Monday, March 24, 2008

My Handgun Selection

Every now and then someone sends me a PM asking about my choice of weapons.
There’s nothing extravagant about the weapons I chose, they are all proven, popular designs and I’m sure many of you have made similar decisions.

Still, I’ll explain why I have them, and hope it helps you decide what fits your needs better.

Glock 31 (Caliber: 357 SIG)

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This is my main firearm, the one I carry the most.
Glocks are the most popular gun among those with self defense in mind these days.

There’s little left to be said about them. They work, they are easy to shoot well, accurate, one of the most rust resistant guns out there.
Lots of good things to be said about Glocks.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the plastic sights it came with.
They are pretty flimsy and I need to replace them, something I should have done a long time ago, by the way.
I’ll be replacing them with steel ones with a similar sight pattern.
No, not the snag free type, I’ll be using the normal, square one.
Why? Because those ones allow you to rack the slide single handed by pressing the rear sight against the belt and pulling down energetically.
What are the odds of having to rack the slide to chamber a round or clear a malfunction single handed?

Small, very small.

Still the sights need to be replaced, and I might as well get every advantage I can out of it. That’s pretty much a motto I live by.

Back to the Glock.

The model 31 was chose because it answered the following question I asked myself:
“If I’m going to get caught in a gunfight (against one or many attackers, more likely 3 or more theses days in this part of the world)
what handgun would I want to have with me?

Some are quick to reply that they’d have a rifle or shotgun…
That defeats the purpose of what we are trying to achieve here, since we are entering the wishful thinking realms.

Rifle and shotgun? You might as well wish for a SWAT team that fits into your pocket and grows to it’s normal size when you add water.

No, the question is limited to a handgun because that’s what you can realistically have with you at any given moment, even if you do have long arms in your house or even in your car.

The answer to such question came in the form of the Glock 357 SIG.

1) It’s a Glock. Glocks are no frills, easy to operate weapons, and they are pretty sturdy, reliable guns.
2) The caliber, 357 SIG, offers a 124 gr. jacketed hollow point (JHP) projectile flying at over 1400 FPS.
In case you are not familiar with such ballistics, that’s the exact same formula delivered by what’s commonly acknowledged as the best handgun caliber for stopping humans, the 357 magnum.

Many studies show that the 124 gr JHP flying at 1400 FPS, stops men with a one shot chest shot about 95% of the time.
Even if there are now calibers that offer equal or slightly better rates according to the Marshall and Sanow tests, the 357 magnum is the caliber against all other handgun calibers are measured.

The 357 SIG offers such ballistics, even gets higher speeds due to the auto system not loosing pressure like the revolvers does on the forcing cone. Since there’s no gas being lost, this means that a 4 inch or even 3,5 inch barrel in an auto, will give you greater speeds than a 4 inch revolver.

Another advantage rarely mentioned when talking about this caliber, is the one provided by it’s bottle shaped case.
While straight walled cases are much more common, the bottle shaped case feeds much more reliably.
You’ll hear about other calibers having feeding problems sometimes, getting stuck when leaving the magazine and entering the chamber.

This rarely ever happens with the 357 SIG. I’ve never experienced or hear of feeding problems with this caliber.

All agencies using this caliber are very pleased with it, it’s also very accurate and accuracy has gone up among officers when they started using it.

On the down side, it’s not a popular round, a bit harder to find and you don’t find that much bulk ammo getting sold.
Still, this “problem” is easy to solve: You can convert ANY 357 SIG into a 40 S&W in a matter of seconds just by swapping barrels.
Just buy a 40 S&W barrel and you’ll have two calibers in one gun. 40 S&W for the range and 357 SIG for when carrying.

3) With the Glock 31, I have 15+1 rounds of the best stopping power ammo available.
A revolver would only offer 6 or 7 rounds, and in a gun that has more felt recoil and is harder to shoot fast against multiple attackers.

Even with the 7 round revolver, the Glock offers 128% more firepower. That’s not a minor factor in my opinion.

Some people say that you only need 3 or 4 rounds, that if you need more you are already dead.
I’ve even read one self proclaimed expert saying that a 22 LR derringer was enough most of the time, suggesting that you only need a gun to scare people away…

I don’t pack a gun to scare people, I have this picture in my wallet for that:
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I pack a gun to stop people effectively if such persons are trying to kill me or my family. It’s that simple.
If I could carry some sort of death ray with a 1000 round capacity, that’s what I would carry, even if the chances of needing so much firepower are nearly non existent.

