carry of a larger round (9mm, .40, &.45).

    Whatever gun you decide to carry, make sure you practice regularly. Learn to be aware of your surroundings so that you minimize the possibility of placing yourself in the situation of having to use your firearm. Finally, mentally prepare yourself to win the confrontation for if it is necessary to draw your weapon you must be willing to use it.
  17. teknoid

    teknoid Member

    Nothing wrong with the Bersa .380. It's a good choice for both concealability and reliability. I've been carrying either that, or a SP101 in the summer for a while. 600+ rounds so far. Not one single problem. I hear the 9mm and higher flavors are just as good.
  18. gorknoids

    gorknoids New Member

    The S&W Airweights loaded with wadcutters in .380 will fit the bill.
  19. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    How many rounds have your wife and daughter fired through the .38? If you are going to leave it home with her she should be able and willing to use it. If having it there just makes you feel better, it probably will not be used by her.

    First, she has to WANT to learn to operate and use the gun. "Operate"- function and practice w/it. "Use"- shoot a threat be it man or beast. If she will not practice with it and will hesitate in "using" it, it will be more of a liability than an asset.

    For a different way of looking at the problem. Carry the .38 and get an inexpensive 12 or 20 ga pump shotgun and have her shoot it a bunch. Easier to shoot accurately and far more able to stop the threat.

    12 ga has a kicking reputation but have her practice with super light 7/8 oz or 1 oz target loads and work her up to some reduced recoil buckshot (the Remington OO reduced recoil works well). You might want to keep her away from the buck shot until the third or fourth trip to the range (don't scare her off).


    Kimber has a concealable 1911 model in .45ACP. It has plenty of punch and is a reliable, time-tested design. The only problem may be the price.