My historical leaning has been toward the 1911 in .45 ACP. There are several nice things about the cartridge, It starts out big, so it is of lesser importance whether or not it expands. One cannot go wrong with that.
On the other hand, if you arrange most defensive cartridges equipped with modern high performance projectiles on a continuum, the difference between the .45 and the .380 is not nearly as great as it once was. The 9mm Luger is actually quite close to the .45.
Additionally, from a tactical defense standpoint, more and more assaults, such as home invasions, involve multiple assailants, indicating the possible need for more ammo than standard .45's carry. Nine's come in a variety of good brands and sizes, with most of the larger ones equipped with magazines of fifteen or more rounds.
Now, the1911 platform is a great gun, but its capacity is generally limited, as already stated. It also has a slightly more complicated manual of arms than the defacto standard, the Glock series of of handguns.
So, what to choose?
One would not go wrong with the Glock, but I find the finger grooves don't fit me like they should. I do like the simplified manual of arms:
- Place carefully in holster
- When needed, draw from holster
- Put finger in trigger guard only after sights are aligned on target
- Aim, fire
- Repeat as necessary
The Ruger SR9, in spite of a rough start, has grown on me. As first introduced, there were some safety concerns. As stated at the Ruger website,
- We have determined that some Ruger SR9 pistols manufactured between October 2007 and April 2008 can, under certain conditions, fire if dropped with their manual safeties in the "off" or "fire" position. The pistols will not fire if the manual safety is in the "on" or "safe" position.
The gun feels a lot like the 1911, and has a reversible back-strap, to help it fit your hand. It does not have Glock-like finger grooves on the front-strap.
It also has a 1911 style ambidextrous manual safety, that appears to be pretty much redundant. For on-person carry, if left in the off-safe position, it gives the same simple manual of arms as the Glock. Your choice.
The SR9 has the advantage over the Glock of having a completely ambidextrous magazine release. Oh, and it has a neat little loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide. Georg Luger placed his extractor in this position and labeled it GELADIN (loaded).
See the SR9 features here.
I find that the full size suits my taste. It is as easy to carry IWB as the Compact model, and has the 17 round magazine as standard (unless you live in a repressive state, where 10 is the maximum).
[Now, if you believe that a defensive handgun caliber must begin with 4, Ruger has just introduced the SR40, which is less than an ounce heavier, with a slide a sixteenth of an inch wider than the SR9.]
Upon test firing the SR9, it simply worked. No failures of any kind. It kept all shots on a sheet of copy paper at 25 yards. What more do you need? So there is item one for the brace of pistols.
Next up was the search for a somewhat smaller handgun to complete the pairing. Number one on the list of criteria was caliber. For logistics simplification, it, too had to be a 9mm. It also had to have the simplified point and shoot manual of arms.
The winner was the tried and true KelTec P-11. Look for my report on it
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Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Gun rights, like all other Constitutionally recognized rights, must be exercised responsibly. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.