There’s been cases in which people got killed after running out of ammo or not being able to reload fast enough, and there’s been people that shot their way out of situations where they faced multiple attackers, situations where 5 or 6 rounds wouldn’t suffice.

Again, what are the chances of that happening?

Well, here those chances are pretty big. Two days ago some guy made it to the 8PM news, he had been kidnapped and dragged through the ATMs. But that wasn’t news, the news was that this already happened to him twice already, and he also had his car robbed three times.
Heck, my wife was kept hostage and locked in the bathroom twice too, in her house and once in the office.
So whenever someone on the internet accuses me of being an “armchair commando” claiming that those things don’t happen, I just suggest that they should speak for themselves, and that I envy their situation, the safety and tranquility their family and themselves enjoy.



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Caliber Comparison: From left to right, 22LR, 9mm, 357 SIG.

Bersa Thunder (Caliber: 9mm)

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The piece of rubber on the trigger guard is to avoid hurting the finger during extensive shooting sessions.


This is the firearm currently being issued to the Argentine police all over the country, slowly trying to replace the old warrior, the FM Hi-Power.
Now, those are mighty big shoes to fill, but the Bersa seems to be doing ok.
Bersa has been building guns for a long time now, about 50 years, and they have a lifetime warranty.
Bersa wont be earning any originality points, they just copy other well known, proven designs and apply some upgrades to them.

That’s not a bad thing.

The Bersa Thunder is a clone of the excellent but expensive Walther P88. Bersa just made it a bit beefier. Even compared to Glocks, the Bersa slide is visibly thicker.

They also added ambidextrous safeties and slide releases, front rail, Glock style sights ( Metal front sight though, not plastic) and it also has a surprisingly nice DA pull, something that’s a bit of a trademark of Bersa in all their autos.

I’ll admit that I never cared much for them before. They looked kind of ugly, even cheap and I was a bit of a gun snob back then.

But when I started looking for a gun to beat around, to shoot a lot of cheap reloads without worrying about ruining my “nicer” guns, the gun shop guy strongly recommended the Thunder 9.

Now, a few years later, I have 4 pistols from Bersa, and I’m very pleased with all of them.

Having a gun you don’t care a damn about is very liberating.
Messing up the Glock that cost me 850 USD would really hurt, but the 300 USD Bersa, which also has a lifetime warranty isn’t something I worry about.
Bersa would replace it even if a train goes over it, no questions asked.

So I’ve been shooting it a lot, with the cheapest ammo I could buy. Some rounds barely leave the barrel, others sound and feel to loud for what I’d consider safe 9mm.
Cleaning? Just some WD40 down the barrel followed by a piece of toilet paper, the barrel looks very messy.

In spite of all this, the Bersa 9mm has never failed me, ever. It’s also accurate too, and it’s the gun I’ve been using for defensive shooting classes.

Through stoic service in exchange for the little maintenance received, the Bersa 9mm made for itself a small place in my heart.

It holds 17+1 rounds, and there are some normal size, 19 round mags for it too.
As I’m writing this I’m hearing on the news about a shooting that occurred today in Buenos Aires, 3 dead bad guys and a dead cop, between 40 or 50 rounds fired.
No, I definitely want more than 5 or 6 rounds.




FM Hi Power (caliber: 9mm)

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Bought it used. In spite of the mistreatment received during its law enforcement previous life, this gun works perfectly well and the barrel is like a mirror.

This one needs no introduction, its simply the most prolific handgun in the world.
This is John Moses Browning’s final masterpiece, with, the creator of the FAL, Dieudonne Saive, solving the high capacity, yet compact and ergonomically correct grip.
This weapon is the most prolific handgun in the country, it works well, tough as nails, and spare parts are plentiful.
Unlike most modern handguns, this one is completely made of steel, and it will easily outlive it’s owner.
9mm stopping power isn’t much to brag about, but loaded with +P ammunition, Jacketed hollow points ( JHP) it is more effective than most people think, within a 90% one shot stop rate according to Marshall and Sanow’s research.
There’s also 18 or 19 round capacity magazines for it, and the more common 13 round ones are plentiful and inexpensive.

This is the kind of firearm I’d grab if I thought I’d be going out my house’s door right now and never coming back.
Lots of parts, all steel construction, mechanically simple, part could be made and adjusted for fitting, and the caliber can be found everywhere.

SO that’s it guys. I’ve got other weapons, but these three are the ones I trust the most, the ones that get carried and used more often.

FerFAL

9 comments:

theotherryan said...

When it comes to rds in a gun more is better. At the same time the 2" .38 special I pack (almost all the time I am able to given current laws) in the waistband is much better then a full sized handgun in the glove box or night stand.

When it comes to the need for a large amount of rds in a CC handgun the place where u live matters a whole lot because it can give something of an idea of what to expect. It isn't a big concern for me but if I lived somewhere else the full sized glock with 2 spare high caps might start to seem like more of a minimum.

Argentina Trademark said...

http://wdalaw.com/trademark-registration-argentina.htmlI think this blog filled my congratulations espectativas seguire reading your blogs

Anonymous said...

Hey FerFAL did FM change the BHP so that it WILL tolerate +P ammo? Everything I have read on the BHP was you should NEVER shoot +P thru them as you will ruin the lockup in short order.
Vic303

Anonymous said...

Great site.
Can you buy CZ pistols in South America? I have found them as good a personal defense weapon as the hi-power at a cheaper price.

KT
Texas

Anonymous said...

Hey Ferfal,

Realistically, Im thinking the .45 has better stopping power than the .357mag. Are .45s just hard to get there?

jag said...

Hello Ferfal,

Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of the world. Your blog is informative and full of practical advice.

I often hear that the .357 revolver's muzzle flash and noise would leave you momentarily blind and deaf for a couple of days, especially when fired in the dead of night.

How is the muzzle flash and noise of the .357 Sig compared to the revolver?


Thanks and keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

Come on! If your choice is Glock + Sig .357 in Argentina... You are a rich man!

The argentine shooters actually have a big problem woth the ammunition cost and the most cheap, talking about a not bad cartridge for self defense, is the 9mm. An cheap box of 50 made in argentine FMJ ammo have the price of 20 bucks and 12 bucks for a box of recharged bullets.

Here a Glock 17 have a price of U$S1,200- and an average salary is about of U$S 1,000 and do not talk about apare and do not talk about you have to use factory ammo.

This is the success of Bersa. Have a price of U$S400 / 450 and full life guarantee and you can to use recharge without problems.

I have a Bersa. Una special piece because have a good finished of the cannon and all the internal parties... I was lucky because actually the quality of Bersa is very poor. My gun spit all the ammo that I shoot and the unique trouble is that the trigger tour is a bit long.

In a few days I will buy a Taurus PT 24/7, because the technology is advanced compared to Bersa and his price is U$S 650. Is a bit difference between two different concepts of gun.

Well, finally the problen with to survive in Argentina is te lack of the judges, the inoperation of the police (bad salary = corruption) and the criminals with the best weapons. If you have to use your gun in a self defense case... Think about all (circunstances, ammo, etc.) very very very good because you are fucked! Because the unique people that have human rights in Argentina are the criminals.

Sorry about my poor English.

Regards.

Miguel

Anonymous said...

Come on! If your choice is Glock + Sig .357 in Argentina... You are a rich man!

The argentine shooters actually have a big problem woth the ammunition cost and the most cheap, talking about a not bad cartridge for self defense, is the 9mm. An cheap box of 50 made in argentine FMJ ammo have the price of 20 bucks and 12 bucks for a box of recharged bullets.

Here a Glock 17 have a price of U$S1,200- and an average salary is about of U$S 1,000 and do not talk about apare and do not talk about you have to use factory ammo.

This is the success of Bersa. Have a price of U$S400 / 450 and full life guarantee and you can to use recharge without problems.

I have a Bersa. Una special piece because have a good finished of the cannon and all the internal parties... I was lucky because actually the quality of Bersa is very poor. My gun spit all the ammo that I shoot and the unique trouble is that the trigger tour is a bit long.

In a few days I will buy a Taurus PT 24/7, because the technology is advanced compared to Bersa and his price is U$S 650. Is a bit difference between two different concepts of gun.

Well, finally the problen with to survive in Argentina is te lack of the judges, the inoperation of the police (bad salary = corruption) and the criminals with the best weapons. If you have to use your gun in a self defense case... Think about all (circunstances, ammo, etc.) very very very good because you are fucked! Because the unique people that have human rights in Argentina are the criminals.

Sorry about my poor English.

Regards.

Miguel

Anonymous said...

I've been told by my gun instructors that WD40 can ruin primers. Perhaps that's why you are having some problems with reloads.
Love your blog.